Archives for corporate leadership

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. 

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. 

Evaluating Your Workforce for Potential Troublemakers

Office SpaceReverse Engineering Internal Sabotage for Prevention [Part 3 of 3; Click for Part 1 and Part 2]

Remember Milton from Office Space? That poor guy. All he wanted was his red stapler to stop getting taken. AND, they kept moving him to the basement, AND, he stopped receiving his paycheck. I hate to spoil this movie for you, even though I’d have to imagine everyone has seen it, but let’s just say, neglect is a primary ingredient for sabotage.

(Fun fact: That Swingline red stapler didn’t exist until the movie and now it’s a best seller!)

Once you know that your hiring process allowed a saboteur to get through the screening process, how do you make sure that the rest of your workforce is on the up and up without insulting those of higher values and morals?

I suspect strongly that the majority of employees will also want to make sure that there are no additional internal saboteurs. After all, the mission they hopefully feel so aligned with is at stake, and so is their job, essentially.

But at a larger organization, there are, statistically speaking, going to be those who feel like they have earned trust and may feel as though measures to test trust are for other people who have not yet proven themselves trustworthy. Another objection will be any time it may take, especially in organizations like Elon Musk‘s that are already stretching their workforce very thin.

You have to be able to make the argument that everyone is subject to same evaluations, including the top level. As with everything else these days, transparency is the key to earning buy in from your talent.

What kind of evaluation could you use that would be fair and accurate in finding clues to values and behaviors that could lead to sabotage without making people feel like they’re not allowed to be human and make mistakes? There are several

I mean, someone who has an inherent bias isn’t necessarily somebody who will commit corporate espionage, and bias itself is human. It’s when bias is used to make decisions that it becomes a problem.

How many people could you really afford to lose all at once if your evaluations determine that the screening process let in multiple people? How much do you really want to know? Some people will leave before ish hits the fan, because every day will feel like a witchhunt, and even if they have done everything up to snuff, they might still wonder if a standardized test, which many have good reasons to be skeptical of, will pick up something anomalous.

According to Tesla’s Glassdoor reviews, it seems to employees perceive that people get let go on the spur of the moment, for no known reason [known to them.] So, you can imagine how pervasive this fear would become if suddenly the company wanted to dig deeper. [I’ll put a post on how fear for your job inhibits an organization’s growth on the “on deck” list.]

The evaluation for this situation is a core value assessment, but it’s usually given during the interview process, not after your workforce is onboarded, let alone tenured for any significant amount of time. As for which are the best for weeding out potential troublemakers in your workforce?

As I mentioned in part one, all humans have the potential for altruistic punishment. So, if you’re really going to weed out people with the potential to act on desire for justice, you’re going to lose your whole workforce

Are engagement surveys going to identify how unfairly employees feel policies and leadership are? They are designed to, but there are problems with engagement surveys, though – especially if people already fear for their jobs, they are not likely to be very honest, these are traditionally done annually, and there’s the issue of time that it takes to complete vs. how long a company actually executes on data gathered. [Contact us to identify the best employee engagement survey for you for help implementing a plan that will lead to optimal engagement improvements.]

Plus, do you even need an assessment or survey when your Glassdoor profile clearly expresses employee concerns?

Even if your Glassdoor profile isn’t accurately reflecting employee concerns, what would it take to be properly alerted to fringe behavior, but still maintain a culture that keeps talent engaged?

It comes down to resetting your culture.

In a radio interview on Executive Leaders Radio that I was invited to observe, Shal Jacobovitz, CEO of CiVi BIopharma, put it simply – talent issues are either based on will, skill, or values. As a leader he can develop skills and inspire will, but when issues were due to a mismatch of values, they had to part ways.

In my professional opinion and based on logic, you can’t expect that your whole workforce will comply with a values evaluation without diminishing your culture and trust at a critical time when trust really needs to be rebuilt.

The best way to lessen the chances that any individuals within your workforce inclined toward altruistic punishment are more inclined to leave peacefully, be rehabilitated, or identified and fairly eliminated without incident is to reset the culture to be based on commitment to the mission, shared values, and mutual trust and respect.

Core Value Assessments don’t do this, though they can help you hire people more in alignment, but engagement surveys might, as long as data remains anonymous and transparent action is taken to address workforce complaints and suggestions.

If suspicious activity is identified by employees, there needs to be a TRULY anonymous channel people can use and a thorough due diligence process to validate any claims.

Altruistic punishment can also be carried out between employees, not just from employee to employer. People will take matters into their own hands if they don’t feel they will be properly and adequately addressed.

All people make mistakes. Good people make poor judgments sometimes. Don’t expect to rid your workforce of mistakes or poor judgments, or even bias; you can simply raise awareness around them and ensure that bias doesn’t drive decisions.

Don’t punish employees for having opinions about how things could be better or feelings about how things are.

Instead aim to cultivate a culture where people can be authentic and imperfect, where it’s safe to bring problems out into the open so that they can be resolved, and then make all reasonable efforts to resolve them.

Be transparent about expectations and give people room to live up to them. Give them a reason to be their best, and show them faith that you know they will be. This isn’t fluffy hippie love I’m selling here – it’s science. In 1964, Harvard professor Robert Rosenthal conducted an experiment that proved that teachers’ expectations influence how students perform.

It does no good to label an employee as a potential troublemaker. Consider them human, first, because if they really are a threat, they can still be threat to you externally, and how handle their opinions and feelings will determine just how much of a threat they stay, inside or outside. Acknowledge effort over intelligence, and you will get your best efforts from your workforce.

Troublemaker- Weezer

1st song off of Weezer’s Red Album! Now I decided “Whoa, this need lyrics” so I drank some coffee, broke five pencils, and let the copy and paste process do the talking. God, that was a lot of work! (No, I’m just being easy. lol) Here’s the lyrics!

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 corporate consulting and career management 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 and 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 was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.

David Brennan’s Epic Career Tale

Listen to David Brennan’s Epic Career Tale

David Brennan was CEO of AstraZeneca. He took a very unconventional path in comparison to his counterparts. He retired years ago, but was recently engaged to be an interim CEO for Alexion Pharmaceuticals, while also helping them find their “permanent” CEO. Once he did, he was asked to become Chairman of the Board.

Can women still be considered a minority?

Image

While looking into business grants recently, I was asked, “Why are women a minority?” My answer was that it is “obviously” not based on demographic disadvantage, but attitudinal. Since the feminist movement, women have made great strides in professional equality. Their salaries are becoming more comparable. Their management opportunities are becoming more comparable.  Their educational levels are more comparable.

Regardless, speaking as the youngest daughter with two much older big brothers, I was not taught that the world is my oyster. The main message that I took from Catholic grade school was to be meek and humble. I took this to heart when people teased me. My brothers were encouraging me to fight back, but that seemed like something boys do; a good little girl should just absorb it, it seemed, or ignore it, which a sensitive girl just can’t seem to do. It seems that a major component of my professional and personal growth through the years actually depends on UNLEARNING to be meek and humble, and yet still accept myself as a “good girl.”

As a teenager I really related to the No Doubt song “Just A Girl.” My brothers were given many more freedoms. They easily found jobs at 14. With work permit in hand, I applied to practically every food vendor in the mall. I finally was given a job (through my network, even though I would’ve told you that I didn’t have one) at Orange Julius at just shy of 16. Sure, I’d done babysitting, but only while my uncle was home. To be honest, I really didn’t know how to entertain kids; it wasn’t my talent, but it was the only work available to me. Even neighborhood raking and shoveling went to the strapping teenage boys.

Gabby Reese is out there promoting/defending her book, My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper: A Guide to the Less than Perfect Life, in which she admits that, though she is a strong female, the best way to make her household and marriage run smoothly is to assume the submissive role. Meanwhile, Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, points out in her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, that these gender role stereotypes and adopted self-images are what keep women out of the board room and C-level positions.

15-20% of companies have women in C-level positions.

This is the major reason that women remain a minority business owner. Now, the best we can do for each other is to help one another reach for BIG goals, rather than settling for what we can squeeze out of our career with all of our other responsibilities. If you have ideas on how we can do this, please share a comment. In the meantime, I will be following more women on how to have it all and, as usual, I will keep you apprised of what I learn.

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