October 3, 2019

Hi there! Please note that this week's post is a follow-up to last week's post on co-creation. You can read it here.

Before we can understand the nature of emergence, we have to understand the nature and behavior of complex adaptive systems.

You already know what complex adaptive systems are, even if you don’t know you know. You’ve seen them in practice. You’ve watched teams self-organize to address a problem. You’ve watched cross-functional interactions resulting in product or service changes. You’ve watched companies adapt to new situations or environments.

Complex adaptive systems are informal groups that arise to solve a problem or capitalize on an opportunity. They are the result of the interconnectedness of people and ideas both inside and outside of the organization. They are unpredict...

April 25, 2019

Meet Bob. He’s a CEO.

Bob’s a vision guy. He believes his personal brand of visionary leadership is imperative to his company’s continued health and success. He is fiercely loyal to and protective of his team and has fostered an “us against the world” mentality when dealing with suppliers, regulators and sometimes, even customers. He’s a great problem solver who reacts quickly and decisively during a crisis, and there are lots of crises to react to. Though he has set targets, created a clear reporting structure and put operating policies and procedures in place, he often handles things on his own because he doesn’t want his team to know that at times, the company has been in danger of going under. He gives great, constructive feedback at annual reviews. He’s a relentless competitor who is d...

April 5, 2019

If you’ve been reading this blog regularly, you probably know that Unstuck Leadership isn’t a specific form of action, or a title or even a state of being. It’s a practice. Just as we might have a meditation practice or a professional practice, or perhaps a spiritual practice, the practice of Unstuck Leadership puts us in a constant state of learning and improvement.

Our practice won’t make us perfect. We’ll get things wrong from time to time. God knows I’ve gotten it wrong many times. But with each mistake or glitch or imperfection, we learn and commit to doing better next time. And that commitment requires us to say yes. Yes to growth. Yes to change. Yes to responsibility. Yes to our true selves, and yes to what is emerging within us and around us.

Committed practice is hard. Most of us ge...

March 22, 2019

One thing I know for sure is that Unstuck Leaders know how to show up. They don’t scurry around the office, head down, wrapped up in themselves, their fears and their woes. They’re not constantly looking at their phones. They’re present. And, they’re aware of their affective presence, that is, the way they make others feel when around them.

A study about the affective presence of leaders found that a positive leader was linked to better team information sharing which led to better team innovation. I can well believe it. I once had a boss who would light up whenever an employee stepped into his office. “Ms. Sims! And how are you today? Let’s get to work!” His positivity made me feel validated, and as a result, I was more energetic and confident when presenting ideas, and more open when he ch...

March 2, 2019

In the novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, author Tom Wolfe refers to cynicism as a “cowardly form of superiority.”

Sounds harsh? I don’t think so.

Cynicism is a poison that seems to have found its way into our collective hearts. It used to be that my generation, Generation X, was known for its cynicism, but I have to hand it to the Millennials – they seem to have outdone us. 

I suspect the specifics of this age of cynicism, and why it seems to have infected the Millennial generation with such force will be the topic of many future Ph.D theses. Maybe it’s a result of being raised on The Simpsons and The Office, or maybe it’s due to meme culture, or having come of age during the great recession of 2008, one of the most devastating economic downturns in history, or the crushing pressure of stude...

February 16, 2019

Most of the leadership mythology we subscribe to was created in the 20th century world of fossil fuels and mechanistic, production-oriented businesses. In the 21st century, that world is dying. We can see before us a new world, one of ideas, knowledge and innovation, but we’re not quite there yet. It’s still emerging. And as a result, we’re kind of in between things.

Stepping into the new world is a slow process. And it’s messy. In the old era, leadership was about efficiency and uniformity, and the best way to achieve that was highly structured, top-down leadership. But in a world where everything is changing, top-down can no longer work. Or as Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer put it in their book, Leading from the Emerging Future, “Our inherited leadership vocabulary is no longer fit to me...

October 19, 2018

Last week, I wrote about the six basic human needs and how they impact your leadership style. This week, it’s all about values.

As you’ll recall, the six basic human needs are certainty, variety, significance, love and connection, growth and contribution.  When you find a healthy and effective way to meet a need, it can become a value that you make a priority in your life. Values and needs and needs and values are inextricably linked.

For example, if you learn to meet your need for certainty by putting away 10% of your income each month, Financial Responsibility may become a value. Or, if you meet your need for variety by writing short stories, or painting, or decorating cakes, and you find it particularly fulfilling, Living a Creative Life may become a value you prioritize in your life. If...

October 4, 2018

Every organization has its fires. You know - those big emergencies that pop up from time to time requiring our immediate attention. Maybe a product launch has gone off the rails. Or something’s broken. Or someone walked out the door at the worst possible moment.

And every organization has its firefighters. Some orgs have a whole team of firefighters and some orgs are made up entirely of nothing but firefighters. For those organizations, firefighting is a part of who they are.

We don’t like fires (or at least we say we don’t). Fires are scary. They cause chaos, unpredictability and each one could very well mean the end of us.

That’s why the people who extinguish the fires are organizational superheroes. When the fight is done, and the fire is out, everyone is pumped. Firefighting is thril...

June 7, 2018

It's no secret that the world is changing at an unprecedented pace. From blockchain to artificial intelligence, robotics to 3-D Printing, there’s lots to be excited about.  

At the same time, climate change, political upheaval and economic disruption threaten to upend the world as we know it. There's lots to be uncertain about. And the trouble with uncertainty is that it leads to fear. And fear puts us in a contractive, reactive, entrenched state. We become stuck. And that ain’t good.

Stuckness leads to reduced adaptability and competitiveness, decreased employee engagement and effectiveness, less ability to attract great talent, and of course, decreased creativity, productivity and profit.

Above all, it leads to creating results and situations that no one wants.

The new challen...

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