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9 Steps to Building A Mentoring Program and Retaining Employees

April 13, 2015

mentoring cc nasa appelMike, an experienced leader, came back to his office after an intense meeting. He had been taken off guard by the exchange he had with a couple of team members. He took a couple of deep breaths to gather his thoughts and think through what had just happened. He knew that part of what he felt was frustration at what he thought would be a simple conversation ended up with a colleague taking offense to what he had done and how he had explained it. He had acted with integrity and was unsure how the meeting had gone so terribly wrong. Through feedback he knew that people see him as a bit aggressive in his approach. He has been working on that and thought he had made some great breakthroughs. So, it was even more disconcerting to see the reaction from someone he trusted and thought he had a strong relationship with. On days like this, Mike wondered if his style was just a bad fit for this company and if he should find another place to work that valued his direct approach to work and problem resolution.

After taking some time to reflect, he reached out to his mentor to help him figure out how much of this situation reflected something he needed to pay attention to. Did he need to build additional interaction skills? Or, was this less about him and more of a reflection of his colleague’s own frustration with a difficult day? He left the discussion grateful to have a mentor who regularly served as a thought partner in his personal improvement and development. Mike knew he could count on this person to provide candid and supportive responses. Over the years Mike and his mentor have been connected, they have built a deep trusting professional relationship. Of significant importance to the company was that Mike left the conversation with his mentor feeling like he was a strong fit for the organization. The company may not have known when they created the mentoring program how much of a positive impact it could have on employee retention.

McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm that helps clients make lasting improvements to their performance and realize their most important goals. In its recent article on The Power of People Analytics discussed how it developed an approach to retention: to detect previously unobserved behavioral patterns, they combine various data sources with machine-learning algorithms. The insights have been surprising and, at times, counterintuitive. They expected factors such as an individual’s performance rating or compensation to be the top predictors of unwanted attrition. But their analysis revealed that a lack of mentoring and coaching and of “affiliation” with people who have similar interests were actually top of list. More specifically, “flight risk” across the firm fell by 20 to 40 percent when coaching and mentoring were deemed satisfying.

Do you have a mentoring or coaching program? How would you go about setting one up?

  1. Identify mentoring program goals and objectives
  2. Determine who is offered a mentor (new employees, women, people at a specific level, high-potential employees)
  3. Determine if mentoring should become part of an ongoing development program to support the overall development goals
  4. Identify who is interested in serving as a mentor
  5. Create mentoring processes and tools that will accomplish the program goals and provide resources to mentors
  6. Develop a process to connect protégés with mentors
  7. Pilot the program and measure successes and areas for improvement
  8. Refine the program
  9. Launch the program

Mentors provide a variety of support. In addition to sharing knowledge directly related to business, they also act as a sounding board for protégés to verbalize concerns and frustrations. As well, they also can function as a mirror so that mentees can see an accurate reflection of themselves in a non-threatening way.

Evidence supports that providing mentors to employees increases job satisfaction, greater interpersonal skills, and higher productivity. Employees who are paired with mentors also feel a stronger identity with their employer; hence, the personal investment that leads to higher levels of retention.

Maureen participated in a formal mentoring program while working for a large consulting firm. It was directed toward women because the firm was seeing high attrition rates. She found the additional access to a highly successful executive invaluable in improving my ability to increase my effectiveness.

The program needs to balance organizational goals with the cost (time and money) invested in it. When done well, everyone benefits.

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 Nasa Appel

Four Recommendations to Keep your Plan Current and Adaptable

April 6, 2015

Innovative leadership overcome stressThis post is by James Brenza co-author of the Innovative Leaders Guide to Implementing Analytics Programs.

It’s 7:00 am in the hotel parking lot and I’m facing a 20 minute commute to the office. That leaves 10 extra minutes before my 7:30 presentation. Complicating factor number 1: the windshield is covered by a thick coat of frost. Complicating factor number 2: the car rental agency decided I didn’t need a window scraper. I didn’t have many options as I stared at my ungloved hand, a credit card, a frost encrusted windshield and listened to my watch continue to tick. I knew the commute very well and needed to improvise to arrive as expected. Have you ever been in a similar predicament? Despite your original plan, the next step includes an unexpected twist.

Isn’t it “funny” how we all encounter distractions from our plan? Whether you’re completing a product launch, a customer segmentation strategy or a new price optimization method, it seems there is always a wrinkle in your plan. In many circumstances, you may face challenges with your stakeholders, team members, incomplete data, inadequate models or insufficient time to properly train the models. In most of these situations, the mark of a strong leader isn’t their ability to personally resolve the underlying problem. Innovative leaders are known for their ability to adapt to the situation, pressures, team dynamic and think creatively to help the team resolve the issue. The following section explores various distractions from plan and recommended actions to mitigate the impact.

  • Communicate quickly and honestly. Key indicators and keys to success of innovative leadership are integrity and adaptability. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the adage that bad news doesn’t age well. When facing adversity such as distractions from our plan, an unexpected or delayed outcome, deceiving the stakeholders is never an option. However, we have the ability to creatively and adaptably apply our resources to attain all or a portion of the visionary goal.
  • Address leadership gaps quickly. If the distraction from your plan included a gap in your team’s skills or leadership capability, you can seek substitutes, additional resources, coaching or training. In especially challenging situations, including specialized consultants in a coaching mode can meet the short-term objective and bolster long-term capability. You can also leverage your network and personal skills to fill small gaps.
  • Address data availability and integrity. If your analytic initiative is struggling with data acquisition or qualification of available data, you may need to revise your objective until the data is available, validated and qualified for use. If you drive forward with inadequate data, you risk developing inaccurate models. Since the predictive ability of the available data may have some value, another alternative is to segment the population and attempt a small pilot with highly structured A/B testing.
  • Validate our analytics model. If your analytic models are evolving slower than planned, you can support your data scientists with a fresh perspective to validate the underlying descriptive statistics, foundational predictors or potentially confounded attributes. It’s especially important to ensure the models aren’t being over fit due to inadequate data or hasty elimination of valid predictors.

With all of these technical mitigations, your role as a leader is even more vital. You’ll need to ensure your communications are completely transparent, and your stakeholders are aware of the issues and mitigations. It may be necessary to remind them that the only thing worse than not implementing a predictive model is an inaccurate model that may reduce value through sub-optimization. In difficult and tense situations, your team’s resilience may crumble. Scheduling special activities or a little time away may help refresh them. It’s also vital to take care of yourself. With the extra stress and high expectations, your competing commitments may erode your performance. It’s critical to maintain your life balance and control any conflicts raised by your “inner voice”.

For the curious few seeking closure, I survived my frosty morning commute by using the defrosters to help with the windshield, minimized scraping on the side windows, skipped scraping the back window and missed seeing my favorite barista on the trip to the office. By adapting my expectations, reducing my typical commute plan and accepting a few risks, I was able to meet all of my commitments.

What adjustments are you prepared to make so you can meet your expectations?

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.flick.com By: Techniker Krankenkasse

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