May Newsletter 2016 – Healthy Leaders
I am grateful to have worked for a few “healthy leaders” early in my career; they seem tougher to find today. There are unprecedented challenges in leadership in this chaotic world. Bob Rosen, CEO advisor and founder of Healthy Companies International, knows from his extensive research and hands-on experience that healthy leaders pave the way to healthy companies.
Bob and his Chief Knowledge Officer, Kathie Ross, are joining us for our Great Starts Breakfast Series on June 1st in Southern California to share their perspectives and challenge our assumptions about what it means to be a great leader. I talked with them about their work.
SB: What led you to research healthy leaders?
I was fortunate to interview Max DePree in the early part of my career and he was my first image of a healthy leader. I began to meet leaders who either cast light or cast darkness. I was interested in understanding this further. The McArthur foundation called and was interested in this subject as well. Since then, we’ve interviewed 500 CEOs of large companies to really get our arms around how great leaders build great companies.
Kathie Ross: Like Bob, I started with a psychology degree. I joined corporate America and found it intriguing to observe the relationships we form and how those relationships impact our effectiveness. Some bring out the best in people, and others are the opposite. After a Masters in Human Resource Management and a PhD in Organizational Behavior and years of fascinating work in HR, Bob and I were drawn to work together because he is rooted in the psychology field and I bring 25 years of experience as an executive inside organizations working to understand behavior.
SB: What have you learned about yourself in this journey?
BR: In my 20’s when I got my PhD in Clinical Psychology, I learned a lot about the importance of personal intelligence. When I went into the business world, and started researching CEOs, I learned about the importance of business intelligence. In my 40’s, I spent time working globally and recognized the importance of cultural intelligence. I think leaders need to connect with and cultivate all three of those intelligences inside themselves.
We operate under a paradigm that what you do defines who you are. But the best leaders have operated from an alternative paradigm that says who you are as a human being drives what you do. I’ve grown into this alternative paradigm more each year and recognize that leadership is a deeply personal act; both for you psychologically and for how you touch other people.
SB: Why are the best CEO’s investing in self-reflection?
BR: The outside world is changing faster than ever and leaders must turn inside to be more grounded and more conscious in terms of who they are. It is the only way to operate in an environment that is more uncertain, more competitive, more transparent, and more global than ever before. Only five percent of our beliefs, feelings, actions and decisions are conscious. Incredibly, 95% of our mind’s activity is unconscious. Lack of self-awareness, then, is the greatest obstacle to strong leadership. Increasingly, CEO’s understand that if they fail to see the reality about themselves and their leadership, then they are less likely to be successful in building their organizations. Those operating with outdated mental models are simply under pressure to change.
KR: The work we have been doing with CEO’s most recently is in how they and their teams change. We know why the world is changing so quickly, and there are many opinions about what we need to do differently to deal with this, but it’s the how. How do we accelerate transformation? What are the personal and organizational accelerators and hijackers that move us forward or hold people back and undermine their success?
SB: How are younger professionals learning leadership?
KR: I think that is an issue. We are in a period of transition. We make a lot of generalizations about millennials that I don’t think are very accurate because I see a lot of variations. Many millennials have grown up with leaders early in their career with the traditional mindset, and so they are struggling with this as well. It is not easy just because they are younger.
BR: We see four or five generations in the workplace today. It is time to appreciate differences and yet recognize that human beings are fundamentally the same and they want to learn. Leaders at every level want to be in touch with their purpose, values, and passion. They want to contribute. So this means it starts with the leader seeing a bigger picture, and understanding how their leadership impacts others.
Leading is courageous work. Bob and Kathie see this as a time of choice for all of us. We can focus with intention on the healthy roots of leadership and be the person we are truly meant to be, or hope to get there someday.
You can learn more about Bob and Kathie and their leadership philosophy at our June 1st, 2016 Great Starts Breakfast event where they are presenting"GROUNDED: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World" at the Center Club in Costa Mesa. Visit www.greatstartsbreakfast.com for more details.