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Using the EMP with Team Leaders for Successful Innovation: A Conversation with EMP Co-Author Pam Mayer

By EMP Staff

Our staff recently sat down with our colleague and Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile® (EMP) Co-author Pam Mayer to talk about her longstanding interest in innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset. As the founder of the eMindset Academy, Pam uses the EMP to help team leaders manage complex innovation challenges.

EMP: Great to talk with you today, Pam. Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your background and how you got interested in the entrepreneurial mindset in the first place.

Mayer: I’ve always been aware of and had an interest in how innovation can be successful–that has really been a lifetime and career interest for me, but it has become even more so over the last 20 years, mainly because of two different experiences I had working about 10 years at the Center for Creative Leadership® (CCL) and another 10 years inside two global corporations. I worked with leaders from all different industries and noticed that the difficulties with innovation challenges were, not only very similar, but also that they could be very frustrating for these leaders. They sometimes would just “run” with something new, encounter numerous obstacles, and the team was not able to accomplish what they set out to do. I was seeing up close how leaders were trying to innovate but, in essence, were flying blind. Over time, I realized that we didn’t have the tools to help and that there was a gap in our toolkit. That was when I reached out to the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College (whom I knew to be one of CCL’s best and most longstanding licensees) to create a valid and reliable tool that could be used with practicing managers to essentially close that gap.

EMP: And that began a collaboration with Jennifer Hall and Mark Davis to create the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile (EMP)?

Mayer: Exactly! We shared the viewpoint that we needed some type of benchmark for managers and leaders to apply to their work on innovation. Also, we wanted to test our hypothesis that entrepreneurial thinking, though needed in corporate environments, was not as well understood or utilized in that context as compared to entrepreneurial endeavors or startups.

EMP: Why do you think having an entrepreneurial mindset is so important, and is it even more important in the environment we’re in right now?

Mayer: Definitely! I come across leaders who increasingly are up against more difficult innovation challenges. They have to embark on this work without certainty in the end result because the changes they are seeking are even more complex, and systemic. This requires their teams to work with a great deal of ambiguity, so it’s imperative for them to think differently.

EMP: What do you think are the main benefits of the EMP for a team leader?

Mayer: The EMP provides a road map for teams and their leaders–they can compare themselves to two norm groups (Entrepreneurs and Corporate Managers) which is a very unique feature. It allows them to carefully consider the context in which they’re leading and determine the best way for a team to move forward. They may want to concentrate on leveraging a few scales in some contexts and different ones in another environment. This is huge in contextualizing what they want to do with their team, plus it builds self-confidence for difficult work. I also think it’s important for leaders to first understand themselves before they’re able to help others leverage their own strengths, and the EMP provides this benchmark.

EMP: You recently started the eMindset Academy where the tagline is “Adding Science to the Art of Innovation.” What do you mean by that?

Mayer: I have always had an interest in creativity research, even since college, and have followed it for many years, but I initiated this resource to provide leadership training and coaching for teams based on behavioral science and measurement. There are a lot of checklists out there about how to innovate, but very few tools that include evidence-based factors. I wanted to ensure that managers and team leaders are on a firm footing and grounded with a well-researched tool such as the EMP.

EMP: The eMindset Academy’s goal is to certify team leaders in the strategies of emindset leadership. I just want to point out that this is completely different from our EMP Certification program where coaches, consultants and educators get certified to use the EMP with their clients and students. How do you use the EMP in your process?

Mayer: The basic course is online training. It’s a 30-day, “do it yourself’ process where team leaders receive a Facilitator Guide with practice exercises, PowerPoint slides and a Map that takes them through five steps, one of which is taking the EMP. The first step is understanding and properly identifying their innovation challenge which is so fundamental to the whole process. A lot of times leaders are ready to go to work, but they don’t fully understand what the challenge really represents. This approach is the opposite of a linear, step-by-step approach, but instead uses visual images and metaphors to help teams to think through and talk about the challenge in an entirely different way. For example, one group who was working on designing a new data analytics function used the metaphor of a sailboat to explore where they get their energy from, how they use their navigation skills, how to handle rough waters, and even the notion of a big sea monster that might be in the water. The second step involves taking the EMP and customizing its use for their particular context. Step 3 is leveraging the Personality talents and increasing awareness of their application. Step 4 is building on the Skills scales with storytelling and other exercises, and Step 5 brings it all together in an organizational context by using a visual diagram for team dialogues. This step also includes a Glossary of Leader Strategies.

EMP: In addition to this basic program, you also have a second tier of programming for leaders who complete the certification. What does this additional level of service provide?

Mayer: In the second tier, the leader receives additional individual EMP assessments for their team members, plus an EMP Group Report, and three coaching calls with me.

EMP: Pam, I know you’re currently working on a book focusing on leaders who have demonstrated success with innovation challenges. Tell us a little about the content of it.

Mayer: Yes, I’m working right now on interviewing selected leaders who have worked on significant innovation challenges. My goal is to explore their insights about the connection between their work and their own EMP report dimensions. In other words, I’m asking how the innovation project came about, in what ways these leaders see their EMP capabilities having come into play in dealing with the challenges, what obstacles they faced, and how they see themselves using these capabilities going forward. I’m off to a terrific start but would welcome the opportunity to talk with additional leaders if they want to be part of the project.

EMP: That sounds very interesting, and we will list your contact information at the end of this article if anyone wants to follow up with you. Pam, thank you again for your time today and for working with us here at Eckerd to provide a quality assessment instrument. We appreciate your efforts, especially at the very beginning of the development of the EMP.

Pam Mayer Headshot

Pam Mayer is a Co-author of the EMP and Founder of eMindset Academy. She was a vice president at the Center for Creative Leadership® (CCL) and has served in high-level organizational development and executive development roles with multinational companies. Pam can be reached at [email protected].

The Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile® (EMP) [] is an excellent way to get an in-depth view of the entrepreneurial mindset and see how your personality traits and skill sets compare to those of corporate managers and entrepreneurs. Available online, the EMP provides scores on 14 different scales including Risk Acceptance, Passion, Need to Achieve, Future Focus, Idea Generation and Persistence among others. The EMP Feedback Report comes with a Debrief Video and a comprehensive Development Guide for continuous improvement.

Want to learn more about EMP Certification and how you can use it in your organization? Email us at [email protected] or visit the Certification page of the EMP website to see how you can start using the EMP with your clients and students.