We at CFAR hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Like you, we are watching the events unfold by the hour, attempting to balance an attunement to this moment with our commitment to our work with both clients and colleagues. We are so appreciative of the many messages we’ve received from those both close and far that convey how deeply we are all in this together.
The safety and wellbeing of our CFAR team and our wider communities are of the utmost importance for us. We have transitioned to working remotely, already experienced and still learning how to authentically stay connected by video and phone. We are doing all we can to provide continued support to our clients. I am am... read more »
Almost 20 years ago, CFAR Coaching Practice Leader Dr. Richard J. Levin wrote the guidelines—linked below—for the UN to help parents and children cope with the unprecedented events of 9/11. As the COVID-19 pandemic develops, this same resource may be useful in comforting and guiding you and your family during these challenging times. As always, CFAR is here for you, both personally and professionally. You may download and read the article HERE.
Throughout this challenging time, there is one message that continues to bring a great deal of comfort: “We are in this together.” We are all facing some degree of paralyzing uncertainty and intense challenge. Though our individual situations may be quite different, some experiences these days seem universally shared:
— Our personal and business lives are even more enmeshed than normal as the boundary between work and home is obliterated
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The often heard board governance adage of “nose in, fingers out”1 is regularly held up as guidance for board members and a caution to them, many of whom are former C-suite executives, that it’s not their job to delve too deeply into day-to-day operations.
But should this hold in this time of a crisis—particularly one the length and depth of which is unknown? The COVID-19 crisis has triggered countless off-cycle board meetings or updates, whether fiduciary or advisory, with management working diligently to provide important information ab... read more »
Preparing the next generation ("Next Gen") is a critical step on the path to succession in a family business. There are many ways to create development opportunities, starting with exposure in “small bites” from a young age, in age- and stage-appropriate ways. Think: formal education programs, or spending time in the proverbial “mailroom” (or its equivalent), or accompanying a family member on a job, and more.
One steadfast and valuable method to expose the Next Gen to business has been internships, typically starting in high school or college. Summer learning opportunities develop younger family membe... read more »
In this radio interview, initially broadcast on WBOQ-FM in Gloucester, MA, I talk about ways we can acclimate to the turbulence brought about by the combined impact of COVID-19, racial injustice, unemployment, and steep financial losses. Not knowing which way to turn for help has the capacity to crowd out our best thinking, and to force us into making impulsive decisions.
The best way for leaders to be strategic rather than impulsive is to develop new skills that help their organizations deal with collective trauma. I address trauma in the radio interview... read more »
Culture has played an increasingly critical role in organizations across all domains, and we know that people across organizational levels have become more aware of how vital its role is in shaping strategy, impacting organizational success, and deepening employee engagement. At the same time, the pandemic, and the necessary responses to it, have tested organizational culture in ways that we are just taking stock of and that may have long-lasting impact.
We know that organizations with purposeful, collaborative, inclusive, and psychologically safe cultures have more engaged and effective leaders, staff, and teams, and deliver better outcome... read more »
We are thrilled to welcome Chris McEntee to CFAR as a Senior Advisor for our work with healthcare and research organizations and professional associations and societies. In her most recent role as CEO of the American Geophysical Union (AGU)—a global professional scientific society serving 130,000 scientists—Chris positioned AGU as a leading industry voice and drove key initiatives that increased the relevance and value of science in our society.
With over 25 years of professional experience, Chris has focused on growing large organizations through reimagining their governance, membership, programs, public policy, sci... read more »
Organizations can get in the way of their own success. The reasons are plentiful—ineffective design, challenged teams, unclear roles or structures, cumbersome or insufficient processes, challenging authority dynamics, to name just a few. Every leader has faced that moment. When they simply know that there is something about how the organization is working that is getting in the way of achieving the full potential of its goals. And yet harnessing the collective power of an organization—with multiple talents, ideas, and a more powerful overall impact than any one individual can have—is somehow still around the corner, just out of reach.... read more »
Lately, even before the pandemic, people inside organizations have been more “heads down,” get it done, don’t distract me. With the pandemic adding one more level of stress to organizational life—where people work from a distance, virtually, still intent to make plan, serve customers, develop talent—a new or renewed view of organizational life is emerging, where invention and adaptation of the formerly tried and true can either be encouraged or discouraged by an organization’s culture. What anchors a resilient organization in a good way, offering purpose, connection, and readiness for change?
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Engagement is the art and science of including people in the shaping and implementation of strategy and change. In our experience, intentionally planning what we call the engagement architecture of a project or initiative that you want to advance is absolutely essential for creating strategy and change that stick. We advise building inclusive processes through which to surface a diversity of voices and opinions, using a variety of methods for tapping into the guidance, expertise, and passion of your people—including leadership, staff, board, family members, and others whose outside perspective can be helpful.
Balancing the respective needs and inputs of your company Board, your shareholder group, and your independent directors always requires a measured approach that values feedback and places a premium on the values embedded in the company by its founders. A Family Council is an ideal forum through which to give family members a “voice” in the company, but it also adds a new dimension to this balancing act.
“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.” Daniel Kahneman
The 360-degree feedback process has recently been reported to be used by more than 85% of Fortune 500 firms as a part of their performance management systems. The “360-degree” moniker comes from how the process solicits feedback for participating leaders in a full circle: from those working above (supervisors or in the case of the CEO, the Board), below (direct reports), and alongside (peers of) the individual being assessed. 360s invite and require some vulnerability in that, if done as intended, thoughtfully receiving and then using feedback is a de... read more »