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“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”    – Albert Einstein


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Golf and Leadership Integrity

Posted by on 9:11 AM in Excursion Learning, Growing Leaders, High Integrity Workplaces, Innolect Posts | 0 comments

Golf and Leadership Integrity

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”  – Dwight D. Eisenhower

With Spring in the air, golfers are streaming to courses to improve their games, contribute to fundraisers or just to be outside. The most avid golfers, even after a bad day, return again and again with the hope of shaving off strokes, sinking a long putt, or making a hole-in-one. Golf is often called the “gentleman’s sport” with its own language, rules, customs and etiquette. Whether you understand what entices others to the game or not, the five golf principles below offer leadership lessons.

Play with Integrity. Many say that golf is a sport of integrity because several rules of the game are visible only to the golfer. Golfers keep their own score, figure their own handicap, call penalties, determine what is in or out of bounds, etc. Without referees or umpires, golfers, like leaders, have a choice. When a golfer finds her ball in an unplayable lie, she can call the penalty or move her ball when no one is looking. Leaders of integrity do the right thing even when no one is looking.

Let Go of Mistakes. Unless a player has purchased mulligans (free shot) in a charity or best ball tournament, each stroke counts. A common beginner mistake is taking one’s eye off the ball with a resulting shank or miss. Golfers who move on from a bad shot and let go of their mistake are more likely to recover on the next shot or hole. Similarly, leaders who focus on what went wrong may jeopardize opportunities in the future. Leaders must learn from errors, keep their team’s attention on what is critical in the moment, and focus on the bigger picture and desired end results.

Face Fears. Golf courses are filled with obstacles. Sand traps, water hazards and the rough potentially create psychological fears and barriers. Rather than looking at the end game—the pin and hole—many golfers fixate on avoiding the obstacles. Their fear of hitting a poor shot, looking foolish, or losing a ball, creates emotional or psychological stress. The best golfers, and leaders, have a strong “inner game” and acknowledge a fear and tackle it head-on. In practice, they focus on mastering the shots and situations that make them nervous or afraid. Some hit balls from a sand trap, visit the driving range or hit from tall grass until the fear is replaced with confidence. Leaders, too, learn to face the fears that might prevent them from making progress when they challenge the status quo, schedule difficult conversations, negotiate contracts or take on new responsibilities.

Continue to Learn. PGA professionals are excellent golfers and are seldom satisfied with their game. They continually analyze their play and seek advice. Even the best hire their own coaches, get pointers from other professionals and watch video playback, all to shave a few strokes off a round. They realize that even when in their prime, they need to refine their strengths and eliminate bad habits. Just as some golfers are better at the short game and others the long game, leaders have strengths and weaknesses. It is important to seek advice and look for ways to refine their skills and learn and grow new capabilities.

Focus on What They Can Control. Golf is a game of skill and luck. No matter how well one plays, someone else might play better. No matter how solid you swing, your ball may bounce into a terrible lie. With golf, as in leadership, it is best to focus on things you can influence and control rather than on the last shot. The most successful golfers and leaders use energy to think and work on what they can change. Even after a “lucky bounce,” golfers and leaders need a strategy and plan for what to do next to stay competitive.

While the game of golf can seem frustrating, these lessons for golfers and leaders demonstrate that there are no shortcuts to winning. Golf and leadership require integrity, practice, strategy and execution. And, the best golfers and leaders remember to have fun!

For more information for how your team can engage our golf pros to learn about leadership, please contact: Becky Ripley, Innolect’s Excursion Learning℠ Practice Leader, at

Special Tribute: Ed Sehl
Ed Sehl, our friend, colleague and golf professional, passed away earlier this year. He was a man of great faith, integrity and presence. He taught PGA and PGM Apprentices at Universities around the country as well as designed, facilitated and coached during Innolect’s Excursion Learning℠ Golf Events. We miss him…

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Tips for Hiring Veterans without Big Data Analytics

Posted by on 8:42 AM in Growing Leaders, Innolect Posts, Veteran Leaders | 0 comments

Tips for Hiring Veterans without Big Data Analytics

Leading organizations are using data analytics to enhance their understanding for how to make better people decisions. They’ve focused on predictive models that help improve talent retention, diversity, succession planning as well as talent acquisition. The results are promising, especially in certain talent management areas. The question is, do predictive analytics work well when hiring military veterans?

In recruiting and selection, HR professionals hope that predictive models will improve their processes for overcoming unconscious bias. Many companies are also experimenting with automated recruiting processes to analyze job applicants to mitigate unconscious preferences and biases. The hope is that by eliminating factors that might unfairly bias a decision (age, gender, race, etc.), companies will secure the best talent. It is similar to what a judge decides through blind auditions on NBC’s show, The Voice. Judges listen to only a performer’s voice to make their initial decisions – without the distraction of a vocalist’s appearance, age or stage presence. Similarly, with hiring decisions, companies want to make better and more objective hiring decisions.

However, military veterans are experiencing a different scenario. With 250,000 military veterans or more entering the civilian workforce each year, most have had little or no practice in translating military work experience to civilian language. Based on numerous interviews and recent research, the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) hasn’t effectively focused on resumé translation, and recruiters find that veterans need additional support to understand how to position themselves to stand out in the realm of electronic screening. Successfully navigating the automated algorithms is a major challenge facing veterans today. The military promotion process, for example, is very different from corporate America and veterans may have difficulty describing how their skills meet organizational needs and/or how their past experience relates to the civilian workplace.

According to a study by iCIMS in collaboration with RecruitMilitary, a majority of veterans believe their military experience is an obstacle to getting a job. Forty one percent believe hiring managers do not understand their military experience and 37% believe hiring managers devalue their military experience. In addition, veterans believe that job postings require more specialized experience than they have (36%) and have trouble translating military skills to civilian roles (28%).

Until veteran resumé translation and transition programs improve, HR data analytics may not be the best option for identifying and hiring top veteran talent. As corporate leaders and managers consider the barriers of automation for veterans during the veteran recruiting process, Innolect services provide insight and guidance for better ways to identify, decipher and manage veteran talent. Consider our Veteran Onboarding Employer checklist to see if your company is applying industry best practices.

For more information on how to enhance your programs, contact Mike Perry, Ph.D. at or Kittie Watson, Ph.D. at





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Collaborative Leadership: How to Avoid Fears and Traps

Posted by on 3:00 PM in Growing Leaders, Growing Teams | 0 comments

Collaborative Leadership: How to Avoid Fears and Traps

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”  – Isaac Newton

“What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” –  Teresa Calcutta

Picture this…you are attending a leadership offsite and the facilitator asks you to form dyads and distributes one mousetrap per dyad. She invites each participant to write on the mousetrap a fear that they have about collaboration within your company. She then explains that the objective of the activity is to coach your partner (whose eyes are closed) through placing their hand on top of a set mousetrap to release it. The skills required are:

  • Clear planning and goals;
  • Contracted expectations;
  • Effective communication and coaching;
  • Navigation of uncertainty; and especially
  • Trust.

While the activity is designed to be a challenge by choice, you might imagine that some people embrace the possibilities immediately, others might choose not to participate at all or observe, and still others may stop participating half way through…right before coaching them to put their hand on top of the trap with their eyes closed. Similarly, we see comparable patterns with those who collaborate in business settings.

This activity is a powerful reminder of how difficult it is to overcome both the fears and challenges faced when we collaborate with others. Consider this example. A corporate board directed their Executive Leadership Team (ELT) to improve their company’s financial and operational outcomes and recommended the integration of their four business units into one. The ELT decided to give the four business unit Presidents complete authority and accountability to decide how to make this work over six months. As one can imagine, the four leaders had mixed reactions about the decision. It would have been easy for each to focus on protecting their own organization rather than collaborating to achieve a common goal.

In situations like this one, the power of relationships and collaboration is critical for success. In fact, in low-collaborative cultures with both short-term risks and costs for all involved, we witness barriers such as hoarding of information, a desire to control the power, and more self-interest rather than work toward common goals using trust, purpose, communication and empowerment. Yet, collaborative leaders who have built strong cross-functional relationships and trust are more likely to commit to enterprise-wide goals rather than their own individual or business unit goals. They focus on doing what is right for the organization as a whole.

Download our Building Collaborative Leadership Potential checklist to learn more. To build more collaborative cultures and high performance teams, contact:

Becky Ripley

Excursion Learning Practice Lead




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Future Leaders: How to Bridge the Talent Gap

Posted by on 9:04 AM in Diversity and Inclusion, Growing Leaders, Growing Teams, Veteran Leaders | 0 comments

Future Leaders: How to Bridge the Talent Gap

“Everything in the world we want to do or get done, we must do with and through people.” – Earl Nightingale

The next time you see a school bus, visualize the children inside as your future leaders. Does that make any of you nervous? These grade school or high school students are more technologically adept than ever before, yet aren’t ready to provide relief and fill talent gaps today. In fact, many executives question whether students will be ready in the future. According to recent reports from Deloitte and PWC, as many as eighty percent (80%) of CEOs are concerned about a growing talent gap worldwide.

According to a 2016 SHRM report, C-suite executives claim that both internal and external candidates lack the necessary competencies for future success–especially in three critical areas: Communication, Critical Evaluation and Leadership Navigation. You may wonder, “What factors are contributing to these gaps?”

  • In the past, employees were hired for their deep experience, specialized skills and unique capabilities. Today, employers look for wider breadth and more sophisticated skills as well as cultural fit.
  • Many internal resources are unprepared to assume new, complex leadership positions. Their managers have focused on current roles and job responsibilities rather than on how to prepare them for growth.
  • Recruited senior leaders leave before being fully assimilated. Many new leaders report that the culture is different than expected and/or they feel blocked from contributing. Feeling stymied and unable to use their talent, many choose to leave.
  • There is a current unconscious bias toward hiring new and different leaders rather than engaging older, skilled talent. When hiring managers look and behave as they do, many miss the best talent to fill gaps.
  • Younger workers want to find a greater balance between their work and home lives. Some choose opportunities without the “confines” and expectations of traditional workplaces.

You may be asking; how can we narrow the gap and retain top talent?  Successful organizations:

  • Consider hiring military veterans, many of whom have held significant responsibility, led large numbers of people, and managed more resources earlier in their careers than their peers in private sector roles.
  • Offer co-op programs for college students within key technical areas most needed internally.
  • Provide mentors and/or executive coaches to accelerate onboarding and cultural assimilation.
  • Identify and engage high potential employees in activities and experiences to accelerate their development in the capability areas most needed.
  • Partner leaders with nonprofit organizations to build skills and capabilities.
  • Create corporate environments that are personally rewarding for employees.
  • Work with educators to teach and focus on the skills most needed to succeed in business today.

To win the war for talent, organizations need the equipment and tools to build a “learn, change, and grow” culture. Research consistently indicates that the most important factors in developing and retaining talent are engagement and professional development. It is critical to invest in learning and development to ensure that you have the right talent for the future.

Learn about our new Development for Managers of Veterans program. For more information, contact Mike Perry at

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How to Ensure Your Purpose Drives Alignment

Posted by on 2:37 PM in Growing Leaders, Growing Teams | 0 comments

How to Ensure Your Purpose Drives Alignment

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Many leaders start the new year with fresh goals, plans and strategies. They’re energized with a sense of optimism and purpose. Their purpose sets the context for how to live their lives. With purpose, leaders avoid distractions and keep their eyes on what’s most important. For purpose-driven leaders, it is not unusual for them to literally jump out of bed with determination, a specific goal in mind or a desired intention.

Leaders with purpose are more likely to experience higher satisfaction and happiness, better physical functioning, even better sleep. In addition, according to Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, a clear purpose is  “… a very robust predictor of health and wellness in old age.”

While effective leaders live on purpose, they also have a responsibility to ensure that their employees find purpose in what they do. There is a direct correlation between satisfying work and an organization’s vision and purpose. Work with purpose fuels employees to do their best. How can leaders know if employees see their work as purposeful?

Also, consider incorporating the process recommended by Peter Drucker in The Practice of Management. Encourage your employees to write you a “Management Letter” every six months. In the letter, they write down what they see as your objectives and goals. Then, they write their own objectives. The final step is for you and your employee to review the letter together to see how aligned their perception of your objectives are with the company’s vision and mission as well as how their objectives align with yours. This focused dialogue helps to ensure that your work together is furthering the overall mission and vision of the company.

Living on Purpose is transformational and helps build highly effective, energized teams. Remember, those leaders who work with purpose inspire their employees to do the same. Download our  Living on Purpose questions to help guide you to lead and live on purpose in 2017 and beyond.

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Pruning Shears and Leadership Courage

Posted by on 9:30 AM in Critical Decisions, Growing Leaders, Growing Teams, Innolect Posts | 0 comments

Pruning Shears and Leadership Courage

“Instinct must be thwarted just as one prunes the branches of a tree so that it will grow better.”       -Henri Matisse


If you live in a part of the country that hasn’t seen bright blue sky in a few months, you’re probably looking forward to the promise of spring. Master gardeners know exactly when to prune plants to ensure new buds and growth. They accept that pruning is an important step in keeping plants healthy. While the “crew cut” result might look bad initially, pruning is a way of strengthening the plant or tree for the future.

Similarly, business leaders need to schedule time to prune. Rather than constantly looking for and adding new products and services, smart leaders eliminate what is nonessential and focus attention on what is most valuable to their organizations and teams. Unless we cut away what is wasting time, draining resources or simply not working, we risk our business health. Ask yourself questions like:

  • When we added the new product last year, did it make anything else obsolete or unnecessary?
  • If we were to eliminate the bottom 10% of our services, what difference would it make in our profitability–and how negatively might it impact our customers?
  • Have we hired new employees to help support others who are not performing at the level we require? Is it time to let the non-performer go?
  • If we were to stop doing one non-revenue generating activity, would there be a significant consequence?
  • Are the extra meetings we added to get ourselves aligned still necessary, or can we free up that time for other actions?

Before spring arrives, get out your “pruning shears” and courageously examine what you might eliminate that is not serving you and your business well. Ensure your own growth, health and sustainability by cutting away dead wood and allowing new strong branches to grow and thrive.



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