Forbes-Evolving-Leadership

Imagine this: You’re a parent in charge of a birthday party. Besides you, everyone in the room is five years old. No adult will arrive to pick up their child for another hour. Chaos has erupted. Three kids have gotten into a cake fight, and their hair, face and clothes are covered in icing. One boy is screaming at another because he wants his fire truck back. The noise is hurting your ears. What are you going to do?

You’ll likely feel anxiety, uncertainty and a loss of control. In this situation, you’ll probably do everything in your power to regain your control and authority in the situation. (Now may not be the best time for sit-down conversations with these kids about the value of sharing and clear communication.)

A directive leadership style, also known as a “command and control” approach, would be appropriate in this situation. In a crisis or emergency situation, we need to immediately take charge and regain order — or find someone who will. By taking control and being direct, the uncertainty and volatility of the situation becomes a little more certain. First responders and emergency teams usually apply this sort of leadership.

But those feelings of uncertainty, stress and a loss of control are not limited to acute crisis situations. A 2004 study (paywall) found that the uncertainty brought on by organizational change also has “a direct and an indirect (via feelings of lack of control) relationship with psychological strain.” While the immediate physical danger of organizational change is low, the psychological stress remains high.

The organizations I consult are defined by change. They are scaling fast, sometimes doubling or tripling in size in a handful of years. Complexity leads to a need for new processes, new management styles and new communication chains. It also leads to a great deal of uncertainty, accompanied by a great deal of stress.

For some managers I’ve worked with, a natural response to this level of uncertainty is to revert to a directive-style dominance (i.e., micromanagement) over their teams — or to hope that someone else (usually on the executive team) will take charge. This makes sense: Evolutionary psychologists observe that primates (to include us humans) organize in dominance hierarchies with one alpha leader. That preference for this organizational style is especially noticeable in uncertain or threatening environments.

I interpret all this to mean it’s built into us to respond to uncertainty as a threat. So it’s understandable that we might respond to uncertain situations as if we were in a physical crisis and seek authoritative dominance. The Harvard Business Review goes so far as to state that “the worldwide rise of dominant-authoritarian leaders is partly rooted in people’s psychological desire for restoring their sense of personal control, which is threatened in times of uncertainty.”

A Different Approach

The complexity we see in organizations (and countries) today has evolved far beyond the tribes of our instinctually driven, primitive ancestors. A lot of the problems at the intersection of people, technology and global issues have never been seen before. Just because we are wired to respond in a certain way to our feelings of uncertainty does not mean we cannot evolve our responses to these complex problems, as well. Just because we feel anxiety in an organizational environment that’s similar to what we feel in crisis does not mean we need to respond similarly.

Instead, there is another human trait we can use to lead through the uncertainty of complex challenges: empathy.

Design thinking is one approach to solving complex, human-centered challenges that points to our evolving leadership. Made popular in part by the design firm IDEO, design thinking builds on the principles of problem definition, solution design and experimentation. To define the problem, however, all design thinking begins with the need to empathize with those needing the solution.

In explaining why empathy is so crucial, IDEO CEO Tim Brown said, during an interview with Chief Executive magazine, “It’s important because it allows people to imagine the problem from another perspective — to stand in somebody else’s shoes.”

IDEO is not alone. IBM has deemed design thinking so valuable to providing solutions, it has implemented the practice throughout its product portfolio, service delivery branch, and HR and CIO organizations.

How does IBM practice design thinking? Problem solvers collaborate with clients, empathizing with their end users’ needs and experimenting as they work to find a solution. This framework built around empathy has worked, benefiting their bottom line by $20.6 million, while improving product outcomes and reducing the risk of failures.

Is Your Leadership Style Negatively Affecting Your Team?

Empathy is worth prioritizing. If you’re leaning toward domineering or micromanaging tendencies, consider: “How is the psychological stress of uncertainty shaping my actions?”

Next, step into empathy, identifying the ways in which a domineering leadership style might be affecting those on your team. Are you willing to continue imposing your stress outward onto others you work with?

Finally, how can you design a different approach to managing uncertainty that still achieves your goals?

Of course, key to design thinking is experimentation. Evolving leadership isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a practice of trial, error and growth that evolves over an entire career.

Justin Follin
Justin Follin is a founding partner and CEO at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He is a CEO coach and organizational consultant with primary expertise in the areas of visionary leadership development, cross-functional strategic leadership, solving complex adaptive challenges and innovation. He is the primary designer of the BLUECASE Leadership Development Process for fast-scaling, mid-market companies and M&A environments. He has led hundreds of Executives, Directors, and Managers through cross-functional leadership development and has coached public and private CEOs, business leaders, TEDx presenters, academic professors, musicians, and athletes to perform at optimal levels. He has also designed or executed leadership development and consulting approaches delivered inside some of the world’s largest oil and gas, construction, and mining companies.
Co-Founder
Contact Justin:
Justin Follin
Justin Follin is a founding partner and CEO at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He is a CEO coach and organizational consultant with primary expertise in the areas of visionary leadership development, cross-functional strategic leadership, solving complex adaptive challenges and innovation. He is the primary designer of the BLUECASE Leadership Development Process for fast-scaling, mid-market companies and M&A environments. He has led hundreds of Executives, Directors, and Managers through cross-functional leadership development and has coached public and private CEOs, business leaders, TEDx presenters, academic professors, musicians, and athletes to perform at optimal levels. He has also designed or executed leadership development and consulting approaches delivered inside some of the world’s largest oil and gas, construction, and mining companies.
Co-Founder
Contact Justin:
Christine Trevino
Christine Trevino is Chief Operating Officer and efficiency extraordinaire at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. She has a strong commitment to ensuring our processes create an exceptional experience for our clients and our internal team. After spending nearly a decade within one of the nation’s largest health systems, Christine knows the foundational infrastructure necessary for operational efficiency, conflict management, resolution strategies and creating connections to truly understand what is wanted and needed and how to best accomplish it, whether supporting the business or supporting people. Christine has served in other mission focused organizations, like Texas Exes (Hook Em’) and Whole Foods Market where she had the opportunity to be a servant leader and contribute to making an impact in the lives of others as she also does through our work at BLUECASE. Christine is married to her high school sweetheart and they have five children. She enjoys the outdoors, photography and volunteering in various organizations.
Chief Operating Officer
Contact Christine:
David B. Greenspan
David Greenspan, Ph.D., is the Founder of BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He has a PH.D. in High-Performance Psychology with expertise in why certain individuals and teams perform at exceptional levels, even in suboptimal circumstances. BLUECASE facilitates strategic planning and teaches managers and executives at fast-growing companies how to create seamless cross-functional collaboration, feedback-rich cultures, and high levels of engagement. An expert in creating high-performance corporate cultures and teams, David is an energizing leader, coach, and facilitator known for his capacity to galvanize groups to generate breakthrough results. David has over fifteen years of experience working with senior executives at Fortune 100 companies and executive teams of fast-growing PE-backed companies with between $50 Million and $2 Billion in annual revenue. Notable clients include ESO, Vida Capital, Intersys, Four Hands, AffiniPay, Logix, University of Texas, Maidbot, Bypass Mobile, Austin Fitness Group/Orange Theory Fitness, Kerbey Lane Cafe, ShippingEasy, Triangle Services, Allegiance Mobile Health, and YPO.
Founder
Contact David:
David B. Greenspan
David Greenspan, Ph.D., is the Founder of BLUECASE Strategic Partners. He has a PH.D. in High-Performance Psychology with expertise in why certain individuals and teams perform at exceptional levels, even in suboptimal circumstances. BLUECASE facilitates strategic planning and teaches managers and executives at fast-growing companies how to create seamless cross-functional collaboration, feedback-rich cultures, and high levels of engagement. An expert in creating high-performance corporate cultures and teams, David is an energizing leader, coach, and facilitator known for his capacity to galvanize groups to generate breakthrough results. David has over fifteen years of experience working with senior executives at Fortune 100 companies and executive teams of fast-growing PE-backed companies with between $50 Million and $2 Billion in annual revenue. Notable clients include ESO, Vida Capital, Intersys, Four Hands, AffiniPay, Logix, University of Texas, Maidbot, Bypass Mobile, Austin Fitness Group/Orange Theory Fitness, Kerbey Lane Cafe, ShippingEasy, Triangle Services, Allegiance Mobile Health, and YPO.
Founder
Contact David:
Christel Frietsch
Christel Frietsch is the Operations Administrator at BLUECASE Strategic Partners. She has 30 years of administrative experience with expertise in scheduling, correspondence, logistics and project coordination. Prior to joining the BLUECASE team, she was the Director of Operations for an Austin based CPG healthy lifestyle company, an Executive Administrator for a land use consulting firm, and an Executive Assistant to the CEO of an international disease prevention and wellness company. Originally from Austin, TX, Christel graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry, and completed her minor study in Psychology. She is an IIN Certified Integrative Holistic Health Coach and an IPHM Certified Energy Healer. Christel currently lives in New Braunfels, TX with her partner and two rescued dogs. She enjoys spending time in nature, gardening and reading.
CEO
Contact Christel:
Lori Darley
Lori brings nearly two decades of experience as a transformational coach and consultant and has worked extensively with leaders and C-suite executives in many industries. She coaches organizations from multi-national corporations, such as Ferro Chemical, a global cosmetics firm and a Fortune 500 “Class One” rail transportation company. She has also worked with a wide variety of entrepreneurial ventures and individuals in non-profits, manufacturing, financial services, management consulting, commercial real estate and the arts. Lori is a certified somatic coach, recognized by the Strozzi Institute, and a certified Peak Potentials trainer. Additional certifications include Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership, Gallup Strengths-Finder, the Myers/Briggs Personality Assessment and the EQi-2 (an Emotional Intelligence assessment and 360 feedback model).
Senior Consultant
Contact Lori:
Lori Darley
Lori brings nearly two decades of experience as a transformational coach and consultant and has worked extensively with leaders and C-suite executives in many industries. She coaches organizations from multi-national corporations, such as Ferro Chemical, a global cosmetics firm and a Fortune 500 “Class One” rail transportation company. She has also worked with a wide variety of entrepreneurial ventures and individuals in non-profits, manufacturing, financial services, management consulting, commercial real estate and the arts. Lori is a certified somatic coach, recognized by the Strozzi Institute, and a certified Peak Potentials trainer. Additional certifications include Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership, Gallup Strengths-Finder, the Myers/Briggs Personality Assessment and the EQi-2 (an Emotional Intelligence assessment and 360 feedback model).
Senior Consultant
Contact Lori:
Robin Knudsen
Robin combines 20 years of international corporate experience with that of leadership development to bring insight into creating diverse and inclusive cultures and improving how teams function. As a coach and facilitator, Robin has worked with a broad range of companies across industries from Fortune 100’s through to entrepreneurs and SME’s. Robin holds a BA from The University of Texas at Austin and a Masters in Organization Development from St. Edward’s University. She is a certified executive coach, trained in NLP, HeartMath, and Reiki.
Senior Consultant
Contact Robin:
Robin Knudsen
Robin combines 20 years of international corporate experience with that of leadership development to bring insight into creating diverse and inclusive cultures and improving how teams function. As a coach and facilitator, Robin has worked with a broad range of companies across industries from Fortune 100’s through to entrepreneurs and SME’s. Robin holds a BA from The University of Texas at Austin and a Masters in Organization Development from St. Edward’s University. She is a certified executive coach, trained in NLP, HeartMath, and Reiki.
Senior Consultant
Contact Robin:
Shawn Clark
Shawn Clark is a certified Executive Coach who brings extensive hands-on leadership experience to every coaching session. His business background includes senior leadership roles for mission-critical teams and initiatives with global Fortune 500 companies and U.S. Government agencies. Shawn delivers powerful, effective and efficient coaching experiences which enables his clients to achieve results that were previously unattainable. Shawn strives to ensure the coaching journey is a fulfilling and enjoyable experience loaded with exploration, discovery, creativity, growth and achievement.
Senior Consultant
Contact Shawn:
Shawn Clark
Shawn Clark is a certified Executive Coach who brings extensive hands-on leadership experience to every coaching session. His business background includes senior leadership roles for mission-critical teams and initiatives with global Fortune 500 companies and U.S. Government agencies. Shawn delivers powerful, effective and efficient coaching experiences which enables his clients to achieve results that were previously unattainable. Shawn strives to ensure the coaching journey is a fulfilling and enjoyable experience loaded with exploration, discovery, creativity, growth and achievement.
Senior Consultant
Contact Shawn:
Trish Perevich
Trish brings over 10 years of experience as an Executive Coach and has coached a range of professionals from emerging leaders to C-Suite Executives. Her experience includes individual and group coaching; design and delivery of corporate training and coaching programs; and facilitation of SVP and C-Level Peer Advisory Groups. Trish has worked with a range of organizations from startups to Enterprise Fortune 100 companies including Genentech/Roche, Google, NASA and the United States Airforce. She has served dozens of industries including technology, finance, life science, construction, healthcare, education and more. Supporting her experience is a BS Degree in Business/Marketing from The Rochester Institute of Technology. Trish holds the PCC coaching credential along with certificates in Conscious Business Coaching and Team Advantage Coaching. Outside of work Trish enjoys golf, hiking, yoga, fitness classes, cooking and travel.
Senior Consultant
Contact Trish:
Trish Perevich
Trish brings over 10 years of experience as an Executive Coach and has coached a range of professionals from emerging leaders to C-Suite Executives. Her experience includes individual and group coaching; design and delivery of corporate training and coaching programs; and facilitation of SVP and C-Level Peer Advisory Groups. Trish has worked with a range of organizations from startups to Enterprise Fortune 100 companies including Genentech/Roche, Google, NASA and the United States Airforce. She has served dozens of industries including technology, finance, life science, construction, healthcare, education and more. Supporting her experience is a BS Degree in Business/Marketing from The Rochester Institute of Technology. Trish holds the PCC coaching credential along with certificates in Conscious Business Coaching and Team Advantage Coaching. Outside of work Trish enjoys golf, hiking, yoga, fitness classes, cooking and travel.
Senior Consultant
Contact Trish:
Kan Yan
Kan has worked as an international humanitarian for the United Nations, a lawyer for the US Federal Courts, and a management consultant for McKinsey & Company where he consulted Fortune 500 clients across numerous industries with a focus on organizational health and leadership development. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School and a Masters of Law and Diplomacy from the Tufts Fletcher School.
Senior Consultant
Contact Kan:
Kan Yan
Kan has worked as an international humanitarian for the United Nations, a lawyer for the US Federal Courts, and a management consultant for McKinsey & Company where he consulted Fortune 500 clients across numerous industries with a focus on organizational health and leadership development. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School and a Masters of Law and Diplomacy from the Tufts Fletcher School.
Senior Consultant
Contact Kan:
Paulin Laberge
Paulin has co-founded two technology companies and has served as CEO of five. After more than 30 years of senior leadership roles in the technology industry, Paulin recently made the transition from running companies to helping teams grow their companies. His most recent engagement was as CEO of iCompass Technologies, a SaaS company that delivers solutions that strengthen open and efficient government, and which resulted in a successful exit at the end of 2017. He has been an advisor and mentor to numerous technology companies. Paulin has firsthand experience in building organizations, developing effective strategies, securing financing, developing market-leading products, establishing strategic alliances, marketing, and selling domestically and internationally. He has worked with boards and management teams to help them precisely execute critical corporate objectives and business strategies, create performance-centric cultures, and engaged, motivated teams, focused on driving results. Paulin has been an Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Columbia Innovation Council, where he established a province-wide mentor program. He was also actively involved in the development and delivery of growth, strategy, and market validation programs widely used by several technology accelerators. Paulin started his career as an Electrical Engineer after graduating from the University of Alberta. Throughout his career, Paulin has trained in numerous areas including, strategy, finance, sales, marketing, negotiations, organizational development, mentoring, and coaching. He resides with his wife, Lea, and their dog Huxley, on the west coast near Vancouver, BC.
Senior Strategic Planning Consultant
Paulin Laberge
Paulin has co-founded two technology companies and has served as CEO of five. After more than 30 years of senior leadership roles in the technology industry, Paulin recently made the transition from running companies to helping teams grow their companies. His most recent engagement was as CEO of iCompass Technologies, a SaaS company that delivers solutions that strengthen open and efficient government, and which resulted in a successful exit at the end of 2017. He has been an advisor and mentor to numerous technology companies. Paulin has firsthand experience in building organizations, developing effective strategies, securing financing, developing market-leading products, establishing strategic alliances, marketing, and selling domestically and internationally. He has worked with boards and management teams to help them precisely execute critical corporate objectives and business strategies, create performance-centric cultures, and engaged, motivated teams, focused on driving results. Paulin has been an Entrepreneur in Residence at the British Columbia Innovation Council, where he established a province-wide mentor program. He was also actively involved in the development and delivery of growth, strategy, and market validation programs widely used by several technology accelerators. Paulin started his career as an Electrical Engineer after graduating from the University of Alberta. Throughout his career, Paulin has trained in numerous areas including, strategy, finance, sales, marketing, negotiations, organizational development, mentoring, and coaching. He resides with his wife, Lea, and their dog Huxley, on the west coast near Vancouver, BC.
Senior Strategic Planning Consultant
Lisa Jaecklein
Lisa is well known in high tech industries for her work in developing and leading high-performance teams. She has “walked the talk” as President and CEO for private and public engineering based companies in Satellite Communications, Telecom and Commercial Enterprise markets. Lisa’s corporate background includes leading an IPO, Strategic Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions and integration of global teams. She draws from her diverse market experience and passion for coaching to support professional development of executives and senior management teams. Her focus areas include supporting development/ refinement of strategic plans, executive coaching to advance leadership capabilities and organization alignment necessary to support strategy implementation. Lisa brings a unique understanding of the interdependencies of people and business that drives results and ways to sustain a positive level of energy in her clients personal and professional lives. Lisa holds a BS in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and has served as Director on a number of corporate and not for profit Boards.
Senior Consultant
Contact Lisa:
Lisa Jaecklein
Lisa is well known in high tech industries for her work in developing and leading high-performance teams. She has “walked the talk” as President and CEO for private and public engineering based companies in Satellite Communications, Telecom and Commercial Enterprise markets. Lisa’s corporate background includes leading an IPO, Strategic Planning, Mergers and Acquisitions and integration of global teams. She draws from her diverse market experience and passion for coaching to support professional development of executives and senior management teams. Her focus areas include supporting development/ refinement of strategic plans, executive coaching to advance leadership capabilities and organization alignment necessary to support strategy implementation. Lisa brings a unique understanding of the interdependencies of people and business that drives results and ways to sustain a positive level of energy in her clients personal and professional lives. Lisa holds a BS in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and has served as Director on a number of corporate and not for profit Boards.
Senior Consultant
Contact Lisa: