Archives for February 2020

Conscious Leadership vs. Servant Leadership: Why Do We Need Another Leadership “Flavor of the Month”?

Related to the disenchantment with corporate life that is driving people to leave, which I covered a couple of weeks ago, people are growing skeptical, if not cynical, that companies are actually capable of delivering on their promises of positive change in any meaningful way.

Words can be manipulative, cause division where they’re meant to cause unification, and seem pretty empty and meaningless when that’s the case. People are sick of initiatives with catchphrases that amount to nothing actually changing for the better. Change initiatives face enormous resistance, and if an organization uses an inauthentic tactic to execute change, it strengthens that resistance into an even larger obstacle. There’s no sense trying to get buy-in from people who have been duped before.

Some companies are legitimately trying, and their leaders have good intentions. They lack, however, the blueprint, consistency, trust, and/or tools to spread change to every level of their organization and turn that into its new identity. Not all of them can see their blind spots or identify vulnerabilities.

Other companies steamroll change, disregarding casualties and intimidating the survivors into submission…or else.

When starting my new Facebook and LinkedIn groups, I reached out to you for your input on potential names for the groups. The responses that I received demonstrated that people don’t want a new “flavor of the month” when it comes to leadership. It seems people are becoming resigned to anything really transforming systemically. Even if a company can achieve an internal transformation, it sometimes has to operate under a larger system of archaic values and profit models used by its vendors, regulators, shareholders, etc.

About 5 years ago, I was explaining to a client that the way he was describing his philosophy on leadership seemed to align with “servant leadership.” He talked about how he didn’t see himself as the authority. He considered his team members the subject matter experts and he viewed his job as making sure that they had what they needed to perform their best and deliver for the organization. Sometimes that looked like lobbying for new technology, sometimes it looked like fighting for extra bonuses or vacation time, and sometimes it looked like taking all of the blame and accountability for something that went wrong. In his past, it also looked like whistle-blowing against his employer and providing his leadership with a healthy dose of truth when it came to negotiating project scopes and timelines.

At the time, I saw servant leadership as the noblest kind of leadership to emerge. I loved the idea of an upside-down organizational chart where value is shifted to the frontline.

Servant leadership goes back to 1971 although it wasn’t necessarily in every corporate leader’s lexicon until Southwest Airlines brought it en vogue as a model. It then took several other pioneers to demonstrate that this style of leadership is responsible for dramatic performance and engagement improvements.

While Southwest continues to lead in culture and servant leadership, they may not qualify as a consciously led corporation. I read recently that their on-air water quality was among the poorest and contains high levels of E. coli bacteria (that’s the poop bacteria.) This might just be an overlooked facet of their procurement, but it could also be a symptom of leadership that is not fully considering the wellness of people and our planet at all levels of the organization. I’m not saying that they are absolutely not a conscious company, but I am distinguising between servant leadership and conscious leadership.

There is so much I would not refute about the value of servant leadership, but it’s not an end-all, be-all leadership model for 2020 and beyond. Like many “flavor of the month” terms that came before it, once a way of leading earns the spotlight, unconscious companies will come along and “borrow” it. They will make it their new manifesto and try to sprinkle it around to get people excited and re-engaged. They will do this, however, without a real concrete blueprint or training to imbue it into all leadership decisions and relationships at every level of the organization. So, transformation falls flat, the results it was intended to garner don’t last, and the community becomes skeptical of new initiatives. Future change becomes that much harder to execute and accept.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on why NOW is the critical time for conscious leadership to earn the spotlight and get adopted in corporate America.

While conscious leadership certainly shares values with servant leadership, such as authenticity, transparency, and empathy, there are a few key distinctions that augment servant leadership so that results are sustainable and profits don’t come at a cost to people or the planet.

One key difference is accountability. There is a risk in servant leadership that employees, whether engaged or not, will come to expect that a leader is there to create perfect conditions for performance. This nurtures entitlement. Perfect conditions are not always possible. While in conscious leadership, there is the acknowledgement that people perform better when they are supported, they are not supported at the cost of the customer, the growth that will lead to sustainable success, nor the environment. Instead, they lay out the short and long-term potential impacts of change to all potential populations with the input of subject matter experts. Then, they involve the most engaged people on their teams to devise a plan to do the most amount of good while causing the least amount of harm.

“But wait,” you say, “That’s not inclusive of disengaged employees, and how do you decide fairly who is engaged and who isn’t?”

You’re right! That’s why engagement framework comes along with the conscious leadership blueprint. It borrows from traditional engagement surveys, but it is determined by more than just an individual’s perception of his/her own engagement, which can be misrepresented. It includes, but is not exclusively determined by, how well employees meet KPIs. It also incorporates how well this person has aligned with the company’s mission, vision, and values as exhibited by their actions and multi-dimensional feedback. People are not penalized for being on a static track versus a growth track. People can still be engaged in their jobs while they allocate extra focus to other areas of their lives besides work. At times, it’s necessary.

In conscious leadership, leaders invest time in understanding, communicating, and learning how to circumnavigate or achieve their own areas of development. This brings the leader to a human, relatable level with his or her team(s) and demonstrates that being imperfect is okay. It encourages self-reflection as well as openness and honesty. How much of a servant can a leader be, after all, if they remain blind to the real challenges of team members?

Servant leaders are still susceptible to situational greed. It works like this: A leader does good and as a byproduct receives recognition, accolades, and compliments. This releases a flood of feel-good hormones and the brain says, “I want more!” So, with positive reinforcement, the leader continues to do good and continues to be praised. Also, keep in mind that with attention, accolades, praise, and prestige often come lucrative opportunities and chances to integrate with movers and shakers, which makes doing good even more intoxicating.

Now, the leader falls prey to someone promoting a high-prestige program as good that will get the leader even more accolades than before! At some point, the brain switches the motivation to do good from doing good to receiving accolades. This leader is essentially duped by an ill-intentioned leader preying upon this leader’s desire to do good. It turns out that the program was not good or mostly good. In fact, it hurt people. The leader failed to examine all facets of the program and perform conscious due diligence because he or she wanted the praise more than the reality that this program had major flaws and should not have happened.

This leader was a servant leader throughout this scenario – encouraging and supporting the team, giving others credit, doing everything possible to create conducive conditions to top performance. Yet, this leader was not a conscious leader.

A conscious leader would have used a conscious decision protocol to explore all of the known potential short-term and long-term impacts and, even at the risk of making an unpopular decision, would have led a team in deciding that the risk was not worth the reward. Personal gain would have been eliminated from the equation through a self-check that helps leaders recognize when they are operating from ego and switch to the higher self.

A conscious leader also recognizes value systems, belief systems, and methods without discrediting or disregarding other perceptions. That is not to say that a conscious leader has to make all parties happy or even be agreeable to other perspectives. It just means that the impacts on people as they report them are considered valid and are considered – even if in the end, the plan decided on does not accommodate them.

Like all leaders, in a pure definition of a leader as beings someone who creates and develops more leaders, conscious leaders see the development and growth of the team to be the best way to serve the most people and achieve the most good.

If you are interested in learning more about the Conscious Leader Blueprint for Leaders or the Consciousness Ripple Formula for Aspiring Leaders, join my new Raising Corporate Consciousness Facebook group. If you are a conscious leader looking to spread awareness of conscious corporate practices and discuss the challenges of widespread adoption, I invite you to join my new LinkedIn group, the Conscious Leadership Connection.

Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground

1973 – Innervisions Many thanks to ClosedCaptionIt for the captions! If you’re interested in captioning your own videos or someone else’s check out http://ww…

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

When Keeping It Real at Work Goes Wrong

Authenticity is quickly emerging as a top desired quality of conscious leaders in 2020 and beyond. In particular, a leader who can be vulnerable, honest about flaws, accountable for mistakes, and commit to positive change with believable conviction is highly prone to inspiring today’s and tomorrow’s workforce to follow him or her.

Any strength, however, can also be a liability if it’s not balanced by consciousness. An unconscious leader is not self-aware enough to distinguish truth (data, facts) from story (opinion, perception, bias.)

When decisions are made from this place, the ego fights to maintain control, and will staunchly produce confirmation bias. Science has proven that we are all prone to confirmation bias. Self-awareness is like a muscle that can be developed and strengthened over time with practice. Just like any other skill, we can form better habits around self-awareness. It can become something we do automatically as we become unconsciously competent.

Over 15 years ago, Dave Chappell demonstrated the drawbacks to “keeping it real,” and how people sometimes justify outrage, verbal assaults, or even physical assault. In the end, they lose.

Nowadays, with social media even more commonplace, “keyboard warriors” and “trolls” have emerged. We also have the term “snowflakes” to describe those who express an emotional response, take things personally, or voice an opposing opinion with passion.

We have more venues for communication than ever before, and different preferences around communication. Consequently, there’s more than one way people want to be shown respect.

It’s confusing to have so many people trying to influence if, when, and/or how it’s acceptable to express emotions. On top of that, people have an opinion about whether your emotional response is right or wrong. Civil discourse has disintegrated into name-calling and divisiveness that appears to be beyond bridging.

A new generation is entering the workforce with the highest rates of mental illness of any generation. Is this what is causing this?

Way back in Interpersonal Communications, a course I had as a communications major, we learned a very simple method to have effective conversations with people. It started with active listening – listening for comprehension, not reply.

And then, to ensure comprehension, because so much can be subjectively translated based on one’s personal experiences and perceptions, to repeat back to the person your understanding/translation of what they just said. Then asking for clarification, reflecting, and thoughtfully responding.

It seemed then like just a helpful guide for having clear communications, which is VERY easy to NOT do and results in unnecessary stress, conflict, divisiveness, and unharmonious collaboration that stifles progress and wellness.

After years of studying other disciplines that also impact communication, such as neuroscience, the reflection part of this is where there is a development gap, and thankfully mindfulness is coming along to fill that gap.

It’s a busier world now. Unless leaders are consciously making time for conscious reflection. They are prone to making decisions from bias, perception, and opinion. There’s also a need to make sure that future leaders are supported in developing these habits by being able to take regular brain fatigue breaks throughout the day and work reasonable hours. Time off is also important so that people have the ability to travel, to see things from a different perspective, and to turn off the problems and stress of work for periods of time.

Another communication gap is words, or at least, it would seem that it’s words that directly cause a response. Actually, it’s the mindset from which the words originate.

I read a short, but highly impactful book many years ago called Change Your Words; Change Your World by Andrea Gardner. It advised bathing words in your mouth with love before they leave your lips.

Your ego is always trying to convince you that you’re right and others are wrong. Your higher self will favor understanding over judgment.

No one likes feeling judged or being judged. Any hint of judgment in your words can backfire in harmful ways, the least of which is resistance – the opposite outcome you desire.

Make sure you are not insinuating someone is wrong when that is really just your opinion.

Ask yourself if your words are kind, honest, and necessary.

If so, consult with your highest self. “Taste” the words you intend to use. Do they drip with love?

Your ego is real but does not always see the truth. Your highest self is real and sees profound truth. If you’re going to keep it real at work, stay in alignment with your highest self, not your ego. The more you do this, the more automatic it will become. The more automatic it becomes, the more influential and authentic you will grow as a leader.

Fugees – Killing Me Softly With His Song (Official Video)

Fugees’ official music video for ‘Killing Me Softly With His Song’. Click to listen to the Fugees on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TFSpot?IQid=FKMS As featured…

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Is There a Mass Exodus from Corporate America?

Since announcing Epic Careering’s 2020 initiative to raise corporate consciousness, I’ve gotten some interesting, but not very surprising, feedback.

My new effort is being met with a lot of skepticism, which I totally get!

A couple of people cringed at the word “corporate.” How does that word hit you? What comes to mind when you think of “corporate” entities? Are they good things or bad things?

Mostly, what I perceive is resignation. Essentially, all companies these days need to be able to adapt to change quickly. Keeping up with technology, competition, global trends, and customer experience is more important than ever. However, when it comes to truly transformational change, in which the leaders are transparent, communicate proactively, and show genuine concern about their people and the planet, many people feel like it’s all a bunch of lip service intended to pacify the disgruntled, manufacture motivation, and trick new talent into joining the ranks.

I’ve learned, from my own clients over the past 13 years, as well as from candid candidates back when I was working as a recruiter, that many, many people are disillusioned with their jobs and corporate leaders in general. Fortunately, these people are not giving up – yet.

My clients discovered that there were better opportunities available, and there didn’t necessarily need to be a large quantity of them; they just had to improve at qualifying companies and proactively pursuing positions that truly present the potential to thrive. That leads to the serious concern I’m experiencing right now – if I continue helping people land the great jobs, what will be left for the rest?

You may be starting to see that unless transformation comes soon, everyone loses.

I’ve been collecting articles about companies doing wrong and companies doing right for about four years now. I’ve been told countless tales of leaders failing to give talent what it needs to thrive and prosper, such as growth opportunities, training, sponsorship, resources, and ample time for self-care.

Here are some quick stats that I’ve found very interesting:

  • 12% of people who start businesses (2019) did so because they were dissatisfied with corporate America.
  • The workforce participation rate has been declining, and that trend is expected to continue, accounting for a projected 9% decrease from 1998 to 2028.
  • A Korn Ferry study predicts that by 2030, there will be a global talent shortage of 85 million people, at an estimated cost of $8.5 trillion. In the US, the tech industry alone “could lose out on $162 billion worth of revenues annually unless it finds more high-tech workers”, in addition to losing out on $500 billion due to anticipated disengagement in all markets.

A staggering 79% of independent contractors prefer working for themselves as opposed to working as a full-time employee. Unfortunately, the success rate for 1st-time entrepreneurs sits at about 18%, which works in corporate America’s favor because it means that some of the talent leaving may eventually return, or be more favorable to acting as a consultant. So, what happens when a company needs more ongoing, stable presence and leadership? And if those returning to corporate America from nontraditional roles are the answer, how many companies may disqualify this talent simply for not having been in the corporate game recently?

The generation entering the workforce actually values stability. I predict that it won’t be long before this generation is forced to realize that company job security is an enigma; only by learning how to generate opportunity do they actually stand to gain true security. They’ve witnessed it when their parents, who did everything right, still found themselves financially strapped and perhaps even unemployed. They’re being forced into the gig economy because of the number of jobs being outsourced to freelancers or firms.

Corporate America has little time to keep this new generation from becoming just as disillusioned. This doesn’t mean delaying or resisting automation, but completely revamping and figuring out how to offer opportunities to do more meaningful work under more enjoyable conditions.

So, while the data doesn’t reflect a mass exodus of talent from corporate America just yet, the problems that already exist are predicted to get much worse. Raising corporate consciousness is the solution.

Do you want to be part of the solution? Join the LinkedIn group.

Want to keep up with who is moving toward, or away from, corporate consciousness? Join the Facebook group.

Bob Marley – Exodus [HQ Sound]

Bob Marley in Exodus. Enjoy!

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

The Dangers of the “Average of 5” Rule

I have learned profound wisdom from Jim Rohn, but one thing he taught, which many other coaches echo, is that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time. The advice around this is to surround yourself with people who already have aspects of the life that you want for yourself to elevate your station in life.

One study confirmed that it’s not only the five people closest to you, but also the people who are close to them, and so on. The reason, they identified, was norms. “Your perception of what is… acceptable … and your behavior changes” according to what you see more regularly.

A few dangers could arise from following the “average of 5” rule too strictly. Let’s explore some of them.

On one hand, if you aspire to be a visionary entrepreneur, by all means, seek out opportunities to spend time among visionary entrepreneurs. Spending time with people who have achieved what you aspire to achieve is one great way to keep you motivated, and it serves as a pull rather than a push. It will also most likely shorten your path from current reality to achieving your desired reality if you can learn from them how to overcome challenges, navigate most successfully, and expand your sphere of influence to include people in theirs.

On the other hand, people use this “average of 5” rule to justify cutting poor or unambitious people out of your life. I do agree that, while very hard, it’s important for self-preservation to put distance between you and toxic people in your life – those who seem to intentionally make you feel bad, whether conscious or subconscious. However, we know it happens – some people make it big and forget where they came from. They lose touch with the struggles of everyday people. It’s why self-aware executives participate in the show Undercover Boss. Even if you don’t intend to, you can forget the reality of not having money, status, luxury items and vacations, etc.

Yet another problem is that sometimes people do get left behind, and you can’t make and keep any guarantees.

Sometimes naturally, just as a byproduct of growing and changing your lifestyle, things you once had in common with people shift. You can become people that no longer have the same struggles that originally bonded you. The bonds can weaken and you could become unrelatable to each other. Sometimes ego is in the way of someone else wanting more for you (e.g. why should you get what they don’t have). Other times, people will “punch holes” in your plans because they fear losing you. They fear you changing or they fear being left behind. In another possible scenario, they could genuinely believe that you’re more likely to fail than succeed, which is really a reflection of their norms, and they are trying to “save you” from getting hurt or disappointed.

When people get left behind, the divide can widen. Feelings of hurt can manifest as anger and resentment. One person can turn the rest of your old crew against you.

Now, on the bright side, people can just as easily become more likely to succeed because you do – the same way you are more likely to smoke or gain weight along with those closest to you. So it stands to reason that if you intend to follow this advice, and cut out or intentionally distance yourself from these people who are below your measure of achievement, then their chances of being positively impacted by your success is much less.

Another danger is falling into a new crowd that may elevate your pay or status, but denigrate your core values. If you are not mindful of keeping your norms aligned with your values, you may start to lose touch with your values and act in ways that start to seem acceptable, because more of your close contacts act in those ways, even if they are in direct conflict to what you had decided individually were your values. Think about the celebrity college scandal. Even in that illegal situation, one person allegedly involved couldn’t see what was wrong with it – everyone was doing it.

Still more dangerous is this “go get yours,” “rugged individualism,” “drop the baggage holding you down” mentality.  While we are fighting as a nation about how to deal with mass shootings, seeing how we put controls on guns without taking away freedoms, and knowing that mental illnesses are on the rise and also contribute. What to do about this seems to escape us, except to try to strip away the stigma so that we can get that conversation going. Leaving people behind can also be dangerous.

There is another way to look at this. As per my last blog about raising corporate consciousness, just as people can elevate so much further in income and status and become removed from their poorer or less ambitious connections, people can also evolve too far in consciousness and lose touch.

Not all of us will be monks or spiritual gurus and live a life detached from material things altogether. It seems so far fetched. Most of us will not risk our 9-5 jobs, healthcare, etc. to chase butterflies, so to speak. However, some people have found ways to live in which their lifestyles are provided for as a result of imparting their wisdom to a following or tribe. Though the average everyday person* can certainly glean wisdom from these teachers, there is too much dissonance from the current reality of a guru to the current reality of an everyday person for a guru to serve as a true model.

* Let’s define the everyday person as someone who works for someone else to generate their income, carries some debt, follows a budget out of necessity, and would need a loan for very large purchases. This person may have religious beliefs but is not necessarily living according to them at all moments. Life is challenging, and sometimes also very time-consuming. So much so that self-care, self-reflection, and spiritual practices are sacrificed.

We need people at various levels in the middle to serve as ladders, to stay relatable and somewhat in resonance with the lower levels to inspire them to elevate.

So, if you’ve heard this advice and it felt wrong to assess your friends and family’s worthiness of being close to you, honor those feelings. Do bring new people into your sphere of influence to help you elevate, but keep your hand outreached to those below. Not everyone will be willing to take your hand, especially if your rise has been less than gracious. However, work with the willing, and, based on the science backing up the “average of 5” rule, gradually more and more will elevate at their own pace.

Pearl Jam – You Are

Pearl Jam – “You Are” (Riot Act Album) unoficial video clip

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award.