LATEST BLOG ENTRY

Have We Taken Optimization to Painful Extremes?

March 23, 2015

What is too optimized?This post is by James Brenza co-author of the Innovative Leaders Guide to Implementing Analytics Programs.

As we hurriedly boarded the plane for our 6:00 AM departure, we sleepily threw our carry-on items in the overhead compartments and hoped for a calm, restful flight. The challenges started with the pilot’s innocuous announcement that we may have a short wait for de-icing. That short delay became a 30 minute line followed by a 90 minute wait for de-icing equipment repairs. Despite the pilot’s polite updates every 15 minutes, sleep was a lost opportunity due to the stress of missed connections and passenger calls to customer service to rebook connecting flights. Have you ever had a travel misfortune like this? Doesn’t it seem like the slightest disruption anywhere in the continent can disrupt the flow for the entire day (or longer)?

As seasoned travelers embrace winter’s grip, we brace ourselves for a plethora of difficulties. We all seem to encounter flight cancellations, late arrivals, insufficient or ill-equipped rental cars and overbooked hotels. I always find it interesting that other travelers complain that it wasn’t always this bad. Have you ever considered what changed? Is it possible that with more data and stronger optimization models that we’ve over-optimized based on profitability?

When creating optimization models, one of the very first steps is to pick an outcome. If the selected outcome includes only profitability, full asset utilization, minimal inventory or razor thin times to repurpose assets (e.g., airplane turnaround time, restaurant table turns per shift), we can certainly drive to that outcome. But if you don’t consider the ecosystem and especially the customer, you can actually sub-optimize the business ecosystem with excessive optimization. A few simple examples include:

  • Profit optimization is frequently accomplished at the expense of workforce capability and resiliency.
  • Operational efficiency optimization can compromise the customer satisfaction.

Don’t turn your back on optimization in haste! There’s no reason to throw in the towel yet. One of the best remedies has been available for decades (yet easily forgotten). The Balanced Score Card was developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in 1992. The approach is still operationally sound and perfectly complements optimization and executive analytics.

Optimize your business

By considering the ecosystem impact of excessive optimization, you can ensure you establish the countering measures during your development process. Since these measures need to incorporate an extremely broad view of the enterprise, they are best aligned with the executive view of the system.

As your team considers the optimization outcome, the leader should challenge them to consider the risks created by excessive optimization. They can brainstorm outlandish extremes to help make the point clear. After they consider all possible sinister outcomes, the next step is to consider the counter measures or optimization models that will prevent such extremely negative outcomes. It’s possible some of these outcomes should be factors in the primary optimization model (e.g., incorporating the cost of accommodating and compensating displaced airline passengers while optimizing fleet utilization).

It’s critical to associate and integrate the competing models while conducting what-if analysis or simulations. As various scenarios are modeled, the impact on the counter measure should be examined. Even if the models appear to be balanced for the “standard” outcomes (e.g., first standard deviation), the models should be stress tested for the edge cases and counter measures examined.

Since the results are vital to the ecosystem, core operating measures or KPI’s placed on the executive dashboard should have the counter measures visually aligned and updated at the same frequency. Unless all levels of the organization understand and monitor the impact of myopic optimization, the enterprise will increase risk to unacceptable levels.

Just in case you’re wondering about our flight disruption and connecting flights, many of us were fortunate that the connecting aircraft was delayed due to a mechanical fault. We were equally fortunate that it was promptly repaired considering the next available substitute aircraft wasn’t available for 5 hours. That’s a shocking delay considering this airport was a hub for that airline. By failing to model adequate substitute hardware during a predictably difficult travel season, they’ve embraced and accepted a significant level of customer dissatisfaction.

Are you doing the same thing to your customers? Are you prepared to ask the difficult questions and respond to the challenging answers? How are you leading your teams to ensure your optimization strategy is balanced?

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

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com frakus

 

Want to Improve Thinking? Try Meditating!

March 16, 2015

meditation - resilienceThe following blog is written by guest blogger Zachary Poll, featured in Entrepreneur Magazine with Maureen Metcalf.

We have all heard stories of the chosen few people who change the world. The Steve Jobs’, the Larry Ellison’s, the Gandhi’s of the world. These people are given such descriptions that would make a listener believe they have divine powers. So much of us seek to attain this power, yet few know where to begin. The first step? Simple: try meditating. For the purpose of this post we are talking simply about the practice of stilling the body and focusing on your breath, allowing thoughts to flow through your mind and just noticing them. When you find you start thinking about something, simply focus on your breath and “park the thinking” until after meditation. This practice of dropping (or not attaching to thoughts) is a learned skill that is only built with practice.

Most of us have heard the statistic that we only use 10% of our brains. Even though this statistic is debatable, it sparks the imagination of what is possible if we had significantly increased functionality of the brain. The movie Lucy, with Scarlett Johansson, explores the possibilities of the brain if this were possible. With greater functionality of the mind, she is able to read minds, jump on air particles, and move buildings with her thoughts.

I am not suggesting meditation will give you the ability to jump over buildings, but meditating over the long-run will give you the power to maintain focus and manage your negative thinking during times of stress. Meditation is a workout for the mind like exercise is for the body. Many of us can’t imagine going a week without exercise yet we can go months and for many people for years without exercising the mind. Starting to meditate routinely provides us a much greater ability to focus our attention and manage our thoughts, driving our performance in almost all areas of life.

To understand why, it is important to understand the evolution of the brain. Humans used to be no more dominant than any other animal. Then, one of the most defining events in Earth’s history happened: humans began developing a prefrontal cortex. This evolutionary process did not happen in one day, but took millions of years to develop into what it is today. Think of how much this development has changed the world!

The human brain’s competitive advantage to all other life forms lies within the development of the prefrontal cortex. The denser it is, the greater it functions. Hence, the more developed our prefrontal cortex, the greater control we have over our selves. So the question becomes: how do I make my prefrontal cortex more dense? Great news, an evolutionary process that can take millions of years, can be obtained to an extent in as little as 8 weeks.

Scientific studies now show meditating each day, even for just 10 minutes per day, increases gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, as well as regions in the brain that support self-awareness.

This increases the minds ability to: pay attention, focus, manage stress, control impulses, and become more self-awareness; all of the traits that provide humans our advantage to other animals, and the traits innovative leaders possess.

Here is an example most people can understand: two basketball players, one who relies on natural talent, and the other who practices their skills. The one who relies on their natural talent spends the summer hanging out with friends and relaxing. The other gets up at 6am, and practices every day on their fundamentals. After the summer, try-outs for the team start. Who do you think gets the spot on the team? Which person do you want to be?

Meditation is the way we practice and improve our minds ability to perform and manage stress. So, where to start? If you are looking for a quick boost in cognitive function, or want to test this research on yourself, there is a way to do it in one minute! Try this:

  1. Set a timer to one minute, that will make a sound when the timer is done.
  2. Put yourself into a relaxed state, free of distractions.
  3. Start the timer, and try to take only 4-6 breaths during this minute.

For more detailed instructions and practices, there are lots of great resources ranging from mindfulness based stress reduction to basic meditation classes and books.

Of course, you must know how to channel this increased cognitive function correctly to make yourself an innovative leader. We recommend reading up on other resources we provide in developing innovative leadership.

Here are the main points you should remember from this article:

  • The competitive advantage humans have over other life forms is the development of our prefrontal cortex.
  • By increasing the density of our prefrontal cortex, the greater our cognitive advantage relative to other humans. Most Level 5 leaders possess this.
  • Meditating for 10 minutes each day, for as little as 8 weeks, increases prefrontal cortex density.

Think of it like stretching your body before exercising, except for your brain. If you still have your doubts, research any of the three names at the top of this article and their use of meditation.

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

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Elf Sternberg

Leadership 2050 – What Qualities Will We Need?

March 9, 2015

Paradoxical leaderThis blog post includes excerpts from chapter 13 or an upcoming book edited by the International Leadership Association: Building Bridges series in June 2015. The chapter was written by  Susan Cannon, Maureen Metcalf and Mike Morrow-Fox to explore the question of what does leadership look like in 2050.

The qualities of effective leadership can be paradoxical—requiring effective leaders to be passionate and unbiased, detailed and strategic, hard driving and sustainable, fact-focused and intuitive, self-confident and selfless—often at the same time. Such complexity is rarely found in leaders even under optimal conditions. As we move toward 2050, new contexts and conditions are poised to emerge that will create challenges beyond the abilities of most leaders or any single nation to manage. This powerful contextual shift—a time of great stress and constraint—has the potential to drive a new and more complex stage of human culture and consciousness to meet these challenges.

Historically, as new stages of human culture and consciousness have emerged, the requirements for effective leadership have shifted accordingly. Such a shift is already underway in small pockets; in the next few decades, we expect its significance to increase. This shift will call for and catalyze what researchers and scholar-practitioners of adult developmental maturity (developmentalists) call “Strategist” leadership skills ). Strategist leaders have a world-centric, truly inclusive capacity to see, make meaning, and respond in a way that facilitates consistent, flexible, holistic, meta-systemic, broadly collaborative, and transformative problem-solving that endures even during times of times of stress and constraint. In this chapter, the authors describe research-based probable futures that will require more Strategist

This perfect storm of increasing complexity, accelerating change, and near constant uncertainty is creating conditions that exceed the mental and emotional capacities of most leaders. While technology is advancing exponentially, our laws, culture, and social contracts are moving in a linear fashion. The same is true for conventional approaches to leadership development. Four recent global studies on the future needs and gaps of organizational leadership concluded that current leadership lacks the higher-ordered skills and capacities to meet the complexity of even today’s challenges. For example, current leaders lack the ability to function in environments that have a high degree of ambiguity and uncertainty, to build cross-cultural strategic relationships, to facilitate collaboration between diverse groups, or to sense the crucial and unspoken undercurrents and relational dynamics in a meeting. The systematic cultivation of such higher-ordered capacities in leaders requires more than training—it means they must psychologically evolve to a more complex way of being.

The stages of a leader’s growth have a direct correlation, and thereby a natural fit, with stages of cultural evolution. The new leader that emerged with each cultural stage had the requisite capacities and developmental maturity to reach beyond what came before. For example, someone seeking to become a term-limited chief executive of a Modern era nation-state democracy must have the more complex, nuanced, and emotionally intelligent capacity to gather support and communicate with the electorate and representatives in a way that a Traditional era bloodline monarch, ruling by fiat, would not need or understand.

This emerging cultural stage of development structurally correlates to the Strategist leader.

According to an HBR article, Seven Transformations of Leadership by Torbert and Rooke, 4% of leaders test at the Strategist level. Characteristics include:

  • Perceives systematic patterns and long term trends with uncanny clarity.
  • Can easily differentiate objective versus subjectively biased events.
  • Exhibits a strong focus on self-development, self-actualization, and authenticity.
  • Pursues actualizing personal convictions according to internal standards.
  • Management style is tenacious and yet humble.
  • Understands the importance of mutual interdependence with others.
  • Well-advanced time horizon: approximately fifteen – twenty years with concern for legacy.

In future posts we will explore how to recognize Strategist leaders so you can hire them and/or position them in strategic roles within the organization. We will also talk about how to develop them.

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

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

photo credit: www.flickr.com Hartwig HKD

References

Brown, B. (2011). Conscious leadership for sustainability: How leaders with a late-stage action logic design and engage in sustainability initiatives. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3498378)

Cook-Greuter, S. (2000). Mature ego development: A gateway to ego transcendence? Journal of Adult Development, 7(4), 227-240.

O’Fallon, T. (2013, July). The senses: Demystifying awakening. Presented at the 2013 Integral Theory Conference, San Francisco, CA. Available at https://metaintegral.org/sites/default/files/O’Fallon_ITC2013.pdf

Rooke, D., & Torbert, W. (2005, April). Seven transformations of leadership. Harvard Business Review, 83 (4), 67 – 76. Downloadable at https://hbr.org/2005/04/seven-transformations-of-leadership

Development Dimensions International & The Conference Board (2014). Ready-now leaders: Meeting tomorrow’s business challenges. Global leadership forecast 2014|2015. Retrieved at http://www.ddiworld.com /DDI/media/trend-research/global-leadership-forecast-2014-2015_tr_ddi.pdf?ext=.pdf

Gitsham, M. (2009). Developing the global leader of tomorrow. Ashridge and EABIS report. Available at http://www.ashridge.com/Website/IC.nsf /wFARPUB/Developing+the+Global+Leader+of+Tomorrow+Report+-+2009?opendocument

IBM Corporation (2010). Working beyond borders: Insights from the global chief human resource officer study. Available at http://www-935.ibm.com /services/c-suite/chro/study/

Leslie, B. (2009). The leadership gap: What you need and don’t have when it comes to leadership talent. Center For Creative Leadership. Available at http://www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/research/leadershipGap.pdf

 

 

How to Drive Peak Customer Experience

March 2, 2015

Coffee cc Julie GibsonThe following blog is written by guest blogger Zachary Poll, also featured in Entrepreneur Magazine.

Daniel Kahneman, renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, recently wrote Thinking, Fast and Slow. Currently, Thinking, Fast and Slow, is the #1 bestseller on Amazon under the section Business Decision Making. The book delivers groundbreaking research on counterintuitive ways humans interact with their environment that is unpredictable. If we apply these concepts into thinking about our customers, we can tap into incredibly valuable opportunities.

One opportunity in particular is easy to implement and can have an enormous effect; this is called the peak-end rule of memory

The peak-end rule describes that a customer remembers an event on almost only two factors: the most intense feeling they had at any point during the event, and the final feeling they had during the event. If we describe someone’s emotions on a 1-10 scale (1 being awful and intense, 5 being decent and low intensity, and 10 being wonderful and intense), they add those two feelings together, and divide by two.

Let’s go through a popular scenario with which most of us are familiar with Ordering Coffee at Starbucks:

Katherine walks into Starbucks for her favorite coffee, like she does every morning before work. She gets there, and as always there is a long line. She waits in line for a full 10 minutes just to order her coffee! At any time during this experience, she would rate her emotional level at around a 4 (not happy with a low intensity). Finally she gets up to the cashier; this transaction only lasts 30 seconds. However, the cashier called Katherine by her name! For those 20 seconds, Katherine’s emotional happiness was an 8 (very happy and intense).

Now, Katherine must wait for her coffee. She is bored, knows that she is going to be late to work, and has no one to talk to. Her emotional level is again a 4. For the next 9 minutes! Finally, her name is called, and her coffee is ready. She picks it up, and goes to the exit, excited to finally drink her coffee. During these 30 seconds, her emotional happiness is a 6 (moderately happy). Katherine was at Starbucks for 20 minutes in total.

So, if you asked Katherine how much she enjoyed getting Starbucks this morning, how do you think she would rate it? She spent 20 minutes not happy, and only 1 minute enjoying herself. She responds: “I had a great time, I would rate it a 7.5!” WHAT?!? WHY!?!

It is because, like most other humans, Katherine remembered her most intense feeling, which was an 8, when her name was remembered, and her last feeling (excited to drink her coffee, a 7). No wonder Starbucks puts such an emphasis on customer service and premium coffee with exciting names!

Starbucks has been profiting from this since its inception, and it is time your company can as well. Here are some of the most important questions you should ask about your customer’s experiences with your company:

  1. What is the most extreme feeling my customers are having during their experience with my company? Are we ruining their perception of us by one fast moment that is extremely painful?
  2. What is their emotional feeling at the last moment of an experience with our company? Are we skipping a friendly gesture that could dramatically increase this number?

Your company might be losing all of the hard work it has put into customer experience if it does poorly in these two tests. When we think about how much we like something, we think about intensity, not longevity. So an hour of above average service will become dramatically reduced in importance if we give a poor 30-second ending to the experience.

People choose when deciding if to repeat an experience by memory. So make sure your company always provides the following:

  1. An incredibly positive emotional feeling, if only for a short duration, sometime during the course of the interaction.
  2. The best positive emotional feeling possible when the interaction is ending.

If your company does these two things, your customers impression of your company will dramatically improve, and they will be much more likely to be repeat customers.

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

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

photo credit: www.flickr.com Julie Gibson

Manage Negative Thinking – Case Study

March 2, 2015

This blog post is written by guest blogger Gretchen Wright, Strategic Projects Manager at McGraw Hill.

I’ve been working on ways to manage my negative thinking in order to increase my personal resilience and improve my ability to lead. I have been using Maureen Metcalf’s “Six Steps to Manage Negative Thinking” as a tool to support my success.

When I am stressed, I tend to go into negative-thinking mode. This type of behavior causes me to become more easily stressed, starting a vicious cycle of negativity and more stress. In an effort to develop better positive coping strategies, I began following Metcalf’s video and model, and have been extremely happy with my results and the process.

This is how I’m applying her model:

  1. Awareness of negative thinking and trying to stop it takes continual effort. I work hard to recognize negative thinking as soon as possible and “attack” it by making myself look for a positive in the situation. By following Metcalf’s “Six Steps to Manage Negative Thinking,” I’ve made huge strides. I’m not “free” of negative thinking, but I am more adept at catching myself when I “go there” and reversing my thought process.
  2. I’ve found that I subconsciously take a deep breath when in negative or difficult situations. To persistently recognize and correct negative behavior, I am taking a deep breath as an automatic process in my reaction to negative situations; effectively allowing myself to take a step back before reacting.
  3. I have stopped treating everything as a crisis. By not stopping in my tracks and forgetting everything else to respond to a “problem” that someone brings to the table, I’m able to focus on the “what’s urgent.” Keeping perspective takes me out of reaction mode. In moving from reactive to proactive mode, I can gauge the severity of an issue and respond accordingly. I don’t allow another’s behavior to cause a knee-jerk reaction from me. This helps me focus on what needs attended to, what needs some guidance, and what can wait.
  4. While it can be difficult to find the positive in a troublesome situation, I’ve found that if a take a step back, and look at the situation as a challenge—and not a negative—I am more able to constructively approach the issue and move forward. Every morning, upon waking, I give myself three things to be grateful for. Those are my “happy thoughts” for the day. When I am ready to stress out over something, I review my happy thoughts, refocusing my mood to the positive, and then look for the positive, or at least the “we can do this” in the situation.
  5. Following these behaviors allows me to slowly move from a negative-thinking mind-set to a new level of gratitude. I am a happier person and have noticed a significant drop in my stress level. Of course I continue to encounter stressful situations, but following the steps that Maureen has charted allows me to better handle those situations in a positive and productive manner.

Thanks to the “Six Steps to Manage Negative Thinking.” I have found that this behavior is just as contagious as negative thinking. My positive reactions and mind-set encourages and models those around me to react in a similar manner, making for much healthier and happier work and home environments. I am very grateful for this tool to handle negative thinking, and with Maureen’s guidance and expertise, I have learned to be a more positive, happy, and grateful person.​

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

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

4th International Integral Theory Conference – Leading Organizational Transformation — An Integral Approach

February 28, 2015

Title: 4th International Integral Theory Conference – Leading Organizational Transformation — An Integral Approach

Location: Sonoma State University

Link out: Click here

Description: This workshop will explore the seven-stage transformation model and how integral theory and developmental theory are woven into a practical leading transformation framework. This work is the foundation of the book Innovative Leadership Guide to Transforming Organizations, winner of the 2013 International Book Award for Best Business Reference book. It is also the text used in the Capital MBA class focusing on organizational transformation. This model is designed to integrate integral and developmental theory into a framework that is accessible to developmental levels of achiever and beyond. Our intent was to create something that leaders in organizations could access.

The workshop will be experiential – designed to allow participants to apply the model to a change they are currently involved with.

Date: 2015-7-16

Four Ways Understanding Developmental Perspective Improves Organizations

February 23, 2015

Transformation

This series started with a discussion of different developmental perspectives. Now we turn to applying your understanding of this concept to transforming your organization or improving its effectiveness.

Developmental perspective not only helps you as an individual leader create your growth path, it is also important in transforming your organization. The key to high performance is to align people and roles considering their developmental perspective. Different functions within the organization are best filled by people at different developmental perspectives. We call this their “fit” for the role, or more precisely, how the qualities associated with their developmental perspective align with requirements specific to the job. It is important for both leaders and organizations to support the health of all employees from a developmental standpoint and create an environment where each individual is in a role where he best fits and can move toward achieving his fullest potential.

In order for you to be successful as a leader over the long run, it is essential to understand your proper “fit” within the organization—which includes understanding who you are and what you value, where you belong in the organization, and where you belong within the broader team and community stakeholders. It is also important to apply this concept to others as you are making hiring decisions, assigning people to roles, determining individual roles within a team, and communicating with others. Importantly, the goal is not merely to build an organization with all people at the “highest” developmental perspective, rather it is to select people for roles that allow them to function as effectively as possible individually and collectively. Your organization will be effective if it supports success for people at all levels and aligns them to roles that fit their capacity. Organizations that perceive one perspective as “better” will be less effective than organizations that leverage every perspective and design an organization where all levels can thrive concurrently and are working toward a collective goal of organizational success using a broad range of skills and perspectives.

You can use this developmental model with organizations in several ways:

  1. Make staffing and succession decisions using developmental perspectives. Considering developmental perspective along with past performance and technical and industry skills, align people to the roles that have the best “fit.”
  2. Improve communication skills by applying a general understanding of developmental perspective to guide leaders in improving interpersonal effectiveness. Instead of simply communicating with others as ourselves, we recommend communicating with them based on their perspective. Understanding the perceptions of others from a developmental standpoint can dramatically improve interpersonal effectiveness. This is true with staff, peers, bosses, clients, family members, as well as other stakeholders.
  3. Improve management and leadership by applying an understanding of developmental perspectives allows a leader to clarify the needs of employees. For example, Expert employees want clear and specific directions and guidelines so they can do their tasks “right.” Individualists want the freedom to determine the best approach to accomplishing tasks. Trying to manage these different developmental perspectives using the same approach will result in frustration and lost productivity.
  4. Comparing the organizational developmental level to your personal developmental level will help you better understand the organizational culture. Organizations develop along the same trajectory as people: they start with the need to establish basic rules and infrastructure, and then move to more complex functioning as they progress through the organizational lifecycle. Understanding the culture will help you because as an innovative leader you are continually aligning your intentions and behaviors with the culture and systems of the organization. While we do not address organizational maturity in this book, if you are interested in learning more, you may reference Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership by William R. Torbert included in the references section of this book.

It is helpful for you to understand your own developmental perspective and also have a sense of the perspectives of those around you. You will not be testing everyone in the organization, but will rather have a sense of levels of key jobs or roles within the organization and use this understanding as input when designing your transformation initiative. Understanding how to apply this model effectively can greatly improve your communication effectiveness and interpersonal interactions with people who function at different perspectives.

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

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

photo credit: www.flickr.com Bryan M Mathers

Strategist Developmental Perspective

February 16, 2015

Symphony by indydina & Mr wonderfuls photostream ccThis blog seven part blog series talks about Leadership 2050  and the leadership mindset necessary for success in the future. We walk through what the future of leadership will look like then walk you through the story of Jill as she moves through the developmental perspectives. Growth through the perspectives is a linear process in that we progress through each step without skipping stages.

In the post last week we saw Jill growing through the Individualist Developmental Perspective. We now see Jill break into a very pivotal stage of the developmental path: the Strategist. Strategist thinking is effective at balancing all critical areas of decision-making. At this stage, leaders are capable of balancing both short and long-term decisions, maintaining the needs of multiple stakeholders, and effectively weighing the need for structure while remaining flexible and responsive. The strategist is capable of giving clear direction as well as responding to the ongoing stream of new information and the inevitable disruptions to plans. The strategist instills confidence in others while acknowledging their own personal limitations.

Let’s continue with Jill’s story of expanding growth.

At age 42, Jill has joined a global consulting firm as a Partner. On a daily basis she is involved in helping leaders and their organizations become more effective and sustainable. Jill and Matthew sold their large house and invested in a modest home with great sun for Jill’s garden. They retrofit the house with a gourmet kitchen so that friends can join them for meals cooked with fresh local food. Jill often works from home which fits her lifestyle that now values balance.  

She works with others who have similar values who also appreciate the flexibility she provides them. Randy comes by often and is her mentor and friend. Jill feels a meaningful commitment to her life as she dedicates herself to improving organizational effectiveness of her clients. She also works to create jobs paying fair wages and having a positive impact on the community and the world. She has moved from working as a volunteer to be the Board Treasurer of the nearby nature preserve. She leads the nature preserve to expand their mission to include children’s wilderness experiences and creating a community garden. She believes that her volunteer time should have as much impact as possible and board work allows her to meet an organizational need that is not otherwise available to her.

When Jill thinks about her marriage, she is grateful that she and Matthew decided to work through their relationship challenges. She recognizes that while the counseling and personal changes were difficult, he has played a critical role in her life and she still loves him for his willingness to support her during her transition. She is excited to see Matthew make several changes in how he sees himself in the world as a result of their counseling such as his willingness to simplify their living arrangements and move to a much smaller home. At this stage, Jill has learned to value her own thought processes and time alone enough that twice a year she deliberately spends one week at a cabin in a nearby state park with her Journal. Matthew joins her in this experience during which he hikes and reads. During this time, Jill evaluates what she is doing with her life and what needs to change. She thinks about her different strengths and contemplates if she is overusing any, as she did when she was younger. She appreciates the many opportunities afforded to her to be logical, analytical, creative, strategic, and tactical. 

Jill’s perspective is moving toward thinking about the global implications of issues. She finds that she is now considering how systems fit together and she wants to reach out to connect her organization to others in other countries to make the best use of global resources. She is now representing the United States at the World Economic Forum. She is strengthening her network of connections and is eventually offered a role with a global organization. The opportunity comes from an initiative emerging from the World Economic Forum. Her ability to think in a twenty-year time horizon as well as her cultural sensitivity makes her effective in this new role. She begins working closely with the Gates Foundation and other prestigious groups and finds her organization is making a significant impact in areas that are important to environmental sustainability and global peace.

Jill continues to meditate, run, eat in a healthy manner, and do yoga. She has found that taking care of her body, mind and spirit allows her to function effectively in very stressful situations. Her meditation has worked to strengthen her focus so she is not pulled off track nearly as much by challenges that come up on a daily basis. Additionally, exercising helps her burn off the frustration of the day and she feels refreshed and calm as well as sensing an increase in her stamina.

According to an HBR article, Seven Transformations of Leadership by Torbert and Rooke, 4% of leaders test at the Strategist level. Characteristics include:

  • Perceives systematic patterns and long term trends with uncanny clarity.
  • Can easily differentiate objective versus subjectively biased events.
  • Exhibits a strong focus on self-development, self-actualization, and authenticity.
  • Pursues actualizing personal convictions according to internal standards.
  • Management style is tenacious and yet humble.
  • Understands the importance of mutual interdependence with others.
  • Well-advanced time horizon: approximately fifteen – twenty years with concern for legacy.

In summarizing the Strategist perspective, it is important to note that leaders at earlier developmental perspectives can be very effective. The Strategist perspective becomes most important when leading large complex organizations or activities. It is not necessary for a CEO to be solidly grounded in the Strategist perspective if he or she has an advisor who is.   Often a CEO role attracts leaders who demonstrate the Achiever perspective while others who have different life goals may fill roles that are less visible in a trade-off that may allow for a greater balance in life.

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

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Indydina and Mr Wonderful

Individualist Developmental Perspective

February 9, 2015

IndividualistThis blog seven part blog series talks about Leadership 2050 and the leadership mindset necessary for success in the future. We walk through what the future of leadership will look like then walk you through the story of Jill as she moves through the developmental perspectives. Growth through the perspectives is a linear process in that we progress through each step without skipping stages.

In the post last week we saw Jill growing through the Achiever Developmental Perspective. This week we will see her move to the Individualist Perspective as she becomes more complex in her thinking and her time horizon expands. This is the fourth of the five perspectives that we see most often in professional settings.. Our intent is to illustrate how a leader progresses through the developmental perspectives and how they “fit” in jobs aligned with their developmental perspective.

Let’s proceed further with Jill’s narrative:

At 37, Jill was out-of-work and disoriented. She had spent fifteen years with the firm that summarily cut her out. She spent the first few weeks after losing her job feeling a bit lost; she was at home all day with no immediate agenda other than figuring out what she wanted to do next. This was a question she never imagined she would be asking herself. Matthew was working even more than his usual 60 hours to attempt to ensure he did not meet a similar fate.

Jill was fortunate that her firm offered outplacement services. Her counselor helped her begin to explore what she wanted in the next phase of her career. 

In addition to considering her career, Jill started thinking about what this would mean for her life. She picked up her journal and wrote her thoughts about her motivations and choices. She started thinking about the roles she had made for herself: daughter, employee, boss, and wife.

As the months went by, Jill withdrew somewhat from her social life and became more introspective, trying to make peace with what had suddenly happened. However, filling a need to get up and move, she decided to start taking yoga classes. She recalled wanting to do yoga before but had never found the time. So, she started in and connected with a new group of people. The individuals in her yoga class were different from her other friends and she enjoyed learning more about them and their perspectives. Jill talked quite a bit with another man in the class, Randy. He was also a business professional so there were similar backgrounds. Randy was laid off several years ago so Jill was able to relate to him. Randy found another job that provided him much greater satisfaction than the one he had left and was able to provide a sounding board to Jill as she evaluated her life. Jill started to deeply value the opinions of those around her, particularly when they differed from her own. This seemed new to her as she didn’t recall input and feedback being so critically important to her before. She was experiencing many things differently as she stretched her mind.

She was less focused on her five-year plan and more on what was happening in the moment. Jill started meditating to help maintain a sense of calm and focus. She found that meditation helped keep her mind from wandering and away from her ongoing questioning of what she had done wrong to lose her job. In conversations with Randy, Jill talked about the different parts of herself and the different roles she played in life. She saw how the different roles had taken over at various points in her life. Specifically, how she had weighted the logical, analytical side so heavily during her career that she had lost the part of her that loved sports and reading books. She talked with Randy and wrote in her Journal about how to rediscover these different aspects of her personality in a meaningful way. Jill reached out to her family and spent a couple weeks with her parents asking questions about their beliefs and choices. She was amazed to hear their stories about her childhood; she learned things about herself and her parents that she hadn’t realized before. For example, as a small girl, she had loved to play in the woods and watch her dad cook. Her family had traveled around the country camping in National Parks. As a child, she had developed a deep love and reverence for the natural world but had forgotten these passions as her focus shifted during her life. In an attempt to reconnect with the passions she had as a younger person, she helped her dad in the kitchen during her visit and was surprised how much she enjoyed slowing down and delving into the different ingredients. It was a sensory, tactical experience that she had devalued during her career when she was focused on all things logical and analytical. She decided to plant a garden in her yard to grow some of her own food. This placed her outdoors allowing her to reconnect with her love of the natural world and with food.

During her time between jobs, Jill began taking time to enjoy being outside. Initially she went to local parks to hike and journal. She began to remember the joy she felt when she was alone in the woods. Over time she started going to a retreat center in the woods where she spent days with her journal and books. She was away from her computer and cell phone for the first time in over fifteen years. She and her dog, Yoda, took long hikes often. Over a period of months, she began to feel more connected to what it seems she had lost during the years of long hours of work and graduate school. She began to have a sense of peace in her life. As she re-evaluated her perspectives, Jill was becoming more environmentally conscious and beginning to think about and question long-term organizational sustainability. Living in the state capital, she had ample opportunity to join groups focused on sustainability. Her interest in environmental sustainability expanded and she began volunteering her time at a nature preserve.

During this time period, Jill’s relationship with Matthew became rocky as he was unable to relate to what Jill was going through. She spent time thinking about why she got married and what Matthew brought to her life. After much thought and frustrated discussion with Matthew about what she was doing with her life, they sought counseling to work out their differences. While they had drifted apart, they were dedicated to each other and recommitted to one another during this process. Both Jill and Matthew agreed to make changes in their relationship including discovering common activities and making time for one another. During the rekindling of their relationship, Jill began to feel the support she needed to explore options other than returning to accounting. Jill began looking at new career opportunities. She wanted to find work where she could feel satisfied and make a difference in the world. Also, she wanted to work for an organization that was socially responsible. Exploring the worlds of yoga, hiking and environmentalism were wonderfully satisfying to her but none of them would provide the paycheck she needed to survive.

Jill began exploring what she needed to live. She considered downsizing her house, if Matthew would support this choice. She did not want to return to a job that would require her to work so much. She wanted more balance. Her growing awareness of the world around her changed the meaning of things and they became just that: things. She felt weighed down by all she had accumulated and wanted to simplify. Jill’s trip to her parents stayed with her and she developed an enduring and unexpected interest in food and nature. She began trying out recipes and exploring cooking the foods she grew in her garden. She also augmented her diet with food from a local farmer’s market. She started buying organic food and cooking healthy meals. She would often invite her new friends over to taste her food. She felt a sense of joy in having another way to connect with friends beyond the fancy restaurants and trendy bars they had hung out in during her years with the accounting firm. 

As Jill explored her professional options, she began looking at different ways to combine her professional skills with her passion to make a difference in the world. She decided to take a job as the Director of Finance with a national medical supply company that was socially responsible. This job allowed her to use her financial and leadership skills and also work for a company that impacted society in a positive manner through their socially responsible initiatives as well as their focus on minimizing their environmental footprint. 

Additionally, she began teaching cooking classes in an adult learning program and she became involved in the slow food movement. She continued to have friends over to experiment with new recipes that she would share with her adult students.

People who exhibit the Individualist perspective demonstrate a much higher level of self-awareness, self-regulation, social-awareness, and relational ability than those at earlier perspectives. They are more likely to think “outside of the box” and often will try to redefine or make sense of “the box” in terms of their own personal experience. Because they are less constrained by conventional thinking, they often develop more creative or innovative solutions to challenges.

As you think about how different levels interact, consider the unique perspective of each level, such as how the Individualist is interested and focused on being out of the box while the Expert needs to use the box to help define the right terms of success. Thus, if an Individualist leader supervises Expert employees, successful outcomes will hinge upon the clear definition of tasks.

According to an HBR article, Seven Transformations of Leadership by Torbert and Rooke, 10% of leaders test at the Individualist level. Characteristics include:

  • Increased capacity for advanced complex thinking.
  • Exhibits an ability to appreciate paradox in circumstances.
  • Begins to value and use rudimentary aspects of intuition.
  • Beginning awareness that perception shapes reality, including their own.
  • Self-reflective and investigative of their own personalized assumptions, as well as others.
  • Understands mutual interdependence with others.
  • Lives personal convictions according to internal standards.
  • Style is tenacious and humble.
  • Longer time horizon: five–ten years.

In this post we saw Jill as she grew into the Individualist Developmental Perspective. Next week we will see her move into the Strategist perspective. We believe that Strategist is the perspective needed for leaders to navigate large complex change.

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

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com Elsie Esq

Achiever Developmental Perspective

February 2, 2015

Achiever one-fat-man ccThis blog seven part blog series talks about Leadership 2050 and the leadership mindset necessary for success in the future. We walk through what the future of leadership will look like then walk you through the story of Jill as she moves through the developmental perspectives. Growth through the perspectives is a linear process in that we progress through each step without skipping stages.

In the post last week we saw Jill as she grew through the Expert Developmental Perspective. This week we will see her move to the Achiever Perspective as she becomes more complex in her thinking and her time horizon expands. This is the third of the five perspectives that we see most often in professional settings.. Our intent is to illustrate how a leader progresses through the developmental perspectives and how they “fit” in jobs aligned with their developmental perspective.

At twenty-five-years old, Jill was working at the nationally known accounting firm. Her altered behavior made her more popular although she still didn’t really understand why. However, with her popularity came more invitations to join her co-workers for dinner and drinks. As she spent more time with her colleagues, she started to become aware that her style was not consistent with others.

She hired an image consultant to help her appear more professional as this would help advance her career. The restaurants and bars frequented by the group were often filled with designer clothes and adjacent to a parking lot of BMWs and Acuras.

Jill started thinking about what she wanted out of life and developed a five-year plan. This plan included her goals in several areas of life including: career, house and car, marriage and family, and savings. For the first time since she was a little girl, Jill started a journal and wrote about her life experience. She appreciated seeing the changes in herself. She started reading biographies as a way to evaluating how other people’s choices helped bring about the lives they enjoyed.

Jill decided that she would like to return to school to earn an MBA; she noticed that many of the senior executives in her company had advanced degrees. Returning to school and getting promoted were two of the key goals in Jill’s five-year plan. Once Jill returned to graduate school, it seemed all of her time was spent working or studying. Her reviews improved as she started managing her time to better accomplish her five-year plan. Her task list for each day got a little longer until she was working 60 hours a week minimum; her boss noticed this and Jill was promoted to the next level. The substantial pay increase allowed Jill to buy a house for herself and a garage for her new Audi TT. She was excited about these purchases but had little time to appreciate them. Most of her energy continued to be dedicated to work and school. Jill often attended training events to learn about the latest GAAP or FASB pronouncements.

At one of these events, she met Matthew, an accountant at another firm. As they talked, they found they both value responsibility, family and community. Their courtship was slow as they each worked significant hours but they found time to meet once a week. Jill was delighted as getting engaged was on her five-year plan and Matthew appeared to be just the right fit for her. After a few years of dating, Matthew proposed. Jill happily accepted and they set a date for another year down the road. Jill’s hours at work reduced just a bit as she planned the wedding but she was still effective enough to receive another promotion. At 31, she was making more money than she thought she ever would and was about to marry a wonderful man. Jill didn’t think that life could get much better. The wedding went off without a hitch and Jill sold her house to move into Matthew’s place as it was quite a bit bigger than hers. They settled happily into married life with both of their careers going strong. About five years went by and Jill was still quite happy with her marriage and career. However, the firm she dedicated her entire professional career and much of her life to was experiencing significant financial trouble. Unexpectedly, they laid off her whole department. Suddenly, Jill became unemployed. She was in a state of shock and confusion immediately after the layoff. 

People at the Achiever perspective are primarily concerned with accomplishing and completing tasks. Their focus has moved away from the mere perfection of each task and toward achieving as much as possible. The Achiever’s primary focus tends to be heavily aimed at delivering the desired results. These could be installing a computer system, delivering financial returns to stockholders, exceeding sales goals or raising money for charity. They are often very successful and resourceful, especially if there are clearly presented goals and measurable objectives to achieve.

According to an HBR article, Seven Transformations of Leadership by Torbert and Rooke, 30% of leaders test at the Achiever level. Characteristics include:

  • Basic ability to identify shades of gray and see conceptual complexity.
  • Focuses on causes, achievement, and effectiveness.
  • Considers others while pursuing their own individual agendas and ideas.
  • Sees themselves as part of the larger group, yet separate and responsible for their own choices.
  • Appreciates mutual expression of differences.
  • Time horizon one-five-years.

As one becomes a highly effective Achiever, further growth may move into the next developmental stage, Individualist. We will follow Jill next week as she moves to the next level. This perspective tends to be much less common among most typical organizations.

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

If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com one fat man