New Perspectives
Welcome to the Strateco blog, where we share fresh perspectives, practices and tools on how to better navigate the complexity of strategy, leadership development, culture and change. If our ideas resonate, please join our growing community and share.

Exposing the Elephant in the Room

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Welcome to the beginning of another Spring season,  I hope your
New Year is off to a great start!

To help celebrate this wonderful time for renewal and growth, I’d
like to share a client story of particular significance.

A Bold Plan Embarked On
As you know, setting a bold plan for the New Year is often like
drinking from a firehose.  There are analyses to do, risks to weigh,
choices to make – all within a finite period of time.   In a recent
planning session, one of our clients had all of this times ten as they
were at the precipice of launching a redefined product platform with
a vision of long-term differentiation and success.
 
Yet, as we were preparing to get into the details of the plan, it
became apparent there was a disruptive, unresolved conflict between
two key members of the Leadership Team (Director of Sales, Director
of Engineering).  It had been going on for some time, the Team
was negatively impacted by it, and yet everyone gingerly went out
of their way to avoid discussing this classic “elephant in the room”.
 
A Critical Decision – People or Process
The CEO was faced with a critical decision.  Deal with the people, or move forward with the process and succumb to the pressure of all the impending “critical things that need to be done”.  The right decision was made – to prioritize people over process – and the CEO expertly reminded the Team that “if you truly want to operate as a high performing team, you must ensure you call each other to task when members aren’t being true to their values”.
 
Elephant Hunting Pursued
So in the spirit of their value of “having difficult conversations and helping each other recognize blind spots holding them back from growth”, the elephant was confronted.  The conversation was tough at first, emotions were raw, root causes were avoided – but the Team stayed with the discomfort, continuing the dialogue until a willingness to acknowledge behavior and let go of the past emerged.
 
A Revitalized Team – Now Playing to Win
The end result – two leaders once conflicted, now displayed authentic public support for each other’s Departments.  While the proof of success for the new product plan remains to be seen, one thing is certain: had the CEO decided to sidestep the elephant in the room again, the new product launch would have a much lower probability of succeeding – supported by a half-baked Team with members spending more time managing their resentment and agenda, than collaborating toward greater organizational prosperity.  Now the Team – and furthermore the whole organization – is free to operate with greater collaboration, harmony, and power.
 
In these first few days of Spring we invite you to consider if you have any elephant hunting to do on your own teams that could help make room for fresh progress and vitality.
 
Wishing you a season filled with growth and possibility.

NEW PERSPECTIVES
Partner Selections for March 2015

Decoding Leadership – What Really Matters McKinsey  |  What’s the secret to developing effective leaders?  New research suggests four specific behaviours are mission critical.
READ ON >>

How to Start a Conversation You’re Dreading
HBR  |  Do you know the ‘cringe moment’ – that uneasy instant just as you finish saying something risky, but before the other person responds?
READ ON >>

The Authenticity Paradox
HBR  |  Authenticity has become the gold standard for leadership. But too simplistic an understanding can hinder a leader’s growth and impact.
READ ON >>

Why Strategy Execution Unravels & What to Do About It
HBR  |  It’s pretty dire when half the C-Suite can’t connect the dots between strategic priorities or what to do about it.
READ ON >>

The Pros and Cons of Elon Musk’s Perfectionism
Inc  |  The SpaceX and Tesla founder doesn’t work well with ‘normal’ people, yet this has helped him succeed where no one else has.
READ ON >>

5 Ways to Listen Better
TED  |  In our louder and louder world “we are losing our listening”.  It’s time to retune our ears for conscious listening — to others, and the world.
READ ON >>

Strateco is a new breed of consulting firm that seamlessly integrates Strategy with Leadership.   We help organizations create, integrate, and execute winning strategies, while developing higher functioning leaders.   To get a sense of our philosophy download your PDF copy of our newly released white paper:  Strategy + Leadership 2.0
 

M&A Integration: An Approach that Works

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Happy September.  We hope you had an amazing Summer and are
rejuvenated for the Fall season.

As you may know, most research confirms M&A deals have a mere
50% success rate.  A coin toss.  Why?  

While an M&A integration deal may look great on paper, we’ve found
only a handful of organizations pay proper attention to the integration
process.  This can be especially concerning for mid-market companies
($50 – $500M in sales) who can ill-afford the resource drain to patch
things up once they’ve gone astray.

Last month we were brought into an acquisition project at just the
right time.  As is often the case, the deal looked great – it was
financially accretive, there were cross-selling opportunities, there were
cost redundancies that when adjusted would create exciting increases
in free cash flow – but in spite of all this, the two “merged” units still
operated in two silos, results were not being achieved, and there was
an air of animosity along with dense frustration.

Firstly we brought together senior leaders from both groups to clearly establish relational and operating ground-rules for our interactions – no blame, no judgement, openness, candour and a willingness to find open ground.  These “values” were co-created with participants being encouraged to hold one another to these highest ground-floor values.
 
Next we acknowledged what wasn’t working – focusing on tactics and behaviours, not personalities – and made a commitment to wrestle the “eight-headed hydra” to the ground”.

We then took time to envision what was the highest future possibility for the combined entity, clarified this, and grounded it in in quantifiable success metrics for the coming year.

Finally we rolled up our sleeves trudging through each key issue – role clarity, handoffs between groups, communication, governance – prioritizing a tactical plan with dates and champions.

The Result – the senior teams left the retreat “as one” – feeling energized, liberated and inspired to execute with a great sense of clarity.  The real merger had begun.

The Secret Ingredient – Dealing with the negative preconceptions and feelings about change up front while establishing behavioral and attitudinal rules of conduct before coming together – essentially creating a healthy culture for the series of meetings – that could then extend into the merged organization and help  everyone understand, Culture is King!

Wishing you a happy Fall and, as we come upon the 2015 planning season, if you’d like to have a conversation about raising the bar on your  strategy, leadership, or culture planning needs, feel free to email us any time
 
Bests,
Nick and the Strateco Team

 
 
Interested in learning about the evolution of a new paradigm in business?

Check out our white paper, Strategy + Leadership 2.0, to learn how Shared Value Strategy and Purposeful Leadership are shaping the era of Capitalism 2.0

*See something below you’d like to read or watch right away?  Click on a title to jump right to the summary!

 
Two intriguing perspectives on the shifting tides in management today:
 
1.  The Great Transformation – Drucker Society of Europe
2.  Why Can’t We End Short-Termism? – Forbes
 
Three fabulous leadership resources:
 
3.  Inspiring 2-min video!  Performance with Purpose – ASPEN
4.  Lead Without Trying So Hard – HBR
5.  First Know Yourself, Than Your Team – INSEAD
 
A TED Talk exploring the evolution of 21st century business leadership:
 
6.  What it Takes to be a Great Leader – TED
 
A book focused on helping you manage your greatest resource:
 
7.  Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age
 
 
1.  THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION
     Drucker Society of Europe – May 2014     
 
“We are at the beginning of a set of gigantic changes in society – for better or for worse…one thing we know says Richard Straub (President, Drucker Society of Europe): on this stage, managers will surely be of pivotal importance for shaping it.”
 
So begins Dr. Straub’s introductory article to this year’s Global Drucker Forum.  It provides an intriguing line of sight into various global trends negatively impacting economies and societies today.
 
Of greater significance, Straub zeros in on the role of Managers in 21st century business and how these leaders will make a difference in the world via their knowledge, creativity, emotions, and values.

 
 
2.  WHY CAN’T WE END SHORT-TERMISM?
     Forbes – July 2014     
 
As a leader, consider your response to the following statement – “The world would be a better place if businesses stopped thinking so much about short-term results and focused more on the long term.”
 
In another fresh take on the radical changes in management today, Steve Denning explores how maximizing shareholder value (a key driver of short-term thinking) has come at the detriment of prosperity for business and society. 

 
 
3.  Inspiring 2-min video!  PERFORMANCE WITH PURPOSE
     ASPEN Ideas Festival – July 2014     
 
“Employees were looking for a purpose…for an environment where everyone could bring their whole self to work.”  – Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo

At this year’s Aspen Institute Ideas Festival, Nooyi shared these and other profound thoughts on Pepsi’s ‘Performance with Purpose’ culture. 

 
 
4.  LEAD WITHOUT TRYING SO HARD
     HBR – July 2014     
 
“Demanding nothing in return for his kindness, the sage eventually obtains everything…the more he gives to others, the more he has himself.”

This is a fantastic 3-minute read!  Whitney Johnson describes the significance of the Taoist principle Wu-wei.  An ancient practice whereby leaders let their minds go, entering a state of acceptance where they can only win, if they don’t try to win.

 
 5.  FIRST KNOW YOURSELF, THAN YOUR TEAM 
     INSEAD – August 2014     
 
This brief yet powerful article typifies the need for leaders to deeply understand their own behavioural traits, in addition to those of their followers, as key influencers of their effectiveness.
 
Of the eight leader archetypes noted in the article, which ones might you fall into?  What of your team members?  Perhaps of greater significance, how might these perspectives aid in your team’s relationships and effectiveness?

 
 
6.  WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A GREAT LEADER
     TED – 2013     

What makes a great leader in the 21st century?  What is the diversity measure of a leader’s network?  Is a leader courageous enough to abandon a practice that made them successful in the past?
 
In this captivating Talk, Roselinde Torres describes her research into these questions, eliciting a sense of what ‘great leaders’ are doing distinctly different to thrive and grow in 21st century business. 

 
 
7.  ALLIANCE: MANAGING TALENT IN THE NETWORKED AGE
     Reid Hoffman, et al. – July 2014     
 
This book is a must read for leaders of organizations struggling to maintain cultures of engagement and trusting relationships with their talent.  In short, the authors state the employer-employee relationship is broken.

The old model of guaranteed long-term employment no longer works in a business environment defined by short-term thinking.  In this modern era it’s no longer about treating colleagues as family, but rather as allies.
 
Far more than a rant, the author’s blueprint for building lasting relationships with top talent is based on real world examples from LinkedIn, Tesla, and Cisco.
 
You can also check out an excellent SlideShare summary of the book here!

 
To automatically receive future editions of New Perspectives via email sign up at our website!

We’re constantly curating helpful content, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to receive our daily posts!

 
Strateco is a new breed of consulting firm that seamlessly integrates Strategy with Leadership.   We help organizations create, integrate, and execute winning strategies, while developing higher functioning leaders.   To get a sense of our philosophy download your PDF copy of our newly released white paper:  Strategy + Leadership 2.0

How to Infuse Your Culture With Inspiration

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I recently had a powerful experience with one of our clients.  We
were involved in a “check-point” meeting – a monthly half-day with
the senior leadership team where we track progress against a core
strategy and related set of SMART metrics devised to drive value.

The company had a 20-year history in the trucking and logistics
industry – one known for demanding physical work and an inherent
culture of ‘machismo’.

The meeting was quite typical – identification of obstacles to executing
with excellence, and solutioning around those obstacles – toward a
renewed energy to execute.  Until the end of the meeting.  The last
two minutes.  After the formal agenda was complete.

At that point, the leader of the company – a 6’4” man with a thick
solid frame, who mirrored the nature of the industry – tough, no-
nonsense – said to the team “I just want to say how much I deeply
care about you all, and how grateful I am for your efforts….and I
want to give you all a hug – to show my appreciation”.

I was awestruck!  And what struck me most was his authenticity.
This wasn’t some contrived formulaic attempt to “play the part”.
It was genuine caring.  And each person felt his sincerity as they
experienced his “bear hug” of thanks.

This leader’s intention of compassion and gratitude, and the courage
to express it, filled the room.  It was palpable.  And the material
payoff: a high functioning team, deep in levels of trust and connection,
that experiences consistent double digit growth year over year.

So if this resonates with you, the question I invite you to consider
is, what steps might you take to inject compassion into your culture?

Wishing you a prosperous and fulfilling month –
 
Nick and the Strateco Team

 
 
Interested in learning about the evolution of a new paradigm in business?

Check out our white paper, Strategy + Leadership 2.0, to learn how Stakeholder Strategy and Purposeful Leadership are shaping the era of Capitalism 2.0

 

 
Three perspectives of significance on the changing landscape of business:
 
1.  Managing Our Way to Prosperity: No Holy Grail – Forbes
2.  Getting Past the Great Ideological Divide in Business Today – Time
3.  The Capitalist’s Dilemma – Clayton Christensen’s latest HBR article
 
Three quick yet powerful reads:
 
4.  Brilliant 2min read! – Don’t F*ck Up the Company Culture
5.  Help Leaders to be Less Useless at Strategy – Roger Martin’s latest in HBR
6.  Mixing Business and Social Good is Not a New Idea – HBR
 
A TED Talk from Simon Sinek:
 
7.  Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe
 
A story to remind us of our moral compass:

8.  Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

 

 
1.  MANAGING OUR WAY TO PROSPERITY
     Forbes – May 2014
 
In another brilliant epilogue to this year’s Global Drucker Forum, Denning chats with Rita Gunther McGrath regarding her recent book, The End of Competitive Advantage.
 
McGrath explores questions, or often excuses, critical to organizational strategy: Are organizations just ‘too busy’ to do strategy?  Is it the transformation of strategy, or of management?  Do we have the tools to do strategy in the ‘new way’?
 
 
 
2.  GETTING PAST THE GREAT IDEOOGICAL DIVIDE IN BUSINESS TODAY
     TIME – May 2014
 
A prescient flashback from the 1940’s, the following quote from Peter Drucker captures the essence of a growing rift in business today: “What we need is not an ideology, but a science – a new science of industrial peace.”
 
On one side of this growing divide, champions of the classic Capitalism 1.0 mantra of ‘maximizing shareholder value’.  On the other, those with a view of business at large as having an obligation to provide benefit to its stakeholders.
 
‘Two-sides, fundamentally grounded in separate camps and pitted against the other’s philosophy.  A clash being waged by individuals blindly clinging to their own dogma.’
 
What might Drucker think of all this?  Read on to get a glimpse!
 
 
3.  THE CAPITALIST’S DILEMMA
     Clayten Christensen’s latest in HBR – May 2014
 
Is your organization at risk of failing to invest in innovation and thus missing out on opportunities for growth?  If so this ground breaking article, and the research behind it, are for you.
 
“In our view the crux of the problem is that investments in different types of innovation affect economies (and companies) in very different ways – but are evaluated using the same (flawed) metrics.”
 
Going further, and hence the ‘Dilemma’, he notes capital is no longer in short supply, and if companies want to maximize returns on it, they must stop behaving as if it were.
 
 
4.  DON’T F*CK UP THE COMPANY CULTURE
 
When it comes to building and sustaining an enduring culture of greatness, it doesn’t get much more straightforward than the title to this piece.

 
5.  HELP LEADERS BE LESS USELESS AT STRATEGY
     Roger Martin in HBR – May 2014
 
Once again Roger Martin brings his practical no nonsense thoughts on Strategy to the fore.  This two minute read provides three key takeaways to help you be better at Strategy tomorrow:
 
In essence leaders need to “Construct a more productive series of interactions on strategy”:
 
1.  Go early with the framing of the challenge you want to tackle
2.  Go back with the possibilities you generate
3.  Return a third-time when you’ve reverse engineered the possibilities
 
 
6.  MIXING BUSINESS AND SOCIAL GOOD IS NOT A NEW IDEA
     HBR – May 2014

As more and more business schools develop programs focused on leveraging business to do good, and companies strategically recruit talent that’s more interested in social impact than big bonuses, the shifting tides of modern day business and society are evident.
 
As these landscapes continue their dramatic transformation, perhaps leaders of today should look to those of the past who trail-blazed a history of business kindness.
 
This short yet powerful read reminds us there have been successful businesspeople throughout history who focused on creating a better life for their employees, and societies.
 
 
7.  WHY GOOD LEADERS MAKE YOU FEEL SAFE
     Simon Sinek – TED
 
Recorded in March at TED2014, this moving Talk from Sinek explores how great leaders build emotional bonds of trust with, and safe environments for, their followers.
 
As he explains, it’s all about the ‘environment’ a leader creates and the resulting ‘tribe’ which develops.
 
If you get it right, as in, if the people within the tribe ‘feel’ safe with a mutual trust and cooperation for one another, any tribe member has the capacity to do remarkable things.
 
 
8.  FLASH BOYS: A WALL STREET REVOLT
     By Michael Lewis
 
Flash Boys is about a Canadian hero of sorts who figures out the U.S. stock market’s been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post–financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks.
 
The light that Lewis shines into the darkest corners of the financial world may not be good for anyone’s blood pressure as, in fact, this story is NON-fiction (check out this New York Time’s book review to get a flavour of the ongoing real world story).
 
Suffice to say however this is an uplifting read at heart as here are individuals who maintained their moral compass in the face of greed, and who after experiencing an institutionalized injustice, are willing to go to war to fix it.

 
To automatically receive future editions of New Perspectives via email sign up at our website!

We’re constantly curating helpful content, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to receive our daily posts!

 
Strateco is a new breed of consulting firm that seamlessly integrates Strategy with Leadership.   We help organizations create, integrate, and execute winning strategies, while developing higher functioning leaders.   To get a sense of our philosophy download your PDF copy of our newly released white paper:  Strategy + Leadership 2.0

Your Strategy is Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

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Ask any leader what the key to a high performing organization is, and
they’ll typically say “execution” which boils down to high performing
people.  But what do you do when you have someone on your senior
team who is not performing – and continues to underperform despite
your investment in performance reviews, coaching and mentoring?
The answer is simple, but often not easy.

Recently, we were working with a leadership team who faced just this
sort of dilemma.  Although the VP of Marketing in question had many
years of experience with the firm (regarded as one of the original
pioneers of the business), was generally well-liked, and had been
instrumental in the company’s early years of growth in developing
some of their critical legacy products – there was sustained
underperformance by the Executive and the choice was clear, the
negative impact of not acting was weighing on them individually and
collectively,  yet the decision was getting consistently deferred.  Why?

Complacency?  Reliance on the devil you know versus the one you
don’t?  A psychological predisposition that creates resistance to conflict,
resistance to change?  The stories we tell ourselves about all the
disastrous impacts to the organization – hurt morale, inability to
appropriately transfer knowledge, etc.?

After a period of personal growth and working through resistance to
conflict and change, our CEO set the VP free – to find an organization
more fitting to her core values and ways of being.  And afterward, the
entire leadership team was set free – feeling a tremendous decompression
– a lightness, an ease, that wasn’t previously there.  They also got
the gift of being able to perform at a higher level.

I invite you to consider:  when was the last time you did a talent
assessment of your primary team?  Have you fallen into any complacency?
How many of your direct reports are at least an 8 out of 10?  And if
you have those below an 8, what are you doing to help them improve?

While our experience has shown us difficult conversations often
get procrastinated – when they’re embraced – they enable a new day
– a resurrection if you will – of the best the team has to offer.

Sincerely, 

 
 
Interested in learning about the evolution of a new paradigm in business?

Check out our white paper, Strategy + Leadership 2.0, to learn how Stakeholder Strategy and Purposeful Leadership are shaping the era of Capitalism 2.0

 
Three fantastic articles with valuable insights for every leader:
 
1.  What Could Have Saved Nokia? – INSEAD Knowledge
2.  Bad to Great: The Path to Scaling Up Excellence – McKinsey
3.  Developing Mindful Leaders for the C-Suite – HBR
 
A brilliant TED Talk:
 
4.  Seth Godin – How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

Two intriguing articles:
 
5.  Can Management Get Us Out of this Economic Mess it has Created? – Forbes
6.  The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool – HBR
 
April’s recommended reading:
 
7.  Firms of Endearment
 

 
1.  WHAT COULD HAVE SAVED NOKIA?
     INSEAD Knowledge – Mar 2014
 
This article and the accompanying video interview with Nokia’s former CEO offer a profound example of what can happen to an organization with a crystal clear strategy that is executed on poorly.
 
Nokia lost the smartphone battle despite having half of the global market share in 2007.  The authors argue collective emotions within the company were a big part of the story.
 
The authors state, “It is often said that strategy is 5 percent thinking, 95 percent execution. We extend this by suggesting that strategy execution is 5 percent technical, and 95 percent people-related.”
 
 
 
2.  BAD TO GREAT: THE PATH TO SCALING UP EXCELLENCE
     McKinsey – Feb 2014
 
Scaling an organization’s performance can be one of the most challenging tasks leaders face.
 
“What drives leaders, keeps them up at night, and devours their workdays is the difficulty of spreading excellence to more people and more places.”
 
Leaders aiming to boost performance should start by eliminating negative behaviours – selfishness, nastiness, fear, laziness, dishonesty – before attempting to develop best practices.
 
“Leaders and employees do the right thing when they focus, not on their own needs and wants, but on the people affected by their actions.”
 
 
  
3.  DEVELOPING MINDFUL LEADERS FOR THE C-SUITE
     Bill George in HBR – Mar 2014
 
The use of mindful practices like meditation, introspection, and journaling in the C-Suite are taking hold at such successful enterprises as Google, Apple, and General Mills while contributing to the success of their success.
 
Executives in these organizations have recognized the power of taking time out to reflect on what’s most important in order to create ways to overcome difficult challenges.
 
As Bill George puts it, “It’s especially important that leaders with great responsibilities gain focus and clarity in making their most important decisions, creativity in transforming their enterprises, compassion for their customers and employees, and the courage to go their own way.”
 
 
 
4.  HOW TO GET YOUR IDEAS TO SPREAD
     Seth Godin’s TED Talk – Feb 2003
 
In a world of too many options and too little time, the obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff.
 
“For the first 15 years after sliced bread was available no one bought it, no one knew about it – it was a complete and total failure.  And the reason – until Wonder came along and figured out how to SPREAD THE IDEA of sliced bread, no one wanted it.”
 
In this remarkable TED Talk marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting people’s attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.
 
 
 
5.  CAN MANAGEMENT GET US OUT OF THIS ECONOMIC MESS?
     Steve Denning in Forbes – Mar 2014
 
“Can the leaders of the world’s most important organizations transform their management practices so that their organizations get on a path to growth and prosperity, instead of steady economic decline?”
 
In this powerful leadup article to the 2014 Drucker Forum Denning explores this pressing leadership challenge along with the shifting tides in business consciousness as explored in his conference prelogue – The Great Transformation: Managing Our Way to Prosperity
 
“Either the world will embark on a route towards long-term growth and prosperity, or we will manage our way to economic decline…the very coherence of our societies is at stake. Incremental changes won’t suffice.  What does it take to reshape management as an effective social technology…for transforming our institutions and organizations?”
 
 
 
6.  THE IRRESISTIBLE POWER OF STORYTELLING AS A STRATEGIC TOOL
     Harrison Monarth in HBR – Mar 2014     Back to top
 
In this short yet intriguing blog post the author provides insights on the use of strategic storytelling as a means of connecting, directing, and building powerful relationships with followers.
 
An oldy and a goody, Freytag’s Pyramid of storytelling structure is noted as having worked for thousands of years and having incredible relevance still today.
 
“A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts.  Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”
 
 
 
7.  FIRMS OF ENDEARMENT
     By Rajendra Sisodia, Jag Sheth, David Wolfe     Back to top
 
Firms of Endearment is a book about the new rules of business which are transforming organizations from the inside out.  Today’s greatest companies are fueled by passion and purpose, not cash.
 
They earn large profits by helping all thier stakeholders thrive: customers, investors, employees, partners, communities, and society.
 
These rare, authentic firms of endearment act in powerfully positive ways that stakeholders recognize, value, admire, and even love.
 
They make the world better by the way they do business-and the world responds.
 

We’re constantly curating helpful content, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to receive our daily posts!

 
Strateco is a new breed of consulting firm that seamlessly integrates Strategy with Leadership.   We help organizations create, integrate, and execute winning strategies, while developing higher functioning leaders.   To get a sense of our philosophy download your PDF copy of our newly released white paper:  Strategy + Leadership 2.0

Is ‘Broken Telephone’ Disrupting Your Strategy & Messaging?

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Welcome to the second edition of Strateco’s New Perspectives e-newsletter!

This past month we had the opportunity to help a client with a re-calibration of their strategy.  The exercise seemed straight forward.  The strategy had been in place for several years, it had been approved by the Board, and several Leadership Team members had been involved with creating it. 
 
However, when we got together as a team we discovered that crucial pieces of the strategy were not consistently understood.  In fact, some of the team members were at opposite ends of the spectrum.
 
It struck me how often we see this scenario play out – presumed alignment with a strategy that is not consistently understood.  A bit like “broken telephone” where the true nature of the message has been slowly diluted over time.
 
With strategy representing the main filter through which key decisions are made and critical resources allocated, the consequences of vagueness and misaligment can be dire:  sub-optimal execution and performance along with a less engaged culture. 
 
As we offer up this month’s articles and links in New Perspectives, please take a few minutes to reflect on how clear your strategy is and how well you can articulate it.  Consider how well it’s understood with the major players in your firm.
 
Do you have one overarching strategic objective?  Are major priorities aligning across all roles and is the organization moving in cadence to that?
 
Focus, alignment and execution are the hallmarks of great organizations.  On a scale of 1 – 10, where do you feel your firm is on this spectrum?  And if you’re not a 10, what will it take to get you there?  As always, we’re happy to help!
 
Wishing you a productive and fulfilling month!

 
 
 

Interested in learning about the evolution of a new paradigm in business?

Check out our white paper, Strategy + Leadership 2.0, to learn how Stakeholder Strategy and Purposeful Leadership are shaping the era of Capitalism 2.0

 
CEO perspectives on the changing landscape of business:
   1.  17th Annual CEO Survey: Fit for the Future – PWC

Two intriguing TED Talks:
   2.  Michael Porter:  Business & Solving Social Problems
   3.  Daniel Goleman: Why Aren’t We More Compassionate

Three powerful articles:
   4.  The Big Lie of Strategic Planning – HBR Article
   5.  Why Most of What We Know About Management is…Dead Wrong – Forbes
   6.  Southwest Motivates Its Employees with a Purpose – Forbes

February’s recommended reading:
   7.  Conscious Capitalism
 

 
1.  17th ANNUAL CEO SURVEY – FIT FOR THE FUTURE
     Jan 2014     
 
As capitalism and the global economy continue to evolve, how are CEOs responding to this changing global footprint?
 
While opportunities for strategic growth grow tougher, twice as many CEOs as polled in the 2013 survey believe the global economy will improve in the next 12 months.
 
CEOs feel three fundamental external forces will most greatly impact their businesses in the next five years:
 
1)  Technological Advances – harnessing technology to create value in new ways
2)  Demographic Changes – capitalizing on shifts to develop tomorrow’s
3)  Global Economic Shifts – serving consumers in a new economic landscape
 
 
 
2.  WHY BUSINESS CAN BE GOOD AT SOLVING SOCIAL PROBLEMS
     Michael Porter’s TED Talk – Jun 2013     
 
Why do we turn to nonprofits, NGOs and governments to solve society’s biggest problems?
 
Though Porter admits he’s biased he wants you to hear his case for letting business try to solve massive problems like climate change and access to water.
 
Why you may ask? Because when business solves a problem, it makes a profit – which lets that solution grow.
 
To go deeper into Porter’s thinking check out his HBR article, Shared Value, which spawned this awesome Ted Talk along with his follow up report for FSG, Measuring Shared Value!

 
3.  WHY AREN’T WE MORE COMPASSIONATE
     Daniel Goleman’s TED Talk – Jun 2013     
 
What do you think of compassion when it comes to leading others and high performing teams?  Do you feel you’re a compassionate leader? 
 
In this fascinating Talk, Daniel Goleman asks why people aren’t more compassionate more of the time and opens the door to understanding a person’s “success” from an EI perspective.
 
Goleman asserts that people are hard-wired to feel compassion and establish a standard of self-regard as the appropriate way to treat others.
 
 
 
4.  THE BIG LIE OF STRATEGIC PLANNING
     Roger Martin in HBR – Jan 2014     
 
Strategy-making forces executives to confront a future they can only guess at. It’s not surprising they try to make the task less daunting by comprehensively planning how to achieve its short and long-term goals.
 
But good strategy is not the product of endless research and modeling; it’s the result of a simple process of thinking through how to hit a target and whether it’s realistic to try.
 
Discomfort is part of the process. As Martin says, if you’re entirely comfortable, your strategy probably isn’t very good!
 
 
 
5.  WHY MOST OF WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT MANAGEMENT IS…DEAD WRONG
     Steve Denning in Forbes – Jan 2014     
 
Wondering how your organization and management will evolve in the new age of Capitalism and a changing global economy? 
 
Denning states two distinct economies have emerged on the heels of recent incredible social and economic changes: 

  • Traditional – the one of factories, command and control, economies of scale, big hierarchical bureaucracies
  • Creative – the technology-driven one of continuous innovation, transformation, and profitable ecosystems

 

Organizational shifts toward a more ‘Creative’ management structure will directly impact companies’:

  • Organizational Goals – shifting focus from inward (shareholders) to outward (ecosystems)
  • Organizational Structures – from controlling people to enabling collaboration
  • Coordination of Work – from hierarchical bureaucracies to regular direct interaction
  • Firm’s Values – from single-minded profits to growing accompanying ecosystems
  • Communications – from top-down directives to multi-directional conversations 

 
 
6.  SOUTHWEST MOTIVATES…WITH A PURPOSE 
     Carmine Gallo in Forbes – Jan 2014     
 
Do your employees feel as though they’re part of something, something with a purpose, a purpose far beyond receiving a cheque twice a month?
 
In January 2013 Southwest unveiled a new corporate vision and purpose, intended to motivate an internal audience of employees to raise their game.
 
Incredibly their plan will leverage the power of storytelling to ensure its 46,000 employees deeply understand and engage with the company’s strategy and vision every day.

 
 
7.  CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM
       By John Mackey, Rajendra Sisodia, Bill George 
       Check out this book at Amazon
 
What do Whole Foods, Starbucks, SouthWest, and Costco all have in common?  They all practice ‘conscious capitalism’.
 
According to the authors, John Mackey (Co-CEO of Whole Foods) and Raj Sisodia (Professor,  Bentley University), conscious capitalism is an evolving paradigm for business that simultaneously creates multiple kinds of value and well-being for all stakeholders: financial, intellectual, physical, ecological, social, cultural, emotional, ethical, and even spiritual.
 
The book “Conscious Capitalism” promotes a business culture that embodies trust, accountability, caring, transparency, integrity, loyalty, and egalitarianism.
 
The management ideal of conscious Capitalism contains four key elements:

  • Decentralization
  • Empowerment
  • Innovation
  • Collaboration

 

However for these ideals to be successful careful attention must be paid to four underlying tenets: 

  • Higher purpose and core values
  • Stakeholder integration
  • Conscious leadership
  • Conscious culture and management

 
To learn about how the practice of conscious capitalism is creating competitive advantage also check out – Companies that Practice Conscious Capitalism Perform 10x Better (HBR)
 
 
 

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Strateco is a new breed of consulting firm that seamlessly integrates Strategy with Leadership.   We help organizations create, integrate, and execute winning strategies, while developing higher functioning leaders.   To get a sense of our philosophy download a copy of our white paper:  Strategy + Leadership 2.0
 
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Copyright © Strateco Partners – 2014 – All Rights Reserved

New Perspectives: A Strategy + Leadership 2.0 Newsletter

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On behalf of Strateco Partners, welcome to the inaugural edition of our “New Perspectives” e-newsletter.

Each month in New Perspectives, we’ll be offering you resources, tools, and insights to help you grow your organization, develop your people and create a happy, productive, high functioning corporate culture.

As we move through the first month of Q1, we’re helping clients finish up their 2014 annual strategy planning.  A few of the more common problems we’re seeing are:

  • Gross margins declining – creating a risk of commoditization;
  • Competitive threats diluting the impact of their value propositions – creating a need to refine differentiation; and
  • Some misalignment around priorities and accountabilities – creating a sub-optimal performance landscape for leaders who desire dynamic growth.

 
These are our favourite problems to solve.  If you need any help or just want to chat through the issues, feel free to call or email us any time.

We hope you find New Perspectives helpful for your business, and as always we value your feedback and would enjoy hearing any comments you have on our first edition.

All the best from our team to yours,

 
 
PS – We’re constantly curating valuable content in service to our clients, so feel free to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to see our daily strategy and leadership posts!
 
 
This month’s edition of New Perspectives includes –

Four powerful articles:

1.  Turning Great Strategy Into Great Performance

2.  Sustainable Business: Where Our Moral Compass Meets the Bottom Line

3.  Why So Many Leadership Programs Ultimately Fail

4.  Storytelling that Moves People

A helpful TED Talk:

   5.  Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

An essential reading for every leader:

   6.  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Enjoy!
 

 
1.  TURNING GREAT STRATEGY INTO GREAT PERFORMANCE

   By Michael C. Mankins and Richard Steele
   Harvard Business Review, July-August 2005

The majority of business strategies deliver only a fraction of their intended value.  Why is this?

The answers cut across a spectrum from initial strategy development to ongoing strategy execution – with leadership providing a critical foundation that builds the culture necessary for great organizational performance.

This article provides seven simple yet highly effective rules for helping leaders stay focused and deliver superior business results:

     •  Keep it Simple, make it concrete.
     •  Debate assumptions, not forecasts.
     •  Use a rigorous framework, speak a common language.
     •  Discuss resource deployments early.
     •  Clearly identify priorities.
     •  Continuously monitor performance.
     •  Reward and develop execution capabilities.

2.  SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS: WHERE OUR MORAL COMPASS MEETS THE BOTTOM LINE

   By Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever)
   Huffington Post, October 8, 2013

Unilever CEO Paul Polman is renowned for his progressive approach to business leadership and being outspoken when it comes to the challenges of the current model of capitalism. 

Paul’s October 2013 article in the Huffington Post points out the serious problems he sees with our traditional business model that myopically focusses on short-term shareholder value or “quarterly capitalism” – and provides insight into the tenets for Capitalism 2.0 that promises long-term business success across a broad range of key stakeholders.

3.  WHY SO MANY LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS ULTIMATELY FAIL

   By Peter Bregman
   Harvard Business Review, July 10, 2013

Why do so many leadership development and executive coaching programs fail to get traction when it comes to having leaders fundamentally change their underlying behaviours?

Peter Bregman argues that it has little to do with what we know about leadership and more about how we internalize our leadership journey in practical and tangible ways. 

In this article Bregman provides helpful insights into two factors that help organizations close the gap between theory and application by:
 
     •  Integrating leadership development into the work itself, and
     •  Teaching leadership in such a way that requires emotional courage.

4.  STORYTELLING THAT MOVES PEOPLE

   By Robert McKee and Bronwyn Fryer
   Harvard Business Review, June 2003

Why should leaders be effective storytellers and what qualifies them as such?  Put simply – a leader’s persuasive influence and ability to inspire their vision in others are pivotal aspects to business success.

In this article Robert McKee, an award-winning writer and director who consults with CEOs, provides his thoughts on how leaders can more powerfully connect with others on deeply emotional levels by telling compelling stories to persuade – instead of relying on dry, traditional, PowerPoint decks that present a rationale case based on logic and intellectual reason.
 

 
5.  DRIVE: THE SURPRISING TRUTH ABOUT WHAT MOTIVATES US
 
   By Daniel Pink
   YouTube, Apr 2010
   Watch this incredible video now!
 
In this fast-paced and highly entertaining video, career analyst Daniel Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t seem to: the fact that traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.
 
Pink shares the counterintuitive results of two studies that reveal the inner workings of what influences our behaviour — and the half-truth of why money can’t buy satisfaction.

His insights help to illuminate the 3 most important factors that motivate employees today – Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose – and how they’re currently being used creatively in business to trigger, reward, and recognize outstanding performance.
 

 
6.  THE FIVE DYSFUNCTIONS OF A TEAM
  
   By Patrick M. Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, 2002)
   Check out this book on Amazon
 
In this best-selling business fable Patrick Lencioni explores the fundamental causes of organizational politics, leadership team failure, and how CEOs can navigate such complexities.
 
This gripping tale provides a simple yet profound reminder that effective leadership requires great courage in the face of adversity.  Lencioni highlights the following 5 major dysfunctions that lead to sub-par team performance – and how skillful leadership can be used to address each characteristic:
 
     1.  Absence of Trust
     2.  Fear of Conflict
     3.  Lack of Commitment
     4.  Avoidance of Accountability
     5.  Inattention to Results
 
Strateco is a new breed of consulting firm that seamlessly integrates Strategy with Leadership.   We help organizations create, integrate, and execute winning strategies, while developing higher functioning leaders.   To get a sense of our philosophy download your PDF copy of our newly released white paper:  Strategy + Leadership 2.0
 
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Mastering Employee Engagement: 5 Strategies For Revitalizing Your Organization

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Viktor Frankl

“Even more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”

– Victor Frankl

Psychiatrist, Neurologist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl wrote Man’s Search For Meaning – one of the 10 most influential books in the United States history (according to the Library of Congress). With gripping experiences and insights on how few Holocaust victims survived, his experience taught him that our main drive in life is neither pleasure (as Freud thought), nor power (as Adle thought), but instead meaning. After his release, Frankl founded the school of logotherapy (“Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy” – after Freud and Adler). The goal of a logotherapist is to carry out an existential analysis of the person, and help him discover meaning for his life.

Frankl also coined the term “Sunday Neurosis,” which he believed arose at the end of the work week, when a person feels the emptiness in his work life. He tries to fill the existential vacuum with compensatory pleasures such as binging on food and drink, over-spending, avoidance and other behaviors – but all these prevent action from being taken to find meaning and can result in progressive levels of mental suffering.

When contemplating the notion of employee engagement, it occurred to me that the systemic cause of low engagement is a crisis of meaning. And the highest calling of a leader is to be an organizational logotherapist. To carry out an analysis of himself, and his organization – discover the meaning – the core purpose – bring that purpose alive, live that purpose, model that purpose, and watch that purpose become a magnet for creating a winning, fulfilling culture.

Business Leader as Logotherapist

The way industry has been dealing with this “crisis of meaning” is to define a new buzzword – “employee engagement,” give it lip service, and make half-baked attempts to measure and manage it. It seems that little real progress is being made (despite over 2 million results in Google, over 4,000 news articles and the ubiquitous employee satisfaction survey).

The New York Conference Board, a century-old research firm that began studying employee satisfaction and engagement 25 years ago, reports that worker happiness has fallen every year since – during both good economic times and bad. Today, according to their research, over half of American workers effectively hate their jobs. 

A lack of engagement results in dysfunctional relationships, lower productivity and an unwillingness to go beyond the job description. Some studies have found that the majority of disengaged employees don’t even quit, they stay, collect their paycheck, and damage productivity and relationships.

Unfortunately, many leaders and their constituencies continue to suffer from the post-industrial revolution, draconian corporate belief that employees are to be used as tools to optimize profit. Yet with increasing attention on corporate social responsibility and employee engagement, we’re beginning to understand that there is a direct correlation between the positive emotions an employee feels – and their performance, productivity, creativity, innovation, loyalty, commitment, which are all factors leading to profit.

5 Strategies for Creating Meaning and Connection at Work

1. Take on The Function of the Chief Purposologist

Core Purpose is the meaning your organization yearns for. If an individual can find meaning in work, through the broader context of organizational purpose, his or her level of inspiration will rise. The extent to which that purpose is embedded in the DNA of their culture, is the extent to which the people in the organization will feel connected to themselves, and a higher cause. This factor has proven itself in Jim Collins’s seminal research at Stanford University, where he found that connection to a core purpose was a key factor in “building a company to last“. For CEO’s who believe employee engagement matters, internalizing core purpose as the organizational reason for being should transcend all else. It should not be done just because it creates more financial value – which it does – but because helping people find meaning in their work is a key component to helping people find happiness in their lives. And the ripple effect of living happier more inspired lives translates to happier spouses, kids, friends, relatives, and community. We live in a state of interconnection, and Delivering Happiness to workers enables leaders to improve the prosperity of society and inspire a better world.

2. Model Appreciation and Weave it Into Your Culture

According to a worldwide Towers Watson study, the single highest driver of employee engagement is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Today, only 40% of workers believe that. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why Appreciation Matters So Much”, Tony Schwartz reminds us that all employees need to be praised, honored, and routinely acknowledged for their efforts and achievements. When this acknowledgment comes from a heart-centered place, a deeper connection is made and engagement arises naturally. Furthermore, while for many of us, our default is brain-oriented strategy, tactics, and execution, it’s actually the heart that connects us as human beings, and consequently the source of our real power. Being human, and treating each other with respect and dignity is our natural state, which often gets pushed aside by business and external notions of what we need to do to be successful. 

3. Build Employee Engagement Into Strategic Planning

The legacy of strategic planning has been disproportionately focused on how to achieve competitive advantage. It takes into consideration market segmentation, political, economic, social and technological trends, competition, internal capability, product line viability and plots a course to a desired future state mapping out key initiatives and resources required. Developing human beings (or “human capital” to be buzz-word compliant) is a separate function, supported by a separate industry, rarely aligned with strategy. According to Walter Kiechel III, in his book The Lords of Strategy, what got repressed in the intellectual history of strategy was a “consciousness of people and their importance in the creation and execution of any strategy.” Strategy and leadership must come together to create real balanced prosperity. One important way you as a leader can improve prosperity is to align your culture (leadership development, values, purpose, connection) with strategy. Jon R. Katzenbach, SVP and Leader at Booze & Company’s Katzenbach Center wrote a terrific article explaining the power in his recent HBR article Culture Change That Sticks

4. Practice Servant Leadership

If the single highest driver of employee engagement is you being genuinely interested and serving the well-being of your employees (according to the Towers Perrin study), how do you do that when the tyranny of the urgent is attacking you with a cacophony of competing agendas? And when we all operate within a cultural paradigm of completive-adversarial behavior growing from erroneous beliefs of scarcity?

Certainly following the Four Inner Habits of A Successful Leader is a start – to maintain the presence of mind and grounding. Then, we must enable ourselves to undergo a counter-cultural paradigm shift from the guiding question of “how do I get what I need from them” to “how do I really hear what they need from me, and orient myself to support them – from a place of caring”. People feel understood with when you connect to their pain, and inspired when you show them a solution.

When people feel understood and cared for, they’ll be “engaged”. How could they not be…more loyal, creative, devoted, productive and committed? In universal law, we can’t give without receiving, and when we serve as leaders from a connected place, we receive loyalty, commitment, and the inspiration to go the extra mile from a heightened place of connection and empowerment. This is the catalyst for true prosperity.

5. Serve People’s Authentic Motivation

Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Author, Daniel Pink, in his latest book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”, discovered that 30% of job growth in will be “algorithmic” – tasks that follow process and instructions – perfect for people who are extrinsically motivated – by money. The other 70% of job growth will be heuristic – tasks that require the evaluation of possibilities while defining creative solutions. For the heuristic work life of the future, the intrinsically motivated seek inherent satisfaction in the activity itself, valuing freedom, purpose, challenge and well-being over money. According to Pink, you can motivate your people by extending 1) autonomy in their jobs, 2) learning opportunities for mastery and 3) a sense of meaning through purpose. These will be the “A” players of the future and always outperform in the long term.

In order to maximize value creation and fulfillment, employee engagement must be baked into the strategic focus of your firm. It must be a key strategic initiative you commit to transforming – since happy employees leads to better customer service, leads to higher sales, leads to higher profit and equity value. For many of us, it’s easier to focus disproportionately on the hard stuff – strategy, tactics and execution, but when we do that, we leave most of our power on the table. Facilitating interconnection through meaning, empathy, listening and serving are the leader’s hallmarks for empowerment, engagement, and optimal value creation.

How to Recession Proof Your Business

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5 Steps to Freedom

Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice…have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
– Steve Jobs

With recession is in the air, the typical media flurry of doom and gloom is picking up momentum. US unemployment is nearing double digits, US debt problems remain unsolved, the Eurozone debt crisis continues, and world stock markets are falling as confidence in the global economy sinks.

What is a Recession, Really? 

While economists will tout that a recession is two consecutive negative quarters of a shrinking economy (as measured by consumer demand for products and services), underneath that, a recession is a crisis of confidence driven by fear.

Collectively in the past 75 years, we’ve devolved into a world of global consumers, where in the past we were a world of global citizens. We’re up to our eyeballs in debt, connected to fiscally irresponsible governments with debt ridden balance sheets, causing nations in crises – all to support our collective desire to consume beyond our means. The mantra across the globe is “more is better” a recipe for perpetual dissatisfaction.

Individually, many of us have beliefs that “I don’t have enough”, “there’s not enough out there for me”, and “I’m not enough” – so we engage in a voracious pursuit for “more” to both insulate us from our fear that we might not have enough to be safe, along with our primary drive toward temporal pleasure as a means to salvation.

A recession is just an external reflection of this collective inner crisis rooted in delusion, that spreads like a virus, and manifests as “an economy in turmoil”. The root cause is simple: it’s fear. The paralyzing virus of fear. It’s an unnecessary inner state, we attach to it – as we get bombarded by society with messages of doom and gloom, we feed it with our thoughts and emotions and it’s just not a skillful way to live.

5 Steps To Being Recession Proof

Once you understand what’s going on under the surface – the collective psychology at play, you can choose to stand outside the story, detach from the noise, and focus on your core purpose of serving your clients and customers. Below is a five point road map to help you navigate the noise.

1. Let go of the fear of scarcity.

Understanding the above “illusion” will give you the power to observe the story from a more objective place, and when you feel drawn to the drama, witness your mental-emotional reaction pattern rather than identify with the collective “story”.

2. Be on purpose.

Get really clear on your purpose, the purpose of your business, and how that’s communicated to the group you want to serve (target market). Your purpose is transcendent, it grounds you like a mountain, and keeps you from fluttering about like sand in the wind when outside forces invade. 

3. Understand the truth of brand.

Understand the true notion of differentiation – it’s you, being you, in your truest, most authentic, naked self – and expressing your story (the power of story is vital) in connection with the transformative benefits of your product or service. Your unique ability expressed is the core of brand strategy and marketing strategy.

4. Let go of the fear of competition.

Competition is a notion mired in a scarcity-adversarial mind-set. There is truly enough business for everyone, and enough resources for everyone. Abundance is. The way to deal with competition is 1) know that it doesn’t exist outside your mind; and 2) get clearer on what makes you unique and how that gets expressed to the world. Then proceed to step 5.

5. Communicate vigorously, prolifically and shamelessly.

After getting clear on your authentic message, and how you will share that with the people who need your service, build a marketing strategy and plan that is grounded in action, and execute, execute, execute.

There is only one you. There is only one “your company”. There is only one “your team”. And you were endowed with the power to create anything you desire. We create our realities, and we’re always creating at every moment, exactly what we’re most committed to. 

So I invite you to step outside the illusory “recession matrix”, or whatever story you live in – as uber-entrepreneur-CEO Steve Jobs says “don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice” – and choose to skillfully create the reality of your desire.

Access Your Unrealized Leadership Potential

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“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

– Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

As the greatest self realized sages profess, mastering yourself is true power. And as one master’s oneself and moves to higher levels of consciousness (or self actualization), he or she organically becomes the leader those with lesser development want to follow. Thus the need for prevalent fear based leadership tactics – command, control, cleverness, manipulation, hierarchy, and force -disappear.

From my own experiential journey along Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, approaching self actualization brings the gifts of acceptance, humility, faith and an uncluttered desire to serve the present moment. From that “leadership orientation” execution becomes clear, powerful, authentic, conscious and ethical. Inspired action arises from clarity.

So how does a leader raise consciousness, and move to higher levels of self actualization? Based on my research and personal experience, the steps can be aggregated into three non-linear practices. 

Three practices to raising consciousness

1. Identify Your Ego

As Beatle, George Harrison realized and wrote, “All through the day, I Me Mine, I Me Mine, I Me Mine”. It appears to be an endemic part of the human experience to obsessively identify with the content of the ego – “the story of me”, and compulsively ruminate on how to protect and enhance “the story of me”, – my job, my salary, my accomplishments, my reputation, my house, my bank account – and the list goes on.

Scientists tell us we have 60,000 thoughts per day, and 80% of them are repetitive. I would assert, that 90% of the 80% are fears and desires on how to protect or enhance “the story of me”, often driven by a desire to be “more than” or a fear of being “less than” the other. 

Since reality is temporal, and we will always perceive people as “more than” and “less than”, this habitual thinking process is entirely devoid of skill. But more importantly, for business leaders, if we let the ego get into the driver seat, in a self striving pursuit of wealth, power and prestige we can easily get caught up in driving the story of me, and go blind to our higher natures.

In so doing, we fortify our perception of ourselves as separate, experience a primal lack of safety, and slip into the societal based competitive adversarial mind-set – win lose thinking – crush the competition – kill or be killed. 

By understanding and acknowledging the nature of ego, we can begin to observe it’s destructive potential, step outside “the story of me” and ‘let go”. We can set aside the self-serving drives of the ego, in favor of acting for the greater whole – our business stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, community environment) and personal relationships (friends, family, community, self, planet). The net result is greater connection, empathy, compassion, trust, communication, effectiveness and efficiency – the DNA of ethical leadership. 

2. Expose Your Leadership Shadow

Leadership is the power to influence others to create positive change. And we’re always influencing those in our businesses – regardless of our title or position, so it’s critical to get intentional about our values, and live our values daily. Understanding beliefs here is key, because beliefs drive values, values drive behavior and behavior extends to the creation of culture.

The issue is many of our beliefs are self-limiting and unconscious, typically falling into three core areas:

  • Inadequacy – I’m not (rich, smart, attractive etc.) enough
  • Scarcity – I’m don’t have enough (money, attention, power, love etc.)
  • Trust – I don’t trust (you, myself, life, God etc.) 

They’re programmed into our minds as children, further conditioned throughout life, and often the source of unconscious fear and shame. We then create masks to hide these unconscious beliefs, which creates inauthentic behavior, sabotages integrity, and drains us of the vital energy to inspire, create and execute. The unconscious expression of these unconscious beliefs creates the leader’s shadow.

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said “until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”. Therefore, to access all of your power as a leader, it is vital to make the unconscious conscious – do the required “in-venture” to discover and bring the shadow into the light of awareness.

When the shadow is known, we can accept all of who we are. We free up energy used in masking parts of ourselves we deem wrong, and access the true power of our authentic selves. As we increase authenticity, we build trust and connection enabling us to better empower our teams to drive positive change. We also then operate with expanded mental-emotional clarity, making more impactful choices and decisions to create greater value.

3. Develop Your Powers of Observation

Self awareness increases only when we begin to observe our minds – the origin of ego and shadow discussed above, and the generator of all thought, emotion and sensation. When we begin to witness our mental-emotional reaction patterns and the stories we construct we can:

  • Access presence – the place where stillness, calm and mental clarity exists.
  • Access space – between the story of me (ego identification) and the observer of the story of me (witness) where our power, vitality, effectiveness and integrity live.
  • Access freedom – in the ability to make more skillful choices aligned with our highest future possibility;
  • Access power – in observing the shadow and knowing it’s origin, we can accept, integrate and enable greater authenticity, integrity and full self expression.

As we practice identifying ego, exposing our shadows, and observing the habits of our minds, we naturally feel a greater sense of connection with all things.

We develop a more profound understanding that as leaders, we’re true partners with society – responsible to the whole stakeholder system – shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, partners, community, planet.
And we can access a reservoir of natural power, based in natural law, that allows us to become a more empowered co-creator of business life, instead of a less empowered reactor to business life.