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What Questions Help Identify High Quality Leaders For Your Organization? By Maureen Metcalf

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What Questions Help Identify High Quality Leaders For Your Organization? By Maureen Metcalf

This post was originally posted on Forbes.com in September 2016. During the industrial revolution, leaders managed effectively using command and control and leveraging best practices to solve problems that were common across multiple industries.

Now, however, the most effective leaders work more like scientists. They scan best practices, but also create competitive advantage by creating new and innovative solutions in the face of chaos.

Take Bill, a recent client who runs a mortgage firm in the U.K. June’s vote to exit the EU has thrown the British economy into uncertainty. Rates are dropping and the forecast is uncertain. Bill doesn’t know which direction the market will go, how fast, and what actions will be most effective. He looked to thought leaders before the vote and learned that a true Brexit was unlikely. Well, it happened, and now he needs to move forward and make the best of the uncertainty. The change might even be good for him if he makes the right calls.

Many leaders, like Bill, are facing unprecedented challenges. In the past, they could look to best practices and study what others in their industry were doing. Now, in many situations, leaders need to respond immediately, but there is little time to study and no prior model with the same level of complexity that provides a low-risk solution. As leaders, we weren’t trained for this. We were trained to set a vision, build a plan, and work the plan.
With the advent of such changes, companies are responding with strategies like “cross-functional” teams, “early delivery,” and “continuous improvement.” Terms such as “fail fast” — which tell us we need to experiment and learn faster than our competition — have become popular. Learning fast differentiates us from our competitors who are still looking for the best practices. In reality, we are the ones creating the next round of best practices.

But many of us are still stuck between the old ways and new ways of leadership. We haven’t fully embraced what it means to be a leader today and now. First and foremost, we need to rethink our role. We need to change our mindset and behavior from directing to experimenting while realizing that as leaders in complex times, we are creating new solutions rather than drawing from the past. In many situations, history will determine what was right, but if we expect to know it before we take action, we will be paralyzed.

So, what do we do?

One of the most difficult challenges for leaders isn’t changing behavior (that’s the easy part) — it’s changing how we think of ourselves. It is easy to say, “I will act like a scientist,” but when someone comes in with a challenge and the leader has no idea how to proceed, this is a moment of truth. The leader without an answer will likely feel embarrassed and frustrated. The scientist, on the other hand, might actually be excited about the challenge.

As we begin to change our mindset, we begin to approach our leadership as a scientist. Here’s how to get started:

1. Get the best people together for specific opportunities. The members will be dictated by the challenge. It is critical to have people with differing points of view. The people who disagree are often the most important to help identify blind spots and unanticipated challenges. The size of the group and the duration of discussions and evaluation will depend on the time required to respond. The participants should be from multiple geographies, functional departments and organizations.

2. Formulate a hypothesis. The group pulls together all of the perspectives and crafts a clear hypothesis of how to proceed to generate the best overall outcome given the resources, goals and constraints.

3. Formulate experiments. Using the hypothesis as the foundation, it is time to craft experiments that test the hypothesis. Experiments should be designed to prove or disprove the initial hypothesis and give enough information to support taking informed action going forward. The goal is to position the organization to take timely action, minimize risk, and maximize positive impact and learning and scale intelligently based on learning.

4. Conduct the experiment. Once the experiment is crafted, it is time to execute. This usually looks like implementing a well-defined pilot with clearly articulated metrics designed to prove or disprove the initial hypothesis. This is also the opportunity to identify barriers to proper execution.

5. Evaluate, learn and refine. One of the keys to experimentation is to learn as much as possible from each experiment to build success. This is where you will harvest your learnings form the measures as well as barriers or challenges that arose.

I work with a client who formerly worked as a physicist for NASA and now runs an organization heavily impacted by technology change. The culture of his organization is one of experimentation because it is natural to him. When I walk into his office, I see remnants of physical experiments, like a part of a drone, and the tone of the entire organization is open and excited. The physical space is one of the worst I have seen, so it isn’t the architecture but rather the tone of the leader. The leader’s mindset permeates the culture and the organizational systems. People are rewarded for launching new programs and eliminating those that are less effective.

Moving toward this mindset of experimentation allows us to master transformation and build the capacity for ongoing “renovation” of our organization. If this ability to respond quickly becomes a core competency of the organization, because of the mindset of the leader and the resulting culture, organizations are positioned to thrive. For leaders who take on the mindset of the scientist, experimentation becomes fun, they drive interesting innovation, and they inspire others to do the same

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

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

At C-Level #9: Evolving Leadership for an Evolving World By Maureen Metcalf

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At C-Level #9: Evolving Leadership for an Evolving World By Maureen Metcalf

This blog was written as a companion to the VoiceAmerica Interview between Mike Sayre and Maureen Metcalf on May 23, 2017, Characteristics of Leadership 2020 – A CEO Perspective. Mike Sayre is the president & COO of Metcalf & Associates, a trusted partner inspiring and enabling perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in leaders and their businesses. Mike is highly experienced and a successful software, e-commerce, and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO, and Board Director. Waves of change in technology are advancing at an exponential rate—20,000 times more than in the last century according to Google CTO and futurist Ray Kurzweil. So are waves of change in society, global and local economics, as well geopolitics. These incredible rates of ongoing change are driving…  the evolution of your customers’ needs and your competitors’ offerings faster than ever,  the obsolescence of technologies your offerings depend on today,  your most capable employees’ desires to leverage new technologies to innovate, grow, and evolve themselves, and  a vastly accelerated pace of change in your business. Are you evolving the way you and your team lead to continue to ride these waves of change? If not, you may be swept beneath them. Over the course of human history, there have been six major shifts in societal/cultural norms (eras) with corresponding leadership development and advancement. The first four were driven over tens of thousands of years by increasing populations, the continued need to feed and protect growing population centers, and a primal power base:  ARCHAIC: nomadic clans hunting and foraging for food  TRIBAL: the formation of tribes and villages and the developments of horticulture and shepherding  WARRIOR: the building of city-state empires using serf or slave labor to establish early agricultural practices  TRADITIONAL: the growth of city-state empires to wide-spread kingdoms and monarchies battling over turf and power Next came the MODERN Industrial Scientific era where leadership spent more time and energy on perfecting tasks and processes (think assembly lines) to support mass production and distribution of traditional products, but also products based on new technologies, like automobiles, mostly in developing nation-states with access to the required resources. Commercial success translated into new power bases. The Modern era developed over a period of approximately two-hundred years and many people and organizations are still functioning at this level. Then came the POST-MODERN era where leadership became much more introspective, thoughtful, and systems oriented, where the information age and the internet have spanned virtual transnational networks. This era has really only developed over the last 20-30 years with the advent of the internet. Note that the first four eras developed over tens of thousands of years and that some parts of the third-world still may be functioning at some combination of the Tribal, Warrior and Traditional eras. They co-exist in close proximity to parts of the world where the Modern and Post-Modern eras developed over just the last couple of hundred years. Hence, it is reasonable to assume that  the incredible rate of increasing technological advancement over time so far will only continue to increase exponentially going forward, and Kurzweil’s predictions are not so far-fetched as they may seem! It has become more and more difficult for leaders and organizations to keep up. So now, we are beginning to experience the seventh societal/cultural/leadership shift into what we call the INTEGRAL era. In this era, technological change, economic change and geopolitical change outpace the abilities of most Modern and Post-Modern leaders who think in terms of tasks, processes, and systems. Integral era leadership must consider the constant evolution of entire ecosystems in which we operate, and evolve ahead of the curve—or at least with the curve—to just survive, let alone thrive. When today’s foremost leadership experts were doing research for the book Leadership 2050, they looked at five recent global studies on organizational leadership needs for the future. All five studies generally concluded that there are not enough leaders in our current leadership pipeline that have the higher-ordered skills and capacities to meet the complexity of today’s challenges, not to mention those needed for 2050. What are those higher-ordered skills? 1. Being professionally humble – Astute leaders care more about doing the right thing than being right. Their focus is on the mission and they consistently give credit to their team and others when they succeed. 2. Having an unwavering commitment to right action – A thoughtful leader consistently makes decisions based on what action will most effectively advance the organization’s mission, even if doing it is not the easiest path. 3. Being a 360-degree thinker – A prudent leader consistently considers the industry, environment and trends driving future success, in addition to the organizations’ strategies, capabilities, and, most obvious, environmental factors. 4. Being intellectually versatile – Creative leaders draw from a broad set of interests and involvement in activities outside their organization. Those activities also give them opportunities to recharge. 5. Being highly authentic and reflective – Self-aware leaders who possess a strong sense of mission and are transparently guided by a set of consistently adhered-to principles build trust that promotes an environment of high performance. 6. Inspire followership – Leaders strong in the previous competencies, with a sense of humor and mild self-deprecation, who are warm and empathetic, inspire a followership that appreciates the tough conversations required to maintain ever-higher performance and achievement, and are continually inspired to do more. 7. Being innately collaborative – Exceptional leaders value input from experts and those impacted by key decisions, and promote the offering of differing points of view, knowing that multiple perspectives result in better outcomes, more support, and stronger execution. How can you develop these higher-ordered skills? These competencies generally take years to develop and are gained through both unplanned and planned life and career experiences. Nick Petrie from the Center of Creative Leadership says what he calls “vertical ego-maturity development” is helping leaders move from one level of ego-maturity to the next (becoming less self-centered) to match leadership style with the demands of society. A similar leadership developmental process occurred to move between each of the societal levels referenced above, with the specifics varying according to life conditions. This transformation process occurs through:    Heat Experiences where a leader faces a complex situation that disrupts and disorients a habitual way of thinking. Through this experience there is a recognition that the current way of making sense of the world is inadequate. The leader opens up to different perspectives and starts searching for new and better ways to make sense of the situation.  Colliding Perspectives where a leader is exposed to people with different world views, opinions, backgrounds, and training that challenges existing mental models and increases the number of perspectives through which the world is viewed.  Elevated Sense-making where a leader uses a coach, or a self-developed process, to help integrate and make sense of these perspectives and experiences from more elevated stages of development. A larger more advanced worldview emerges and, with time, stabilizes. At Metcalf & Associates, we work with our clients to create perpetual innovation, evolution, and growth in their leadership and business by providing  Individual or group Innovative Leadership training  Team/organization innovative culture development  Organizational transformation engagement, and  Ongoing consulting, coaching and/or follow-up sessions to ensure:       Growth in perspectives when unplanned heat experiences or colliding perspectives “barge in,”       Development of elevated sense-making with new perspectives, and       Sustainability of developmental goal achievement and/or transformation. Thanks for following us!  Please look for more upcoming blogs and blog series at “C” level from Mike.

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Are You As Productive As You Want to Be? By Marcia Zidle

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Are You As Productive As You Want to Be? By Marcia Zidle

Do you remember the Franklin Covey Planner? A couple of decades ago, companies helped managers to increase their productivity and transition into leaders by following a proven methodology using a day planner. You were to understand your values, define your long-term objectives and focus on your daily tasks so that they would align with corporate goals. Today’s it’s obsolete. Instead we have the smart phone revolution.

See a Problem, Find a Solution, Market It!
My Guest today is Zain Ali, CEO of Aezee (A to Z), who has created the first integrated app designed to allow companies to bring back leadership development for the next generation and also leverages technology to automate the manual and mundane tasks that we all do to boost our productivity. This is another entrepreneurial journey that began with a problem – how do I plan and manage my day in one application – which led to a solution: a comprehensive digital planner (the A to Z app).

Listen to This Podcast and Learn
* An entrepreneurial story of what it takes to turn a practical idea into a profitable reality
* What the app does and how it increases work and personal productivity as well personal growth
* The 5 P’s of success to lead a big project, obtain a big contract or even get a company off the ground.
* How it can be used as leadership development tool that reinforces your company’s professional training initiatives.

Zain’s Smart Moves Success Tip: Don’t Just Say It, Do It!
We all lead very busy lives and we make commitments all the time. Each commitment that’s kept increases our leadership credibility and each commitment missed results in a loss in credibility. To make sure you deliver, document your commitments and then once or twice a day prioritize and update your progress.

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Are You Updating Your Mental Operating System By Maureen Metcalf

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Are You Updating Your Mental Operating System By Maureen Metcalf

This post, written by Gary Weber, is a companion to the November 15 Voice America interview with Gary Weber, Are You Updating Your Mental Operating System? Gary talks about our personal mental operating systems and specific steps about how to update your mind.

This interview is based on a conversation about our species’ current operating system (OS 1), which evolved about 75,000 years ago.  Symbolic consciousness developed to support our need for coordination and organization of large groups as our population grew rapidly and agriculture manifested. When problems changed from “lions and tigers and bears” to “where do I fit in this massively-interconnected hierarchy”, many shortcomings appeared in OS 1 as discussed in “we need a new mental operating system…now”. The never-ending, self-referential, problematic, internal narrative (SRIN) in OS 1 generates/aggravates our desires, depression, fears, craving, suffering, etc. Investigating SRIN, you find that it is all “past and future” and “I/me/my”. This post breaks down the steps that manifested in “my” process of removing OS 1, monitoring the “uninstall”, uploading OS 2, and then having “support” manifest to ensure OS 2’s successful operation in a metaphorical software format which may make things a little clearer.

Removing OS 1 
How do we remove, or de-energize the ongoing focus on I/me/my to modify OS 1?  What “I” functions that are useful and not problematic can be retained? What we discovered were some “removal tools” that met these criteria:

1. Information only from contemporary sources.
2. Source verification from movies/videos, photos, direct transcripts, and direct/1-off meetings.
3. English fluency to avoid translational inaccuracies.
4. Process DIY feedback from SRIN.
5. Retention/enhancement of “real world” functionality.
6. Happiness increased as suffering and attachments decreased.
7. A “life change”, not experiences.
8. Scientifically verifiable and empirical, not philosophical or intellectual.

The simple uninstall process was using these “removal tools” and measuring progress against the NS check list and SRIN. After many hours of practice, the SRIN did STOP, as advertised, along with self-referential desires, fears and suffering.  The satisfactory completion of the process was verified by my two very different Rinzai Zen masters. Success in removal of OS 1 and uploading of OS 2 was again verified by the absence of problematic SRIN. However, useful core elements of OS – 1 were retained in OS – 2 for problem solving, communication and planning tasks, when the problematic SRIN-causing I/me/my elements were removed.  This was a huge (and welcome) surprise…
Uploading the new OS
With the validated uninstall of the problematic parts of OS 1, the question was “What, if anything, would be uploaded to replace it?” There was a strong feeling that some new “logic” structure was needed.   When cognitive neuroscience manifested, it was discovered that different neural circuits were used for these different functions.  This made an almost surgical removal of the SRIN-causing elements possible, without disturbing the desirable problem solving and planning functions as discussed in “Three neural networks dancing…’blah, blah’, tasking and control”. We recommend starting with three basic practices to shift from OS 1 to OS 2:
1. Set a timer and 7x/day ask a simple question to help you return focus to yourself such as: Where am I? When am I? Who Hears? What has these thoughts? Who am I? Note and track the impact. The overall objective of this practice is to help you drop the thoughts that take you away from your life and into your head and return you to be present with what is happening.
2. When you notice thoughts that are emotionally-charged (ex: I am 5 minutes late – I might get fired for being late) ask yourself if they are true and whether they are useful. If not true or useful, drop them and return to something that requires your focus, perhaps your breath. 3. The ability to drop or deescalate problematic thoughts reduces the stress on our bodies and allows us to shift focus to our current situation – without the over-weighting of not useful thoughts predicting unlikely negative outcomes.

Be present with those around you – turn off your devices when with others.

Ongoing OS 2 support
As with all new software, there are FAQs on implementation, procedures, learning problems, etc.  The basic manual for the identification, removal and upgrading of the OS software are described in “Happiness Beyond Thought: A Practical Guide to Awakening”.
There are also over 60 instructional videos on all aspects of OS 2, entitled “Dialogues on Awakening Beyond Thought” in which my colleague Rich Doyle and I dialog, in some detail, the FAQs. A new manual/book documenting these FAQs, entitled “Into the Stillness: Dialogues on Awakening Beyond Thought”, is now available from New Harbinger Press.
To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

About the author
Gary Weber, PhD, is a subject/collaborator in neuroscience studies at Yale, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Baumann Foundation, the Center for Study of Non-Symbolic Consciousness, at Johns Hopkins, and at Penn State.

From 2000 to 2004 he was an associate vice president of research for Penn State responsible for all technology transfer operations of the University, including angel investing, venture capital, licensing, patenting and start-up support. He was also responsible for external industrial R&D contracts and interfaces with the University.
In the late 1990s, Gary was senior vice president of science and technology for PPG responsible for all corporate R&D with four research laboratories, approximately 1000 engineers, scientists, and technical folk, and a $260MM budget. He was also a member of the Executive Committee.

Since then he has been researching and writing about happiness beyond thought. He is applying his extensive research skills to helping leaders.

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We Chose How We Lead – What Do You Chose? By Maureen Metcalf

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We Chose How We Lead – What Do You Chose? By Maureen Metcalf

leadership-choice

This guest post by Paul Pyrz, President of LeaderShape. This is an excerpt from the forward Paul wrote for the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Emerging Leaders and Managers where Paul talks about the importance of developing emerging leaders. Paul is featured in the November 8 Interview focusing on how leaders live in possibility with Maureen Metcalf on VoiceAmerica.

“Leadership is a choice.” – Warren Bennis 

This quote by Warren Bennis, widely known as a leadership author and leader in higher education, is my favorite. Hands down. It is simple, eloquent, easy to remember. And right. Clearly, this is my opinion, but as someone who has read and heard numerous quotes on leadership throughout my life, I keep coming back to this.

We have many choices to make in our lives. We can choose our career, our partner, our attitude, our dinner option, but perhaps there is no more important choice to make in our lives than how we are going to make a difference with the limited time we have on this planet. Far too many of us choose to live lives of insignificance and mediocrity because we don’t see ourselves as leaders, or as even having the capability to make a difference in our communities much less our own lives. So we bounce from day to day without purpose or passion.

I have used this quote from Bennis quite often in my work leading a not-for-profit organization in an attempt to de-mystify the concept of leading. In attempts to define it, we have made leading far too complicated. I have been keeping a list of all the books on leadership that have thrown another adjective in front of “leadership” to sell their version of it. Ultimate leadership. Super leadership. Principled leadership. My favorites being liquid leadership, food leadership (seriously), and boot strap leadership. Go ahead, look for them on Amazon, or in the bookstore. They are there.

A good question to ask is, “Why are there so many books out there on leadership?” Other than because it is a popular topic and people want to make money by window dressing their own version of leadership, I can think of only one other connected reason: People want to understand leadership.

They want to see how it’s defined and how to “do” it. So, they buy the books. We need leaders. We need them now more than ever. We long to be led. Really led. I don’t care as much about the number of followers that a leader has as much as I want to see people using their lives to pursue something that they are passionate about and choosing to make the world a better place in a small (or large) way.

I am passionate about helping young people connect with the idea that they can lead. Not because they have a title next to their names, but because they have a passion, skill, or talent that the world needs, and they just haven’t realized it yet. That is where the concept of emerging leaders comes into play. We need to do more to help leaders emerge, help young people, in particular, figure out that they can lead and know that we need them to lead. They don’t have to be in front of the room, but they need to participate in the room. They don’t need the title, but they need to act like they have it. They don’t need followers, but they need to do something that is worth following. They need the patience to plant seeds, try new ideas, and fail miserably.

Emerging leaders need our support, our encouragement, and our willingness to set them loose and figure it out on their own. We cannot weigh them down with the ideas of the past and how past generations saw leadership. They need to make their own meaning of the concept and wrestle in the mud with hard conversations that produce hard solutions. They need us to get out of their way and give them room to grow with their own understanding and vision. They need a guide, not a prescription.

Jim Collins said that the enemy of great is being good, and that is precisely why we have so few things and institutions that are truly great. We need to push, we need to engage, and we need to help others realize that they, too, have the capability to lead. And then we can only hope that they choose to lead.

Enjoy the journey.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

About the Author
Paul Pyrz serves as the President of LeaderShape, Inc., a not-for-profit organization located in Champaign, Illinois. LeaderShape has been providing integrity-based leadership experiences for over 75,000 participants across the country and internationally for the past thirty years. Their organizational mission is to help create a just, caring, thriving world where all lead with integrity and live in possibility. Goal Statement/conclusion: I want this Voice America Series to provide valuable information to leaders and emerging leaders that will prepare them to lead their organizations in the dynamic times we currently face. The more highly effective leaders we have – the better the journey.

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At “C” Level – Too Much Noise By Maureen Metcalf

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At “C” Level – Too Much Noise By Maureen Metcalf

At C-Level #2 is the second blog of an eight-part series following a first time CEO’s educational journey in a very challenging business environment, and exploring global concepts in leadership theory and practice. At the end of each blog are reflection questions for readers to consider as they navigate their own leadership journey.

This post by Mike Sayre — experienced software, e-commerce and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO and Board Director—is based on his first-hand experiences as a fledging CEO. Its intent is to provide additional insight or ideas to those in, close to, aspiring to, or trying to understand the top leadership role in any organization. Mike was also featured in the October 4, 2016 Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview with Maureen Metcalf on VoiceAmerica focusing on the importance of leader trustworthiness in driving organizational change.

I was a first time CEO of a manufacturing services company that was lacking in leadership and focus. I had been the CFO for five years and sensed these shortcomings were somewhat shortsighted as well. I thought things could be better and tried to fill in some of those gaps as CFO. However, providing leadership and focus for the whole company as CEO had just become my main responsibility and the questions I was being asked by the team quickly sharpened my sense of how much more important leadership and focus were than I had ever thought before!

Prior to me becoming CEO, the company had engaged a leadership coach, Chet, for the management team. Chet had been running periodic leadership development sessions with the group. However, and somewhat surprising to me, the sessions after the CEO change quickly eroded into serious complaint sessions, raising even more questions and doubt about the company’s lack of leadership and focus.

All of this noise was totally distracting the leadership of the company, including me! So I asked Chet for personal coaching as well.

Chet counseled me, “You can’t lead others until you can lead yourself.” Then he proceeded to ask me some very personal questions…my life’s purpose, what I wanted out of life, my work/life balance, etc. I was very uncomfortable talking about myself and was having a hard time figuring out how to respond to this line of questioning, let alone how it would help the company!

So Chet gave me a long list of personal questions and asked me to write not only my gut reactions to each one, but also why I felt that way. Chet had no interest in seeing what I wrote, he said it was only for me to use.

Over the next several weeks, I wrote in two- to four-hour intervals until I had several of the questions answered, as well as several “why” follow-ups for each one. At first, it was a very painful process. But as I pushed through, it got easier. The process of self-exploration and giving it life through writing it down provided me with such a high level of clarity of what I am all about and what is important to me, that I felt a huge weight of personal uncertainty lifting off my shoulders and being replaced with a much greater sense of self worth and confidence.

However, while I felt stronger and more confident, the company’s leadership and focus challenges had still not been addressed. I now needed to use what I learned and share my newfound clarity. So in about two hours on a flight to the West Coast, I created the first draft of a “philosophy card” for the company with a mission, vision and operating guidelines that aligned with my own personal mission, vision and operating philosophies. The leadership team fine-tuned “the card,” and had it printed and distributed to all of the company’s associates. I personally provided a training session for the associates and went over each section of the card so the associates all knew how much I believed in the mission and vision, and how serious I was about following the operating guidelines.

Thereafter, “the card” was often referenced in both leadership and associate meetings. It was easy for me to reference and consistently apply the philosophies and guidelines on the card because of my own personal alignment with them. It also made it very easy for everyone else to make decisions, even when I was not around, because they knew “the card” was where I would start my thought process. Using it as a leadership tool became second nature to me and our team, and significant improvements in leadership, focus and performance were almost immediate. It was a great first step in a longer and more complex turnaround process.

Note: Many companies have “philosophy cards.” But, if you don’t directly refer to it and demonstrate your use of what’s on it in your daily interactions, it’s not worth having. If it isn’t used, it becomes a negative and is just thought of as meaningless rhetoric that impugns your integrity. I first learned how to effectively use a philosophy card during my time at Worthington Industries, and I’ve since used a similar card in an e-commerce company with great success.

In Jim Collins’ bestselling book Good to Great, leaders shared firm belief in seven tenets, three of which our processes and the resulting “philosophy card” fully supported and which helped me drive company progress forward:

1.  Find the truth and act on it by facing the brutal facts of reality while maintaining an unwavering faith that you will succeed. [What was happening in those leadership development sessions was getting to the brutal truth and I had to start addressing it!]
2.  Stay focused on the essentials, stop the distractions, and cultivate that discipline. [“The card” brought new focus on the mission and vision of the company, and the operating guidelines cut way down on the distractions caused by uncertainty around what kinds of behaviors were expected.]
3.  Greatness comes from sustained commitment to disciplined people, disciplined thinking, and disciplined action that creates breakthrough momentum. [“The card” and it’s constant and consistent communication and application introduced a level of discipline that did not previously exist!]

Reflection questions:
Here are some personal questions for you to answer for yourself. Write the answers in free form and do not worry about formatting, etc. Just write. Nobody else needs to see your writing. Then ask yourself “Why do I think that?” Then ask the same question again up to four more times. By the fifth “Why?,” you should be at the real core of your thought processes and truly begin to understand what makes you…well, you! Many people will totally resist taking the time to write it all down, just as I did initially. Push forward and do it anyway! The process of writing actually activates the brain in a different and deeper way than just “thinking” about the topic.

1. What is your greatest fear? Why is it your greatest fear? Why? Why? Why? Why?
2. Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
3. What is your purpose in life? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?
4. How does/will your current company/role help you accomplish your purpose in life? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Take your time in thinking through these questions, formulating your thoughts, and writing your responses. There are no right or wrong answers. It’s okay if you don’t do it in one sitting. Spread it over days if you need to. Knowing with great clarity how you feel deep down is important for you and your organization, and it takes time!

For additional support creating your own personal mission and values statements, please see the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and its corresponding workbooks that contain a chapter that will guide you through a more in-depth process. My reflection process to clarify my personal mission and values, and also those of the company, was very similar. Our leadership team then took my ideas as input and developed something they could all align around and consistently implement in the company. This process allowed them to reduce ambiguity and act as one team with a clear focus.

In At C-Level #3, Mike will write about having several new bosses (yes, that’s plural…do you only have only one or two?), how he approached that challenge and the conscious capitalism movement: leadership with purpose.

About the Author
Mike Sayre, executive advisor and organizational transformation practice lead, has been a successful CEO, COO, CFO and board director for multiple organizations in technology (cybersecurity, ecommerce payments processing and engineered computer products) and manufacturing (electronics and steel products). He shares his expertise with client boards and C-Level leaders, and advises, designs, plans, and oversees the implementation of successful strategies for turnarounds, growth, profitability and sustainability.

Mike brings 25+ years of organizational and business leadership and hands-on implementation experience to his clients.  His teams have achieved significant increases in growth, profitability and valuation, as well as shareholder, customer, supplier and employee engagement and satisfaction.

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8 Kinds of Leadership Your Team Needs from You By Maureen Metcalf

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8 Kinds of Leadership Your Team Needs from You By Maureen Metcalf

think-inside-the-box

We hear the phrase “think outside the box” a lot. If “the box” is something that is stifling creativity, it sounds like something to avoid. But when “the box” is a framework that smart leaders use to get better results from their teams, it is something to embrace.

In our new book Lead Inside the Box – How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results, my co-author Mike Figliuolo and I present the Leadership Matrix, or “the box” for short. The premise is you need to evaluate the amount of output you get from a team member and compare that to the amount of time and energy you have to invest in them to get that output. We call that second piece “leadership capital.” The result of those comparisons is the Leadership Matrix.

Within that matrix, we define behavioral-performance patterns that team members demonstrate from Slackers to Rising Stars and everything in between. The real insight lies in practical advice on how to lead those folks to improve their performance. By understanding the behaviors your team members demonstrate and how you invest (or don’t invest) your time and effort into them, you’ll get a clearer picture of the 8 archetypical performance patterns that can show up in the box. With that understanding, you can begin leading your team members differently, which will improve your team performance.

Those archetypes are as follows:

Exemplars (High Output, Low Input) can be categorized based upon their career aspirations. Some Exemplars want their great performance to provide them a stepping stone to larger roles and responsibilities. These are the “Rising Stars.”  Other Exemplars are content remaining in their current roles. They’re experts and they’re satisfied with delivering outstanding results without much interference from their boss. These individuals are the “Domain Masters.”

High Cost Producers (High Output, High Input) break into subtypes based on the kinds of costs they incur. Some get results but at the high cost of damaging team morale and destroying the goodwill you and your team have accrued with others. These individuals are the “Steamrollers.” High-Cost Producers who get results but require an inordinate amount of hand-holding from their leader to get them done are the “Squeaky Wheels.”

Detractors (Low Output, High Input) are defined by the root cause of their performance issues. Some don’t have the skills they need to do their job. These individuals are the “Square Pegs.” We call Detractors who have the skills to do the job but they lack the will to do it the “Slackers.

Passengers (Low Output, Low Input) subtypes are determined by the kind of output they produce. Some only work to get their paycheck. They expend the bare minimum amount of effort required to keep getting paid. These are the behaviors of your “Stowaways.” Other Passengers exert a great deal of energy but they focus on tasks they want to do, not tasks you need them to do. We refer to Passengers behaving this way as “Joyriders.”

Once you have identified the behavioral-performance patterns present on your team, you will see your team in a new light. (You can use our simple online quiz to assess your team using this framework.) Armed with these new insights, you can figure out the specific type of leadership each team member needs from you to improve their performance. By seeing your team as a portfolio, you can also figure out where you should invest less of your time in some parts so you can shift it to invest more in other parts. In short, you will learn to get better results out of your team by working smarter, not harder, as a leader.

To learn more about leading people in all eight performance patterns in the Leadership Matrix, visit www.LeadInsideTheBox.com or read our book, Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide their Teams to Exceptional Results.

About the Author:
Victor Prince: As the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Victor Prince helped build a new federal agency and led a division of hundreds of people. As a consultant with Bain & Company, he helped clients across the United States and Europe develop successful business strategies. Today, Victor is a consultant and speaker who teaches strategy and leadership skills to clients around the world.

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What’s it Like To Be a First Time CEO? By Maureen Metcalf

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What’s it Like To Be a First Time CEO? By Maureen Metcalf

At C-Level #1 is the beginning of a multi-part blog series following a first time CEO’s educational journey in a very challenging business environment, and exploring global concepts in leadership theory and practice.

At the end of each blog are reflection questions for readers to consider as they navigate their own leadership journey.

This post is by Mike Sayre — experienced software, e-commerce and manufacturing services CEO, COO, CFO and Board Director—is based on his first-hand experiences as a fledging CEO. Its intent is to provide additional insight or ideas to those in, close to, aspiring to, or trying to understand the top leadership role in any organization. Mike was also featured in Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations Interview on October 4, 2016, Driving Transformation Success Requires a Trustworthy Leader.

I had been the CFO of a manufacturing services company for about five years, reporting directly to the founder and CEO. Over that time, I was able to lead in greatly improving the financial operations and reporting of the company, engineered a significant financial turnaround, learned everything I could about the business and the people in it, became the founder’s closest advisor in the business, and gained the total trust and confidence of both the founder and the board.  

In an unexpected turn of events, the founder of the company, much more experienced and happier leading technology development for the business, asked me to take over as CEO of the company while he took on the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

The founder was the third CEO I had worked closely with in my career and, through observation, I actually thought I knew what the CEO’s job was all about…strategy and planning, relationships with large customers and suppliers and the board, driving for higher sales and lower costs, rallying the troops around the company’s goals and objectives, etc. I also loved the company, its people, capabilities, and prospects for the future. So I accepted the job.

The first couple of days were fairly calm, but over the ensuing weeks the problems and questions got more complicated and began coming at an accelerated pace:
• We are losing money on a couple of new very large accounts representing most of our sales growth. What do we do?
• Our largest customer, upset with late deliveries, is requiring a daily meeting in which he verbally abuses our best customer service representative, and she is talking about leaving. How should we handle this?
• Our latest acquisition is not well integrated and is bleeding money. Why is this happening?
• Our competitors all have locations in Europe and Asia and some of our largest customers will no longer let us bid on new work because we only have one location in the U.S. How can we develop international capabilities?

However, the most pressing questions to me came from the vice president of sales who was trying to figure out what exactly he was trying to sell:
• What are we trying to do here? What is our mission? What do we want to be when we grow up?
• Who is our target market, and what is our value to them?
• What are our core values?  
• What are our goals and priorities?
• How do we make all these decisions that we’ve never made before, let alone execute on them?

At this point, I realized what the company had been missing, why being the CEO had been so frustrating for the founder, and what being the CEO was really about…leadership and focus.

Gene Early wrote an executive summary of Jim Collins’ bestselling book Good to Great. I review that executive summary from time to time to help me keep focus on what it can take to “break through” from being a “good” company to becoming a “great” one. “Understanding that drives action” is one way to describe it. Good to Great companies worked to understand at a deep level what made their company work, and by continually looking for new answers to the question, they developed the momentum to break through to greatness. Their leaders understood these seven basic tenets that Collins put forth in the book:
1. Success is not about the leader as a person, but about the success of the company;
2. The right people in the right seats on the bus make all the difference;
3. Find the truth and act on it by facing the brutal facts of reality while maintaining an unwavering faith that you will succeed;
4. Tapping passion, extraordinary competence, and the key economic driver builds progressive momentum;
5. Stay focused on the essentials and stop the distractions, and cultivate that discipline;
6. Technology is best used to accelerate momentum, not create it; and
7. Greatness comes from sustained commitment to disciplined people, disciplined thinking, and disciplined action that creates breakthrough momentum.

Collins placed the leaders who moved companies from good to great in the top level of his developmental hierarchy and called them “Level 5” leaders. He characterized them as having “a unique combination of humility and fierce resolve.”

Reflection questions:
• As you assess your current situation, on a scale of 1–5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, how would you score yourself on the seven tenets above? For example, using the first tenet, how would you rate yourself on putting your company’s success before your own?
• How can you use your scores on the seven tenets to shape your leadership development plan?

If you scored below a three on any of the factors or scored an average below four, please consider creating a personal leadership development plan with us.  Metcalf & Associates and I offer leadership development support and executive advisory services, including transformational change and turnaround consulting.

About the author
Mike Sayre, executive advisor and organizational transformation practice lead, has been a successful CEO, COO, CFO and board director for multiple organizations in technology (cybersecurity, ecommerce payments processing and engineered computer products) and manufacturing (electronics and steel products). He shares his expertise with client boards and C-Level leaders, and advises, designs, plans, and oversees the implementation of successful strategies for turnarounds, growth, profitability and sustainability.

Mike brings 25+ years of organizational and business leadership and hands-on implementation experience to his clients.  His teams have achieved significant increases in growth, profitability and valuation, as well as shareholder, customer, supplier and employee engagement and satisfaction.

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Improve Development Plan Impact by Completing Reflection Questions By Maureen Metcalf

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Improve Development Plan Impact by Completing Reflection Questions By Maureen Metcalf

28_IMustChange

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

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

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

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

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

What do I think/believe?
Do you need to change to accomplish your goals? Is the change in perspective or expanded capabilities at the same level?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do we do this?
What systems and processes are enablers or barriers that will impact my development?

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

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

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

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

About the author
Maureen Metcalf, founder and CEO of Metcalf & Associates, Inc., is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach who brings thirty years of business experience to provide high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. She is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with the strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

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

Building Leadership Success- Using Assessment Results to Increase Effectiveness by Maureen Metcalf

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Building Leadership Success- Using Assessment Results to Increase Effectiveness by Maureen Metcalf

success a choice 2

This blog is a companion to the interview series with Christopher and Sheila Cooke on the VoiceAmerica Business Leadership show “Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations.” This four-part series, “Leaders Building Self-Awareness by Stepping Through the Worldview Membrane: Learning to Engage Your Organization,” begins July 12. The second interview is a conversation that talks about spotting the patterns, talking to two accomplished leaders who took the LeaderView Assessment about their results and how to interpret them to build on their success. This conversation includes a discussion on how their specific data helps them discover their leadership strengths and biases.

As we listen to the leaders, Carla and Jim talk about their development goals, I wanted to provide companion information to leaders who are following along. If you take the LeaderView Assessment, you will receive an interpretation manual as part of the package. Following is the development process we use in the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Workbook series.

Development process

Research since the late 1970’s has shown that such biases are actually the basis of your leadership strengths. Through a process of assessment and self-discovery, leaders build self-awareness, learn what it means to step through the worldview membrane, and learn how to dramatically increase engagement in their organizations.

After taking the LeaderView Assessment, and others you might find valuable such as the Metcalf & Associates assessments for resilience and innovative leadership, along with integrating information from other sources such as performance appraisals it is time to synthesize what you have learned about yourself. We recommend using a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats worksheet (SWOT) shown below. We invite you to complete your own SWOT analysis. Keep in mind that your strengths and weaknesses tie back to your vision for yourself from last week’s post.

SWOT chart

We are very excited to share the step by step process using the LeaderView assessment and feedback with you, our readers and listeners. You can now get the value of the expert coaching of Christopher and Sheila and also listen into two very accomplished leaders. To take the LeaderView Assessment, just log onto the site created for the show and purchase
the assessment to follow along. You will get an interpretation and planning manual also.

The assessment cost including 2 participants giving 360 feedback is $40.80 which is a 20% discount off the normal rate. You can also learn more about the show layout at the website.

What do your assessment results tell you about yourself? This assessment and evaluation process is designed to help you increase your self-awareness and enable you to more accurately identify opportunities your strengths provide as well as development requirements for areas that are either weaknesses or threats.  These results along with your answers to reflection questions provided in the next blog post in this series serve as the foundation for your development plan.

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

About the author
Maureen Metcalf, founder and CEO of Metcalf & Associates, Inc., is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, and coach who brings thirty years of business experience to provide high-impact, practical solutions that support her clients’ leadership development and organizational transformations. She is recognized as an innovative, principled thought leader who combines intellectual rigor and discipline with an ability to translate theory into practice. Her operational skills are coupled with the strategic ability to analyze, develop, and implement successful strategies for profitability, growth, and sustainability.

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

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