The Innovative Leadership Institute Discusses Agile Methodology and the Importance of Innovative Leadership

Columbus Tech Power Players - Honoree

Maureen Metcalf

CEO/Founder and Board Chair

The Innovative Leadership Institute



Steve Gruetter

Director of Market Strategy - Central Ohio



To listen to the podcast, click here!


The CEO and Founder of The Innovative Leadership Institute, Maureen Metcalf, discusses agile methodology and the importance of innovative leadership.


Hello, and welcome to the comSpark podcast, where you will get to meet today's technology thought leaders. To learn more, visit


SG: We're here today with Maureen Metcalf, who is the founder of Metcalf and Associates, as well as the founder of Innovative Leadership Institute. My name is Steve Gruetter. I'm with Expedient, and I'm your guest moderator today. Maureen, let's get started!


MM: Steve, it's just a delight to work with you and to get to be interviewed by you today.


SG: Well, thank you for the kind words! We'll get cracking here. So, not, not only in the Central Ohio information technology community are you very active, but obviously you're very active in leadership development across all aspects of our community. How do you see the, the leadership development changing over the next two to five years?


MM: What a great question, Steve. So, I just published an article in Forbes, and so I want to just share with you real quickly what are the top things we're talking about for leaders to be looking at now and exceptional leaders to continue doing over the next five years. So, first and foremost, they need to pay attention to trends and predictions. Technology is moving so quickly and often leaders focus on the technology and not themselves as the leader. They need to pay attention to both.


SG: Makes sense.


MM: Uh, leaders and the organizations becoming more agile. So we know what agile looks like. There's a McKinsey study that is interesting about the volume of companies actually adopting an agile culture, not just agile software development methodology.


SG: Right, right. So let's, let's get that straight for our listeners. We're not talking about Agile Dev., we're talking about agility of an organization.


MM: Correct. So, nimble might be another word for it, or taking the Agile Dev. constructs and using them across the organization, not just as, not just with software teams.


SG: That makes plenty of sense.


MM: Organizations and their people must accelerate the pace of learning. So, just as technology's changing, we as humans need to develop the habit of ongoing learning. The age range in the workforce is going to continue to expand. So, if we think about people living to be over a hundred, they're not going to retire at 55 or 65, they're going to retire at 85 or 95, potentially in our lifetimes. So, how we create a work environment that supports capturing older workers and allows them to stay productive, that's going to be very different than how we capture our younger workers who may be more energetic and faster-paced and more technology agile.


SG: Interesting. Because I know that I'm not going to be working till 85. Uh, so Maureen, if our listeners wanted to find this article on Forbes, how would they find that?


MM: They can go to and search Maureen Metcalf.


SG: There you go. All right. So, you have been exceptionally active in our Central Ohio IT community. What, for you as an entrepreneur, as a small business founder, is the best part and the worst part about working here in Central Ohio?


MM: So, I'll focus on the best part.


SG: Please do!


MM: I love working with amazingly talented people, and over the time that I've been in Columbus, which has been, now almost 20 years, and I came from the DC area, I've seen a lot of growth and shift as companies disaggregate and things like, we now have coworking spaces. So, our office is actually in a coworking space, so we get to hang out with cool young tech people and keep pace with, just by virtue of being around people who were are more forward-looking.

The worst part? probably the same challenge everyone's facing – talent. As we're looking at growing our business and increasing number of projects – I was on a conversation on the way over here – how are we going to staff that?


SG: Without a doubt. That's interesting, because just earlier today during our podcasts, we've learned about the situation with talent and we just can't continue to steal from each other. We have to develop the young talent. We are talking about these programs like i.c.stars and Per Scholas and Tech Elevator about continuing to feed the pipeline as well as, of course, we've got numerous universities here in town.


MM: One of my favorite quotes was, “You can't poach your way to talent success.” You have to build it.


SG: That makes plenty of sense. That makes plenty of sense. So, thinking about, in that aspect, um, obviously you work closely with a tremendous, over a hundred people at this point in time, that are aspiring to be better leaders in the technology space. What advice would you give to an aspiring CIO?


MM: Know yourself, know your talents and gifts, know where you fit in the organization, know which organizations you fit in and continue to develop yourself and your people. You know, we talked about in the Forbes article becoming more agile, learning, staying on top of trends. Leaders need to innovate how they think, so that they can continue to innovate their organizations if they are becoming outdated. They are just like a mobile device. They depreciate. Their leadership skills depreciate just like our technology does, and I wouldn't think of carrying around a flip phone as my primary device.

And yet, I've worked with many leaders, including really talented technology leaders, whose thinking is outdated because they're so focused on doing the work, and they're not focused on the fact that their core skill as a leader is leading. Not just the thing they're leading but who they are as a leader. So, as we look at things like positive psychology, we're learning about how the brain operates that's different than we imagined and we need to adapt to that.


SG: We talked about it at length as we develop the IT Leaders Program, is that these people that start their career as a technologist, and they're a good technologist, and they want to do the right things, and they do the right things for the company, and they are put into a leadership position. And they continue down the path, and they've got a degree of charisma, and then, now they're leading three teams. Now how good of a technologist they are has no bearing whatsoever on what they do now. Now it's all about the leadership aspect and then that is where, really, the training and the development come into play.


MM:  And it's both inside – who am I and what do I value? And outside – what do I do? And then understanding the culture and the systems in which I operate and keeping those aligned. And often, I think, people who come into leadership training are looking for a checklist and there is, it is also a checklist, but you can't do a checklist to lead. You have to be fully engaged and present, and that involves knowing yourself, understanding leadership frameworks and constructs, and having those ingrained and natural, just like your golf swing. If you're not practicing leadership like you practice your athletic capabilities, then you are likely to be less competent at your full time job as a leader than you are at your hobby of golfing or playing the piano.


SG: That makes plenty of sense. Maureen, thank you very much for your time. We certainly appreciate you taking part in this comSpark event. This is Steve Gruetter and Maureen Metcalf. To learn more about the program, please visit Goodbye, until next time.


To learn more about sponsorship opportunities for 2019, contact Michelle Ziegler at