Nimble Organizations Embrace and Adapt to Change

The National Football League recently held its annual rookie draft in Philadelphia. It was a life-changing opportunity for many young men. Only a handful of those selected in the draft will go on to have lengthy and successful NFL careers. Before the draft, teams looked at all the measurable factors of the potential draft picks, including height, weight, and speed. However, they also looked for intangibles, such as attitude, ability to respond to stressful situations, and work ethic.

When we think about successful leaders and organizations, there are key success factors that are identifiable and can help us predict business performance. There are also intangible factors that contribute to success and aren’t easily measured or apparent at a surface level. Responding to change falls into that second category. How we deal with and manage change is a key success factor in organizational performance. Nimble organizations and leaders that can pivot and adapt to change will have a positive impact and position themselves for success.

Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations face significant changes related to the economy, technology, customer/stakeholder expectations, and an evolving workforce. The ability to fulfill the missions of our organizations and to be financially sustainable is becoming more complicated. As organizations confront these challenges, it is important to remain nimble and responsive.

The following set of best practices are focused on how organizations and their leaders can adapt to change and remain nimble in a changing environment:

  • Practice continuous improvement
    • Teach, learn, and model key behaviors
    • Create positive individual and organizational habits
  • Manage your response to change
    • Understand your paradigms and blind spots
    • Recognize that to be nimble you must have engaged leaders and staff
  • Stay true to your vision and values
    • Do not sacrifice who you are to become someone or something else
    • Strive for positive growth

The following questions can help leaders focus on continuous improvement:

  • What are your key success factors and metrics?

  • What organizational and personal habits do you need to add or eliminate?

  • With whom should you connect or build stronger relationships?

We all recognize that change is inevitable. But you can be a game changer by focusing on positive improvements, acknowledging and addressing barriers and challenges, facilitating continuous learning and growth throughout the organization, and paying attention to coworkers, family, friends, and your community.

Paying attention to your customers, community, and staff through the development of open and systematic communications channels will help you to adapt and grow during times of change. The ability to respond to change in a systematic and timely manner is characteristic of successful and sustainable organizations and their leaders.

Reprinted with permission from the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


John Park, Ph.D., Baker Tilly

John, a director with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, focuses on leadership development, emotional intelligence, and strategic planning.

 

Quick Feet, Clear Minds

QUICK FEET, CLEAR MINDS

Three Ways Walking Meetings Can Make You Happier at Work

As you may have heard, at Diamond6 we are calling October “Walking Meeting Month.”

You have surely heard about the health benefits of walking meetings. I wrote about them briefly in my last article: Killer Chairs: The Sitting Prognosis. Getting up from our desks regularly throughout the day can have benefits for our weight, heart, blood pressure, and even blood sugar levels.

I am incredibly impatient and I like to see results….like yesterday. So, while all the studies on how walking will help prevent heart disease in 20+ years, those facts are not always effective motivation for me to step away from my email. Can you relate?

What I do know is that how we feel is something we can gauge immediately. That can be much more motivating for an instant gratification person like myself. And who doesn’t want to feel better?

Instead of droning on about the obvious PHYSICAL benefits, I want to share with you how walking meetings can help you and your employees’ MENTAL health. Specifically, how incorporating walking meetings can make you happier at work.

So, in brief, are three ways walking meetings can lift spirits in the office: 

1. Moving Makes You Happy: The exact physiological reason why exercise improves mood is still being studied. However, research has shown that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression and possibly even prevent it in the first place. We have all felt the happy high after getting a good workout in at the gym, going for a run, or riding a bike – we’ve done our own research! But, it doesn’t take a 1-hour Zumba class to turn a frown upside down. A 10-minute brief, brisk walk around the office can do the same. 

2. Sunshine Smiles: Vitamin D has long been known to play a vital role in bone health. Now, researchers have found that many part of the brain have vitamin D receptors. For this reason, vitamin D has been linked with depression and other mental health problems. Sure, you can take vitamin D supplements but they aren’t as effective for mood as getting it straight from the source – the sun. So, if you can, hit the pavement or the track and soak up a little sunshine and give you brain a little happy vitamin boost. Check out the Vitamin D Council for more information on this important vitamin and how to get enough of it.

3. Connection, Purpose, Value: A workforce that feels a social connection to one another has a united purpose and feels valued. And obviously, those people would feel pretty darn happy at work! Getting out from behind your desk to walk and meet with employees and colleagues removes the physical barrier of your desk, creating a more open and connected conversation. Aside from having a more relaxed work meeting you also have the opportunity to get to know someone on a more personal level. This can require some vulnerability on the part of the leader. However, when you have the courage to be yourself and show you deeply care about those who work for you, you will create a safe, productive, and happier workplace. This story about the founder of a tech startup is a perfect illustration of how creating connection can be the key to making an organization succeed.


Tanya McCausland, Chief Operating Officer

Tanya is a Board Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant through Bauman College in Berkeley, CA and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Killer Chairs: The Sitting Prognosis

You have probably heard the phrase, “sitting is the new smoking”.

I have to admit, when I first read this sentence as a headline while doing research for an upcoming wellness presentation I thought, “Come on, is it really THAT bad?!”. My second thought was, “If it’s true, that is the most alarming and unhelpful piece of health information I have ever read!”.

We now live in a sitting society.

We sit, sometimes for hours, commuting to and from work every day, we sit at our desks, in meetings, at lunch and dinner. Heck, we’re mostly sitting when watching our kids play sports and perform recitals.

Don’t get me wrong. Much of the sitting we do is necessary because of the distances we must travel to get to work and the type of work we do. Naturally, I’m sitting down at my desk while I write this article – how very ironic!

So, is sitting as detrimental to our health as lighting up a Lucky Strike?

There have been several studies over the last few years taking a closer look at how prolonged sitting may be associated with increased risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and impaired insulin sensitivity. However, the results of the most recent study published in Annals of Internal Medicine less than a month ago appear to provide the most reliable recent data. That is because previous studies relied on self-reporting to evaluate the total sedentary time. This study used hip-mounted accelerometers resulting in more objective data.

The most important contribution of this study involved the separating of two sedentary behaviors: total daily sedentary time (how much time we spend sitting each day) and uninterrupted sedentary bout duration (length of time we sit at a stretch before getting up).

Dr. David A. Alter, an associate professor at the University of Toronto in Ontario summarized the two extremes of the finding well by stating; “Persons with uninterrupted sedentary bouts of 30 minutes or more had the highest risk for death if total sedentary time also exceeded 12.5 hours per day. Conversely, in those whose daily sedentary volumes were low, uninterrupted bout lengths had little if any associated effects on mortality.”.

Yes, prolonged sitting does seem to have an impact on our health. Though the exact causes and effects are still unclear, why wait?!

You can be the most effective and respected leader when you take care of yourself and your body. Your organization’s success relies on your health!

This is why we decided to call October “Walking Meeting Month” at Diamond6. As the days start to cool down and the leaves change color we are getting up from our desks and heading outside to discuss business opportunities, brainstorm new ideas, and plan events – all while getting a little exercise and fresh air.

Come walk with us! 

Throughout the month of October, we will be sharing tips, tricks, and strategies around walking while working. Learn about some of the surprising benefits of getting outside in the middle of the day and HOW to actually make that happen.

Then, when you’re outside for your walking meeting snap a picture or take a short video. Post it to our Facebook page, share it on LinkedIn, or tweet it on Twitter, using —-> #D6WalkingMeetingChallenge.

We will be selecting a winner at random on November 1, 2017 from all submissions. The more you walk, the more pictures you take, the higher chances of winning!

Ready. Set. WALK!


Tanya McCausland, Chief Operating Officer

Tanya is a Board Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant through Bauman College in Berkeley, CA and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

Emotional intelligence is the driver of success

Since the mid-1990s numerous books and articles have been written on emotional intelligence (EQ) as a driver of individual and organizational success. Authors Daniel Goleman, Travis Bradberry, and Richard Boyatzis have all written on the key components of EQ and the positive impact it can have in our personal and professional lives. Goleman defines EQ as, “The capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” He emphasizes that IQ and technical competencies get us into the game; however, a high level of EQ elevates our ability to lead and manage organizations.

In The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book: Everything You Need to Know to Put Your EQ to Work, Bradberry suggests that “EQ is the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.” Bradberry goes on to make the case that leaders with a high EQ are 80 percent more productive than their low EQ counterparts, and this productivity translates to higher income and success in leadership roles. There is a sound business case for understanding EQ and focusing on its development. EQ can be developed and improved over time when we are willing to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, are humble enough to ask for and receive feedback, and take the time to slow down, reflect, and think through what we say and do.

Bradberry breaks EQ down into personal and social competence – the ability to be aware of emotions and recognize certain tendencies and behaviors that help or hinder effectiveness. He also emphasizes the importance of social competence – the ability to manage relationships, understand and empathize with others, and recognize how the environment can influence both our own and others’ behaviors.Jefferson’s quote is particularly relevant to the improvement and development of EQ. Behaviors can be changed when we are willing to practice, adapt to our surroundings, and seek out trustworthy mentors willing to take the time to help move us forward.

For those who watch the detective show Foyle’s War, actor Michael Kitchen provides some wonderful examples of EQ through his ability to use the power of observation, empathy, and self-management to solve crimes. Foyle, has the ability to manage his emotions and nonverbal communication in a manner that allows him to keep criminals guessing. The power of EQ is in the ability to maintain focus and cultivate powerful habits that help leaders bring out the best in themselves and others.

Assessments, training programs, and workbooks have been created to encourage the development and use of EQ. You can develop your EQ through structured training, coaching, and a desire to improve and grow. Multirater 360 degree EQ assessments can provide us with a realistic snap shot of how others see us in a variety of settings and compare that feedback to our self-perceptions. This can be positive and validating at times, and it can also be uncomfortable. I have experienced the feedback of 360s, and regularly work with others to help them understand how the feedback can be used to drive them in a positive and beneficial manner.

Reprinted from CPA Now with permission from the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


John Park, Ph.D., Baker Tilly

John, a firm director, maintains a targeted consulting practice where he works with his clients on issues related to strategic planning, change management, enterprise risk management and leadership development. He has multiple publications including co-authorship of the book “Creating in House Sales Development Programs “and regularly speaks at regional and national conferences.

 

Trust your team: four tips to stepping aside

When you maintain a leadership role, it’s tempting to take charge all the time. But you have to know when to hand off responsibility to members of your team. Leaders know when to make decisions, but they also know when to trust others to make those decisions for them.

Being a leader is an important role, and we often feel tempted to fulfill and build up those expectations. But an often unrecognized quality of leadership is knowing when to shut up and step aside. Not everything needs your stamp of approval or your opinion, so here are four tips to help you identify that moment when you’re not needed.

Your skill set isn’t involved

Good leaders realize that their knowledge and experiences are limited in few different aspects. That’s okay. You might know your organization better than anyone in the world, but some components will still require a specialized skill set that you don’t have. Trust the experts or your employees who carry the strengths that you lack. Make sure your talents are being used where they’re most needed, while you let others take care of those issues that function as roadblocks to your skill sets.

You have a full plate — delegate

Time is a luxury, so treat it like one. You don’t have to be at the forefront of every decision because there are other people in your organization who can do that for you. Recognize that and take advantage of that fact. Know what situations and components of your organization actually require your attention and know when you can afford to pass it on to a capable member of your team. They’re your team, so use them.

A new perspective doesn’t hurt

A great leader is always striving to learn new things and create new opportunities. There’s only one way to do that, and that’s by allowing yourself to take a minute to sit and listen to a few fresh voices. You won’t get the best work out of your team members if they’re waiting for you to tell them to jump, so let them know that their opinions and ideas matter. Let them work out problems on their own, and it’s likely they’ll do it better than you could have imagined.

Ego can make a team fragile

While you might be the most talented person in the world, you don’t and shouldn’t do everything. You won’t always know better, and thinking you do all the time could injure your team. Try to be humble, know your flaws and allow others to fill the gaps. Don’t let your self-importance get in the way and trust your team to do the job they were hired to do.

What new leaders need to do right away

It is inevitable that any organization will have a new leader, and it’s
always an adjustment. While it can be an exciting and hopeful time filled with the possibilities of a new direction, it still takes time to earn trust and loyalty from those who have been there for a long period of time.

Nevertheless, a new leader should see this as an opportunity to learn and engage their team. Below are five tips to incorporate in your leadership style to find immediate success.

Speak to everyone

While your initial instinct will be to speak to the people who hired you and your immediate subordinates, you need to expand your pool. In order for people to support your leadership, you need to show your face and prove that you care about people at all levels. When new leaders come in, some people might be skeptical. Address that skepticism head on and find its foundation. Getting to the root of these issues can immediately help you to succeed as you build your strategic vision for the organization. And who knows what you might learn at the same time. 

Identify influencers

Once you’ve spoken to everyone, find the natural leaders amongst them. This is some of your top talent, and you’ll want to bolster their success. It may take some time to identify who produces the best quality work, but once you do you’ve found the foundation of your company. Be sure to invest in these people and expand based upon their talents.

Showcase success

In that vein, it is important to also point out the people who are succeeding. This redoubles their efforts, shows that you acknowledge success, and stimulates a culture of hard work. This will also inspire camaraderie and pushes employees to collaborate and address the agenda that you’ve set for the organization in a productive way.

Be an open book

Don’t hide the challenges the company faces. If people feel closed out, they don’t feel readily engaged. While you may not be able to share everything, there are certainly important ideas and issues that you want your employees to consider. And by sharing, you’ve inspired your team because they feel like valued members of the organization.

Value accountability

If you take people’s ideas seriously, then more ideas will flourish. But make sure you take them seriously in a way that you expect results. While it’s great to have someone who can come up with a million ideas off the top of their head, telling your team that execution is key makes them feel inclined to prove their validity. It’s about finding a solution, not only identifying problems.

Should you have a mentor? Probably.

When considering a mentor, it is first important to get to the foundation of what exactly we mean by “mentoring.” Mentoring is a personal relationship in which a more experienced (usually older) mentor acts as a guide, role-model, and sponsor of a less experienced (usually younger) protégé.

Mentors provide protégés with knowledge, advice, challenge, counsel, and support in their pursuit of becoming full members of a profession as well as becoming effective leaders. This is different from “coaching” which normally refers to shorter term relationships to seek and acquire often technical skills though at times coach can well become a mentor.

I firmly believe most people particularly when embarking on a new career path can benefit markedly from having a mentor. This is particularly true from young people who (as you can see from the definition provided) are embarking on a career in a “profession.” According to sociologists the “professions” include the military, law (to include lawyers as well as law enforcement), medicine, theologians, and educators. These career paths are different from other positions in society.

First, the members of a “profession” have control over an abstract body of knowledge. They are entrusted by society to develop this body of knowledge throughout their careers when they as the professions custodians. Doctors and medical researchers are expected to continue their development as medical professionals during their career while seeking better methods to treat injury and disease.

Second, members of a profession are entrusted by society with a certain degree of autonomy over who may enter the profession as well as determining who has violated the norms of the profession and must lose their “license to practice.” Doctors, military officers, and theologians swear oaths. If they are determined to be operating outside what is acceptable they lose their license, are court-martialed, or are defrocked.

Finally, those who enter a profession are motivated to provide an essential service to society that is critical for society to operate, develop, and survive. Obviously, we all believe that the external security provided by the military is critical, medical personnel treat our ailments, theologians comfort us in our moments of need, and we need a legal system that includes law enforcement if society is to function.

Consequently, I believe that those entering a profession have a heightened need for mentors to insure they fully understand its norms, standards of practice, and are encouraged to continue their professional development.


Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.

Leadership Found and Fought at the Alamo

Some historians regard the Mexican defeat in the Texas Revolution as among the most influential developments in the emergence of the United States as a hemispheric and, eventually, a world power.

The Diamond6 Alamo Leadership Study offers thought-provoking insights from a battle and campaign that seem familiar—but are not generally well understood. On-the-ground study of this Revolution opens up discoveries that can benefit today’s leaders as they grapple with unpredictable change, inter-cultural influences, powerful personalities, a highly volatile environment, and competing stakeholder aims.

The chaotic conditions in Texas and Mexico in 1836 presented leaders on both sides with wickedly complex challenges. In San Antonio both groups operated at the far end of their range of influence. Misunderstandings of the situation and of the opposition’s aims and qualities forced Samuel Houston, Travis, and David Bowie on the Texian side and Santa Anna and his political and military aides on the other to guess and improvise almost every day.

For the Anglo-Tejano rebels, unexpected attacks on their legal rights, uncontrolled influx of American adventurers, and economic penalties imposed by Santa Anna’s government provoked an ill-organized, mutually suspicious resistance. Disagreements over the question of independence or reform and disputed leadership at state level put Travis and Bowie in a tough, risky position in San Antonio early in the year. Their Tejano partners, led by Navarro and Seguin, faced choices that were doubly hard. In both groups a mistaken conception of Santa Anna’s intention and abilities led them to dangerously false assumptions and compelled rebel leaders to make snap decisions that had decisive effects.

On the other side, Santa Anna saw the resistance in Texas as yet another instance in a long line of Yankee incursions into Mexico. Insecure in power and dealing with opposition in Mexico City and in other states, he had to force a quick decision. His response was ingenious in some respects but deeply flawed in others. The leadership environment he imposed on his army and government played a central part in the contest’s outcome and is notably useful for study today.

The perceptions of observers on all sides constrained their choices and created problems analogous to those that leaders face today. The neutral citizens of Mexico, the population and government of the United States, several European powers, and the Native American tribes of the region all figured in the choices that the opposing leaders had to make.

San Antonio became a decisive point for both sides, unwittingly for the rebels and deliberately for Santa Anna. In the Alamo Leadership Study, participants examine how the actions of Travis and Santa Anna brought on a crisis for both sides. Diamond 6’s expert historians and authorities on leadership theory assist them in developing new ideas about the case itself and about the application of leadership principles to current problems. Past participants from both the private and public sectors have enhanced their leader skills individually and as teams through this event.


Don Holder is an independent consultant on leadership, Joint Force and Army doctrine, and training.  As one of six Battle Command Training Program (BCTP) Senior Mentors, he coached commanders of Army corps, divisions and brigades in advanced training exercises.  He advises doctrine writers and force designers on future operations and lectures on theater operations at foreign and US service schools.

Understanding Lincoln

Our colleague and resident Abraham Lincoln expert Matt Pinsker is conducting an incredible on-line course titled “Understanding Lincoln.” Diamond6 CEO Jeff McCausland was asked to participate. The responses to the discussion from grateful teachers has been incredible. We’ve included some below:

– “Wow!!! Great Session!!!! Best Ever!!!!  I learned so much and I have watched it again after the live presentation. I can never thank you enough for the education I get from your amazing vision on how to make better teachers in our country. It was just a big fat WOW today!!!”

– “Thank you for reading my question – how thrilling to watch a panel of experts discuss my thoughts! I really enjoyed the round table from beginning to end!”

We think the exclamation points say it all. Jeff had a great time participating in this Presidential War Powers session and can’t wait to take part in the next one on January 25 at 10 am EST. Please take a moment and watch the video embedded below.

Leadership and Globalization

globalizationGlobalization is how many describe the period in which we live.  It is clearly dynamic and characterized by near constant change.  Furthermore, globalization describes an ongoing process by which economies, societies and cultures have become integrated through globe-spanning networks.  Experts agree that it is driven by a combination of economic, technological, sociocultural, political and biological factors.  Furthermore, it also refers to the transnational dissemination of ideas, languages, or popular culture.  Tom Friedman, the celebrated author described it in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree as “the 100-meter dash, over and over and over.  And no matter how many times you win, you have to race again the next day.  And if you lose by just one-hundredth of a second, it can be as if you lost by an hour.

Clearly, leaders have a major role in how their organizations and teams deal with both the challenges and opportunities of globalization.  I recently ran a series of seminars for a large school district leadership team focused on various aspects of globalization and how it affects education.  We discussed in detail changes that every school district must consider both in terms of structure and curriculum.  One of our speakers made a remarkable observation.  “Educators,” he said “are the first responders to globalization”.

I am firmly convinced this is absolutely true.  Educators are members of a profession. Dr. Andrew Abbott, one of the nation’s experts on the sociology of professions, argues that professions (theologians, the military, law enforcement, and doctors) have three common characteristics.  First, each is responsible for the continued development of an abstract body of knowledge that is critical to society.  Second, society grants professions a certain level of autonomy.  Professions have rituals and licensing to grant membership and have the authority to remove individuals if they violate its norms.  Third, each profession provides a service to society, which is critical if it is to endure and prosper.  With this in mind I believe society holds leaders in education responsible for preparing the next generation to deal with both the challenges and opportunities that globalization offers.

As I thought about this further I was reminded of the words of another great “educator” – Fred Rogers (AKA “Mr. Rogers”).  Fred once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.’  Globalization may be scary at times to all of us, and particularly students who realize it will frame their future.  Consequently, if Fred’s Mom was with us today I think she would be talking about educators….


[1] Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, New York: Anchor Books, 2000, p. 7.

Image from HERE.

———————————————————-
Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.
———————————————————-