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3 Industries Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Over the Next Decade

This week’s article is provided by Eric Redmond, a twenty-year veteran technologist and author. It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Deep Tech: Demystifying the Breakthrough Technologies that aired on Tuesday, June 29th. The following article has been adapted from the Deep Tech book.

 

Artificial intelligence as a field has existed in one form or another for centuries, but only in the past decade or so has it reached the critical point of going mainstream. No longer confined to science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is at work behind Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s search engine, and many other technologies we use every day.

These applications of AI, while exciting, are only the beginning. Over the next decade, we can expect AI to transform many industries, including these three: agriculture, manufacturing, and the military.

Now that the Pandora’s box of AI has been opened, there are very few fields that artificial intelligence won’t affect in the near future. We’ll never stop finding new ways to add intelligence to dumb processes or inanimate objects.

With this transformation comes the chance to invest in and adopt these new technologies, but to seize the opportunity, you’ll have to first understand what to expect from the shifting landscape of industries.

Industry #1: Agriculture

The first industry worth exploring in relation to the rise of artificial intelligence is agriculture. Historically the largest industry, agriculture has long been in the crosshairs of innovative technologies. From plowshares to cotton gins to factory farming and GMOs, each innovation seems to increase yield and decrease the number of people required to work in this grueling sector. The influence of AI is expected to be no different.

One way AI will reduce required labor is through monitoring of soil and crop conditions and targeted deployment of solutions. For example, John Deere announced the acquisition of a company that leverages machine-learning vision systems to automatically spray weed killer directly onto plants, reducing herbicide use by 90 percent.

Several other companies, such as ecoRobotix, are creating chemical-free, mechanical weed-pulling robots. Many of these robots are also capable of targeted insecticide deployment, helping stave off many of the unintended consequences of overspraying, such as bee colony collapse. And speaking of bees, there’s now a pollinating robot called BrambleBee. Furthermore, nearly 90 percent of crop losses are due to weather-related events, and the task of weather prediction is tailor-made for big data and machine learning.

Monitoring all the details of million-hectare farmlands is daunting work for humans yet perfect for machines, which is why you can expect to see a massive intersection between AI and agriculture in the coming decade.

Industry #2: Manufacturing

Next, let’s take a high-level look at how AI will impact manufacturing. Even in the early 1950s, automation was taking over manufacturing tasks in Henry Ford’s automobile factories. Our collective and persistent fear of automation goes back even further—just look at the Luddites of 1811, who famously destroyed high-tech cotton mills.

It’s true that automation, along with outsourcing, has contributed to a decrease in manufacturing jobs in first world nations. Still, over 8 percent of Americans earn a living in the manufacturing industry, which is over 11 percent of US GDP. Much of the technology needed to automate the remaining jobs currently exists: robotic arms, logistics machinery, quality control systems, and the like. So how will AI change things?

The introduction of AI into manufacturing takes automation to the next level by turning expensive specialty robots into general purpose cobots, or collaborative robots. Rather than huge, clunky welding robots, blind to the world and programmed for a narrow range of tasks, cobots can be taught many different tasks, retooling themselves automatically.

Cobots are also aware of their surroundings, capable of working side by side with humans on complex tasks. This allows cobots to slowly ease their way into a workspace and take over more work, limited only by an exponentially growing intelligence. Cobots may not be able to do all tasks, but they can do enough to bend that 8 percent of jobs down a few points while reducing waste, cost, and overhead.

Industry #3: Military

Lastly, artificial intelligence will undoubtedly transform the military. For the military, AI poses a siren song that’s too attractive to ignore: perfect knowledge of world events from governments to battlefields, paired with robots that bend the casualties on your side toward zero.

AI can better support troops by improving training systems and creating novel curricula for war games. It can provide smart weapons and better intelligence, along with the more pedestrian benefits of industry, like optimizing logistic challenges in the world’s most challenging situations, or helping troops with maintenance tasks.

Autonomous weapons are increasingly augmented with AI, such as smart-camera-controlled tactical missiles. Even if control ultimately remains in human hands, the myriad of complexities that would take humans years to learn can be partially automated, allowing operation from fewer specialist hands, like flying attack drones. Moreover, the ability to correctly detect targets can drastically reduce collateral damage and innocent deaths.

These are only a few straightforward examples and may not even scratch the surface of the many uses for AI in the military. At the very least, increasing automation may allow countries to shrink their military budgets in favor of more civilian expenditures.

The Time to Invest in AI is Now

I’ve only scratched the surface of how AI will transform agriculture, manufacturing, and the military, and as you can see, the potential uses for the technology are myriad. Artificial intelligence is already making an impact on our daily lives and most profitable industries, and its influence will continue to grow.

Even if you don’t work directly in tech, now is the time to get involved in the AI revolution. Historically, the people and companies that profit the most from emerging technologies are the ones who adapt and invest in them early. Moreover, these early adopters drive further adoption of the technologies, forcing everyone else to catch up.

You can get involved by learning more about how artificial intelligence will transform your industry, whether you work in agriculture, manufacturing, the military, or practically any other industry—AI is coming to disrupt them all. Prepare to be the first among your competitors to implement new AI solutions in your business, and like Amazon, Apple, and Google, you’ll position yourself to win.

 

For more advice on emerging technologies, you can find Deep Tech on Amazon.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Eric Redmond is the Forrest Gump of technology: a twenty-year veteran technologist who always happens to show up wherever deep tech history is being made, from the first iPhone apps to big data to Bitcoin. He has advised state and national governments, Fortune 100 companies, and groups as varied as the World Economic Forum and MIT Media Lab. He has also authored half a dozen technology books (including two tech books for babies) and spoken on every continent except Antarctica. Today, he’s a husband, a dad, and the leader of a global tech innovation team.

 

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

 

 

 

Are You A Future-Ready Leader?

This week’s article was originally published by Maureen Metcalf for Forbes Coaches Council on July 20, 2021.  Maureen is the founder and CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute.  It is a companion to Howard Tiersky’s on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance that aired on Tuesday, October 12th , 2021.

 

Across the globe, leaders are grappling with the future of work across a broad spectrum of considerations — ranging from mandating vaccines to what hybrid work looks like — to attract and engage employees to run operations.

I have seen lots of articles on the future of work. This article addresses the future of leadership. As work changes, leadership must also change. Helping leaders become future-ready has been an important topic for me for over a decade. I started a company focusing on helping leaders “innovate how they lead” to keep pace with their industries and stakeholders. Post-Covid-19, the leadership required to succeed has changed. Leaders must rethink their mindset (also known as their leadership algorithm) and their actions. Here are some of the changes that will be needed.

Organizational Impact In Place Of Personal Recognition

Many traditional leaders are guided by the desire for personal success and peripherally by organizational success. The future-ready leader’s vision of success provides humble guidance based on performance and the value of the organization’s positive impact. This leader seeks to maximize organizational success over personal recognition. This shift is significant as employees are increasingly making job choices based on the company’s alignment with making an impact. According to a January 2021 McKinsey article, “Future-ready companies recognize that purpose helps attract people to join an organization, remain there, and thrive. Investors understand why this is valuable and factor purpose into their decision making: the rise of environmental, social, and governance (ESG)–related funds is just one of the ways they acknowledge that purpose links to value creation in tangible ways.”

Collaboration In Place Of Command And Control

Traditional leaders relied heavily on a “command and control” style, where they had most of the answers. Now, the future leader leverages the team for answers as part of the decision-making process. An example is companies surveying their employees to ask them how they want to work post-Covid-19 rather than leaders dictating policy. Leaders who ask and respond by balancing business requirements and employee preferences find more success than companies that dictate policies. According to a report by Monster.com, in what’s being called the “Great Resignation,” 95% of workers are considering changing jobs. With this level of workforce pressure, the stakes are high to get the return-to-work policies right because employees are more mobile, and attracting talent is increasingly challenging.

Experimentation Over Simple Solutions

Leaders who pick a direction in a “black/white” manner often tend to stay the course dogmatically. Future leaders perceive and behave like scientists: continually experimenting, measuring and testing for improvement and exploring new models and approaches. These leaders understand they need to make quick decisions and move into action before they have sufficient information. However, this fast-action leaves them at risk if they cannot refine their direction based on what they learn from their initial steps. Therefore, they take the smallest decision and action possible so they can learn and refine their approach. Agility becomes foundational.

Growth Mindset In Place Of Fixed Mindset

Leaders who focus on being technically correct and in charge put themselves at a disadvantage compared to the future-friendly leader who continually learns and develops self and others. With the volume of change, leaders need to continue to learn about their industries, businesses, and leadership craft. They need a growth mindset and need to help their organizations become learning organizations.

Engagement Focus In Place Of Autocracy

Leaders who managed people by being autocratic and controlling must shift to focus on motivating and engaging people through strategic focus, mentoring and coaching, emotional and social intelligence and empowerment. With a tight labor market, companies struggle to attract and retain employees required to meet customer expectations. Employee engagement is higher when leaders use a range of engagement modes and tools to drive success.

There’s a strong connection between employee engagement and company profitability. In a Gallup study of nearly 200 organizations, companies with the highest levels of employee engagement were 22% more profitable and 21% more productive than those with low levels of engagement. In addition, 94% of the companies on Hay Group’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies believe that their efforts to engage employees create a competitive advantage.

Multi-Stakeholder Model In Place Of Profit Only

Traditional leaders who tend to the numbers and primarily use quantitative measures that drive those numbers need to expand how they define and manage performance and broaden their focus. The future-focused leader continually balances customer satisfaction, employee engagement, community impact, cultural cohesion, social responsibility, environmental impact and profit. This leader is balancing a broader range of stakeholders with nuanced expectations.

Movements like conscious capitalism expand the definition of capitalism and encourage leaders to be more aware of the impact their decisions have on the broader stakeholder community they serve. Similarly, the increasingly popular ESG movement requires that leaders consider the environmental, social and governance impacts of their decisions. Increasingly, large institutional investors are focusing on companies with healthy ESG performance records. From Citi’s 2020 ESG report, “The events of 2020 are a stark reminder that companies like ours have a role to play in helping tackle the world’s toughest problems — and this sense of responsibility drives our ESG agenda,” said Jane Fraser, Citi CEO. “We don’t see ESG as a separate effort. Instead, it is embedded in our daily efforts to support our clients, colleagues and communities, and our work as a bank. We take great pride in our work and are delighted to share it with all our stakeholders in this report.”

Final Thoughts

As leaders, we are the stewards of our organizations, employees and stakeholders’ expectations. Therefore, we need to build future-ready leadership mindsets and skills required to lead in a manner that promotes success short- and long-term for our broad range of stakeholders.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotifyAmazon MusicAudible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO, the Innovative Leadership Institute, is dedicated to elevating the quality of leaders globally.

Photo by Memento Media on Unsplash

Setting the Virtual Table: How to Build a Culture of Belonging One Cyber-Meal at a Time

This week’s article is an article by Jeffrey Hull, CEO of Leadershift, Inc.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Flex: The Art and Science of Leadership in a Changing World that aired on Tuesday, September 21st, 2021.

 

After a year of forced remote work, Zoom overload, and a substantial loss of work-life balance for many of us, the news is stark: virtual work is here to stay. That is according to workplace expert, Dave Burkus, who I had the privilege of interviewing recently for the Institute of Coaching at Harvard. But the news is not all bad. As Dave points out, research shows that many benefits outweigh the drawbacks once we learn how to optimize our work lives in virtual spaces: we have more work-time flexibility, no commute, can spend less on work “costumes” and can potentially work anywhere there is a good internet connection. Virtual work can also increase a worker’s sense of autonomy, which according to research on self-efficacy by Richard Ryan, PhD at the Center for Self Determination Theory is one of three evidence-based factors, along with competence and relatedness, that underpin performance and motivation.

The trouble is that the third factor, relatedness, is particularly difficult to maintain, let alone enhance, in cyber-space. So how do we build a sense of connection, community, and belonging when we’re sitting alone watching tiny boxes on a two-dimensional screen? The answer may surprise you. As Dave points out in his excellent book, Working from Anywhere, the key to connecting in virtual spaces is being intentional about re-creating those experiences that foster cohesion and collegiality.  First among them? Food.

For centuries, human tribes have communed by breaking bread together. Either sitting around the fire or the dining table, the simple act of sharing a meal ensemble has been part of all human cultures. As Burkus describes, a perfect example can be found in Sweden, with the “cake and coffee” culture known as “Fika:” where employees share a drink and a bite to eat with co-workers (not alone at their desks like many Americans) on a daily basis.  It is a deeply important ritual that underpins their well-known collegial, yet high-performing, work culture.

Yet, as regenerative design expert Ben Preston points out, it is challenging to “feel” that same emotional arousal provided by the lived experience of taste, smell, tone, and touch through a two-dimensional screen. The human parasympathetic system needs a certain amount of stimulation to mediate the “fight or flight” response, to bring us into a state of calm rapport.  Eye contact, gestures, smiles, and yes, the arousal of our taste buds and sense of smell, are keen aspects of how humans build trust. So how do we do it virtually?

Well, if you have ever watched a cooking show on TV, or recently saw Stanley Tucci devouring homemade pasta on his gastronomic tour of Italy for CNN, you know that just watching someone eating delicious food can make your taste buds tingle. Breaking bread in cyberspace can work. But you have to pay attention to the details. So here is my five-step recipe for virtual dining that is sure to delight, and inspire, a high-performing team.

  1. Get serious: Food and drink are the lifeblood of vitality for all of us. When we dispense with mealtime gatherings due to remote work we are missing out on something important.  Leaders take note:  creating an opportunity for your team to come together over a shared meal – even if very much BYOB – is serious stuff.  You may not be able to take your team out for lunch or dinner, but you can bring them together, turn off the “to-do” list and share the intimacy of a meal. In fact, by having your team bring their favorite foods, or perhaps a special drink concoction into the mix, the experience can not only be fun but can become a cross-cultural learning experience.
  1. Get personal: Food and drink, are actually just the appetizer, for it is in the stories we share about the highs and lows of living life—taking care of friends and family, overcoming obstacles, watching our kids grow and achieve—where bonds are forged. The virtual meal is an opportunity for leaders to invite everyone into a shared experience. Norms, myths, symbols, and intangible “moments” are what coalesce into a culture of teaming (and psychological safety).

It is important, however, for the circle to be complete by encouraging — not demanding — everyone, even introverts, participates. The key for leaders in this regard is to be the role model: share with humility and vulnerability some triumph or failure, which gives others permission to let down their hair, be human, and imperfect. Cultures of safety and trust are not born of competition, one-upmanship, or “sucking up” to the boss.  It is imperative that the interaction be facilitated well — that employees feel relaxed, supported, welcomed in their diversity and uniqueness.

  1. Get physical: Another key element of meal gatherings that is often taken for granted in the “real world” in the sense of tactile connection afforded by varying our somatic movements, postures, seating arrangements, and so on. To include this physical and energetic component in cyberspace requires intention and attention – to detail.  A leader might suggest people “dress up” (remember office attire?) or wear a costume.

It might be appropriate to suggest participants invite significant others to join in, or bring a child or pet to the “dinner table”.  One way to bring sensory experience into the meal is to have everyone bring a symbolic object that is meaningful for them — to “show and tell” — and share the meaning with which an object or symbol is imbued.  Another possibility is a poetry reading or musical interlude. Often at pre-covid gatherings, we would invite a co-worker to play an instrument or sing. This same activity can be accomplished online: a musical interlude adds color and flair to a virtual meal. Finally, consider adding variation in the use of physical space:  have everyone join in on some dance moves, stretch, or breathe together.  The key: get up and move!

  1. Get game: Last, but not least, in contrast to all of the above; don’t take the whole thing too seriously.  What makes gatherings special, memorable, and relaxing in the “real world” is also true virtually: stuff happens. Make space for slip-ups, jokesters, break-downs. Take time for fun and games. Dining together, virtually, should be what I would call “serious fun.”

One of my clients plays virtual charades with her team, another had a cocktail invention contest (e.g. They sent around a list of ingredients, all non-alcoholic, and then proceeded to find creative ways to mix and match for the best flavor combos). Another leader held an impromptu karaoke event on Zoom, which brought out the best and worst – in everyone.  The key here is to be playful, light, inclusive (invite the introverts, gently, to participate), and serious, all in the name of bonding.

 

There is a reason why the most important scene, the finale, in one of the longest-running Broadway musicals, recently celebrating 25 years of success across the world, is set in a restaurant around a big dining table. The cast of RENT sings the famous anthem La Vie Boheme while, eating, drinking, and dancing on the table. This ritual celebration symbolizes the ultimate experience we all crave as humans: to belong.

So as the RENT cast might say, there is no time like today. If you are leading a remote team, get serious, and get playful. Bring everyone together on Zoom, Teams, or whatever platform you like, set aside work for a bit, and instead, set a virtual table, eat, drink and make merry. Your team will be glad you did.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author
Jeffrey Hull, Ph.D. BCC is CEO of Leadershift, Inc. a leadership development consultancy based in New York City and author of the best-selling book, FLEX: The Art and Science of Leadership in A Changing World, from Penguin-Random House in 2019. A highly sought-after speaker, consultant, and executive coach with over twenty-five years working with C-suite leaders worldwide, Dr. Hull is also a Clinical Instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School and adjunct Professor of Leadership at New York University. He is the Director of Global Development at the Institute of Coaching, a Harvard Medical School Affiliate. Dr. Hull has been featured in Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Investors Business Daily, and a wide range of media. He can be reached at www.jeffreyhull.com

Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

Leading in Emerging Industries

This week’s article was written by James Brenza.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leading in Emerging Industries that aired on Tuesday, August 3rd.

 

I recently shifted my business and technology leadership skills to a new industry. It is an opportunity to help a burgeoning industry improve operational efficiency, improve patient outcomes and help operational leaders be more effective. My career focus has been technology, data, and analytics. My career took a tangential shift when I started Greenest Grow, a company that focuses on creating sensors and software to support efficient cannabis growth. After watching my brother and father suffer extreme pain during the end stages of cancer, I decided to shift my strong professional focus to an area that would help others have a better experience than my family had.

Leaders are frequently called on to step into new industry domains. Sometimes, we invite ourselves into those domains. While the reasons for the shift can be numerous (e.g., burgeoning market opportunities, industry transitions, or personal growth), there’s one constant you’ll encounter: change. While it may be obvious that you’re going to instill change in the new industry domain, you’ll also need to accept some changes yourself. For many people, that second change can be the harder one to anticipate and accept.

My shift required a great deal of soul searching and business research to ensure I was focusing on an area that would have a positive impact on the industry, be financially viable, make the impact I wanted to make for cancer patients and their families. It was also critical that I not provide a gateway drug that might exasperate our global drug addiction issues. This shift has been a bit easier by focusing on 3 key elements:

  1. Adapting and applying the lessons I’ve learned in other industries. When you step away from the details, there are nearly always parallels you can identify and solutions you can leverage.
  2. Applying domain knowledge in common areas (e.g., technology, marketing, and finance).
  3. Adjusting your interpersonal approach to adapt your knowledge to the new domain while garnering acceptance.

That last element, adjusting your interpersonal approach, may be difficult to navigate. “Leading” is getting in front and charging forward, right? While that may work for some, I’ve found it’s generally more effective to gain acceptance and facilitate change through others. While we may need to be “in the forefront”, we can also remain humble and gain perspective. One very effective method is leading with questions to facilitate mutual understanding. If you’re attempting to explain how a prior experience can help solve a challenge, you’ll likely find a very short story will help. That will help others see the parallel to their challenge, consider it differently, and adapt/adopt a new approach.

Throughout a cross-industry transition, it’s critical to remain true to yourself and your values. Consider this: if you can’t lead yourself, how can you lead others? If you can’t succinctly state your values, you may encounter unnecessary turbulence when you encounter new problems. By clarifying your values, it will be much easier to navigate the gray areas and avoid a potential abyss. More importantly, it will help you focus your value proposition and avoid conflicts with your “true north”. By being true to yourself and your values, your new team and industry peers will immediately perceive your sincerity.

The Innovative Leadership Mindset model from the Innovative Leadership Institute provides a robust perspective to help you lead more effectively. Here’s a summary of the mindsets and examples of how I applied them.

Leader 2050 Mindset Application
Be professionally humble You, your peers and your team know you have a lot of expertise. However, you’re stepping into a new domain. It’s important to remember that others have spent decades in that domain and possess a lot of industry wisdom.

 

I am a 50+ year old man who has never used drugs. I was trying to enter the cannabis industry, which is closed by necessity because of the legal challenges. I needed to observe, learn, build relationships before even stepping into a grow house. I went from being the industry expert to the new guy in this industry with extensive experience that would help solve significant challenges and improve operational efficiency. I found it helpful to spend 3-4x more time listening than speaking. I also try to introduce new approaches with a question that invites discussion rather than blunt statement or order.

Have an unwavering commitment to the right action I was an Eagle Scout growing up. I didn’t use illegal drugs. When my brother and father died from cancer, I began to explore the available options to help other cancer patients and their families. I looked at questions of ethics such as is cannabis a gateway drug. Each of us will find our own path. For me, my research made me confident that I could pursue this path and help many people by improving the growing efficiency, which will help produce consistent medicinal cannabis at a lower cost.
Be a 360-degree thinker This was certainly a new domain for me. The size of the puzzle I was facing increased dramatically. Prior to jumping into action, I had to invest time and effort into understanding the entire landscape, identify parallels I could leverage as well as blind spots I needed to question. I relied on Stephen Covey’s sage advice: “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

 

I partnered with a broad range of people to help me solve significant business issues such as addressing the ability to retain a bank account as a business that supports the cannabis industry. I learned about running a manufacturing business and the contract manufacturing process, about all of the elements in the manufacturing value chain and the cannabis value chain. I sought a board with a range of experience and strategic partners to help in areas where they were experts.

Be intellectually versatile I was stepping into a new domain. It was disconcerting to not have all the answers immediately. I had to open my mind to new knowledge, new experiences, new information, new perspectives – before I could apply any existing mental constructs. I also realized I would never develop the skills that others have spent decades honing. I adapted my approach to ensure that I was building a team that could fill my voids while I applied my skills to help them reach a new level. Collectively, the intellectual capacity of the team increased dramatically.
Be highly authentic and reflective As I processed new information and perspectives, I needed to “double click” on my firmly held beliefs and values.  I knew that if I varied from my “true north”, I wouldn’t be able to work or lead effectively. I had to think deeply to understand my values, what they meant and how they are accomplished. I value both helping people mitigate pain AND I value laws and a focus on avoiding making illegal recreational drugs more accessible if they function as a gateway drug.  I also had to incorporate more research to validate accepted concepts. I grappled with my initial view of “drugs”, my values and the research and ultimately refined how I viewed cannabis. Lastly, it was important to ensure I was applying concise logic and not simply rationalizing to support a business model. This process was an important one. I use the word grappling because I needed to think deeply about what I support, what ventures I want to invest my energy and financial resources into. For many entrepreneurs, this is an important step to consider.
Be able to inspire followership Many individuals look to the “leaders” for the instant answer. However, many leaders know there isn’t always an easy or instant answer. I’ve found that it’s a very fine balance to be both collaborative (seeking input) as well as a visionary that can offer the team a new outcome. I’ve found it helpful to introduce a vision followed by a series of questions that invite conversation to help validate, refine and gain adoption. This “softer” approach helps me empower the team to expand the thinking, influence the adoption of new methods, and encourage collective ownership for sustainable change. We built a shared vision through a process that gave them a voice in the outcome. They also built trust in me and the leadership team through this process.
Be innately collaborative The delicate balance I mentioned above shows up in the tension between inspiring people to follow me and inviting them to collaborate. I’ve realized my first thought should always be to find a way to bring others into the thought process and solution development. Lasting change is only instilled if others are buying into the changes. I’ve observed many organizations rebounding to old behaviors due to the solution being incomplete or a lack of shared ownership. I’ve increased my focus on bringing the team together rather than trying to provide all the answers.

 

Leading through changes and transitions can be both frustrating and rewarding. As you see from the brief account of my experiences, this change in direction has been highly rewarding and also one of the more challenging endeavors I have taken on. At the end of the day, I will accomplish a goal that I am very proud of, improving the lives of people with cancer and the lives of their families. To do this, I needed to remain curious, facilitative and true to myself.

As you think about yourself as an entrepreneurial leader, what is your story? If you look at the seven mindsets, how would you describe your journey? Does this process reveal any gaps you would like to attend to?

 

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

 

About the Author

James Brenza is an entrepreneur, information technology and analytics leader with 30 years of diversified experience. He is a hands-on leader who carefully balances strategic planning, business communications, and technical delivery. He has extensive experience with motivating mixed-shore teams to deliver high-quality, flexible results. James’ academic foundation includes 3 degrees: Information Technology, Finance, and an MBA. He complemented his technical skills with a Six Sigma Black Belt, Lean Qualification, and PMP certifications. He applies that foundation to solving problems in agriculture, banking, insurance, retail, distribution, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and public service. He led analytic programs that have paid for themselves upon implementation and delivered first year ROI’s in excess of 10,000%.

 

 

How to Step Up as a Leader in a Post-Pandemic World

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This blog is a guest post from Rita Jordan, it coordinates with Mary Jo Burchard’s interview titled Building Trust in Uncertainty: A Personal & Professional Journey that aired on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021.

 

The pandemic has brought a lot of challenges that businesses need to overcome — from disruptions in supply chain operations to remote working policies. A report from the World Economic Forum even highlights some major business apprehensions, including:

• Remote work’s impact on productivity
• Employee morale
• An increasing reliance on technology

And even once the pandemic ends, these concerns will remain. To overcome these challenges and even thrive despite them, leaders need to step up. But what kind of leadership will the post-pandemic world need?

You need to empathize

The pandemic has been a great threat to your employees’ wellbeing, whether that’s their physical or mental health. True enough, recent studies show that at least 34% of professionals in the country admit to feeling more burned out than usual. The uncertainties brought by the pandemic will continue to persist even when the worse is over. After all, who’s to say another year like 2020 won’t arrive?

That said, a post-pandemic leader knows how to make decisions while showing empathy. For example, if your team members are not feeling well, convince them to take a sick day. Offer assistance when they ask for it. If you can check in on them at least once a week, that would help, too.

You need to trust your team

Contrary to initial worries, remote working policies have been very beneficial for employee productivity. In fact, 67% of employees testify to getting more work done at home. As such, remote work will persist even after the pandemic.

But for a permanent remote setup to work, you need to be a leader that trusts their team. For instance, if you’re an operations manager, resist the urge to micromanage your employees to compensate for the distance. As one of the top careers in business administration, operations managers are the backbone of the company’s day-to-day operations. While overseeing teams is part of the responsibility, you should be more concerned about developing strategies to increase your department’s efficiency. The case is similar for sales managers, whose primary job is planning campaigns and not implementing them. Micromanaging in these instances will only cause unneeded stress.

Trust your team members to finish their tasks at their own pace, and be ready to guide them when needed. This not only empowers your individual team members, but it also lets you focus on what’s truly important.

You need to be tech-savvy

The pandemic may have accelerated its adoption, but digital transformation has been an increasingly crucial factor in the success of businesses.

For example, more customers are active online, which makes digital marketing an increasingly necessary part of your strategy. Office tools like CRM and AI can automate some of your processes, streamlining your operations. There’s even the advent of cloud technology, which lets you host data online. This can help you collaborate with your team much easier, which is especially useful in a time of remote work. Leaders need to know which technologies can help their teams or department function better.

If you want the business to thrive post-pandemic, you need to be a leader who’s willing to adapt. Learn how new technologies work and show your team extra attention. Circumstances may continue to be uncertain, but leaders know to cut through the noise and guide their teams to push past the fear.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Rita Jordan is a freelance writer and aspiring business owner, currently taking a Masters in marketing to fulfill said dream. She likes to read books and help her sister with art commissions when she has the time.

7 Must-have Qualities of Leaders to Get the Best Output from Their Teams

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This blog is a guest post from Valentina Wilson, it coordinates with Ron Riggio’s interview titled Becoming a Better Leader: Daily Leadership Development that aired on February 9, 2021.

 

“Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.” — Steve Jobs

The responsibilities of leaders have quadrupled during an era when it has become a challenge to run a business. Covid-19 has brought fresh challenges for the companies. The onus is on leaders and remote workers to keep the business running amidst all uncertainties. But the key responsibility of helping a business thrive during the pandemic rests upon the shoulders of its leaders.

Great leaders can help to inspire teams to give their 100% at work.

Leaders need to instill a sense of courage and trust in their workers. Workers look up to leaders for direction and inspiration. If the leaders are incompetent or do not have adequate leadership skills, then it is hard to get 100% productivity from the teams.

Good leaders can get the best out of their teams during a crisis period. By keeping the teams motivated, inspired, efficient, productive, and focused on work, leaders can help a business to reach the pinnacle of success at any time. Teams look up to their leaders for direction and confidence. They walk on the path that their leaders show them. They watch and observe each movement of the leaders.

Also, leaders act as a bridge between the company and the employees. A great leader can inspire his or her teams to give their best effort during a crisis time and help to bring abundant growth to the company.

What are the great qualities of great leaders that can help to get the best output from their teams? 

  1. Give powerful and inspiring messages to your team.

Employees trust leaders more than the information they get from the media or the government. Great leaders always choose their words carefully at the time of communicating with their teams. They give clear and direct messages to make workers feel safe and protected.

During a period of crisis, leaders give moral support to workers even though they don’t feel confident about the situation. They solve the queries of the workers in the best possible manner to reduce their stress.

Great leaders are always there with their workers during ups and downs. They give powerful messages to instill hope and courage in the hearts of workers and help them shine in their full glory.

  1. Great leaders bond with the team by sharing personal stories and experiences.

Sharing personal experiences helps to strengthen the bond between leaders and team members. It helps the leaders to connect with team members and help to build healthy relationships. They speak about their personal experiences and victories to their team members.

They discuss Netflix web series, sports, personal interests, TV shows, politics, and so on to uplift team spirits. All work and no play make the team members feel bored. Personal chats and sharing of hearty laughs are also equally essential for the smooth functioning of a team.

If the bond between the leader and team members is not strong, then there cannot be 100 percent success. When leaders share their experiences and personal stories, workers feel inspired. They get the strength to collaborate with other members and get the work done as soon as possible.

  1. Great leaders act as a mentor rather than an authoritative person.

Great leaders don’t instruct workers about what to do like an authoritative boss. They act as a mentor toward the employees and guide them on how to finish a task. Leaders share helpful resources with the workers so that they can work on the project in the right direction. Leaders work with employees as a team.

They give genuine feedback about the progress of workers. They converse about the challenges that workers may face while doing the project in the weekly team meetings. Leaders ask how they can help workers overcome those obstacles and challenges. They share personal experiences to encourage workers to keep on fighting to overcome all the challenges and achieve ultimate victory.

  1. Great leaders take accountability for both success and failure.

Workers look down upon leaders who love to come to the limelight when there is a grand success and put all the blame on the workers when something goes wrong. Great leaders work as a team with workers.

They set clear objectives so that employees know what they must deliver. They work alongside the members until a project is delivered. They share both success and failures with the team members.

  1. Great leaders are fair and impartial to everyone.

Great leaders are fair and impartial to all workers so that they don’t feel deprived of anything. If the leaders are not neutral, then the team will not be motivated to give their 100% at work. The relationship between the team members and the leader will suffer, and so will the work in process.

  1. Great Leaders act as a bridge between the employers and the employees.

The outbreak of COVID-19 led to the introduction of work from home policy in many companies across the globe. Millions of workers have been working from home for the last year. Now, this has created a sense of confusion among employees. It has also created a sense of disconnect between employees and employers.

Leaders have a big responsibility here. They must act as a bridge between the employer and the employees. Great leaders communicate the new work from home policy clearly and decisively so that there is no confusion. They answer all the questions of the remote workers patiently and resolve their curiosity. After all, curiosity kills the cat.

Great leaders explain the benefits and risks of the new work from the home policy so that no one feels that others are getting an undue advantage. They work with employers to develop effective strategies to motivate workers who are coming to the office and working from home during the pandemic. They relay messages from employers from time to time so that remote workers get a sense of belonging to the company.

  1. Great Leaders work hard to lead by example and inspire others to work equally hard.

Workers will not be ready to put their 100% at work if their leaders give only 10% effort on projects. If leaders are sloths, workers will also be sloths. Great leaders prefer to lead by example. They put their 300% at work so that the workers are equally motivated to put at least their 200% on the current assignments. Strong leaders don’t believe in delivering speeches only. They believe in action. And that is because action speaks a thousand times more than words.

Final note

Leadership qualities help companies and workers in achieving financial freedom during dark times. The right behavioral attitude, empathy, and effective collaboration, and great leadership skills can help both companies and workers to get financial success in the long run.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Valentina Wilson is a writer. She loves to analyze personal financial matters and help others manage their finances in a better way. Traveling is also her passion. She follows more animals on Instagram than humans and her greatest achievement is her blog. She believes that transparency and conversations about money are essential in gaining control of finances.  To connect with her, go to her LinkedIn or visit her blog bestdebtconsolidation.org

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay  

 

 

 

5 Ways to Rewire Your Brain for Creativity

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This blog is provided by Albin Morgan, a guest writer.  It is a companion to the interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Becoming a Better Leader: Daily Leadership Development with Ron Riggio that aired on Tuesday, February 9th, 2021.

 

Did you know that you possess the power to rewire your brain and tune up your cognitive abilities? Well, you do. For the past decade, brain scientists have been releasing more and more proof that points to this possibility. The proof shows that the human brain is incredibly plastic, meaning that all you need to do is find the right habits and routines and you will successfully rewire yours. If you choose and commit to changing your behavior and becoming happier, more creative, and optimally productive, you sure can pull that off. Here are 5 hacks that will rewire your brain and give you significant gains in creativity and performance.

  1. Leveraging creative coaching

A life coach who specializes in creative coaching will help you to start thinking in new and different ways. Creative coaching involves teaching people who struggle with creativity issues the art of expressing their emotions, solving problems, and generating new ideas in a better way. If thinking outside the box isn’t your strongest suit, perhaps you need to book an appointment with a life coach.

The relevance of gaining creative skills in the corporate world can never be overemphasized. Creativity helps corporate leaders and business owners to work through any barriers that could be holding them back. A reputable creativity coach will go beyond training you on how to gain clarity and understand issues better, to training you on how to resolve conflicts and see things from the best possible perspectives. That is why investing in a creative life coach is never a waste of time or money.

  1. Diversify mind inputs

All human beings are creatures of habit. The only variation from one person to the other is the degree to which our habits and routines have affected our minds. Whereas this makes us happy and comfortable, it also limits our mind inputs and leaves little or no room for creativity. Speaking to the same group of people, sharing the same ideas, cooking using the same recipes, and visiting the same places makes you good at what you do but does not necessarily improve your creativity. That is why, if you want to diversify and improve your output, you must be ready to leave your comfort zone and start doing things differently. Take a vacation abroad, for example. Strike up conversations with random people, learn a new language, start playing new video games, read far and wide, and challenge yourself to do things that you ordinarily would not do. The more new interactions you make, the more diverse your thinking capacity will be.

  1. As much as possible, don’t multitask

Multitasking basically means asking your brain not to focus on anything specific and instead spin as many plates as possible, with the end game for any of the spins not being definitive. It is almost impossible for a normal human mind to focus on so many things and still manage to leave room for creativity. That is why when something serious bothers you, you drop everything, get in the moment, focus all your attention and energy on the problem at hand, and eventually find a creative solution. Now think of what would become of your life if you allowed your brain room to think all the time by quitting multitasking. It would be great, of course. Stop piling up issues or forcing things that probably don’t need to be pushed. Take everything in and start solving issues as they come. That will help with your creativity.

  1. Practice mindful observation

Improving your observation skills will set up your brain to a path of discovery and creative thinking. Mindful observation means taking note of your surroundings and being alive to everything that happens around you, no matter the time or place. It is time you started appreciating the environment in which you live and appreciating the creativity of the people around you. Start noticing problems everywhere you go and, instead of feeling overwhelmed by them, volunteer to find workable and innovative solutions. That will help you tap into your creative energy.

  1. Take time out and do absolutely nothing

Doing nothing isn’t easy especially with all the work deadlines waiting for you on your desk, but you should try it nonetheless. Just set aside an hour from your busy schedule, hit the brakes, and forget about work. Too much focus and attention to new information destroys your ability to process new information fast or even to analyze it effectively. Relaxing is critical to your cognitive capabilities.

Conclusion

Being creative is surely magical. It helps you to inspire new ideas and gain the admiration of people around you. Being able to create something from nothingness is also motivational in its own way. If you wish to get that ability, then, by all means, invest your time, energy, and money to getting the right tools for your creativity uptake.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Albin Morgan is a guest writer.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Movement

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This blog was collectively written by the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project Founders and is provided by Darcy Winslow, one of the founders.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Academy for Systems Change and the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project that aired on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021.

 

In order to meet the challenges of our time, we need to shift our thinking as individuals and as a society. The profound changes that are necessary today require a shift in our paradigm of thought and a shift in consciousness from an ego-system to an eco-system awareness. The deeper we move into the complex, volatile, and disruptive challenges of the twenty-first century, the more this hidden dimension of leadership moves to center stage. The blind spot in the 20th century toolkit of economics and management can be summarized in a single word: consciousness.

Consciousness is a thread that connects the 3 Divides (attribution to Otto Scharmer); a shift in consciousness will illuminate the interconnections among the Spiritual, Social, and Ecological Divides thus creating the conditions for current realities to transform into our desired common futures.

We are called to live with courage and collective integrity, for our survival and ability to thrive.

Spiritual Divide

Consciousness is our fluid basis for how to proceed with kindness, listening, learning, self-reflection, connection to self, and awareness of other. We have a human crisis resulting from people thinking of self in an egoistic way rather than as a higher Self who sees the bigger picture of us as community. Our aspiration is to support the inherent value of each person and create a flourishing world for all of us. We are warriors of love, calling all like-minded people to join us in changing the paradigm from “me, we, they” to a global and universal “us”.

The Spiritual divide manifests in rapidly growing figures on burnout and depression, which represent the growing gap between our actions and who we really are:

  • 1 person dies every 40 seconds from suicide (World Health Organization). There are 800,000 deaths per year from suicide, which is the leading cause of death in developing countries for people age 15-49. (Institute For Health Metrics And Evaluation, Global Burden Of Disease 2010)
  • Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US $1 trillion per year and people with mental health conditions often experience severe human rights violations, discrimination, stigma (WHO)
  • Most disorders classified within mental health — that is depression, anxiety, bipolar and eating disorders  — are more common in women than men. This pattern appears to hold true across most (in some cases all) countries. (org).
  • The annual cost of burnout to the global economy has been estimated to be $323.4 billion. Such costs have led to the World Health Organization predicting a global pandemic within a decade (and now here we are with COVID!).

Social Divide

Empathy is when we can enter into another’s reality without judgement to radically listen, radically see, and radically imagine. This is how we earn the right to be heard. By being witness bearers and showing empathy towards our sisters and brothers we deepen our connectedness. People everywhere will collaborate to create a future where we can heal the social divide(s) and create a world where all people have enough. Our deep connectedness and shared consciousness will guide us to create physical, social, and economic well-being where all can flourish. This can only happen if we are in tune with nature, understanding of our inescapable interconnectedness, and design our ways of living to be in balance. Our deep connectedness and shared consciousness will guide us to find the way back to each other.

Current statistics reflecting the social divide include:

  • The necessary contribution of women is difficult in a world where, despite representing close to half of the world population, women are under-represented in decision-making bodies. This lack of representativeness is significant: in 2016, just 22.8% of the total of national members of parliament and 4% of CEOs of biggest Fortune 500 companies were women. And in 2011, women occupied only 7% of ministries of the environment, energy or natural resources and represented some 3% of those responsible for science and technology.
  • Racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia are global phenomena. Each regional context is different and victims differ in language and culture. But the experience of exclusion, subordination, violence and discrimination is remarkably similar.  Racism as a worldwide phenomenon requires a worldwide response. (The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance)
  • Access to water and sanitation are recognized by the United Nations as human rights, reflecting the fundamental nature of these basics in every person’s life. Lack of access to safe, sufficient and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities has a devastating effect on the health, dignity and prosperity of billions of people, and has significant consequences for the realization of other human rights.
  • There is enough food to feed 7+B people, but we have a distribution problem: over 1B people have too much food, and over 1B people have too little food.

The Ecological Divide.

The ecological divide describes the fact that humans have organized our economic and social systems largely without regard to ecological limits on a global scale. We are supporting our needs (and in many cases our wants) through degradation of the very systems we need to sustain our species and other species on earth over the long-term.

Through innovations in technology and medicine over the past several centuries, (wo)mankind has successfully extended our natural lifespan and enhanced our quality of life (in developed countries), at the expense of the natural world. We have found ourselves in a ‘negative reinforcing cycle’ and are out of balance with the natural world.

Wealthier developed countries are thriving, while those in the least developed countries struggle to survive day to day while striving for the lifestyle of the (overly) developed countries. This is a moral dilemma as well; if all countries were to achieve our (on average in the US) lifestyle, the collapse of ecosystems would accelerate beyond all scenarios.

The ecological divide relates to the socio-economic divide because the organization of our social and economic systems has a great deal to do with our transgressing the boundaries of earth’s systems; we will have to consciously re-organize these systems if all humans are to have a good life on a sustainable planet. This also requires us to pay attention to equity, inter-generational and international harm, climate justice, and public participation–all socio-economic divide issues.

Ultimately, we need to bring humans back into a consciousness of earth’s limits and how we can have a good quality of life while respecting these limits. We, as individuals and society at large, need to regain congruence between our beliefs and values and how we live and work. This requires both science–to tell us where the limits are and to understand how ecological systems function–and spirit–to value the well-being of humanity and the planet more than our own excessive material consumption. This is where the ecological divide links to the spiritual divide; consciousness, care, and simplicity–all spiritual virtues–will have to be a part of bridging this divide.

There are many examples:

  • We are depleting and degrading our natural resources on a massive scale, using up more nonrenewable precious resources every year. Although we have only one planet earth, we leave an ecological footprint of 1.75 planets; that is, we are currently using 75% more resources than our planet can regenerate to meet our current consumption needs.
  • Burning fossil fuels to generate energy, clearing natural ecosystems for human uses such as development and agriculture, and generating waste that is difficult to dispose of without harming wildlife and ecosystems all contribute to climate change.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

The founders of the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project collectively wrote this article, which was provided by Darcy Winslow. Darcy is one of the founders of the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project and the President and co-founder of the Academy for Systems Change. The Academy advances the field of awareness-based systemic change to achieve economic, social, and ecological wellbeing. Darcy worked at Nike, Inc. for 21 years and held several senior management positions, most notably starting the Sustainable Business Strategies in 1999 and as Senior Advisor to the Nike Foundation. She serves on the board of The Carbon Underground and The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education.

 

What Does It Take to Be an Educational Leader in 2021?

We will be publishing some excellent guest writer blogs on Thursdays for the next few months.  This week the blog is provided by Jennifer Brown and is a companion to the interview with Mike Davis and Mark James, Junior Achievement — A Case Study in Disruption that aired on 11/12/2019.

 

The classroom offers no shortage of challenges for teachers, from navigating the different learning needs of a diverse group of students to keeping up with changing educational trends and policies. Plus, because of the 2020 pandemic, educators had to suddenly transition to remote-learning models, which was almost impossible to prepare for. And as many schools across the country re-open for full- or part-time classroom education, teachers have had to create structures that not only keep their students engaged but also adhere to COVID-19 health and safety standards.

While these types of obstacles are enough to keep some teachers engaged for a lifetime, others set their sights on even greater challenges within the educational system that will be in place long after the pandemic is over. However, transitioning out of the classroom into an educational leadership role isn’t as simple as throwing your hat in the ring. While classroom teachers are leaders in their own right, serving as an administrator requires a set of leadership skills all its own.

What it Takes to Be an Educational Leader

Becoming an educational leader is an opportunity to make an impact beyond the classroom. However, while teachers have ideas about the ways they’d lead differently given the opportunity, taking those ideas and turning them into actionable policies requires a unique set of skills.

When running a classroom, teachers have to make decisions moment by moment to keep their classrooms running smoothly and their students learning. Administrators, on the other hand, have to carefully consider the input of a variety of stakeholders before taking action.

In order to balance the demands of educational policies, district administrators, teachers, and parents, administrators must cultivate a culture of mutual respect and honest communication. That’s not easy to do when teachers often view administrators as a hindrance to their ability to teach, which is why an educational leadership role requires not only professional acumen but emotional intelligence as well.

The Demand for New Educational Leaders

For teachers who are up to the challenge of educational leadership, there’s no shortage of roles to fill. While teacher shortages draw the most attention, schools across the country are also facing a growing shortage of principals and other administrators. According to the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the demand for qualified principals in elementary, middle, and high schools is projected to grow 6 percent by 2022.

While some school districts struggle to attract candidates for leadership roles, most schools find that their problem isn’t the number of candidates, but the quality. One in three school principals stay in their role for less than two years and 18 percent leave the position within a year. Inadequate preparation is a leading reason for high principal turnover, which is why teachers are such attractive candidates for the job. When administrators have a background in education, they’re not only less likely to leave, they’re also more effective.

The Role of Educational Leaders in Student Achievement

What are the hallmarks of an effective educational leader? It’s not just an understanding of policy or a knack for juggling competing priorities. Experts agree that the most effective administrators are those who frame their decisions around what’s best for student learning — and that means creating a collaborative environment between teachers and administrators rather than taking a top-down approach to management. When administrators foster an environment that empowers educators, the sense of safety, support, and continuous learning that’s created trickles down to students as well. In fact, research has found that an emphasis on collaboration and communication is one of the key characteristics of high-performing schools.

Advancing your Career as an Educational Leader

While teachers are uniquely positioned to become educational leaders, taking that career leap requires additional qualifications. School principals require graduate-level degrees in educational leadership or administration in addition to state licensure, while educators who want to expand the opportunities available to them may opt to pursue a Doctorate in Education. With an EdD, educators can pursue a career as a K-12 principal, school superintendent, or an administrator in a post-secondary setting.

Pursuing a career as an educational leader isn’t a decision to make lightly. School administrators have a difficult job, and creating an environment that empowers students and teachers — both during and after the pandemic — requires professionals who understand the difference between leading and ruling. However, for teachers who appreciate the challenges facing their school system and want to make a difference, taking the step into an educational leadership role is the best way to do it.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 About the Author

Jennifer Brown is a guest writer.

Image via Pexels

 

Three Problems of Power — Problem Two: Silence and Blindness

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This blog is provided by Margaret Heffernan, author of the book, “Uncharted: How to Map the Future Together.”  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled “Uncharted: How to Map the Future Together” that aired on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021.  Last week, the blog featured Three Problems of Power – Problem One: Pleasing.  This week will look at problem two and next week will feature problem three.

 

Problem Two: Silence and Blindness

Richard was keen, intelligent, curious, well-read, and overflowing with good intentions. Ask him about his direct reports, he could provide a fulsome picture of each one, and he demonstrated real insight and nuance about their strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and dreams. He didn’t show it much, but he respected and cared for the people who worked for him.

Because Richard was so brilliant, he could solve just about any gnarly problem. But doing so implied that he didn’t believe anyone else could. So one day I suggested that he attend his next meeting and promise to say nothing. He looked puzzled and not a little intimidated, but he promised. What happened?

At first, he said, when an issue arose, he noticed that everyone was waiting for him to solve it. But when he offered no solution, they all scrambled for a while and then proffered their own ideas. These were excellent. What had Richard learned?

“I found out,” he said, smiling, “that they expected me to have the answer.”

What else?

“That they had lots of their own answers. Some of them much better than mine.”

What else?

“That I don’t need to go to all the meetings,” he laughed. Long pause. “That it might be better if I didn’t go to all the meetings…”

Richard had discovered that brilliant though he was, his power stifled the intelligence of his own team. They wanted to please him — and that, they thought, meant agreeing with him. His silence, or absence, liberated them to think for themselves.

One of the biggest traps of power is that the way that others respond to it. Most believe they get ahead by pleasing or, at least, not openly disagreeing. That means they contribute less than they might. This silence suppresses concerns; it also suppresses good ideas.

That they have this effect on people is something many powerful people fail to understand. I remember one CEO, whom I admired greatly, gnashing his teeth with frustration because his people so rarely stepped forward with ideas or initiatives. How did he explain it? He thought they just must be lazy. He himself had no insight into how, quite unconsciously, hierarchy silenced them.

At New York University’s Stern School of Business, Elizabeth Morrison and Elizabeth Milliken researched the phenomenon they call organizational silence. They found that the chief reasons for it are fear (of conflict or disagreement) and futility (I could say something, but it won’t make any difference, so why bother?) This exerts a high cost. Where power induces silence, it leaves decision-makers are blind. Think VW emissions or Boeing safety concerns. It also means many missed opportunities, invisible at the top but frequently obvious further down the hierarchy.

The desire to please, a fear of conflict, and a pervasive sense that only the senior voices count: these beliefs aren’t entirely irrational, so they have to be addressed. In recent years, it’s been fashionable to talk about the need to create a culture of psychological safety, to ensure that people speak up. Safety is crucial. But it’s often impossible to achieve in an age of high unemployment, layoffs, downsizing, and automation. In that context, anyone carrying a high level of personal debt (a mortgage) is already unsafe, and it’s obtuse to belittle or ignore it. That makes it all the more important to find mechanisms where people can see for themselves that it’s safe to be open.

After the poor decision-making that led to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, President Kennedy radically rethought how to develop real honesty and the widest range of options from his advisors. He asked multiple teams to tackle the same question with the same information. He used skip-level meetings so that the more junior diplomats and analysts could debate freely with their peers, something they’d never have done with their bosses present. This ensured that Kennedy had more perspectives and ideas to consider.

When Britain’s National Health Service was plagued with a number of scandals that derived from multiple, often minor, failures that most feared to articulate, nurse Helene Donnelly became an ambassador for cultural change at the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust. She isn’t a boss per se — that helps — but her role is to hear concerns that hospital staff have been unable to get addressed or that they are afraid to raise. She told me that the most important part of her job is to write up the story of how each problem really does get fixed. Positive action is what persuades people not to stay silent.

Why don’t bosses perceive the problem that power confers? Many tell me that they don’t feel themselves to be different. They are, they insist, just ordinary people doing tough jobs. The answer is naïve and inadequate. It’s foolish to imagine that how you see yourself is how others see you. And having power confers the responsibility to understand how it works. Like a weapon or a car, just having it requires insight, control, and finesse.

 

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Margaret Heffernan is the author of the best-selling UNCHARTED: How to Map the Future Together, nominated for a Financial Times Best Business Book award. She is a Professor of Practice at the University of Bath, Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute’s Responsible Leadership Programme and, through Merryck & Co., mentors CEOs and senior executives of major global organizations. She is the author of six books and her TED talks have been seen by over twelve million people.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash