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Improve Leadership Development Plan Impact by Completing Reflection Questions

IMustChange

This blog is a companion to the interview series with Christopher and Sheila Cooke on the VoiceAmerica Business Leadership show “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations.” This four-part series, “Leaders Building Self-Awareness by Stepping Through the Worldview Membrane: Learning to Engage Your Organization,”. The third interview Hidden Insights the Flow in the Gap a conversation talking to two accomplished leaders who took the LeaderView Assessment about their results and how to interpret them to build on their success. This conversation includes a discussion on how their specific data helps them discover their leadership strengths and biases.

As we listen to the leaders, Carla and Jim talk about their assessment results and how they will use the results of their 360 degree assessments to have conversation with those providing input. For those following the conversation and building your own development plan, I wanted to provide additional materials. If you take the LeaderView Assessment, you will receive an interpretation manual as part of the package. The reflection questions below are intended as a follow-on to the blog post that provided the assessment for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).

This exercise provides an opportunity to apply a structured reflection process we use throughout the Innovative Leadership series. We believe reflection is a critical skill for leaders and this exercise is designed to provide you valuable information as well as building this key skill. Once you complete your SWOT analysis it is time to further clarify your direction using reflection questions. Our reflection questions follow a consistent format. We recommend that you define your intentions, actions, culture, and systems using the following questions:

  • “What do I think/believe?” reflects your intentions,
  • “What do I do?” reflects your actions,
  • “What do we believe?” reflects the culture of your organization,
  • “How do we do this?” reflects systems and processes for your organization.

We recommend you answer at least one question from each category. The following example is drawn from the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders.

What do I think/believe?

Do you need to change to accomplish your goals? Is the change in perspective or expanded capabilities at the same level?

I absolutely need to change in order to achieve my goals. When I think back to my time as an undergraduate preparing to enter the “real world,” I knew I had to change. Even then, I knew I needed to address situations in a more mature manner, to seek additional skills by virtue of independent studies, and to embrace the notion of being an adult. Now looking to my future and the goals I have set forth, I realize I must change once again. If I plan to be an entrepreneur, I need to change my perception of the things I dread doing and instead understand that this discomfort is part of what I am signing up for in to become a successful entrepreneur. I also understand that I need to expand my approach to communication. I’m very comfortable and competent talking about a broad range of topics, but don’t necessarily like to sell my abilities. To paraphrase the adage about action versus words, I much prefer that my work shows what I’m capable of, instead of telling someone what I’m capable of. However, as an entrepreneur I know I must improve my ability to communicate the depth of my skill set to others.

What do I do?

How do you model appropriate responses for the sense of urgency in personal actions that are true for you while supporting organizational objectives?

I have found that the best way to address my personal sense of urgency while supporting organizational objectives is to continuously deliver results. I find that it’s really easy to criticize or question my work approach or methods when not delivering on the objectives of the organization. However, no matter how unorthodox the method may be, if the objectives are being met, and to a large extent surpassed, the approach or method no longer comes into question as long as we are working within the organization’s guiding principles.

What do we believe?

How does the culture of your support system impact your belief about yourself and about leadership? Would these beliefs change if you changed who you spend time with?

There is a theory that you are the average of your five closest friends—which seems important since my friends create a sense of community in my life. I first heard about this theory in 2002, and decided to see if it held true. It did. Now looking at the culture of my support system and my five closest friends and how they impact my leadership, I have to say they have little impact on my leadership. My leadership methods come from the books I’ve read or the training I’ve received as a function of increasing my effectiveness at my place of employment. I can see this belief about leadership changing as a function of with whom I spend my time, but only with regard to the people I spend time with at work or at networking events. I tend to find I pick up invaluable nuggets of information at the networking events that I can then integrate directly into my leadership methods at work.

Now that I am enrolled in an MBA program, I have also used courses as a valuable way to learn more about leadership and test my ideas with people I respect within that group. 

How do we do this?

What systems and processes are enablers or barriers that will impact my development?

The biggest barrier that may impact my development is me. Time and time again I have proven that when I make up my mind to accomplish a goal, I tend to achieve it. An issue I have run into in the past is that I am sometimes in conflict over which path I would like to take, and time passes before I truly make up my mind. I need to be consistent and decisive with regard to my behavior in all aspects of my life to ensure I can overcome all barriers.

We encourage you to complete this exercise along with the SWOT analysis recommended last week, taking your time and giving proper attention to gathering input from several different sources. When you have a clear picture of your strengths and opportunities, you will be ready to move to the next step. You may now find that you have a different or clearer perception about where you excel, and how those areas can complement your vision.

These exercises were designed to help you clarify your strengths and weaknesses as a foundation for your personal transformation journey. Bear in mind that you are creating your own story through this process.

Beyond taking the assessment and following the process described above, what can you do about becoming more effective? To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills

About the author

Maureen Metcalf, founder and CEO of Metcalf & Associates, Inc., is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach who brings thirty years of business experience to provide high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. She 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 the strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

In addition to working as an executive advisor, Maureen designs and teaches MBA classes in Leadership and Organizational Transformation. She is also the host of an international radio show focusing on innovative leadership, and the author of an award-winning book series on Innovative Leadership, including the Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, winner of a 2014 International Book Award.

Investing in Leaders of Our Future

InvestingInFutureLeadersAs an executive advisor, coach and university faculty member, I am highly committed to developing leaders across the spectrum of their careers starting in college. I had the great pleasure of writing the Innovative Leadership Workbook for College Students with Amy Barnes, MA, EDD focusing on helping young leaders develop. While the book is targeted at college students, I believe it is entirely appropriate for young people irrespective of educational path. This brief introduction is a companion to a Voice America Interview where Amy and I discuss nuances of developing young leaders. Since they will be running the world as we “age out” it is important for current leaders to consider how we ensure the next generations are prepared to meet the significant challenges we will all face and they will lead.

Young leaders and college student are provided with many opportunities to develop their own leadership skills and capacities through coursework, co-curricular involvement, and part or full-time work experiences. They are the future leaders of our companies, our nonprofit organizations, our government, and our education system. It is extremely important that we, as a society, invest in the development of our future leaders. We know that leadership plays a critical role in today’s ever changing world, and that innovation is a strategic necessity for tackling the tough problems we face today and those we will face in the near future.

Many students take a passive approach to leadership during college. It is as though they are waiting to become a leader…someday. The truth is that we need to be leaders now. Today. Not tomorrow or three years from now. They can begin developing leadership competencies and personal awareness now, as students—and, if they do, they will have a distinct advantage in the workplace when they graduate. Figuring out now who they are, what they value, and how to tap into their innovative self will enhance your experience as a leader later.

The Innovative Leadership Workbook for College Students explores a number of approaches to elaborate on both personal development as a leader and innovative abilities by providing exercises designed to create space for to grow and learn. Both becoming a better leader and optimizing innovation hinge on their ability to authentically examine their own inner makeup which, in turn, will allow them to make real change.

Let’s start by straightforwardly defining leadership:

Leadership is the ability to affect change for the betterment of others and the greater community by clarifying personal values, beliefs and intentions, aligning those beliefs with actions, and by positively influencing organizational culture and systems.

Within this context, leadership involves a two-fold process of influence: strategic influence to inspire vision and direction, and tactical influence to guide functional execution.

Leadership influences individual intentions and cultural norms by inspiring purpose and alignment. It equally influences an individual’s actions and organizational efficiencies through tactical decisions. Innovation, as an extension of leadership, refers to the novel ways in which we advance that influence across the four elements of personal values, beliefs and intentions, personal actions, organizational beliefs (culture) and organizational systems.

Innovating leadership means leaders influence by equally engaging their personal intention and action with the organization’s culture and systems.

Though we are, in a sense, defining innovative leadership very broadly, we are also making a distinct point. We are saying that the core aspects that comprise your experience—whether personal intention, action, cultural, or systematic—are inextricably interconnected. If a student affects one, he affects them all. So, if, for example, a student implements a strategy to realign a student organization’s value system over the next two years, he will also affect personal motivations (intentions), behavioral outcomes and organizational culture. To deny the mutual interplay of any one of the four dimensions misses the full picture. You can only innovate leadership by addressing reality in a comprehensive fashion.

To summarize, leadership innovation is the process of self-improvement and increased self-awareness within the context of organizations thus allowing successful leadership to raise the bar on performance without losing sight of the people and culture of the organization.

An innovative leader is defined as someone who consistently delivers results using:

  • Strategic leadership that inspires individual intentions and goals and organizational vision and culture;
  • Task leadership that influences an individual’s actions and the organization’s systems and processes; and,
  • Holistic leadership that aligns all core dimensions: individual intention and action, along with organizational culture and systems.

Leadership innovation happens naturally, but can be accelerated through the use of a structured

process involving self-exploration, allowing you to authentically enhance your leadership beyond simply following procedures and task execution. If you are a young leader, parent, college student, supervisor of young leaders or mentor,

I hope you are able to put some of the ideas in this workbook into practice to develop our future leaders.

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, founder and CEO of Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach who brings thirty years of business experience to provide high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. She 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 the strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

In addition to working as an executive advisor, Maureen designs and teaches MBA classes in Leadership and Organizational Transformation. She is also the host of an international radio show focusing on innovative leadership, and the author of an award-winning book series on Innovative Leadership, including the Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, winner of a 2014 International Book Award.

Build Your Leadership Team – Put Skills to Them To Work

BuildingYourLeadershipTeam

This is a guest post by Christopher and Sheila Cooke of 5 Deep. They are the featured guests in a four-part interview series aired on Voice America show Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations. Their series is called Leaders Building Self-Awareness by Stepping Through the Worldview Membrane talking to two accomplished leaders who took the LeaderView Assessment about their results and how to interpret them to build on their success. The shows are designed to give leaders the opportunity to experience the full assessment process and if they are interested, participate by taking the assessment for a discounted rate.

There’s more to success than improving your skills just so you can score more points. As the pace of change in business accelerates, building your own personal team is what it really takes to outperform.

Listen and learn from two executives, Jim and Carla, who are in “the fishbowl” over a series of four podcasts. Hear about their journey as they work through their leadership dilemmas with the help of some very affordable tools.

In Episode 1, they begin by taking a self-assessment to find out about their leadership styles. Jim said, “The self-assessment helped me to understand myself deeply and be comfortable in my own skin.” Carla observed, “Sense of worth is really important to me, and I can see it’s evolving. I no longer need external validation in the same way as before.”

In Episode 2, they invite peer feedback to find out, “Who’s on my team?” and, “How can I engage more effectively with them?” Their peers take a survey called, LeaderView 360, to give the leader feedback on:

  • The work culture the leader creates.
  • Their preferred work culture.
  • A quality rating on 25 attributes of leadership.
  • The hot buttons that motivate or demotivate them.

In Episode 3, they learn to interpret their peers’ feedback, and prepare for a conversation with each peer. Carla said, “Looking at my peer’s data side-by-side with my self-assessment, I saw a massive opportunity to unlock potential in the relationship. The data gave me the opportunity to dive into the unspoken, and take a fresh look at somebody I had pegged for years.”

Jim said, “It’s a potential life-changer for leaders who are willing to take the time to prepare for a conversation. It’s a relationship-builder. I could clearly see the disparities between us, especially the differences in what triggers us. My peer has a need for safety — yes, that’s her!”

Carla said of her experience so far, “it’s a liberating process that frees you from the shackles that bind you.”

We look forward to recording Episode 4, after Jim and Carla have conducted their peer conversations.

Listen to all four podcasts:

Episode 1: Leaders Building Self-Awareness: Personal Freedom and Flow – Part 1 of 4

Episode 2: Leaders Building Self-Awareness: Spotting the Patterns – Part 2 of 4

Episode 3: Leaders Building Self-Awareness: Hidden Insights the Flow in the Gap – part 3 of 4

Episode 4: Leaders Building Self-Awareness: Stepping Through the Worldview Membrane: Learning to Engage the Organization – part 4 of 4

Enhance your relationships at work and build your own personal team by using the LeaderView instruments yourself. Receive a 20% discount off the LeaderView Bundle. This bundle gives you everything you need to do your own LeaderView 360 assessment.

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.