Realizing Leadership Magazine Interview
3Q Leadership™ Exposed
Actualizing Results at the Speed of Change and Challenges
A 3Q Leadership™ Perspective | (Including more than 800 bonus links)
“Irene is without doubt a powerful and passionate thought leader – her drive and commitment can lift the energy levels of a group within minutes! Her belief in the power and impact of attitude echoes the thoughts of great writers over history. For organisations Irene is able to challenge people to assess not just their competence in role but also their STYLE, she is a great driver for change.” Chris Atkinson, Training Director, Elysian Training, UK
I was honored to be the cover story for Realizing Leadership Magazine, Aug 2014. I am sharing the interview with you, because I think that it contains interesting and I hope equally valuable information about surviving and thriving in a new non linear eco-system where change, challenges, hyper-competition and opportunity are the new normal. The editor of Leadership Magazine, Laurie Wilhelm, has done a superlative job of not simply continuing the leadership conversation, but spotlighting change-makers, thinkers and doers, ombudsmen of a better way forward. If you do not subscribe to Realizing Leadership Magazine, you should. Great read. I hope you enjoy the interview and welcome your comments!
LW Welcome to Realizing Leadership in Conversation. I’m Laurie Wilhelm and today, we’re speaking with Irene Becker. Executive Coach, Consultant and Author of a triple award-winning blog, 3Q Leadership™, Irene is also a speaker whose 3Q message of not simply playing to strengths, but using our ability to transform changes, challenges, failures and stressors into a catalyst for potential and results inspires and engages audiences in a new way of thinking, communicating and doing that has come of age. Irene, thank you so much for your time today to speak with us.
IB You’re so welcome, I’m delighted to be here, Laurie.
LW You have a very interesting leadership model; you’re the creator of 3Q Leadership™ and that’s going to be new to a lot of people listening and reading today so I’m wondering if you could please describe to us what is 3Q Leadership™.
IB With pleasure, Laurie. I think it will be new to most people because 3Q is the model I created that is both a coaching and training model; it’s also a philosophy. It speaks not only to playing to strengths but to learning how to use changes, challenges, stressors even failures to build three really critical areas that can grow in the face of change. I think that 3Q leadership™ , or building your 3Q Edge™, speaks not only to people who are leading organizations or companies but to all people who want to be able to really optimize their potential in a sea of changes, challenges, ambiguity that’s going to continue.
LW Could you please briefly describe each of the Q’s so we have an understanding of what each one is?
Q1: IQ is enhancing your ability to learn and relearn, focus under stress, strategic thought, really optimizing the power of your mind and intellect.
EQ: Q2 is emotional intelligence, which means self-mastery, communication, collaboration, resiliency, risk tolerance, the things that we all need very badly today.
SQ: Q3 spiritual quotient, refers to purpose, integrity of thought, communication, action, and also learning how to use and build intrinsic motivators that keep you going when the going gets tough.
LW If we take a look at the first one, IQ, can we look at focus – an enhanced focus. What is that and how do we achieve an enhanced focus?
IB Well, I think that we learn how to really grab hold of the power of our mind, of our brain to focus on what’s important. A lot of people are really deluged with information overload and instead of being empowered or enabled by the amount of information; you really become disengaged. You can train yourself to think better, to have greater focus on what’s important to you, to your work and that’s a critical skill because what we focus on grows. I believe that the ability to develop laser focus in high change, high stress environments is really critical.
LW You’ve also spoken in the IQ about learn and relearn. What does that mean, to learn and relearn?
IB I think that we’re in a whole new time where learning isn’t enough. We’re going to have to relearn and we can train ourselves to learn and relearn, to rewrite patterns of thinking, increase our ability to learn faster, to really help us get smarter.
LW So why do we need to ‘relearn’?
IB Because a lot of what we learned in previous eras no longer applies or what we are going to be doing now, or what was a best practice in the past may be irrelevant in the future. Life and work and all the different parts that make up our journey are moving faster than ever before. We can’t just get a degree and go on with our jobs and presume that things are going to go well. That model worked in the past. It’s defunct today.
Our ability to really optimize learning and relearning is so critical and it’s doable – there’s a huge advantage in making this exciting. When you can really develop greater focus on what’s important, when you can optimize your ability to learn and relearn, you’re not suffering from information overload, you become inspired, you become engaged, you become empowered and more successful by what you learn and relearn.
LW With the EQ, there’s the emotional intelligence and social intelligence. What do you mean by social intelligence?
IB Social intelligence is part of emotional intelligence. Social intelligence is learning how to build relationships across boundaries whether they’re internally or externally, different cultures, different people in the hierarchy. We need to build relationships. I think that, you know, the term “global village” was coined in the 70’s. Marshall McLuhan was visionary because we certainly weren’t living in a global village then but we are now. We need to build our social quotients, we need to know how to verbally communicate, digitally communicate with all kinds of people and social quotient also refers to not only communication but also collaboration.
One of the things that I think is even more important now and in the future is building what I would call communities of purpose. People who come together with the same values and objectives because no one can become successful alone. There’s an expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it takes a village to build a success. And today, our village may be global, our partners may be virtual, but we will not succeed alone. Building your social quotient, communication, collaboration is really critical.
LW With the communication and collaboration element and being a leader – how is that actually important? If you’re the leader, people should be doing what you’re saying. Why would you have to work on these relationships and communication?
IB The model of leadership – if you’re the leader, people should be doing what you’re saying – worked really well in different periods of time when the equation for building success was different. Command and control leadership, saying, “I’m the leader – you have to do what I want,” that will work with a lot of people who have to retain their jobs. But are you going to get the best out of your people? Are you going to have an executive team that will be innovative and where you will have transparent and honest communication? Are you going to be able to reach vertically and horizontally within your own company or globally to prospects and constituents? No.
Command and control leadership worked in the past because success was always about controlling the mode of production, producing more, efficiencies. To me, success is now about human effectiveness. It’s about our ability to innovate, to articulate, to communicate, to collaborate and those things are not built through command and control leadership. They’re built by a leader who, yes, can steer the ship, but knows how to empower, engage and actualize the best in his people. That’s not by telling people to “do it because I’m the leader.” It’s about empowering, enabling and showing people a better way forward.
LW And you mentioned a few minutes ago about purpose and that’s SQ, part of the third Q. How does purpose impact leaders and how they’re achieving the goals of the organization?
IB Before we talk about purpose, let’s talk about success. What is success? Success is creating value for others, whether it’s in your business or in your life, that’s the bottom line. Why has there been only one company that has been on the Fortune 500 for more than forty years? If we don’t create value for others, we tumble and we fall.
Purpose is critical. An organization has to have a purpose to thrive. Also, individuals are purpose driven. If we feel that our work is purposeful, that we’re contributing, we go the extra mile. So purpose is two-fold. We need to individually be purpose driven, and in order to optimize our potential, we need to be working in organizations where we really feel that we’re contributing to the greater whole.
Also, today, I think we’re in a whole other arena where purpose equals profit. You could call it enlightened self-interest, but there are more people in the marketplace, we’re in what I would call the consumer age now where consumers are informed, they know what they want, there’s more competition, and there is a huge demand for companies to create value for not only their clients, but for the communities they live in and I don’t think that’s going to change. And I think that CSR initiatives, while they might have been lip service to corporate social responsibility initially, they’ve changed the culture of organizations. Organizations that will survive and thrive are organizations that are purpose driven and that are led by 3Q leaders who are not only great thinkers and communicators but are values driven, purpose driven people who can really engage and empower, that help those they serve create greater value.
LW Thank you for clarifying that. Now, I’d like to move on to another phrase that I’ve read in some of your writing and you’ve mentioned about “failing forward.” What is that?
IB Failing forward is seeing a failure with different eyes – seeing it as a positive thing. In every failure, there’s a huge amount of positive learning and out of some of the greatest failures have come some of the greatest inventions.
Today, we all have to be more creative and innovative and we can’t do that without failing forward. If you’re afraid of failing, you’re never going to innovate. We need to look at our failures differently because what we want to do is extract that which is going to make us more successful, that which is really going to make us optimize our potential. When you learn to fail forward, it not only changes your relationship with failure, which is a good thing, it removes a stressor, but it also frees you to become more innovative and more creative and to see solutions.
I think another part of failing forward is that to a large extent and even in the educational system even now, we look for what’s wrong. We need to be solution focused. We live in times of great challenge but also extraordinary opportunity. Neuroscience teaches us that our brains are set to automatic negative. No matter how optimistic you are, negativity is going to attract you. It’s going to be the first kind of primal response. We need to rewrite that and become solution focused.
When you learn to fail forward, you’re building emotional and intellectual dexterity and that’s so important today. Every time you fail forward, you’re building a stronger brain and you’re also building greater resiliency.
LW Is that a bit of the ‘relearn’?
IB In a way, it could be. It’s interesting because when I work with clients, relearn becomes a really exciting thing for them so I don’t think of it as failing forward, but you could say that relearning as failing forward. But sometimes relearning is a different take on something you’ve learned or something additional. It really depends on the context, but you brought up a good point.
LW Interesting. Now, looking into servant leadership, I just wanted to get your take on that. You’ve written on your blog a post titled, The Call to Serve, Lead and to Lead Greatly, and within that post, you wrote, “Service is not servitude.” Can you elaborate on this and how this relates to being a leader and being in service to others?
IB Servitude is really being dis-empowered. Service, is being empowered by how you can create value for others. To me, leadership is about creating value for others. It’s about having a greater vision, a greater purpose. It’s about being able to negotiate dark corners. And when we talked about purpose – leadership is all about purpose. Can you really lead if you don’t have courage and integrity and you’re not purpose driven? Not in the true sense of the word. I think a lot of people think about service or serving in the wrong way. Our ability to evolve, is our ability to ultimately serve the greatest good. That’s leadership.
LW And going beyond ourselves in order to get that done, that takes courage. To put your ego aside to focus on others.
IB Ego, in my mind, is energy going out. The more we can distance ourselves from ego – and by ego, I’m talking about the need to be validated by others – when you need to be validated by others, it is the worst form of servitude because you will never get enough validation.
It’s ironic that we live in a time of technological and scientific wonder. Yesterday, I read two articles that blew my mind about what’s being done in medical science. It’s extraordinary. On the other hand, we’re in a time where selfishness has been glorified, in a way. We’re not better alone. We don’t work better alone – I’m not saying everyone has to be selfless, I do think that great leaders are those rare people who do have that selfless component and they remain a hope for those they serve.
LW I have one more question for you, Irene, and it’s about something that you’ve written, “Goodness is the conduit for greatness.” What does that mean for leaders?
IB That you really can’t be a great leader unless you do good work. Good work that speaks to the optimization of human potential. Good work that speaks to not exchanging integrity or humanity for anything else. Good work that speaks to making a positive difference. Goodness is certainly the conduit for greatness. If you look at a great leader, they had a greater purpose and given the times in which we live, our ability to champion really what counts: courage, faith, hope, integrity, humanity and intelligence is critical. So goodness is the conduit for greatness.
LW Irene, I’d like to thank you for your time today – it went by extremely quickly. You provided us a lot to think about: your 3Q leadership™ model, what that is and how we can be successful with it, and offering some of your thoughts and insights on failing forward and servant leadership have been very valuable. I really want thank you. I’d like to direct all the listeners and readers to sign up to your Twitter feed, you blog and to follow you because we can learn from you about being a good leader and lead a purpose-driven life.
IB You’re welcome, Laurie, and if I could say one thing. I really appreciate what your magazine is doing and if I could leave the listeners and readers with a thought, it would be: Change is not the problem – it is the solution. When you can change your relationship with change, challenges, stressors and failures, you not only lead forward, you learn and live forward. Our ability to do so is extraordinary.
LW That is beautiful, Irene – thank you.
IB You’re so welcome.
3Q Leadership™ is more than a model; it is my commitment to a better future. Sharing 3Q with people and organizations is a mission that resonates profoundly. I believe that the importance of NOT ONLY continuing the leadership conversation but embracing new ways, faster and better ways of optimizing our potential at the speed of change, in the face of challenges and opportunity is the way forward. There are a myriad of links below, over 800 on 3Q Leadership™ and great leadership articles to browse. I hope that you find them of value.
More on Realizing Leadership Magazine? Click here to read for this month’s issue of Realizing Leadership Magazine and an excellent cover story interview with leadership thought leader, author, teacher and great, Jim Kouzes Realizing Leadership Magazine is an outstanding publication that is on the web and iTunes. As mentioned, subscriptions are still free for the first 3 months. I recommend subscribing. Great Read!
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