Brilliant Or Blunder- Key Mindsets For Leaders

Eileen Bild had an opportunity to interview Dr. Mary Lippitt, an award-winning author of “Brilliant or Blunder  6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity and Complexity,” and founder of Enterprise Management Ltd.

Dr. Lippitt is the pioneer of 6 Success Mindsets that comprise the Leadership Spectrum Profile. Take a few minutes to read and learn why mindset is so relevant in leadership and how to achieve excellence through applying the six key mindsets of the Leadership Spectrum Profile. These mindsets together help leaders to understand their current thinking while producing concrete action steps and definitive questions to guide their performance in leadership.

There are six key mindsets in her Leadership Spectrum Profile, where she not only helps leaders to understand where their thinking is currently operating but gives concrete action steps and definitive questions that guides one for success in leadership.

As a pioneer in focusing on results, Mary has been consulting for over 30 years enabling organizations to thrive in a world of constant change. As you read through this interview, you will have a sense of what it takes for breakthrough performance and maximizing leadership skills.


EB: You are an author, leadership expert, and columnist. Your book, Brilliant or Blunder, reveals six key mindsets that leaders can choose from before making a costly error. Please share what is most important in our mindset that will guide us to success.

ML: My book highlights the need for people to actually think. Organizations tend to go with their gut, intuition, habits, and past practice. These are great when a situation is routine and is about tradition. But, when we face complexity, uncertainty, and change, I’m suggesting we actually step back and think about something in a slow way. 

My goal is to give people a blueprint, a checklist, so they can achieve results. What they need is an open mind, a lot of curiosity, and a willingness to accept the world as it is, rather than what they want it to be. The ability to let go of habits, reflect on things, and confer with others is critical.  We cannot rely on the past to guide our future.

EB: Leadership requires decision making and positive influence. As a thought leader, what have been the best decisions you have made for your career?

ML: I found, writing the book was a great decision since it organized my thoughts. I am also pleased with the decision since I see that as a gift to help leaders make the right call at the right time. Being able to help others translate theory into reality is rewarding.

For example, entrepreneurs are so focused on the new idea, getting to market & funding, they don’t always see the whole picture.  The Mindset checklist is a tool they can use effectively to avoid mental blinders.

EB: How do you positively influence your clients?

ML: I have an ethical standard that one of my roles is to make sure when I leave a client, they have the tools to carry on without me. I leave them with a mindset checklist they can hold onto and apply. For every mindset, there are eleven questions they can ask, so when they are confronted with a complex situation, they can run through the list and make sure they have all the information. This also becomes a tool they can use with their staff.

Frequently leaders are frustrated when their staff does not finish assignments with the expected quality or timeliness.  As a result, they stop delegating robbing others of developmental opportunities and overloading their plates.

By using the checklist, it improves autonomy and job satisfaction. If you don’t apply the work right away, it gets lost.

There are six mindsets and each focuses on a distinct goal and outcome. Read the full interview at BizCatalyst360 –https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/brilliant-or-blunder-key-mindsets-for-leaders/#

Critical and Strategic Thinking Builds Agility

Leaders say they want to boost creativity, critical thinking and agility to improve performance and manage change. Research studies confirm the accuracy of those statements. Who wouldn’t want their staff to be quick on their feet, display ingenuity, offer critical insights, or make effective strategic choices? However, there is no consensus on how to boost agile thinking or increase brain capacity beyond the standard 10% utilization. The track record of using brain exercises, problem-solving techniques, brainstorm gatherings and reward programs indicate a failure to deliver.    

One hopeful option is the practice of integrating agility into everyday activities. Consider the impact of changing long-standing practices such as the standard staff meeting, which rarely engages the whole staff, or outlawing the practice of shooting ideas down before there is any chance to really explore the concept. Small changes can have big results. Conformity, habit, traditions, silos and robotic responses limit opportunities to see options and long-term implications.

Shifting our lens to form new perspectives, employing divergent thinking, asking questions, identifying patterns, connecting the dots, and attentive listening supports agile thinking. But these practices require a framework to increase confidence, employ broad analysis, and exercise nimble thinking.

The structure I use to ensure critical, strategic and agile thinking is the Success Mindsets template. It ensures a comprehensive data collection, careful scrutiny of that information and generating alternative paths. Using this framework prevents me from jumping to conclusions, relying on past solutions or remaining boxed-in by habit. It also forces me to review current conditions, assess what is possible and set my priority on what is probable.

The Success Mindsets focal points target organizational results, including (1) developing new products, (2) serving customers, (3) designing organizational systems and policies, (4) Improving quality and ROI, (5) engaging and retaining key talent, and (6) capturing new business opportunities. Having multiple focal points short circuits the stimulus-response mode to encourage full analysis before addressing complex and changing conditions.

The Success Mindsets Checklist and the Brilliant or Blunder Action Guide serve as primers to develop expertise in collecting and effectively using each Success Mindset. One exercise is to develop a solution from each of the six perspectives. Being able to shift points of view spurs agile thinking. Critical and strategic thinking is not a matter of IQ, motivation, or personal style. Instead, it is a decision to check assumptions, identify and weigh options, and deal with complex or novel issues with an open mind. To paraphrase a popular quote from Albert Einstein, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that was used to create them.

We must shift our thinking, open our filters, confer with different points of view, generate creative solutions, reflect on alternatives, and select the best path forward. Agile thinking means a commitment to acting only after identifying what is possible, applicable, and valuable at this time.

This article was originally published on BizCatalyst360.com

Success Mindsets For Astute Scanning

By: Dr. Mary Lippitt | March 20, 2017

We all recognize that better decisions follow reliable data collection. However, obtaining it remains a challenge. Too often we accept a penetrating glimpse of the obvious or past practice since it is safe and efficient to keep doing what we have always done.  Unfortunately, this tendency keeps us in an echo chamber where old assumptions reside and reverberate.mindsets

Generating valuable current information requires a new approach. We just cannot wish for insight, we must adopt practices that ensure that we really know what has happened, what is happening and what will happen. Otherwise, we pay a heavy price for being blindsided, surprised or shocked by events. Volkswagen’s emission control software or Wells Fargo cross-selling requirements illustrate the dangers of siloed thinking and superficial analysis.  These failures were not a matter of low IQ or inexperience. They were created by constrained frames of reference or restricted mindsets. Just as looking only one way before crossing the street is foolhardy, relying on one slice of information before making an organizational decision is wrong.

The term mindset has various interpretations. My definition centers on a willingness to investigate all situational facets when confronting complexity.   Let me give an everyday example, if you saw raining pouring down outside, you will likely decide to wear a raincoat rather than a wool jacket.   Your decision is independent of personal style or education.   Your choice depended on current information or realities. Certainly, organizational conundrums are more complex than picking outerwear but the process of assessing conditions before acting applies to both personal and business decisions.  We must collect and weigh information to make smart decisions. Lazy thinking is risky behavior. We need to keep on top of events to excel.

Exploring six organizational mindsets deliver success and avoid blunders.  The six mindsets cover what:

  • new or innovative offerings can be launched;
  • customers want and need;
  • systems, infrastructure, and policies improve alignment;
  • processes improve the bottom line;
  • staffing and culture support sustained excellence; and
  • trends and alliance create new opportunities.

Understanding and using six operational aspects does not require a Ph.D.  Instead, we need a willingness to collect information and this collection can be easily guided by a checklist of questions for each mindset. While checklists appear simplistic, professionals rely on them. Surgeons, lawyers, and pilots consult checklists to confirm all aspects have been covered. Leaders who use a success mindset checklist develop a complete environmental scan.

Success follows a “ready, aim, fire” sequence, where being ready requires a complete investigation, aiming evaluates alternatives and firing is the decision on action to take. Certainly reducing the process to “ready, fire” appears tempting but it hides a high cost. Complexity and change demand full reality check. And, it pay-offs by avoiding having to spend time recalling, re-issuing or repairing misguided decisions. Astute scanning advances your reputation conserves resources and ensures delivers desired results.

First published at:  https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/success-mindsets-for-astute-scanning/

Hidden Figures Reveal How To Be A Continuous Learner

By Dr. Mary Lippitt | February 10, 2017learning

The movie Hidden Figures has justifiably won acclaim not only for the story and acting. Octavia Spencer’s portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan also depicted the need to keep her skills up to date. She realized her job as a mathematician was likely in jeopardy when NASA installed an early IBM computer. She saw the handwriting on the wall and prepared for her and her staff’s future by learning FORTRAN.    When programmers were needed, she and her staff transitioned seamlessly into new higher paying positions.

We can also be proactive and prepare for our future by:

  1. Scanning and staying alert to trends both in and outside the organization and discipline. If you are a professional driver, what do drones, driverless cars, and automation mean for your job?
  2. Observing trends in your organization. Who was promoted and why were they promoted? What career paths have worked for others? Will greater specialization or general managerial skills be in more demand?
  3. Finding mentors who can serve as reality testing sounding board and source of career guidance. In addition, those outside your chain of command cab share their experience and suggest new paths.
  4. Proposing improvements to existing processes or practices. Displaying initiative and creativity increases visibility, while also expanding your skill set.
  5. Building a professional network as well as a personal network. Join your professional association to learn what skills are being sought. In addition, professional associations have job boards that obtain early identification of opportunities.
  6. Preparing a developmental plan for the next six months. Record your goals and milestones to increases the likelihood they will be accomplished. Update it regularly with your manager.
  7. Seeking honest feedback from peers, managers, customers and direct reports. Feedback not only can reveal our blind spots but it lets others know of your interest in improvement.
  8. Attending developmental special events, seminars, and workshops. Valuable nuggets can be gained from both topic and participant exchanges.
  9. Learning from your mistakes as much as your successes. The only failure is life is not to learn from a disappointment or misstep.
  10. Developing your strategic thinking ability. While daily pressures consume our schedules, we may overlook the importance of planning for our future.

The title, Hidden Figures, refers both to uncovering new space flight data and the racial bias that concealed talented people. And it also reveals the importance of recognizing emerging trends and preparing for our future. After all the future is where we will all be spending the rest of our lives.

First Published by: https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/hidden-figures-reveal-how-to-be-a-continuous-learner/

Distorted Perceptions

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Perception: Disconnects, Distortions and Deficiencies

We often hear that seeing is believing, but should we always believe what we see? Our distorted perceptions can be superficial and unduly influenced by past experiences.  Architects, IT professionals and security personnel can “see” the same office, but what registers and remains with them varies significantly.  We see through our filters.  We select a narrow slice of reality under the guise that we already “know” what is key.  Even if we collect a broad scan, we typically retain only 90% of what we see.

To compound our distorted perceptions problem, what we do retain is not always accurate.  These perceptional deficiencies can be addressed in several ways:

    1. We have a perception deficiency that is best addressed by asking others what they see. Visual allusions, like the one below, illustrate that there are multiple correct views of see the same reality.  Some may focus on the vase, while others see two profiles.  Accepting that there is another point of view increases our ability to understand current realities.perception
    2. We can overcome perceptual distortions by avoiding stereotypes. Generalized judgments gloss over distinctions and offer the false illusion of uniformity. Stereotypes also encourage simplistic thinking and undue confidence that things are under control. Stereotypical labels also reduce the potential for respect. Kierkegaard captured this reality when he stated: “Once you label me, you negate me.”  Labels transform the other person into one of “THEM,” which is an impersonal abstraction. Stereotypes blind us.perception

Perception disconnect are also based on fixed perceptions. Our world is becoming more complex, integrated and agile, and that fixed perceptions limit our ability to collect information and recognize interactions. Holding a fixed or narrow view means that we misapply our perceived knowledge. Convinced that our perceived knowledge we refuse to pivot or adjust our views. Instead of listening we merely seek agreement. When others recognize our stubborn view, they fail to introduce new perspectives since it seems wise not to not “rock the boat.” Fixed views produce overlooked opportunities and alternatives.

We get our eyes examined to ensure that we see clearly.  We must also test our perceptions.  For as Thoreau noted: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”  We must continually test our perception before we accept what we see at first glance is all that there is to see.  To paraphrase Pogo:  we have met the enemy and he is us.

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