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The Latest Top 10 Interviews on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future

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The Latest Top 10 Interviews on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future

We at the Innovative Leadership Institute want to take a moment to recap what interviews have stood out to our listeners.

We also want to extend a big THANK YOU to every subscriber of this newsletter for trusting us with your time and helping to grow this newsletter to over 84,000 subscribers in less than 20 months.

Our passion is to bring you thought leaders in the area of leadership, to share an article written by those who have looked at a situation differently, solved a problem others face as well, researched and analyzed a facet of leadership, or gave us something to contemplate.  We strive to bring you timely interviews by these same people so you can hear their thoughts on leadership and provide you the opportunity to learn from others, implement new ideas, and upskill your leadership.

Today’s article is a countdown list of the top 10 most listened to shows in the past 12 months.  Links to each of the shows are included for ease in accessing this valuable content.  The links direct you to the Voice America platform but any of the shows can be accessed via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

10. Finding Meaning, Joy, and Purpose in What You Do (9/7/21) with Paul Gibbons, an academic advisor to Deloitte’s Human Capital practice.

Conversations about meaning and purpose at work are very old and very new. Spirituality proves a lens for those discussions. Workplace spirituality helps us understand issues such as fulfillment, engagement, purpose, leadership, and more. However, it also increases worries about values conflicts and how well organizations handle that. Paul Gibbons joins me today to discuss the spirituality of work and leadership for leaders and organizations.

9. Mental Toughness: How to Embrace Stress for Greater Success (7/6/2021) with Colonel Deb Lewis, a retired Army Colonel, a West Point graduate, and a Harvard MBA.

Women (and men) face unhealthy stress and anxiety daily – it’s a wonder they’re still standing. Too few of us have stress tools powerful enough to put stress to work for us so we can enjoy the journey. Once you’ve learned how to be mentally tough, you will use stress to your advantage. It becomes your superpower! Colonel Deb Lewis joins the show to share her experiences and how you can learn to effectively use stress to your advantage.

8. Sponsorship and Being Sponsored (8/17/2021)with Ricky Robinson and Keith Powell, both of C-Crets, a career advice platform offering career coaching services, online courses, and topical content through blogs and a podcast.

The leadership journey can be a challenging one with unseen challenges that ruin reputations. Skilled people can be left wondering what went wrong if they don’t have effective sponsorship. These challenges are even more pronounced for underrepresented people in leadership roles. Ricky Robinson and Keith Powell of C-Certs will talk about the importance of having a sponsor and of being sponsor-ready.

7. Management Vs. Leadership: How Coaching Skills Make a Difference (5/25/2021) with Jonathan Reitz, an executive coach and CoachNet FLUXIFY’s Director for Training/CEO.

Coaching skills are not just for the life coach or the executive coach, they are every leader’s secret weapon. Managers can become the leaders that are needed when they understand how to use coaching skills that put the development of their team as the top priority and multiply their impact. Want to move from managing your team to leading your team? Coaching skills are the key. Jonathan Reitz joins Maureen to share how managers can move toward leading by learning some simple coaching behaviors.

6. The Science Behind Our Yes! (9/28/21) with Jim Ritchie-Dunham, president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, an adjunct professor of business economics at the ITAM Business School, an adjunct lecturer on sustainability leadership at Harvard, and president of the Academy for Self-discovery Leadership, a private operating foundation.

You have a Yes! that aligns your purpose and unique contributions with the impact you can generate and the experience you can have, which is yours to choose. Your Yes! always generates net-positive value and your No! always generates net-negative value—your choice. Jim Ritchie-Dunham joins Maureen to explain the science behind our Yes!

5. Essential Skills for Success No One Taught You (10/19/21) with Mark Herschberg, author and instructor at MIT.

Networking, negotiating, communicating, leading, career planning—all skills critical to your career success. But did anyone ever teach you these skills? Mark Herschberg, author and instructor at MIT, joins Maureen to discuss his book “The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You.” He will share practical ideas from his book and his thoughts on leadership that will help you master these vital skills.

4. Red Roof Revisioning the Future (12/21/21) with Red Roof President George Limbert.

Red Roof is evolving under the leadership of their new President, George Limbert. George and his team have updated their vision to reflect our post-covid era that embraces the community and employees and creates an exceptional customer experience across all Red Roof branded properties. George talks about the bold steps they are taking now to bring this vision into reality. This interview is the first in a series of Red Roof’s re-imagining and evolution.

3. The Science of Dream Teams (9/14/2021) with Mike Zani, author and CEO of The Predictive Index, a talent optimization platform that uses over 60 years of proven science and software to help businesses design high-performing teams and cultures.

Sophisticated assessments, data, and software are giving CEOs and managers within any organization or industry detailed insights into human behavior. As CEO of The Predictive Index, Mike Zani has witnessed firsthand how the application of data and science can impact, and completely change, the way we function in our professional lives. In his new book, THE SCIENCE OF DREAM TEAMS: How Talent Optimization Can Drive Engagement, Productivity, and Happiness, Zani details a data-driven approach to talent strategy that makes hiring, motivating, and managing people more efficient and effective than ever. Mike joins the show to share his research on how to build a dream team.

2. Flex: The Art and Science (9/21/2021) with Jeffrey Hull, author and CEO of Leadershift, Inc., a leadership development consultancy based in New York City.

In the past, to move up the corporate ladder and succeed at the top, you simply had to set goals, motivate the troops, delegate to underlings, and groom a successor. Now, if they are leading a team, chances are that they are managing a kaleidoscope of people from a variety of cultures, across a range of ages, all of whom are wired together 24/7. These changing demographics and structures have led to a seismic shift in terms of the tools needed to successfully manage and grow within a company: charisma and strategic thinking abilities now matter less than qualities such as vulnerability and relatability. Jeffrey Hull joins the show to discuss the research he has done on the art and science of leadership in a changing world that is featured in his book, Flex.

1. The Power and Promise of Generation Z (10/5/2021) with Anne Marie Hayek, a cultural consultant, generational expert, and social agitator who deeply understands society’s evolutions. She founded and leads two companies, Global Mosaic and ZSpeak, with a passion for navigating the cultural movements shaping our world.

AnneMarie Hayek joins Maureen to share about her new book, Generation We. In this book, she joins forces with thousands of Zs to tell their powerful story—one that impacts all of us. From new ideas on capitalism, politics, and climate change to education, gender, race, and work, AnneMarie explains how Gen Z thinks, what they envision, and why we should be hopeful. Zs are not naïve idealists. They’re hardened realists with a bold vision for how we can transition, re-create, and progress. Generation We is your invitation to see the future they will create as it’s unfolding.

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

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

Photo by Jonathan Farber on Unsplash

Leadership in Times of Instability

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Leadership in Times of Instability

This week’s article is by Greg Moran, a C-level digital, strategy and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Adapting Your Leadership Skills for Uncertainty that aired on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022.

It’s always fun to start a blog by stating the obvious. We live in uncertain times. While this is always true, the number of variables on the move and the amplitude of that change can vary a lot and when there is enough change going on, the situation can become unstable. Instability has an insidious way of leading to more instability, unless action is taken to re-stabilize the situation, or at least your place in it.

So why state the obvious? The context for the associated podcast was specifically looking at the role of leadership in times of instability. What changes and what does not change? The answers can appear counter-intuitive, but are essential and become more so as the volatility increases.

To begin, I’m reminded of a native American teaching story (hard to prove, but fits my narrative well) that I first heard from David Whyte. The premise of the story is to teach a young person what to do when they are lost in the forest. The story opens thus: “Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, and you must treat it as a powerful stranger…”. The story goes on to provide guidance as to how to recognize what is around you so that you can orient yourself and finishes with the following wonderful declarative: “The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.”

The essence of our conversation was how to lead in high change environments. While there is more to the story, we focused in on a couple of key elements:

  • Despite the pressure on your schedule as a leader, tumultuous times require an increased level of empathy for your team. I believe that to lead effectively, you have to sincerely love and wish to serve those you lead. They need your comfort, coaching and care when times are rough.
  • When the going gets tough, the temptation is to abandon discipline and act fast/go with your gut. While that may need to happen in extreme situations (think crisis), it rarely serves well when you are facing adversity (not a crisis). Rely on thoughtful tools that help you make great decisions and be more disciplined than ever – measure twice and cut once.
  • Rely on the principles of strategy and leadership that you already ascribe to. Rules of strategy are way more like physics than most people like to admit. As Porter outlines in his seminal piece “What is Strategy?”, multiple strategies can work, but you can’t mix and match them or you get mush.
  • Pay attention to team dynamics – how you work together is more critical than ever in bumpy times. Maximize team function vs. taking a scarcity mentality and trying to prove others wrong.
  • Make small adjustments frequently. When the game is changing fast, you need to adjust how you are playing the game much more frequently than you would otherwise. Perhaps a weekly cadence makes more sense than a monthly one.

The underlying assumption of this conversation is that the fundamental tenets of leadership do not change, but the mindset and practices of leadership may need to change to better meet the moment. This adaptation of technique doesn’t have to, nor should it, replace the principles that you’ve built your leadership identity around. What you must do to be effective will necessary change with the zeitgeist. There are many examples of this that we walk through in our dialogue, so if this topic piques your interest, take a listen!

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

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

About the Author

Greg Moran is a C-level digital, strategy and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience. He led corporate strategy for Ford and designed the plan that Alan Mullaly used to turn around the company. Greg held C-level IT positions in app dev, infrastructure and core banking applications at Ford, Nationwide Insurance and Bank One/JPMC, respectively. He began his career in consulting with Arthur Andersen Accenture, working across industries with 100 companies over the course of a decade. He is passionate about leadership and culture and teaches part-time on the topic at Ohio University.

Photo by Zach Lezniewicz on Unsplash

To Combat Climate Despair, We Must Cultivate Resilient Collective Action

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To Combat Climate Despair, We Must Cultivate Resilient Collective Action

This week’s article features Leah Lizarondo, CEO and co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, a social enterprise with a technology, logistics and civic engagement model that aims to fight hunger and promote sustainability by preventing perfectly good food from entering the waste stream and directly distributing to organizations that benefit those who are food insecure.  Her interview is a part of the International Leadership Association Series.  These interviews feature guests from the 2021 Annual Conference that was held in Geneva, Switzerland in October of 2021.  The article is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Reimagining Leadership to Solve Food Insecurity that aired on Tuesday, April 19th, 2022.

Amidst the continuous flood of alarming climate change news, we are increasingly seeing stories about phenomena like “climate depression” and “climate anxiety.” The scale of the problem can be paralyzing, especially for ordinary citizens without wealth or political might to muster against it. But collectively, those regular people have the potential to make a huge difference – how do we help them overcome the inertia of climate despair and contribute to big solutions? The answer is to place effective and rewarding tools in their hands.

Designing the Right Tool for the Problem

Our organization, 412 Food Rescue, and its national tech platform, Food Rescue Hero, bridge the last mile between businesses with good surplus food and the people who need that food the most. I was inspired to start this work when I learned an alarming statistic: in the U.S., up to 40% of the food we produce is wasted, while one in seven households are food-insecure.

Almost a third of this waste occurs at grocery stores, restaurants, and other consumer-facing businesses. Every year, this sector finds itself with 23 million tons of surplus food that it can’t sell. Most of it ends up in landfills, where it releases methane, a greenhouse gas more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

Much of the food that is discarded at the retail level is still good to eat, but only a small percentage is ever donated. Retail food donation presents a number of logistical challenges: pick-up locations are dispersed; amounts and types of food are variable and unpredictable; and most surplus food is fresh and perishable and therefore needs to be consumed quickly.

The traditional spoke-and-hub model of retail food donation, based on trucks making regular pick-ups and delivering to a central food bank, misses too much food. We need a more flexible model to reach all available surplus and bring it to the nonprofits, community access points and homes where it can do the most good.

When we were creating Food Rescue Hero, we recognized that there was already an existing model for transport from a broad array of pick-up locations to a broad array of drop-off locations: ridesharing and food delivery apps like Uber and DoorDash. While those platforms are based on the work of paid drivers, we made Food Rescue Hero for volunteers. We believed that most people were looking to technology not only for ways to earn money, smooth over inconveniences, and get instant gratification, but also for ways to do good.

Our Food Rescue Heroes have vindicated that belief abundantly. We have recruited the world’s largest network of on-demand volunteer drivers, 27,000+ strong and growing, and they deliver on 99% of all available rescues from our hundreds of donor businesses. They are not only reliable but also, often, prolific. Many have performed hundreds of rescues. One particular septuagenarian in Pittsburgh has completed over 1,500 rescues.

Thanks to all of the volunteers across the 15 cities with active Food Rescue Hero networks, we have reached over 80 million pounds of good food saved to feed people instead of landfills. That’s equivalent to almost 67 million meals, carried to their destinations in our volunteers’ cars or trucks, in their minivans next to children excited to help, on their bikes, or even on their shoulders as they make deliveries on foot. And all sorts of people have stepped up to do this work: artists, activists, teachers, musicians, small business owners, parents, teenagers, retirees, and many more.

What is it that keeps these volunteers so engaged?

Centering the Human in the Design

Research indicates that one of the main barriers to volunteering is that people feel they don’t have enough time, or that volunteer schedules are too inflexible. The same ridesharing-style model that resolves the logistical barriers of food donation can also resolve these personal barriers.

Like a driver for Uber, a user of the Food Rescue Hero app gets notifications on their phone when a nearby rescue is available. They can also go on the app and search for local rescues any time they want. In this way, the app regularly presents users with opportunities to engage, on their terms. Once they accept a rescue, the app guides them through the process of pick-up and drop-off, for an easy, seamless experience. Most rescues take under an hour, and users can pick one up whenever they have time. There is no obligation to commit to a regular rescue – though many end up doing so.

A problem like food waste can feel both daunting and distant. If you are not a grocery store employee tasked with dumping pounds and pounds of nutritious food into the dumpster every night because it will not be sold before its “best by” date, you may not be able to wrap your mind around the problem.

But if you show up to the grocery store and load boxes of that good food into your car instead, the problem becomes tangible. And if you then deliver that food to a community center or a public housing complex where people are excited to see you and find out what you’ve brought to help them through the week, you vividly experience just how much power that simple act has. A carload of food that could be rotting in a landfill is instead ensuring that a community will not go hungry.

Our app delivers donated food, but it also, crucially, delivers that pay-off to volunteers: the incomparable, indescribable feeling of fulfillment at your core after you know you have made a difference. It’s a million times better than seeing a “like” on your social media post. It’s life-changing. It keeps people coming back.

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

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

About the Author

Leah Lizarondo is the founder of Food Rescue Hero®, a technology, logistics and civic engagement model that fights food waste and hunger in 16 cities. Her work has been featured in NPR, Fast Company, and The Washington Post, among others. Leah is originally from the Philippines and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Reimagining Leadership Together Globally

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Reimagining Leadership Together Globally

This week’s article, written by Maureen Metcalf, was originally published by the Forbes Coaches Council.  This article is a companion to the interview Cynthia Cherry, President and CEO and Mike Hardy, Board Chair of the International Leadership Association did with Maureen and is part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  This series features speakers from the Annual ILA Conference that occurred in October of 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.  The interview titled ILA – Being the Living Model for Reimagining Leadership Together on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast aired on Tuesday, April 12th, 2022.

As we continue to experience unprecedented change and anticipate the rate of change will continue to accelerate, I believe we as leaders, thought leaders and academics need to rethink what it means to be a highly effective leader and how to develop these leaders. I have been a Fellow with the International Leadership Association since 2019. As part of this Fellowship, I “work at the intersection of leadership research and practice” and “value rigor and relevance at the nexus of leadership theory and effective practices resulting in thoughtful action-based work.”

This year, I attended the 23rd Annual Global Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, focusing on Reimagining Leadership Together. Geneva is a worldwide center for diplomacy because of the number of international organizations, including the headquarters of many agencies of the United Nations, The Geneva Center for Security Policy and the Red Cross. Geneva hosts the highest number of international organizations in the world.

Geneva’s standing as a center for diplomacy and dialogue made it a productive location to host a conversation about reimagining leadership together. The conference was sponsored by The Geneva Center for Security Policy and Arizona State University. Both focused on developing leaders and leadership.

This year, I attended and participated in three presentations, one focusing on the future of work.

Several things stood out to me about the conference for leaders, coaches and scholars. First, the following speakers offered global insights that each of us can shift to ask how we reimagine our work as leaders across our sphere of influence.

1. One of my favorite conversations was with Kim Campbell, former prime minister of Canada. She talked about the responsibilities of leaders to act from the perspective of being a good ancestor. As a former head of state, she took a global view of trends she sees now and what she anticipates emerging during her life and beyond. She meets with the Council of Women World Leaders, giving her a unique perspective on the type of leadership required to navigate our global challenges, such as climate change and escalated tensions geopolitically. The question I took away from our conversation was: What do I need to do now to be considered a good ancestor to future generations? Will I contribute to solving or exacerbating the challenges we face?  (Here is the link to Kim’s interview: Reimagining Our Leadership to be a Good Ancestor.)

2. John, Lord Alderdice asked who we are loyal to when making decisions. This conversation struck me as crucial for leaders seeking a path forward that diverges from the past. We often make choices that pit our loyalty to those who went before us against our commitment to future generations. For example, if we stay true to our legacy views on diversity, we will perpetuate bias. On the other hand, if I stay true to my sincere commitment to treating everyone fairly, I need to look within myself and identify areas where I act with bias. Lord Alderdice talked specifically about populations that continue to advocate for positions that lock them in violent conflict — not resolved if they continue to fight for their history. These conflicts have waged for generations and won’t be easily solved by a short article, but we can each ask, “Where do my biases and loyalties reduce my ability to create the future I want to see?” (Here is the link to John’s interview: Finding Peace When in Conflict.)

3. Christopher Washington, Provost of Franklin University, facilitated a panel looking at the volume of change we will continue to see during our careers. His panel discussed the ethical questions about how we train our workforce and our leaders to ensure our communities and citizens have work that allows them to fulfill their purpose and support their families. How do universities, businesses, NGOs and government organizations come together to build bridges that enable people to navigate society-wide transitions? (Here is the link to Christopher’s interview: Post-Pandemic Approaches to Developing Future Fit Employees.)

4. Ambassador Thomas Greminger’s, Director of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, talked about the importance of leaders expanding how they define and carry out their leadership roles. During an era where we see a shift toward fundamentalism and polarization across the globe, we need to build the capacity to handle the current global challenges head-on through dialogue and soft power. To navigate the volume of change, it is essential that leaders learn, unlearn and relearn to keep up with the changes in our world. What views are you letting go of as a leader? Do you have a process to examine your opinions regularly? (Here is the link to Thomas’s interview: Facing a Global Leadership Crisis–Insights from GCSP.)

Each of these speakers, in their way, highlighted the importance of reexamining how we lead and how we make sense of what we see, reflecting on what we are learning, and unlearning. Then, we need to use that process of sense-making, reflection, unlearning and updating our thinking to shape our actions as leaders.

These annual conferences leave me feeling inspired by the brilliant people worldwide leading the changes we see. But they also remind me of the magnitude of the gap we have to fill to create a truly peaceful and prosperous world for all. So, as a reader of this article, what action is uniquely yours to do to build the world you want future generations to inherit?

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

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

 

About the Author

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

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Overhauling the Traditional Work Model

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Overhauling the Traditional Work Model

This week we continue the Connex Executive Insights Series, produced in collaboration with Connex Partners, an invitation-only executive network that brings industry leaders together from the worlds of HR and Healthcare.

Connex Members are part of a cutting-edge community, finding actionable solutions to their most pressing business challenges via high-value peer exchanges and curated resources including tools, platforms, partners and c-suite networking opportunities.

Executive Insights Series features highly respected and engaging guests who share novel ideas and practices related to the latest leadership topics.

This week’s article features the work of Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, and Fara Palumbo, their Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer.  It is a companion to her interview on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast episode, titled How HR Drives New Beginnings which aired on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) mobilized quickly to transition our workforce to remote work, an open-ended solution with no fixed date on returning to “normal.” Now, we know that “normal” doesn’t necessarily refer to the way things were. We have a rare opportunity to define what normal is.

For Blue Cross NC, normal means giving our employees a chance to determine working arrangements that work best for them and their families. To that end, we’ve implemented new policies that are intended to achieve three important aims:

  • Overhaul the traditional working model to meet today’s needs
  • Continue to deliver excellent service to our customers
  • Draw and retain the most talented professionals

A New Model for Working 

For more than 80 years, most Blue Cross NC employees gathered daily at a central work location, working side-by-side with colleagues, then heading home to their family and personal responsibilities at the end of the workday. As we’ve seen over the past 18 months, that model was due for a refresh.

After our company’s shift to remote work in early 2020, Blue Cross NC leaders looked at how the change might be affecting productivity. We found very quickly that the shift to telework wasn’t having a negative effect on productivity at all. Our employees embraced working remotely with collaborative enthusiasm.

Together, we confirmed there is a vast difference between a workplace and a workforce. There is no magic that happens when employees gather on a campus or in a building, sitting in department groups, eating in a cafeteria. We found that many of the traditional trappings of office life are no longer relevant.

Blue Cross NC is implementing a hybrid model, with employees – those whose roles allow them to work from anywhere – given the power to choose where they will work. Rather than prescribe working arrangements for employees, we asked staff to decide where they want to work; over 73% have chosen to remain full-time remote, while the remainder wishes to either split their time between home and office or work full-time in the office when it’s safe to do so. It’s also not just about where we work, either. Giving employees more flexibility over when they work is an equally important component of our hybrid strategy, too. We believe our employees know what arrangement will allow them to be most productive.

Committed to Excellence

Working remotely isn’t a new concept for Blue Cross NC. For years, we’ve had employees working full-time from home, and our workforce has always had the flexibility to work at home on days when life requires that. Technology has allowed employees to access email, collaborate and share digital files remotely when necessary.

But when working remotely becomes routine, there is a potential impact on corporate culture and working relationships. Our Human Resources team devised some creative ways for all of us to stay connected virtually and maintain morale during what has been a stressful period for everyone.

Virtual meetings and lunches with leaders have allowed employees to talk directly with executives about what’s going on in their lives and ask questions about developments at the company. Our annual Spirit Week – a chance for employees to have some fun while sharing their pride in our collective work and celebrating our successes – was shifted to a virtual experience, complete with the company’s first-ever pep rally, themed dress-up days and an employee talent competition.

To pursue our mission with passion, our employees need to feel connected to each other and to the customers we serve. This means maintaining the culture that unites us in our work. Together, Blue Cross NC employees have shown themselves to be the model of resilience over the last 18 months.

Finding the Right People  

Pandemic or not, a company has goals to meet. Blue Cross NC is in the business of health; we can’t put the pursuit of our goals on hold for any reason.

The current economy is very much a job seekers’ market. Employees of all experience and skill levels have plenty of options. For Blue Cross NC, that means we need to keep the outstanding employees who are already part of our team and attract talented candidates who are looking for new opportunities.

For current employees, we’ve redesigned our career framework with the goal of creating a more streamlined, transparent structure to promote internal talent mobility while strengthening our company’s competitiveness in the job market. An important part of this redesign is to provide employees greater visibility into career opportunities within our company, offering more chances for internal mobility.

To truly reinforce a culture of professional development, we’ve launched a new process that asks employees to formally declare their interest in internal mobility. This expressed interest, when paired with the increased visibility of an employee’s skills and abilities, will open the door to greater collaboration between our Talent Management team and those employees seeking to take on new opportunities.

With flexible work options and opportunities to explore different roles within our company, we hope to not only retain our great team members but also to attract talented applicants for our positions – collaborative team members who want to invest their time in a career, not just a job.

The new business landscape is different. In my mind, it’s better. It’s a working world of flexibility, fairness, transparency, mobility, and professional growth. This is an exciting time and I’m proud to be part of a company that is giving employees the power to take greater control of their work lives.

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

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

 About the Author

Fara Palumbo is Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services, and information to 3.8 million members. Throughout her career, she has focused on transforming the talent and culture of teams through a focus on innovation, diversity, and change leadership. During her tenure at Blue Cross NC, Fara has led the transformation of the company’s talent strategy, delivering a compelling and credible employment value proposition and leading cultural change in order to enable and sustain long-term business growth. Under her leadership, the company has achieved and maintained its certification as a Great Place to Work© and has earned numerous recognitions as an employer of choice, including the Working Mother Top 100, Best Companies in Healthcare & Biopharma, Forbes Best Mid-sized Companies for Diversity, and NAFE Top Company for Women Executives. Previously, Fara held Human Resources leadership positions at Citibank in both the retail and investment banks. During her tenure, she led teams engaged in a variety of transformational efforts impacting the workforce. Her last assignment, prior to leaving, was head of HR for the Global Securities Division.

Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

Who is More Charismatic–Putin or Zelensky? Does It Matter?

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Who is More Charismatic–Putin or Zelensky? Does It Matter?

This week’s article, written by Maureen Metcalf, analyzes research data provided by John Antonakis, Professor of Organizational Behavior and editor-in-chief of The Leadership Quarterly.  This article is a companion to the interview John did with Maureen and is part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  This series features speakers from the Annual ILA Conference that occurred in October of 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.  The interview titled The Importance of Studying Leadership Scientifically on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast aired on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022.

Leadership researchers have debated the impact of charisma on leadership effectiveness. What leaders say and how they say it can have a strong motivational effect and help coordinate followers’ actions. It impacts their belief about what others will do, thereby helping align people when taking on a costly and challenging set of activities such as we see as we watch the Ukrainians defend their country. Leadership is the social glue that helps pull a group together and hold it together as people strain to accomplish a challenging goal. Leaders also serve as role models. They signal what actions are appropriate. Additionally, leaders’ symbolic actions can serve as rallying cries for others – direct followers and stakeholders.

To illustrate charisma using, we look at the Russian invasion of Ukraine and evaluate the impact the charisma of these world leaders is likely to have on the war.

Before analyzing Presidents Zelensky and Putin, we want to ground the conversation in some data,  according to a paper published in December 2021 in Management Science, “Just Words? Just Speeches?” On the Economic Value of Charismatic Leadership by John Antonakis, Giovanna d’Adda, Roberto A. Weber, Christian Zehnder, “In the field experiment, we find that workers who are given a charismatic speech increase their output by about 17% relative to workers who listen to a standard speech. This effect is statistically significant and comparable in size to the positive effect of high-powered financial incentives. We then investigate the effect of charisma in a series of laboratory experiments in which subjects are exposed to motivational speeches before playing a repeated public goods game. Our results reveal that a higher number of charismatic elements in the speech can increase public good contributions by up to 19%. However, we also find that the effectiveness of charisma varies and appears to depend on the social context in which the speech is delivered.”

With this research as the foundation for our blog, we explore Professor John Antonakis’ evaluation of Presidents Zelensky and Putin. John evaluated both leaders’ charism by considering the words they used in recent speeches and their behavior and visual images during the speeches. President Zelensky scored as a significantly more charismatic leader when looking at the language he selected.

To evaluate charisma in further detail, John looked at the nine charismatic leadership tactics he uses to compare the two leaders. The chart below reflects the collective difference between the two leaders.

In Antonakis’ analysis, Zelensky scored higher in these seven categories: While Putin scored higher in these two categories:
  1. Collective sentiment
  2. Contrast
  3. Confidence in goals
  4. Lists/repetitiveness
  5. Metaphor
  6. Moral conviction
  7. Rhetorical question
  1. Ambitious goal
  2. Stories

This analysis tells us that President Zelensky will have more success motivating his troops and gaining support from International Leaders than will President Putin. To add to the analysis, Zelensky is also better at engaging in symbolic acts that close the status gap between himself, his soldiers, and citizens. He dresses and acts like a regular soldier and eats with his troops. He isn’t using props and technology. We often see Putin distanced from his soldiers and people.

Zelensky is a better role model and a symbol of emulation – giving an edge to the Ukrainians when looking through the lens of leadership and charisma. Leadership works not only in motivating followers. It also helps motivate stakeholders to take action that will help bring a collective together, such as the European Union, to reach a collective goal of winning the war against Russia. Both of these leaders are role models that set the tone for others.

Because Zelensky is such a charismatic leader, his skills will help steel the hearts of the Ukrainians. They have a cause to fight for, their country and homes, and a collective identity to defend. While the Ukrainians have more to lose in this war, the leadership of President Zelensky provides additional motivation and collective identity, and President Putin provides the Russian troops and other countries he is trying to unite around his cause.

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

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

 

About the Author

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

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

The Future, Through the Lens of Entrepreneurs

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The Future, Through the Lens of Entrepreneurs

This week’s article is provided by Faris Alami, Founder and CEO of ISM.  It is a companion to the interview he and Dr. Christopher Washington did on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future.  Their interview titled Post-Pandemic Approaches to Developing Future Fit Employees, aired on Tuesday, March 1st, 2022.

For the past few years we have faced the challenges of COVID-19, from the initial shutdowns to the reopening, to the next shutdown and reopening — each part of the “new reality.”

Many have found it devastating. They grieve for the loss of nearly a million lives in the U.S. alone, as well the loss of businesses and communities According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “the pandemic resulted in the permanent closure of roughly 200,000 U.S. establishments above historical levels during the first year of the viral outbreak, according to a study released by economists at the Fed.” (Simon, 2021)

At the same time, the pandemic also provided opportunities for entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses.

“The new numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday… found that a whopping 5.4 million new business applications were filed in 2021, surpassing the record set in 2020 of 4.4 million.”-Andrea Hsu, NPR.org

As with any other challenge, there will always be some who gain while others lose. As we continue to deal with the implications of COVID-19, there are opportunities to create new platforms and paths to explore to pursue the dream of starting a business.

The “New Reality” of the Corporate World

The reality of the pandemic has shifted the workforce in a variety of ways. The initial and most tangible shift is the transition and creation of remote jobs. According to the NCCI, only 6% of employed Americans worked from home before the pandemic. Initially, about 35% of the workforce worked remotely in the first four weeks of the pandemic. As of May 2021, about 24% of employed Americans still work remotely, with no plans to return to the office. 

Instead of being in person, working right there in the office, many people continue to work remotely — managing and tending to their business tasks, their personal lives, their kids, and sometimes their elders, all at once, and all in the same place.

The workforce has shifted. These times create new challenges, and also generate new problems to be solved — thus producing opportunities for innovative solutions to accommodate this new sect of employment.

Lifestyle and Purpose as a Priority

The second shift is in the mindset of workers and the realization of their top priorities truly are. The time with family and friends has allowed a reflection on the importance of finding purposeful work. They no longer look for a job just to have a job, they are looking for a job with a purpose — to have a better life, to have a better world, support the underserved, the underrepresented, go to the moon — whatever it is, their purpose is driving their job search.

After the pandemic shifted many Americans’ lifestyles, the flexibility and remote work made many not want to return to the office and maintain that level of flexibility they got to experience as a result of the pandemic.

They ask themselves: Will this job allow me to fulfill my purpose?

Purpose or Wage Ratio Increase?

Many aspects of business have been affected by the pandemic, including the cost and availability of labor. The entrepreneurial spirit of Americans was ignited during this period of reflection. With many Americans looking for purposeful work, they are also looking for purposeful pay.  According to the Pew Research center, “the wage ratio increased to 16% by the third quarter of 2020 and had ascended to 19% by the second quarter of 2021.” (Kochhar, Bennett 2021).

This created a new challenge for entrepreneurs — particularly small businesses or startups. Many don’t have the funds to create those jobs. Sometimes there is not enough revenue to justify the payment for that work.

This is why you see the shift today — some entrepreneurs are able to navigate this new reality by hiring and training new talent. They are facing the fact that they can no longer afford talented individuals with experience. Those folks, most of the time, have been able to launch their own businesses or find jobs that will pay them what they are worth.

The End of a 40 Hour Work Week?

That represents a new challenge for entrepreneurs accustomed to having people 40-50 hours a week. And there must be a mind shift, not just a physical shift. They need to find new ways to allocate and articulate their work in a 20- or 30-hour work schedule rather than a 40-hour schedule.

This may mean that looking for a team of people working part time as opposed to 1 full time employee may be the best way to find success. Some of the benefits of hiring a team are the opportunity for innovation with more minds collaborating, less opportunity for employees to feel overworked or burned out, increasing retention, and increased productivity within the time they do work instead of just fulfilling the 40 hours to ‘complete’ their schedule.

It took a few years for us to successfully shift from an in-person workplace to a virtual staff. It will probably take time to reverse that shift. We could be looking at 2023 or 2024 before whatever this “new normal” becomes apparent. Sometimes you are open, sometimes you are closed, sometimes someone’s not able to show up.

I encourage entrepreneurs who are starting or growing businesses — specifically small and medium businesses or startups —to rethink the way they view the workforce. It seems that we still can hire for attitude and train for skills!

Ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is this really a full-time position, or can these tasks be completed on a part-time basis?
  2. Can this job be divided amongst a team instead of just an individual?

Why does your business exist? What purpose are you fulfilling for the community or for the customers you serve? The answer might help you attract the talent to want to work with you toward your purpose.

With this article, my goal is not to tell you what or what not to do, but only to inspire conversation for us to think about these ideas.

Keep thinking about the future of work through the lens of entrepreneurs, as they face new challenges every day.

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

As Founder and CEO of ISM, Faris Alami works with international leaders and entrepreneurs on strategies and implementations, to create an empowering environment for startups and existing businesses to prosper and grow. In the course of his career, Faris has been a special advisor and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem expert with the World Bank, a Business Advisor with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, and a Mentor to MBA Students and Entrepreneurs globally.

Photo by Mikey Harris on Unsplash

Rebranding “Resignation” as “Reengagement”

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Rebranding “Resignation” as “Reengagement”

This week we continue the Connex Executive Insights Series, produced in collaboration with Connex Partners, an invitation-only executive network that brings industry leaders together from the worlds of HR and Healthcare.

Connex Members are part of a cutting-edge community, finding actionable solutions to their most pressing business challenges via high-value peer exchanges and curated resources including tools, platforms, partners and c-suite networking opportunities.

Executive Insights Series features highly respected and engaging guests who share novel ideas and practices related to the latest leadership topics.

This week’s article features the work of Renown Health, the largest not for profit health system in Northern Nevada, and  Michelle Sanchez-Bickley, their Chief HR Officer.  It is a companion to her interview on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast episode, Developing Your Culture, Communications & Pipeline in a Crisis, that aired on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022.

The Importance of Engagement

Employers have quickly realized the outsize importance of engagement and experience in a world so now dominated by burnout, isolation, and stress. This goes double for any employer that’s public facing – such as healthcare – as the weight of working extra shifts amidst labor shortages, shifting employee expectations, and challenges at home is compounded by dealing with a populace that is itself short on patience. The variables behind the engagement question are many, but at their core, they all tie back to organizational culture, how that’s expressed through HR programing, and whether or not employees feel connected to and supported by their employer. Culture has always been a guiding force for organizations and a chief concern of HR leaders looking to cement their strategic place at the executive table, but it’s now a core business imperative for any organization looking to attract and retain the prototypical post-pandemic professional.

The Challenges

Michelle Sanchez-Bickley joined Maureen Metcalf to discuss these challenges, and in the process, shed light on a refreshingly authentic and unpretentious approach to defining and strengthening culture despite the looming Great Resignation. Michelle will soon be celebrating her 20th year as CHRO of Renown Health – a not-for-profit integrated healthcare network and ACO serving 17 counties in northern Nevada and northeastern California – and in that time, she’s seen more than her fair share of labor challenges, shifting employee expectations, and media trends. Rather than frantically pivot to conform to those outside pressures, however, her strategic recommendation to the rest of her C-suite has consistently been to ignore the hype and maintain course.

Renown for Their Commitment

Renown is, no pun intended, renowned for their commitment to the wellbeing of both their employees and the communities they serve. They are locally owned and governed despite how large their footprint is, with all earnings immediately reinvested into the programs, peoples, and equipment needed to safeguard and advance the health of the lives they touch. They’ve cultivated an employee-centric culture to match that’s reflected throughout their HR operations by staying true to that core ethos, so rather than try to reinvent the wheel for fear that the latest labor craze might be unmanageable, they intend to stay true to who they are, live their values loudly and proudly, and continue to be a compassionate force in employees’ lives. It’s an HR twist on the Field of Dreams approach: focus your effort on building a purposeful, warm place to work rather than split your focus on a buzzword, and employees will not only come, but begin to put down roots.

Altering the “Great Resignation” to the “Great Reengagement”

With a quick branding shift, the negative and toxically self-fulfilling “Great Resignation” becomes the “Great Reengagement”. Leaders are briefed on how the rise of virtual teams and home offices change the tactics of employee engagement, but not the fundamentals. They’re taught how to use the scheduling and Do-Not-Disturb features of their ever-growing tech stack to keep work within scheduled hours, both decreasing burnout and helping keep their own urges to reply to an email at 11pm in check. And they’re instructed on how to make the time in their hectic schedules to develop, refine, and guide the skills of their reports as a means of maximizing not only performance, but retention and loyalty. At every turn, they’re reminded and encouraged to lead with the same empathy and grace that got them named a “Best Hospital” by U.S. News & World Report for ’21-‘22.

Prop Up Employees

On the other side of the employment equation, Renown is further strengthening the programs and resources designed to prop up employees. A partnership with telemedicine providers is helping expand much-needed behavioral health resources to overburdened staff members and their families, incentivized with a $0 copay. New programs – such as those designed to target sources of financial stress by helping rebuild credit, refinance, or improve financial literacy, or those that use coaches to personalize wellness to target the specific lifestyles, needs, and life goals of employees – are being introduced to close gaps in their total rewards and offset the shortcomings of more traditional tools like the EAP. And uniquely, Michelle is looking into ways to emulate the highly democratic energy of their local governance within their employment model through gig-style shift selection. Employees needing to balance work with their many other obligations vying for attention would gain unprecedented flexibility in positions that have been always dominated by rigorous scheduling, and in return, the system would gain an adaptable labor pool that could travel or flex onto openings without the high costs of overtime or temp workers.

A Campaign of Kindness and Listening

Underpinning their Great Reengagement has been a campaign of kindness and listening: a reminder to organization and team leaders that they don’t always need to come equipped with answers and recommendations. Rather, that in times of crisis, what employees often need most is someone willing to listen and empathize with their struggles. By filling that role of attentive listener, living their values of “caring”, “integrity”, and “collaboration”, and holding steadfast in the face of uncertainty, Renown’s leadership apparatus is navigating around the media-driven flashpoint and executing on their mission to make a genuine difference in the health and wellbeing of those within and around their four walls.

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

Brandon Hicke at Connex Partners brings nearly a decade of writing, consultative, and market analysis experience to the table. He plays a pivotal role in developing and enhancing the Connex Membership model through engaging content pieces and synthesized industry insights. In his free time, Brandon loves cooking, competitive gaming, pedantic philosophic discussions, and exploring his new hometown of St. Louis with his loved ones.

Photo by Clayton Cardinalli on Unsplash

Facing a Global Leadership Crisis–Insights from GCSP

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Facing a Global Leadership Crisis–Insights from GCSP

This week’s article is written by Peter Cunningham, Head of Leadership at the Geneva Center for Security Policy.  It is a companion to his and Ambassador Thomas Greminger’s interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Facing a Global Leadership Crisis—Insights from GCSP that aired on Tuesday, February 15th, 2022.

 

Here’s a short clip from the interview: Here’s the full interview:

 

It is widely held that it was Seneca who said, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. While for many of us, luck is not a term we might particularly associate with the past two years, there is an ongoing, globally shared, developmental opportunity underway. We are all exposed to higher levels of complexity, ambiguity, and the uncertainties they generate. Senior leaders (especially in the private sector and the military) often go through many years of preparation to deal with the experience of no one telling you what to do and being expected to make sense of complex situations and judging what direction to take and what choices to make.

In some sense, over the last two years, everyone has had a taste of what that feels like, when it comes to making decisions that affect our families, our colleagues, and our communities. Without having had the benefit of those years of preparation, for many it can be unsettling and confusing. Like any potentially transformational experience, there is discomfort to navigate if we are to grow and learn from it.

The year 2020 could be characterised as a huge wave of disruption – we had to ride it as best we could, experiment with entirely different ways of living and working, and be tolerant; 2021 became about the hard work of learning how to live and work well within this ongoing disruption. As we enter a 3rd year of disruption there is a cumulative change dynamic, and we need to lift our sights beyond crisis response (that has itself become normalised) while maintaining the capability to quickly flip back if needed.  Leaders are faced with the task of having to cast their minds into the future to try and predict what might happen in the months ahead and how best to respond and prepare themselves, their teams, and organisations.

From having paid close attention over the last decade to many organisations and leaders in the International Peace & Security sector – characterised as having high exposure to ambiguity, tensions, humanitarian challenges and complex multi-actor issues – the following 4 practices may set leaders and therefore organisational cultures apart in the year ahead.

  1. Engage in Collective Sensemaking

Attempting to predict the future is for the most part a fool’s game. However, there is real value in dipping into the toolkit of the Strategic Foresight community and engaging in identifying plausible scenarios you might experience 9 or 12 months from now and how you might prepare for these or even work toward the realisation of a preferred scenario. An important element is to make this a diverse and collective activity. If only a small, homogenous group does this then the scenarios they will come up with will be limited and of less value. The more diverse perspectives that you can involve, the richer, more nuanced, and more informative those scenarios will be. Revisiting and amending these scenarios every few months will instill a practice of continuous Sensemaking over time, meaning people will be more attuned to early signals of change and feel safe enough to bring them to everyone’s attention.

  1. Provide medium-term clarity and focus

It will be important in 2022 to define some medium- and longer-term changes that you believe should remain beyond this pandemic. As Yogi Bear once remarked: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

A head of strategy for an international foundation recently explained how they pushed for the organisation to set out a 10-year strategy, effectively doubling their normal time horizon. It involved less detailed metric-driven specificity and more purposefulness to counter the external disruptions they were experiencing. Doing this was challenging for the leadership team yet it helped them communicate a clear direction that stretched beyond the immediate crisis response experience and helped provide a sense of reassurance and focus to counter the anxiety many people felt.

 

  1. Create space for curiousity

Alongside many advantages, one of the risks associated with working remotely, for fortunate enough to be able to adapt to this, is the tendency to become overly task-oriented when you do meet online but also when you are working alone from home. It is important to invest in creating the space for less structured guided interactions and thought. You can revolve these around a particular topic or issue or leave it entirely open with just a simple guiding question.

It can be valuable to carve out some space for more curiousity led thinking and interaction without always having a detailed agenda, task, or a pre-determined outcome. These tend to limit people’s openness to thinking about possibilities and reduce their ability to engage with high levels of ambiguity.

Not only is this motivating for many people, but it will also generate insights and ideas on how to choose what longer-term changes are needed. It also sends a message that you trust people to come up with meaningful ideas and solutions. There is another longer-term benefit; curiousity lies at the heart of a learning mindset and it is such a mindset that tends to better tolerate complexity and ambiguity.

 

  1. Capacity to collide and converge

When we ask people to reflect on a team or collaborative experience that they were proud to be part of, it often involved tensions or conflicts that were overcome. In fact, having overcome such tensions and turning them into positive relations and outcomes is often what people are most proud of. At a time when returning to more face-to-face interaction is likely and public polarisation is high around issues like vaccines and work preferences, pay extra attention to early warnings of issues that can lead to conflict and develop the capacity at all levels to not just navigate this but encourage openness and constructive discussion that surfaces ‘elephants in the room’ can improve collaboration.

If it is indeed true that there will be an increase in talented people seeking to contribute to organisations and initiatives that align with what matters to them most. All four of these practices have in common that they contribute to increased trust, inclusion, psychological safety and are foundations of a resilient, more caring and courageous culture of work.

 

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

Peter Cunningham is Head of Leadership at GCSP and Co-Founder of the Geneva Leadership Alliance, a network of associates and partner organisations working together to advance the understanding and practice of leadership for the benefit of peace and security worldwide.

Peter has over 20 years of experience in leadership development, adult education, and executive coaching across private, public, and non-profit sectors. He is constantly seeking new, diverse, and innovative ways to bridge the study of leadership with the practice of leading, especially at international level and across cultural, geo-graphical, political and organisational divides. Leveraging his diverse experience and background, he creates safe spaces for learning and encourages brave spaces for application, enabling people to learn leadership mindsets and practices in transformative ways and adapt them to their own work and life.

Photo by Fabienne FILIPPONE on Unsplash

Resolving Conflict or Conducting Conflict – The 21st Century Leadership Choice

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Resolving Conflict or Conducting Conflict – The 21st Century Leadership Choice

This week’s article is written by Lord John Alderdice, a sitting member of the House of Lords.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Finding Peace When in Conflict that aired on Tuesday, February 8th, 2022.

 

The unfolding of leadership over history brings us to a point in the arc of time where we as leaders have a fundamental choice about the role of leadership. First, leaders need to identify where their loyalty lies. Are they loyal to the past, in which case they will continue to recreate the conflicts of history well into the future? The second choice is loyalty to the future they want to create for their children. In the second option, leaders decide how to resolve conflicts of the past to create a future for their children that is more peaceful and equitable.

Let’s take a look at how leadership evolved.

Leadership has never been an entirely straightforward business, but arguably it is even more complex these days than in previous times. Until the advent of a degree of democracy, initially in the Christian Church through the Reformation and then more widely in society following from the Revolutions in America and France, leaders were recognized, appointed, or took power by physical force. The mass of people generally accepted that some people would be leaders, but most would be followers without much say in the matter. Even with the emergence of democracy, leadership was restricted and those who occupied the positions were accepted as meriting regard, if not affection. This seems to have changed as the nineteenth century wore on and then quite dramatically a century ago with the Great War. During the First World War there was widespread, serious, regular criticism of the military and political leadership on all sides. Many of the leaders were still in place through accident of birth rather than by popular demand or obvious skill and ability. The massive losses of life, the legacy of terrible injuries, and the sense that even the victors were diminished by the outcome, ensured that the traditional social and political leadership was damaged. The result was the collapse of the whole imperial order across Europe, with repercussions all around the world. This was followed by an unprecedented extension of democracy and, as the 20th century passed, an increasing and eventually almost universal rejection of the principle that foreign powers, or domestic leaders should legitimately take or hold power in a country by physical force.

After the Second World War, the process of decolonization gathered pace, and elections increasingly became the principal mechanism by which changes of government and power could take place without a violent revolution. The social structure also changed, with an increasingly widely expressed view that every individual should have the right to follow their own beliefs, ambitions, and way of life without restriction other than the avoidance of harm to others and should have the opportunity to express their view on the leadership of their community and country in democratic elections. There was also an increasing belief that anyone could achieve almost anything if they set their mind to it.   Such was the dramatically optimistic vista these changes appeared to open up that after the people pulled down the Berlin Wall with their own hands in 1989, Francis Fukuyama famously declared the triumph of western liberal democracy and the endpoint of humanity’s sociocultural evolution – ‘the end of history’ as he described it.

However, as is always the case, even the best-informed foresight cannot discern with certainty what is beyond the horizon of time. The decades since Fukuyama’s assertion have seen enormous changes resulting from the continuing loss of deference and even respect for traditional forms of leadership, the exponential development of information and communication technology, and a new social order characterized more by constantly evolving networks than by hierarchies and bureaucracies.

Where are we now?

However, the new millennium has also witnessed something even more unexpected. While there is continuing progress in areas like healthcare and technology, instead of more freedom, stability, and prosperity in society, we see a regression. As a result, we have more anxious, inward-looking communities of people, fearful that incomers will not enrich life but instead change their culture in ways that will be unwelcome.

Democratic structures have been replaced with domination by populists, authoritarians, and fundamentalists.   War itself is no longer something that happens on a battlefield somewhere else but is an unwelcome visitor in the cyberworld that I access through the computer in my own home. If that were not enough, our environment can not be depended upon to stay stable and is changing in ways that may threaten the continued welfare or even existence of some of our communities and even small countries.

We seem to be leaving behind an evolving democratic world where there was confidence that the community would make wise or at least relatively rational decisions about leadership. Instead, people are seeking out leaders who express powerful feelings of anger, resentment, and fear.

Now we face a choice.

Either we accept that there is no agreement on ‘the good’, as the liberal philosopher, Isaiah Berlin said, and therefore we must construct a pluralist approach to governance where we live in tolerance of the views of those who differ profoundly from us, or we polarize, fracture, and fight about those differences. To achieve the former, we will need leaders who believe that it is their task to resolve conflict and build a culture of pluralism. The alternative will be leaders who see it as their role to conduct conflict and condemn us to a degree of destruction of our people and our environment, and that has the potential to bring humanity itself to an end.

 

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

John, Lord Alderdice, FRCPsych, is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords and was the Chairman of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords during the Liberal/Conservative Coalition Government. He also speaks for the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland in the House of Lords, and as Leader of Alliance he played a significant role in the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. When the Northern Ireland Assembly was elected, he became its first Speaker. In 2004 he retired as Speaker on being appointed by the British and Irish Governments to be one of the four members of the international Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), put in place to close down the operations of the paramilitary organizations and monitor security normalization.

 

Photo by Filip Andrejevic on Unsplash

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