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Facing a Global Leadership Crisis–Insights from GCSP

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Facing a Global Leadership Crisis–Insights from GCSP

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

  1. Engage in Collective Sensemaking

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

  1. Provide medium-term clarity and focus

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

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

 

  1. Create space for curiousity

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

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

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

 

  1. Capacity to collide and converge

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

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

 

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

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

 

About the Author

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

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

Photo by Fabienne FILIPPONE on Unsplash

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

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

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

 

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

Let’s take a look at how leadership evolved.

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

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

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

Where are we now?

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

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

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

Now we face a choice.

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

 

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

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

 

About the Author

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

 

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Kim Campbell – Perspectives from a Prime Minister for ILI Insights

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Kim Campbell – Perspectives from a Prime Minister for ILI Insights

This week’s article written by Maureen Metcalf features some of the take-aways from her interview with former Prime Minister of Canada, Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell. This interview is part of the International Leadership Association’s interview series.  This series features speakers from the Annual ILA Conference that occurred in October of 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.  It is a companion to Kim’s interview on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast episode, Reimaging Our Leadership to be a Good Ancestor that aired on Tuesday, February 1st, 2022.


A 3-minute  clip with Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell

The full interview with Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell


I was honored to interview the Right Honorable Kim Campbell in Geneva in October 2021 at the International Leadership Association Conference.

I want to start this post with a quote from our conversation that stood out to me:

“I have to be encouraged at the capacity of human beings to be wonderful. To be brave. To be imaginative. To be generous. To be kind…” – Kim Campbell

This conversation was a spirited exchange about what is working and not and the solid invitation to do better now so we create the future we want to leave for those who will bear the consequence of our actions. The following blog captures several ideas we discussed and reflects her perspectives.

We started with the topic of leading as an ancestor. It’s a concept our ancestors bequeathed to us. But, unfortunately, we may well be the ancestors that screw it all up for future generations. For example, climate change, the rise in authoritarianism, and threats to democracy are all tied together and impact the ability of future generations to flourish and achieve their potential. Kim’s quote was, “We will never have a more fair and just future until we have a more fair and just history.”

Many of the problems facing society now are grounded in ignorance. Many people don’t like narratives that challenge our position. In many cases, if a person or group isn’t prototypical (women, minority, disabled, etc.), their stories fall off the radar screen. As an example, let’s look at women. At least 60 have been presidents, prime ministers, etc., yet few people know. It is difficult for even the best to advance in their careers, /research, /and other areas. Yet many made foundational contributions to science. So what knowledge did we lose from the women who didn’t have that neighbor, or that person giving them a way onto the path? When we don’t see them on our radar, ignorance says they shouldn’t be there. They haven’t earned the right because they “don’t do that sort of thing.” Yet, typically, they’ve contributed to their field, but it’s unacknowledged or uncredited. This ignorance leads to a personal worldview that’s exclusionary. How much we’ve forgotten about Islam’s contributions to math, science, medicine, architecture – including our sheer numbers! These contributions have been undervalued because of the rise of European (Eurocentric) empires and the regression of Islamic culture resulting from religious fundamentalism.

Ignorance lets us feel superiority, hatred, disdain. It’s never a smooth ride for women. Women are the canaries in the mine when it comes to people wanting to erode liberties. Maybe things have to be disastrous to consolidate the will of good people. We can’t be complacent because it doesn’t always work out if people do nothing.

One difference now vs. the past: we’re now looking at issues where the impact on future generations is knowable, significant, and very real. Greta Thunberg: You are stealing my future and not dealing with this. , be turning their heads and saying, “Nah, can’t deal with it?”

The perversions wrought by ignorance are dangerous. They put lives at risk and undermine evidence-based decision-making. We, as leaders, can’t solve real problems with uninformed conspiracy theories. 700,000 Americans alone have died of Covid; that’s unconscionable by any measure, but the inevitable result of so many people (both leaders and rank-and-file Americans) don’t believe the science. Much ignorance results from disinformation, which is increased by social media.

Thoughts on the “Me Too” movement. Sexual harassment is still much more prevalent than many people realize. It’s not just that many men think that women’s bodies are the spoils of power (which has been the case for a long time – see the opening of The Odyssey, for example). Also, when women pushed back on sexual advances, the men sought to destroy them. This pressure still exists today –vindictiveness to destroy a woman’s career. It’s all about power: companies to pursue business irrespective of the effect on climate, politicians to destroy democratic norms, to control other people’s bodies.

With all of the discussion of the challenges, there is also hope. For example, it isn’t true that older people are less interested in climate change. Boomers are prepared to do more to deal with the issue. We can use our brains, imagination, and strength to improve lives & make the world a better place.

Podcasts may be one answer to address ignorance. They can be more civil, informative, and heard in the listeners’ time. But how do you get someone to listen, especially if it offers a different point of view? One of the values of some podcasts is they can provide a deeper exploration of specific topics as the time isn’t limited by the short form conversations in many other media outlets.

Women in politics are gaining traction. Women are not viewed the same as men – they are under more of a microscope. This view is improving slowly, but it is improving. Angela Merkel was tremendously successful in Germany. She doesn’t fit the stereotype of a powerful woman: she wears glasses, no skirts, a wide variety of colors in her jackets, etc. She has been so successful and long-running that she’s re-written expectations of a political leader.

I sincerely appreciate the Right Honorable Kim Campbell taking an hour to talk about what she is thinking and exploring and what she invites each of us to consider. I was left with the questions:

How can I be a better ancestor for future generations? How can my choices leave the world and the world of work a better place? What resonated with you from her conversation?

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

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

 

About the Author

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

It’s Your Aptitude Plus Your Attitude That Sets You Apart

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It’s Your Aptitude Plus Your Attitude That Sets You Apart

We are pleased to announce the Connex Executive Insights Series, produced in collaboration with Connex Partners, an invitation-only executive network that brings industry leaders together in from the worlds of HR and Healthcare.

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

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

This week’s article features an interview with Alice Yoo LeClair, Divisional CHRO at Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC originally published in Inside CHRO, the go-to magazine for HR leaders brought to you by Connex Partners. It is a companion to her interview on the Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future podcast episode, A Competitive Advantage: Building Communities Within the Business, that aired on Tuesday, January 25th, 2022.

 

  • What is your best leadership advice?

It’s your aptitude plus your attitude that sets you apart as a leader. These two things build the story of your personal brand and can accelerate your development over your peer group. This advice applies whether you have worked at an organization for two months or 25 years, whether you’re a senior leader or just taking the lead as a contributor in a meeting.

  • If you could go back in time and meet your sixteen-year-old self, what would you tell them?

Firstly, when you hear about this thing called ‘Bitcoin’ that goes for sale, buy it immediately in mass quantities! The second thing I would tell myself is ‘chin up’. Over the course of time, you will see a material shift when it comes to Asian inclusion and representation. There will even be an Asian superhero, Shang-Chi, brought to life on the big screen, in mainstream culture. It’s really tough now – but know that the world is going to learn faster, collaborate more and come together as a global community in the very near future.

  • What is the most-read book on your shelf?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I discovered this book through Bill Gates’ book blog, Gates Notes, and he cited it in a New York Times article as one of his favorite reads. The theories the author presents about why sapiens, of all the species that have inhabited this planet, have been able to develop enormous infrastructure, technologies, religions, governments and currencies are fascinating.

One of his theories is that as a species, our ability to imagine and apply our imagination to our real-life circumstances is what enabled our brains to create all of these institutions. I recommend it to anyone who is curious as to how we went from hunter-gatherers to doing things like cryptocurrency in the present day.

  • What’s the one film, TV show or podcast you would urge every CHRO to check out, and why?

I have a different approach to this. I don’t actually have an HR industry-specific magazine or podcast that I regularly turn to. What I have curated for myself instead are ‘digital mentors.’ In the HR and business worlds, there are incredible leaders who, through their public content, answer questions and give advice on topics I would have asked them to elaborate on through those mentorship coffee sessions. It was through this curation of digital mentorship that I discovered my career aspiration to become a Chief Experience Officer. I got there from the online presence of an executive named Julie Larson-Green who held the role at Microsoft and Qualtrics.

To read this article in full, and to find out more about how the pandemic has shaped Alice’s views on the future of HR, sign up to receive Inside CHRO, the new magazine written by – and for – HR leaders. Brought to you by Connex Partners, the #1 executive network for HR.

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

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

 

About the Author

Alice Yoo LeClair is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Euromoney PLC’s Financial & Professional Services (FPS) division. She is responsible for leading talent management, DEI, recruitment and performance enablement initiatives, in alignment with the organization’s strategic objectives. In this capacity, she also serves as a member of the division’s executive committee and the group’s HR leadership team. Before joining Euromoney, Alice was the Head of HR for the Americas GTM region and multiple product verticals at Refinitiv, an LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group) business. Previously, she held global people strategy and commercial program management roles at IPC Systems, IntelePeer and Level 3 Communications (now Lumen Technologies). Alice holds a bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Hartford where she double majored in Piano Performance and English. She also has a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell, Cornell University’s external education unit

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Sustainability: Is It a Reachable Business Model?

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Sustainability: Is It a Reachable Business Model?

This week’s article is an excerpt from “Stewards of the Future – A Guide for Competent Boards”, by Helle Bank Jorgensen, CEO of Competent Boards, which offers the global online ESG Competent Boards Certificate Program.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Stewards of the Future: A Guide for Competent Boards that aired on Tuesday, January 18th, 2022.

“Stakeholder concerns are shareholder concerns. The increasing focus by investors, consumers, and other stakeholders on sustainability is directly influencing value creation.” — Jane Diplock, chair, Abu Dhabi Global Market Regulatory Committee; director, Value Reporting Foundation

Case study – Ørsted

One company that has successfully managed the transition from passive to active engagement is Ørsted, Denmark’s largest energy utility. Ørsted has undergone a dramatic transformation since its inception in 1972 as Dansk Naturgas, and later as Dansk Olie og Naturgas. For the first thirty years of its existence, its business centered on coal-fired power plants in Denmark, and offshore oil and gas drilling rigs in various other parts of Europe. In 2006, however, it decided to shift its focus to green energy, closing its coal-fired plants and putting its resources instead into offshore wind farms. As of 2020, the Danish company was the world’s leader in offshore wind power, with a 30 percent market share; it forecast that it would produce enough power for more than 30 million people by 2025.

Stakeholder engagement has been a key pillar of the transition strategy. In 2007, for example, the company began fostering a dialogue with activist groups such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and the Danish Society for Nature Conservation. Rob Morris, a senior editor at the London Business School, noted in an article that Ørsted “had to convince people that the future business could be as successful as the old one.” One example was a lengthy op-ed piece in Denmark’s Politiken newspaper written by then-CEO Anders Eldrup in which he stressed that transformation would not be an overnight miracle. Eldrup publicly debated the company’s climate action strategy with Greenpeace’s then-executive director Mads Flarup Christensen at a 2009 meeting hosted by the Copenhagen Business School.

While the Danish government still owns 50.1 percent of Ørsted shares, the company has been listed on the Copenhagen stock exchange since 2016.  The following year, it opened another useful avenue to tell its story to international investors by launching its first green bond.

“A lot of it starts with a company needing to be clear about what its purpose and its real priorities are, and that can be quite difficult to formulate,” says Ørsted’s current board chair Thomas Thune Andersen. “We have a wide debate about strategy that covers everything from the annual strategy plan to the long-term strategy, to our strategic priorities. If you’re able to really explain what your strategic priorities are, you’re able to get the shareholders and others to buy in.”

Ørsted now conducts a thorough materiality assessment each year, which involves identifying its most material stakeholders as well as assessing shareholder priorities and how these priorities intersect with society’s overall challenges. It has identified five key stakeholder groups: political stakeholders and authorities, local communities, employees, investors and shareholders, and NGOs/multiple stakeholder networks. The company has a specific interest in each group. Political stakeholders are vital allies in its plans to develop green energy. Local communities and employees provide valuable input on skills, talent retention, education, and local environmental initiatives. Investors expect strong financial returns as well as robust performance on environmental, social, and governance issues. Finally, the company engages NGOs and multi-stakeholder networks on topics such as biomass sustainability and human rights. It has worked to strengthen implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and has identified minerals and metals in its supply chain where environmental and human rights risks are greatest. The Danish company also has no problem collaborating with other utilities to develop wind farm projects. For example, in March 2020, it joined forces with Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings to bid for an offshore wind power project in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo. The two companies have several other joint projects.

Ørsted has set a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2025 and no carbon emissions at all by 2040. Corporate Knights magazine named it the world’s most sustainable energy company for three years in a row, from 2019 to 2021, and ranked it number two across all sectors in 2021. But sustainability has not come at the expense of financial performance. Ørsted’s market value has more than doubled since its listing in 2016, surpassing rivals such as BP with a far greater dependence on fossil fuels. It achieved a 10 percent return on capital and a 4 percent advance in operating profit in 2020. As of mid-2021, its share price had almost quadrupled since the 2016 initial public offering.

Taken from “Stewards of the Future – A Guide for Competent Boards”, by Helle Bank Jorgensen, now available in hardcover and ebook.

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

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

 

About the Author

Helle Bank Jorgensen is the CEO of Competent Boards, which offers the global online ESG Competent Boards Certificate Program with a faculty of over 95 renowned international board members executives and experts. A business lawyer and state-authorized public accountant by training, Helle helps global companies and investors turn sustainability into strong financial results. She was the creator of the world’s first Green Account based on lifecycle assessment, as well as the world’s first Integrated Report and the first holistic responsible supply chain program. Helle has written numerous thought leader pieces, is a keynote speaker, and is interviewed by global media outlets.

Photo by Damir Kopezhanov on Unsplash

Considerations for Scaling

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Considerations for Scaling

This week’s article is by Greg Moran, a C-level digital, strategy and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience.  It is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled What Leaders Won’t Talk About When Scaling a Business that aired on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022.

No cute titles, no click-bait tag lines – just an honest conversation about some of the things I’ve learned from creating, launching and getting through the first couple of stage gates on scale.  I spent most of my career working at big companies like Bank One (Chase), Ford Motor and Nationwide Insurance either to transform to meet competitive pressure or maintain the status quo of a business model that hasn’t changed since before I was born.  Starting a company is way more fun, but much of my experience did little to prepare me for the challenges of actually going through the process in a leadership role – kind of like how watching the Tour de France on TV does little to prepare you to ride your bike 100 miles in a day.  For this blog, I’ll summarize the headlines that we cover in the accompanying podcast.  I encourage you to listen so you get the nuance of what the words mean because they can look obvious on paper without hearing the dialogue.

Back Office

The thing about back-office investment is that you don’t want to make the investment until you need to, but when you need to, it’s usually painful and distracting – like changing the tires on a car that’s going 70 mph.  The trick of it is to be ahead of the curve, but not too far ahead of the curve.  One of the things that I’ve found useful is to remember 2 things:

  • “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” – Wayne Gretsky
  • Tech costs a lot less than people do, so get on platforms that will make sure your back office stays off the critical path of your growth, otherwise you will have to compensate with people.

DEI and ESG

Nobody wants to talk about this because they are afraid of getting canceled or saying the wrong thing and getting attacked.  There are some cold hard truths you need to know about this space if you are starting a tech company (and many other types of companies as well):

  • The talent pool of people that can tolerate the perceived risk of a startup is not as diverse as the general labor pool.
  • The talent pool of people that are experienced in the functions you need to fill AND have start-up experience is even less diverse, and you rarely have the luxury of time to go find that unicorn.
  • The people who are attracted to the risk profile of the startup world expect to be compensated with equity in a way that rewards them for the risk and have little practical interest in the other ‘equity’. Everyone has a good set of talking points these days, the expectations remain (I’m living this now, even though we are well beyond the risk-equity phase of growth).
  • Your ability in the early days to create ESG metrics will be limited and probably irrelevant.

So what does this mean for you?  My suggestion is the following:

  • Have a clear set of principles on DEI and ESG that guide the company’s decision-making and are very transparent to the board, the leadership team, every employee and every prospect.
  • Back up the principles opportunistically at every turn, without compromising the integrity of your commitments to existing employees and investors. In the early days, compromises on competence will stick out like a sore thumb and may kill the company if the role is important enough.
  • Rely on advisors to help bolster/refine the thinking of the team over time.
  • As soon as you can begin to build a pipeline, invest in talent resources that have the clear accountability to do so.
  • Use search firms to amplify your reach to great diverse candidates.
  • Insist on equally engaging events and practices within the company.
  • Don’t virtue signal with grand statements that you can’t back up and just invite criticism and ‘got Chas’.

Space and People

Scaling and Covid combined have raised some interesting questions on space and people.  As you grow, does your philosophy on space and employee experience change?  Is remote your new operating model – going full virtual?  How do you handle in-person collaboration when it benefits the company and/or the process and/or the individuals who may desperately want to have and build personal relationships?

I think any singular answer to this question would end up being a ‘one size fits none’ solution, so I’ll stick to some principles we have embraced (for now) in light of the ever-shifting landscape in which we all find ourselves:

  • Don’t be definitive and don’t show a preference for remote vs. in-person. If you really want to allow either to give you access to more talent and allow you to grow faster (or whatever reason), then truly embrace and invest in both.
  • Model both from a leadership standpoint, even if you have a strong preference. Your modeling will empower.
  • Make in-person compelling – give people a reason to come in, regardless of the frequency.
  • Do the same for remote – support the gear that makes it a great experience for the remote employee and those they interact with. Provide stipends and perks to enhance the remote experience.  Create quality virtual events – serious and fun.
  • Communicate and get feedback as the game changes.

Value Chain Balancing

As you scale a business, maintaining balance throughout your value chain is essential.  You really are only as strong as your weakest link and if you are over-invested in one element of your business, but constrained in another, you are just wasting money.  One of my friends that had exited a start-up gave me some great advice as we started our company.  ‘Never confuse having a product with having a company’, he said.  It was brilliant advice and has value chain balance at its heart.  If you build a better mousetrap, the world will not beat a path to your door.  In fact, the world will probably never know you exist.  If you have no pipeline, hiring people to close deals is a waste of money.

Pay attention to and build specific metrics around your funnel – know the numbers for you and for your industry and stay on top of it!  Keep the operations functions off your critical path by making sure they have the capacity to support your growth – HR, Finance, Facilities, etc.  Force business case discipline on your product and engineering functions (which is not to say don’t place bets, but the business cases force the homework to be done and give you data on which to base the bet, which will lead to better decisions and board-level buy-in).

Avoiding Distraction

One of the most insidious things that can happen as you scale is that the world will want to talk to you and your team about your success.  The temptation to do so is pretty irresistible and you should fight it aggressively.  When you start up the steep scaling curve is when the company needs focused leadership the most.  I’ve seen great young companies and budding CEOs get totally derailed by the seduction of publicity that makes them feel good but does nothing for the company, its customers or its team.  Do a couple of carefully curated and well-managed events per quarter and stay focused on your broader objective.

I hope this practical approach is useful.  I’m not looking to impress you with clever aphorisms (I have a bunch that perhaps I’ll drop in another blog someday), but rather to give you some super simple, easy-to-implement concepts.  Upward and onward!!

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

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

About the Author

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

Use Purpose to Help Your People Perform Their Best

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Use Purpose to Help Your People Perform Their Best

This week’s article is by Nell Derick Debevoise, Founder and CEO of Inspiring Capital, a certified B Corp that offers purposeful leadership development content and programming to accelerate the movement of business as a force for good.  It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Going First: Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action that aired on Tuesday, January 4th, 2022.

The way we work is broken. Workplace trends show that employees are resigning in greater volume than ever, jobs are being created at a slower rate than any of the prior 7 months, and employee wellbeing is flatlining at best. The seeds of employee distrust were planted well before Covid-19 and now they become a problem that no employer can ignore.

Employees used to spend years or entire careers at one company with blind loyalty to the corporate mission. Today employees are looking to belong to a greater purpose and aren’t afraid to jump from job to job until they find one that resonates.

Creating a People-First Workplace

Not only the way we work has changed, but also the work to be done. Technology and globalization mean that employees are doing the work that only people can do, like collaborating, innovating, and empathizing. Employees can only perform these higher-level tasks when they are operating with healthy minds, bodies and spirits.

Gone are the days where employees can be treated as cogs in a wheel, incentivized to produce as much output as possible. Trends in the business landscape met with the simultaneous crises of the 2020’s have shifted power from employers to employees. Employees demand a meaningful work experience. They want to know why they’re doing what they’re being asked to do.

How can companies bring back the magic that makes employees care about their work? Connect them to the purpose of what they’re doing. It is one of the greatest human joys to achieve something larger than ourselves, working in a team towards a common goal.

Living – and working – purposefully means connecting your choices and behavior to something important in the world that you want to achieve. Purpose provides a reason to get you out of bed every morning beyond your own wellbeing or wealth. Companies need to focus on providing purpose as much as other benefits.

Celebrate Purpose in Your Organization

It’s time to throw a party, but this is a different type of party. Free beer and kombucha and promises of Summer Fridays are table stakes. Now employers must empower people to be fulfilled, by guiding them to recognize why the work matters to them as individuals, and the impact it has on people and planet around them.

It’s time to throw a purpose party. According to Marc Spencer, CEO of Summer Search, “A life of purpose is a life of joy! When you understand how your life has meaning, it brings joy, clarity, awareness of aspirations.” A purpose party is the first step to getting below the surface with your employees. It doesn’t take months of planning or a catering budget. It only takes conversations that go deeper than the day-to-day activities of your business.

Like most 2020s parties, set up a zoom link and start a new type of conversation. Choose your favorite party chat opener, like “Can I ask you a weird question?” or “This might sound random, but bear with me.”

And then dive in. Try this, “My best days are when…” Or “I am excited to come to work on Mondays because…”. Ask employees to answer those same questions. Listen, and ask more. It might be awkward at first, but creating the space for these conversations is the first step.

While throwing a purpose party scratches the surface of conversation, it’s important to make this a recurring event. Continue these conversations and questions in other meetings as openers or part of a weekly check-in. It only takes a few catalysts engaging in these types of conversations to help grow the movement. Encourage your party guests to host their own purpose parties with other colleagues around the firm.

It doesn’t take long for positive things to catch fire. As Lorie Yañez, Head of DEI at MassMutual, commented, “We’re at a tipping point. With 50% of leaders at advanced levels of cultural competence, those of us championing an inclusive approach don’t feel alone anymore.” By making purpose a topic of conversation in your immediate circle, you can reach that tipping point.

Start these conversations and watch the benefits accrue. Purpose is the most powerful, and most authentic, motivator out there. Sandi Kronic, CEO at Happy Dirt, says “When I’m in my purpose, it doesn’t even feel like I’m doing anything for anyone else!”

Bring Purpose to your Workplace Today

A purpose party doesn’t need to be a big event. Bringing intentional conversation to your workplace can start with one-on-one conversations or team meetings. Make time to discuss why you do what you do to help everyone remember what brought them each to this work. Engaging employees on their purpose will help them contribute to outcomes that are only achievable when everyone comes together. And that is motivating!

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

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

 

About the Author

Nell Derick Debevoise is a thought partner to purpose-driven leaders, as well as speaker, author, and Founder and CEO of Inspiring Capital. Debevoise guidance helps CEOs and CHROs expand their impact, grow their businesses, and build powerful legacies. She has lived and worked on 4 continents, and collaborated across sectors with Japanese executives, Palestinian community leaders, French high school students, and Mozambique education ministry officials among others. Debevoise also studied leadership, innovation, and intercultural dialog at Harvard, Cambridge, University di Roma, and Columbia and London Business Schools. In 2011, she moved to New York and founded Inspiring Capital, a certified B Corp that offers purposeful leadership development content and programming to accelerate the movement of business as a force for good. Debevoise is a Senior Contributor for Forbes, and her first book, Going First: Find the Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action (available early 2022) is an International Best Seller.

Photo by Arlington Research on Unsplash

A Future-Ready Leader’s Look at Leadership Trends and Recommendations

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A Future-Ready Leader’s Look at Leadership Trends and Recommendations

This week’s article was originally published by Maureen Metcalf for Forbes Coaches Council on September 14, 2021.  It is a companion to the year-end trends discussion with Christopher Washington on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leadership Trends for Future-Ready Leaders in 2022 and Beyond that aired on Tuesday, December 28th, 2021.

Uncertainty is the norm across all realms of our work and home lives. However, this uncertainty is different depending on professional roles and personal living conditions. This year’s trends report points out key trends we anticipate continuing and some recommendations to address these trends.

We keep reading that we face unprecedented change and live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world. We have been talking about this for a few years now, and people are looking for the new norm. The summary: VUCA is the new norm. We need to rethink how we lead and structure our businesses and lives for our people, organizations and communities to thrive. Most of us have mental models reflecting slower change and less complexity. It is time to update those models. Old models generate increasingly suboptimal decision-making and action.

We as leaders need to rethink who we are and how we lead, becoming future-ready. We need to reevaluate every facet of how we lead and conduct business. We need to celebrate what works and continually adjust what doesn’t work. Analysis and adjustment need to be part of our leadership habits. Many of us get personal annual health checks, but we may not have a similar schedule to update our thinking and behavior as leaders.

Trend 1: Business models need to focus not only on delivering results but also on building the capacity of the people and the organization and meeting the needs of a broad stakeholder group. This business model shift will include increased technology for some organizations, including robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning. For others, it will mean changes in buying policies, from procurement to increasing stock levels to managing supply chain uncertainty. Many companies, especially funders, focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards; more companies will adopt an ESG focus moving forward. In addition to ESG, we see an increased emphasis on engineering sustainability in all aspects of the enterprise and moving toward becoming a circular company with a zero-waste emphasis.

Trend 2: We are changing the nature of work with workplaces becoming more experimental and data-driven. To build the capacity to adapt, organizations will continue to take a mindset of experimentation in all facets of product development, process change, technology updates, culture change and people leadership and management to meet stakeholder needs better. Therefore, we need to continue to refine our mindsets and how we work so we can shift what we do and how we do it.

Trend 3: The uncertainty causes challenges across the business landscape. One of the most significant impacts is the mental health of our people. Depression and anxiety are high across all demographics and ages. According to the CDC in April 2021: “During August 2020–February 2021, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, and the percentage of those reporting unmet mental health care needs increased from 9.2% to 11.7%. Increases were largest among adults aged 18–29 years and those with less than a high school education.”

The mental and neurological health impacts of Covid-19 are far from over. Many people will navigate effectively during Covid-19 then struggle upon their return to their prior routines. They may have risen to the occasion to deal with the pandemic, but they may still feel the long-term implications for several years. Leaders and organizations need to create environments that support the mental and physical health of their people. They need to begin considering the neurological impacts and look at how to build neurological resilience.

Trend 4: Organizations will continue to experience a shortage of qualified employees. Organizations need to reskill and upskill their workforces and prepare for a more adaptive and team-based environment. As the nature of work changes, we need to help employees build additional hard and soft skills required to thrive.

The pandemic disproportionately impacted women’s participation in the workforce. We will see a structural impact for years to come unless leaders adopt policies and workforce practices that ease the social burden and help re-integrate women into the workforce. Additionally, young people face disruption to their education and, in many cases, a difficult entry into early career opportunities impacting their education, employability and retention. Additionally, many employees are unwilling to return to jobs that expose them to the public or do not align with their goals.

Companies and communities need to revisit their talent development and retention policies and amenities to match employee expectations. Creating paths for people who were not previously considered part of the workforce will be crucial to meet workforce needs and provide meaning and economic opportunities for people who need them, ranging from people with disabilities to people within the traditional retirement age. In addition, organizations must find avenues to retrain and upskill employees and create flexible working opportunities for more part-time and remote work for the broad employee base.

Trend 5: Climate change will cause geographic migration. The climate volatility will force businesses to reconsider their physical location over the next decade. This trend connects to ESG and circular business models. As leaders, we will also need to consider where we build new facilities and where we expand operations.

Trend 6: New technology and mindsets continue to mitigate our current challenges and create opportunities never before imagined. We see opportunities we never imagined. Science is curing diseases; technology addresses challenges from food insecurity to labor shortages; and leaders across the globe are collaborating to address social and climate issues. We need to ensure we can optimize the benefit of solutions as quickly as possible.

We are living in a time where we will make a significant impact on future generations. Our ability to lead through these challenges will change the course of history. What are you doing to mitigate the obstacles with emerging tools across a broad range of sectors to co-create a thriving world that is more equitable and just?

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

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

About the Author

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

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Evolving an Iconic Brand

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Evolving an Iconic Brand

This week’s article written by Maureen Metcalf.  It is a companion to the interview she conducted with George Limbert, President of Red Roof Inn on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Red Roof Revisioning the Future that aired on Tuesday, December 21st, 2021.

Since the pandemic, everyone has been talking about the new normal. The new President of the Red Roof family of brands is proactively evolving how the hotel industry and its brands meet their stakeholder needs in a post-pandemic world.

On August 26, 2021, Red Roof’s® name’s’ George Limbert as President of the company effective immediately. George was the interim President beginning in October of 2020.

George served as Red Roof’s General Counsel for the previous eight years. He was on the core leadership team that guided the company throughout the pandemic. As a result, Red Roof has overcome these challenges as a well-positioned leader in the industry, seeing consistent increases in all performance metrics.

Immediately after being named President, George invited his senior leadership team to look at how they would evolve the brands. He started with the founder’s mission. Next, the team explored how to evolve the strong legacy of this iconic brand to meet the changing needs of all stakeholders.

The founder, Jim Truman’s Mission was:  To offer clean and comfortable rooms and attentive guest service – and charge less for it.

With the support of an Innovative Leadership Institute facilitator, the team came together and co-created the updated vision.  The new vision is: To provide the best experience and value in the lodging industry for our guests, owners, team members, partners, and communities.

When we look at missions and visions, many think of a group of leaders sitting in a corporate headquarters coming up with nice slogans that are neither realistic nor inspirational. While the senior leaders created the new Red Roof vision, this process differed from most. After developing the vision, several leaders went on a “look and listen” tour of a sample of the 660 hotels to hear from the franchisees and employees. Next, the team participated in two annual franchise conferences, where they spent more time in person with the franchise owners. The next step is a gathering in February with all employees. At each step, the team looked to validate and find holes in the vision to ensure the final version accurately reflected the true promise of the brand family. This process is ongoing, and while brands don’t regularly change their visions, this brand is “stress testing” its vision to ensure it is an accurate and inspirational evolution of the founder’s legacy.

After putting the vision on paper, the leadership team broke into groups to define what that vision would look like as it turned into reality. Some groups focused more on people while others on processes and measures. The result was a consolidated story of how the brands and the organization will evolve. This step is critical in the organizational change process. The leadership team and the organization need to align around the what before identifying and agreeing on the how. They answered a range of questions about culture, processes, measures. These questions ranged from processes related to aligning as a team to how they view and build on quality. Evolving a brand takes a concerted effort by a well-aligned team. The story starts, “Five years from now, we will be an extraordinary reflection of our best selves. We will have grown with purpose because we pooled our greatest strengths: our diverse talent, our culture founded on trust, honesty, transparency, and our iconic brand.”

The Red Roof team will continue to share their evolution as they progress in their transformation. The Innovative Leadership Institute is honored to support this iconic brand’s evolution.

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

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

About the Author

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

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

BCM & Risk Mgmt.: A Well-orchestrated ‘paso doble’ for Resilience

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Business
BCM & Risk Mgmt.: A Well-orchestrated ‘paso doble’ for Resilience

Join me June 9, 2022 at 1pm EST on the Business Channel!

Business Continuity and Risk Management must work closely together, like two people in a well-orchestrated dance; a ‘paso doble’. I speak with Business Continuity and Risk Management expert Federica Maria Rita Livelli about how these two disciplines need to work in parallel to maintain synergy and unity.

In this episode Federica discusses:

1. Defines the likeness between disciplines and how they assist each other

2. Discusses strategies and resources that link the two disciplines together

3. The importance of the Business Impact Analysis and the Risk Assessment

4. Understanding the business

5. The resilience that can be created between the two

6. A holistic and harmonized approach to BC and Risk Mgmt.

7. Tips for practitioners to foster an ‘…environment… based on shared risk…culture, values, trust and collaboration’…and much more!

Enjoy!

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