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The Power of a Learning Culture and How It Fits Into a Competitive Sports Environment

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The Power of a Learning Culture and How It Fits Into a Competitive Sports Environment

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This blog is provided by Mark Shapiro, President & CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Disruption in America’s Favorite Pastime: MLB CEO Shares Insights that aired on Tuesday, March 30th, 2021.

 

As I reflected back on this pandemic year, I came across an email I wrote to Blue Jays staff while I was on the unexpectedly early flight home from Spring Training in March of 2020, part of which read, “If only I could just pass on some wisdom or insight from experience that would provide simple guidance for navigating this challenge. But there is no past experience for any of us. We are in uncharted waters.”

Together – players, coaches, staff alike – we were facing an entirely new situation with no playbook. And yet, the Toronto Blue Jays prepared for and attacked a season at two (now three) different home ballparks, overcoming uncertainty, external doubt, and constant change, to compete against the best in the world, going from a 95-loss team to making the expanded 2020 playoffs.

How do you prepare an organization to perform at the highest level during a once-in-a-generation crisis scenario?

There is no playbook for something no one has experienced, but by fostering an organizational culture of learning, open-mindedness, and intentional growth, leaders can lay the groundwork to make their team an unstoppable force when adversity arises. The ultimate competitive advantage.

Our leadership team has strived for many years to create a learning culture, where regardless of where we each individually show up to work – whether that is a player walking on to the field, a coach working with a hitter in the cages, a baseball operations employee looking for competitive advantages by analyzing game data, or a ticket rep fielding phone calls from fans – we listen to those around us with an open intent to learn and improve.

There have been few moments where I, or one of the many talented people I work with, have an immediate answer to a problem we are trying to solve. As issues and important decisions have arisen, we bring different people and opinions together to listen and collaborate. I take great pride in knowing and believing that no matter how many experts we contact to help us solve a problem or learn something new, I will walk into Blue Jays stadiums, offices, and fields across North and Latin America with the confidence that I am just as likely to learn from members of our organization – at any and every level – as I am from professors at elite universities.

That commitment to keeping an open mind leads us to have the ultimate competitive advantage – a learning culture.

Our Blue Jays catcher, Danny Jansen, recently told a story on a podcast about doing game recall when he was a young prospect where a coach would ask him why he called each pitch, “as soon as you stop learning from this game, and doing things to better yourself, it’s going to spit you out; as a catcher, you are always learning.”

When a pitcher is struggling to develop a new pitch, seeking out feedback and analyses from different resources might spark a tweak for success.

When a marketing employee is stuck on a concept for a fan initiative, collaboratively inviting people from other parts of the organization might bring around the next big idea.

When an amateur scout is speaking with a high school coach, their curiosity might uncover an overlooked prospect.

Our shared commitment to learn, get better, trust, and respect those around us, helps bring competitive advantage opportunities that might have been lost in a fixed mindset.

From border restrictions to COVID-testing protocol, I could spill a lot of ink sharing the unfathomable number of challenges that needed to be solved for this year. Like every other public facing organization, the list of questions was significantly longer than we had solutions for, with fans, players, families, staff, partners, media, and so many more, needing answers.

But to be a competitor, to be the best at anything you do, is to be constantly looking for ways to learn and improve. And by fostering a learning culture, our players and people already had the tools they needed without a playbook, to rise to the challenge at the highest level.

We have all been forced to live outside out of our comfort zones and to adapt to a new way of working this year. It would be easy to throw in the towel or use the overwhelming challenges as excuses for underperforming. But by taking ownership of a situation and approaching each moment as a growth opportunity, we can collaboratively find solutions and get better incrementally.

Even outside of a crisis, the competitive advantage gained by pulling together and building upon our experience, intellect, and skillsets enables us to bridge any resource gaps to compete against the best in the world.

An open mind and learning culture are better than any road map a leader can provide.

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

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

 

About the Author

Over a career that spans 28 seasons, Mark Shapiro is one of the rare executives in Major League Baseball that has had the opportunity to lead and impact baseball, business, and league operations. Widely considered one of MLB’s top executives, he was appointed as President & CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays in November 2015, following 24 seasons within the Cleveland Indians organization.

Following both the 2005 and 2007 seasons, Shapiro was named the Sporting News “Executive of the Year,” at the time the only active GM in MLB to win the award twice. In 2005 he was also named “Executive of the Year” by Baseball America, and after the 2006 season, the Indians organization was named “Organization of the Year” by TOPPS for the first time. In 2007, Mark was named to the elite “40 under 40” by Sports Business Journal, as well as being listed on Baseball America’s “10 to Watch” list.

Photo by Mike Bowman on Unsplash

Questions to Shape Your Leadership Decisions During Unrest – Who Do You Want To Be As A Leader?

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Questions to Shape Your Leadership Decisions During Unrest – Who Do You Want To Be As A Leader?

In light of the recent events, Maureen is sharing an article with a competency model for leaders to work through their roles during this challenging time.

How do we, as leaders, frame our roles during the political unrest we see, the division on our political system, and our workforces? Recent research suggests that we are 66% less likely to follow leaders from differing political parties. As leaders of businesses, NGOs, and non-profits, we need to continue to serve our purpose for being, providing vital products and services to our stakeholders. We need to pay our employees, suppliers, and those whose money we use to run our organizations. How do we stay focused on meeting that mission while also engaging responsibly in our national political conversation? One key question for the most senior leaders of organizations is what role do we want to take in the political process? Is our part limited to meeting our mission? Does that role include attending to questions such as how are our political donations reflecting the values we hold as a company (if we donate)? We support free speech, but what about our employees participating in public statements that do not reflect our organization’s values? This is a tricky time, and how we navigate it will, for many leaders, define who they will be over the balance of their careers. They will likely see doors open and close based on their responses. Some leaders will create a new legacy, and some leaders will see a long-held legacy of service diminished in the eyes of many. Who do you want to be and become?

To explore these questions, I will first use the leadership mindset and behavioral competencies. You can best answer these questions after you take a clarifying look at your values. Given this disruption, are you seeing any shift in what you most value? Have the events of the past weeks or months clarified or shifted your foundational view of what you most value?

ILI Strategist Mindset Competency Model
Mindset and Behavioral Competency Explanation
Professionally Humble Cares more about the organization’s success than their success and image

 

·        They’re committed to their personal and organizational mission as a “north star.” It’s a focal point for where to invest their energy in service of making a positive impact and leaving a legacy

·        They care more about the organization and the results than their image

·        They freely, happily, and instinctively give credit to others

·        And they put principles ahead of personal gain

Reflection question: can you affirm your specific contribution to your organization’s success? You may answer this question for your company or professional organization. You may also want to think about your community organizations such as your church, synagogue, or mosque. Next, what about your family’s mission? I realize we are using business words for families; if raising strong, kind children is part of your legacy, how are you modeling those traits?

Unwavering Commitment to Right Action Is unstoppable and unflappable when on a mission

 

·        Commit fully, drive hard, and focus. At the same time, not overly-focused or stubborn.

·        Stay the course when under pressure and also dare to change course when a better approach emerges.

Reflection questions: How do you decide what is “right”? Do you continue to refine your direction based on new information and the changes you see in your environment? Are you acting in a way your grandchildren will look back and say they are proud to be part of your family? What emotions do your actions create in others? Are they proud of you? Are they embarrassed to be associated with you? Is their response due to naivete or an essential difference in perspective?  

A 360 Degree Thinker Take a systems view – understanding the context and interconnectedness of systems when making critical decisions

 

·        Innately understand the systems, constraints, perceptions, near term, long term, and secondary impacts of strategy and decisions and how to transform them to deliver significant results.

·        Balance the competing commitments of multiple stakeholders regularly

·        Strong commitment to continuous personal learning and building learning systems

·        Leaders understand cross-organizational impact and interconnections across multiple complex systems. They make highly informed decisions considering implications across broad contexts

·        Finally, leaders think in terms of systems, constraints, and perceptions when focusing on transformation. They consider context as a foundation for critical decisions

Reflection questions: Our actions ripple through the world in ways we don’t imagine. As you consider the many important questions you are acting on, such as how do we balance our people’s competing needs to freely express their point of view while also creating an environment that is productive and free from bias and ultimately brings out the best in all of our employees? Do you ask for input and test solutions across multiple stakeholder groups before making significant policy decisions?

Intellectually Versatile Develops interests, expertise, and curiosity beyond the job and organization. Life-long learners. 

·        Despite a devout commitment to the job and the organization, they are always interested and involved with areas beyond their comfort zones

·        Take a particular interest in their ecosystem, including industry-wide activities, political developments, and the international landscape.

·        Use external interest to make an impact, enhance their legacy and provide balance in life

Reflection questions: I imagine most of us are asking questions we find uncomfortable in the wake of the US Capital breech. What sources do we draw on to answer those questions? Do we look to our religious and spiritual texts to inform us? Do we revisit the Constitution and the words of Abraham Lincoln? Do we look at the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa or Martin Luther King and Gandhi’s work? Are you expanding your sources to consider a broader set of input or narrowing your focus to a single trusted source?

Highly Authentic and Reflective Not constrained by personal appearance but is highly focused on individual behavior

·        Highly committed to personal growth and development and growing and developing others

·        Surprisingly open to feedback and non-defensive

·        Seeks out discussions and feedback even in uncomfortable situations

·        Manage emotions in the most challenging situations. They understand the impact and contagious nature of emotions, so they develop skills to recognize them, manage them and relate to others productively

·        Maintain perspective in times of stress, taking a long-term view, and remaining vision focused. Difficult situations challenge them less than others

·        Demonstrates emotional courage – willing to confront challenging situations

·        Continually looking for ways to enable the organization to improve its ability to meet its mission more efficiently and effectively

Reflection Questions: Are you making time to read and reflect on your thoughts and values in the wake of this and other challenges? Are you seeking input, especially from people who see the world differently than you do? Are you finding ways to inspire those around you who are struggling? What do you do to maintain a healthy perspective? Do you have healthy practices and friends or colleagues who help you take a longer and more constructive view and see your opportunities to expand your impact during challenging times?

Inspires Followership Have a remarkable ability to connect with people at all levels of the organization to create and implement a shared vision

 

·        Intuitively understands change is necessary to sustain the organization’s ability to meet its mission. They know the steps to managing change and help the organization overcome its resistance.

·        Has an innate ability to diffuse conflict without avoiding or sidestepping the source of the conflict

·        Use humor effectively to put people at ease

·        Relate to a broad range of people and understand their motivators and stressors.

·        Innately connect projects to the individual goals while working to overcome barriers

·        Provide valuable feedback to others in a manner that is supportive of the recipient’s growth and development

Reflection questions: Do people trust you? Have you behaved in a way that puts the mission above personal gain? Do you admit mistakes or course corrections and help people understand why you are taking a position? Do you take the time to understand others whose opinions and life experiences differ from yours? Are you committed to the growth and success of others and the organization’s mission and success? Are you willing to share your struggles and questions during challenging times?

Innately Collaborative Welcomes collaboration in a quest for novel solutions that serve the highest outcome for all involved 

 

·        Seek input and value diverse points of view. Synthesize multiple perspectives into new solutions

·        Creates solutions to complex problems by developing new approaches that did not exist, pulling together constituents in novel ways, synthesizing broader and more creative alliances

·        Understands that in a time of extreme change, input from multiple stakeholders with diverse points of view is required to understand the complexities of the issues fully

Reflection questions: Whose opinion do I seek who sees the world differently than I do? How do I show my respect for their differences even if we hold significantly disparate views? How do I use collaboration to identify my own bias and blind spots that could be impairing our ability to accomplish our mission? What opportunity do we have not, during this challenging time that was not available to us before, and how can we use the power of collaboration to meet that opportunity?

Many of us are reeling from the range of emotions we faced during the past week’s events – irrespective of political party affiliation. With every crisis, we can find an opportunity to improve who we are and what we do. I invite you to reflect on your leadership through the lens of leadership mindsets and behaviors to see where you might refine how you lead.

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

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

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, coach, consultant, author and speaker.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Leading During a Crisis: Explosion in Beirut, The Aline Kamakain Story

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Leading During a Crisis: Explosion in Beirut, The Aline Kamakain Story

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Maureen Metcalf, ILI’s CEO and Founder is a Fellow with the International Leadership Association (ILA). In this role, ILA recommends 12-16 interviews for her radio show focusing on innovating leadership. The show focuses on balancing academic excellence in leadership with personal stories of high impact leaders and thought leaders and authors talking about their latest books and frameworks.

The following blog accompanies an interview with Aline Kamakian. This interview, specifically Aline’s Story, was very moving and inspiring. We encourage you to learn more about Aline by listening to her interview titled Thriving During Crisis: A Successful Middle Eastern Businesswoman that aired Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020. If you feel moved to donate during the holidays to a person and organization in Lebanon impacted by the recent explosions, please consider supporting Aline and her efforts to re-open Mayrig to provide jobs for 85 staff.

This is Aline Kamakian’s Story.

As someone who has a master’s degree in business, I recognize that we can learn things in school, from books and lectures, but there are things that only life teaches us.  Being a Lebanese of Armenian origin, I grew up with my grandparents embedded in the stories about my ancestors. Their stories about the resilience and ability to adapt and the respect and gratefulness to the country that accepted them conveyed the values I learned.

On 4 Aug 2020, Beirut was hit by a huge blast.

According to BBC reporting, “The blast that devastated large parts of Beirut in August was one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history, experts say. The Sheffield University, UK, the team says a best estimate for the yield is 500 tons of TNT equivalent, with a reasonable upper limit of 1.1 kilotons. This puts it at around one-twentieth of the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945… The explosion was the result of the accidental detonation of approximately 2,750 tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate. The blast led to some 190 deaths, as well as more than 6,000 injuries.

My restaurant, our offices, my house and my car were all blown to pieces in just a second. The terrace outside of our meeting room looked out over the port just 300 meters further. We were having a management meeting. I don’t know how I survived, standing on the terrace, looking at the fire and fireworks in the port. The next thing I remember was standing over my financial controller and giving him CPR. I don’t know how I knew what to do, reflexes from when I was a girl scout? The blast had injured 25 employees, of which five were left with a permanent handicap. It destroyed most of the restaurant furniture and equipment. The building was still standing, but windows, doors, winter gardens were all shattered.

First, I needed to make sure all my employees were safe and had a roof over their heads. I had never felt a victim, but there was no way I could get back on my feet without external help. So, I decided to open a fundraising page to help us. One week after the blast, we started cooking over 1,000 meals per day in our central kitchen to be distributed among those who lost their homes. We prioritized, first comes the team, holding on to our values, generating income, moving on, and moving fast.

On the 4th of September, just one month after the blast, the restaurant opened its garden and kitchen again. While we were still working hard to repair and rebuild the inside of the restaurant. The first evening that the restaurant was again partly operational, the whole team had dinner on the Mayrig terrace.

Here is the reporting about the restaurant:

 

When 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate tore through Beirut, only a highway separated the city’s port where the explosives were stored from 282 Pasteur Street. This is where Mayrig, the famed Armenian restaurant known as much for its delectable sour cherry kebab as preserving Armenian culture in one of the diaspora’s strongholds, has stood since 2003.

Located in Beirut’s lively Gemmayzeh neighborhood in a building from when Lebanon was under Ottoman rule, the restaurant was destroyed.

It joined the rest of the city that stood in ruins, where over 170 people have died, thousands more injured, and an estimated 300,000 left homeless. The decimation the blast caused came on top of a Beirut that was already in political and economic crisis. The Lebanese pound was tumbling to shocking lows that have caused widespread poverty. Electricity and food shortages are the norms.

But the destruction of Mayrig stung beyond a crumbling building: around 85 families, whose livelihoods depended on the restaurant, were suddenly left jobless and homeless. Not a single staff member escaped unscathed, and some are still in critical condition.

And then there’s the other, more existential loss: the idea that an institution fighting to preserve and progress Armenian culinary heritage, which has always teetered on the brink of either being forgotten, denied, or erased, could disappear forever.

“Mayrig” means “mother” in Armenian. For the last 17 years, this woman-owned culinary institution has brought centuries-old recipes from inside the homes of the Armenian community in Lebanon to a restaurant enjoyed by both local and international patrons and built on those traditions to create new dishes. Staffed by the same Armenian mothers who have always led the preservation and passing down of food culture to future generations through their labor and knowledge, “Mayrig” was founded by Aline Kamakian.

Being at “Mayrig,” she said, is being alive.

Her grandparents, Armenian Genocide survivors, found refuge in Lebanon, becoming part of the Lebanese-Armenian diaspora, which now numbers over 150,000 and has contributed significantly to the social, political, and cultural life of the city while keeping Western Armenian heritage alive. Bourj Hammoud, one of the first places refugees settled, became the historic center of the Lebanese-Armenian community. The area was heavily impacted by the explosion.

Aline’s early Story

I was five years old when the war broke out in Lebanon. I have seen my father as an entrepreneur struggling to raise his family and keep us safe during the war. This taught us to be creative and find means under pressure and create solutions to the absence of necessary provisions such as electricity and water and fundamental civil human rights. For example, to open my restaurant in 2003, I had to build my water reservoirs, bring a generator to produce electricity, ensure the team’s transportation and basic needs, and find other locations during the war.

Preparation for Management During Crisis

In the war in 2006, we took three days to find a safe spot up in a mountain resort. This move made it possible to guarantee the continuity of the restaurant and the employees’ income. We had to build our reserve in fuel; bring walkie-talkies because there was no phone; secure a safe location for employees to sleep, and secure kitchen equipment from the kitchens of friends and family. We created a restaurant in 1-weeks’ time. The most important tools were: sharing information, make the team part of the decision making, delegate responsibilities. In these circumstances, it is about operating a restaurant and the security of the team. Almost half of them were living in dangerous areas. The team managed to work and did so without days off, without hours to rest to cover for the others. We agreed that we would see how to cover extra hours or vacation after we passed this crisis. We learned to adapt to respond to this disruption quickly. It turned out to be a right decision because it generated enough income to secure the salaries, and it offered the chance for the employees to continue working.

Every two years, we have a minor to big crisis that asks for our adaptation. In 2019 the revolution started after three years of financial difficulties and corruption scandals. The challenges were different and led to significant hardship.

  • The internal security was terrible; roads were blocked, breaking and burning buildings and public property.
  • The banking sector turned into an unpredictable mess. Lebanon was known for its strong banking sector and was the saving place for all the Lebanese diaspora. And suddenly, the banks stopped giving out money. There was a limitation on cash withdrawals and transfers. The impact was dramatic since Lebanon is mainly an importing country. Its own industries ae very limited and the country has very little raw materials.
  • Inflation towered: Lebanon rates now 3rd worldwide after Venezuela with an inflation rate of 365%. The challenge is that it is not just inflation but also inflation that the government doesn’t recognize. There is an official rate, a rate from the banks, and a black-market rate.
  • Covid-19 led to lockdowns in many countries; in Lebanon rules were not applied evenly over the whole territory as some political parties allowed their followers to disregard the rules. COVID spread fast in autumn, and governmental regulations are often contradictory from one week to the next, unequally applied and harmed first of all the whole Food and Beverage sector.
  • With a government that is corrupt, and incapable comes the explosion of 4 August. The government resigned, but since it hadn’t formed a new government yet, the old government continued in the same corrupt, incapable way.

How to lead in such a context?

University lectures didn’t teach us to navigate this type of crisis. I didn’t learn a to-do list.

In the restaurant business, never compromise on the quality. The challenges were to keep the quality. We couldn’t look at saving money during this catastrophic crisis. We were committed to living our values during the crisis.

  • We needed to keep the employees safe and secure cash. I created a pop-up project in Saudi Arabia and took part of my staff there for three months.
  • We were committed to maintaining food quality. The aim is to find the best product at the best price, not the cheapest product. We needed to keep the team quality-oriented, encourage sharing resources, information, and pay attention to finding the best ingredients.
  • I communicated very openly, explained the companies’ situation, and explained the difficulties of living in Saudi Arabia. We went as one team and worked together to maintain the team as in Lebanon, there was no income.

My goal was to jump on opportunities that would allow me to take care of my family and my team! I didn’t have all the info, but the circumstances required me to keep going. I knew I needed to be transparent, genuine, honest, and always make values-based decisions. In this case, I was focused on my team’s safety, health, and economic well-being.

Again I did the same thing: first comes the team, holding on to your values, generating income, moving on and moving fast.

 

Aline Kamakian acted in the best interest of her team during the most challenging experience of her life. She truly exemplifies someone who is living her values! She supports the families of the employees who are unable to work and who continue to require significant medical treatment. During our call, she deeply inspired me as a leader and person who acted as her best self during this crisis. We often look to movies for superheroes. I believe Aline is a real-life superhero. Her actions inspire and invite all of us to act with courage, integrity, and selflessness. To support her campaign, please consider donating to the Mayrig Family Go Fund Me campaign.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Aline Kamakain began her career as an insurance broker at the age of 18 to put herself through college. She graduated with a double major in Masters in Finance and Marketing, Aline’s skills as an insurance broker allowed her to build one of Lebanon’s top 9 Brokerage Firms. All through her successes, Aline never forgot her love for food but most importantly she never forgot her Armenian roots. In June 2003, she opened “Mayrig” an avant guardiste traditional Armenian restaurant to introduce to all those who appreciate homely, healthy and tasty food, the forgotten flavors of Ancient Armenia. Aline was also voted Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 in the Brilliant Lebanese Awards. She is a board member of the Lebanese Franchise Association as well as a board member of the Lebanese League of Woman in Business and a successful candidate of the 2014 Vital Voices Fellowship Program.

Photo by rashid khreiss on Unsplash

 

Navigating Change

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Navigating Change

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This blog is provided by United States Navy Rear Admiral Deborah Haven, Retired.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leading Through Change: A Military Perspective that aired on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020.

 

Here are my observations and takeaways from my experience navigating change in a wide variety of global logistics organizations supporting the US Military and our allies. Much of my experience has been leading change which ranged from crisis response establishing and maintaining a logistics hub to support the Haiti citizens from their devastating earthquake to contingency operations mobilizing Naval Reservists in support of expeditionary logistics missions in Iraq and Kuwait to operating system upgrade implementing a SAP system which replaced a legacy system.   These experiences shaped my approach to leading change in a dynamic environment and provide the foundation for the following article.

How a leader handles change will determine the team’s future.  A leader’s attitude toward change will be a key to success. I learned early on that I could spend energy resisting change, or I could embrace the change to keep moving forward.   A leader must look at change in a positive and realistic light. The leader needs to be the steady rudder to keep everyone on course.  This will require the leader to keep their “resiliency tank” full at all times to stay tough during the challenges ahead.  Figure out how to keep your “resiliency tank” full, whether it is meditating, exercising, or playing chess.  Your strength will be needed so a resiliency routine will have to be a priority.  Encourage your team members to establish a resiliency routine too.

The leader’s job is to clearly articulate the WHY …and repeat the message …over and over.  This gives time for the team to catch up.  In most cases, the leader has had time to absorb the new information before the idea is introduced to the entire team. When the change is introduced to the team, the team needs time to grasp and embrace the new idea. The leader is going 100 miles an hour down the highway with the new idea and team is just getting to the highway on ramp.  As the leader, you may need to slowdown so your team can speed up.  I did not say stop. Once the team absorbs the idea, understands the mission, and is empowered to execute, it will accelerate and exceed expectations. One key point is knowing that not everyone engages the change in the same manner.  Some individuals struggle with the new idea and may feel threaten by what they see taking place.  The employee’s role may change.  He or she may go from expert to novice in the new arrangement.  Resulting in an unsettling emotional reaction.  And will usually get better over time for most individuals. This is something to be aware of during the process. A leader needs to watch out for those struggling and engage through listening and understanding the challenges the workforce is undergoing.  Sometimes an empathetic ear from the leader can be the tonic to pull the team member through the rough waters of change.  Also, some individuals just take longer to adjust to the new environment, but others soar to the future state.

I have also noticed that the technique that makes teams more successful in new unknown areas is to create an open dialogue about the challenges and work through them collaboratively with the stakeholders. Easily said, not always so easy to do but rewarding in the end.  Continual communication about the compelling need for the change is a must do and must be repeated often.

Some best practices when dealing with change:

  • Set trust as the foundation for all relationships.
  • Identify the key stakeholders and communicate the compelling reason for the change …the WHY.
  • Uncover the blind spots as quick as possible through listening and learning.
  • Create collaborative teams to develop solutions for the blind spots identified.
  • Build coalitions that do not exist and shore up ones that need to be reinforced.
  • Stay strong throughout by listening and understanding the barriers or challenges anchoring others.
  • Be agile. Do not get defensive when new information is received, and adjustments must be made.
  • Establish a routine and regular check-in, set goals, and follow up on progress using accountability metrics.

Have a bias for action…keep moving forward.

The takeaway here is that during a significant period of change is when the leader really earns his or her money.  They need to be authentically enthusiastic and fully engaged to ensure the team members are making the transition.  This can be exhausting work but extremely rewarding.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

United States Navy Rear Admiral Deborah Haven, Retired, has been a successful leader in a wide variety of global logistics organizations, both civilian and military for over 30 years.  She is particularly skilled at introducing change in large organizations.  She has a keen ability to understand the landscape, identify barriers and develop an actionable plan to improve organizational effectiveness.  Deborah is a graduate of the Naval War College, holds an MBA from the LaSalle University in Philadelphia, and a BS from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is an executive coach, independent consultant, and a member of the board of directors for the Flag and General Officer Network.

GREAT LEADERS PIVOT, DISRUPT, TRANSFORM

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GREAT LEADERS PIVOT, DISRUPT, TRANSFORM

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This blog is provided by Marcia Daszko, speaker, author and strategic advisor.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Pivot, Disrupt, Transform: How Leaders Beat the Odds and Survive that aired on Tuesday, October 20th, 2020.

 

Is your job, business, or industry facing new challenges, opportunities, or threats?  What do WE do? Great leaders see the needs of customers or society, and they rapidly pivot their direction, disrupt the status quo, and transform to make a difference!

Why do some leaders struggle, flounder, and fail while others see possibilities and opportunities and passionately are inspired to create a new future?

Leaders (at home and at work) transform to make progress with new, different, bold ideas and actions. Leaders see new markets and opportunities to serve and make a difference. That’s transformation: thinking and adding value like never before!

When we face challenges in life and a crisis such as a pandemic, some people quickly discover their natural leadership and internal courage. Others shrink, hunker down, and take no accountability. There are varying degrees of leadership and various places where it shows up.

Some people can jump into action and accelerate their creativity and innovate because they have a great foundation of strategic thinking and can use a Strategic Compass tool.  They’ve invested in themselves and their colleagues and have been learning to lead. They quickly gather an action team, create a plan, and launch into action.

 

Do You Know How to Think Differently and What to DO?

In recent months, we have seen leaders emerging around the world.  They step up individually, in organizations, and in nations. They reach across communities, industries, and countries to collaborate, partner, and find rapid solutions.

Leaders see the challenges and what needs to be done to beat the obstacles. What will it take? Leaders Pivot and transform!

Here are key Pivot Points that leaders use:

 

  • BECOME AWARE. Leaders anticipate crises. When it hits, they quickly assess and grasp the situation. They strategically see its probable impact and step up to address it. They sense and respond.

The Question for You: What are you aware of and how will it impact you?

  • BELIEVE. Leaders believe that by working together a crisis can be addressed. They have no doubt that they will make progress to serve customers, brand new markets, and society. They don’t waste time. High speed is their modus operandi.

The Questions for You: Do you believe that you can succeed and serve fast enough? Do you believe you can deliver an AMAZING EXPERIENCE OF VALUE THAT IS NEEDED?

 IF WE BELIEVE IT, WE CAN ACHIEVE IT. 

  • CREATE. Creative people are full of ideas in a crisis. Their creativity is contagious as they engage other people to explore and discover new, different, possible solutions. The more creative people are, the easier and more fun their work and solutions flow.

The Questions for You: Are you constantly discussing and exploring new ideas and choosing which ones you will implement? Are you learning and acting fast enough?

  • CAN DO. Innovators make their ideas happen. They influence, leverage, and connect with others to achieve their goals.

The Questions for You: Do you rapidly make your Plan (it might take 10 minutes or 2 hours to discuss and agree on a Plan of Action (do not take a week or month to make an Action Plan to address a crisis!) and act on it? What works; what doesn’t? Revise your Plan; do it again. Faster! You’ll can implement the Plan-Do Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle. It’s just one tool to use to make a difference.

 

Where Do We See Pivots during the COVID19 Outbreak?

 Jobs. Thousands of restaurant and salon workers have lost their jobs. It’s uncertain if or when their employers will re-open. Workers who pivot immediately can find companies who are hiring and secure a new position.

Digital Education. Thousands of students, staff, administrators, and faculty pivoted into a digital learning platform. There has been wide variation with its success, and educators and families around the world are continually adapting to meet education needs. In the future, virtual and hybrid learning will continue to be adopted and integrated into the curriculum.

Telemedicine. Healthcare has transformed for thousands of patients who have been able to connect with their doctors via a Zoom platform to be diagnosed for minor illnesses and receive treatment or prescriptions without needing to go into the office. Telemedicine is a transformation that is widely welcomed and when possible, will not go back to the old way of medicine.

Hand sanitizers and ventilators. Small and large breweries and distilleries across the U.S pivoted from making beer, gin and vodka to making hand sanitizers.  Auto manufacturers pivoted to produce ventilators as seven ventilator producers increased their productivity on 24-hour shifts.

Mask sterilizers. Three Midwest companies transformed 100’s of toaster ovens into mask sterilizer units that can sterilize 150 masks per hour and donated them to hospitals low on mask inventory.

Virtual events. Consultants, trainers, and speakers shifted to virtual classes, events, and conferences to share significant intellectual property.

There is power in the pivots! Pivots in life are perpetual. If you face a challenge, rise up and pivot. The more you prepare yourself for continual transformation (let go of the status quo), the easier it is to embrace new futures.  Wherever there are needs for solutions or there are opportunities to seize, innovators are intrinsically inspired to create new organizations, products or services.

Your power is in your pivot!

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Marcia Daszko has helped leaders at home and at work for 25+ years pivot to save or exponentially grow their organizations to navigate crises or embrace new opportunities.  A professional global keynote and workshop leadership speaker, she is a trusted strategic advisor, and facilitator for executive teams.  She is the bestselling author of the book “Pivot Disrupt Transform” and co-author of “Turning Ideas Into Impact: Insights from 16 Silicon Valley Consultants.” She has also taught MBA leadership classes at six universities across the U.S.  Contact her at md@mdaszko.com and access her resources at www.mdaszko.com

How to Keep Business Level During the Pandemic in the “New Normal”

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How to Keep Business Level During the Pandemic in the “New Normal”

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This blog is provided by Bill Higgs, speaker, author and expert authority on culture.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business that aired on Tuesday, October 13th, 2020.

 

The pandemic-fueled recession forced businesses to take a hard look at their expenses and make judgments about what is a necessary expense, what is a luxury, and what is an out-and-out waste.

As uncomfortable as that might be for many business leaders – especially if it means cutting someone’s job – it’s clearly critical to the organization’s survival to figure out ways to conserve cash whenever hard times descend on both a company and the economy at large.

At Mustang Engineering, the company I helped found, we used the phrase “plug all the holes in the bucket” as a metaphor for finding ways to conserve cash before it trickled out through the leaks. Those “holes in the bucket” could be labor costs, lease space, and all sorts of general expenses. Ultimately, anything that had the potential to kill profitability was a “hole in the bucket” that we were determined to plug.

Actually, we chose to be tight with money right from the beginning with our company, largely because we needed to be. For example, like many new businesses, we couldn’t really afford a dedicated sales team. And, in fact, Mustang didn’t hire its first full-time salesperson until we had been in business for seven years. We just did without. In the meantime, I did the selling myself.

We also were forced to gather a lot of experience making do with less because we went through four major downturns that were different in their details but similar in their economic impact to what we’ve experienced with the pandemic. Banks went under, there were foreclosures on every street, and hundreds of businesses disappeared in Texas.

In between there were nine other significant downturns, all related to the oil price that was whipsawed around by war, politics, tariffs, embargos, transportation restrictions and OPEC.

Despite those difficult times, we never went down in revenue when they hit because we were continuously preparing ourselves for the next downturn. We didn’t know where it would come from, or when, but we knew it would happen eventually, so we wanted to be ready.

Ever since the pandemic hit the U.S. and the recession quickly followed, businesses have had to make the same type of frugal and practical decisions we did.

So, whenever a crisis like this hits, you have to ask yourself: What do we absolutely need? What can we do without?

Take notes on everything you have done so far to “plug holes” and reduce cash outflow to insure you do not let any unnecessary expenses creep back in. Examine your profit-and-loss statement in detail and see if you can identify other cuts you can make.

Be ruthless.

At the moment, this is a matter of survival. But learning to practice frugality now will also make you much stronger in the long term. You want to make this a habit, not just something you do when dire circumstances arrive.

Imagine how much better shape you would have been in when this recession hit if you had been “plugging those holes” all along.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is former CEO and founder of Mustang Engineering, which he took from zero to $1 billion in annual revenues based on a people-first culture. He is also the ForbesBooks author of the just-released book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. His culture podcast and training modules are available through www.culturecodechampions.com.

How to Balance the Three Rings of Your Personal Market Value as an Innovative Leader

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How to Balance the Three Rings of Your Personal Market Value as an Innovative Leader

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This blog is provided by David Nour, CEO of The Nour Group.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Curve Benders: The Intersection of the Future of Work and Strategic Relationships that aired on Tuesday, September 29th, 2020.

 

During times of uncertainty, we begin to question ourselves. We wonder if we are on the right path, are we accelerating in our leadership, or do we have all the education and experiences we need to succeed as a leader? Instead of throwing this time to the wind, the global pandemic could be used to assess our value and emotional investment.

Just like Walmart or Apple, each of us should be thinking of our perceived market value. There are essential areas that you need to focus on to make sure you are at the highest value. At a time where global jobs are at risk for significant cutbacks or replacement by accelerated technology such as automation and AI, many leaders are in a global war against obsolescence. That’s why you need to attend to all three areas of your personal market value: people, personal, and professional.

 

Core Ring: People 

Your central ring is founded on people you can’t live without: your friends and family. The core of your social sphere needs to be composed of individuals who provide a loving home and a stable social life. If your home life is unstable and disruptive, it will show up in how you lead at work. It will stifle your creativity, innovative ideas, and problem-solving with and through your team. However, when your core group is a loving ecosystem of close friendships, deep partnerships, and rich family interactions, it will provide you with the foundational support to accomplish any stress in your leadership style.

Having a nurturing infrastructure builds our leadership resilience. Many top leaders we admire confess that their success is often credited to their nurturing family and spouse.

Choose wisely who you spend your downtime with. It’s better to be surrounded by fewer authentic friendships with equal emotional investment than to be surrounded by 100 acquaintances who, frankly, don’t care about what you’re doing. The world and our leadership obligations naturally put pressure on us, and if we don’t have a solid foundation to stand on, it is a struggle to get ahead. If this is an area you think you need to pay more attention to, actively elevate it.

 

Second Ring: Personal 

No pandemic, economic crisis, or war can take away your investments in your personal development as a leader. Crisis or not, we are at a time where we are living longer: the United Nations projects that the average life will be 95 for women and 90 for men. That means we don’t just have longer lives; we are working longer too. Every leader, regardless of their tenure should be investing in his/her life-long education, spiritual grounding, and unshakable values. These are developments that are immediately in your control. Industries will always develop and evolve; therefore, life-long learning will be mandatory.

When we continue our leadership education, it will show us how to adapt and upgrade to the ever-changing framework we live by. No one this time last year would have expected we would be predominately if not exclusively working from home. Many who have thrived during this time have prioritized upgrading their digital infrastructure and mastering new remote leadership tools such as digital whiteboards.

That openness also expands to our spiritual selves. Whether you prescribe to an organized religion or consider yourself curious, we need to have personal spiritual grounding to believe in something more than ourselves.

When you focus on these non-negotiable values, they become guardrails for future direction and keep you in your preferred lane.

 

Third Ring: Professional

The final ring of your personal market value is the professional sphere. This is seen as your acumen: how you blend your knowledge and skills in the manner which you lead. Your past actions and expertise will inform your future decisions and problem-solving accurately. You will be better at cutting and adjusting productivity, revenue, and costs. This business acumen allows you to see the bigger picture, evaluate available options, and confidently make high-grade options. This is also leadership by modeling the business behaviors you want to see in others.

Your ability to focus on a few, strategic priorities necessitates leading others toward a common mission, vision, or against a possible enemy. That’s where your leadership presence comes into play. You want to captivate a room or a person. When you have them on the edge of their seat, you have honed your gravitas. Aspire to be measured with your language, hold yourself confidently, and command the right kind of servant leader attention. These individuals don’t throw around SAT words and leave their audience confused; they are succinct and careful with their message, recognizing the incredible power of the verbal and written language.

Lastly, you must develop your emotional courage to lead. There will be situations where uncomfortable topics or feelings arise. You must be willing to experience feelings like discomfort, risk, and disappointment. But the true leaders are the ones who push through the discomfort and take charge of their emotional courage and compassionately have a conversation. If you’re not willing to examine any of those things, you won’t be able to handle anything.

Are you lacking in any of these three areas? Start from the core and work your way out. If you find yourself coming short in one spot, consider investing in your growth today.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

David Nour, a senior leadership/board advisor, educator, executive coach, and bestselling author, is internationally recognized as the leading expert on applications of strategic relationships in profitable growth, sustained innovation, and lasting change. The author of eleven books, including bestsellers Relationship Economics® (Wiley), and Co-Create (St. Martin’s Press), as well as the forthcoming Curve Benders (Wiley, 2021), Nour serves as a trusted advisor to global clients and coaches corporate leaders. He is an adjunct professor at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management and was named to the Global Gurus Top 30 Leadership Professionals list. A Forbes Leadership contributor on the Future of Work, and an Inc. contributor on Relationship Economics, Nour’s unique insights have been featured in a variety of prominent publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fast Company, Huffington Post Business, Entrepreneur, and Knowledge@Wharton. He’s also the host of the popular Curve Benders podcast.

Born in Iran, Nour immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager with $100, limited family ties and no fluency in English. He graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s degree in business management and went on to earn an Executive MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. He resides in Atlanta, GA, with his family. Learn more at www.NourGroup.com.

 

How to Become an Incredible Virtual Leader

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How to Become an Incredible Virtual Leader

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This blog is provided by Ashley Halsey, as a companion to the interview with Greg Moran and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Evolving Leadership to Navigate Significant Disruption that aired on August 18th, 2020.

 

Working during these surreal times of COVID-19 has meant that many businesses have implemented remote working into their daily operations. This means holding virtual meetings, working from home, and trying to keep things going as straight as possible. However, when you’re leading a remote team virtually, there are a lot of difficulties you wouldn’t come across in the traditional way of working.

It can be a challenge to be a successful virtual leader, especially if it’s something you haven’t done before. To help you be as successful as possible; here are the tricks and tips every virtual leader needs to know.

 

Respect the Times

As a leader, you need to be aware that these are unprecedented times, and people are going through challenging circumstances. Balancing the work-home life while staying at home will be difficult for many and adjusting to these new ways of working will take time, even for months to come.

Being a successful leader means respecting and understanding and having patience for these difficulties, and then being proactive in helping your team through all the difficulties and hopefully make the best of this situation.

“You can do this by setting aside time to talk to staff as a group and individually so you can help them describe the obligations and challenges they’re facing, and then you’ll be able to address them and work with your team to provide solutions that work on an individual basis,” explains John Hammond, a leadership blogger at Draft Beyond and Researchpapersuk.

 

Making Sure People are Punctual

Timekeeping in remote working is still just as important as it is in the traditional working environment. Being punctual promotes a trusting culture within your team and helps to bring everyone together. If someone is late or people are casual when arriving to meetings, this can cause divides between people and your team dynamic will fall apart very quickly.

However, there are plenty of ways a virtual leader can incorporate and nurture this kind of culture. Firstly, make sure you’re laying down the rules quickly that people need to be attending meetings when the time is set. There shouldn’t be any kind of leeway on times.

Then, you need to make sure your meetings have agendas that can be followed to ensure that everyone knows what’s being spoken about, and you can stick to a time frame that works. If your company has back-to-back meetings, it may be worth booking 50-minute time slots for meetings, so people can get up and have a ten-minute break before heading into the next meeting of the day.

Remember, people will be late for some meetings. Life simply gets in the way, so think about how you’re going to deal with this. Communicate the problems that come with being consistently late, and the process of what will happen if the problem continues.

 

Spice Things Up Over the Long-Term

When you’re sitting in virtual meetings or in front of a computer screen all day, things can get boring very quickly, so as a leader, it’s up to you to get creative with how you can make meetings more interesting. For example, you might set up a small fun part of the meeting first that gets everyone to have some kind of input.

On a basic level, you might go around the group and get them to describe something they’ve been up too outside of work, or in the previous meeting, get them to prepare something for the start of the next meeting, such as a positive quote, or saying something they’re grateful for.

“Just like you would with team-building days or going to a bar after work, you may want to hold a virtual social meetup, where you could do something like have a fun quiz, or even asking a little question for everyone to give fun answers too. One of my favourites is Mug Monday, where everyone shows the coffee mug they’re drinking from,” shares Tina Harrison, a business writer at Writinity and Last Minute Writing.

 

Be Adaptable to Positive Change

Just because every other business in the world seems to be using Zoom to host their virtual meetings, that doesn’t mean you have too. From Microsoft Teams to Slack, you need to make sure you’re trialling different ways of working to see what approach works best for you and your team.

This doesn’t just stop at the video conferencing software you’re using. From cloud services to instant messaging apps, think about the solutions you’re using and how you can make things better for everyone involved. Of course, you don’t want to change things all the time, but rather have test sessions and then get feedback from your team so you can iron out the creases of virtual working.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Ashley Halsey is a business consultant and writer at Essay Writing Services and GumEssays who has been proactive in helping businesses adjust to the current COVID-19 climate. Mother of four children, she enjoys travelling, reading and attending virtual business training courses.

Nimbly Moving Through the Next Inflection Point

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Nimbly Moving Through the Next Inflection Point

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This blog is provided by Lisa Gable, CEO of FARE, Food Allergy Research Education.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Managing Inflection Points that aired on August 11th, 2020.

 

Having worked through many times of significant global change, most notably the dot.com bust and 9/11, I quickly learned the importance of being agile in my professional and personal life. I had to “zig and zag” while maintaining a positive outward face in business, while building a home environment based on readiness and resilience.

For those of us who are not experiencing our first inflection point (aka the Covid-19 crisis), we have the advantage of a lifetime of managing and surviving stressful situations.  By your early 50s, there is a higher likelihood that you will have suffered a few life altering events and have managed through booms, busts, and heartbreaks.

I’ve seen probably more than my fair share of inflection points in history, including with my time at the Reagan Defense Department during the final days of the Cold War. And, when I joined FARE back in 2018, I inadvertently created an inflection point for the organization.  My remit was to restructure the organization and drive philanthropic and industry investment to help fund new therapies and diagnostics.

If Covid-19 is the first time you are confronting an inflection point, don’t worry – there is time to more fully develop very specific resilience and coping skills. In the meantime, here is some advice for budding and senior managers during this crisis and others that will inevitably follow:

  • Offer mentorship and coaching and consider what you can do to help alleviate the unique stressors of Covid-19.
  • Work to balance the needs of business against people’s fears. Be human and approachable. Share your own story in a manner that is comfortable for you so that you can take part in open dialogue.
  • Encourage co-workers not to hide their challenges, but to share them. Challenges may that remain tucked away can negatively impact the ability of peers to meet their goals, including thriving personally through the inflection point. Awareness of a unique situation become points of information for creating systems and tools.
  • Foster a culture of collaboration which transparently recognizes barriers and encourages teammates to work together to build a path forward which works for the team.
  • Realize that everyone will hit a mental wall at some point – even you. Even the strongest employee will eventually become overwhelmed. Be prepared for the moment and provide a safe environment for the individual to take a mental health break for a few hours, the afternoon, or a day.
  • Take your vacation and encourage others to schedule theirs, also. Burn out is real and renewal is required to meet the uncertainty that is still to come.

The point about inflection points is – you just don’t know when they will arise. They just happen. To everyone. So, to be prepared means you are a better prepared manager, colleague, friend, and parent.

 

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

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

About the Author

Lisa Gable is CEO of FARE, Food Allergy Research Education, the largest private funder of food allergy research advocating on behalf of the 32 million Americans living with potentially life-threatening food allergies. Lisa passion, expertise, and fearless workstyle have propelled her to achieve the titles of CEO, US Ambassador, UN Delegate, Chairman of the Board, and advisor to Presidents, Governors, and CEOs of Fortune 500 and CPG Companies worldwide.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Continued Innovation During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Experian DataLabs

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Continued Innovation During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Experian DataLabs

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This blog is provided by Eric Haller, Executive Vice President of Experian DataLabs. Eric shares the programs and resources Experian is innovating to make a difference in the fight against the pandemic.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Disruption and Innovation in the Credit Industry that aired on July 7th, 2020.

 

At Experian, we’re dedicated to innovation and the COVID-19 pandemic has been an impetus for further innovation. Our driving force of successful innovation is our employees. We foster a culture of continuous innovation, from the way we work to the solutions we create.

Global Hackathon 

As part of our effort to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, we’re launching Experian’s first-ever Global Hackathon. Taking place between June 1 and 5, we’ve invited all our employees to get involved and connect, share knowledge and find new ways to help our clients and consumers on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mitigating COVID-19 Crisis Through Our Innovations 

In addition to the Global Hackathon, we’ve committed vast resources to develop innovative technologies and new sources of data and analytics to drive solutions that help people, businesses and society at large.

For example, to aid in the United States re-opening efforts, Experian has made available a free interactive U.S. map showing populations at-risk of being most susceptible to developing severe cases of COVID-19. The Experian COVID-19 Outlook and Response Evaluator (CORE) tool is intended to help guide healthcare organizations and government agencies as they plan for COVID-19 recovery in the months ahead. The map leverages de-identified data such as pre-existing conditions and social determinants of health to form a comprehensive picture that predicts possible pandemic impact on communities.

To help essential organizations during the pandemic, Experian also created At-Risk Audiences, which leverage our data assets to identify groups of individuals that are most likely to be impacted. These new privacy-compliant segments, offered free of charge, are designed to help these organizations find and communicate with at-risk populations, enabling them to deliver essential services as quickly as possible.

In the UK, we’re working side–by–side with the government. As part of this, we’re building models to help predict how this disease will spread in local populations and predict the effectiveness of various treatment therapies.

In Brazil, we’ve organized a coalition of universities, data companies and technology leaders to launch Covid Radar with the purpose of working together to minimize the impacts generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute to the recovery of Brazil’s economy. The Covid Radar integrates companies to the hospitals and communities that need donations of ventilators, personal protection equipment, or other supplies.  In addition to providing case monitoring and disease forecasting.

The COVID-19 crisis has forced innovation and change on a scale and pace we wouldn’t normally see. We remain relentlessly focused on helping vulnerable communities, strengthening the resilience of businesses, and playing an important role in helping consumers and the world economy get back to strength. As part of our global innovation program, we’re hosting a global hackathon to help our employees create new ways to help our clients and consumers on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As one of the world’s most innovative companies, we’re doing everything at Experian we can to provide our unique insights back to key stakeholders so they can prioritize help those who need it most urgently.

 

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

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

About the Author

Eric Haller is the Executive Vice President and Global Head of Experian DataLabs. Experian DataLabs is responsible for developing innovative products generated from break-through experimentation leveraging artificial intelligence and data assets from a variety of sources.  He led the creation of labs in the US, UK & Brazil that support research & development initiatives across the Experian enterprise.  Prior to Experian, Eric was responsible for new products with Sequoia Capital backed Green Dot.  Eric also co-founded identity fraud detection business iDawg which was later renamed ID Analytics.  ID Analytics was acquired by LifeLock which is now part of Symantec.  Other roles held by Eric includes Chief Marketing Officer of the first publicly traded machine learning company and executive roles with Visa & MasterCard.

Photo by Kaique Rocha

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