Does Your Leadership Style Feed Bureaucracy and Negativity or Innovation and Accountability?


Change for some people is entered into kicking and screaming. They view today’s cascading uncertainty and complexity as detriments.

One can hear those called to lead languishing, “When things get back to normal.” Therein lie there problems. The failure to see the vast opportunity masked as turbulence and the new reality of normal.

I often remind my clients and employees that in the more than 6,000 year history of the earth there has never been a normal time.

We have all met people who view the world optimistically. While others in similar circumstances cast negative dispersion’s. In one study it was shown that three fourths of those surveyed were adept at experiencing events, ideas, concepts and emotions in positive alternatives perceived themselves as having the appropriate skills to lead change in their organizations and life. Comparatively, only 15% of those who deemed situations as negative saw themselves as capable. 

Download Free the White Paper – “How To Drive Employee Engagement In The 21st Century.” Click here. 

For leaders who don’t naturally see opportunity in change and uncertainty, those conditions create stress.

When faced with too much stress (each of us has a different limit), the brain reacts with a modern version of the “fight, flight, or freeze” instinct that saber-toothed tigers inspired in early humans. This response equips us only for survival, not for coming up with creative solutions.

Worse yet, in organizations such behavior feeds on itself, breeding fear and negativity that can spread and become the cultural norm. Below is a superb example of several important nuances frequently lost in translation within the vast majority of organizations. Protective silos, silence, subtle disengagement all impact the efficiency of change programs as well as innovation initiatives designed to promote collaborative discoveries. There is another issue involved: behavior. When a leader or manager has built a trust environment change becomes more effective.

When Steve Sadove took over Clairol, in 1991, for example, the company had been shell-shocked by a significant decline in sales volume. “I remember going to a very creative person, who did all the packaging and creative development,” Steve told us, “and saying, ‘Why don’t we do anything creative?’ He opened some drawers in his desk and started showing me all of this wonderful work that he’d done. Nobody was asking for it; people kept their head down in that culture. So part of my role as the leader was to create an environment that was going to allow innovation and creativity and make it OK to fail.”

Fortunately, we can all become aware of what triggers our fears and learn to work through them to reframe what is happening more constructively. Once we have mastered reframing, we can help others learn this skill, seeding the conditions that result in a safe environment where all employees are inspired to give their best.

Steve found ways to stimulate creativity, such as exploring opposing points of view in discussions with colleagues. Over time, he convinced others that speaking up wasn’t just tolerated but encouraged. He helped colleagues reframe the way they reacted to dissent, forging a less defensive and ultimately more innovative culture. Steve and his team introduced a winning hair care brand, Herbal Essences, and ushered in a golden period of growth for Clairol. […]

Adapted from

Download Free the White Paper – “How To Drive Employee Engagement In The 21st Century.” Click here. 

Jim Woods, Leadership speaker, Human Resources Consultant, Business Coach

Jim Woods is a leadership development and training consultant deploying his unique abilities in character based training and strategy.

See a partial list of Jim’s clients. Hire Jim Woods to Speak  | Follow us: Facebook | Follow us: Twitter | Skype ID – jim.woods79   Click here to schedule an appointment.

Jim is president of InnoThink Group a human resources and leadership management consulting firm | Skype ID – jim.woods79   Click here to schedule an appointment.m. He has an absolute passion for people development and are constantly refining and adapting his programs in order to ensure that they have the maximum impact on those we serve.


Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website

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Posted in Authentic Leadership

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