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Leading in Turbulent Times: What are International Leaders Saying?

As I write this article, I’m excited to reflect on the 2017 ILA global conference theme, Leadership in Turbulent Times, and share wisdom gleaned from 12 Voice America interviews I conducted in Brussels at the conference last October. This is the second year I have interviewed keynote presenters, top speakers, political leaders, board members, and organizers in the role of media partner. The interviews resulting from this collaboration began airing  January 9, 2018: Leaders Building on A Moral Purpose to Create A Just World with Jorrit Volkers, Dean Deloitte University EMEA and George Papandreou, Former Prime Minister of Greece. See full list of interviews with links at the end of this post.

With a necessary focus right now on terrorist attacks and geopolitical instability across continents, and with the increase of populism as well as the impact of the rapid pace of technological advances, the logical theme of the conference was “Leadership in Turbulent Times.” It sounds ominous, right? The word turbulence typically creates anxiety and fear because it is never associated with something promising or hopeful. It is defined as conflict, confusion, and unsteady movement. I’d like, however, to offer a new way to think about turbulence. Change is never a result of stagnation, and only by churning ideas and challenging old schemata can we evolve. Turbulence, therefore, offers new opportunities across a broad range of sectors. While the challenges are more complex, and the world feels less safe, we have greater opportunities to make positive change than at any other time in recent history.

Turbulence is an ongoing condition to be managed, not a problem to be solved. Here is a summary of my key take-aways from presentations, conversations, and twelve hours of interviews I conducted for VoiceAmerica.

  1. Leadership is an interplay between our individual purpose and values, our behaviors, organizational culture, and systems and processes. It requires continual adjustment to maintain alignment between all four elements, an adjustment that is akin to a finely choreographed dance. It is ongoing and requires continuous attention and expertise. All aspects of the dance start with leadership having a self-awareness of purpose and values. This self-awareness provides the inner compass from which the leader leads the organization.
  2. Purpose and self-awareness are the foundation of effective leadership. Self-awareness is not an activity to accomplish once. It is a practice to be done regularly and routinely. When asked, most people want to make the world better than they found it. Leaders who can translate this sense of purpose into their unique commitment to action in the world are more effective as leaders because they have a North Star to guide their actions. When they share this purpose with those they lead, they build trust and inspire commitment.
  3. Reflection takes time—and it is a requirement. Reflection and meditation provide a physiological advantage by impacting the neural network in your brain. One of the precepts of self-awareness is the “moment of awareness” when we take a deep breath, pause, and ask ourselves what outcome we want in a moment. This brief pause allows us to be fully present and clear before we take our next step. The ability to pause and reflect, for a moment or longer, allows leaders to stay centered and grounded in times of high pressure.
  4. Leaders have many roles, including chief culture officer. Culture leaders are akin to musical conductors. Through their actions and attitude, they set the tone of the organization and the underlying agreements supporting that tone. In doing so, leaders create the culture in organizations that supports the purpose and values they claim to hold. Organizations living their purpose do not show it in a poster on the wall but through the underlying rhythm and music of a strong dance performance. The conductor becomes the music that inspires, sets the tempo and tone, and informs action. If the rhythm changes, so do the movements of the dancers. A strong culture offers a competitive advantage and makes successful organizations hard or impossible to emulate. One recommendation I heard repeatedly is that leaders need to create a culture of openness and safety. Awareness of the culture provides leaders with multiple perspectives so that they can adjust quickly to changes in the environment.
  5. Leaders need to inspire followership and know when to follow. Leaders are those formally recognized for their leadership role, some of them have the title of leader and others do not. We rarely talk about leaders as followers. Most leaders report to someone including boards of directors. Leaders need to learn to both lead and follow. They also need to teach those who follow them how they would like to be followed. Back to the metaphor of the dance, each dancer is different, the interplay between different leaders and followers is unique even with the same music. Another topic generally not discussed, but highlighted at this conference, is the idea of ethical dissent — when we chose not to follow and how we courageously hold our leaders accountable.
  6. People want to perform effectively. Organizational systems need to support peoples’ positive intentions and skills. Spend less time creating systems to weed out shirkers and poor performers and more time creating a culture that enables people with purpose to do the work that fulfills them and that concurrently serves the organization’s mission and success.
  7. Teams have become far more important in the current environment. Effective teams are based on the members’ ability to communicate effectively, often across the globe. A key factor in effective team interactions is building relationships with individuals. This is best done in person and, then, can be sustained remotely. There is no substitute for strong relationships when navigating complex work.
  8. Effective communication and learning organizations have become more important with the complexity of the challenges and geographic dispersion of teams. Communication requires both strong listening skills and the ability to speak simply and concisely, including attending to conflict and complexity when necessary. It also means unflinching accountability. Leaders must be accountable for their role when problems arise, and look forward with vision of the future rather than looking back and fault finding. It is important to learn from challenges and mistakes and remain agile in the face of ongoing change. Vision forward and data analysis backward creates learning organizations.
  9. Organizations must align their purpose with that of the stakeholders within as well as with clients, and the local and global community. Making a profit is the fuel for company survival, but it is not the fuel to thrive. Companies must find the intersection between company success and social action in order to make a positive profit while, at the same time, making a positive social impact. John Heiser, the President & Chief Operating Officer of Magnetrol International, gave a beautiful example of hiring autistic adults to perform tasks for which they are best qualified. This approach allows the company to attract and retain people whose skills match their jobs as well as provide meaningful work for people in the community who often don’t find opportunities. He gave several examples of how companies could align their interests with those of the community.
  10. Global peace and security depend on recognizing our innate nature to be peaceful. When we follow our true nature, we are peaceful beings. Conference presenters and attendees I interacted with talked about the intersection of creating individual conditions in which people can express their inner goodness and, at the same time, create cultures and systems that promote peaceful work and lives.

I left the conversations feeling hopeful that compassionate, wise, and highly-successful academics, executives, politicians, and military leaders are sharing their best thinking with one another at the conference and beyond. They forge and renew relationships, and identify new opportunities to collaborate to make positive change. This forum is one in which leadership as an art and science evolves through people and their interactions.

9 Jan. 2018Leaders Building on Moral Purpose to Create a Just World

Interviewee: Jorrit Volkers, Dean, Deloitte University EMEA & George Papandreou, Former Prime Minister of Greece

16 Jan. 2018Maximizing Profit and Social Impact Concurrently – A Case Study

Interviewee: John Heiser, ILA Board Member; President & Chief Operating Officer, Magnetrol International, Incorporated

23 Jan. 2018 How Do We Work and Live with Purpose and Compassion?

Interviewee: Éliane Ubalijoro, ILA Board Member; Professor of Practice, Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill University, Canada; Member, Presidential Advisory Council for Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Rwanda

30 Jan. 2018Dialogical Leadership: Understanding How It Impacts Success

Interviewee: Rens van Loon, ILA Board Member; Professor & Consultant specialized in leadership and organizational change and transformation.

6 Feb. 2018 Creating Mindful Organizations

Interviewee: Subhanu Saxena, Regional Director Life Science Partnerships, Europe at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Michelle Harrison, Global CEO, Kantar Public, the WPP Group public policy consulting and research business.

13 Feb. 2018 How Would We Lead If We Believed Humans Were a Peaceful Species?

Interviewee: Mike Hardy, ILA Board Member; Founding and Executive Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, UK.

20 Feb. 2018 Inner Peace Nurtures Global Impact

Interviewee: Kathryn Goldman Schuyler, Organizational Consultant, Leadership Coach, Public Speaker and Author; Editor of Creative Social Change: Leadership for a Healthy World

27 Feb. 2018 The Dance Between Leadership and Followership

Interviewee: Margaret Heffernan, Author of five books, Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute’s Responsible Leadership Program & Ira Chaleff, Founder and President of Executive Coaching and Consulting Associates

6 Mar. 2018 Values and Storytelling to Deliver Results

Interviewee: Sebastian Salicru, Director of PTS Consultants, an Associate of Melbourne Business School – Executive Education, and Fellow of the Institute of Coaching (McLean/Harvard Medical School) & Michelle Harrison, Global CEO, Kantar Public, the WPP Group public policy consulting and research business.

13 Mar. 2018 Leveraging Polarities in Complex and Turbulent Times

Interviewee: Barry Johnson, Creator of the first Polarity Map® and set of principles; author

27 Mar. 2018 The Nexis of Leadership and Practice – Royal Dutch Shell and ILA

Interviewee: Jeroen van der Veer, Former CEO of Royal Dutch Shell plc & Cynthia Cherry, President and CEO of the International Leadership Association

I hope this article inspires you to listen to select interviews or, even better, the entire interview series! Interviews from 2016 are being used in academic and professional leadership development programs around the world. I encourage you to share this information freely. This complimentary set of interviews are content rich, exposing listeners to the subtleties required to build leadership acumen, and give insight into those who have made a commitment to work and to live at the intersection between exceptional research and practice in leadership.

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

Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

Trends and Projections For Leaders in 2018

This post is a companion to the interview with Dr. Dale Meyerrose, Retired Air Force Major General. on  VoiceAmerica “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations” on December 26, 2017, 2017 Retrospective and 2018 Projections with Dale Meyerrose.

Endings or beginnings? How do you choose to view the close of a year and the unfolding of a new one? Self-aware and strong leaders pause for reflection throughout the year, these dates, however, are great reminders to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. As 2017 wraps up, I want to close by highlighting trends we saw this year and what they might mean as we look at 2018.

  1. Volatility continues to increase. We continue to see record-setting natural disasters whose recovery stretches government infrastructures. We are seeing technology raise questions about venerable institutions with the strengthening awareness of crypto-currencies and blockchain. On the human front, the #metoo trend is the latest to disrupt the existing power structure.
  2. Anticipate trends as much as possible. Highly effective leaders are looking at the trends across a range of categories to determine those that are likely to impact us. Because so many disruptions come from nontraditional sources, it is no longer sufficient to look at only industries in which we’re involved. How do you monitor trends within and outside of your industry?
  3. Resilience is more important than ever. As leaders, we need to respond to volatility with grace and instill confidence in those who follow us. We need to have the capacity—with clear thinking and energy—to process the challenges that we face as well as those that face our organizations. Do you have practices that allow you to remain focused in times of challenge such as reflection, mindfulness, meditation, or prayer?
  4. Continue to build skills. The most effective leaders continually learn and grow, building on their already solid foundation. With the pace of change, all of us need to make time in our increasingly demanding schedules to refine our skills and expand our base of knowledge.
  5. Reconnect with your core. It is no longer enough to just do an adequate job, it is important to have a sense of purpose and an inner compass. Before my holiday travels, I will take my car to my mechanic to ensure it is in top working order for travel through the snow and mountains. I try to do the same with my purpose and inner compass, I take time at the end of the year, which happens to correspond with my birthday, to reflect on the past year and think about the upcoming one and, most importantly, identify which of my beliefs no longer serve me. This is different than skill building, it is about mindset. If my inner “operating system” is out of date, I am likely to make decisions that don’t work at this juncture in history. Are you making time to look over the year and consider not only what actions you took but also what motivated you to take those action? Are your beliefs and motives still aligned with your goals?

Most cultures reward activity and doing more with less. What we are doing now is leaving most of us exhausted and often overwhelmed. These are not the main characteristics anyone puts on their LinkedIn profile “willing to overwork but often exhausted…” It’s important to consider and rethink how we respond. What I suggest is counter to most cultures: Sometimes the best action is inaction.

So, as we reflect on 2017 and plan 2018, how will you navigate the accelerating demands on your time and energy with the physiological constraints we all face? If you can make changes in your organization, what will you do for yourself to build time to recharge and refresh?

The team at Metcalf & Associates wishes all of you a happy holiday season spent with those you most value in your lives. We hope you take the time to recharge and refresh your body, emotions, and spirit. We are looking forward to doing exactly what we recommend: balancing spending time with family and making time alone for quiet reflection.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO and Founder of Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach whose 30 years of business experience provides high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. Maureen is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with a strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

At C-Level #11: Creating a Vision and Sense of Urgency

Mike Sayre is a highly experienced and successful software, e-commerce, and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO, and Board Director. He is an Executive Leadership Development Coach at the Innovative Leadership Institute, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their businesses. Mike was featured in Maureen Metcalf’s May 2017 Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview on VoiceAmerica entitled “7 Characteristics of Leadership 2020 In Practice: A CEO Story.”

In At C-Level #10-18, I write about three of the most successful transformations I’ve had the opportunity to lead in my career so far, following a seven-step transformation model similar to the Metcalf & Associates Innovative Leadership Transformation Model below. This blog is about the first step in the process.

 

Create a Vision & Sense of Urgency

“Starting with the end in mind” is important when beginning any new transformation. However, having a vision of what is at the end of a transformation is not enough. The vision must be so compelling to those leading the transformation and those in the organization being transformed that all involved are impassioned and feel an intense sense of urgency to make it happen.

Do you and your team have a vision you are passionately working toward in your organization? How urgently is everyone working toward that vision? What drives that urgency, or lack thereof?

Here is how the visions were created and the sense of urgency developed in the three transformations I outlined in At C-Level #10:

  • Large Manufacturing Company. Early in my career as a new financial analyst at a $2B heavy manufacturer with over 60 operations worldwide, I wanted to learn all I could about the business and the people in it. I visited plants and met with plant controllers and general managers, I asked lots of questions to better understand their businesses and their needs. The controllers were still using antiquated accounting systems and spreadsheets to produce their monthly financials and had little time for much else. The general managers were anxious to better understand the financial aspects of their operations and the potential new investments they were proposing to Corporate. They wanted more resources, but didn’t understand that they had the right resources in their controllers—they just weren’t using them very efficiently.

The vision became clear to me and I began sharing it with everyone who would listen. The controllers spending most of their time in their offices working on accounting and financial reporting needed to be upgraded to financial business partners in their business units. That vision resonated with both controllers and general managers and catapulted me into leading a significant organizational transformation that affected a large part of the corporation and, up to that point, was the largest transformation project in my career.

What are the challenges in your organization that would have the greatest positive impact if things were changed? Do you have ideas on what those changes should be? Will people see the urgency in making those needed changes?

  • Mid-Size Electronics Manufacturing Services Company. As a new CFO in this company, I led a financial turnaround of an unprofitable $25M company to a $15M profitable one. Three years of significant revenue growth later, we had become a $75M company. However, we were making about the same profits as we did at $15M! I was then promoted to my first CEO job to “fix” it. I immediately jumped into talking with people across the company to get a sense of the challenges we were facing. We were still trying to run a $75M company like we ran the $15M company. Overall people liked the company, but they were lacking general direction, goals, motivation, processes—and more than a little structure. There was a lot of work to be done, but toward what? …and where should we start?

Having never been a CEO, I employed a leadership development coach who made me go deep into myself and define my personal purpose in life, as well as my own personal vision, that I could very closely link to a vision for the company. After much soul-searching, I also wrote draft missions and general operating philosophies for the whole leadership team to help me refine so that all could buy in. Knowing what we were doing was not working, and, with a downturn looming, we could be in serious trouble again, a very high sense of urgency drove us to a vision that was essentially “to be the best in the world at what we do.” As vague as that vision was, being the best in the world (not the biggest) mostly meant we needed to be a vastly different company than we were, in everything from leadership to strategy to execution. It opened people’s minds to substantial change.

The vision was a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) and it drew people in. Do you have a BHAG that could energize your organization?

  • Global Internet Payments Company. As a management consultant in this business, I could see that the company was vastly underperforming despite having some great talent and a significant global business opportunity. The business had grown to processing over $200M in payment transactions per year in 200+ countries and was still operating as startup with the same culture it started with for most of its ten years in existence. The organization was operating in silos and simply just tossing their problems over the wall for other departments to fix, which never seemed to happen. People were no longer as happy working there as they once were. A significant cultural transformation was needed to get the company back to higher levels of profitability and prepare it for a possible sale. But what would that look like? And where should we start?

After a few months, I was hired as COO. I immediately drafted missions, visions, and operating guidelines for the executive team to further develop and adopt. We eventually dropped the idea of a stated vision and adopted a mission of “We help our Sellers sell more!” That mission really helped the leadership team focus every day, week, and month. But frankly, it was the combination of the mission, improvement in leadership (we brought in a leadership development coach for the entire leadership team) and the operating guidelines that drove the entire organizational transformation. While not stated, the vision was of a company providing the highest value to its clients (the sellers using its payment services), growing in its financial value, with everyone working in harmony toward those reaching the first two goals. We talked about these three things all the time.

If your vision is not stated, what might be the “behind the scenes” vision for the company? Could it be stated to rally the troops and reach it faster together? Do you talk about your mission and goals on a regular basis?

Key takeaways from these transformations

The larger, more complex and/or faster-evolving an organization’s environment is, the higher the need for a stated vision that everyone can rally around and work toward in transforming the organization to get it to the next level. Does your organization need a stated vision?

To develop a great vision, you must know yourself, your organization, and what will stir deep passion and a sense of urgency within you, as well as the people you will be leading on this journey. Involve the leadership team in the process and get out and talk to others in the organization who have been, or will be, key to the success of the business. If you don’t know where you are going, what path do you follow? How will you know when you’ve arrived?

You don’t have to be a top leader of a large organization to start a transformation. If you can create a vision that…

  • you and others are passionate about,
  • is well thought out,
  • leverages your area(s) of expertise,
  • is widely recognized in the organization,
  • is supported by your leaders, and
  • is believed to be an urgent need with a real return on investment (in other words, a priority),

…and you have the confidence to step up, then you will have the opportunity to lead it. Is there a transformation in your organization waiting for someone to step forward and lead?

And lastly, if there is no sense of urgency, progress will be slow, at best. There is urgency as in a challenge that must be overcome, and urgency as in a destination everyone can’t wait to get too. What drives the urgency of your organization’s progress today? Can you combine the urgency of the challenges you face along the way with the urgency of getting to your destination to speed that progress up?

In “At C-Level #12: Building Transformation Teams,” we’ll look at how the teams were built in these same three organizations and what the key takeaways are that you may need to think about in building your transformation leadership team.

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.

Thanks for following us! To learn more about transforming organizations and/or get help, visit us at www.Metcalf-Associates.com.

Have We Taken Optimization to Painful Extremes?

What is too optimized?This post is by James Brenza co-author of the Innovative Leaders Guide to Implementing Analytics Programs.

As we hurriedly boarded the plane for our 6:00 AM departure, we sleepily threw our carry-on items in the overhead compartments and hoped for a calm, restful flight. The challenges started with the pilot’s innocuous announcement that we may have a short wait for de-icing. That short delay became a 30 minute line followed by a 90 minute wait for de-icing equipment repairs. Despite the pilot’s polite updates every 15 minutes, sleep was a lost opportunity due to the stress of missed connections and passenger calls to customer service to rebook connecting flights. Have you ever had a travel misfortune like this? Doesn’t it seem like the slightest disruption anywhere in the continent can disrupt the flow for the entire day (or longer)?

As seasoned travelers embrace winter’s grip, we brace ourselves for a plethora of difficulties. We all seem to encounter flight cancellations, late arrivals, insufficient or ill-equipped rental cars and overbooked hotels. I always find it interesting that other travelers complain that it wasn’t always this bad. Have you ever considered what changed? Is it possible that with more data and stronger optimization models that we’ve over-optimized based on profitability?

When creating optimization models, one of the very first steps is to pick an outcome. If the selected outcome includes only profitability, full asset utilization, minimal inventory or razor thin times to repurpose assets (e.g., airplane turnaround time, restaurant table turns per shift), we can certainly drive to that outcome. But if you don’t consider the ecosystem and especially the customer, you can actually sub-optimize the business ecosystem with excessive optimization. A few simple examples include:

  • Profit optimization is frequently accomplished at the expense of workforce capability and resiliency.
  • Operational efficiency optimization can compromise the customer satisfaction.

Don’t turn your back on optimization in haste! There’s no reason to throw in the towel yet. One of the best remedies has been available for decades (yet easily forgotten). The Balanced Score Card was developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in 1992. The approach is still operationally sound and perfectly complements optimization and executive analytics.

Optimize your business

By considering the ecosystem impact of excessive optimization, you can ensure you establish the countering measures during your development process. Since these measures need to incorporate an extremely broad view of the enterprise, they are best aligned with the executive view of the system.

As your team considers the optimization outcome, the leader should challenge them to consider the risks created by excessive optimization. They can brainstorm outlandish extremes to help make the point clear. After they consider all possible sinister outcomes, the next step is to consider the counter measures or optimization models that will prevent such extremely negative outcomes. It’s possible some of these outcomes should be factors in the primary optimization model (e.g., incorporating the cost of accommodating and compensating displaced airline passengers while optimizing fleet utilization).

It’s critical to associate and integrate the competing models while conducting what-if analysis or simulations. As various scenarios are modeled, the impact on the counter measure should be examined. Even if the models appear to be balanced for the “standard” outcomes (e.g., first standard deviation), the models should be stress tested for the edge cases and counter measures examined.

Since the results are vital to the ecosystem, core operating measures or KPI’s placed on the executive dashboard should have the counter measures visually aligned and updated at the same frequency. Unless all levels of the organization understand and monitor the impact of myopic optimization, the enterprise will increase risk to unacceptable levels.

Just in case you’re wondering about our flight disruption and connecting flights, many of us were fortunate that the connecting aircraft was delayed due to a mechanical fault. We were equally fortunate that it was promptly repaired considering the next available substitute aircraft wasn’t available for 5 hours. That’s a shocking delay considering this airport was a hub for that airline. By failing to model adequate substitute hardware during a predictably difficult travel season, they’ve embraced and accepted a significant level of customer dissatisfaction.

Are you doing the same thing to your customers? Are you prepared to ask the difficult questions and respond to the challenging answers? How are you leading your teams to ensure your optimization strategy is balanced?

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.flickr.com frakus

 

Plan Your Career Development Journey Reflection Questions – Eric’s Story

I’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In my last post we did an in-depth analysis on our short-term goals to help reach our next career milestones and discovered effective time management techniques. Now we will fine-tune our short-term goals by answering specific reflection questions. In accordance to the nature of innovative leadership, we not only consider how our personal development goals impact ourselves, but we also consider how they impact our organizations.

Reflection Questions for Plan

We have reached the end of the Plan Your Journey step. This is the third of the six processes of developing innovative leadership – you’re halfway there! As you can see in the graphic below, the next topic is Build Your Team & Communicate, in which we will create a group of mentors and partners to help us before we go all-out in the Take Action step.

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.

Plan Your Career Development Journey Part 2 – Eric’s Story

IGoals’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. In the last post we discussed identifying a skill/behavior that you would like to improve in order to help you reach your next career milestone, with the understanding that our long-term life goals are made up of a series of short-term goals. In this post, you’ll clearly identify the skill/behavior you’d like to improve upon, and then create a plan outlining how the current state of that skill, future goal, daily routine/actions, deadline for completion and a way to measure progress.

Your goal should be S.M.A.R.T.

We recommend that your goal be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (S.M.A.R.T.).

  • Specific: clearly defined. When goals are specific, or clearly defined, it is easier to know when they are reached. Specify the goal by clarifying what exactly is expected, why it is important, who is involved and where it will happen.
    • For example: I want to increase my focus/productivity by 200%, independently, each month, during internship/work hours, because I will be able to get twice as much work done and be better prepared for when I enter the workforce upon graduation.
  • Measurable: establish criteria for measuring the progress of each goal. This shows what and how much change we are expecting.
    • Focus/productivity will be measured in how many tasks I accomplish during work hours each day. Let’s say I complete two big tasks each day; I will focus on limiting distractions/overthinking so that I eventually complete four big tasks each day
  • Attainable: identify goals that are truly most important to you, you begin to find ways to make them come true. You develop attitudes, abilities and financial capacity to reach them. You begin to see opportunities you otherwise may not see as you realize the importance of such goals. “Attainable”, in this case, refers to how reasonable the goal is overall, regardless of your personal ability to do it.
    • Doubling daily productivity, or reducing time to accomplish each task, in one month is attainable for many people in my situation. Many interns can do that as they develop knowledge and skill in their work.
  • Realistic: to be realistic, the goal has to be something you are personally willingand able to work toward. You are the one who determines when it is completed, so make sure it is something you can realistically accomplish. “Realistic”, in this case, differs from “attainable” because it specifies whether you have the capacity to accomplish the goal. There may be something unique about you, making you better/worse at accomplishing a task than most people in your situation. If too easy, increase to difficulty or tighten the deadline. If too hard, decrease difficulty or push back the deadline, but only after you’ve actually tried it for a bit – don’t give up too easily!
    • Doubling daily productivity is realistic for me because I am increasing my knowledge and skill of my work at a higher rate than I could have ever anticipated.
  • Timely: goals that lack time frames also lack urgency. When setting the time frame, set an actual number or defined period of time, like “one month” or “one school year”. Don’t just say “soon”, “ASAP”, or “eventually”. Would you rather your professors tell you “You have an exam soon!” or “You have your exam one week from today”?
    • “One month from today” is a defined period of time.

Make sure your goal is written down in a way that meets the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. Next, we will use the Development Planning Worksheet. This chart should be simple enough for you to make in Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheet. Follow my lead:

Eric's development planning worksheet

I highly recommend using a digital calendar with cloud capabilities and managing your time well. This link will help you manage your time during the academic semester: http://howtostudyincollege.com/time/. While the link specifies making time for studying, it is still a great time management strategy and it will help you find time for any goals of yours.

Now you have a great sense of your short-term goals and your strategy to reach them, plus some potentially life-altering time management advice! In the next post, you will be provided reflection questions regarding the entire process of planning your journey. After that, you should have a very firm understanding of how to plan your journey as an innovative leader and outstanding college student.

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 – Creating a Vision and Sense of Urgency

Big DataThis is the first in a seven part blog series written by guest blogger and co-author James Brenza. James is the Chief Data Officer for Labor Genome. He is also Vice President, Data and Analytics Practice at Pillar Technology.  He provides over 20 years of technology leadership to drive the use of data and analytics for sustainable competitive advantage.  His background includes analytics leadership, business process reengineering, program management and software development. James is also active in the Columbus start-up community as an advisory board member and Chief Data Officer.

This series will focus on big data and analytics projects based on a variety of case studies to illustrate the process. It will contain seven sections that correspond with the seven stage organization transformation implementation model and each week James will focus on one of the seven steps. The series and this week’s blog starts with sharing an example of how an analytics program was implemented using the first part of the organization transformation model: creating a vision and sense of urgency. James gives specific examples to help illustrate how the tools can be used in a very practical manner.

Predictive Analytics, Big Data, Business Intelligence, Analytics Transformation….. they are all big opportunities and potentially big headaches if your leaders aren’t prepared to drive them effectively.  An analytics transformation requires a unique focus and leadership to ensure a positive outcome. The organization transformation process defined in the Innovative Leaders Workbook for Implementing Analytics Programs by Maureen Metcalf and James Brenza (scheduled for an August 2014 release) provides a robust framework for business analytics initiatives.

Leading Organizational Transformation

In step one of the implementation process, creating a vision, I highlight several key actions and illustrate the steps with examples and considerations for you, as the project participant or leader. My intent is for you to see how these steps apply in a real implementation and provide examples that will be valuable to you when you implement your analytics program.

Assess foundation for change: After attending a recent meeting to organize an analytics initiative, the small team of stakeholders and subject matter experts lacked clarity on their problem definition, intended outcome, team structure and available resources. The team was very excited to leverage the current interest in analytics, but lacked clarity on what they could accomplish, or even how to proceed. Have you ever participated in a similar effort? Without a vision, organization and stakeholder alignment, execution and communication plan, and measured outcomes, your success will be challenged. Let’s examine a composite example to see how leaders have ensured successful initiatives in their organizations.

Clarify the vision: The success of analytic initiatives hinges on starting with a strong vision and realistic assessment of the organization’s ability to structure the effort. It also hinges on the leader’s ability to prepare the stakeholders for a journey, rather than just a traditionally structured implementation project.

The transformation vision needs to focus on leveraging data and analytics to provide a business outcome that is not currently available.  That outcome is best described in financial terms or customer centric metrics.  To help clarify your vision, one of the following example statements may help you to clarify your purpose:

  1. We’ll utilize customer and order data to improve annual customer retention by 10 percent in the next twelve months.
  2. We’ll utilize order, competitive analysis and social media feedback to increase annual sales by 15 percent in the next two years.
  3. We’ll utilize physical asset and energy utilization data to reduce annual operating costs by 2 percent in eighteen months.

Each of these sample statements clarifies the use of data, specifies the use of analytics, and links to a time bound, measurable outcome.

Scope the change: After clarifying the vision, the team can focus on identifying the scope of the initiative. By focusing on each of the business areas that will be impacted by implementing the change, the team can identify the outcomes that are desired. Those outcomes should ideally be linked to the organization’s mission, purpose, financial statements, or customer outcome. For each outcome identified, the team can focus on individual measures that can quantitatively define the current state as well as progress toward the future state. If a quantitative measure cannot be identified, the team should create a qualitative measure and be prepared to gain stakeholder support for that measure.

Identify Stakeholders and Sponsors: Since the vision and scope specify the data and business value, the stakeholders have been identified implicitly.  While implicit definition is a great starting point, it’s vital to identify specific stakeholders and assess their alignment with the initiative.  The team can brainstorm the list of stakeholders by looking at the data source owners, the type of analytics to be performed, the owner of the outcome, and groups impacted by implementing the change. A stakeholder management plan is an ideal tool to accomplish this. By identifying the stakeholder, linkage to the initiative, current level of support, desired level of support and plan to gain their support, you can initiate a communication plan to gain support.  For executive level stakeholders that require a significant shift in their level of support, it may be necessary to identify other stakeholders who can influence them.  It is vital to structure the stakeholder management plan, work through the communication steps, and continuously revise the plan to monitor progress. While working through the plan, it is critical to take time to understand the stakeholders’ individual needs and what you can do to gain their support by incorporating their concerns into your initiative.

The final task before closing the initiation step is to ensure you have identified an executive sponsor. That individual should be one of the stakeholders who has already been identified and included in the stakeholder analysis. The executive sponsor should not be from the technology organization. He or she should be a key owner of an operational area or outcome metric. If you have not been able to identify an executive sponsor who will firmly endorse the initiative from the onset, it is important to wait until you’ve secured their full engagement before proceeding. You can measure someone’s degree of commitment by their willingness to participate in biweekly meetings, co-host monthly sponsor meetings, and assist with influencing other stakeholders. If your executive sponsor isn’t able to commit to these basics, you will not have the support necessary for your initiative to succeed.

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

  • One key thing to remember is that this type of effort is more ambiguous than other efforts most leaders encounter.
  • While the vision and scope may sound declarative, the methods used throughout the implementation will vary based on the data and analysis encountered throughout the initiative.
  • Many sponsors will understand the process being used, but have their faith shaken if the data and analysis doesn’t crystalize quickly. It may also be difficult to maintain support since the vision itself must be far reaching but can’t bind the analytic methods too tightly. It’s very important to remember to let the data guide the team throughout the entire implementation. Patience is vital and transparency from the team will help maintain stakeholder support.

In the next section, we’ll discuss how to build your team to help provide that type of support.

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 Infocux Technologies

Reflecting on Personal Vision – Eric’s Story

Eric Philippou FencingI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my college internship at Metcalf & Associates. During the past three posts I completed exercises to help me define my vision and values.

Reflection Questions

After each of the six steps in the innovative leadership development process, I’ll provide you with some helpful reflection questions. Basically, if you can answer all of these questions in detail, you’ll develop a firm understanding of your vision and your plan of action can be implemented almost immediately. The “What do I think/believe?” section refers to your intentions, and the “What do I do?” section refers to your actual behavior. The “What do we believe?” section refers to your group’s intentions, and the “How do we do this?” section refers to your groups actions and processes. Think of any organized group you belong to (student club, sports team, fantasy football league) and use that to answer the last two sections I mentioned. If you’re not in an organized group, join one and save those reflection questions for after you’ve joined. Remember – even as a new member of a group, and not a leader, you can still display leadership by influencing change. In my answers, the organization I refer to is my varsity fencing team.

Reflections on Eric's Vision

This marks the end of the first step in becoming an innovative leader as a college student. The next post will go into step two – analyzing your strengths and situation. I’ll provide you with some personal assessments to take, this way you get a firm understanding of your personality type, special skills, how you can work best in a group setting, and much more.

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.

photo credit: OSU Athletics, Ohio State University

Defining Vision Based Actions for College Students – Eric’s Story

Vision Based ActionsI’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my summer internship at Metcalf & Associates, a leadership and management consulting firm. I am entering my final semester at T­he Ohio State University in the fall, majoring in Strategic Communication. I like marketing, and I plan to go to business school in a few years. I’m also on the varsity fencing team at Ohio State.

This summer, I am starting a blog that helps students find their life purposes, plus a step-by-step guide on how to bring this vision into reality. The information I am giving you is from a workbook written by a combination of college faculty and leadership development and executive coaching experts who make business executives very successful. This book will be published late in 2014. In this post, you will find your personal values. Throughout this blog, I will provide my own answers to the exercises as an example. This is part three of the four-part Vision topic. My answers are in italics.

In this post, I’ll show you how to set a realistic career direction based on your vision.  In the last two posts, we discussed creating your vision and identifying your personal values. In the next post I will give my answers to some great reflection questions. It turns out reflection  is a key part of this process.  

Putting Vision into Action

Now that you have your vision outlined, it’s important to put your vision into action. Consider your values and vision, as well as your individual skills. In this exercise, you will find ways to incorporate your passions into how you make a living. Also think of ideas or topics that you find extremely interesting, and are somehow involved in almost everything you do – school, work, social activities, entertainment media, etc.

Step 1: Identify your foundation.

  • What are you most passionate about?
    • Values: love, excellence, meaningful work
    • Respect
    • Order or being organized
    • Creativity
    • Doing things the right way and not cutting corners
    • Doing the right thing in general
    • Success/winning
    • I would be lying to myself if I didn’t put “food” on this list
    • Deep thinking
  • What are your economic needs and what can you do to meet them?
    • Overall financial stability; enough to not be worried in case of some family emergency, such as one of my family members needing a surgery.
    • Sufficient funding for the NPO that I would like to create.
    • Somewhere between a modest upper-middle class lifestyle and the guy from ‘The Wolf of Wallstreet’
    • Business strategy
    • Marketing/sales
    • Project management
    • Public speaking
  • What can you be great at?
    • Marketing/sales
    • Business strategy
    • Project management
    • Friend
    • Philanthropy/non-profit work
    • Teamwork
    • Public speaking

Step 2: Review and Identify Overlap.

  • Creativity and deep thinking are involved in all of the professional skills that I can be great at (my creativity led me to initially try marketing and strategy)
  • Excellence and success in my professional field(s) can create wealth
  • Doing the right thing and love overlap with philanthropy
  • Having a lot of money of my own can help fund my NPO
  • Meaningful work and philanthropy
  • Business strategy
  • Marketing/sales
  • Project management
  • Public speaking

Step 3: Harvest the ideas.

  • Based on overlaps, do you see anything that can be incorporated in what you do or how you work?
    • My passions for creativity, excellence, deep thought, and success, combined economic needs/wants, tell me that I should pursue a career that involves marketing, business strategy, and/or project management.
    • I should work in companies and projects that I find meaningful, ethical, and benefitting others

Look at your answers carefully and think of as many ideas and overlaps as possible. Even if there is something you think is useless right now, it’s good to write it down anyway.

Next week I will share my answers to key reflection questions. Building the reflection “muscle” is important as a leader. I will share my reflections for each step in the leadership development process.

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.

Defining Personal Values For College Students – Eric’s Story

Values I’m Eric Philippou, and I’m writing this blog as part of my summer internship at Metcalf & Associates, a leadership and management consulting firm. I am entering my final semester at T­he Ohio State University in the fall, majoring in Strategic Communication. I like marketing, and I plan to go to business school in a few years. I’m also on the varsity fencing team at Ohio State.

This summer, I am starting a blog that helps students find their life purposes, plus a step-by-step guide on how to bring this vision into reality. The information I am giving you is from a workbook written by a combination of college faculty and leadership development and executive coaching experts who make business executives very successful. This book will be published late in 2014. In this post, you will find your personal values. Throughout this blog, I will provide my own answers to the exercises as an example.

This is part two of the three-part Vision topic. My answers are in italics.

Checklist for personal values

Step 1: Define what you value most. Values shape the way we think, feel, and act in our daily lives. To effectively achieve your life goals, they must match your values. From this list, select your top ten most important values to living your perfect life.

List of Personal Values:

Values checklist

  • My top 10: integrity, love, expertise, excellence, meaningful work, creativity, freedom, influencing others, self-respect, order

Step 2: Elimination. Now, from your top ten, narrow your list down to your top five values. Now narrow it down to your top three.

  • Top 5: integrity, love, excellence, meaningful work, influencing others
  • Top 3: love, excellence, meaningful work

Step 3: Integration. From your top three values, ask yourself:

  • How would your life be different if those values were prominent and practiced more?
  • I would probably have better results in school, work, and personal relationships. If practiced earlier, like in high school, I may be at a different university or even a different area of study.
  • What does each value mean, exactly? What do you expect from yourself, even in difficult times?
  • Love: care for the people around me, especially for the people close to me. In difficult times, I would think of those closest to me and perhaps look to them for help or motivation.
  • Excellence: overall skill, expertise, brilliance, and high-quality performance. I expect myself to always pursue excellence in everything I do, especially in difficult times when it is needed the most.
  • Meaningful Work: the work I do excites me, and I look forward to going to work and doing it every day. In difficult times, I would like my work to be meaningful, and something I love to do, because it will push me to keep going and give me less incentive to quit.
  • Does the personal vision you outlined reflect those values?
  • Yes, as far as I can tell.
    • If not, should your personal vision be modified?
      • If not, should you reconsider your values?
  • Are you willing to create a life in which these values are paramount, and help an organization put those values into action?
  • Now that I see how it could benefit me, yes. The things holding me back from doing so seem less important, and almost silly, so I have no reason not to go forward with such a life.

Real-World Application

So you’ve narrowed down your values and determined how to integrate them into your life. Try something out: write down your top three values and tape them somewhere so that you see it a lot, and strictly live by those values every hour of every day for the next few days. After a few days, monitor any differences in your usual days and the last few days of acting on your values. I tried this, and I found myself to be more productive in my work, more vibrant during personal interactions, and overall very happy. Hopefully you’ll get similar results, and if you do, you know you picked the right values to live by.

In my next post, I will discuss how to put your refined vision into a realistic plan of action, and I’ll give you some reflection questions. At the end of it, you should have a concrete plan of action that you can implement almost immediately, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great leader and college student.

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.

Photo credite www:flickr.com banksy graffiti