Saturday, July 25, 2015

What Happens When a Server Drops a Tray?

Have you ever been in a restaurant when a server drops a tray of dishes crashing to the floor? I was recently at a conference in the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans, Louisiana, and that very thing happened. Everyone turned to stare, but what happened next was both interesting and inspiring.
Hyatt Regency servers rushed to aid their coworker.
Within 10 seconds of the crashing sound, three other servers members surrounded the mess and began cleaning while the supervisor checked with the server to see that she was okay. Soon thereafter, the supervisor rushed to the closet to retrieve a mop. And within a couple of minutes, the mess was cleaned and the team continued their excellent service to the guests.

Compassion, Service, and Teamwork 
I believe this brief example of teamwork is worth applying to other situations. For example, would this happen where you work? If one of your team members "dropped their tray" would you run to their aid? As the manager and leader, would you run to retrieve the mop, or send someone else? When a member of your family, team or community falters, do you ignore the problem or watch them struggle? Or do you rush to their aid and help them move forward? How would that employee feel after receiving such compassionate service from their peers?

I believe this kind of compassion, service, and kindness should be replicated in every organization. Good leaders and employees support one another. Good leaders and employees are collaborative and compassionate. And the result is that the work moves forward.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Leadership Development Program Resources

I recently completed the Leadership Development Program at Franklin University. Each month, we participants attended one of 10 excellent presentation by scholars and leaders here in Columbus, Ohio. It has been an excellent experience, and the presenters have been outstanding. Below I link to my notes from these presentations.

The resources below could be used as the beginning of any leadership development program. Each presentation includes general principles that can be applied to any leadership situation.
  1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Dr. Karen Miner-Romanoff
  2. Business Writing and Communication - Tom McClain
  3. Leadership Theories and Decision-Making - Dr. Timothy Reymann
  4. Communication and Relationships - Dr. Mike Posey
  5. The Power of Mindfulness - Daron Larson
  6. Ethical Leadership - Dr. Alex Heckman
  7. Leadership Begins with the Heart - Dr. Jim Mahoney
  8. Practical Leadership Advice - E. J. Thomas
  9. Self-Awareness and Creating Your Personal Brand - Dr. Lynn Hull and Robert Coles
  10. Planning - Rick Sunderman
Other Leadership Thoughts
Below are some other leadership thoughts that I have noted over the past few years.
Reflections on Leadership Though Development 
As I reflect on the experience over the past year, these presentations and ideas were very influential the development of my own leadership thoughts. Along with these presentations, I also read perhaps two dozen books on leadership-related topics, and I have extended my own philosophy and awareness of my own leadership style. I am very grateful to have participated in this program and look forward to continually developing my knowledge and understanding of leadership concepts.

Leadership Development: Planning

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently participating in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) as part of my work at Franklin University. This week, I attended a presentation by Rick Sunderman, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Franklin University. He talked about how to plan effectively as a leader. He first spoke about the big picture approach to planning: Strategic Planning.

Strategic Planning 
All models for strategic planning seem to have similar components, and strategic planning is typically a top-down endeavor. You starts with the big picture of what you want to accomplish as an organization and break it down into smaller pieces until you have operational tactics. The point is to make it granular and focused so that you can take specific actions that you can do and measure. These specific actions should all feed back up to the big picture mission and initiatives outlined in the strategic plan.

Franklin University has a strategic plan that we have developed and revisited several times in the last 6 years. It was approached very systematically and included dozens of participants. I thought it was interesting to hear Rick report that we are 41 percent done with our strategic plan - the leadership of the university are continually meeting and revisiting out plan, to the point that they know exactly where we stand and what else needs to be implemented.
Here is the general sequence when creating your strategic plan:
  1. Clarify your Mission.
  2. Create Institutional Goals based on your mission. 
  3. Develop Major Strategies for reaching those goals.
  4. Undertake multiple Strategic Initiatives within each major strategy.
  5. Develop Supporting Strategies to support those initiatives.
  6. Employ Operational Tactics to fulfill those supporting strategies. 
If done correctly, this is a multi-year, involved approach to planning. Furthermore, you should be willing to adjust and revise your plan regularly to adapt to the volatile changes experienced in the environment. It is critical that you divide and conquer. Enable people to focus on their own aspect, and coordinate efforts.

Rick noted that research indicates that up to 90% of strategic plans fail due to lack of execution. This is critical - the implementation and execution of a plan is the most vital piece. It appears that Franklin University has done well at following our strategic plan, which is encouraging.

Project Planning and Scheduling
Effective project planning enables you to implement specific components of the strategic plan. project planning typically includes the following major steps:

  • Define to Scope - what are you trying to accomplish? Who is involved and has a stake in the outcome? What is the budget? What are the goals of the project? What artifacts of products will you create? This is what we call an analysis in the instructional design world - establishments of gaps and goals.
  • Design - This is the phase in which you plan everything that is needed for the effective completion of the project. How it will the completed project look? How will it achieve the goals and close the gaps you have already identified?.
  • Roles and Responsibilities - Be sure to establish what all participants are responsible for. Who will do which part? How will each part be accomplished? Who receives reports and tracks progress? 
  • Schedule - create a specific and clear schedule of how each step of the project will be created. Be aware of the steps that are contingent upon the completion of a previous step and plan the steps in the proper sequence.
  • Communication Plan - Develop a system for communication progress regularly to the project manager. This reporting should happen regularly to keep the project on schedule. Rick's rule of thumb is that he becomes concerned when a projects is off by 80 hours (2 weeks). 
Project scheduling
A critical component of successfully complete a project is project scheduling. Major aspects of scheduling include:
  • Identify project phases - what are the big milestones or steps for the project?
  • Identify key activities - what must be done to complete each of the phases?
  • Identify tasks - what specific tasks will facilitate accomplishment of each activity?
  • Assign tasks - who will do each of the tasks?
  • Identify dependencies and sequence - what tasks need to be done first? what is dependent on the completion of previous tasks?
A good manager works to know the details of the project that his employees are working on. The work you do up front in the analysis should be pretty detailed and comprehensive so that there is a solid grasp of what will be required. A good manager also follows up on employees' projects regularly, provides support, and removes obstacles wherever possible. 

30 Seconds of Reflection
We have been doing 30 seconds of reflection at the end of each leadership session. Here is what I wrote for this one: It's all in completing the project. You must deliver on the project - your team must produce the results required. I'll now be working with the instructional design faculty members as their department chair, and I will need to be as effective as possible in my support to them. I am blessed to be working with EXCELLENT faculty members in i4, and I look forward to working closely with them over the coming months.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Position - Department Chair, Instructional Design - International Institute for Innovative Instruction

I was recently asked by the Associate Provost for Academic Quality to serve as the Department Chair of Instructional Design in the International Institute for Innovative Instruction (often called i4).  Dr. Rob Wood will be taking over as the Program Chair of the Instructional Design and Performance Technology program at Franklin. I'll continue to work with Rob as well as our outstanding instructional design faculty in i4. I will be reporting to Dr. Karen Miner-Romanoff, the Associate Provost for Academic Quality at Franklin University and Executive Director of the International Institute for Innovative Instruction.

I'm excited for the opportunity - the faculty and staff in i4 are wonderful to work with, and I look forward to working with them. Karen is an outstanding individual, and I am excited to learn from her over the coming months.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Analyzing Joel

(Note to reader: I don't necessarily expect you to read this blog post. I am mainly writing this as a way to self-reflect. Feel free to read (a) to gain some ideas and tools for self-reflection, or (b) if you are a creepy stalker who wants to profile me for evil purposes.)

The Importance of Self-Awareness

A key capacity for personal success and self-leadership is self-awareness. This is usually accomplished through self-reflection, experience, and feedback from others. One excellent way to increase self-awareness is the use of self-assessments, which are designed to assess various aspects of an individual, including strengths, thinking preferences, personality, and leadership styles. I have taken several of these self-assessments over the years and have decided to place the results from several of these here.

How Accurate Are These Instruments?
I always assume that the self-assessments I take are mildly accurate. I do think that some of them are useful. For me, self-awareness becomes clearer over time through experience, self-reflection, and feedback from others. These self-assessments can be useful ways to codify or explain some of the things you learn about yourself, and though one assessment might not reveal a lot, several together might be very useful.

So, below are several instruments that I have used for self-assessment over the past few years. I'll describe the instruments individually and share my results. At the end of the post, I will attempt to bring everything together into some kind of conclusion. (I am not sure how I will do that - this will be interesting...)

HBDI Self-Assessment

I took is the HBDI self-assessment in 2015. It assesses an individual's thinking preferences and helps the individual have a better sense of how they like to approach work and problem-solving situations. I thought it was interesting and was surprised to find that I am pretty balanced among the preferences. The image below shows my results, and I some of my analysis results are outlined below. 

I scored as having a high preference in D - Experimental Self (holistic, intuitive, integrating, synthesizing), C - Feeling Self (Interpersonal, Feeling-based, Kinesthetic, Emotional), and B - Safekeeping Self (Organized, Sequential, Planned, Detailed). I scored in the middle range for the last quadrant, A - Rational Self (Logical, Analytical, Fact-based, Quantitative).
Specific characteristics of my thinking preferences, according to my results printout, include: imaginative, synthesizer, spatial, reader, conservative, controlled, logical, and analytical.

Apparently my profile is the clear majority profile for the female population. Weird.


Another great instrument for self-assessment is the Clifton StrengthFinder.  I took this self-assessment around 2004 or 2005. The goal of the assessment is to identify what the individual's natural strengths. It assumes that there are 34 naturally-occurring strengths, and that everyone has these strengths to some degree. The assessment takes the reader through a series of questions and identifies which of these strenghts are most dominant. Below are my top 5 strengths, according to this self-assessment:
  1. Focus - People exceptionally talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
  2. Analytical - People exceptionally talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.
  3. Learner - People exceptionally talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. The process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
  4. Intellection - People exceptionally talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
  5. Harmony - People exceptionally talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.

Emotional Intelligence

I took the SEI Emotional Intelligence Assessment by SixSeconds in 2014. The results were very interesting - I found that I was at least functional in all areas, and I scored skilled in the categories of Give Yourself and Choose Yourself. I scored as an expert in the skills of Engage Intrinsic Motivation, Exercise Optimism, and Pursue Noble Goals. This makes some sense to me - I have what might be a stronger than average ability to set goals, to remain optimistic about my ability to achieve them, and to have an inner sense of motivation to work toward the accomplishment of these goals.

Bolman and Deal Leadership Styles

In early 2015 I attended a presentation by Dr. Wendell Seaborne at Franklin University who discussed a leadership self-assessment that assesses and individual's leadership according to Bolman and Deal Leadership Styles, which include structural, human resources, political, and symbolic styles.

My results indicated that I am high in human resources leadership style and average in the structural and symbolic styles. I am low in the political style. This makes sense to me - I tend to focus on the people in a given situation and believe that they are ultimately the most critical resource in the knowledge society. I also tend to overlook political aspects of organizational work.


I recently read the book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. In this book, Adam Grant outlines his belief that there people tend to relate with others in three general ways: "givers give more than they get, takers get more than they give, and matchers aim to give and get equally; all can succeed." He goes on the submit that our society tends to underestimate the success of people who fall into the giver category, those who have a fundamental desire to give more than they receive from others. 

I took Grant's online self-assessment, which indicates whether you are a giver, taker, or matcher. It appears, based on my results below, that I am a giver. I think this is largely true - I go out of my way to assist others in any way I can. I usually do this in the form of knowledge sharing, active listening, and supportive action (where possible). I am also fairly goal-oriented, which I believe tends to (hopefully) off-set the possibility of my becoming a pushover.

What Does It All Mean?

I have found that self-reflection and self-observation all increase self-awareness. These kinds of assessments can be very useful in helping me understand myself. But I have a hard time trying to draw conclusions about what I have found. Many seem to confirm what I already knew or illuminate it in another light.

So, how does one effectively use these results? Do they really enhance our ability to change? I have no way of measuring whether they have actually helped. I can tell which ones have resonated with me on an emotional or spiritual level, but does that mean I have somehow changed or improved as a result? At any rate, these self- assessments are fun and illuminating, and I will probably keep taking them.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Upcoming Presentation on Self-Leadership on July 9 at Franklin University

I thought it would be worthwhile to advertise my upcoming presentation for the Franklin University Hall Leadership Series at 7:30 am on July 9. I will be speaking on self-leadership. The official presentation description is below - I hope to see you there!

Creating Personal Change through Self-Leadership

How to get unstuck and start living with purpose and clarity

7:30 AM, July 9, 2015 at Franklin University
Ross Auditorium, Alumni Hall
301 East Rich Street
Columbus, OH 43215


You must lead yourself before you can lead others, and you can only lead others to where you have been. Unfortunately, many leadership theories and philosophies focus only on how to lead others but neglect the critical aspect of leading yourself with integrity and purpose.
In this presentation, Dr. Gardner will share
  • The latest research-based strategies for self-leadership.
  • Strategies for leading yourself in our complex, competitive society.
  • How to create personal change and begin moving toward your goals.

You will come away with specific approaches for moving forward in your career and life with clarity, motivation, and confidence.

About Dr. Gardner

An award-winning teacher, Dr. Gardner has taught and leads graduate students in Franklin’s Master of Instructional Design and Performance Technology. His professional mission is to discover and share knowledge that inspires, empowers, and equips others to succeed in their careers and lives. Dr. Gardner blogs about learning, success, and self-leadership in his Reflections on Learning Success blog at

Twitter: @joelgardner

Monday, June 22, 2015

Leadership Development: Self-awareness and Creating Your Personal Brand

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently participating in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) as part of my work at Franklin University. This week, I attended a presentation by Dr. Lynn Hull the Dean of Students at Franklin University, and Robert ColesDirector of Creative Services and Brand Management Franklin University. These two excellent presenters share their insights about reflectively and conscientiously creating a "personal brand" to communicate clearly about who you are to others in a variety of media. The notes below are from their presentation. As in previous posts, their ideas and my own are intermingled.

Dr. Lynn Hull in the foreground presenting at the Leadership Development Program at Franklin University. 
Part 1 - the Four-Color Self-Assessment
Self-awareness is critical to success. When we are aware of ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, ambitions and desires, we can more effectively bring about those things that matter most to us. One way to develop self-awareness is to utilize self-assessment tools. In this presentation, we were directed to identify our preferences in work and communication using the four-color method. We were given descriptions of these four categories and were directed to rank them to most-preferred to least-preferred. Below are descriptions of these color categories, which I present in the sequence that I personally prefer.

  1. Green = 5 - 7% of population. Lots of greens in education. They are rational - conceptual thinkers, thinking globally and analytically. Want us to be logical when thinking about things. Why consider something that doesn't make sense intellectually. Strategy is interesting to the green - setting it up and thinking through the process excites the green. Can be detached when things get emotionally charged and sort through the facts. Creative, innovative, inventive. Like to think but not necessarily to act. Diversity of interests. Value competence, not necessarily niceness. Might neglect important tasks because other things are interesting. Might not realize that the debate is not as fun to others as it is to them. They want knowledge, power, willpower, and mastery.
  2. Blue = 8 - 10% of population. Idealists. Empathetic and caring about others. Look for the best in people and try to bring it out. They are excellent diplomats and are interested in social issues - working to "right" social "wrongs." Insightful and creative, always trying to read a room and sense what is happening. Enjoy self-development and self-improvement. They always bring a human perspective. They have difficulty saying no. They have a need to feel needed and are extremely sensitive to criticism.
  3. Gold = 40-45% of population. Precision. Practicality. Results-oriented. Logistics. Systems and processes. Harness resources without talking about them. Loyalty, stability, and routine. Tell me what you want, and I will get us there. They like rules, responsibilities, and duty. They need to feel a sense of membership and belonging.
  4. Orange = 35-40% of the population. Artisans - physical beings. Playful and light-hearted. Don't love routine - they like change and flexibility. "Why get stuck doing things the same old way?" Very action-oriented - they want to do something instead of sitting around and talking. They are tactical in nature and concrete and adaptable to changes. Orange does very well in competitive environments. Bold, generous, bring excitement. Orange can be fairly laid back and might goof around a little too much. An orange might change directions fairly regularly and be a little scattered in their directions.
My name badge from the meeting. The dots show how I ranked my preferences for each category.
As I think about it, my beautiful wife Katie is a Blue/Orange. She is incredibly effective with people (blue) and loves to push the rules to shake things up (orange). She definitely makes my life fun, something that might be missing (since orange is ranked low). My daughter CK is definitely Orange. She likes to jump from thing to thing and doesn't love doing things the established way.

Part 2 - Personal Branding 
"A brand is a promise. By identifying and authenticating a product or service it delivers a pledge of satisfaction and quality." - Walter Landor
With your color scheme, you have a starting point for understanding your personal brand. The next step is to mobilize your brand - to identify how you are perceived, how you would like to be perceived, and begin to work to shape that perception through branding. 

How to Mobilize Your Brand

  1. Listen and Understand - Listen to people about your brand. What do they value in you? How do they describe you? Talk to someone who can tell you a little more about your personal brand. "Who am I, and how do I tell it?"
  2. Interpret and Simplify - Be clear about who you are. "How can I distill my story to its basic elements?" Assign words and phrases to your personal brand. Create 3 words that exemplify my brand. 
  3. Develop and Design - When you know the essence of your brand, ask "what forms and colors best express it?" How can I visually represent myself? We live in a visual world.
  4. Evaluate and Collaborate - the imagery should match the vision. "Does the design communicate the brand as it should?"
  5. Deliver and Implement - Consistency is the key. Put all the pieces in place so every aspect of your brand speaks with one voice.
Side-note of Reflective Thoughts - I would like to follow this process and use the results to pull my blog, website, LinkedIn page, Twitter account, and other profiles together and demonstrate a clearer message of who I am. It needs to visually capture who I am and what I offer. The same might go for all of my communications, the products I produce, etc. To use Robert's words, "This is what people are attracted to about me." 

Conduct a SWOT Analysis

One way to develop your brand is to conduct a SWOT Analysis. Below are some thoughts I brainstormed about myself as I sat in this session.

My Strengths
  • I think clearly
  • I pull information together in meaningful ways
  • I care about people
  • I have a high level of formal education
  • I am constantly learning and growing through reading, conferences, leadership development, and credentialing
  • I effectively involve people in my thinking and decision-making
  • I have mastered several techniques and strategies associated with excellence in academia
My Weaknesses
  • I am less aware of the political aspects of work
  • I do not have a business background
  • I may miss out on opportunities to making money - I am more interested in creating ideas that can influence and help others create positive change.
My Opportunities
  • Gain greater focus in my career
  • Brand myself to be seen as more effective
  • Set powerful goals to achieve
  • Constant change
  • Complacency, becoming satisfied 

Key Question: What is my Vision and My Mission?

What do I want to have happen as a result of my work? How would I know that I have successfully accomplished my mission? First of all, I am constantly tweaking and updating my personal mission, and I have made some great improvements. Here is my current mission: To empower, inspire, and equip others to improve themselves, their lives, and the world. 
So, the next question is, how do I know that I have achieved this mission? To me, I think I should likely break this mission down into a set of goals and measures that I can use to determine the effectiveness of my work. Just brainstorming, my thought is that the following measures might be meaningful. Again, these are simply a brainstormed list, and I would likely need to be clearer about this.

  • # of presentations given
  • # of presentation attendees
  • # of publications
  • # of publications viewed, cited, or purchased
  • # of people who recommend my work
Potential Goal: It might be interesting to work toward 1 million views of my work posted online. This could include my blog posts, YouTube Videos, academic articles, presentation slides, etc. I think this would be an interesting/motivating thing to work toward and could be one way to measure impact (though there are many others, certainly).

What is Brand Identity?

Brand Identity is the visual and verbal expression of a brand that can include the following: Logos, Websites, Print Documents, Packaging, Signage, Mobile/Social Media, Videos, and Photos. How can I audit my current brand and create plans to improve it?

Getting Feedback
The first step identified above is to find out what others perceive to be your brand. This involves getting feedback. However, you shouldn't get feedback only from people who will only focus on your strengths. Also get feedback from people who will help you improve and change the things with which you are struggling. Feedback should be constructive, formative, and objective. It should give you a sense of where you are and how you can move forward.

Find someone in this room who is of a different color (referring to the color chart, here!!!!). Share the following with them:

  1. What do you see as this person's gifts?
  2. What might be this person's personal brand?
  3. What might you do together to collaborate and move forward together?
Ideas for Application
  • Follow the sequence above to really work toward a personal brand.
  • Develop a sort of tagline that captures who I am and what I do. This becomes a component of my brand.
  • Identify colors, shapes, and images that correspond to my personal brand.
  • Update my LinkedIn site to include words and phrases about my brand.
  • Adjust my pre-publication drafts to include branding or logos that refer to me and my brand.
  • Update my vitae and website to include these words and images.
  • Revisit all of my web spaces to reflect my refreshed personal brand.
60 seconds of Reflection
We have been doing 30 seconds of reflection at the end of each leadership session. Here is what I wrote for this one: I am not sure about the homework assignment to meet with someone else - maybe... In terms of the idea of "personal branding," I believe this is likely a key way to improve how I represent myself. Actually, this really aligns with some of the things I have been thinking about. I have been working to gain a greater deal of clarity on my personal goals and my mission. This then spills into how I represent myself through my "brand." I'll keep thinking on this...