Archive for April, 2011

Can gaming REALLY change the world?

What a mind-bending thought this was when I read a book review by Rohit Bhargava of Dr. Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken: How Games Make Us Happy and How They Can Save the World. Bhargava writes, “The basic premise of this book is that game mechanics are an intrinsic motivator for behaviour change simply because of how humans are wired. All people love games.” I wasn’t convinced, but I was intrigued and kept reading…here’s some of what I learned:

McGonigal directs games R&D at the Institute for the Future and is devoting her life’s work to harnessing the enormous time,  energy and skills now devoted to gaming (which at its core is problem-solving) and applying them to solving real-world problems. As I clicked one link after another to learn more about this, I found her website, Gameful, and her definition of the word gameful: “It means to have the spirit, or mindset, of a gamer: someone who is optimistic, curious, motivated, and always up for a tough challenge. It’s like the word “playful” — but gamier! Gameful games are games that have a positive impact on our real lives, or on the real world.”

Then I was astounded to find the following video of her compelling presentation to the prestigious TED audience (an organization devoted to spreading good ideas). We’ve included it below because it’s so thought provoking. Here is McGonigal’s goal in her own words: “Instead of providing gamers with better and more immersive alternatives to reality, I want all of us to be become responsible for providing the world with a better and more immersive reality.”

AvoLead professionals are trained to bring transformational change to organizations of all sizes, domestic and global. Call us to discuss ways that we might bring the power principles of gaming into your organization, so the world can be made better by what you offer.

Do you think this is crazy…fascinating…pie in the sky? We’d love to know.

Meta-analysis evidence: Behavior is best predictor of Leadership Effectiveness

I want to thank Rich Grenhart who sent me an interesting article by Dr. Brett L. Simmons called, “Leadership Traits and Behaviors: Four Evidence Based Suggestions.” It summarizes a meta-analysis of 79 previously published studies all aimed at trying to answer the question of whether leader traits or leader behaviors are the best predictors of leadership effectiveness. The original study is over 40 pages long [1. Derue, D.S. et al. (2011). Trait and behavioral theories of leadership: An integration and meta-analytic test of their relative validity. Personnel Psychology, 64: 7-52.], but Simmons offers four suggestions based on the study’s conclusions and discusses their significance. The bottom line is that evidence points to behavior being the more important predictor of leadership effectiveness, though the traits of conscientiousness and agreeableness often improve performance of groups being led. Transformational leadership is consistently predictive of effectiveness, and “Effective leaders must plan and schedule work, support and help their followers, and encourage and facilitate change (p. 41).”

As one commenter to the article suggested, the conclusions boil down to two things our grandparents taught us:

  • Lead by example
  • Don’t tell me, show me

Besides confirming these common sense conclusions, Dr. Simmons feels that the analysis offers this take-away: “Because the evidence shows that behaviors are the strongest predictors of leader effectiveness, we can and should train folks to be more effective leaders. Hire the most conscientious people you can find, but when you get ready to promote people into positions of leadership, make sure they have a proven record of mastering tasks, relating well with others, and responding to mandates for change.”

Do you find this holds true in your organization? We’d love to hear your thoughts.



Influence Style Indicator™ Webinar April 21, 2011

April 21 • 1:00-2:30pm • Live Webinar

additional dial-in information will be distributed 1 week prior to webinar


by calling 336.272.9530 or email

Discovery Learning, Inc. announces the introduction of a new assessment tool, the Influence Style Indicator™. Designed by Chris Musselwhite, president and CEO of Discovery Learning, Inc. and Tammie Plouffe, managing partner of Innovative Pathways, the Influence Style Indicator measures an individual’s dominant, secondary and underutilized influence styles.

Get certified now to use this new innovative assessment by attending the April 21st online certification workshop.

*Certification or qualification is required for product use. Benefits of certification include: listing on DLI website, access to experienced survey user group, receiving DLI referrals.

Invite a fellow consultant and discover a new tool for your kit at Discovery Learning®

Additional Training in Toronto June 21 — check Discovery Learning website for updates

Also find Discovery Learning, Inc. on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube


Influence: Use it or lose it…

But learn to use it effectively!

Perry Buffet’s very interesting article “Using Influence to Get Things Done” in the February 22, 2011 issue of strategy + business highlights a dilemma often faced by senior management: the need to advocate tough-sell positions in typically collegial small groups such as councils, boards, or committees, where critical decisions are often made informally. Decisions made at this level, even when they have to be passed up the line for approval, can be critical to an organization’s success. “Thus,” concludes Buffet,  “an executive’s ability to influence peers and superiors as they undertake a broad range of crucial decisions involving such issues as strategy, budgets, brand positioning and pricing, and capital investments is a valuable skill — a skill that could be called influential competence.”

Recognizing the critical value of influence competence to the ability of their executive clients to achieve maximum effectiveness, AvoLead professionals trained recently at Discovery Learning, Inc. in Greensboro, NC, to become Influence Style Indicator™ Assessment Consultants by learning to administer and analyze the exciting new Influence Style Indicator™ assessment tool.

The assessment tool helps the client understand the three primary influence orientations and the five main influencing styles, and it identifies his or her own predominant style. Even more important, it offers specific and implementable techniques and suggestions for interacting effectively with others whose predominant influence styles might be different.

Could you benefit from learning how to engage more effectively with your peers to get things done and add more value to your group or organization? Besides individual assessment, the Influence Style Indicator tool can be administered within a group or team to help members understand themselves and how they can work more strategically with their co-workers to accomplish established goals. Call AvoLead for more information.

When has influence competence been important to your career? Leave comments below.

Boundary Spanning Leadership

BOOK REVIEW: Boundary Spanning Leadership:Six Practices for Solving Problems, Driving Innovation, and Transforming Organizations by Chris Ernst and Donna Chrobot-Mason

How refreshing and empowering to find a book on contemporary leadership that not only frames relevant issues that organization leaders face by identifying boundaries they are likely to encounter, but it also offers practical solutions to spanning these boundaries based on a decade of real-world research by leadership professionals at the Center for Creative Leadership. I’ll wager that readers of this book will: 1) either already be dealing with many of the issues presented and find the discussions a veritable lifeline or 2) they will instantly recognize situations they have encountered in the past and understand for the first time why they were so intractable and challenging.

The rapidly shifting landscape of corporate and nonprofit leadership creates unique pitfalls as well as opportunities. Research surveys of over 125 senior level executives revealed an appallingly low number who felt they were very effective at knowing how to collaborate effectively across boundaries in their current leadership roles. Five primary boundary types were identified for discussion purposes, though the authors recognized that often they are closely linked:

  1. Vertical boundaries between hierarchical levels of the organization
  2. Horizontal boundaries between functions
  3. Stakeholder boundaries with customers and vendors
  4. Demographic boundaries in working with people from diverse groups
  5. Geographic boundaries of distance and region

Concluding that boundary spanning practices can turn boundaries into frontiers ripe with untapped potential, the authors explore what these practices might be, providing compelling actual stories/examples to illustrate them, and offering exercises and strategies to implement them in your own situation.

The authors first discuss the boundary management practices of Buffering (Creating Safety) and Reflecting (Fostering Respect). Then they move into practices that forge common ground: Connection (Building Trust) and Mobilizing (Developing Community). Next in the evolution of boundary-spanning are the practices that develop new frontiers: Weaving (Advancing interdependence) and Transforming (Enabling Reinvention).

“Together, these practices combine to create what authors Chris Ernst and Donna Chrobot-Mason call the Nexus Effect. The Nexus Effect allows groups to be more agile in response to changing markets; be more flexible in devising and deploying cross-functional learning and problem-solving capabilities; work with partners in deeper, more open relationships; empower virtual teams; and create a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive organization that brings out everybody’s best.” (From the Editorial Review in Amazon)

While the challenges described here will be familiar to those who follow leadership trends and practices, I believe the authors have developed and presented what many will find to be an original, useful and implementable approach to thinking about and managing them.

What boundary-spanning practices has YOUR organization used? Please let us know in the comment section below.