Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Leadership Comes in Many Forms. Helping Business Save the Earth.

Guest post from Michael Lenox:
 
Humanity faces a number of critical sustainability challenges, global climate change chief among them.  In my new book with Ronnie Chatterji, Can Business Save the Earth? Innovating Our Way to Sustainability, we assert that to address these challenges requires substantial, disruptive innovation across a wide number of sectors.  Electrical vehicles in transportation.  Renewable energy in electricity generation.  Electrification in heavy industrials.  And the list goes on.
 
Such innovation cannot and will not happen without the active involvement of the business community.  Innovation is more than invention.  It is the creation of commercial viable products and service.  Markets are where the value of innovations are articulated.  Innovation requires creating value that exceeds the cost of production.  Business, and markets more broadly, are often the catalyst for innovation and are thus a critical players in our innovation challenge.
 
However, the burden of our sustainability challenges does not solely rest on business leaders.  Rather than berate business for inaction or implore them on the business case for sustainability, we assert that we need to think of the broader institutional envelope – the system – that shapes and influences how markets function.  This systems perspective highlights, in the famous worlds of Pogo, that “we have met the enemy and he is us”.  Or put more positively, we all have a responsibility to bear and a role to play.
 
This suggests a new type of leadership – one that Jeff Walker and his coauthors have referred to as “shapers”. Shapers understand that one must look for levers to influence the system – to shape it to desired ends.  Command and control does not work.  The innovation system has a momentum and logic of its own.  To increase the innovative output of business, especially the output of sustainable technologies, requires pushes and nudges along the edges.  Individual action may seem ineffectual, but collectively such action can have a profound impact on how the system behaves.
 
Business leaders clearly have a role to play in driving innovative new sustainable technologies that disrupt current markets.  So do customers that demand green goods and services and investors who seek out investment opportunities in sustainable technologies.  Government can both help create demand “pull” through pricing interventions and regulation and technology “push” by subsidizing R&D and funding university research.  Social ventures and NGO’s, of all shapes and sizes, can help catalyze the innovation ecosystem, for example, by creating market transparency through labeling initiatives or motivating corporate action through boycotts and protests.  Universities and national laboratories can provide the basic research that drives new technologies.  Entrepreneurial communities can incubate nascent technologies and ventures through accelerator programs and crowdfunding.  Banks can create green bonds and other novel forms of investing in sustainable technologies. And so on.
 
Ultimately, each one of us has an opportunity to lead, to shape the institutional environment so as to catalyze the innovation ecosystem to generate more of the disruptive sustainable technologies that we need to meet our sustainability challenges.  Time is of the essence.  Only through collective leadership can we meet the challenges before us.
 
 Michael Lenox is co-author of Can Business Save the Earth? and Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean and Chief Strategy Officer at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. His work has been cited by the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the Economist. In 2009, he was recognized as a Faculty Pioneer by the Aspen Institute and as the top strategy professor under 40 by the Strategic Management Society. In 2011, he was named one of the top 40 business professors under 40 by Poets & Quants.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beyond Self Awareness: Leadership’s Next Frontier

Guest post from Glain Roberts-McCabe:

This year, I published my first book. When I was trying to think of a book title, I reached out to our community of ambitious leaders for advice.
As I polled them with ideas (100 Ways to Bullet Proof Your Career, The No Bullshit Guide to Getting Ahead, Leadership Truths from the Trenches), the one that become the hands down winner was the one that I threw out as a joke: Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?!

Maybe I shouldn’t have been all that surprised. We are, after all, in a work world where we’re pulling terms from the US military to describe the levels of disruption we’re all feeling. VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) has gone mainstream.
Many of us feel like we’re going into battle each day. As leaders, we’re often simply trying to survive and make it to the next round of the fight.

No wonder we lose sight of our ‘why’. Work is exhausting. We’ve sped up technology and innovation but remain trapped in models, processes and working norms that were built in the early twentieth century. We are in the Age of Collaboration and yet bound by the Age of Industrialization.
We focus on the acquisition of knowledge and yet ignore how to increase our mind’s capacity to handle all this bombardment of data.

Where we used to think of self-insight and self-awareness as the ‘holy grail’ in leadership development, it is time to move beyond simply ‘knowing’ who we are as leaders to ‘reshaping’ who we are as leaders.
Here are three ways we can expand our individual and collective capacity in order to engage fully in this accelerated world of work.

1. Get Present
There’s a reason why mindfulness has gone mainstream. In a 24/7 world, our brains need some forced downtime. I tell my clients to grab an app (I recommend Headspace), join a program, download a podcast or simply start taking one purposeful breath before entering any room.

Seriously. Breathing alone will be a game changer. Check-in: where’s your breath right now as you read this? Is it shallow and at the top of your chest? Or nice and deep in your belly?

Take a breath. A nice, deep belly breath. Ah...

2. Manage Your Energy
For the past twenty years, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about working to strengths but not enough time thinking about how we manage energy. Given that a strength is the intersection between our capability and our passion, our attention goes easily to cultivating capability but we assume that passion won’t falter.

To manage in a complex, challenging workplace, we need to pay attention to how we keep the energy that fuels our passion buoyant. By taking control of your calendar and putting your ‘big energy boosts’ in first, you increase your odds of maintaining your motivation for the tasks that drain you.

Managing energy is one of the keys to building resilience.
3. Be Intentional

With so much disruption around us, it’s easy to get lost in the minutia of our day-to-day leadership. We lose track of our higher purpose (our ‘why’ as Simon Sinek would say) and forget about the impact we can make on those around us. Maya Angelou famously said, ‘I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’
How easy it is for our strengths to become overused in times of pressure. How quickly we can unintentionally succumb to behaviours that negatively impact those around us.

Leading with intention means stating your intention before the chips are down and the stress levels are high.
I am kind. I am patient. I am generous.

What are your intention statements? Read and repeat them every day, multiple times a day. Watch how your inner dialog changes as this mantra of intention takes hold.
Self-insight for leaders is great. Being self-absorbed with all this self-awareness is not. The future will belong to those leaders with the ability to expand their repertoire and adapt their approach to meet a world that’s accelerating at a pace never seen before.

This is the age of the mind and it’s time we start thinking about how we’re cultivating it.

Glain Roberts-McCabe is Founder of the Roundtable, a place where leaders cultivate their leadership, together through group and team coaching. She is the author of Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?! #leadership truths on how to drive, survive and thrive. The Roundtable was named the top External HR Advisory/Consultancy of the Year in 2016 by the Canadian HR Awards. Visit their website at www.goroundtable.com.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What's Your Leadership B Side?

Guest post by Suzanne Vickberg and Kim Christfort:


Some of you will remember the days when listening to music didn't mean streaming it on your phone but instead putting on a record. And if that record was a 45, after listening to the hit song on the A side, you had to flip that little black disc over to hear the other song (the B side). The A side was why you bought the record but you got the B side song too whether you wanted it or not. As a leader, you too have an A and a B side. The A side features those strengths that are most coveted by organizations and teams and that make you valuable. Maybe you spark energy and imagination, or instead you bring order and rigor. Perhaps you generate momentum, or rather you draw teams together. These contributions are what set you apart as a leader. But like those old-fashioned records, you have a B side whether you want it or not. These characteristics are the flip side of your strengths, and they’re part of who you are as a leader, too. How your B side will impact your team depends on your leadership style. If you’re the type who focuses on possibilities and inspiring creativity in others, you may also be so impractical that your team is left scratching their heads about how to execute on anything. Or, if instead you provide a stable foundation that mitigates risk and makes people feel secure, your team may end up being too cautious and inflexible for today's fast-paced environment. If your style is to push your team hard to excel and rise to a challenge, you might also prioritize results over people with detrimental effects on the way team members relate to one another. Or, if on the other hand you build trust by prioritizing people and a collaborative culture, you might overemphasize getting everyone to agree, which can discourage differing opinions and lead to Groupthink.

So what to do when you can’t escape your B side?

We suggest you don't go it alone. Leadership shouldn't be a solitary venture and neither should exploring how to manage your own strengths and weaknesses. Bring others into the effort by letting them know what you’re trying to do. Learn together about different working styles, both the positives and negatives that tend to accompany them. Acknowledge your own B side traits and ask for help in managing their impact on the team. The great thing about this strategy is that by making yourself vulnerable, you are building trust with others. And it also makes it okay for others to be vulnerable and to focus on their own improvements. So go ahead and admit to your weaknesses. Your team likely already sees them anyway.

Another way to offset your B side might be to consider taking on a leadership partner, or co-lead, with a different leadership style. If a co-lead of equal rank isn’t the right solution for you, a second-in-command who’s different can also be a good balance. If you tend to get bogged down in considering too many perspectives, choose someone who can help you decide when to cut off discussion and make a decision. If you tend to push your team too hard or fast, partner with someone who might be able to help you see when it’s important to take a breather. Your leadership partner will have a B side too, and assuming it's different from yours, you can also help shore them up. Your team will benefit from more diverse strengths (two A sides!), and the less desirable aspects of your leadership may have less impact too.

Kim Christfort is the national managing director of The Deloitte Greenhouse™ Experience
team, which helps executives tackle tough business challenges through immersive, facilitated Lab experiences, and client experience IP such as Business Chemistry. As part of this role, Kim leads US Deloitte Greenhouses, permanent spaces designed to promote exploration and problem solving away from business as usual.

Suzanne Vickberg, PhD (aka Dr. Suz) is The Deloitte Greenhouse™ Experience team’s very own social-personality psychologist and the Business Chemistry lead researcher, which means she studies how people’s thoughts, behaviors, and preferences are influenced by both who they are and the situations they’re in. She uses Business Chemistry to help teams explore how the mix of perspectives brought by their individual members influences their work together.