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How to Use Your Stress for Good

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Business
How to Use Your Stress for Good

This week’s article is provided by Deb Lewis, founder of Mentally Tough Women (MTW). It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Mental Toughness: How to Embrace Stress for Greater Success that aired on Tuesday, July 6th.

Have you ever felt that SPECIAL SATISFACTION when you achieve what others thought impossible?

I graduated from West Point in the first class to EVER accept women.  174 years of them saying NO to all the women who wanted to attend and now our 62 women graduates from that first class have grown to over 5000 today.

It wasn’t easy. Important lessons rarely are. Those early days taught me a LOT.

Some years later, I was hand-picked to lead a $2.1 billion engineer construction program IN COMBAT!  Today, I’m very involved with non-profits, businesses, schools, and government offices to make it possible to work closely together to succeed under the toughest conditions. I lead a couple of non-profits, which include one with 4,200 members as Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for Hawaii, and as Hawaii’s ambassador for the Military Women’s Memorial, encouraging women to sign up and share Herstory.

What’s been my KEY TO SUCCESS… that’s helped 1000s of women and men do AMAZING things EVERY day against the odds?

Answer: STRESS

It can break you, making your life miserable…or…

With the right training, YOU face whatever the future holds and enjoy what’s truly possible.

What better time to learn how to use stress to your advantage than today?

Think about the huge challenges we face -from climate change (drought, floods, melting ice caps & sea rise), to aggressive nations or combative groups to COVID and deadly variants.

Consider what’s happening to our businesses.

  • A Harvard Study found that in a recent recession only 9-10% of companies use adversity to their advantage. (Gulati – HBS)
  • A Harvard Business Review report found that 70-90% of business mergers and acquisitions fail. (HBR, 2019)
  • Gallup studies for 2020 indicate a workforce struggling to live up to its potential. Only 1 or 2 employees in 5 are engaged at work (highly involved), 43% are stressed out daily, and 15-20% are actively DISENGAGED (actively discouraging others to perform).

What employees in the US face at home:

  • 70% of adults have experienced a traumatic event – that’s Pre-COVID. (thenationalcouncil.org)
  • 50% of marriages end in divorce, and up to 73% for subsequent marriages. (worldpopulationreview.com)
  • 66% of people are seeking a real relationship, a meaningful partnership that is built on commitment and love (eHarmony)

When important issues at work and at home are wrapped in toxic and divisive perspectives, we magnify problems and solutions become elusive.

It’s natural to mistakenly view stress as a threat. In fact, we’re hard-wired and conditioned/soft-wired to do so. Threats trigger most people into survival-mode thinking.

In survival mode, unmet expectations are judged harshly and quickly. In this mode, a large range of options dramatically narrow to three strategies:  Fight, Flight (run away), or Shut Down (disengage).

It’s a lot like walking into a pie shop that normally offers 50 mouth-watering options. In survival mode, you narrow your options to three ordinary-looking pies…which you don’t realize until later. And those limited choices all make you sick.

A lack of stress skills can be easy to spot. Have you ever sat in a restaurant when someone you’re with has an issue with an order? How do they treat the server? Shouting or getting upset may get movement and lots of unintended consequences. Outcomes that exceed my expectations – never happen when I’m in survival mode!

In one case, a client enthusiastically signed up for both of my Extreme Stress and Stress Basics courses. Two weeks later, I noted she had not started either one. Upon questioning, she stated, “I’m in such a dark place. I really don’t think I have the energy or desire to even start because I won’t finish.”

Rather than be disappointed, I became excited and challenged her to watch just one of my 5 minutes videos. I promised she’d have more energy and feel better right away. Two weeks later, I checked back. and she shared, “I watched the video and finished both courses by the next day.”

I knew the toxic environment she worked in and asked if she wanted to talk more. She said, “I’m great now… really!” We did talk later. Her situation was even worse than I imagined. Today, she’s in a dream job.

With a better perspective and a few stress tools, you can walk through fire. And won’t waste time in survival mode whenever your emotions are triggered. Without that training and discipline to handle stress, it’s easy to forget the wisdom that’s available to us.

Remember when Wonder Woman took on the world after her early years of intense training? My own mental toughness journey in and out of the military continues to give me the power to transform incredibly difficult situations into opportunities and to help others do the same. It hasn’t gotten easier. I’ve gotten better!

TV, newspapers, magazines, books, radio, social media, and daily conversations bombard our beliefs, conversations, and choices we make every day. Recognize that a growing number of people refuse to listen to or restrict the “News” they receive or have even sworn off social media entirely. It comes down to how well you handle life’s challenges, no matter how tough things get. Stress isn’t bad. It’s how you deal with stress that matters.

 Do YOU want to stand out as a better leader? If so, your real test won’t happen when things go as planned. It’s those moments when a turn of events tests you – disappoints, frustrates or potentially angers you and those around you. With survival-mode thinking, keep in mind that:

Once you go negative, you break the trust and shake the foundation of your relationships.

What you do matters. When you’re lucky enough to be placed in leadership roles, use them to make a difference. The more challenging the job, the bigger your potential impact.

Go to our website Mentallytoughwomen.com to find out more about MTW’s Powerful Stress Tools. You’ll enjoy being tested to your limits!

Use stress to fuel your success

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

Colonel Deb Lewis is a West Point graduate from its first class with women. A retired Army Colonel and Harvard MBA, Deb commanded three US Army Corps of Engineer Districts, including a $2.1B reconstruction program in combat. She survived the 9/11 Pentagon attack while serving on the Joint Staff antiterrorism team. Colonel Deb’s experiences leading while under fire inspired her unique ‘Mentally Tough Women’ (MTW) program. MTW prepares women (and enlightened men) to handle more stress – not de-stress – in good times and times of crisis. Once you ‘Armor Up’ with mental toughness, your daily battles turn into sweet victories.

Photo by Diego González on Unsplash

Seven Questions You Can Use to Move from Manager to a Leader

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Business
Seven Questions You Can Use to Move from Manager to a Leader

This week’s article is provided by Jonathan Reitz as part of the World Business and Executive Coach Summit (WBECS) interview series.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Management Vs Leadership: How Coaching Skills Make a Difference that aired on Tuesday, May 25th.

Many careers get built around the mysterious difference between a manager and a leader. Don’t believe me? Google how to become a leader some time. But what IS that difference?

Both get things done. Each produces on strategic initiatives and business outcomes. Execution is a priority no matter what your career trajectory, especially coming out of COVID-19. The entrepreneurial view requires the action-reflection cycle to move an organization forward. It’s not accidental that action leads to that combination.

Leaders follow a vision that they see and communicate to their followers. Understanding where you and the organization are going is the first step to having others follow. How a leader develops that vision and owns it is another article.

But mixing in another slight mindset shift sets leaders apart: Leaders intentionally look for opportunities to unlock/develop the people around them. When you follow or work for a true leader, full potential is within reach for both the individual and the organization.

Bringing that future to life challenges even an excellent leader. And taking people with you as you move toward a vision requires handling changing conditions and expectations.

How can an effective leader release the people around them to reach their potential? Here are seven structured, systematic questions that you can use to challenge the people around you in developmental conversations:

  1. What progress have you made?

Right out of the gate, a leader has to decide: will it be more helpful to track progress by measuring back from the starting point? Or is the distance to the goal more compelling? Looking back to where you started roots the progress conversation in tangible outcomes. Keeping your eyes on what’s in front builds ownership of the vision. Both have solid reasoning behind them.

  1. How on track are you?

This second question invites an assessment of the progress from the perspective of the client/team member. Leaders who develop people gain insight into how well their team evaluates their progress, a key growth area. You’ll not only measure progress but also understand and improve strategic skills. Sharpening this area equips individual contributors to level up to leadership.

  1. What’s working?

Now we move from the strategic to the tactical. This question focuses on the practical actions that have produced beneficial results in the recent past. For example, the conversation might focus on the results produced since the last you spoke. You can target these areas later in the conversation.

  1. What’s not working?

This practical corollary to the last question explores actions that produced unhelpful or useless results. These items can be shut down or cut back.

  1. What are you learning?

The client describes their discoveries out loud. The process of forming their learning into clear thoughts and then pushing the words out of their mouth reinforces the insight. The client hears their words and gauges their reaction to them, which further confirms the moment. This question drives discoveries more often than any of the others, so don’t miss the opportunity to ask it!

  1. What needs to change?

Adapting or developing a client’s thinking becomes the goal here. Learning that gets named but not acted on slows development. Be sure to connect the change with the realizations identified previously. Even a few moments of reflection may inspire new connections and actions.

  1. What now/next?

Splitting the last step into two questions helps team members focus and order their commitments.

– “What now?” points to the first thing the client will do after the conversation ends. This action grows out of the last two questions and should move the client toward the critical outcome.

– “What next?” carries a less clear priority. As long as what the client names in response to this question moves them toward their vision/goal, the timeline can be more open-ended. A good rule of thumb expects completion of this action before the following conversation or next team meeting.

These seven questions shift a manager from directing the actions and priorities toward being a leader that invites team members to make meaningful contributions daily. The mindset shift requires the leader to depend on team members and work to bring out the team’s abilities. Team member growth AND bottom-line outcomes indicate how well this is working.

Important note: This seven-question framework only works if there is an existing goal, vision, or destination. The leader and the team member focus together toward specific outcomes. Clarity wins. Ideally, the client names the target as the conversation begins. If that target isn’t clear in the client’s mind, the leader/coach becomes most effective by asking open-ended questions that become specific about what they want to accomplish.

Whether you or the team member identified the future target isn’t the point. Clarity about what you want is the multiplier. It’s potent if you can specify how you’ll know you’re getting what you want in the moment.

One unintended side effect is that this approach can make your team more prone to turnover. BUT it’s the kind of turnover that comes from team members being promoted or taking on more responsibility. The converse of this side effect is that you will become the leader in your organization that helps people advance their careers, and that is a decisive recruiting advantage!

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:

Jonathan Reitz, MCC is CoachNet FLUXIFY’s Director for Training/CEO. Jonathan holds the Master Certified Coach (MCC) credential in the International Coaching Federation.   He’s also the co-founder of the Team Coaching Global Alliance, and has been featured multiple times on the World Business and Executive Coaches Summit (WBECS).

He wrote Coaching Hacks:  Simple Strategies to Make Every Conversation More Effective.  Jonathan is a member of the faculty in the Weatherhead School of Management Coaching Program at Case Western Reserve University.  Jonathan Reitz lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife Joy and daughter Julia.   Find him online at www.jonathanreitz.com

Spotting Opportunities for Creativity and Innovation

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Business
Spotting Opportunities for Creativity and Innovation

This week’s article is provided by Jeff DeGraff, author of The Creative Mindset: Mastering the Six Skills that Power Innovation. This is an edited excerpt from his book and a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Creative Mindset: Mastering Skills that Empower Innovation that aired on Tuesday, June 1st.

Regrettably, swaggering catchphrases like “go big or go home” are commonly associated with creative thinking. Accordingly, most of these braggarts end up doing the latter. The next big thing most likely will be small. Instead of trying to develop the next breakthrough technology, you might find an unfilled niche that a current technology could fill if it were used differently. Maybe a solution could be creative simply by applying it in a new way.

For example, super glue was developed for industrial, and household uses, but is now commonly used to close wounds. Alternatively, an old problem may be solved with a new approach. Consider how the repair of highway embankments was greatly expedited by adding cement to industrial canvas. Drape the cement-infused fabric like a carpet and just add water. Voilà, instant infrastructure. The solution doesn’t have to be revolutionary for the effect to be. Better, cheaper, and faster might also work.

When you’re searching for an opportunity for creative thinking, here are three things to look for:

  • Find Unmet Needs and Fill Them 
    • Examine where clients and consumers are dissatisfied with a solution. For example, the poor patient satisfaction score of a medical practice might suggest an opportunity to connect physicians with a ridesharing service. Think of it as a return to house calls. Perhaps you notice that there are no decent restaurants in a number of rural areas near your house. There aren’t enough people in any one location to make a restaurant viable. You might repurpose an old delivery van as a gourmet food truck like the ones that line the streets of New York and Los Angeles. Each week you could bring a different cuisine. The key insight here is to uncover a shortcoming or void and to fill it.
  • Find Inefficiencies and Fix Them 
    • Observing when and where services are untimely is a great way to locate a high-potential opportunity. Parking in any big city is a prime example. Municipalities generate an enormous amount of their revenue by writing parking tickets. Even though the technology exists to digitally connect the driver with the parking space, few cities adopt the solution because it is expensive and cuts into their profits. But, in reality, one does not need substantial financial support from the cities to produce such a product. By examining the traffic pattern data available to the public, based on probabilities, a software developer can develop an app that would serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost and directly market it to drivers. The challenge isn’t to improve the technology. Instead, it’s to make parking more efficient. This type of challenge can be met without a massive amount of money. It just takes looking at it with a creative mindset.
  • Find Complexity and Get Rid of It 
    • Identify systems that are unnecessarily complicated or that rely too heavily on bureaucratic procedures, and make them simpler. Suppose you are a college freshman at a large institution. You are directed to a website to select your first courses. There is a counselor you can see, but only for a few minutes, and you will have to wait almost until the deadline to register for courses. The complexity of the situation is anxiety-producing and counterproductive to get you set up for success at the start of your education.

Suppose that an enterprising librarian created a call-in service, something akin to what software companies do. The service representatives would have segmented different groups of students based on several variables such as interest, aptitude, and so on. They would have collaborated with the counselors beforehand and created several effective pathways for those student segments. They might be fluent in the registration system of a few universities. Students can use the call-in service to get help and advice on how to select courses based on their interests and walk through the process with the service representatives. The challenge of complexity might be better solved by working against technology trends.

This example is about not creating a new, more advanced technology but reverting to the old-fashion way of talking on the phone to someone who can answer all your questions and walk you through the technology to register for your classes. Sometimes, advanced technology doesn’t help as much as a simpler human solution.

Clarifying Your Challenge Pay Attention. 

Look up, down, and all around yourself. Look for the things that other people don’t see. Chances are that if you see an obvious occasion to innovate, other people see it, too. So look for subtle patterns, small holes, tiny inconsistencies, minor inefficiencies. The opportunity to innovate may be inside something you see every day, but you’ll never see it if you don’t look closely enough.

You want to enter any innovation challenge with your eyes wide open. Before you embark on any new project, especially one that will consume your time, effort, and other resources, you need to be sure that you are solving the right problem and that you really want to do it. Otherwise, you will start many projects but never finish them.

Do not forget to learn from others. Technical descriptions can take you only so far. Meaningful conversations are what will shed the most light on your goals and situation. Listen to stories. Ask open-ended questions. If someone takes one point of view or tone, gently explore the opposite one and see how the person reacts. Pay attention to that person’s body language and energy. Follow-up questions are the key to learning what you really need to know. Good creators are, first and foremost, good listeners.

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

Jeff DeGraff is both an advisor to Fortune 500 companies and a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. His simultaneously creative and pragmatic approach to making innovation happen has led clients and colleagues to dub him the “Dean of Innovation.” He has written several books, including Leading Innovation, Innovation You, and The Innovation Code. His most recent book The Creative Mindset brings 6 creativity skills to everyone.

How to Improve Your Digital Body Language

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Business
How to Improve Your Digital Body Language

This week’s article is provided by Erica Dhawan as part of the World Business and Executive Coach Summit (WBECS) interview series.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection that aired on Tuesday, May 18th.

 

No traditional expert in body language could have predicted that today our communication would be nearly entirely digital. Modern communication relies more than ever on how we say something rather than on what we say. That is our digital body language. When the internet came along, everyone was given a dais and a microphone, but no one was told how to use them. We all just picked things up as we went along. And the mistakes we’ve made along the way have had real consequences in business.

Misunderstandings are rampant in today’s workplaces. And while poor communication habits may feel inevitable with colleagues, it can often come at the cost of a team’s potential to succeed. Each of us has different expectations and instincts about whether we should send a text versus an email, when to call someone, how long to wait before we write someone back, and how to write a digital thank you or apology without seeming insincere. These seemingly small choices create impressions that can either enhance or wreck our closest relationships in the workplace (not to mention in our personal lives). Most of today’s boardrooms, workplaces, and classrooms minimize the conditions necessary to foster and augment clear communication, leading to widespread distrust, resentment, and frustration. There are more far-flung teams. There are fewer face-to-face interactions. There is virtually no body language to read (even today’s video meetings are scarce of eye contact or hand gestures).

But how can we stay connected when a screen divides us?

The answer lies in understanding the cues and signals that we are sending with our digital body language, and learning to tailor them to create clear, precise messages. Everything from our punctuation to our response times to our video backgrounds in a video call make up signals of trust, respect, and even confidence in our modern world.

By embedding a real understanding of digital body language into your workplace, communication processes can provide both the structure and the tools that support a silo-breaking, trust-filled environment. Here are some strategies from my new book Digital Body Language:

The Medium is the Message

All communication channels are not created equal. Knowing how and when to use each one depends on the context. Every channel brings with it a set of underlying meanings and subtexts, and knowing how to navigate this array of hidden meanings is a telltale mark of digital savviness and––ultimately––professionalism.  If you’re stuck, ask yourself: how important or urgent is your message? And to whom are you communicating? If so, what’s better––email, Slack, the phone, or a text?

Punctuation is the New Measure of Emotion

In our digital world, our screens filter out the non-verbal signals and cues that makeup 60 to 80 percent of face-to-face communication, forcing us to adapt the emotional logic of computers. We’re rendered cue-less.

By way of compensation, our communication style relies on punctuation for impact. In an effort to infuse our texts with tone and to clarify our feelings, we might use exclamation marks, capital letters, or ellipses, or else hit the “Like” or “Love” button on messages we receive. But instead of clarity, sometimes our reliance on punctuation and symbols can generate more confusion.

My advice when it comes to punctuation and symbols: use them judiciously.

Timing is the New Measure of Respect

Face-to-face interactions require that both parties be available at the same time. This is less possible today, with most of us scrambling to keep up with our various inboxes.

This often means that communication happens at a slower pace. And in a digitally-reliant world, the slightest pause between messages takes on an almost operatic meaning.

The thing is, most of the time a non-answer means nothing at all; the other person is simply tied up, doing something else, didn’t notice she’d gotten a text, had her volume turned off, or forgot where she put her phone.

If you’re worried about your digital tone, one way to clarify your feelings digitally is through the direct, easy-to-understand language of emojis. While emojis may be a learning curve for some, they can be critical to enhancing workplace efficiency and cultivating a corporate culture of optimal clarity.

A phone call is worth a thousand emails

With so many written platforms at our disposal, we can also get caught up in asking too many questions in email or group chat. Phone, video, or live meetings safeguard us from asking one tiny question after the next, instead requiring us to formulate the right questions. If you just received a vague or confusing text or email, don’t be afraid to ask to request a phone conversation or, if possible, a video or in-person meeting.

If it’s a sensitive dialogue, requesting a quick call shows you’re being thoughtful. Instead of making you look indecisive, waiting for a few beats before responding to questions shows the other person that you are listening and taking your work seriously.

With hardly any face-to-face interactions with colleagues or classmates these days, there is virtually no body language to read. Understanding digital body language is essential for those of us who are committed to making strong relationships and making a mark, even in the swell of conference calls, emails, texts, and Zoom engagements. Not only can it enhance your interpersonal interactions and liberate you from the fear and worry that digital communication inspires but it can give you a competitive advantage on your team grounded in transparency and empathy.

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

Erica Dhawan is a leading expert on 21st-century teamwork and communication. She is an award-winning keynote speaker and the author of the new book Digital Body Language. Download her free guide to End Digital Burnout. Follow her on Linkedin.

Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

Why Strong Leaders Always Put a Focus on Promoting Business Transparency with Employees

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Business
Why Strong Leaders Always Put a Focus on Promoting Business Transparency with Employees

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This article is a guest post provided by Jori Hamilton.  It is provided to supplement the interview with Laura Morgan Roberts and Courtney McCluney, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  Their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled DEI: Needed Conversations and Understanding aired on Tuesday, April 27th, 2021.

In a leadership position, transparency isn’t likely one of the topics you think about first. Yet, for your employees, transparency is a key leadership trait. 64% of respondents ranked trust between employees and senior management in a survey regarding what matters most for job satisfaction and engagement.

Yet, many business leaders still undervalue transparency. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis and continued economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever before to adopt transparency as a key tenet of employee-facing business policies.

Effective leadership during and after a crisis like this requires clear and quality communication. Business transparency makes such communication possible. Strong leaders will use this to their advantage, but first, it helps to understand what business transparency looks like and how it helps workplaces.

Business Transparency Defined

Obviously, as a business, it doesn’t make sense for all employees to have access to all the company’s information. Interns, for example, don’t necessarily need the details on financial accounts. Business transparency, however, doesn’t mean a complete revelation of all trade secrets and financial details.

Instead, business transparency can be simply defined as openness in communication between employers and employees regarding policy and decision-making. This simple quality can have a huge impact on employee engagement and success.

In planning your transparent approach to business leadership, it is helpful to remember that transparency is a means to greater and more effective leadership potential. New company policies, especially on a corporate level, tend to get passed down the chain with little transparency or communication involved. As many as 52% of workers say their own company struggles in providing up-front and open communication with them.

But no one likes to follow rules they don’t understand. Lack of clear communication leads to distrust. In many cases, employees even quit because of frustrations with their superiors and the way they communicate. Sometimes all it takes to make a difference is a clear memo and accessible communication channels.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we see the value of transparency in leadership even more closely. Since all kinds of businesses suddenly had to transition their processes, unclear communication has had negative effects on some businesses as employees struggled to effectively adapt.

At the same time, businesses that communicated a continuity plan with employees from the start and were receptive to ideas had the easiest time managing pandemic concerns. Even in instances where this meant layoffs, transparency and quality communication gave these workers more time to seek out the unemployment benefits they were often entitled to.

But this kind of transparency has more long-term benefits that will extend long past the pandemic.

The Benefits of Managerial Transparency

The management style you adopt can have a significant impact on the growth of your organization. Transparency can help ensure that that impact is a positive one.

The data is clear when it comes to clear and empathetic communication between employees and management. Employees in these circumstances have higher retention rates and levels of productivity. These factors can even mean all the difference when it comes to financially surviving crises like COVID-19.

Here are just some of the statistics regarding the importance of transparency in business management:

  • Transparency is the number-one factor in employee happiness.
  • 57% of employees left a job because of a manager.
  • 94% of customers are likely to be loyal to a company that offers complete transparency.
  • 39% of customers would switch to a brand that offers greater transparency.
  • 73% of customers will pay more for products from transparent brands.

With potentials like these, it is no wonder why strong leaders always put a focus on promoting business transparency. Clear and open communication with employees invites collaboration and innovation. At the same time, a willingness to explain thought processes behind decisions and policies is a huge factor in establishing employee trust.

Since trust and communication are so valuable to employee engagement and success, transparency should not be an overlooked aspect of leadership. But what exactly does business transparency look like, and how can leaders cultivate it?

Building Success Through Transparent Leadership

With so much potential available through transparent communication alone, it should be every leader’s priority to build transparency into their processes. There are several ways this can be achieved. From highly promoted value statements to open-door policies, transparent leadership is effective and achievable.

One radical example is the social media scheduling company Buffer’s approach to pay scales. Buffer keeps the salaries of all its employees on a public spreadsheet along with a formula that describes exactly why each worker makes what they do. The company claims this keeps employee frustrations low while also offering employees something to strive for, leading to greater productivity.

While you still might want to keep salary information private in your own business, you can still create a culture of transparency through a few simple actions. These include:

  • Clarify transparency as a core value of your business and promote these values in company culture.
  • Share all information about changes with employees upfront.
  • Engage in honest and open negotiations with employees.
  • Maintain an empathetic approach to leadership.
  • Explain decisions through data and clear communication.

By engaging in simple practices like these, you can demonstrate a greater commitment to your employees and customers. Doing so can also actively prevent many toxic behaviors from occurring. As demonstrated, this can offer business benefits like greater productivity and employee retention. These qualities matter even more as the world still reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

Final Thoughts

Facing a lack of certainty in the larger economy, employees deserve a transparent workplace and clear communication from their employers. This does not have to mean complete visibility of financial data; even revealing data analytics that points towards the reasoning of a specific change can be enough to generate trust and respect.

As business policies continue to shift in the course of a pandemic-stricken economy, negotiating employee needs like remote work accommodations will require a dedication to transparent communication. Businesses need transparency and empathy to thrive as they accommodate new standards of normal. As a result, strong leaders are promoting business transparency and reaping the rewards that follow.

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

Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. Her areas of expertise and topics she typically covers revolve around business leadership, ethics, and psychology. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter: @HamiltonJori

Image Source: Pexels

The Art of Managing Time

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Business
The Art of Managing Time

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This article was previously published on the SIYLI blog (Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute.)  It is provided to supplement the interview with Peter Weng and Rich Fernandez, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  Their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Mindfulness and the Benefits in the Work Place aired on Tuesday, April 20th, 2021.

Peter Weng, the founder of the EWS Collective, worked in the corporate world for more than 20 years and was a director at Google before leaving to focus on a mission of helping others develop their mindfulness, well-being, and performance. Given his background in information and data, it’s remarkable that he chooses to limit his access to technology. His home internet router shuts off daily with a tightly scheduled timer, and his cell phone is often in airplane mode on the weekends. But by avoiding television, mobile internet access and even meditation apps, he’s found more time to pursue, in addition to work, the things he loves—surfing (when he was in his early twenties, he surfed about 30 hours a week), music (he’s been a gigging musician in several countries), dancing (he was a semi-professional rollerdisco dancer) and his own mindfulness practice. Ultimately, all of these habits have helped him learn how to be less reactive, become more patient, manage his time more efficiently and focus on what he values most.

Here he shares his views and practices on mindfulness:

How did you first learn about mindfulness?
Visiting Chan Buddhist monks from Taiwan were teaching weekly sessions at the University of Texas at Austin when I was living in Austin, Texas. I happened upon the sessions while waiting for a friend who was doing research there. The teachings from those monks were so practical and pragmatic—it just made sense to me. My mindfulness practice started at that time about 20 years ago.

 How has mindfulness shaped your life, both in the workplace and personally? 
It’s a bit frightening if I consider how mindfulness practice has shifted things in my personal and professional life. In my personal life, personal time has shifted to retreats and meditation groups. I previously served on the board of Insight Santa Cruz, a meditation center in the Insight/Theravada Buddhist tradition.

Professionally, I left my corporate career—and the interesting things associated with that career, such as being invited to attend economic forums at the White House—to focus on helping spread mindfulness practices. Throughout, I have striven to keep technology from dominating life, even when I worked in technology companies.

What’s your daily mindfulness practice like?
For daily practice, my preference is for breath-focused and body-scan meditations, both as seated practices and incorporated into moments and space throughout the day—on the bus, waiting in line, etc. I also journal at night. For journaling, I’ve been tracking my activities every day for about 30 years. It ‘s been incredibly helpful to review my journal each month to assess whether I’m living the way I would like to live. Reading the issues that I write about has also been interesting to see how my priorities have shifted over time.

The best way for me to make time to practice is to prevent myself from being online at night and morning. So, for this, I’ve set up my internet router on a timer that shuts off my at 9:30 p.m. and doesn’t turn on again until 8 a.m. on weekdays or 10 a.m. on weekends. On weekends, it’s also off from 12 to 5 p.m.  This prevents me from randomly clicking on things at night, so I can get to sleep at a decent hour, or wasting my weekend days online. In the morning, it prevents me from getting online right away and running out of time.

Why do you find it important to limit your exposure to technology?
I find technology addicting, and with unlimited access to technology I end up spending time in ways I don’t find the most fulfilling. Limiting my own access to technology has allowed me to devote more time to my passions.

In the mid-’90s, my colleagues found out that I didn’t watch TV—because I was always silent when discussions on TV shows happened—and convinced me to buy a television. I bought one that Friday afternoon. The next morning, I spent the entire morning mesmerized by the moving pictures on the TV and missed out on beautiful surf conditions. I was so upset to have missed the surf session that I returned the TV that afternoon and never missed out on surfing because of the TV again.

The weird social pressures, consumerism, and negative worldview that are carried through popular media also concern me. I read the news every day because I feel that it’s important and aligns with a mindfulness practice to be aware of what is happening in the world, but I try to obtain my news from sources that focus on reporting rather than sensationalism. I have a subscription to The Economist and, for leisure reading, The New Yorker.

In addition to time limits on the internet, I often leave my phone at home on weekends when I go out or put it on airplane mode to prevent me from reading email all the time. In a somewhat unplanned way, I subscribed to a terrible phone service that doesn’t offer reliable mobile internet service, so I don’t use my phone to access information online, except for Google Maps and email. Maps I find useful, so it’s really email on the phone that I am most wary about.

I feel that sheltering myself from the bombardment of ads in popular media reduces the clutter in my mind. There are certain things that I hear others talk about that I think are related to the influence of popular media—concerns about status, wealth, etc. Also, limiting technology allows me to actually do my mindfulness practices—because if I didn’t limit it, I might spend all my time online. I have a weakness for surfing videos on YouTube.

How do you feel about meditation apps? 
I stopped using meditation apps. Some of the apps are excellent and helpful in general. But the meditation app I liked the most gave me data about when I practiced, the length of practice, etc. I became obsessed with the data and would export it to a spreadsheet and look at my daily averages over time. It’s embarrassing to admit this, but I used to worry that if I meditated for a shorter time on any given day it would impact my daily average, which I’d have to make up later in the week. It was a striving mindset, which wasn’t a healthy or productive way to conduct my mindfulness practice. It’s better for me to not have that data.

How has your mindfulness practice benefited your leadership abilities?
The biggest impact has been around my reactivity. I’m impatient and react strongly to things. In my work history, I have often had challenges with being reactive when issues came up. Mindfulness practice has helped me improve on this, and I’ve been able to reduce the frequency and intensity of expressing my negative reactions. It’s an ongoing process, but this was a focus area of my practice and definitely an area from which I’ve benefited.

And on a personal level?
I notice many small rewards regularly, which are fun to observe. I mentioned my impatience, and mindfulness has made waiting more enjoyable. Delays are now a bonus because I can fit in some more mindfulness practice while I wait.

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 Weng is the founder of the EWS Collective. Peter is focused on supporting individuals and organizations to optimize the balance of well-being and performance. As a corporate executive (Google, Dell) and well-being/mindfulness non-profit leader (HMI, SIYLI) he has implemented systems of well-being and performance in companies, governmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations around the world.

When Trust Is Frail: Trust-Building For Leaders

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When Trust Is Frail: Trust-Building For Leaders

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This blog is provided by Mary Jo Burchard, as part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Building Trust in Uncertainty: A Personal & Professional Journey that aired on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021.

 

Trust is the decision to make something cherished vulnerable to the care of another. When you and your people trust each other – more specifically, when you trust your care for each other – everything you do together is just easier. There’s natural momentum in creativity, curiosity, innovation, and engagement, because suspicion creates drag in any authentic interaction. Building an environment where trust can flourish needs to be a key focus, as leaders and as human beings. Conscious, intentional transfer of vulnerability into each other’s care is the most crucial component of building a trust environment. This exchange creates a very special magic.

Trust is multi-dimensional, always evolving, and necessarily flows both ways. The trust experience can be observed and built-in six dimensions, as observed in the ASC-DOC Trust Model:

Authenticity – “I believe you mean what you say, and you have no hidden agenda.”

Safety – “Your speech and actions make me feel safe and protected, not threatened, defensive, or insecure.”

Consistency – “Your behaviors and responses are predictable; I know what I can expect from you.”

Dependability – “You keep your promises and honor confidentiality.”

Ownership – “You carry the weight of what happens to what I entrust to you.”

Competence – “You have the skills and experience necessary to do what’s expected.”

Upon your initial interaction, you and the other person begin to determine how much you are willing to trust each other in every dimension. The trust experience evolves, growing, or straining with each interaction. Therefore, assessing and building trust needs to be constant and intentional. Here are a few tips to keep trust progressing:

Your (in)ability to trust each other is not necessarily about character or maturity. Everyone enters the trust adventure with a history. Past disappointments, betrayals, personal failures, or lack of experience may make the trust journey more difficult. Especially as a leader, you may bear the brunt of previous leaders’ shortcomings. Resist the urge to interpret negative assumptions about your character or abilities as an attack. Become aware of your contribution to these trust challenges. Listen to each other’s stories, to learn how to mitigate fears and insecurities along the way, and discover how/why this time can be different. The most important gift you can give each other in this process is to assume that you intend good toward each other, and do not intend to cause one another harm.

Power and need do not guarantee trust. If someone needs you (whether as a parent, an employer, or leader), they will do what they must (vis: comply) to get you to meet their need. You cannot assume that their vulnerability/need and your power to address it will automatically translate into a trust relationship. If trust is not built, the best you can hope for is a consistent transactional arrangement. Building trust requires more than meeting needs; it requires letting people in. Your mutual decision to let each other in begins the trust adventure. How can you forge a relationship that brings out the highest and best in everyone, when a shared frame of reference is non-existent beyond surface transactional engagement?

  1. Be the first to model trust and vulnerability. Trust is risky, but if you have the upper hand, you can afford to risk first. When a trust connection is frail, commit in advance to be the first to trust wherever you can, based on the other person’s perceived capacity to handle it. Modeling trust and vulnerability makes room for the other person to do the same.
  2. Focus on the person. How comfortable and confident are they with you? Don’t skip to a solution or directive without pausing to really see and hear the other person. Pay attention to how they are engaging with you. Are they guarded? Distant? Confident? Emotional? Gauge your current rapport with them at this moment; don’t take it for granted.
  3. Ask for input and really listen. Don’t assume that a visible lack of trust is an accusation or assessment about you. The person in front of you has a story, and that story is the lens through which they interpret your interaction. Honor that story. What are they sensing, feeling, perceiving? How do these insights inform their behavior and responses? People respond to things impacting what’s important to them. What can you tell is important to them? How is it being impacted/at risk right now? What is happening at this moment that might explain why they are angry, scared, confused, or suspicious?
  4. Discover and validate current needs. What is making them feel vulnerable right now? Ask probing questions: “It sounds like you need [X]… how can I help?” “You seem [x]… how can I help?” Essential needs include physical and environmental dimensions, but they also transcend the obvious immediate needs. More than food, more than water or air, people need connection, to be seen and valued. Don’t forget to validate the human need to belong.
  5. Affirm trust already present. You know what they need, but what do they already trust you will deliver? How can you protect, reinforce, and continue to earn that trust?
  6. Intentionally build trust. How can you address their current needs and concerns? Get good at listening for clues about current needs. Confirm you understand what you hear and observe. Get creative at addressing these needs and keep adapting as the needs evolve.

Remember, if trust necessarily flows both ways, the other person is never the only one vulnerable. To model trust, you need to let them in. You cannot be authentic without examining your own willingness and ability to trust. Belonging, care, and trust must thrive together in you if you want to create an environment where trust is the norm.

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

Dr. MaryJo Burchard (Ph.D., Organizational Leadership) is convinced that our greatest depth and meaning often emerge from seasons of disappointment, surprises, and loss. Her own leadership approach has been shaped by the healing journey of their son, Victor, who was adopted from a Ukrainian orphanage. MaryJo’s research and consulting work focus on helping leaders and organizations stay humane and cultivate trust, especially in times of serious disruption and profound change.

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

THEORY U: LEADING FROM THE FUTURE AS IT EMERGES

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THEORY U: LEADING FROM THE FUTURE AS IT EMERGES

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This blog is from the Presencing Institute, whose co-founder, Otto Scharmer, joined Maureen for an interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future.  It is a summary overview of Theory U and a companion to the interview titled The Essentials of Theory U  that aired on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021.

(Cambridge, MA: Society for Organizational Learning, SoL, 2007)

Using his experience working with some of the world’s most accomplished leaders and innovators, Otto Scharmer shows in Theory U how groups and organizations can develop seven leadership capacities in order to create a future that would not otherwise be possible.

Tapping Our Collective Capacity

We live in a time of massive institutional failure, collectively creating results that nobody wants. Climate change. AIDS. Hunger. Poverty. Violence. Terrorism. Destruction of communities, nature, life—the foundations of our social, economic, ecological, and spiritual well-being. This time calls for a new consciousness and a new collective leadership capacity to meet challenges in a more conscious, intentional, and strategic way. The development of such a capacity would allow us to create a future of greater possibilities.

Illuminating the Blind Spot

Why do our attempts to deal with the challenges of our time so often fail? Why are we stuck in so many quagmires today? The cause of our collective failure is that we are blind to the deeper dimension of leadership and transformational change. This “blind spot” exists not only in our collective leadership but also in our everyday social interactions. We are blind to the source dimension from which effective leadership and social action come into being. We know a great deal about what leaders do and how they do it. But we know very little about the inner place, the source from which they operate. And it is this source that “Theory U” attempts to explore.

The U: One Process, Five Movements

When leaders develop the capacity to come near to that source, they experience the future as if it were “wanting to be born”— an experience called “presencing.” That experience often carries with it ideas for meeting challenges and for bringing into being an otherwise impossible future. Theory U shows how that capacity for presencing can be developed.
Presencing is a journey with five movements:

As the diagram illustrates, we move down one side of the U (connecting us to the world that is outside of our institutional bubble) to the bottom of the U (connecting us to the world that emerges from within) and up the other side of the U (bringing forth the new into the world).

On that journey, at the bottom of the U, lies an inner gate that requires us to drop everything that isn’t essential. This process of letting-go (of our old ego and self) and letting-come (our highest future possibility: our Self) establishes a subtle connection to a deeper source of knowing. The essence of presencing is that these two selves—our current self and our best future Self—meet at the bottom of the U and begin to listen and resonate with each other.

Once a group crosses this threshold, nothing remains the same. Individual members and the group as a whole begin to operate with a heightened level of energy and sense of future possibility. Often they then begin to function as an intentional vehicle for an emerging future.

Seven Theory U Leadership Capacities

The journey through the U develops seven essential leadership capacities.

  1. Holding the space of listening
    The foundational capacity of the U is listening. Listening to others. Listening to oneself. And listening to what emerges from the collective. Effective listening requires the creation of open space in which others can contribute to the whole.
  2. Observing
    The capacity to suspend the “voice of judgment” is key to moving from projection to true observation.
  3. Sensing
    The preparation for the experience at the bottom of the U—presencing—requires the tuning of three instruments: the open mind, the open heart, and the open will. This opening process is not passive but an active “sensing” together as a group. While an open heart allows us to see a situation from the whole, the open will enables us to begin to act from the emerging whole.
  4. Presencing
    The capacity to connect to the deepest source of self and will allows the future to emerge from the whole rather than from a smaller part or special interest group.
  5. Crystalizing
    When a small group of key persons commits itself to the purpose and outcomes of a project, the power of their intention creates an energy field that attracts people, opportunities, and resources that make things happen. This core group functions as a vehicle for the whole to manifest.
  6. Prototyping
    Moving down the left side of the U requires the group to open up and deal with the resistance of thought, emotion, and will; moving up the right side requires the integration of thinking, feeling, and will in the context of practical applications and learning by doing.
  7. Performing
    A prominent violinist once said that he couldn’t simply play his violin in Chartres cathedral; he had to “play” the entire space, what he called the “macro violin,” in order to do justice to both the space and the music. Likewise, organizations need to perform at this macro level: they need to convene the right sets of players (frontline people who are connected through the same value chain) and to engage a social technology that allows a multi-stakeholder gathering to shift from debating to co-creating the new.

Theory U Encourages You to Step into the Emerging Future.

Examples of these seven Theory U leadership capacities can be found in a number of multi-stakeholder innovations and corporate applications. The Presencing Institute is dedicated to developing these new social technologies by integrating science, consciousness, and profound social change methodologies.

For more information: www.presencing.com

For a 17 page Executive Summary of the Theory U book, go to www.theoryU.com where you can download a pdf file and print it yourself. Or you can request a free copy, as a small printed and bound booklet, to be mailed to you.

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

This article is from the Presencing Institute. Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He introduced the concept of “presencing”—learning from the emerging future—in his bestselling books Theory U and Presence. Otto is co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future. His most recent book, The Essentials of Theory U, outlines the core principles and applications of awareness-based systems change.

CC License by the Presencing Institute – Otto Scharmer  https://www.presencing.org/resource/permission.

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

The Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Movement

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The Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Movement

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This blog was collectively written by the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project Founders and is provided by Darcy Winslow, one of the founders.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Academy for Systems Change and the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project that aired on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021.

In order to meet the challenges of our time, we need to shift our thinking as individuals and as a society. The profound changes that are necessary today require a shift in our paradigm of thought and a shift in consciousness from an ego-system to an eco-system awareness. The deeper we move into the complex, volatile, and disruptive challenges of the twenty-first century, the more this hidden dimension of leadership moves to center stage. The blind spot in the 20th-century toolkit of economics and management can be summarized in a single word: consciousness.

Consciousness is a thread that connects the 3 Divides (attribution to Otto Scharmer); a shift in consciousness will illuminate the interconnections among the Spiritual, Social, and Ecological Divides thus creating the conditions for current realities to transform into our desired common futures.

We are called to live with courage and collective integrity, for our survival and ability to thrive.

Spiritual Divide

Consciousness is our fluid basis for how to proceed with kindness, listening, learning, self-reflection, connection to self, and awareness of others. We have a human crisis resulting from people thinking of self in an egoistic way rather than as a higher Self who sees the bigger picture of us as a community. Our aspiration is to support the inherent value of each person and create a flourishing world for all of us. We are warriors of love, calling all like-minded people to join us in changing the paradigm from “me, we, they” to a global and universal “us”.

The Spiritual divide manifests in rapidly growing figures on burnout and depression, which represent the growing gap between our actions and who we really are:

  • 1 person dies every 40 seconds from suicide (World Health Organization). There are 800,000 deaths per year from suicide, which is the leading cause of death in developing countries for people age 15-49. (Institute For Health Metrics And Evaluation, Global Burden Of Disease 2010)
  • Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US $1 trillion per year and people with mental health conditions often experience severe human rights violations, discrimination, stigma (WHO)
  • Most disorders classified within mental health — that is depression, anxiety, bipolar and eating disorders  — are more common in women than men. This pattern appears to hold true across most (in some cases all) countries. (org).
  • The annual cost of burnout to the global economy has been estimated to be $323.4 billion. Such costs have led to the World Health Organization predicting a global pandemic within a decade (and now here we are with COVID!).

Social Divide

Empathy is when we can enter into another’s reality without judgment to radically listen, radically see, and radically imagine. This is how we earn the right to be heard. By being witness bearers and showing empathy towards our sisters and brothers we deepen our connectedness. People everywhere will collaborate to create a future where we can heal the social divide(s) and create a world where all people have enough. Our deep connectedness and shared consciousness will guide us to create physical, social, and economic well-being where all can flourish. This can only happen if we are in tune with nature, understanding of our inescapable interconnectedness, and design our ways of living to be in balance. Our deep connectedness and shared consciousness will guide us to find the way back to each other.

Current statistics reflecting the social divide include:

  • The necessary contribution of women is difficult in a world where, despite representing close to half of the world population, women are under-represented in decision-making bodies. This lack of representativeness is significant: in 2016, just 22.8% of the total national members of parliament and 4% of CEOs of the biggest Fortune 500 companies were women. And in 2011, women occupied only 7% of ministries of the environment, energy or natural resources and represented some 3% of those responsible for science and technology.
  • Racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia are global phenomena. Each regional context is different and victims differ in language and culture. But the experience of exclusion, subordination, violence and discrimination is remarkably similar.  Racism as a worldwide phenomenon requires a worldwide response. (The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance)
  • Access to water and sanitation are recognized by the United Nations as human rights, reflecting the fundamental nature of these basics in every person’s life. Lack of access to safe, sufficient and affordable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities has a devastating effect on the health, dignity and prosperity of billions of people, and has significant consequences for the realization of other human rights.
  • There is enough food to feed 7+B people, but we have a distribution problem: over 1B people have too much food, and over 1B people have too little food.

The Ecological Divide.

The ecological divide describes the fact that humans have organized our economic and social systems largely without regard to ecological limits on a global scale. We are supporting our needs (and in many cases our wants) through the degradation of the very systems we need to sustain our species and other species on earth over the long-term.

Through innovations in technology and medicine over the past several centuries, (wo)mankind has successfully extended our natural lifespan and enhanced our quality of life (in developed countries), at the expense of the natural world. We have found ourselves in a ‘negative reinforcing cycle’ and are out of balance with the natural world.

Wealthier developed countries are thriving, while those in the least developed countries struggle to survive day to day while striving for the lifestyle of the (overly) developed countries. This is a moral dilemma as well; if all countries were to achieve our (on average in the US) lifestyle, the collapse of ecosystems would accelerate beyond all scenarios.

The ecological divide relates to the socio-economic divide because the organization of our social and economic systems has a great deal to do with our transgressing the boundaries of earth’s systems; we will have to consciously re-organize these systems if all humans are to have a good life on a sustainable planet. This also requires us to pay attention to equity, inter-generational and international harm, climate justice, and public participation–all socio-economic divide issues.

Ultimately, we need to bring humans back into a consciousness of earth’s limits and how we can have a good quality of life while respecting these limits. We, as individuals and society at large, need to regain congruence between our beliefs and values and how we live and work. This requires both science–to tell us where the limits are and to understand how ecological systems function–and spirit–to value the well-being of humanity and the planet more than our own excessive material consumption. This is where the ecological divide links to the spiritual divide; consciousness, care, and simplicity–all spiritual virtues–will have to be a part of bridging this divide.

There are many examples:

  • We are depleting and degrading our natural resources on a massive scale, using up more nonrenewable precious resources every year. Although we have only one planet earth, we leave an ecological footprint of 1.75 planets; that is, we are currently using 75% more resources than our planet can regenerate to meet our current consumption needs.
  • Burning fossil fuels to generate energy, clearing natural ecosystems for human uses such as development and agriculture, and generating waste that is difficult to dispose of without harming wildlife and ecosystems all contribute to climate change.

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About the Author

The founders of the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project collectively wrote this article, which was provided by Darcy Winslow. Darcy is one of the founders of the Magnolia Moonshot 2030 Project and the President and co-founder of the Academy for Systems Change. The Academy advances the field of awareness-based systemic change to achieve economic, social, and ecological wellbeing. Darcy worked at Nike, Inc. for 21 years and held several senior management positions, most notably starting the Sustainable Business Strategies in 1999 and as Senior Advisor to the Nike Foundation. She serves on the board of The Carbon Underground and The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education.

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