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June 9, 2018 - No Comments!

Why it Pays to “Break the Rules” – Are you a Rebel?

There is a new book out that is worth exploring.  Francesca Gino, Professor of Business at Harvard just published, "Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life."

It is refreshing to read about others who break the roles, re-invent or change the world for better.  At a time when there is so much disturbing news and divide across the country, Francesca speaks to possibility and prospering even in this turbulent world.

The rebel leader is not just about people who lead others.  It is about those of us who thrive in a world of change and at times welcome discomfort.  It might be more natural for us humans to accept conformity, but Francesca shares rich stories of those that know themselves and stretch the boundaries.  One of her guiding principles is to encourage constructive dissent.  It is really about understanding all perspectives and gaining understanding before making decisions.  Her examples from Robert Kennedy to leaders at General Motors brings to life great rebels.

I so appreciated another one of her principles, which is "fostering happy accidents." One of our colleagues, Gina Codd from Edwards Lifesciences introduced the refreshing concept of "welcome surprises" at her company.  Cultures that welcome idea exchange, making mistakes and enjoying what you learn from accidents is clearly a place I would want to be.

What type of rebel are you? There is an assessment that allows us to explore that and learn.  Check out Francesca's book and begin to recognize that we need rebels in our work and life in order to bring about positive lasting change.  

 

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management, Newsletter

January 10, 2018 - No Comments!

SBC January Newsletter — Joe Musselman – Learning about Leadership from The Honor Foundation Founder and CEO

January Newsletter:
Joe Musselman

 SBC January Newsletter — Joe Musselman – Learning about Leadership from The Honor Foundation Founder and CEO

Imagine what it’s like to be a Navy SEAL deployed in a country you probably

shouldn’t be in and conducting a mission that no one is supposed to know about. The amazing individuals from Special Operations are trained to do the impossible. We wouldn’t expect that someone with such a unique character and skill set would have any challenge in navigating a new career for themselves and their families?

These distinguished veterans live inside a standard that is exceptional in every dimension, yet when they move on to the next chapter of their life, they feel lost.  That is where The Honor Foundation comes in. I met with Joe Musselman, former Navy veteran and founder of this incredible non-profit organization that was specifically designed to serve the world’s most elite group of Special Operations Forces throughout their career transition. I learned from Joe that The Honor Foundation (THF) and its 15 week program (150 hours) is the most comprehensive career transition program for SEALS and Special Operators in the country.

I wanted to learn how Joe sees the leadership attributes these champions bring from their experiences and how he helps exemplary candidates chart a path to exemplary opportunities.

Sherry Benjamins: Joe, let’s talk about leadership.  What are the hard and soft leadership skills that you see critical in the future?
 
Joe Musselman: Frankly, hard skills are still important but becoming less relevant. The changes and pivots in business come without warning. In start-ups this is especially true. For example, there are multiple skill sets needed all at once. There's chaos, uncertainty, and adventure. One skill set is needed then another, and another, and these needs continue to grow. The individual must adapt and evolve their technical skills to leadership skills for those in charge of people, growth, and the vision of the business. Often the default is to find more technical skills but we know that as the company scales, the demand for balanced leaders who can inspire, coach and manage others is top priority.
 
SB: Why are soft skills even more critical now to success?  
 
JM:  Let me first say that successful organizations need to see themselves as technology businesses. This next wave of business is all about data, robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.  Wouldn’t you want your most ethical and courageous leaders surrounding this new technology? Wouldn’t this give you a competitive advantage?
 
Success means being adaptive and agile.  We developed an assessment alongside UCSD and Stanford that helps us understand these personal readiness capabilities.  Our Fellows who graduate our program have rich life experience, cultural and emotional intelligence, not exactly technical or hard skill sets – so we suggest that CEOs let go of the traditional resume screen and be forward looking about what it takes to develop their people.  It’s not always about the hard skills, but instead a candidate with a core set of values that matches the organization’s mission.
 
Our Special Operators are trained to execute without the benefit of ever knowing what’s next, and even with continual and extensive training, a Navy SEAL knows to expect the unexpected and always operate inside a framework of strict values and guiding principles. I ask CEOs, how often do they find someone doing the right thing when they are not present? It is not grey. This is a very clear-cut question. Are they hiring leaders that know what doing the right thing always means? The bar remains high and our graduates know that mission matters as they have lived it everyday.
 
SB: What is missing in leaders today
 
JM: One of our core values at THF is “practicing artistry.” We find people who want to change the world. We ask our Fellows to be introspective first and ask themselves, “why do you matter?”  This needs to be asked of each of us more often.  Each individual seeks to achieve their own definition of excellence and they are truly artists in what they do and practice each day in the Teams.
 
SB: Are your graduates experiencing positive corporate cultures?
 
JM: We are proud of a 92% fulfillment rate. So yes, there are companies that understand the values of authenticity, fairness and purpose. They were harder to find than you think! We have only had 4 out of 167 that transitioned jobs within their first year of employment. All four cited reasons surrounding poor leadership, lack of vision, and the behavior was not aligned with the culture.
 
SB:  What have you learned about yourself on this journey?
 
JM:  The number one thing I’ve learned, what we all have learned at THF, is simply “be you”. We help our Fellows understand that they have the ability to stop trying to “be a role” and focus instead on being themselves. I personally have learned that it is not a bad thing to be a people pleaser. THF would not be here if I didn’t have and own that DNA. I am committed to making our Fellows a wild success and I want them to be fulfilled and happy. Their happiness is my commission. Everyone is encouraged to be who they are and be unwavering in that truth. The impact our Mission has on the lives and families of our graduates is remarkable. At graduation last week, one of the Fellows came up to me and said, “Joe, THF changed our family tree.” What he meant by that is he would not have had the opportunity to attend a top MBA program, interact with CEOs as mentors, or consider six-figure salaries if it weren't for THF. This is why we do this work at The Honor Foundation.

 

Concluding Comments
Do you want to change the world?  Joe had me reflecting on this notion of thinking big.  He asks the Navy SEAL, “why do you matter?” They have life experiences that we may never understand and they face the reality of knowing why they matter every day. Yet, when asked as they consider a professional transition, it requires more self-reflection than first imagined.

We can all benefit by answering that question for ourselves. Courage is a word that the Navy SEAL knows well. He runs bravely into battle with all his heart. In fact, the French root of the word courage is “heart.”

David Whyte, says that “courage is the measure of heartfelt participation with life, with another, with community or our work.”  It means that we can consciously live up to or into the things we care deeply about.  To be courageous as a SEAL or as a caring committed individual in this world is to stay close to the way we are made. So, why do you matter?

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Published by: Corey Kachigan in Blog, Employee Engagement, Newsletter

November 22, 2017 - No Comments!

Can You Tell Your Story in Three Minutes? Absolutely!

Charles Antis, CEO of Antis Roofing invited an impressive group of OC leaders to an event yesterday (in their amazing Irvine headquarters) to learn from an accomplished and inspiring Story Teller.  Charles models the power of story and purpose in big ways for all of us. He generously hosted Jay Golden, Author, story coach and storyteller who showed us how to tap into our own stories so that they are retellable and impactful.

It only takes three minutes and within a very short time we were practicing our stories with each other.  Jay says, that "the ability to find, shape and share your own story - told one to one and one to many - is one of your greatest assets as a leader."

What is a retellable story?  Jay's new book introduces concept using a simple framework.  You would think that we know how to do this. Not really.  I learned it can be simple and yet powerful in creating connection quickly. It does start with us.  Our stories reveal a lesson that helps inform and inspire others.   Antis 2

At this time of  year, we often retell stories at family gatherings or create new experiences that become future stories.   It is not just simply a beginning, middle and end process.  There is more to it and I recommend getting Jay's book to dive into this for yourself and your team.

Stories matter today.  The human connection we make with a memorable personal story takes our relationships and engagement with others to a different level.  This takes us beyond the noise and data flying at us every day. I can see the direct link of story to insight and creativity. I am going to try this out.   Jay says in his book, "The twists and turns of the story draws us in, gives form to the journey and enables us to gain new understanding. The teller is the guide to that understanding."

The concepts fascinate me and I am going to reflect on the stories that have been meaningful for me so that I may share them, plant some seeds and see how they grow. Any one who references Joseph Campbell is my hero, Jay closes his book with a quote from Joseph, "The hero is the one that comes to know."  Bravo.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Employee Engagement, Management

October 14, 2017 - No Comments!

Are Robots Taking Over?

Some people think that dramatic improvement in robotics and AI puts us on the road to a jobless future.  MIT researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee say we are in the "second machine age."  It is true that many jobs will be at risk of being automated and it is happening right now.   It is true the workplace is transforming.  However, the job market does not show that robots are on the rise yet.  Our clients share that they see a shortage of skilled folks and not a labor surplus.  If automation to replace humans was really impacting us now, we might see more job turnover.  One study written by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation says that "levels of job churn are at historic lows."  Barcelona star sculpture

We can't deny huge changes in work, workers and the workplace.  I respect what exists today and look forward to having the influence to change everything.  This sculpture is in the harbor in Barcelona, called Miraestels.  I was just there and loved this inspiring structure - he is holding a hidden star behind and he seems to pose a question, and imagines a possibility yet he is awaiting a response.

We in the people business don't have to wait for a response.

To get at some of the workplace questions, we hosted Kevin Mulcahy, author of the Future Workplace Experience and Dean Carter, head of HR and Shared Services for Patagonia on October 3rd with 100 senior executives to ask questions and learn of their perspective on change.

One message was, "The strongest organizations today are learning machines."  That does not mean robots that learn, it means humans learning to leverage technology and be agile in the face of huge change.

There is a focus on productivity (app-ification) for almost everything, from performance, to how you give feedback, understand your talent and worker expectations as well as profiling success.  The majority of our attendees, who are senior executives in HR or Talent said that digital analytics and workforce analytics is the next big thing for them. Data is king.  But there was recognition that having a strategy and clear assumptions about change needed is essential.

Kevin Mulcahy says, "Pick your trends."  Make the case for change and articulate the assumptions around this before you leap ahead with analytics or how you want to transform the workplace.

There was also discussion about Recruiting and the automation that will allow greater efficiency and the ability to build eco-systems of talent that are aligned with the organizations values, purpose and career paths.  Dean Carter talked about building communities of people who might want to work with Patagonia but the company or individual may not be ready.  His company curates conversations with talent that shares their values and purpose driven culture.  He urged us all to think broadly about ongoing and continuous conversations with talent and why having a clear and compelling employer brand is critically important to answer  the "why work here" question.

Are you a workplace activist?  You need to be...the robot will not play that role at all.  We have the opportunity in the people business to be the catalyst for change and to speak boldly about the big bets for the future and what can be started now. Go to it.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Employee Engagement, Recruiting

August 28, 2017 - No Comments!

SBC August Newsletter – Meet Gayle Karen Young, Culture Builder & Catalyst

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 4.52.07 PM

Today leadership is about visibility and being authentic. Earlier this year, I attended a session with my favorite living poet, David Whyte, who inspires us to be vulnerable in being ourselves. I have followed his writing and enjoyed his workshops for many years. This session included a most intriguing organizational expert, Gayle Karen Young, who I was totally taken by. I found her perspective on leaders finding their way in this messy organizational life quite mind shifting.

Gayle brings wisdom and warmth to the conversation about how we develop as leaders within complex and changing systems.  She calls herself a “rogue provocateur.” Join me in our fascinating conversation about how we thrive in this unpredictable place called leadership.

Sherry Benjamins: Tell us about your perspective on leadership today.

Gayle Young: Its been fascinating to watch my own thoughts on leadership and culture evolve as I’ve moved from being an external consultant to taking on a role as Chief Talent and Culture Officer (essentially the CHRO) at the Wikimedia Foundation, and then going out on my own again.

For background, the Wikimedia Foundation is a fascinating organization for being one of the top five visited websites in the world. It’s the only top 50 website that is a non-profit. The actual organizational size is small, but a huge number of volunteers help run it and essentially create the product. Each language has their own Wikipedia and governing bodies. The volunteer base influences a lot of the dynamics. We worked in more of a network or influence-based structure.

Any dynamic that impacts the geopolitical news landscape, shows up on Wikipedia. Whether it was a downed flight in Ukraine or conflicts in South America, you can see ideological differences pop up across different wikis. It taught me a lot about complexity, permeability, culture, and of course, the day-to-day of business management like performance, quarterly goals, large implementations, etc.. I grew to have an appreciation for the intersection of complexity and organizational development and culture.

Being a leader in these contexts for me means having a capacity to work both the mythic and the mundane. It requires working on the mission, the values, the intangibles, and the day-to-day experiences that become tangible components that nudge a complex system in a particular way, like the way that decisions are made or that meetings are run. I say “nudge” because I believe that we don’t get to manage culture. We do small things that ripple through a system in profound ways.

SB: You’re now collaborating with fascinating leaders and companies.  What made you decide to go out on your own? 

GY: I was at the Wikimedia Foundation for four years and I loved it. It was a great place to practice leadership and my own mission. I was working with one of the executive directors, Sue Gardner, who I would follow anywhere. There was a leadership transition where the organization didn’t need me in the same way and I had personal needs that led me to take a year off. At that time, I was at a retreat at the Burren Executive Leadership Program, which aimed to foster a leader’s action by way of reflection. That’s when I first met David Whyte, who was an artist in residence. It changed the course of my life.

SB: Tell us about what you do to help a leader with running their company? 

GY: I do have one-on-one coaching with clients where we reflect on their own practices of leadership. I also work with executive teams. Sometimes I go in and support a new team as it’s coming together. We explore how do they lead together? What does collective leadership look like? A team that’s high-performing doesn’t just do their own thing and then come together. They practice what they want to do.

I also have my passion projects. I work with an organization called Hidden Leaf that offers grants for personal development for social justice leaders, or I work with organizations like Uncharted, that supports social entrepreneurs.

SB: What would you say to a CHRO today about their leaders and the organization  of the future? 

GY:  I think it starts with understanding the evolving nature of the workforce and it’s an interesting one. There’s an upsurge of people looking for meaning. A lot of Millennials tend to be part of the compulsive-awesome generation. In terms of designing work and roles, people are asking, “what is their evolving portfolio of their skill set?”

An organization’s culture is a nested set of environments. If you’re going to understand the culture of Wikimedia, for example, you have to understand the values of the Enlightenment and the spirit of the Gutenberg Press, as well as seeing that it is rooted in the ethos of the free knowledge movement and in the open nature of the internet itself. Those streams of values, norms, and beliefs are part of the operating ecosystem. A CHRO can understand and track the streams that are influencing an organization’s culture.

SB: How do we start to see the often subtle influences at play when understanding what influences us? 

GY: If you’re going to try to understand yourself, try to understand the contexts you emerge from as a beginning. I’m an immigrant with a Chinese family, raised in California.  Each of these things gives a window into what makes me up. In that way Toms Shoes would be influenced by philanthropy, the shoe industry, manufacturing, and its location in Silicon Beach. It’s like mapping out what all the elements are of being you, but at an organizational level.

SB: As we reflect on who we want to be as leaders, are you seeing more partnership between CEO’s and HR?

GY: If you're CEO doesn’t get you and has a traditional view of HR, in other words, a compliant-based version of HR instead of a development-based version, that makes for a very difficult relationship and forward thinking partnership. Particularly if the CEO doesn’t appreciate and value and support that function, it is almost a non-starter.

SB: I attended the workshop that you and David did together and I’ve followed David’s work for over 20 years.  He facilitates new conversations that guide  personal development. . Do you see executives investing in this way?   

GY: If you want people to follow you with a kind of whole-hearted engagement, then personal development and professional development are inextricable. One metaphor is the difference between a hollow core and a robust one, and that IS visible in the world whether you know it or not. As a leader, by the very of nature of leadersihp, you must have a willingness to really be seen. What you’re seen as standing for, since every movement you make is watched and noted on, as an active, conscious choice, makes all the difference in the world. That’s where the self-knowledge comes in. With the work David does, he helps get us to be grounded in our own robust vulernability. But we have our own work to do to understand how we want to be seen in the world, what we stand for, and what we live out. It’s this notion of when you’re unaware of what you put into the world, Jung said, “that which remains in the unconscious comes back to us as fate.” Unless you work with your own interior landscape, then you don’t have a hope of influencing what it is that you invite.

In closing...We are in a time when doing the “internal work” of a leader is seen as high value, yet many find it challenging to accomplish. Gayle’s refreshing and honest perspective encourages us all to dive in to move forward. Clearly, the benefits of finding a friend or coach to help you in your leadership journey are invaluable.

May 13, 2017 - No Comments!

Learn the Unexpected

There was a fascinating article in the Opinion Section of the Wall Street today that highlights Barbara Oakley,  a Professor at Oakland University, Michigan and her book called Mindshift.  It is a deep dive into the science and practice of learning. Her personal story truly demonstrates a multi-faceted journey in learning.   We place obstacles in our way when confronted with new learning challenges.  I can say that from personal experience.  However, according to Professor Oakley, this holds us back from new outlooks.

I was taken by the notion of learning something new as a workout to the centers of the brain that are most affected by aging.   That was not a new notion but hit home for sure.

What really captivated my imagination was the idea of learning the unexpected. Do we allow ourselves the vulnerability to ask, "Who do we want to become in our work and what needs to be explored in this life?"  Not often enough.  It is consuming to just respond to everyday challenges that are right in front of us let alone think out into what we want for our future self.

I attended a workshop a few weeks ago in San Francisco, facilitated by my favorite corporate poet and philosopher, David Whyte.  He is working with executives to help them be "Half a Shade Braver" (his new topic and CD) and be vulnerable and risk yourself in leadership. That often means surrendering to the unknown and reflecting on key questions that we have inside of us that will patiently wait for us to answer.  Those questions are not going away, says David Whyte.

The mindshift that Professor Oakley speaks of had me reflecting on the workshop with David. The question that I want to ask is, "what parts of me have I not spoken of or developed yet in my work?" What are the possibilities?  It is an exciting time at any age to hold the possibilities in your hands and learn how to learn.

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management, Recruiting, Uncategorized

April 24, 2017 - No Comments!

Writing as an Active Practice

KPCC hosted the first event of three this past Sunday called UNHEARD LA.  It is about the stories where we live.  There were ten fascinating people that told their story to an auditorium of 400 people at Whittier college on this first night of the series.  It just so happens that one of those people was our son, Erik Benjamins.  The stories were incredible and so diverse and offered an inside view of living in Los Angeles.  It truly highlighted what many of us love about LA - the multicultural community and culture, openness, along with stories of opportunity and possibility.  The storytellers were from very different backgrounds and experiences for sure and KPCC did their magic in producing a rich introspective into people where we live. Erik FullSizeR

So our son, Erik shared his story about a recent successful book project.  His book is called Last Day First Day and he shares the process of gathering the letters from 186 individuals from all over the world and this country so that they could write to former President Obama and incoming President Trump on what they wanted to say to each on their last or first day.

I really appreciated that Erik talked about writing as a practice like going to the gym. Through this project he realized so many of us are hesitant to or chose not to invest in this practice for ourselves.  Maybe it is easier to text these days.  In this exercise others were asked to express thoughts in word, image, drawing or whatever to write this letter to our outgoing and incoming Presidents on January 20th.

I like the idea that writing is a personal and even intimate practice and there are so many rich ways to express our thoughts and vulnerabilities.  The individuals that told their stories were vulnerable, honest and inspiring.  They expressed an optimism and possibility even in light of some that had great adversity to deal with.   Thank you KPCC for bringing the voices of LA to our community and thank you Erik for encouraging us to write and start new conversations.

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Communication, Employee Engagement

April 9, 2017 - No Comments!

Helping Others Drives Success

We launched our second HRoundtable this past week with the help of my long-time friend and wonderful consultant, business owner Sonya Kemp. Sonya believes in the notion that giving to others and allowing a group to learn from each other strengthens the outcome for everyone.  Adam Grant talks about this in his giving book, "Give and Take."  We have eight wonderful managers in this group from premier companies and they are already demonstrating their passion to give to each other and learn.

They are energized to be sitting at the table with their peers from other companies and industries.  The range of perspectives is broad and fascinating.  They will meet quarterly to focus on forward looking ideas in order to build their influence as new managers and strengthen their strategic points of view. hroundtable logo 3blue

The idea of a peer learning group is not new.  We have seen many models like this across the executive suite and beyond into other functional areas.  What is exciting about this group and our HRoundtable in general is that we build the notion of giving from the start and it becomes the norm for the group.  People carry it forward in their interactions and ultimately this improves the process and how they contribute overall.  The bar is raised on who fits in the group and how they will build enriched networks and collaborate too.

It dawned on me that the HRoundtable that Sonya is now leading is embracing the four attributes that contribute to being a giver.  As Adam Grant writes about this in his book he states that "givers rise to the top."  The have a unique approach that includes; networking, collaborating, evaluating and influencing.  Adam also explores  how givers, takers and matchers build networks.  It is quite different.  The taker might be described as a self promoter or self absorbed. The giver looks at the world in abundance terms and in generosity.  Givers gain.  Thank you Sonya for being a part of this newly formed group and giving your generous spirit and experiences to this team.

February 26, 2017 - No Comments!

Redefining Success – meet an MBA student

I had the opportunity to meet an MBA class from the Talent Management program this past week at Pepperdine Malibu campus.  Apparently this is a new one year MBA program within the Graziadio Business School that is focused on talent management.   The students come with experience in HR.  They have an impressive curiosity and point of view around talent and what it takes to engage people today.  They are engaged and enthusiastic about the new world of work.

They are redefining success for themselves and no doubt will challenge the status quo.  That is refreshing.  If you have not met any of the Pepperdine grads - take the time to do so!  Some are unconventional, however, and that is what was exciting.

Professor Jack Gregg asked me to speak to the class and knowing Jack for so many years and respecting his passion for learning, I accepted and really enjoyed the experience.  We discussed the "New Take on Talent" and how that is playing out in work, workers and the workplace of the future.  Specifically I shared perspective and data on engagement and how that is changing with many driving forces in the business and with what talent wants now.   I shared real examples of what we are seeing in progressive organizations and how the employee experience is driving change.

They asked great questions and were energized with our discussion about where new work is happening in the next few years and how they can redefine that for themselves.

Following the presentation several students introduced themselves and expressed interest in internships for the summer.  This is part of the requirement for their graduation.  What a great way to meet new grads with new ideas.   Upon returning to my office later that day (yes, it was a long drive) there were many linkedin requests from the students.  They were personalized and thoughtful.  Congrats to them for using the concept of "tailoring" your message to a new connection.  Check out this program.  More important is to meet an MBA or graduating student who expresses interest in talent and talent managing. They have redefined success and we can all learn from this.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Recruiting

February 11, 2017 - No Comments!

Brain Based Leadership – Dan Radecki Shares How Teams Thrive

Our brain has not kept up with society.  That was the opening remark from our special guest, Dan Radecki, PhD for the first HRoundtable of 2017.   Dan is, Chief Scientific Officer at the Academy of Brain-based leadership and Executive Director of R&D at Allergan. He met with us to share how teams thrive but he first set the foundation for how our brain works. It was interesting and quite scary to hear that the unconscious brain makes 99% of our decisions.  We talked about the prefrontal cortex and it's braking system. Then there is the dark side or lower brain, the amygdala, that responds to fear and many of our emotions.

Dan brought such rich examples of the research being done in brain science aDan radeckind the application to neuroleadership.  We all have a better understanding of how brain function helps leaders get the results they want for the business, themselves and for their teams.  It also shows how we get in our own way to desired results.

We had an inside look on how and why we behave the way we do following thousands of years of slow brain evolution and basic fundamentals on how we are hard wired as humans.  He introduced the psychological model that is used as a tool (S.A.F.E.T.Y.) to understand human motivation.  The tool allows you to see that the brains seeks; security, autonomy, fairness, esteem, trust and your own unique perspectives.

In order to experience this model we were able to participate in an assessment that facilitated a discussion about how we act and how the conscious and subconscious regions of the brain operate.  A group seeks psychological safety and this tool provides a language to understand each other.

Bottom line  - people want to come to work and feel safe.  They want to feel that others care and will support them.  This all fits with the engagement discussion many of our HR colleagues and CEO's are having about what workers want today.

Thank you Dan for a lively, very open and candid discussion of how we think and the power of this information for our managers and future leaders.  Maybe our brain will start catching up with social change after all.

 

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management