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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

Leadership Trends to Watch for 2019 and Beyond

With 2018 coming to a close, many of us are looking to 2019 and beyond. This article was originally published on Forbes.com in August 2018 summarizing the trends that emerged from the last 100 interviews conducted on Voice America Radio, Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview series.  It is the companion to an interview between Christopher Washington, PhD and Maureen Metcalf Top Leadership Trends in 2018 and beyond.

I host a weekly radio show that helps leaders update how they lead. The interviews are with key business leaders, global leaders, thought leaders, authors and academics. Each year, I publish the main themes we discuss on the show as well as in my consulting work with senior executives around the world.

I have now completed more than 150 interviews, and volatility was a recurring theme. This article is a synthesis of what we can take away as key factors for leaders and executives to focus on for the next four years.

1. Leaders must pay attention to trends and predictions.

As the rate of change accelerates, if you take a “wait and see” stance, you will be caught unprepared. The intersection of volatility, changes in technology and global interconnection means there are threats and opportunities on all fronts and a large pool of organizations poised to leverage both. Speed continues to matter.

2. Leaders and their organizations are becoming agiler.

A McKinsey survey of more than 2,500 organizations of different sizes, specialties and regions reported that “37 percent of respondents said their organizations are carrying out company-wide agile transformations, and another 4 percent said their companies have fully implemented such transformations. The shift is driven by proof that small, multidisciplinary teams of agile organizations can respond swiftly and promptly to rapidly changing market opportunities and customer demands.”

As leaders, it’s important to adopt a nimble mindset and culture. Being nimble means paying attention to trends and identifying small “experiments” you can run to keep up with or even ahead of the changes happening around you. Once you are clear about what will work for you and how it will work, pilot that change. Truly agile companies are always experimenting.

3. Organizations and their people must accelerate their pace of learning.

With an increase in agility, people and organizations will need to accelerate learning. In 1978, Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus Chris Argyris wrote Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. This work continues to evolve and increase in importance, as learning provides a competitive advantage.

Take, for example, how organizations are automating more work. Employees who continue to learn and update their skills will be able to find new roles, while others who are not continually learning will be left unemployed or underemployed as their roles diminish.

4. Age range in the workforce will continue to expand.

As life expectancy continues to increase, many people will want to and need to work longer. Organizations will need to find ways to attract and engage older workers. They will also need to address the dynamics created when multiple generations of employees are working together on the same team.

With the decrease of age-based seniority, leadership will be taken by the best person for the role and will likely shift frequently in an agile environment. Organizations need to be creative in promoting engagement and teamwork across multiple generations.

5. Leaders need to identify and build talent at an increasing rate.

As technology evolves and organizations change more quickly, employees need to learn faster, and organizations need to identify workers to fill changing talent needs. Some of these needs will fall in the technology space, but not all.

We referenced older employees remaining in the workforce and returning. We also need to find ways to engage talent who have been previously overlooked. This could mean people leaving incarceration, people with disabilities who would, in fact, be great fits for certain roles, or adults who work from home because they are caregivers to their children or parents, to name a few.

6. Employee engagement will continue to be important in volatile times.

The importance of human interaction will continue to increase even as more of the workforce is working remotely – many rarely, if ever, meeting their colleagues. Leaders and organizations need to focus on soft skills such as emotional intelligence that have a strong impact on engagement and the effort employees put into communicating.

7. Communities must come together to solve quality-of-life and economic issues.

With the level of change, segments of the economy can easily be excluded from the workforce. The gap between economic haves (those with education, access and resources) and have-nots can increase, and the cost can be significant for the individuals, families and businesses impacted by a worker shortage.

Successful regions create organizations to tackle these challenges. This means organizations that traditionally compete for resources and clients also need to work together to solve challenges that impact them.

8. Effective leaders are conscious of their impact across a broad range of factors and stakeholders.

As we talk about conscious capitalism, the main idea is that “conscious” organizations tend to the health of a broad range of stakeholders. It becomes increasingly important to pay attention to the needs of competing stakeholders and balance these demands. Conscious capitalism is one mechanism that helps leaders explore the broader range of stakeholders and understand their drivers.

Business is getting more complicated and requires leaders to continually update their skills as well as their mindset and focus. This article summarizes some of my key learnings.

As a leader, are you seeing similar trends? What’s missing? What are you doing to prepare yourself and your organization to succeed during the next four years?

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.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of Metcalf & Associates is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, coach and consultant.

Four Recommendations to Keep your Plan Current and Adaptable

Innovative leadership overcome stressThis post is by James Brenza co-author of the Innovative Leaders Guide to Implementing Analytics Programs.

It’s 7:00 am in the hotel parking lot and I’m facing a 20 minute commute to the office. That leaves 10 extra minutes before my 7:30 presentation. Complicating factor number 1: the windshield is covered by a thick coat of frost. Complicating factor number 2: the car rental agency decided I didn’t need a window scraper. I didn’t have many options as I stared at my ungloved hand, a credit card, a frost encrusted windshield and listened to my watch continue to tick. I knew the commute very well and needed to improvise to arrive as expected. Have you ever been in a similar predicament? Despite your original plan, the next step includes an unexpected twist.

Isn’t it “funny” how we all encounter distractions from our plan? Whether you’re completing a product launch, a customer segmentation strategy or a new price optimization method, it seems there is always a wrinkle in your plan. In many circumstances, you may face challenges with your stakeholders, team members, incomplete data, inadequate models or insufficient time to properly train the models. In most of these situations, the mark of a strong leader isn’t their ability to personally resolve the underlying problem. Innovative leaders are known for their ability to adapt to the situation, pressures, team dynamic and think creatively to help the team resolve the issue. The following section explores various distractions from plan and recommended actions to mitigate the impact.

  • Communicate quickly and honestly. Key indicators and keys to success of innovative leadership are integrity and adaptability. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the adage that bad news doesn’t age well. When facing adversity such as distractions from our plan, an unexpected or delayed outcome, deceiving the stakeholders is never an option. However, we have the ability to creatively and adaptably apply our resources to attain all or a portion of the visionary goal.
  • Address leadership gaps quickly. If the distraction from your plan included a gap in your team’s skills or leadership capability, you can seek substitutes, additional resources, coaching or training. In especially challenging situations, including specialized consultants in a coaching mode can meet the short-term objective and bolster long-term capability. You can also leverage your network and personal skills to fill small gaps.
  • Address data availability and integrity. If your analytic initiative is struggling with data acquisition or qualification of available data, you may need to revise your objective until the data is available, validated and qualified for use. If you drive forward with inadequate data, you risk developing inaccurate models. Since the predictive ability of the available data may have some value, another alternative is to segment the population and attempt a small pilot with highly structured A/B testing.
  • Validate our analytics model. If your analytic models are evolving slower than planned, you can support your data scientists with a fresh perspective to validate the underlying descriptive statistics, foundational predictors or potentially confounded attributes. It’s especially important to ensure the models aren’t being over fit due to inadequate data or hasty elimination of valid predictors.

With all of these technical mitigations, your role as a leader is even more vital. You’ll need to ensure your communications are completely transparent, and your stakeholders are aware of the issues and mitigations. It may be necessary to remind them that the only thing worse than not implementing a predictive model is an inaccurate model that may reduce value through sub-optimization. In difficult and tense situations, your team’s resilience may crumble. Scheduling special activities or a little time away may help refresh them. It’s also vital to take care of yourself. With the extra stress and high expectations, your competing commitments may erode your performance. It’s critical to maintain your life balance and control any conflicts raised by your “inner voice”.

For the curious few seeking closure, I survived my frosty morning commute by using the defrosters to help with the windshield, minimized scraping on the side windows, skipped scraping the back window and missed seeing my favorite barista on the trip to the office. By adapting my expectations, reducing my typical commute plan and accepting a few risks, I was able to meet all of my commitments.

What adjustments are you prepared to make so you can meet your expectations?

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.

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flick.com By: Techniker Krankenkasse

Build Your Team & Communicate Reflection Questions Reflection Questions Part 2 – Eric’s Story

I’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In the last post, I answered a series of reflection questions to strengthen my understanding of the development and communication of my support team. I have broken the reflection questions into two posts this one contains the second half of those questions.

Eric Reflection Questions Part 2 support team

This is the end of the Build Your Team & Communicate step. The next step is the second-to-last step in the innovative leadership development process, and perhaps the most exciting step: taking action!

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.

If you are interested in receiving Eric’s ongoing blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Implementing Big Data Programs/Analytics – Plan the Journey

analytics at workIn this blog series, James Brenza has been talking about implementing big data and analytics programs using a composite case study to illustrate the process. Each week James will focus on one of the seven steps and give specific examples to help illustrate how the tools can be used in a very practical manner. This is the fourth in the series that corresponds with the seven stage implementation model. More information on that robust model is available in the Innovative Leaders Workbook for Implementing Analytics Programs by Maureen Metcalf and James Brenza (scheduled for release in August 2014).

The leader’s plan: With a well-defined vision, scope, team, and approach that ensure an organization’s alignment, the team is now ready to create the plan. Equally important to the team’s plan is the leader’s plan to help guide the team. The previously established awareness of personal style is the leader’s starting point in their personal plan. By leveraging awareness of their individual leadership style, the leader can establish a course of actions that will maintain their focus on leveraging their strengths and more importantly filling their gaps. Building on a previous example, if the leader is going to rely on team members to maintain the vision or organization adoption of the transformation, they’ll want to establish the recurring tasks that allow them to have regular progress checks and deliverable validation. This enables them to leverage their detail orientation as well as ensure the team is covering the leader’s gap.

Cultural adoption plan: Much like the leader’s personal plan, the team should formalize the plan that builds cultural adoption of the changes. This is likely to require frequent updates and engagement with the operational stakeholders. Periodic deliverables should be included to detail progress (in non-technical, non-statistical terms) and provide complete transparency on progress. The level of transparency on progress is vital for ongoing progress updates. Similarly, conveying progress in functional terms and examples will help maintain alignment with the organization mission and planned outcomes. That transparency will continue to garner support from the teams responsible for operationalizing the outcome. If they are aware of weaknesses in the data or models, they can be prepared to address those challenges now and communicate the potential need to address similar challenges in the future.

The ongoing updates will allow multiple teams to review the related impact on other systems and processes. Since the organization will need to embrace new methods and perspectives, it will take time to adapt the related systems and processes. Even though the solutions will evolve, early warning will provide more time for changes or manual workarounds to bolster early adoption.

System and process plans: As the solution evolves, the core team, extended team, and subject matter experts should start to populate detailed implementation plans for each area that changes will impact. They can identify precise process steps and systems that will need to be updated to embrace the new processes and models. As the team identifies those changes, they can also document measurements that can be implemented with those changes to ensure the changes are beneficial and continually utilized. If additional validation is necessary, they’ll also be positioned to identify an “A-B” controlled test group to help corroborate the value of the improvements. A final element for the team to document is the development and/or acquisition of new skills that will be required. By documenting the skills, measurement of mastery, and development process, they can prepare the organization for all aspects of a successful transformation. For analytic initiatives, one of the future skills may be ongoing statistical reporting to support model refinement.

Use an Agile approach: As the team plans the actual analytic work, they should avoid the traditional “waterfall” implementation methodology. Data and analytic initiatives are extensively based on incremental discovery. The traditional approach of in-depth requirements, design, development, testing, and acceptance (which works very well for the implementation of a prescribed solution), isn’t appropriate for a process that must adapt to ongoing discovery. The team will make substantially faster progress by working in short “sprints” typically associated with Agile development methodologies. The team can break down the overall effort into pieces that are managed in two to three week steps. Each step should produce demonstrable results that sponsors can assess to confirm progress. As challenges are discovered, the steering committee and sponsors will be able to help the team refine the approach or eliminate the barriers. They’ll also be able to help the team leverage an early success to rapidly implement an early deliverable. That level of flexibility will facilitate progress and provide rewards for rapid accomplishments.

How is leading a big data/analytics initiative different than other projects? So let’s take a moment to focus on what’s unique about data and analytic initiatives.

  • Since it is not just a technical solution, it’s critical for the leader to proactively anticipate and incorporate all interdependent entities within the organization.
  • The plan must allow for multi-dimensional work, assessments and communications. The leader can define that during the planning phase, but must ensure it is embraced throughout the plan execution.
  • It is also critical to embrace an Agile implementation approach. The constant discoveries necessary for big data/analytics initiative success are not naturally facilitated in a rigorous, waterfall environment.

Since analytic initiatives follow a path of discovery, they require a significant commitment to communications.  In our next section, we’ll discuss communication plan nuances that will help the leader and team succeed.

Click to purchase the Innovative Leaders Workbook to Implementing Analytics Programs.

If you are interested in reading more by James, you may want to read:  Evaluating Big Data Projects – Success and Failure Using an Integral Lens, Integral Leadership Review August – November 2013. You can also listen to the NPR interview that accompanies this paper including a dialogue between James Brenza, Maureen Metcalf, and the host Doug Dangler.

We also invite you to join the LinkedIn group Innovative Leadership for Analytics Programs on LinkedIn curated by James.

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.

If you are interested in receiving James’ seven part blog series or our other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com analytics at work

Taking Action – Notes From The Field

This post is the fifth in a six-part series of “Notes from the Field” in which Holly, an analyst in an HR department at a major university, shares a small part of her overall exploration and talks about her experience using the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers to plan her next career step.  Last week, Holly shared how she action plans for leadership development.  After putting together my development plan and forming my support team and needs, I have reached the point where it is time to take action.

At first, I could not help but think of the cliché, a task is easier said than done, but I am more optimistic at this point.  I have put forth effort in trying to envision my future, what actions I can take to get there, and what support will be needed along the way.  The next key step is trying to identify barriers to my success and trying to eliminate or modify my course of action.  (For a more complete case study, please either refer to the workbook or one of the online leadership development programs for emerging leaders or leaders).The workbook provides a helpful action tool to accomplish just that:

Innovative Leadership Barrier Table

I also completed several of the reflection questions to help clarify my direction.  There were several meaningful questions that made me analyze my behaviors and how I needed to align them with my overall vision.  One question I found:

How do I manage my transformation over time?  How do I focus on accomplishing my daily tasks while concurrently focusing sufficient time on my vision and goals?

One of my biggest barriers is focusing too much on my long-term goals.  In order to work on my transformation, I need to spend time appreciating what I have and what I am able to do now.  I look back and see how far I have come, and I am not able to recall as much the steps I took to get to this point.  Moving forward, I want to slow things down.  If I put forth greater effort to align my actions with my values, then over time, I will be more successful at reaching my goals.

This week’s exercise made me realize the significant challenge these barriers have caused in the past.  Reflecting on these past and ongoing challenges helped me recognize that my development plan is a starting point.  Things will happen along the way and in order to be successful I will need to find ways to respond positively or find workarounds.

Next week, I will focus on how to integrate these changes into my lifestyle moving forward.

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.

Plan Your Journey

Plan Your FutureThis  is the third in a six-part series of “Notes from the Field” in which Holly, an analyst in an HR department at a major university, talks about her experience using the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers to plan her next career step. Last week Holly shared a personal self-assessment of her strength and opportunities.  This week she focuses on defining a development plan that helps connect her vision with her self-assessment results.  (For a more complete case study, please either refer to the workbook or one of the online leadership development programs for emerging leaders or leaders).

In order to create a development plan, it’s important for leaders to have both strong external capacity and internal capacity.  After completing my self-assessment and identifying my strengths and weaknesses, I feel I have a strong balance of both external capacity and internal capacity, but recognize there are areas that can be enhanced and improved.

To accomplish my vision and build further capacity, I have two development targets.  These two foci will help identify behaviors or skills I can enhance through planning and goal setting:

Build on your current strengths – This focuses on enhancing current strengths and helps provide clear indicators of what changes are required for continued growth and success.

I identified one of my greatest strengths as the combination of my ambition to succeed and a trusting nature personality trait. I have a goal to progress further in my career.  To accomplish this I need to enhance my visibility through greater committee involvement and expanded networking activities, in addition to completing my MBA program and surfacing ideas to enhance the organization.  I’d like to accomplish this goal within the next three years and will measure the success by a promotion or new employment opportunity.

Minimize your weaknesses – This focuses on identifying behaviors that may impede further growth, and understanding how a behavior may interfere with future success.

A weakness I identified is the need to put myself and overall well-being first. I have a goal to have improved mental-health (less stress) and physical health.  I plan to accomplish this goal through meditation, exercise, and taking more time for myself.  My goal is to accomplish this over the next six months.  I will be able to measure the success of the goal by lowering my blood pressure, running my first 5K race, and incorporating these action items into my lifestyle.

As a part of the workbook I was able to review additional reflection questions that helped create my development plan and create my action goals.  One of the reflection questions that stood out to me was:

What are my priorities for development?  Are they reflected in the plan I created?

My priorities for development are reflected in the plan I created. My personal values and future vision highlight the importance of maintaining a strong work-life balance.  In order to try to meet these expectations, I made it a priority to complete my education and develop my career at an early age—before planning to start a family with my husband.  After reflecting on these questions and actions, I also recognized that not putting myself and health first will directly interfere with my future vision.  In order to have a successful work-life balance, I need to implement action steps now to improve my health and well-being to help prepare me as I progress in my journey.

Next week I’ll focus on building a team and communication plan to help support the changes in my goals for personal and professional development.

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.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com stargardner

Five Steps to Nonprofit Strategic Planning

StrategyThe following post was developed by Dani Robbins, our nonprofit expert and owner of Nonprofit Evolution. She is also the coauthor of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives winner of the 2012 USA Book Award – Best Business Reference Book.

“Strategic  planning is a process in which the board, staff, and select constituents decide the future direction of an organization and allocate resources, including people, to ensure that target goals are reached. Having a board-approved, staff-involved strategic plan that includes effective measurements and the  allocation of resources aligns the organization, provides direction to all levels of staff and board, and defines the path for the future of the organization. It also allows leadership, both board and staff, to reject divergent paths that will not lead to the organization’s intended destination.” Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives

All organizations should have a strategic plan.  Strategic plans get everyone on same page as to where you are as an organization and where you are going.  They allow the group to decide the goals moving forward; create measurements to determine if you met your goals and assign responsibility and due dates for specific goals. While we often hear that in changing times it no longer makes sense to invest time in strategic planning, we believe that it is even more important to have a plan with the expectation that it will be refined regularly based on changes internally and externally.

In the absence of a plan, there are still moving parts, but they’re not aligned. The absence of a plan sets the stage for people to do what they feel is best, sometimes without enough information, which may or may not be right for the organization. It opens the door for one person’s vision to get implemented and others to feel unheard or unengaged.  The absence of a plan allows for major decisions to be made on the fly and for potentially mission driven decisions to be compromised.  As we all know, movement goes in other directions than forward.

Strategic Planning is a process that results in not only a document but also a shared understanding among key stakeholders.  The process – and the document – can be very long or very short.  (I have a new theory that the longer strategic plan is, the less likely it is to be used.)  It doesn’t have to be a huge, multi-level process that includes benchmarking and a community needs assessment, but it can be if you have the inclination and the resources. For some organizations, primarily larger ones or those just starting out, a community needs assessment may be critical.  I don’t generally recommend them for established social services agencies.  Most social service agencies are pretty clear on the need and there is ample documentation to support their assessment.  In those cases, an environmental scan, coupled with an issue exercise and/or a SWOT analysis may be sufficient.

Regardless of if you select to do benchmarking and have a needs assessment or not, Strategic Planning should include:

  1. Values, Mission and Vision setting or recommitment. I always start with values as I believe they set the tone for everything that follows.  What are your organizational values?  What words reflect the way your organization operates, and the way your team talks to and about your clients?  What words infuse and reflect your organizational culture? The mission statement answers why your organizations exist. A vision is a description of what the organization will look like at a specified time in the future. There are two minds in the field as to if a vision statements should be a utopian view such as “an end to hunger” or a more concrete view such as “to be the premier youth development organization.”  I lean toward the latter; I find it challenging to set goals to get to utopia.
  2. History  of the organization, its footprint and current services,  an environmental scan and additional information, as necessary. Planning should include some discussion of critical information regarding program and operations, organizational challenges, community landscape, technology, finances, budget, both human resource and resource development capacities and systems, and the processes and development of the Board of Directors.
  3. Set Strategies to meet the Vision. Strategies answer what we need to do to get where we want to go – to close the gap between the current reality and our vision.  Strategies are broad-based statements that define the path for the organization (rather than the ongoing work of the organization).
  4. Set Goals to meet Strategies. Discuss what has to happen to get you where you want to go.  What do you need to add, subtract or change to get there?  What has to happen to implement your strategies?
  5. Develop Goals into Work Plans with assignments and due dates. Create a plan to meet those goals by including who will do the work and by when.

Once the strategic plan is complete, create a reporting mechanism and discussion opportunities at future board meetings. Strategic planning is one of the five components of Board Governance. Board members should participate in the process and vote on the outcome.

The Board should also assign who will ensure the plan’s success. The options, in order of effectiveness, are the Strategic Planning Committee Chair, Board President, another board member or the Executive Director.  Executive Directors are traditionally tasked with implementing and stewarding the plan (and being evaluated as such) but they can’t always do it alone; it is helpful to have a board member also ensuring the plan’s implementation.

There are as many types of plan strategies, variations on those strategies and ranges of fees, as there are consultants offering the service.  You don’t have to hire a consultant, but I do recommend you have an outside objective facilitator to help you.

A strategic plan should be a living document that guides the organization and provides a point for ongoing programmatic and organizational evaluation.  It should not sit on a shelf.

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.

photo credit: www.flickr.com Taylor Burnes

Innovative Leadership – What is Your Development Path?

This post was co-written with Jason Miller, contributing author of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers.

We believe that leadership innovation is a process of improving leadership that allows already successful leaders to raise the bar on personal and organizational performance. By adopting this view of leadership as an improvement process, we can assume that there are various stages of maturity an individual will demonstrate at any given point in the journey to become an innovative leader as reflected in the table below. If you are an emerging leader, you may not see yourself as an already successful leader, but as a new leader. Irrespective of where you are along the path, by following a structured process, you will increase your effectiveness and the success of your organization.

Kelly is an emerging leader, managing a small staff of employees and in many cases working shoulder to shoulder with them to accomplish tasks as part of the team. Her approach was very effective until she had a team member pass away unexpectedly. This disruption required her to build her leadership and management skills quickly to respond to a very real set of challenges the team needed to face. While it seems an unlikely time to start focusing on developing leadership skills that is what Kelly needed to do. She realized she needed support during this challenging time. She began focusing on defining the processes clearly and identifying how work would be most effectively accomplished with a new team member. This crisis forced Kelly to quickly master some key skills for emerging leaders, she took responsibility for the team’s success, she clarified the work and roles and responsibilities, and she understood the impact of her decisions and took the time to perform a thorough analysis on some key issues to develop a plan to go forward. She also accelerated her plans to develop and cross train her team to provide greater flexibility for everyone. Her team emerged from this crisis strong.

This table walks you through some of the criteria we evaluate when determining the leadership stage. Work focus is the level of responsibility you take on during a normal work week; decision time horizon refers to the general time frame considered when you make decisions; and complexity is the level of your tasks—this could include the intricacy of a single task, or the fact that you are managing many tasks, projects, processes, and even systems or enterprises.

Innovative Leadershp Development Continuum

Using the Continuum to Create a Development Plan

We created the continuum and workbooks to help leaders and managers understand the skills to master at their current level and also which ones to start practicing to move to the next level. The tool is part of an integrated leadership development program designed to help people move through the continuuum. By using the Innovative Leadership Development Continuum, you can create a development plan designed to help you develop to higher levels of responsibility.

Reflection Questions:

  • Where are you on the Innovative Leadership Development Continuum?
  • Do you have a development plan that will help you master key skills at your current level?
  • Are you building skills that will allow you to transition to the next level?

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.

10 Steps to Building and Leading High Performance Teams

One of the key skills referenced in the Execunet 2011 Executive Job Market Intelligence Report is the Ability to build and lead high performance teams.  Since this is a one of the top five areas in both hardest to find qualities and most sought after, we wanted to share a high level look at key factors that drive team success.

I have worked with a range of teams.  I have seen those that are far less effective when working together, where individuals will not share their input and insight with others for fear of being criticized or disregarded.  These teams demoralize most of the participants and drain productivity from the organization.  I have also worked with teams where the team leader gave attention to team process, dynamics and results in the appropriate balance.  These teams delivered results far beyond expected, team members were engaged and worked together to overcome challenges.  The difference is a combination of the team leader and the team process. Both are important for team success.

We draw extensively from the Drexeler Sibbet model and augment it with our own thinking, tools, and other sources.  The following bullets are key elements in building high performance teams from scratch.  If you have a team that is not performing well, you may want to use these steps as a diagnostic to identify the root issue.  We offer a wide range of team development solutions based in part on the following team development model.

  1. Establish purpose FIRST – determine why we are working together – since many people are motivated by making an impact consider stating the purpose in a way that they will understand and be proud to tell others about.
  2. Charter the team and establish goals and vision – clarify what success looks like in the form of specific goals with timeframes and resources requirements.  Ensure the appropriate level of money and staffing is identified early and available.
  3. Build trust among members – the amount of time and money wasted covering our backs and protecting ourselves can be as much as 50% when working with people we do not trust.  Unless you want to increase your resource requirements by 50% and extend your timeline – investment in trust starts to look like a good idea.
  4. Act with grace – own our mistakes and be kind to others – we only succeed if we can work together.  We work in a world that is increasingly complicated and things will fall through the cracks.  It is unavoidable so learn to accept this in yourself and others and minimize the mistakes while being kind to yourself and others.  This does not mean tolerate non-performers, it just means we make mistakes, emails go to spam, calls get dropped, and family members get sick.
  5. Establish processes, rules of engagement and decision responsibility and processes – knowing how decisions are made is critical to progress and minimizing confusion and hard feelings.  Be clear early who is responsible for which actions and decisions as well as how do we treat one another.
  6. Plan the work – establish a work plan in sufficient detail to know what resources are required and when each task should be complete including interdependencies.  Manage to the plan with the assumption that it will need to change based on changes in conditions in the environment.  Something will go wrong; part of the secret sauce is how the team responds to the normal ebbs and flows of business. When in question, act with grace.
  7. Do the work – follow the plan and accomplish the work on time, with the quality expected, using the resources expected.  When deviations happen, be proactive and discuss with the team to allow adjustments as quickly as possible.
  8. Measure progress and success – measures should have been established early in the process.  Collect the data, analyze, and adjust.  Remember this is where we learn what went wrong and get to learn and correct.
  9. Recognize others – celebrate success when it happens.  Life is way too short to skip over the small wins.  Make a point of recognizing the people around you when they do something well.
  10. Learn and improve – at appropriate steps in the process stop and reflect on what you accomplished and what you can learn, from success and challenges.

For most of us, these principles are not new and yet, as leaders, we often allow the culture of results drive us to skip over the very important steps in the process that ensure our teams will be successful.  By taking the time and focusing on building the team foundation, we improve our success rate.

Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative leader?  If so, take this free on-line Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale.  If you are looking for tools to help develop you ability to be an innovative leader, check out the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook.  Metcalf & Associates offers assessments, coaching and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative.

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.