Every year our team attends an annual conference joined by our friends and colleagues from across the country and even around the world!  This year the conference was in Philadelphia and we got to do some awesome activities like running up the Rocky steps, seeing the Liberty Bell, and having a Philly Cheese steak at Pat’s.  However, the real reason we are there is to learn about the gold-standard practices in our field and the scientific research that backs up the work we are doing.   There was some amazing speakers and I thought I would share just a few of the many gems of wisdom that might be relevant to your own daily leadership practice.


Embedding a Culture of Innovation

The former Vice President of Innovation & Creativity at The Walt Disney Company, Duncan Wardle spent his 25-year career at Disney developing some of their most innovative ideas and strategies. Ideas that would forever change the way the company expands its impact, trains its employees, and solves problems creatively.  Duncan Wardle and his team were tasked with leading the creative process for Lucas Films, Pixar, Marvel, Disney Imagineering, Disney Parks and ESPN. He currently serves as CEO of id8, a top innovation consulting firm.

The ability to think creatively is the one core human truth that will remain relevant in the coming era of 5G and artificial intelligence. Duncan believes everyone has the power to be creative. Even though the world may be doing its best to inhibit our creative expression, our childhood creativity does not dissipate — it just lies dormant, waiting to be brought back to life.  So how can you encourage creativity on your team?

  • Our imaginations start to be hindered around age 6.  Having an energizer in meetings to get people to switch to the creative side of their brain can pay dividends to innovation.
  • No idea is bad, it’s just bad timing.  Have a way that you can document ideas that come up in discussions so they don’t get lost.
  • Children automatically think expansively, and adults automatically think in a reductionist way.  We automatically shoot things down.  Find a way to open your mind up and ask questions instead of automatically saying “Yeah, but…”
  • Some of the brightest artists and thought leaders get their best ideas when they sleep.  As soon as you wake up jot down what you dreamed about and any solutions that came to you overnight.
  • The biggest barrier to creativity is being too busy.  Take one day a month that is unscheduled and you will be shocked at how many amazing ideas and possible  strategic initiatives you can come up with.



Psychological Safety on Teams

Eduardo Salas, Ph.D. is one of the world’s leading experts in the use of simulation training and optimizing learning and development on teams.  He has studied these areas extensively in a variety of fields, including aviation, health care, and during a 15-year stint in the US Navy.

How can we begin to “crack the code” on building high performing teams?  Having an understanding from Eduardo, who has studied some of the best teams on the planet, was enlightening.  Turns out one of the most important factors in creating effective teams is establishing a sense of psychological safety.

Psychological Safety is “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for asking for feedback, asking questions, requesting help, and speaking up.” You can promote this on your team by admitting mistakes, remaining open to dissenting views, not tolerating a teammate saying disparaging things about other teammates and creating time for good ideological debate.

The question to ask yourself about your team is simple…in what ways are we boosting psychological safety and in what ways are we draining it?



Fascinating Entrepreneurial Traits

Rodney Lowman, PhD, is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the CSPP/Organizational Psychology, Alliant International U., San Diego and President of Lowman & Richardson/Consulting Psychologists. He does research in career choice and change, professional ethics, and occupational mental health.

One of my favorite presenters at this conference and one I have come to rely on for his counsel, Rodney, is a wealth of research and statistics. During his presentation I learned a few things about the personality of an entrepreneur.  We know entrepreneurs are creative in nature, but they not all cut from same cloth!  There are, however, certain things we know about them that are well-grounded in research.

  • They usually don’t like being managed.
  • They are very risk-tolerant and don’t fear failure.
  • They have an uncanny ability of pattern recognition – they see things that other people miss and before other people figure it out.
  • In order to have the ability to execute an idea they may need to partner up with experts.
  • Many entrepreneurial companies outgrow the founder due to either the founder’s inability to lead effectively or the organization needing to establish stability and reduce risk.

The questions to ask yourself as an entrepreneur, is are you leveraging your ability at pattern recognition?  Are you collaborating enough with experts to ensure you are executing on your ideas?  Are you the best person to lead the team?


As always, growth is at the core of what we are about.  What opportunities are you taking to continue to build your leadership IQ?  I encourage you to to invest in yourself and continue to build those leadership capabilities as you work towards becoming the leader you were meant to be.