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Inclusive Leadership During a Crisis: How to Lead Equitably and Compassionately

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Inclusive Leadership During a Crisis: How to Lead Equitably and Compassionately

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This blog is provided by Taryn Oesch DeLong, managing editor of digital content for Training Industry.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Research Findings on Women’s Access to Leadership Development that aired on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020.

“The coronavirus pandemic has cast an irrefutable spotlight on social and workplace inequity — and places an urgent demand on employers to lead responsibly and with compassion.”

This statement from a report by Time’s Up, the organization created by 300 women in the entertainment industry in response to the #MeToo movement, reflects a current concern of many leaders, especially those managing remote teams or creating leadership training programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interest in TrainingIndustry.com articles on topics related to leadership, supporting employees, managing in a crisis, and diversity and inclusion has increased in recent months — which is good. It means leaders, and learning and development (L&D) leaders in particular, are looking for ways to lead compassionately and equitably during a year that sometimes feels like a never-ending crisis.

In a recent article for TrainingIndustry.com, “Leading During a Crisis: Retooling Leadership,” Maureen Metcalf wrote that effective leaders, particularly during a crisis, have an “unwavering commitment to right action.” They identify the right course for the organization and its people, and they alter that course when needed. One right action, the importance of which has been highlighted by recent events, is inclusive leadership.

What Is Inclusive Leadership?

According to Training Industry’s glossary, “Inclusive leadership is present in organizations and leaders that make a concerted effort to promote and support diversity and equity in their teams and companies. Inclusive leaders create environments of transparency and psychological safety to encourage idea sharing and innovation by embracing perspectives from diverse backgrounds.”

In other words, leading inclusively means going beyond values statements and diversity pledges. It means ensuring equitable opportunities for all employees. It means creating an environment where people are valued for their intrinsic worth as human beings rather than on surface achievements or attributes. And, it means honoring each person’s unique gifts and contributions.

Why Is Inclusive Leadership So Important in a Crisis?

As months of COVID-19 have gone by, we’ve seen that the impacts of coronavirus have not been distributed equitably. People who already lived with inequities, such as people with disabilities and chronic health conditions and people of color, have been disproportionately affected both by the illness and by the economic fallout. And the challenges of working from home, often while managing a household with children and/or elderly family members, have placed an added burden on women, who already faced an often uphill climb to career success.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first crisis to have a harsher impact on disadvantaged groups of people, and it will not be the last. Fortunately, the more we develop leaders who know what it means to lead inclusively, the better equipped we will be to handle such crises in the future.

How Do Inclusive Leaders Support Their Employees?

Inclusive leaders not only strive to have teams that include diverse perspectives, but they also work deliberately to ensure that those diverse perspectives are honored and the people who share them feel that their gifts are valued and cultivated.

For example, Training Industry research has found that women who believe their managers support their career development are more likely also to have equitable access to leadership development when compared with men. This finding sounds obvious but is critical for organizations to understand, especially if they are to succeed during a crisis.

A manager’s job is not just to assign work and make sure it’s completed. In our current job market, workers are looking for jobs that go beyond putting food on the table and also provide them with development opportunities to grow their skills and advance their careers. LinkedIn Learning’s 2018 “Workplace Learning Report” found that 94% of employees would stay at their employer longer if it invested in their career, and the most common reason “employees feel held back from learning is because they don’t have the time” — in other words, their managers are not giving them support, in terms of time, to grow.

During the pandemic, employees who started working from home due to health and safety concerns found themselves with blurred lines between work and life, and many had to juggle their parenting or other caregiving responsibilities with their work responsibilities. With such demands on an employee’s time or energy, learning can all too easily fall by the wayside. During this crisis, inclusive leaders have sought with compassion to understand their team members’ needs and identify ways to support them. While it may have meant that their employees put less time in on the clock, it almost certainly meant that the work they did do was of a higher quality, because they were able to focus more of their energy on it.

How Can Organizations Develop Inclusive Leaders?

Including information on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in leadership training programs is important to developing inclusive leaders. DEI training is notoriously difficult to implement well, but in general, if a program goes beyond lip service, includes practical and relevant information, and is led by a credible instructor, it can be effective in cultivating inclusive leaders.

It’s also important to teach leaders how to coach and, especially, how to coach employees from underrepresented or disadvantaged groups. Coaching is an effective tool for behavior change and personal development. It also, according to Training Industry research, can bridge the gender gap in leadership development access. Female survey respondents who had received formal coaching reported almost equal levels of access to leadership development when compared to male respondents. Inclusive leadership training, then, helps managers learn how to provide personalized coaching that meets the unique needs and preferences of their female employees.

Finally, as Dr. Stefanie K. Johnson, author of “INCLUSIFY: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams,” wrote in a TrainingIndustry.com article, “If we are to train leaders to be inclusive, we need to know what makes people feel included.” Her research identified uniqueness and belongingness as keys to an inclusive culture. In a work-from-home pandemic workforce, the ability of leaders to understand team members’ unique needs and make sure they feel like they belong is more challenging — and more rewarding — than ever.

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

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

 

About the Author

Taryn Oesch DeLong is managing editor of digital content at Training Industry, where her work has received an APEX Award of Excellence and a Regional Bronze Azbee Award. She is also the co-host of “The Business of Learning,” the award-winning Training Industry podcast, and contributed to the 2020 book “Global Perspectives on Women’s Leadership and Gender (In)Equality” (Palgrave Macmillan). Taryn is the board secretary at The Power of the Dream, a nonprofit creating jobs for adults with autism and IDD in the Raleigh, N.C., area and a coach for Miracle League of the Triangle. She serves her faith community as managing editor of Catholic Women in Business and assistant editor and contributing writer for FemCatholic.

Grow as a Leader with These 3 Essential Psychological Skills

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Grow as a Leader with These 3 Essential Psychological Skills

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This blog is provided by Nashater Deu Solheim, Founder and CEO of Progressing Minds AS.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled The Leadership PIN Code: Unlocking the Key to Willing and Winning Relationships that aired on September 8th, 2020.

 

We’ve all had the experience of watching someone from the sidelines and admiring their leadership ability. Their skills are not always concrete, tangible, or observable from the surface. In fact, it is the subtle arts and nuances of what leaders do that makes it look so natural.

Some, of course, are natural-born leaders who are great with people. But great persuasion, influence, and negotiation can also be learned, and there is opportunity for you to learn the nuance of effective leadership as well. How do you, in a moment of leadership, translate all your expertise and knowledge towards positive engagement with your stakeholders or employees?

In a word, PIN: Persuasion, Influence, and Negotiation. Here’s why those three psychological skills are essential to your growth as a leader.

Persuasion

Persuasion is the process by which one person achieves their goal to change another person’s viewpoint or position on a matter. Persuasion is an everyday necessity for leaders. Persuasion is about closing the gap between you and your position and the other person and his position, which makes up a good deal of leaders’ time.

An engaged leader is curious in everyday interactions, asking the other party questions to establish their interest. Armed with answers, he can then start to challenge facts. Persuasion is often about guiding others to identify the gap between what they believe to be true and actual facts or likelihoods.

Parents do it with children. For example, when a child says, “I don’t want to jump off the diving board at the swimming pool.” The parent asks what he thinks will happen. “Well, I think I’m going to bang my chin on the board,” the child responds. The parent, in turn, explores the facts in the gap, pointing out that by standing at the end of the diving board, banging his chin is nearly physically impossible. The child is persuaded to change his perspective by drilling down into facts.

The psychologist Robert Cialdini has shown that humans are persuaded to another person’s point of view not by luck but by the manner and methods by which the persuader captures our motivations, interests, and what is valuable to us, thereby either motivating us or drawing us in towards the choices they would like us to make.

Effective persuasion is at the core of good business. Focusing on the needs, interests, and feelings of the other people in the room make it much easier to create a collaborative, energetic mindset. Reaching people isn’t necessarily about changing their mind. It’s about showing them that you understand theirs.

Influence

Influence is the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways. Influence may seem ineffable, but it can often be traced to specific kinds of practices. In many cases, it’s the result of a person’s mindset, behavior, and conversation skills.

Influential people know how to ask effective questions, give clear responses, and steer conversation in a productive way. They know the power of body language and make an effort to put people at ease with their gestures and tone of voice. They also take the time to prepare, research the people they’re going to interact with, and take the time to learn about others’ cultures, interests, and goals.

Influential leaders have high-performing teams and respectful, cooperative, and collegiate rules of engagement. They have also built trust so deeply within their teams that they can challenge, handle conflict and differences of opinion, and use them to renew their agenda, goals and targets in a positive way.

There are some common errors that leaders make when it comes to cultivating influence. These errors can lead to dysfunctional work environments and can harm their relationships with clients. For example, positive influence comes from collaboration, not competition, but often, leaders focus on their own gains at the expense of others’ needs.

Another common influence error comes when leaders are reactive, not proactive. When they jump into tasks or make changes without ensuring that their key stakeholders or team members are committed, it can lead to conflict. Impulsive and unpredictable leaders will find it hard to establish trust among their employees.

Finally, rigid ways of thinking are bad for business. When leaders have a “know-it-all” attitude, adopt an “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” mantra, and hold a hierarchy-obsessed mindset, they often aren’t flexible enough to satisfy their clients and employees.

Negotiation

According to the Harvard Negotiation Project, negotiation is back-and-forth communication designed to reach an agreement, even though each party sometimes has conflicting interests. Negotiation is far more relevant to leadership than you might believe and not just in relation to contract, financial or commercial negotiations where there are rules to follow and margins to maintain.

In today’s world, negotiations between countries and political parties have huge business negotiations behind them with multiple aspects often related to defence, trade or access. Leaders negotiate with other people all the time.

Often, powerful leaders don’t think they should have to negotiate with their employees because people are employed to do what the leader asks. Yet negotiating is about creating the win-win in which the opportunity is framed. Yes, the employee may be obliged by virtue of their role to do the task, but creating a culture of willing collaboration rather than coerced delivery is the difference between an effective negotiating leader and an entitled one.

When looking at projects or negotiations, plan and strategize beyond reaching your goal. What potential scenarios could take place? What are the success factors versus failure factors? As in a one-minute leadership approach, make sure there’s no gap between what you want to communicate and what you’re actually doing. Much of this is anticipation and planning ahead for various scenarios.

Leaders fail at negotiating when they neglect the momentary check and balance of thinking before they speak and preparing before they act. On the fly is rarely a successful strategy unless you’ve over-rehearsed.

Great Leaders Rely on PIN Skills

As a leader, have you ever wondered why sometimes you get the traction you want with people and other times you don’t? It’s not luck—you must be able to persuade and influence those you lead to get results in a positive way.

PIN is the power of using psychology in business in order to have the positive impact and influence you need to motivate your team and peers. It also allows you to continuously negotiate with managers, stakeholders or adversaries to make real progress. Great leaders infuse PIN skills in everything they do to move their organizations forward with the willing participation of their teams, peers, and stakeholders to create the wins they need.

For more advice on persuasion, influence, and negotiation, you can find The Leadership PIN Code on Amazon.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Dr. Nashater Deu Solheim brings a new toolkit to leadership development that is backed by decades of integrated experience in the areas of business and psychology. As a former forensic psychologist with clinical research in the neuropsychology of criminal minds, she developed a deep interest in effective learning strategies for lasting success. Now, as an expert negotiator who studied at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Dr. Solheim has combined her experience as an executive leader in international private companies and government ministries to present The Leadership PIN Code, the definitive guide for helping business leaders secure influence and impactful results.

 

A Learning Mindset is the One “Killer App” We All Need

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A Learning Mindset is the One “Killer App” We All Need

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This blog is provided by Steve Terrell, President of Aspire Consulting.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Learning Mindset for Leaders: Leveraging Experience to Accelerate Development that aired on September 1st, 2020.

 

In Learning Mindset for Leaders, I have attempted to distil some of the knowledge and insights I have gained over my 30+ year career in leadership development, including the deep research into global leadership development I undertook while earning my doctorate in the field. Through this research, I sought to understand how global leaders learned and developed the important competencies and skills they needed to become effective global leaders. The essence of the research results is what I now call Learning Mindset.

Learning Mindset is the “Killer App” of learning, growth, and development through experience. It is the master competency, the one competency to “rule them all.” It is especially important that global leaders have a Learning Mindset during challenging or difficult situations because those are the very experiences that offer significant risks of failure as well as opportunities for personal and organizational development.

Leaders with a Learning Mindset who encounter difficult challenges have a strong tendency to create value from the crucible of negative experiences. As a result, they create their own virtuous cycle of learning and performance, enabling them to learn more from their experiences, which in turn results in

their being more resilient and performing better in VUCA conditions. This leads to achievement of better results and reinforces the importance and value of the Learning Mindset.

A Learning Mindset is an attitude that predisposes you to be open to new experiences, to believe you can and will learn, and to intentionally grow and develop from your experience. The dimensions of a Learning Mindset form essential capabilities for global leadership and bear directly on global leaders’ efficacy in a crisis. Believing in one’s own learning and growth potential enables global leaders to face new challenges with confidence, tempered with humility. Openness to experience allows them to take in a wide variety of information and to process it with an appreciation of its potential value. Being motivated, willing, and desiring to learn focuses global leaders’ energies and attention on grasping new problems and sensing new possibilities. Curiosity about others urges global leaders to wonder how people in other cultures approach the pandemic, what they can learn from different points of view, and make new connections based on new insights. An attitude of discovery and exploration energizes global leaders to investigate the challenges presented by the coronavirus dilemma. Perhaps most important of all, global leaders with a Learning Mindset engage in experiences with an intention and willingness to gain something positive from every experience, including – and sometimes, especially – extremely difficult, thorny, and dangerous experiences.

When global leaders enact a Learning Mindset they are better able to envision and reach for stability beyond the volatility; create space to reduce uncertainty; understand and simplify the complexity; and eventually find clarity for their organizations amidst the ambiguity.

If you’d like to learn more about Learning Mindset, you can order the book Learning Mindset for Leaders: Leveraging Experience to Accelerate Development from Amazon here.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

 

Steve Terrell, EdD, is the President of Aspire Consulting, a management-consulting firm that specializes in developing leadership capabilities needed for success. Aspire helps clients Turn Vision into Reality, by defining the leadership capabilities needed to successfully execute the strategy, and by designing and implementing development solutions that build the required capabilities. Steve is a leading expert on global leadership, learning from experience, and Learning Mindset. His book Learning Mindset for Leaders: Leveraging Experience to Accelerate Development is a widely-used resource for leaders and practitioners who want to expand their ability to learn from experience.

 

Photo by Abby Chung from Pexels

How Different Leadership Styles Affect Organization Growth

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How Different Leadership Styles Affect Organization Growth

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This blog is provided by Ashley Wilson, as a companion to the interview with Dr. Dale Meyerrose and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Pandemic, Activism, Political Policies: Practical Actions for Leaders that aired on August 25th, 2020.

 

The leadership style that you implement when running your business can often have a significant impact on the success or failure of your company.

Excellent leadership isn’t about barking orders at a specific time or making sure that deadlines are met. You also need to consider the culture you’re creating in your company, and the inspiration you give to your employees.

There are many different styles of leadership when managing and running your team. Each comes with its pros and cons. Let’s inspect how specific leadership styles can affect the growth of your organization.

Autocratic / Authoritarian Leadership

In a crisis, an autocratic or authoritarian leadership style can be beneficial. Sometimes, when employees are panicked, they need the guidance of a strong and confident leader. However, more often than not, autocratic leadership isn’t as beneficial as it seems.

This strategy allows you to run your organization from a top-down perspective, so all the power and authority in your company belongs to your senior management.

This also means that your employees can often feel as though their voices aren’t heard. Although this kind of leadership fosters an environment where working decisions are made quickly, allowing for enhanced efficiency, it also allows for less creativity and buy-in for employees.

Team members can see leaders in this style as uncompromising and controlling, which can lead to even more significant issues with morale.

Participative Leadership

The participative leadership or democratic leadership style is often a lot better for employee morale and creativity. Here, business leaders and managers seek and encourage input from their staff before making decisions.

Participative leaders act after soliciting opinions and ideas from the employees.

The biggest benefit of this leadership strategy is that employees feel more valued and as though their opinion matters. This also fosters a more aligned team, where employees feel more connected to managers, and generally have more commitment to their organization.

However, one downside of leadership style is that decisions can sometimes stall because leaders want to make a choice that can please everyone.

Delegative Leadership

Otherwise known as laissez-faire leadership, delegative leadership is at the other side of the spectrum to the autocratic style.

This strategy allows employees to make more of their own decisions and establish their guidelines for how to work. Leaders that choose this style rarely make major decisions on their own.

This method of leadership also means that team leaders generally only intervene with work in critical circumstances. Employees often prefer this form of leadership, but it can often lead to problems with a lack of direction.

Company leaders often need to find the right balance between giving guidance and letting employees know what they need and giving them the freedom to operate autonomously.

If your company is brimming with experts who know how to make the most out of their skills in your workplace, then you may find that it’s easier to run a business with a delegative leadership style.

Transformational Leadership

In a transformational leadership environment, there’s a heavy focus on change and improvement in the workplace.

A lot of companies in different industries have begun to focus more on transformational leadership to support an age of “digital transformation,” or switch to a more agile way of working.

Transformational leaders inspire their team and create visions that can help their team members to move towards a brighter future.

However, although transformational leaders can give their employees guidance toward reaching business goals, they also pay attention to what their team members need.

This kind of business leader collaborates with employees to determine what changes are needed in workplaces and how to implement these changes.

Transformational leaders are often seen as valuable assets within their organizations, as they help companies to grow and thrive in difficult times. Such leaders can also serve as critical role models, helpful for keeping subordinates motivated.

Transactional Leadership

Finally, transactional leaders give team members very specific tasks to complete and targets to work towards. They reward team members when they meet the set objectives. This leadership style focuses heavily on the results of employee performance.

An enormous benefit of transactional leadership is that it allows for frequent feedback from team leaders.

Employers and managers need to give their staff plenty of guidance for this strategy to work, and also highlight clear expectations that their team members know what to do next. Transformational leadership can promote a lot of improvement and growth within any organization.

This form of leadership is useful for achieving high levels of employee engagement, particularly for those who are motivated by receiving awards and bonuses. However, there is a risk in this kind of environment that employees will follow the status quo and lose their creativity.

Maintaining Best Leadership Practices

Ultimately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to finding the perfect leadership strategy for your team.

You’ll need to consider the demands of your business, how your employees work, and more when determining what kind of leader you need to be. The best leaders can adapt their style to the environment and the personalities that exist in their team.

Take some time to analyze your team and create a strategy based on what you think you know about how your people operate. Once you’ve implemented a leadership style that seems suitable for your company, monitor how your employees respond.

If something isn’t working, go back to the drawing board and ask yourself what you need to change.

Choosing Your Leadership Style

Different leadership styles have a significant impact on the performance of any organization.

How you choose to lead your team will affect employee morale, decision-making abilities, productivity, and more.

Because of this, successful leaders are scrutinizing problems in their environment and making informed choices on how to adapt.

Effective leaders don’t just set a direction and communicate a goal to their team members, they pay attention to what’s going on around them, and ensure that they’re ready to pivot their leadership style when necessary.

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Ashley Wilson is a content creator, writing about business and tech. She has been known to reference movies in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.

Photo source: Pexels

How to Become an Incredible Virtual Leader

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How to Become an Incredible Virtual Leader

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

 

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

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

 

Respect the Times

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

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

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

 

Making Sure People are Punctual

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

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

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

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

 

Spice Things Up Over the Long-Term

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

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

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

 

Be Adaptable to Positive Change

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

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

 

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

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

 

About the Author

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

In Defense of Adversity

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Variety
In Defense of Adversity

Join me Sep 10/20 as I talk to Resilience and Emotional Intelligence expert Steve Gavatorta (who is also the author of ‘In Defense of Adversity: Turning Your Toughest Challenges into Your Greatest Success’. We’ll chat about Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, and how we can help make ourselves more resilient after encountering adverse situations.

Enjoy!

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Nimbly Moving Through the Next Inflection Point

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Nimbly Moving Through the Next Inflection Point

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

About the Author

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

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Everyone’s Actions Matter – How Will You Participate in Positive Change?

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Everyone’s Actions Matter – How Will You Participate in Positive Change?

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This blog is provided by Dan Mushalko, as a companion to the interview with Jack Modzelewski and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leadership, Communication and Credibility in a High-Stakes World that aired on April 14, 2020.

 

Humanity sits unquestionably in transition. This is particularly true in the United States, which faces three simultaneous and intertwined crises:  a wounded economy, a blistering pandemic, and dynamic social upheaval from racial inequality.

There simply is no going back to the old normal. This tumultuous trio weighs heavily on realities we’ve hidden and ignored for too long.

Change, then, is inevitable.  Whether that change advances us or mires us in the past depends firmly on our leadership. Successful change depends on everyone participating in the change process. This has never been more true. We each get to take an active role and, more than ever before, our voice impacts the success or failure of the changes we are seeing. The phrase, “many hands make quick work” applies here. Where a group of people are working together, toward a common cause, the change effort is much easier.

From individual Facebook posts to mass-appeal pulpits of TV pundits, too many of us are reacting to that change with fear. Poor leaders divide us to amplify our fear, wielding it for power at the polls.

Fortunately, there’s a science to change. Change is inevitable, so of course it’s been studied. Biology and chemistry, chaos theory and game theory – much of science rests squarely on the universe’s need for change.  In business, this has resulted in the field of change management.  From a broader organizational perspective, change is a vital part of survival. In biology, we see evolution and survival of the fittest. In business, similar principles apply. We hear them expressed as change or die. The same would be true of non-profits and political organizations.

If science and organizations thrive on change, where does all this angst come from?

Bluntly, fear of change is, in part, the result of bad leadership.

Short of Charles Dickens sending three ghosts to them in one night, our current crop of bad leaders won’t improve.  That means it’s up to you to lead us through this change. We are in a time where the actions of each individual matter more than ever. Just calm one person.  Allay their fear.  All you need is one person helped to make a difference. It starts with you leading yourself. It doesn’t matter if you are a college student or a CEO, leadership always starts with yourself before you can effectively lead others.

How?

Try these steps:

  • Ask “why.” Why is change happening? Why is it needed? How will it impact me?
  • Remember that (videos of throngs aside) real change is individual; it happens person by person. Your reaction matters.
  • Change is a choice. Ask them – What future would you choose? How can you help bring about a more positive, sustainable, and just future?
  • Keep in mind that much of the fear arises when people see change coming, but don’t know how to deal with it in their personal lives or within their organizations.
  • Help them. From COVID to racism, explore why change is needed. Conflict feeds fear, so be calm and seek to understand. Compassion and empathy begin with you. You don’t need to agree or disagree, you can just listen and learn and reflect on what you are hearing before expressing your point of view.
  • Recalling how you have been successful at making personal and/or organizational change in the past can boost your self-confidence about your personal change journey.
  • Once you have managed your own concerns, share your personal success with others. How have YOU embraced change? How did you overcome the challenges you faced? Are you helping build personal or societal infrastructure so the change will be lasting and positive?

I believe in a positive future, one in which society helps every one of us become the best versions of ourselves. Understanding that change — especially revolutionary change as we’re undergoing now — isn’t intuitive. Positive change needs guidance from 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, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Dan Mushalko’s professional life combined a short stint at NASA to a long ride in radio…with experiences often overlapping. Dan merges leadership, creativity, and science for people and organizations. The thread through it all: mixing creativity and leadership. Dan is a creative and innovative leader specializing in media management/leadership, creative concepts in audio, new communications technology, media analytics, creativity fostering and consulting, teaching, writing, and science.

Photo by Ian Panelo

 

Learning to Be Human – Taking Steps to Remove Racism from My Thinking

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Learning to Be Human – Taking Steps to Remove Racism from My Thinking

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This blog is provided by April Blaine and is a reflection on a past experience and how it shaped her.  It is a companion to the interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future with Joyce Beatty, Congresswoman, and Doug McCollough titled Winning in the Face of Adversity: Overcoming Challenge with Grace which aired on 10/13/18.

One of the first steps to remove racism in the world is to remove it from our thinking. It is essential to take a critical look at our lives and see where we can update our own story about who we are and how we have benefited from systemic racism. This critical view of our stories is an integral part of our healing and allows us to make sense of what we experience now through a lens that is less biased, fairer, and more just. April Blaine, one of the ILI certified facilitators shares her experience with this process.

 

I’m Sorry Mrs. Skull…

I began the first grade at Fulbright Elementary School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1983.  More than twenty-five years after the city’s infamous and violent path toward desegregation at Central High School, the district continued to struggle with integration, particularly in the elementary schools.    While I lived less than a mile from the school, most of my classmates were bused from across town.  All of them were African-American except myself and one other girl.  The remaining children on my block,  who swam with me at the pool went to  local private schools.

My teacher, Mrs. Skull, made it clear on day one that she meant business.  She was tall, thin, dignified, and serious.  One of only a handful of black teachers in the school, she always dressed smartly, her hair pulled back in a bun, accentuating her beautifully defined cheekbones and smooth, clear complexion. My six-year-old memories would place her anywhere between the ages of 25 and 55… something about her felt ageless.

As adults, we can reflect on these moments in our childhood and how we made sense of what was happening around us.  We can review the stories that we were told with a more critical lens… examining them with an ability to ask – was that really true?

But back in 1983, in my all-white neighborhood and nearly all-black school – with the only black teacher I would ever have in my public school experience…  I didn’t have the gift yet of perspective.

My mother had started reading with me from a very young age.  She is an educator by vocation, and I took to reading quickly… spending my preschool and kindergarten years never far from a book.   I’m not sure who was more excited on my first day of school.  My mother dressed me in a hand made purple smocked dress, both of us filled with high expectations for all that I would learn and discover in this new season of life.

In the early part of the year, Mrs. Skull began placing us into reading groups.  I remember reading the book she gave me and thinking to myself, “This is easy.  This is too easy.”  As I looked around the room at other groups, I recognized that others were reading books that were harder.  I wanted to read those.  I was told no.

I don’t remember feeling angry about this… just confused.  Why wasn’t I able to read the books the other children were reading?  At some point, I vocalized this concern to my mother.

There are lots of words you could use to describe my mother.  Strong, intelligent, generous, and loyal would be some of the first to come to mind.  But close behind them would be pushy, aggressive, convinced she is right and unwilling to take no for an answer.

I can only imagine how the conversation went with Mrs. Skull.

All I know is that a battle ensued between my mother and this teacher.  I wasn’t privy to all the details, but I could hear the muttering at home on my mother’s end.  Mrs. Skull was not appreciative of a parent questioning her judgment.  She refused to change the reading groups based on my mother’s demands.

More phone calls and visits to the principal’s office ensued.  The saga ended with me being removed from Mrs. Skull’s class and placed in a 3rd-grade classroom for most of instruction for the remainder of the year.

And so the triumphant story was told throughout my childhood of our victory over prejudice and hate.  In my version of the story, my mother was the hero standing up against racially motivated discrimination directed at her daughter.    I was, of course, the victim in the story.  Mrs. Skull was the black teacher who gave preferential treatment to her black students and discriminatory treatment to the white student.  And in this story, my departure from the classroom was a picture of poetic justice.

Woven into the narrative were all the cultural stereotypes of angry black females.  My serious and dignified teacher became a stern, cold, and hateful woman in the story we were writing.  Even her name seemed to connect to a more primitive, dark, and negative side of the human race.  Mrs. SKULL…

This story left its marks on the identity I built for myself over time, one in which, as a “victim of racism,” I could not possibly be racist or prejudiced.  I even went so far as to align myself with people on the margins in solidarity.  After all, I had been one of the only white girls in the class.  I “clearly knew” what it was like to be discriminated against.

This story gave me a lot of permission.  It gave me permission to excuse myself from anti-racism work, permission to claim the status as someone who understood racism and discrimination. Still, most of all, it permitted me never to ask any questions about the real truth of the story itself.

At least, until now.

It’s pretty embarrassing how long it took me to realize that this story had some real problems.

At 42, I’m starting to come to terms with ways that white supremacy was and is woven into my life. I’m a real beginner at this, and most days, all I’m learning is how much I don’t understand and how complicit I have been for so long.

But the work has finally helped me to start asking new questions.  I’ve started to wonder about how this story might have played out from the perspective of my 1st-grade teacher.

As a child, I was bossy, outspoken, and slipped quickly into roles of leadership… whether I was invited to or not.  I wonder what Mrs. Skull thought as she assessed her class and tried to create the right learning environment for each one of us.

  • Did she see my early reading skills and place me in the reading group with other students so that I could be helpful to the others?
  • Did she recognize that experience in a group that wasn’t the highest achieving would turn out to be valuable for me?
  • Did I somehow misunderstand the nature of the reading assessment and test at a lower level than I actually was?

As a black woman of color, Mrs. Skull had probably worked twice as hard as her white colleagues to prove her worth and aptitude in the profession.  She hadn’t crossed enormous racial boundaries and systemic hurdles to secure a position in the suburbs by accident.

  • What must it have been like to come all this way to have your integrity challenged so directly?
  • What was she thinking when this white mother was relentlessly demanding that she submit to her expectations?

I’m sure it wasn’t the first time she had encountered this kind of treatment by a white parent.  I’m certain it wasn’t the last.

What did it take for her to walk into school every day with her head held high and keep doing what she intended to do… teach these children with dignity?

The stories we tell ourselves matter.  They shape a reality for us that we then live in, often far into adulthood.

This is normal, human stuff.  We all do it.

AND

We need to examining our stories.  They need to be taken out and explored and reconfigured and understood with the new information that we have as adults who are waking up and beginning to see things more clearly.

I don’t know exactly what happened at this moment in 1983.  I don’t know what motivated Mrs. Skull’s actions.

But I do know that if there was a victim in this story, it wasn’t me.

The system of white supremacy that supported my mother’s demands and moved me to an advanced class was operating as it always had… in the interest of white people.

And in the process, a hardworking, intelligent, dignified black teacher, who might have had the opportunity to make a real impact on my life, and teach me things from a new perspective, perhaps throw a wrench into some of the ideals that would be further cemented in my mind when I moved 2 years later to an all white community… was disgraced, disrespected, and overruled by her white superiors.

And I participated in it.  I participated in it at the age of 6.

Unknowingly.  Unintentionally, yes.

And yet, I participated in powerful ways that made an impact on the life of my teacher.

I’m sorry, Mrs. Skull.

I’m sorry for making you the villain all these years.

I’m so sorry for not doing the work I needed to see the truth.

I’m sorry I couldn’t see you as a human being…

I’m sorry I took my power and privilege for granted.

And I’m so sorry that you had to suffer because of it.

It’s not OK.

And it’s time to start telling the truth.

The real stories.

Thank you for being my teacher…  36 years later, I’m just beginning to learn.

 

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

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

About the Author

Rev. April Blaine is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.  She currently serves as the Lead Pastor at Hilliard UMC in Columbus, OH.  April and her partner Martin have 2 children, Eugene and Marcus.  April is passionate about helping others to make their home in a sense of love and acceptance so they can discover within a spiritual depth, honesty, and courage previously unseen.  She teaches prayer and meditation courses online at Hilliard UMC and is working with the Innovative Leadership Institute to develop a course on the importance of Spirituality and Inner Depth as an Innovative Leader.

 

 

Ethics Violation: A Practical Example on Gathering All the Facts

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Ethics Violation: A Practical Example on Gathering All the Facts

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This blog is provided by Rob Chesnut and is an excerpt adapted from his latest book, Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution (St. Martin’s Press, 2020) and used with permission.  You can purchase his book here.  This blog is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution which aired on 7/28/20.

 

The primary guidance I have for those who find themselves in a position of having to work out appropriate consequences is: put on your ethics goggles and be intentional. At every stage of this process, every leader involved should strive for fairness and honesty and be able to understand how decisions come across not just to those involved but to other employees.

Let’s work through a fictional example that will ground some of these ideas. Milo has spent the last year working as a logistics manager for a family-owned furniture company with 150 employees. The company has a code of ethics that includes a $100 limit on gifts. Milo’s administrative assistant, who is the nephew of the owner, mentioned to his uncle that Milo accepted a pair of Stanley Cup playoff tickets worth $500 from a shipping partner.

Clearly, Milo broke a rule.

The owner calls Milo’s manager and learns that Milo is an excellent employee who has never had any other complaint lodged against him. Next, the owner talks to Milo, who says he realizes that he was supposed to read the ethics statement but he never got around to it. He relates that at his last company, there was no policy about gift limits, so he did not think to check when the tickets arrived. He apologizes and appears genuinely upset to learn that he violated this rule. Not only was Milo contrite, he offered to call the vendor who gave him the tickets and reimburse the value.

Milo screwed up here, no question. He was careless . . . but, far as I can tell, not devious. Based on these facts, I’d probably advise the owner to give Milo a stern verbal warning. I’d be sure to say if he did this again, there would be serious consequences. I’d reinforce that he must read the code of ethics. I would remind Milo that he should not retaliate in any way against his admin, who had every right and arguably a duty to report his violation. If he’s already used the tickets, Milo probably should reimburse the shipper and explain that he made a mistake, in part so that the furniture company is not seen as a partner where high-value gifts are expected or appropriate.

This may seem lenient. The company has every right to “throw the book” at Milo . . . but he seems like a very good employee who made a mistake. Demonstrating compassion and thoughtfulness in this case might create an opportunity for the owner to remind everyone to reread the code of ethics, and thus prevent more problems. There is no mandated confidentiality involved in a verbal warning, and so Milo and his admin can talk about what happened, and others who might have questions can raise them as well.

So, let’s call that scenario one. Now, let’s alter the facts a bit.

What if Milo gets angry and defensive when asked about the tickets? What if Milo’s admin says that this is the third or fourth time the shipper has sent Milo tickets for a sporting event or a concert and that he has warned him several times that accepting the tickets is a violation of company policy? What if Milo’s manager says that Milo suggested the company shift more business to this shipper . . . just a few days after the shipper sent him the tickets?

In the second scenario, the results of the investigation suggest that Milo has engineered a relationship with the shipping partner that is a conflict of interest. So here we have two identical offense reports, but the details elevate the second scenario to a much more serious level. They may suggest a deliberate bribe by an employee of the shipper, and they may be significant enough to warrant terminating Milo immediately.

Wow, harsh. Terminating an employee can be catastrophic for that individual, and it can hobble a work team. It should never be done lightly, but some offenses, like sexual harassment or fraud or bribery, are so serious that once you have established that they occurred, you must act decisively and signal that this is unacceptable behavior.

As Milo’s example shows, the facts and details always matter. Intentions are important. Mistakes are different from premeditated acts. Investigations must be fair and full, approached objectively.

In the corporate world, disciplining an employee for a code violation is a necessary part of the integrity process. And I’ll be honest: it’s my least favorite part. While it’s fun and energizing to write a code of ethics and feel like you are shaping a great company where everyone will be proud to work, it can be infuriating, frustrating, and sad when someone violates that code. Sometimes people, for a wide variety of reasons, can make consequential mistakes that cost them their jobs, put their families’ financial stability in jeopardy, and create a permanent stain on their reputations—and the company’s as well. But you have to respond, or your code will have no credibility. You’ll fail as a leader, and the people who follow the rules will suffer.

Adapted from Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution by Rob Chesnut (St. Martin’s Press, 2020).

 

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

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

 

About the Author

Rob Chesnut is the Chief Ethics Officer at Airbnb, a role he took on in late 2019 after nearly four years as the company’s General Counsel. He previously led eBay’s North America legal team, where he founded the Internet’s first ecommerce person to person platform Trust and Safety team. He was the general counsel at Chegg, Inc. for nearly 6 years, and he served 14 years with the U.S. Justice Department.

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