I recently heard Raj Sisodia, professor and co-author of Conscious Capitalism, Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business speak at the ISA Annual Business Retreat, a gathering of training company executives and owners. The premise is that the bedrock of creating value. . . .and creating greatness in companies is building them on a higher purpose.
Dr. Sisodia's extensive research on "great" companies, or what he calls "Firms of Endearment," showed that companies that have a clear purpose and have built their businesses on it outperformed the market 10.5 times. A couple of companies from the study he cited were Southwest Airlines—their purpose is "democratizing the skies"—and Google—their purpose is "Organizing the world's information and making it accessible."
I'm halfway through Conscious Capitalism..., co-authored by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. Since I'm only halfway through, I will only halfway endorse it, but I do think Dr. Sisodia is on to something: Maximizing purpose, not necessarily profits, pays off.
So what does all of this mean to leaders? Per Sisodia, conscious leaders re-imagine capitalism and create a blueprint for a new system for doing business grounded in a more evolved ethical consciousness.
With The Leadership Challenge® model as our guiding light for this path of transformation, a more cooperative and positive future awaits. We enable leaders to tap into their purpose and become more conscious of the impact they have on others and how to leverage that impact. The Leadership Challenge Workshops and LPI coaching sessions we conduct, give leaders an opportunity to step back and explore the idea of purpose, vision and values. They also become more conscious of the impact they have on others and how to leverage that impact.
Sonoma Leadership Systems' vision is a well led world, and our purpose is to unleash the potential of leaders, one leader at a time. We are humbly living our purpose every time a facilitator facilitates learning in the classroom or a coach debriefs an LPI report one on one, or a leader thoughtfully reads an e-mail that comes after a workshop and decides to take one small action in her next meeting.
We know that better leaders equals a better world and conscious leaders make better leaders. We are fortunate to get to see firsthand how powerful creating consciousness in leaders can be. Raj Sisodia would say that we are liberating the heroic spirit of business, one heroic leader at a time.
It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best,
you very often get it. - W. Somerset Maugham
An article in the ASTD magazine, T+D, November 2012, tells quite a story about how AAA launched their Leadership Institute to sharpen their competitive edge.
Having tried numerous leadership training programs with no "organizational punch," AAA designed their Executive Development Program aimed at tying together all the operating strategies of their Leadership Institute.
The program plan called for five modules, one of which is "Leadership Reflection." The foundation of this module became The Leadership Challenge®. Program director Lamont Gilbert had experienced a Leadership Challenge workshop and believed The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® model with its 30 behaviors—along with the LPI 360 assessment and customization by Sonoma Leadership Systems—was the perfect fit. Plus, it aligned with AAA's core values and beliefs.
Lamont proceeded to build a base of champions across the organization, and designed the new program to create performance alignment, psychological alignment, a common leadership language, and the capacity for learning and change.
AAA is already seeing results, especially improvement in the degree of executives' alignment with goals and internal promotions. According to Gilbert "Program graduates are leveraging leadership skills and program content with operational teams—creating a common language of leadership across the company that is showing up in feedback surveys from employees at all levels."
Not only is the program getting results. . . .it's getting awards! The Executive Development Program ranked among Leadership Excellence magazine's 2012 Top 100 Leadership Development Programs (among large organizations).
Sonoma Leadership Systems is proud of our contribution to the Leadership Institute's success and to helping AAA sharpen it's competitive edge.
Celebrating several September birthdays here at Sonoma Leadership Systems has caused me to pause and reflect on this annual experience that all of us either celebrate or hide from—our birthdays... and getting older.
The next logical step I take in my musings is: Am I getting older and better?
Even though Lady Gaga sings, "I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way," I strongly embrace the belief that we all can get better no matter what we were born like. With self-awareness, feedback, and practice, we can actually change and improve as people and as leaders.
Achievements take time. The average age at which Nobel scientists and great inventors did their key work rose by an estimated six years over the course of the twentieth century, according to a research report in the Wall Street Journal by Benjamin F. Jones of Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. The same trend applies to the age at which inventors got their first patents. The reason suggests Jones: There is so much to learn now that it takes additional years for a scientist to arrive at the point where he or she can discover new things.*
And, it takes time to learn to manage and to lead. As a leadership development professional, I have learned that no matter how much I learn—read, go to workshops, or am coached—I still need to practice what I learn to become better. I need a lot of practice, perhaps as much as 10,000 hours over ten years or an average of 2.7 hours per day! (This idea that 10,000 hours of practice is what you need to gain expertise was initially popularized in Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller Outliers.)
The Leadership Challenge authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner tell us that leadership development is self-development and that "the best leaders are the best learners." They remind us that in addition to practicing, we also must have 1) the desire to excel, 2) we need to believe we can learn new skills and abilities, and 3) we must be committed to continuous learning. Since I was born with a selfish streak, aversion to conflict, and a lack of visioning skills, I'm encouraged that over time I actually can learn how to behave less selfishly, encourage healthy conflict, and describe a compelling image of the future.
Those who are the very best at what they do got that way because they spent time learning and practicing. Becoming a better leader is no different from how one makes it to Carnegie Hall—practice, practice, practice. Using tools like The Five Practice s of Exemplary Leadership and the LPI 30 Leadership Behaviors enable us to focus on behaviors we want to improve. Then, to become the best we can be, we need to practice these leadership behaviors—or as Kouzes and Posner would say, “deliberate practice, deliberate practice, deliberate practice.”
I truly want to "make it" before I'm too old, before too many more birthdays. How about you? What are you practicing to learn better and to become a better person and a better leader?
*Source: The "Eureka" Moments Happen Later
We recently wished authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, a happy 25th birthday for The Leadership Challenge at The Leadership Challenge Forum in San Francisco. No matter how you look at it, twenty five years is quite an accomplishment in today's fad-du-jour business-book-world.
When asked what’s new and different in the new Fifth Edition—today vs. twenty five years ago—the authors responded, "The content of leadership hasn't changed, the context has."
Looking back even further, 50 years, the context was very different in the 1950’s post war United States. At that time, I was twelve years old and often listened at the dinner table about problems with the unions and management. My father was a manager at TWA and was the "Hatchet guy." He was often sent to departments to "clean them up." Recently, I found a stack of small "Daily Memos for Supervisors" that he apparently carried in his pocket. Along with tips for supervisors and how-to's. The leadership advice then—the content—isn't that different from today's.
Twenty five years ago when Jim and Barry launched the first edition of The Leadership Challenge, there was no such thing as a business book "Best-Sellers" list. The closest thing to business books were motivational books. The Road Less Traveled by Scott Turow, a psychological book of self exploration was one of the best sellers that year.
At that time, I was working in corporate America as a relocation consultant where a huge shift in executive relocation was starting—no longer were predominately men accepting transfers to wherever their company sent them; there was now a "spousal unit" to take into consideration with a different set of needs and considerations. And more and more, the relocating manager was a woman. Women were taking their place in the executive suite, creating a significant change in leadership context.
By 1987, Tom Peters’ and Bob Waterman’s book, In Search of Excellence, the first book to explore the art and science of management, had sold nearly 3 million copies. The context had been changed forever in business — management was no longer simply a science, managers had to show their commitment to making their companies good places to work. Managers were for the first time treating rank and file employees as a source of quality and embracing a hands-on, value-driven management philosophy that guided everyday practice.
We've come a long way in modern business times and The Leadership Challenge has provided us much needed clarity. We are no longer simply concerned about filing used mimeograph stencils and studying the science of management, but are actually starting causes in our work lives. . . and aren't you glad we are involved in a cause, not a fad.
“The Mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” Plutarch
Learn more about the content of leadership from The Leadership Challenge perspective:
Music plays a big part in our lives, especially in the summer, when we are more likely to enjoy concerts outdoors and encounter street musicians. There's nothing quite as sublime as listening to your favorite music track while lounging in the shade on a hot afternoon.
I love jazz, both because of the sheer joyous mood it puts me in and because of the enjoyment I get out of listening to the technical collaboration of various instruments and voices. It amazes me that it all comes out sounding coherent. . . and beautiful.
It strikes me that organizations are like a jazz combo, with everyone having an important part to play and/or sing. While some are best suited to being soloists—out there, meeting one-on-one with clients—their contributions would likely not be maximized without support of the other musicians who lend their artistry and energy to the finished piece.
This is my way of reminding leaders that every contribution to an endeavor is valuable and integral to success.
Leadership is everyone’s business. As Kouzes and Posner tell us in The Leadership Challenge, leadership is not about position and power, it’s about relationships. If you are in a position to influence others, you are an important leader and what you do matters. When you employ the five leadership practices—modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, encouraging others’ hearts, and yes, even challenging processes when appropriate—those around you want to work with you and follow your example. They want to be productive and make an impact on the organization.
Playing music together is no different. Whatever part you play in an ensemble, whether you’re the lead singer or a collaborator on rhythm or harmony, you share responsibility for the quality of the outcome. From simple jam sessions to concert performances, playing your best creates the sounds everyone enjoys.
So, as the various sounds of summer surround us, I ask: As a leader, are you doing everything you can to ensure that beautiful music is being created at your workplace?
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Engaging leaders for more than 25 years and with more than 3 million leadership assessments completed, The Leadership Challenge is known as "the most trusted source on becoming a better leader." To learn more about The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership download this 18-page article and case study:
Recently, I heard a keynote presentation by Dr. Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations and an expert on U.S. foreign policy, international security, and globalization. Fully expecting to be overwhelmed by this expert’s analyses of our troubled world, I was relieved when he actually started off with “dessert”—talking about what’s good about what’s going on in the world today.
Dr. Haass began his remarks by pointing out that we are in fewer wars and conflicts than ever in our world’s history. In addition, he gave us—Americans—hope that no single, huge enemy is lurking “out there” that we need to fear or deal with head-on. He did, however, talk about the significant challenges we as a nation are facing and at the same time encouraged feelings of hope for the future, in spite of how complex and truly immense the problems are.
By starting with “dessert,” Dr. Haass immediately captivated me. At once, I became engaged as I listened to him ardently reveal his vision, his dreams and expectations. I couldn’t help but think about the parallel between how Haass was delivering his message and what leaders do every day.
The Leadership Challenge co-authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner discovered—in their more than twenty-five years of research on what people do when they are at their personal best leading others—that being forward-looking is the leadership quality that “most distinguishes leaders from other credible people.” Leaders need to have visions of what is possible and to do this, in a sense, they have to look backward. They have to get a clear image of what they want the end result to be before they start a project—like starting with dessert. Anticipation of what’s coming moves them forward. Then they need to use heart-felt, compelling language, enthusiasm and optimism to enlist their constituents in what they are doing, or to put it in the words of Kouzes and Posner, they need to “Inspire a Shared Vision,” one of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®.
One of the most important jobs a leader has is to keep hope alive, even during difficult times. Dr. Haass delivered a message of hope. Another leader, often described as one of the greatest military leaders in history, Napoleon Bonaparte, once said (in French), “A leader is a dealer in hope.”
Have you dispensed your daily dose of hope today? If not, my suggestion is: Your recipients might find it especially enticing if you start with dessert!
We continue our series of stories about global leaders who embody The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® of The Leadership Challenge®.
This week: Christine Lagarde
In general, I try to avoid getting into discussions involving gender differences and biases. Occasionally, however, I find an example of a leader who stands out not only because she is powerful, but because she is a powerful woman.
In a previous article on Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, I mentioned the current and first female president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. This week, I'm taking a closer look at a woman who is exemplary in her field and speaks to the empowerment of women everywhere.
Christine Lagarde, the current head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), recently listed as the ninth most powerful woman by Forbes—the third year running she’s made the list—is a clear example of how to Model the Way for women.
Lagarde was born and raised in Paris. In high school, she was awarded a scholarship to the Holton-Arms School, a girls' school in Bethesda, Maryland. She attended university in Paris, but when she graduated with a masters degree in political science, she found that none of the law offices in Paris believed she could ever make partner in their firms. When she asked why, the response was “Because you’re a woman.”
In the U.S., Lagarde had an interview with Baker & McKenzie and met one of the female partners. This was her inspiration to embark on a career as a corporate lawyer in America, becoming a partner herself in 1987. Early on, she was a strong, global leader, travelling often between Chicago and Paris, even with two young children at home. But it wasn't until the last few years—having been interviewed on NPR, appeared on Comedy Central’s Daily Show, and profiled in Forbes—that LaGarde has become a stand out model for young women looking to get ahead in the world.
What I find most admirable is how she handled the power she wielded in an industry whose population is predominantly male. Lagarde has been cautious, courageous, understanding and unwilling to play the gender card.
I see her as a role model, affirming ideals of women trying to get somewhere in what too often feels like a man’s world. Though I may not always agree with her economic policies, I respect the way she carries herself both as a leader of the IMF and as an example of a courageous and confident woman working in a powerful capacity at the global level.
Most of us can think of a woman in a leadership role who embodies The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. Who is that person in your life and what are the qualities you admire? We'd like to hear from you.
Forbes Profile, NPR - New IMF Leader, Daily Show Interview
Recently, I participated in a Chief Learning Officers Breakfast Club meeting in San Francisco. The discussion, led by some of the best and brightest in the Learning Industry and Silicon Valley, was lively and inspiring. What struck me most was hearing their views on how Learning and Development (L & D) is shifting to new ideas and opportunities and especially on how L & D professionals can be the process managers and enablers.
One example of this came from Stuart Crabb, Head of L & D with Facebook, who talked about their approach to the younger generations. First of all, 70% of Facebook employees were born post-1979. Their Millennials and Generation Xers expect and demand collaboration and feedback like never before. Secondly, experts on the generations tell us that Millennials in particular are a generation in search of mentors, they respond well to coaching, and they prefer working in teams with a generational mix. So, Facebook launched what they call “coaching circles.” According to Crabb, these circles have been successful in teaching employees how to have coaching conversations, and seeing the results has been heartening.
I suspect this is true because of the impact coaching has on enabling others to act, one of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® identified by Kouzes and Posner in The Leadership Challenge. Leaders who coach help others learn how to use their talents and skills, thus increasing their confidence. Furthermore, according to Kouzes and Posner, when leaders coach they not only educate, they “share power with others,” thus “demonstrating profound trust in and respect for others’ abilities.” When Learning and Development professionals facilitate collaboration and coaching opportunities within their organizations, they strengthen others, one of the two leadership commitments that enable others to act.
Facebook currently has 30 active coaching circles—successfully evangelized by past grads of the coaching circles. Interestingly, even Mark Zuckerberg got coaching from a 20-year-old, thus giving “wise elders” a whole new meaning within their workforce.
I couldn’t help thinking that ever since men (or women) did cave drawings there has been a need to curate stories and find ways to harness the sense of community (collaborate) through learning. And, as we—all learning professionals—departed, we did so with a heightened sense of how important it is to inspire a learning culture and to be those curators, inspirers and enablers.
How will you enable others to act in 2012? We welcome your thoughts.
With all the talk about the top drivers of employee engagement, how to get commitment from your team, and the "quit and stayed" phenomenon, I'm curious to see how a commitment to kindness, compassion, and quality of good work rates on the engagement-meter.
A small non-profit in NYC, Life Vest, has the simple goal to encourage the spreading of happiness through small acts of kindness. Through the relatively simple mechanism of an online video, they have creatively lived their values. Their philosophy is to bring awareness that: "individuals can effect real and positive change in the people around them, simply by 'living kindness'".
This video underscores how these small acts have impact and resonance. In The Leadership Challenge Workshop, we often show videos that help to underscore The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership - in this case, I immediately thought of "Encouraging the Heart" - simply because it made my heart feel good to watch it.
Once I dried the little tear in my eye, I thought that it really was more of an example of Inspiring a Shared Vision - something that helps constituents "Envision the Future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities", or by "Enlisting Others in a Common Vision, by appealing to shared aspirations."
When we speak of the "commitments," above, its really important to look at the actual behaviors of what constitutes those commitments. In this case, I really think this video exemplifies painting a "big picture" of group aspirations", and "appealing to others to share a dream of the future", - which is what leaders behaviorally do when they want to enlist buy-in and support, and to show vision and leadership. Please enjoy the video!
At Sonoma Leadership Systems, our vision is "A well-led world, one leader at a time." Over 25 years of ongoing research, with data from over 3 million individuals makes The Leadership Challenge® the most trusted name in developing leaders. For more information on this leadership development model, click below.
I recently attended a lecture by one of my favorite authors, Thomas Friedman. He is an incredibly gifted speaker and story teller, and I was under his spell from start to finish. His newest book, “That Used to Be Us” is a fact filled book about how America is slowly sliding into decline and how we have lost our ability to act collectively.
He summarizes it best: “The merger of globalization and the IT revolution that coincided with the transition from the twentieth to the twenty-first century is changing everything—every job, every industry, every service, every hierarchical institution.” He provides good advice on both the global level and for individuals. He suggests we:
Think like an immigrant—work hard, look for the opportunities.
Act like an artisan—like the artisans of old, be proud of putting your name on your work.
Be like the waitress at Perkins Pancake House—give extra fruit. (His favorite waitress would give him a little extra on his plate. It wasn't much, but it was something that she was able to provide from within her realm of influence that really made a difference to customers).
I shared Mr. Friedman’s insights in a recent Sonoma Leadership Systems team meeting and the "extra fruit" really resonated with the group. We asked ourselves as leaders, what is the "extra fruit" we can offer our constituents? Consensus was, it’s the small things we can do like saying “thank you,” and “Encouraging the Heart.”
If we are thinking like immigrants, we can ask "Am I experimenting and taking risks?” And if we are working like artisans, "Are we modeling the way? Are we developing apprentices and enabling others to act?”
Now it's time for you to ask the question: What impact has globalization and the IT revolution had on the way we do business? Then, listen carefully to the answers.
As leaders, we can reverse the decline and start acting collectively. When we do, what a difference we can make in ourselves, communities, organizations, and nation.
Over 25 years of ongoing research, with data from over 3 million individuals makes The Leadership Challenge® the most trusted name in developing leaders. For more information on this leadership development model, click below.
Image shared under creative commons license.