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  • 30 Jul 2021 4:05 PM | Krystal Keating (Administrator)

    Have you ever had one or more of the following thoughts or feelings?

    • “What do I know?” 
    • “I feel like a fraud. Am I really the best person for the job?”
    • “I don’t belong here. I don't deserve to be here.”
    • “I am not ________ enough.”
    • “I’m a fake and people are going to find out.”
    • “I cannot fail.” 
    • “She/he is so much better than I am.”
    • “I’m successful because I got lucky.”
    • “My achievements are not that special.”

    Having these feelings once in a while is normal. However, if you experience these feelings on a daily basis, you may be struggling with imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a collection of feelings relating to inadequacy, incompetency, and intellectual fraudulence that persist, despite an individual's education, experience, or expertise. In other words, it is a gnawing feeling that you are a fraud, or “imposter,” that will one day be “discovered” or “unmasked.” Thus, any kind of failure or mistake is avoided at all costs, though these standards are not humanly attainable, nor realistic. 

    No one is immune to imposter syndrome. Studies have shown that nearly 70% of people feel symptoms of the imposter syndrome sometime throughout their career. Even some of the most successful people struggle with imposter syndrome. Take award-winning writer, poet, and activist, Maya Angelou. After writing and publishing several books, Angelou admitted that she felt like an imposter. She stated, “I have written eleven books, and each time I think ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everyone and they’re going to find me out’.” Despite her incredible successes in the world of literature, Angelou felt plagued by self-doubt each and every time she published a new book. 

    How could such a successful writer, whose writings have been positively received by the public, be consumed with so much self-doubt? While imposter syndrome can impact everyone differently, researchers have indicated that it is related to perfectionism, fear of failure, and low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence. Interestingly, research has also shown that women and girls commonly fall victim to imposter syndrome, as they are more fearful of failure than their male counterparts. This can significantly impact a woman’s career decisions and development. 

    While imposter syndrome is common, it is also very isolating. We tend to keep these recurring feelings of self-doubt to ourselves; we don’t want to blow our “cover.” But, in reality, we all make mistakes - we are human; we are flawed. In fact, leaders are not recognized as such because they are perfect and know all the right answers. Instead, they are seen as leaders because they have a strong sense of confidence in their abilities, welcome other’s input, and seek advice or help when they feel out of their depth. Leaders do not always have the right answers, but they are dedicated to discovering those answers for the betterment of everyone. 

    Want to know more about imposter syndrome? Follow GLI’s blog for weekly content.

  • 17 May 2021 5:26 PM | Sarah Elkington (Administrator)

    INTRODUCTION – YOUR WORLD IS "VUCA"

    "Well, we have always faced volatility." I hear this statement often when working with organizations seeking to help them thrive in the challenging environment they navigate. This environment is characterized as a "VUCA" environment (Bawany, 2016; Hall & Rowland, 2016): Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. When I discussed VUCA with organizations, I believed it was enough to identify the malaise for them, and they would take that identification and contextualize their best responses. I have since realized that identifying a problem like VUCA and not equipping an organization to address this challenging reality is much like a doctor telling a patient the name of the disease that ails them and not prescribing any remedy! And so I began the exciting journey of thinking through components of an effective remediation process, and VUCA prime emerged (Lawrence, 2013)!

    HELP ON THE HORIZON – LET'S DEPLOY "VUCA PRIME"

    It seems an emerging truism that the resources embedded within complex adaptive systems are often unnoticed and untapped, and this is no less true of organizations within a VUCA world. I am continually impressed y the rich resources residing within organizations that emerge powerfully and organically when suitable venues and conditions are provided. Organizations can leverage VUCA prime by using the following toolkit that I have found extremely useful and focuses on the organization's rich and embedded resources, its people, and its stakeholders. I will take you through the VUCA prime process step by step, and offer to invest time with you and your team if you wish to take a deeper dive into how to actualize VUCA prime in your organization:

    Vision offsets Volatility. "We have a vision statement!" Another statement I hear often. I then ask the following questions: What is your Vision statement? Who forged your Vision statement? How embedded is your Vision statement? Margaret Wheatley suggested that "Vision ought to be the living breathing force of the organization." Vision is the north-star that guides you and norms you amidst the raging seas of Volatility! The key, though, is that you utilize a process like Appreciative Inquiry (Flanagan et al., 2010). In the use of Appreciative Inquiry, you leverage the incredible strengths of everyone in your organization, and you focus on a strengths-based approach to vision casting and embedding the Vision. When this method is used, the Vision becomes a living breathing force within the organization. It empowers the team to effectively navigate the Volatility that threatens to undermine the organization's capacity.

    Understanding offsets Uncertainty. In his article discussing best practices after Hurricane Katrina, Patrick Lagedac (2009) argued for "Rapid Reflection Forces" in his writing. Organizations offset Uncertainty by reading weak signals and assigning a team to scrape big data for effective decision making (Edwards et al., 2016; Frisk & Bannister, 2017; He et al., 2017; Migliore & Chinta, 2017; Phillips-Wren & Hoskisson, 2015). There are many examples of how organizations both large and small in various sectors leverage data and Rapid Reflections Sources. Still, space does not permit the listing and discussion of these outstanding exemplars.

    Clarity offsets Complexity. "If only they had communicated the 'why' of this decision. Right now, it all seems so unclear!" I hear that statement often in my work with leaders and teams in organizations. Clarity trumps complexity every time. Organizations develop clarity with intentional communication and sense-making through the rich channels of communication in the organization. Another point of clarity is ensuring that decisions, once drawn from evidence-based data mining, are aligned with the Vision and then clearly communicated as such. Meetings, too, should also be structured for absolute clarity, and often they are not!

    Agility offsets Ambiguity. Agility is developed through the propensity to leverage collaborative decision-making, which in turn requires the development of rich social capital (Duus & Cooray, 2014; Homey et al., n.d.; Murthy & Murthy, 2014; Torres, 2013; Yadav, 2017). The looming question for many leaders within organizations who want to leverage collaborative decision-making is the simple question "when?" When do we include others in the decision-making process, and whom do we include. Here I help organizations by using the Vroom-Jago decision-making matrix.

    CONCLUSION: YOU CAN THRIVE IN THE FACE OF VUCA BY LEVERAGING VUCA PRIME

    Organizations in every sector face significant strain with the emergence of Industry 4.0 (Rahim, 2017; Simionescu, 2017) and the attendant VUCA environment. The good news is that within your organization as a complex adaptive system, there is a repository of rich strengths that you can draw on to leverage VUCA prime and thus thrive in this challenging environment. The tools to leverage this repository are simple to deploy and relatively inexpensive to access. As with most posts such as this one, much more could be said, but perhaps that is a conversation best hosted over a warm cup of coffee!

     Dr. Rob Elkington

    REFERENCES:

    Bawany, S. (2016). Leading Change In Today' s VUCA World. Leadership Excellence, Feb 2016(33,2), 31.

    Duus, R., & Cooray, M. (2014). Together We Innovate: Cross-Cultural Teamwork Through Virtual Platforms. Journal of Marketing Education, 36(3), 244–257. https://doi.org/10.1177/0273475314535783

    Edwards, R. L., George, T., & Walker, H. (2016). Big Data Business Analytics and Informed Decision Making Comparisons Between University Executives with High and Low Student Retention. 1–2.

    Flanagan, J., Smith, M., Farrent, A., Reis, P., & Wright, B. (2010). Using Appreciative Inquiry for Strategic Planning in a Professional Nursing Organization. Visions: The Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science, 17(1).

    Frisk, J. E., & Bannister, F. (2017). Improving the Use of Analytics and Big Data By Changing the Decision-Making Culture - a Design Approach. Management Decision, 00–00. https://doi.org/10.1108/MD-07-2016-0460

    Hall, R. D., & Rowland, C. A. (2016). Leadership development for managers in turbulent times. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-09-2015-0121

    He, W., Wang, F.-K., & Akula, V. (2017). Managing extracted knowledge from big social media data for business decision making. Journal of Knowledge Management, 21(2), 275–294. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-07-2015-0296

    Homey, B. N., Ph, D., & Consulting, A. (n.d.). Leadership Agility : A Business Imperative for a VUCA World. 32–39.

    Lawrence, K. (2013). Developing Leaders in a Business. U.N.C. Executive Development, 1–15.

    Migliore, L. A., & Chinta, R. (2017). Demystifying the Big Data Phenomenon for Strategic Leadership. S.A.M. Advanced Management Journal, 82(1), 48–58. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1926530709?accountid=12217%0Ahttp://link.periodicos.capes.gov.br/sfxlcl41?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&rft_val_fmt=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:journal&genre=article&sid=ProQ:ProQ%3Aabicomplete&atitle=Demystifying+the+Big+Data+Phenomeno

    Murthy, V., & Murthy, A. (2014). Adaptive leadership responses. World Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development, 10(3), 162–176. https://doi.org/10.1108/WJEMSD-05-2013-0029

    Phillips-Wren, G., & Hoskisson, A. (2015). An analytical journey towards big data. Journal of Decision Systems, 24(1), 87–102. https://doi.org/10.1080/12460125.2015.994333

    Rahim, R. A. (2017). 4 Th Industrial Revolution. MiGHT, 18–19.

    Simionescu, S. (2017). Reasons for and benefits of teaching Internet of Things basics in the eve of the 4th industrial revolution. Proceedings of the 8th Balkan Conference in Informatics on   - BCI '17, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1145/3136273.3136285

    Torres, D. L. (2013). AGILity and the Organization : Sense- making for Organizational Leadership. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 10–21.

    Yadav, N. (2017). A Conceptual Model of Learning Agility and Authentic Leadership Development : Moderating Effects of Learning Goal Orientation and Organizational Culture. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971685816673487


  • 4 May 2021 12:22 PM | Sarah Elkington (Administrator)

    It’s A LOT! This is what I’m hearing my clients say more than ever. Six months ago, folks were saying they were bored, sad, lonely, or frustrated. Today they have no more words…just A LOT.

    After more than a year in a pandemic and weathering three lockdowns in Ontario, the mental health of kids, teens, adults, and seniors is suffering. There have been almost 25,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in Canada. There are the invisible victims of this pandemic, however, such as deaths that are a result of suicide, a lack of treatment or a delay in treatment and downright loneliness and isolation. While the incidence of suicide actually declined in 2020, this may be in part due to the fact that people were home more and therefore closer to loved ones needing support. While suicide may have decreased, the levels of distress for many more has increased. “We’re all in this together”, is the mantra we have all heard.

    As a therapist and coach, many of my clients who have never experienced anxiety or any sort of mood disorder before have suddenly found themselves struggling with feelings of dis-ease, disrupted sleep, racing thoughts, and loss of enjoyment in the things they used to love doing.  While not necessarily diagnosable by the DSM-5, they certainly indicate a declining level of wellbeing.  Humans are social beings and being locked up for a year has had a profound impact on our collective mental health in the most imperceptible ways. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in some poor coping habits such as an increase in alcohol consumption and drug use.

    Those in leadership positions are struggling as they try to support teams who have moved virtually. Never has there been a time in history that a workforce has worked so remotely, and most leaders were not prepared to support a scattered team. Leaders have had to check their level of trust with their team, be creative in how they connect with and through their team, how to keep team members engaged, and how to permit flexibility to support their team as they adapt to changes in their home environment.  Leaders have also had to pivot their leadership game by ensuring they take care of themselves in this crisis and “put on their oxygen mask first” so they are better able to help the members of their team. Leaders are expected to be knowledgeable and informed about the constant changes to public health guidelines in order to inform their team. Leaders have had to adapt to lead differently in this virtual world. What used to work in the office, no longer works in the virtual arena.  Additionally, many companies became much more fiscally conservative which created increased workload on team members or even layoffs and downsizing.  As a leader this can be extremely hard to manage within a highly ambiguous, complex and uncertain future. 

    Gone are the days of the informal watercooler chat, now replaced with a set time video conferencing call. The increased teleconferencing has increased our risk for body dysmorphic disorder as we stare at ourselves through video calls all day. Visits to plastic surgeons have increased. Where once we were focused on collaborative brainstorming at work, we are now concerned with our wrinkles and frown lines. As if anxiety and loneliness were not enough, we are now struggling with self-love and self-image?

    A recent article published in the New York Times discussed how we are all feeling in one word; languishing. I received this article from several friends and have discussed this concept with clients. They all said the same thing, “This describes how I have been feeling.” While it is helpful to finally find a label to describe what is wrong, I also think it’s good to acknowledge that it’s okay to not be okay. We’re not ok. Everything is A LOT right now. We are so past learning how to make sourdough bread, a new instrument or language and video cocktail parties with friends. We are all in this together, slowly receiving one vaccination at a time. Hoping soon that we can hug our friends in person, kiss our grandparents, and watch our kids play freely at the park.

    Our mental health has been impacted by the pandemic so deeply that I worry about how long it will take to undo the damage. How long will it take us to feel comfortable in public settings again or stop wondering if there are too many people in the room? Along with my friends, family, and clients, I have also experienced an increase in anxiety symptoms that I never used to have. There is an uneasiness about the world, an uncertainty and lack of control we all feel as we wait for the first signs of recovery.

    I have tried to see the ‘gifts of COVID’ as I call them. I have tried to help others see the possibilities amongst all of this grey. This may include spending more time with family, being able to be home more, and less time commuting.  Whatever your gift may be, I hope that we take the learning and reflection from this experience and work it into our future once things return to normal. There is nothing like a good crisis to make us take stock of what really matters in life. How we retain what we have learned is the greater challenge. 

    The best advice I have heard for dealing with the pandemic is the following (and quite common sense as most advice is): eat well, sleep well, exercise, learn something new and do something kind for someone else. As we ride the peaks of the third wave, I will continue to do my best to eat well (albeit a chocolate cupcake in there every once in a while to help me cope), sleep my seven hours a night, exercise with my daughter every day (a gift of COVID!), learn where I can and continue to be kind and do nice things for others…even after the pandemic has ended. If you need more, here are 61 additional tips to take care of yourself while we wait out the end of this pandemic.

    May is mental health awareness month. Remember to take care of yourself by doing what you can, with what you have, with where you are at. It is A LOT.

     

    Laura Boyko, MSW RSW, is a registered psychotherapist in private practice, a leadership coach and experienced leader in healthcare, workplace wellbeing and higher education.


  • 19 Mar 2021 7:32 PM | Sarah Elkington (Administrator)

    Introduction: The Power of Systemic Beliefs

    History teaches us that prejudice in general, and racism specifically, cause significant harm to any society. In this brief article, I will cite some of the valuable lessons we learn from the African philosophy of Ubuntu and its intersection with Apartheid in South Africa. As we discuss these lessons, I hold up the life of President Nelson Mandela (Madiba) as an exemplar of the power of Ubuntu to change society when the actions and words of leaders model it. I have written more extensively and technically on this issue, and I cite some of those articles and chapters in the “References” section.

    Lesson #1: In systemic prejudice, both the perpetrator and the victim become dehumanized.

    In the diagram, we suggest that we only see the actions of other people. What we do not see is their beliefs, values, and attitudes, which leads to their actions. In South Africa, Apartheid was built upon a belief system that suggested that a certain group of people were not people by virtue of their race. This belief led to the “white” South Africans de-valuing anyone who was not “white;” this de-valuing then led to attitudes of hatred, hubris, and scorn. Horrific actions arose from this trilogy of beliefs, (de)valuation and attitudes. In their bid to dehumanize their fellow “non-white” human beings, many of the “white” perpetrators also lost their humanity, as evidenced in the articulations at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    Lesson #2: We need to change the belief system, and Ubuntu is a good substitute.

    The dominant mindset in the West is Descartian: “I think; therefore, I am.” This is highly individualistic and focuses on the self as the most essential determinant of personhood.

    The dominant mindset in Apartheid was: “I am; therefore, you are not.” This is a highly exclusive mindset that believes that a particular group of people are not people and have no rights to personhood.

    Ubuntu states: “I am a person by virtue of other persons.” My personhood is defined in reference to your personhood, which places immediate and overt value on every life – in Ubuntu – every life matters. Another way to frame Ubuntu is “when you win, I win, and when you hurt, I hurt.” Ubuntu is a belief system that leads to valuing all people, which in turn leads to a positive attitude about the personhood of all people, and which naturally leads to different actions. Nelson Mandela epitomized this belief system, and it guided the way he interacted with all people. Please refer to my book chapter listed in the “References” section for more information.

    Lesson #3: Once we reorient our core belief from Descartian to Ubuntu we must act!

    We highlighted previously that our beliefs lead to our values which leads to our attitudes which in turn informs our actions. If we shift to an Ubuntu mindset and belief system, namely that I am a person by virtue of other persons, then we need to support that belief with concrete actions! These types of actions early in post-Apartheid South Africa made a difference for many:

    • 1.       Cultivate friendships with people who you feel are “other.”
    • 2.       Ask meaningful, thoughtful questions to gain understanding and to cultivate empathy.
    • 3.       Listen actively and listen humbly!
    • 4.       Invest in socio-economic upliftment to “re-humanize” everyone impacted by the system.

    Lesson #4: We need excellent exemplary humble leadership to model the way!

    Perhaps the most powerful expression of Ubuntu from President Mandela was the way in which he brought calm and equity to the broken landscape of South Africa. He did this through his words, through his actions, and through the use of symbols. All that he expected of others, he himself modelled. This is evident when you watch his speeches or read about the steps he took after being released from prison and being elected as President. We need leaders today who choose to model the way by defining their humanity in terms of Ubuntu, leaders who clearly show us: “I am because you are.”

      Rob Elkington Ph.D. 


    References:

    Publications:

    Elkington, R. L., (2020).Ubuntu as Ancient Wisdom for Modern Ethics: A Systems Thinking Ecosophy for the 21st Century Denudation of Integrated World Capitalism. Journal of Leadership Studies Symposium on Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leadership Ethics.

    Elkington. R., Tuleja. E., (2017). How the Communal Philosophies of Ubuntu in Africa and Confucius Thought in China Might Enrich Western Notions of Leadership (Book Chapter for ILA Emerald Publications: Global and Culturally Diverse Leaders and Leadership. Jean Lau Chin, Joseph E. Trimble, and Joseph Garcia, Editors.).

    Presentations:

    Elkington, R.L., (2020). "Ancient Wisdom for Teaching Ethical Leadership in Higher: Ubuntu and the Ethic of Ecosophy." Higher Education in Transformation Symposium (https://cherpp.ca/index.php/events/) (Postponed due to COVID-19)

    Tolstikov-Mast, Y., Lyndon, A. E., Hurwitz, M., Hurwitz, S., Melles, A., Elkington, R. (2019). Diverse Meanings of Followership and Following: Recognizing Uniqueness in Multicultural Contexts. 21st Annual International Leadership Association Conference, October 2019.

    Elkington. R. (2016). Ubuntu and Empathy in Leadership. Keynote presentation, Queens School of Business Centre for Social Innovation

    Elkington. R.,Tuleja, E. (2016). The Contributions of Ubuntu and Confucianism to Western Notions of Leadership. 18th Annual International Leadership Association (ILA) in Atlanta, Georgia.

    2015


  • 19 Mar 2021 7:20 PM | Sarah Elkington (Administrator)


    Small and Incremental Changes Make a Huge Difference Over Time

    The simple tips presented in this article for leading and managing well in 2021 are specifically curated from a number of sources as well as from concepts learned in consultation with leaders across various sectors.

    Tip #1: Cultivate and Embed Vision both Personally and Organizationally

    Vision might be defined as a clear picture of a desired future state. In this age of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) we need a clear vision of what we want our organization to be in ten or twenty years. This is one of the clearest aspects of effective leadership for the 21st century. Margaret Wheatley (2006) highlighted that organizational Vision is much more than a statement on a plaque on the wall. It is the living pulse of the organization that orients every decision and function within the organization.

    We also need to cultivate a personal vision of who we want to be in five, ten, or twenty years. This has the power to keep us focused and enables us to act with clarity when deciding the important from the urgent, which brings us to our next tip.

    Tip #2: Beware of the Tyranny of the Urgent

    Possessing a clear personal and organizational Vision enables us to avoid the distractions of the urgent. The urgent is seldom important, and the important is seldom urgent. We need to alert ourselves to those things that demand immediate attention but divert us from our personal and organizational vision. One of the greatest challenges for leaders is the capacity to differentiate between that which is urgent and that which is important (Maciariello, 2014). A clear and well-developed Vision statement enables us to bring this type of clarity to our moment by moment interactions and decisions.

    A suggestion for seeing the important is the primacy of investing in people as people.

    Tip #3: Invest in People as People

    It was the greatest management thinker and scholar of the 20th century, Peter Drucker, who highlighted that innovation, intrapreneurship, and problem-solving all arise from the effective development of people (Maciariello, 2014). I have written elsewhere about the primary obligation that leaders have to view people as the end, rather than as a means to an end. It seems counterintuitive that in an age of emerging AI and technological saturation we should invest in people, but organizations are still complex adaptive systems – living organisms – made up of people who either undermine or support organizational effectiveness!

    Tip #4: Invest in Lifelong Learning for Yourself and for Others

    One need only revisit the story of 3M (Collins & Porras, 1994) in its earliest years and the process of innovation the company embarked on in the face of near collapse to be reminded of the central importance of people within an organization. For 3M this life-saving period of innovation occurred because 3M turned to its people to discover and define the needed solutions. 3M has remained a beacon of innovation and has developed over 630 products which are distributed globally. What many people do not know about 3M is that it was originally a mining company!

    The same is true of other great organizations that navigate the complexity of a globalized arena by leveraging their greatest asset, their people. It is vital that you, as the leadership of your organization, embed and model lifelong learning as a core value of your organization. By capacitating lifelong learning across the organization, you will invigorate innovation, creativity, and experimentation at the margins.

    Tip #5: Take Account of Weak Signals

    The arrival of Big Data and the capacity to use Big Data (Tunguz & Bien, 2016) helps us to build Rapid Reflection Forces (RRF)(Lagadec, 2009) within our organizations. These RRF’s, if effectively designed and deployed, enable organizational leadership to pay attention to weak signals or emerging trends off in the distance that currently seem insignificant, but might emerge as powerful forces that either threaten your organization or serve as opportunities to move it into new domains. A great example of this is Kodak who, had they picked up early on the weak signals of movement away from film and towards digital, might have leveraged this trend by redefining themselves as an organization for “making memories” rather than “photography with 35mm film.” What weak signals emerging from the reading of Big Data alert you to small changes you might need to make now to be ready when the weak signals become a strong current?

    Tip #6: Read Widely

    Leaders are readers. Leaders read widely to support generative thinking. Develop a list of at least six books that you plan to read in 2018. What do you notice about that list? How diverse is your selection? How widely are you reading? What interests you currently that you might like to probe further? When you read be prepared to highlight the key sentences that jump out at you. Think about journaling your learnings from your reading. Where do themes from diverse sources intersect? What are you learning? What do you see now that you did not see before? What questions do these new ideas raise for you?

    Tip #7: Seek to be Effective more than Successful

    In 2021, seek to be effective and let success take care of itself. Successful managers and leaders often know how to navigate the political minefields of an organization to ensure an upward trajectory. Effective managers, on the other hand, care deeply about the people they lead and seek continually to balance the tension of task and relationship in a way that ensures the health and vitality of the people within the organization as well as accomplishing the short and long-term goals of the organization.

    Tip #8: Ensure the Attainment and Celebration of Small or Quick Wins

    While it is vital to have strong conceptual skill expressed in the ability to articulate and empower a meaningful vision, a tip for managing and leading well is to ensure the attainment and celebration of small or quick wins (Perkins, 2000). People develop confidence in the leadership of an organization when they see forward movement that is intentional and meaningful. This calls for the capacity to balance the dual tension of the long-term vision with the need for short term outcomes to keep the organization sustainable and to keep morale strong. Set SMART goals that tie into the organizational Vision statement in a meaningful way and ensure that the timeframe for the accomplishment of some of those goals is short-term. When those milestones are reached be sure to celebrate that outcome, as well as the people who made it possible!

    Conclusion: Questions to Help You Take the First Step

    As you seek to lead and manage well amidst the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, that 2021 is sure to bring, think through how you might make small changes to align with some or all of the eight tips mentioned in this article. Here are ten brief questions to serve as a primer to assist you in that process:

    • 1.      How important are people in our organization?
    • 2.      How well do we support lifelong learning across the organization?
    • 3.      What is our organization’s Vision statement?
    • 4.      How aware of this Vision statement is everyone in the organization?
    • 5.      If people are aware of the Vision statement is it something that aligns every action and every function?
    • 6.      How driven am I / are we by the Tyranny of the Urgent?
    • 7.      What mechanisms do we have in place to read weak signals and to respond accordingly with Rapid Reflection Forces?
    • 8.      Do we have some quick wins that we can celebrate early in 2018?
    • 9.      Do we reward “successful” or “effective” management and leadership in our organization?
    • 10.  What do I plan to read in 2021?
     Rob Elkington Ph.D. 


    References:

    Collins, J. C. & Porras, J. I. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York, NY. Harper Collins Publishers.

    Lagadec, P. (2009). A New Cosmology of Risks and Crises: Time for a Radical Shift in Paradigm and Practice. Review of Policy Research, 26(4), 473–487. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1541-1338.2009.00396.x/full

    Maciarello, J. A. 2014. A Year with Peter Drucker: 52 Weeks of Coaching for Leadership Effectiveness. NY, New York. Harper Collins Publishers.

    Perkins, D. N. T. 2000. Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition. New York, NY. AMACOM Books.

    Tunguz, T. & Bien, F. 2016. Winning with Data: Transform Your Culture, Empower Your People, and Shape the Future. Hoboken, NJ. Wiley Publications.


  • 18 Mar 2021 9:13 AM | Sarah Elkington (Administrator)


    This post discusses the increasing level of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity confronting organizations in the 21st century and the adversity this VUCA world brings to organizational leadership. At the end of this article, four strategic choices are suggested to provide organizational leaders the capacity to leverage adversity for personal leadership and organizational well-being. I hope to address in a separate article, with a colleague with whom I conducted the research, personal strategies for leadership resilience. This article looks at resilience through an organizational lens.

    Victor Turners Model of Leadership Emergence in the Face of Adevrsity/Liminality

    Adversity and Leadership Have Been Linked Since Ancient Times

    In ancient literature like Homer’s Odyssey and Shakespeare’s King Lear (Berry, 2007) we are confronted with many stories of people who were progressively shaped by adversity. These narratives also detail how adversity may have been a factor in preparing these people for leadership within specific contexts. Business leaders in today’s global economy are keenly aware that the 21st century is proving to be a time of intense volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity which often results in adversity for the leader. Whether it is the economic downturn and the global debt crisis, or the tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the disasters that result from these cataclysmic events, such as the nuclear tragedy in Fukushima, Japan – different levels of adversity seem to confront communities in increasing measure. How business leadership emerges from and responds to these increasing levels of adversity is the focus of this article.

    Defining Adversity

    Stoner and Gilligan (2002:19) distinguish adversity from crisis based on the risk to survival. For Stoner and Gilligan adversity comprises the following three elements:

    • ·       Adversities are unexpected.
    • ·       Adversities are disruptive, twisting and thwarting the expected patterns of planned action.
    • ·       Adversity has a level of uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding it.  The path through it is often not immediately clear.

    Adversity is a Reality in the VUCA World of the 21st Century

    Business leaders increasingly come face to face with large and powerful threats to personal and corporate survival. These threats, this adversity, often calls for extraordinary courage, resilience, and tough-mindedness to enable the leader to overcome this adversity in a way that produces corporate and personal strength. The good news is that effective responses to adversity tend to build greater resilience in the life of the leader, which in turn enables these leaders to face the next round of adversity that is sure to arise at any moment. 

     Rob Elkington Ph.D.  

  • 18 Mar 2021 9:12 AM | Sarah Elkington (Administrator)

    Introduction – The Emerging 4th Industrial Revolution

    In January of 2013 Germany heralded a new era in a memo describing “Industrie 4.0,” or what we now term, the “ 4th Industrial Revolution .” Countries currently leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution are:

    • Finland
    • Switzerland
    • Sweden
    • Israel
    • Singapore
    • The Netherlands
    • The USA

    Much research and data is emerging concerning Industry 4.0 in terms of what it is, its benefits, challenges, and threats. There are four key characteristics of Industry 4.0, Vertical Integration, Horizontal Integration, Through Engineering, and Technology Integration. If Industry 4.0 is marked by integration, should Leadership 4.0 also be marked by integration? We discuss this further in the next section: “Leadership in Industry 4.0

    In this article I focus primarily on the type of leadership needed to thrive in Industry 4.0, what we shall term “Leadership 4.0.” Paradoxically Leadership 4.0 is much less about technical savvy, and much more about the soft-skills than one would initially imagine as necessary to thrive in Industry 4.0.

    Leadership in Industry 4.0

    In our book Visionary Leadership in a Turbulent World: Thriving in the New VUCA Context we discuss at length the various mindsets and skill sets required by leadership to thrive in Turbulent environments. Many of these skill sets and mindsets support effective leadership in Industry 4.0. In our newly released book: “Exceptional Leadership by Design: How Organizations Design for Great Leadership,” we discuss how organizations can design for great leadership within the context of Industry 4.0.

    For now, I highlight some essential shifts that organizational leadership must contemplate in order to thrive in Industry 4.0. I present the following diagram as the framework for this discussion around Leadership 4.0.

    chart

    As we think about Leadership 4.0 in Industry 4.0, I list the following key shifts that need to occur in leadership mindsets, and skillsets to enable organizations to thrive in this new context:

    1. The shift from leader as human capital to leadership as social capital. This is seen in the diagram above with the placement of the leader in the centre of the organization bounded by policy, bureaucracy, and administration, but with a range of other leaders (L) all around and now forming the “leadership” in a more flattened structure.
    2. The shift from leadership driven competition to a leadership driven dialectic of collaboration and competition.
    3. The shift from leader as hero to leadership that focuses on inclusion
    4. The shift from command and control leaders who call for work because of pay to Transformational leaders who align people around a sense of meaning and purpose. As seen in the diagram above – everyone understands that they are part of a Complex Adaptive system and that everything they do has impact in some way upon that system, and then upon the broader system we call “earth.”
    5. The shift that leadership makes in understanding that Industry 4.0 leads not to joblessness but to job change and this requires 7C Leadership.
    6. The shift from reactive strategies to Big Data driven decision making and the capacity to spot and react to change based on weak signals – highlighted in the diagram as RRF – or Rapid Reflection Forces (Lagadec, 2009).
    7. The shift from heroic leader to Agile Leadership through Communal Decision Making.
    8. The shift in Leadership 4.0 to radically focus on harnessing the strengths of individuals to maximize the use of these technologies.
    9. The shift in Leadership 4.0 to optimizes hyper-connectivity.
    10. The shift from leader with informational power to transparent leadership processes and communication to foster trust in a change process from Industry 2.0 and 3.0 to Industry 4.0

    Conclusion and Invitation to Join the Discussion

    There is so much more to unpack and discuss around this important topic. To facilitate that discussion we invite you to join us at our live event in person or virtually: “Effective Leadership in Industry 4.0” Four of our Expert Consultants will facilitate presentations, discussions, and case studies around developing leadership for Industry 4.0.

    Alternatively, I encourage you access any of the following resources to strengthen your leadership for industry 4.0:

    1. Visionary Leadership in a Turbulent World: Thriving in the New VUCA Context . - Audiobook
    2. Exceptional Leadership by Design: How Organizations Design for Great Leadership. - a. Audiobook – coming soon.
    3. Leadership 2050
    4. The 4th Industrial Revolution .

     Rob Elkington Ph.D.  

  • 18 Mar 2021 8:58 AM | Sarah Elkington (Administrator)

    It is true that since the acronym VUCA appeared in the mid 1990’s a framework exists for us to make sense of the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity that characterise the daily life of a leader. VUCA prime enables us to countermand some of the negative impacts of VUCA by enacting Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility. I allude to ways in which you might embed VUCA prime in your leadership culture to help you thrive in the VUCA world of 2019.

    Small and Incremental Changes Make a Huge Difference Over Time

    The simple tips presented in this article for leading and managing well in 2019 are specifically curated from a number of sources as well as from concepts learned in consultation with leaders across various sectors.
     

    Tip #1: Cultivate and Embed Vision both Personally and Organizationally 


    Vision might be defined as a clear picture of a desired future state. In this age of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) we need a clear vision of what we want our organization to be in ten or twenty years. This is one of the clearest aspects of effective leadership for the 21st century. Margaret Wheatley (1996) highlighted that organizational Vision is much more than a statement on a plaque on the wall. It is the living pulse of the organization that orients every decision and function within the organization.
     
    We also need to cultivate a personal vision of who we want to be in five, ten, or twenty years. This has the power to keep us focused and enables us to act with clarity when deciding the important from the urgent, which brings us to our next tip.
     

    Tip #2: Beware of the Tyranny of the Urgent


    Possessing a clear personal and organizational Vision enables us to avoid the distractions of the urgent. The urgent is seldom important, and the important is seldom urgent. We need to alert ourselves to those things that demand immediate attention but divert us from our personal and organizational vision. One of the greatest challenges for leaders is the capacity to differentiate between that which is urgent and that which is important (Maciariello, 2014). A clear and well-developed Vision statement enables us to bring this type of clarity to our moment by moment interactions and decisions.
     
    A suggestion for seeing the important is the primacy of investing in people as people.
     

    Tip #3: Invest in People as People

    It was the greatest management thinker and scholar of the 20th century, Peter Drucker, who highlighted that innovation, intrapreneurship, and problem-solving all arise from the effective development of people (Maciariello, 2014). I have written elsewhere about the primary obligation that leaders have to view people as the end, rather than as a means to an end. It seems counterintuitive that in an age of emerging AI and technological saturation we should invest in people, but organizations are still complex adaptive systems – living organisms – made up of people who either undermine or support organizational effectiveness!

    Tip #4: Invest in Lifelong Learning for Yourself and for Others


    One need only revisit the story of 3M (Collins & Porras, 1994) in its earliest years and the process of innovation the company embarked on in the face of near collapse to be reminded of the central importance of people within an organization. For 3M this life-saving period of innovation occurred because 3M turned to its people to discover and define the needed solutions. 3M has remained a beacon of innovation and has developed over 630 products which are distributed globally. What many people do not know about 3M is that it was originally a mining company!
     
    The same is true of other great organizations that navigate the complexity of a globalized arena by leveraging their greatest asset, their people. It is vital that you, as the leadership of your organization, embed and model lifelong learning as a core value of your organization. By capacitating lifelong learning across the organization, you will invigorate innovation, creativity, and experimentation at the margins.
     

    Tip #5: Take Account of Weak Signals


    The arrival of Big Data and the capacity to use Big Data (Tunguz & Bien, 2016) helps us to build Rapid Reflection Forces (RRF) within our organizations. These RRF’s, if effectively designed and deployed, enable organizational leadership to pay attention to weak signals or emerging trends off in the distance that currently seem insignificant, but might emerge as powerful forces that either threaten your organization or serve as opportunities to move it into new domains. A great example of this is Kodak who, had they picked up early on the weak signals of movement away from film and towards digital, might have leveraged this trend by redefining themselves as an organization for “making memories” rather than “photography with 35mm film.” What weak signals emerging from the reading of Big Data alert you to small changes you might need to make now to be ready when the weak signals become a strong current?
     

    Tip #6: Read Widely


    Leaders are readers. Leaders read widely to support generative thinking. Develop a list of at least six books that you plan to read in 2019. What do you notice about that list? How diverse is your selection? How widely are you reading? What interests you currently that you might like to probe further? When you read be prepared to highlight the key sentences that jump out at you. Think about journaling your learnings from your reading. Where do themes from diverse sources intersect? What are you learning? What do you see now that you did not see before? What questions do these new ideas raise for you?
     

    Tip #7: Seek to be Effective more than Successful 


    In 2019, seek to be effective and let success take care of itself. Successful managers and leaders often know how to navigate the political minefields of an organization to ensure an upward trajectory. Effective managers, on the other hand, care deeply about the people they lead and seek continually to balance the tension of task and relationship in a way that ensures the health and vitality of the people within the organization as well as accomplishing the short and long-term goals of the organization.
     

    Tip #8: Ensure the Attainment and Celebration of Small or Quick Wins


    While it is vital to have strong conceptual skill expressed in the ability to articulate and empower a meaningful vision, a tip for managing and leading well is to ensure the attainment and celebration of small or quick wins (Perkins, 2000). People develop confidence in the leadership of an organization when they see forward movement that is intentional and meaningful. This calls for the capacity to balance the dual tension of the long-term vision with the need for short term outcomes to keep the organization sustainable and to keep morale strong. Set SMART goals that tie into the organizational Vision statement in a meaningful way and ensure that the timeframe for the accomplishment of some of those goals is short-term. When those milestones are reached be sure to celebrate that outcome, as well as the people who made it possible!
     
    Conclusion: Questions to Help You Take the First Step

    As you seek to lead and manage well amidst the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity, that 2019 is sure to bring, think through how you might make small changes to align with some or all of the eight tips mentioned in this article. Here are ten brief questions to serve as a primer to assist you in that process:

    1. How important are people in our organization?
    2. How well do we support lifelong learning across the organization?
    3. What is our organization’s Vision statement?
    4. How aware of this Vision statement is everyone in the organization?
    5. If people are aware of the Vision statement is it something that aligns every action and every function?
    6. How driven am I / are we by the Tyranny of the Urgent?
    7. What mechanisms do we have in place to read weak signals and to respond accordingly with Rapid Reflection Forces?
    8. Do we have some quick wins that we can celebrate early in 2019?
    9. Do we reward “successful” or “effective” management and leadership in our organization?
    10. What do I plan to read in 2019?

     Rob Elkington Ph.D. 


    References:
    Collins, J. C. & Porras, J. I.  Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.  New York, NY. Harper Collins Publishers.

    Lagadec, P. (2009). A New Cosmology of Risks and Crises: Time for a Radical Shift in Paradigm and Practice. Review of Policy Research 26 (4), 473–487. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1541-1338.2009.00396.x/full

    Macariello, J. A. (2014). A Year With Peter Drucker: 52 Weeks of Coaching for Leadership Effectiveness. New York, NY. Harper Collins.

    Wheatley, M. J. (1996). Leadership and The New Science: Learning About Organization from an Orderly Universe. San Francisco, CA. Berrett Kohler Publishers.


  • 18 Mar 2021 8:25 AM | Sarah Elkington (Administrator)

    Reflection is a powerful tool for us to use as leaders.  Active reflection means becoming aware of our thoughts, feelings, fears, joys, perceptions.  When we reflect actively, we learn about ourselves, others, and the situation.  There are several different types of reflection, and one of them that is useful for me is anticipatory reflection.

    When we use anticipatory reflection, we think about situations in advance and try to anticipate all the potential interactions, outcomes, and conversations we may encounter during that situation.  A mentor of mine once shared this notion with me, and it took me a while to embrace it.  I thought “how could I know all the potential interactions that may occur in this situation?”  But, with a little practice, it became easier for me.

    What is required when we want to use anticipatory reflection is a little prep time.  Depending upon the situation, this could be several hours to as little as 3 minutes, depending upon the complexity of the situation.  For example, if I am heading into a meeting where I am facilitating, I often spend about 20 minutes just prior to the meeting to prepare my mind, make a few notes, and get ready.  This active reflection puts me into the future by just a bit and allows me to center and focus.

    If there is a really difficult situation I anticipate, I may reflect on it for a week or so. Something like a major presentation, potentially contentious meeting, or a long overdue visit to a friend will require more anticipatory reflection.

    Sometimes, though, my anticipatory reflection is very brief. I often reflect while walking to meetings. I consider who will be there, how I am feeling, my energy level, and how I want to present myself.  Often, a minute or two is all it takes to gain clarity, remove any latent confusion from our minds, and be ready to lead.

    Leadership can be thought of as a role to be played over and over again each day.  And, with each different situation, we may play a slightly difference character.  This is not contrived. It is natural.  The notion of “this is just the way I am” doesn’t work so well as a leader because, as leaders, we adapt to the needs of others when we are doing our best work. Yes, we have some hard-wired traits, but spending time reflecting on who you will encounter, their needs and wants, the goals of the group, and your intent for the time together can facilitate more energy, effectiveness and engagement from others. This is the goal, isn’t it?

    So, give it a try. Where are you going today? Tomorrow? Who will you encounter?  And, how do you want to move things forward for yourself, the team, and the organization as a leader?

    Jennifer Moss Breen

    Expert Consultant

     

  • 1 Sep 2020 9:22 AM | Sarah Elkington (Administrator)


    There was a time when people doubted the science of climate change. Few still doubt the veracity and volume of the data that supports the reality that our world is under threat because of vast systemic instability due to a rapidly changing climate.

    As science and daily catastrophes continually drive home the precarious moment in history in which we find ourselves, the rising panic and anger are understandable.

    The question that continues to reverberate around the world is: “Can something be done, and if so, what, and by whom?” Put simply, “who will lead us out of this emerging cataclysmic crisis?” I believe there are several mechanisms that leaders can look to as useful tools to address the Wicked problem of climate change (Grint, 2005). Exceptional leadership using design thinking is one mechanism. We have written a book that shows leaders how to use design thinking to lead well. Leadership by design is one powerful mechanism to effect organizational change to support a healthy planet (Elkington, van der Steege, Glick Smith, Moss Breen, 2017).

    This article, though, focusses on Appreciative Inquiry as another mechanism for positive change in the face of climate change and draws on previous work my colleagues and I developed and published (Elkington, 2015; Elkington & Booysen, 2015; Elkington, Pearse, Moss, Van der Steege, & Martin, 2017;  Elkington & Upward, 2016). I also draw on a soon to be published article (Elkington, 2019) that discusses Ubuntu, and Ukhama, as ancient wisdom that provides a systemic and humane framework through which to engage the world (ecosophy) and each other.

    This article suggests that the use of Appreciative Inquiry (Hirunwat, 2011; Meyer, 2015) is a valuable change method. The article also indicates that the lens of Ubuntu and Ukhama as a worldview, provide cornerstone support for leaders to effect necessary change to address the global climate crisis.

    Ubuntu, Ukhama, and Ecosophy as a Different Worldview for Leaders Trapped in Integrated World Capitalism

    Ubuntu is a Southern African word that means: “I am a person by virtue of other persons.” Ubuntu implies that when you win, I win, and when you hurt, I hurt.

    Within the ancient wisdom of African thinking, there is a communal understanding that we are interconnected.  My actions impact your life and livelihood, just as your actions impact my life and livelihood. Ukhama is a concept that takes Ubuntu one step further and suggests that not only are we interconnected as people but we are also connected in the sense that “human interrelationship within society is a microcosm of the relationality within the universe” (Le Grange, 2012). It therefore corresponds that when we mistreat each other we hurt ourselves. When we harm our planet, we hurt one another, and by hurting others, we ultimately hurt ourselves.  How might we change this harmful practice? I suggest one possible method or approach for leaders to effect this type of change exists in the form of Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperider & Whitney, 2010) as outlined in the next section. 

    Appreciative Inquiry as a Change Mechanism for Leaders in the Face of Climate Change

                  Appreciative Inquiry (AI) was first developed by David Cooperider (Cooperider & Whitney, 2005). AI suggests that change initiatives might be framed with a positive lens using the “4D Cycle” (Cooperider & Whitney, 2005). We briefly outline in the next section how this 4D cycle, illustrated in Diagram 1 below, might be deployed by leaders to address the current climate change crisis.

    Diagram 1: The AI Process for Leading Positive Change

    The Appreciative Inquiry approach to change inspires hope in the face of the very challenging and demanding reality of the ubiquity and permeation of climate change into every dimension of our lives. As one person stated on a recent CBC radio show discussing climate change: “Give me three things that I can do today to make a difference to climate change. Three things that are realistic that I can do at the moment that will make a difference.”

    The gnawing fear that climate change presents to all of us is that our world has been designed to support Integrated World Capitalism (Le Grange, 2012). As such, everything we do contributes to the demise of our planet, and thus to the demise of each other! Appreciative Inquiry provides a mechanism for widespread systemic change in organizations in a way that empowers leaders and people, in a sense, “to do three things each day that makes a difference!”

    Applying Appreciative Inquiry from an Ubuntu/Ukhama Ecosophic Worldview

                You are a leader in your organization. You want to make a difference, and you want to address the climate change challenge now before you. Here is how you might embark on that journey:

     

    1. Frame the Generative Question: This is the hardest aspect of the process because you need to work together with a skilled group of people within your organization to frame and refine the generative question. For instance, instead of: “How do we stop manufacturing products that are harmful to the environment?” we frame the generative question as “What manufacturing processes can we implement that support a healthy environment?”
    2. Discovery: In this phase, the leadership works with everyone in the organization to share their stories of best practices either through interviews or group sharing sessions. Here the request becomes: “Please share your stories about some of the great products we have manufactured in the shortest time with the least environmental footprint?” 
    3. Design: In line with our values as an organization, let’s create the processes and roles that will support our vision as articulated in the “Discovery” phase.
    4. Destiny: We commit to live the purpose and principals articulated in our “Discovery” phase. We develop mechanisms to help us monitor our progress and realign our teams and processes when we get off track. 

    Conclusion: We Can Address The Challenge Before Us With a Systems Worldview and a Positive and Generative Approach and When We Use the Right Tools to Mobilize People

                  We need to take the time to change our mindset and then our organizations. We need to change our organizations first by changing our worldview, and then by using a mechanism of hope, Appreciative Inquiry. Let me know your thoughts and how you feel we might address this Wicked problem?

     Rob Elkington Ph.D. 

    References:

    Cooperrider, D. & Whitney, D. D., 2005. Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change. San Francisco, CA. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

    Elkington. R., van der Steege. M., Glick-Smith, J., Moss-Breen, J., (2018). Exceptional Leadership by Design: Designing Organizational Contexts for Great Leadership. Emerald Publications, Bingley: United Kingdom.

    Elkington, R. (2015). Creative Leadership Requires Creative Leadership Development in a “Vu Jádè” World! Journal of Leadership Studies, 9(3), 69–71. https://doi.org/10.1002/jls.21411

    Elkington, Rob, & Booysen, L. (2015). Innovative Leadership as Enabling Function Within Organizations: A Complex Adaptive System Approach. Journal of Leadership Studies, 9(3), 78–80. https://doi.org/10.1002/jls.21414

    Elkington, Rob, Pearse, N. J., Moss, J., Van der Steege, M., & Martin, S. (2017). Global leaders’ perceptions of elements required for effective leadership development in the twenty-first century. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 38(8), 1038–1056. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-06-2016-0145

    Elkington, Rob, & Upward, A. (2016). Leadership as Enabling Function for Flourishing by Design. Journal of Global Responsibility, 7, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1108/JGR-01-2016-0002

    Grint, K. (2005). Problems, problems, problems: The social construction of ‘leadership.’ Human Relations, 58(11), 1467–1494. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726705061314

    Hirunwat, P. (2011). Appreciative inquiry based organization development intervention process on satisfaction and engagement of senior patients and sustainability of Sukavet Institution: A case study of nursing home. Revista de Cercetare Si Interventie Sociala, 33(1), 56–71.

    Le Grange, L. (2012). Ubuntu, Ukama and the Healing of Nature, Self and Society. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44(SUPPL.2), 56–67. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-5812.2011.00795.x

    Meyer, M. (2015). Positive business: Doing good and doing well. Business Ethics, 24(S2), S175–S197. https://doi.org/10.1111/beer.12105


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