"Innovation is CREATIVITY that ships" (Steve Jobs). Not a PowerPoint slidedeck.


I listened to Sheryl Sandberg’s talk at HBS Class of 2012 with great interest. I noodled about the dilemma that gender remains an unresolved issue at the highest levels of leadership not only in America but also in other parts of the world.


Dr John Badaracco, Jr. of Harvard Business School insightfully observed that “leadership is, in part, a struggle of flawed human beings”. We often find ourselves in dilemmatic situations which result in individual or organizational disconnects, fire fighting or undesirable effects in the system. This, in turn, impacts business success. These dilemmas are also called “clouds.” Conventional wisdom views “why is there a disconnect?” superficially and favors management by escalation approach where silver bullets or incomplete solutions are proposed and implemented.

Recognizing the Dilemma

Let’s consider the pivot as a recognition that a certain conversation just isn’t going to work and has evolved to become a dilemma or a wicked problem and is causing stagnation. However, there is an intentional desire at least for one of the players to try something new in order to achieve authentic win/win outcomes.

Lean In evaporating cloud 1
We identify the conflict underlying the two different leadership strategies for building a high performance organization.

Assessing the Dilemma

Below we identify the underlying assumptions for each of the paths in the evaporating cloud introduced in the previous section.





No-Compromises Solution to the Dilemma

We avoid quick fixes or silver bullets and propose that we eliminate the disconnect via the injections shown in the tree below.
Lean In injection

From an operational standpoint, “leaning in” is a cross-border transaction between 2 or more people who consciously strive to consistently achieve win/win outcomes by enlarging the pie. This shapes the path for predictable success. In a world of differences, in every interaction, there are three opportunities for failure (win/lose, lose/win, lose/lose) and only a single opportunity for achieving success (win/win; think 1 + 1 = 3).

Athena Doctrine for Multipolar Managers

“I smelled something was wrong […]
“It’s not the company I thought I founded.”

Howard Schultz. Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life Without Losing its Soul.

Great leaders go beyond smelling the coffee aroma through their nostrils and figure out what is going on at an operational level in the organization. They have an excruciating focus on “how we do things” and raising corporate consciousness (i.e., awareness of who we are, what for and why we do the things we do). They proactively reach out through the physical and digital channels to build boundary spanning relationships while listening and understanding the environment and the culture using the power of instrumentation.

We live in a world of increased transparency as a result of the power of digitization. By seeking to understand what is going on in the environment, leaders can constantly create and cement connections with the people. Instilling the values of leaning in is a no-compromises option for increasing the emotional bank accounts across all stakeholders in the journey towards authentic leadership.

In order for a firm to create differential value in a collaboration economy, it is (1) vital to engage and understand “what is the common objective of the players who have a disconnect” and (2) navigate a disciplined thinking process to design a no-compromises complete solution that truly achieves win/win. The genuinely peoplesmart mindset is a World Class, Face to Face engagement approach, both offline or online, and avoid the siloed trap of missed opportunities for value creation by favoring win/lose, lose/lose or lose/win. Going forward, the motto is to resolve “a cloud a day” so that we can evaporate the cloud and continue the pursuit of relentless innovation that enlarges the value pie.

The values of leaning in along with the courage to Think Bravely will gear the perpetual motion machine for reviving distressed businesses on Main Street.

Quite honestly, I am eager to “get a seat on the rocket ship” in a firm where I can be my authentic self, solve business problems, and perform beyond where I am today.


Related Blog Posts:

Documented by Last Mile Resource

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: