Mission Statement
Business Leadership & Strategic Performance Training/Enhancement
"Our objective is to assist individuals, companies and organizations reach optimal performance using innate skills and strengths within the larger framework of circumstance, workplace and community. Relevant and stimulating programs are customized to client requirement".
-Rodger Harding
Founder

Harding International and Associates Inc.
E-Mail
Telephone: +1 (416) 962 6700
30 Roden Place
Toronto, M5R 1P5
Ontario, Canada
Client Comment
Selected Comments
"This seminar far exceeded expectation - Rodger is poised, articulate, respectful- He was dead on with his presentation and I would recommend him without hesitation." - S.M. Canadian Women in Communications (CWC)
"Your participation in our International/Asia Pacific FS Conference helped make it one of the best and more relaxed conferences we've ever had. Very effective facilitation! Thank you." - Paul Masse, Manager, Bombardier Aerospace
" I want to congratulate you on a job well done. A room full of lawyers is not the easiest audience to appear before, yet you ruled the room. You have that unique ability (gift?) to teach ideas without it being hard work. I found your personal style very relaxing yet challenging". - David Clarke, Chair, YLD Division, The Canadian Bar Association of Ontario
|more...
Corporate Intelligence

CIA Harding International and Associates Inc.

Publication:
"In this compelling book by a former diplomat, you will learn the secrets (step by step) to developing an intelligence strategy by effective information gathering and analyzing, and then to delivering credible intelligence to senior management."|more...

Available from bookstores and online:
Amazon
Borders
Leadership Training
The Essence of Business Leadership Training -
Be the leader you are meant to be!

Toronto based Rodger Harding, applying leadership savvy learned from military, legal, diplomatic & business consulting experience has a proven record of enabling full leadership potential in scores of business folk. His clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, national not-for-profit organizations & learning institutions.

The Harding Leadership training program raises awareness, validates and empowers the true essence of leadership. We enhance your ability to identify, strengthen and take full advantage of core leadership competencies, instilling legitimate confidence rather than reinforcing a preoccupation with outward presence. | more...
Training/Coaching
Training Program Design and Development
All Harding International and Associates Inc. programs are designed to:
  • Access existing innate and learned competencies/experience.
  • Enhance individual/team ability to meet current organizational requirement.
  • Accommodate changing environment and circumstance.
Our customized programs are built from scratch and will accurately reflect the unique context of corporate operations and identity. Training products that utilize the Harding Model are limited to one company per industry. This commitment ensures that training initiatives will result in strategic and competitive advantage - We encourage clients to safeguard our techniques and methodology as part of their intellectual property.| more...

LATEST NEWS/COMMENT

The Art of Business Deceit?

by Administrator 15.Oct.2014 13:26:00

I cannot count how often I hear the words appropriate and inappropriate!

If inappropriate is interpreted as anything that might offend others, I would hope to never be inappropriate. Yet my perception is that anything extreme, strongly worded, risqué, contentious, ambiguous etc. has come to be considered offensive.

Hopefully it is not too much of a quantum leap to infer then that appropriate and safe have become almost synonymous? Does this not fly in the face of nature?While we know that life cannot exist without death, day without night, good without evil, like without dislike …etc., is it realistic to persist with the illusion of a world painted solely in positive hues?

Semantics aside, I would suggest that the unthinking pursuit of appropriateness creates a breeding ground for arch deceit. The more we strive to appear appropriate, how much more likely will we hide what we really feel from others? What impact does only showing an appropriate face have on team, peer and client relationships? It is a given that most of us are reluctant to express disagreement upfront and are fearful of appearing uncertain, negative or judgemental. We sit at countless meetings with dead-pan faces that reveal nothing of what lies within… Or we smile and nod assent, or even gush with false enthusiasm, while we bide our time and find safe, backdoor avenues of expression. Usually invoking process, regulations or laws will provide effective cover. Do we live in a society that not only condones, but encourages snitching?

Similarly, feigning understanding at briefings, seminars, workshops etc. encounters etc. is commonplace. Oftentimes, to save face, we later pick apart process, communication style, competence and personality as defective or unsuitable. Those who disguise unpleasant messages seem to be considered diplomatic and tactful. Those that do not are considered ‘blunt’ and/or ‘confrontational’! Those who openly disagree are all too often labelled ‘negative’. Our language is couched in terms that do little to convey what we really mean.

My point is perhaps well illustrated by a mediation I conducted last week. In what could have been an easily avoidable scenario, a manager, finally providing a long overdue performance review, included particularly vicious comments from an immediate supervisor. It turned out that the employee and said supervisor had car-pooled in a jovial and friendly atmosphere every day for several years. Not once was any reference made to any dissatisfaction. What floored me was that when questioned, everyone from the director down, excepting of course the employee, who felt totally betrayed, let me know that to have made any comment outside the review process would have been “highly inappropriate”!

While trust is a commonly used business term, perhaps we have lost the real essence of the word. If we deem it improper to honestly express ourselves, how will we ever be trusted? How will we be able to trust people if we have not encouraged them to reveal who they really are and what they feel at any point in time? Consider the costly havoc this phenomenon wreaks with corporate efficiency. Yet, we continue to encourage and train job candidates to present what is appropriate…not what is real!

The following is a simple checklist to guide decision-making when next tempted to paper-over the right to express ourselves openly and sincerely:

  • Would I prefer an honest response if I was in the other person’s shoes?
  • What response would enable me to get my job done effectively?
  • If I am not upfront here…what opportunity will I have lost?
  • If I don’t speak now, am I prepared to let the matter rest?
  • Would my lack of sincerity cost the company money?
  • Will I lose trust if I am less than honest?
  • Do I want people to know/like me for who I am?
  • I am human and therefore imperfect – Surely it is OK to show that I have not understood, disagree, etc. …
  • Have I been invited to express myself honestly…Why do I not take advantage of this offer?
  • Will my self-esteem be enhanced if I am able to say what I really honestly believe?
  • If I keep quiet now… will I habitually resort to insincere/safer ways of expressing myself?

While appropriate people are generally more comfortable to have around in the short term, our awareness that insincerity, when uncovered, destroys trust should goad us into encouraging open and upfront interaction - The ensuing trusted relationships will be worth the initial discomfort!

It's your Career: Don't Hesitate...Negotiate!

by Administrator 22.Sep.2014 15:23:00

“In business, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”  - Chester L. Karrass

Children are born negotiators – They focus on their goals with dogged persistence until every avenue is exhausted before they give up. They also unfailingly and enthusiastically set new goals as circumstances change.

What erodes this innate ability? I am always puzzled by the general reluctance of business folk to negotiate a better deal, especially when it concerns a promotion, a raise or a more a favourable contract. Instead, people choose to remain silent, walk away or quit a perfectly good job. Why is this?

In a perfect world, that people should be rewarded for good work is a no-brainer. Yet it is an equally human desire to secure the best deal at the lowest possible price. Few would point out to a vendor, for example, that prices are too low, or that a service fee really needs to be raised. So too in the workplace, many managers or employers, accountable to bottom line profit margins, are happy to secure input for the best price. It takes a forward thinking supervisor initiate a raise or promotion for someone just because they deserve it.

Best business practice theories remind us that workplace retention goes hand in hand with incentive and reward. These are perhaps part of the problem. Written policies outlining succession and salary structures create the expectation that individual salary and promotion issues will automatically be taken care of according to set procedure. At the same time many managers/supervisors/owners complacently think to promote/raise salaries only when really necessary. 

Added to the mix, the massive hiring/lay-off cycles witnessed in past decades, as well as the constant post buy-out/sell-off reorganizations, have created a lingering malaise - The average worker is permanently alert to the potential jeopardy of his/her position. There is perhaps a pervasive anxiety that asking for more or seeming entitled will result being placed on the expendable list?       

People are naturally fearful when the outcome of an interaction is uncertain. Just as with interview situations, the possibility of rejection and perceived humiliation of a failed negotiation is daunting for most. It is easier to avoid confrontation, hoping the desired outcome will just appear. The resultant problem is that buried frustration festers and grows into deep-seated discontent, eventually flaring into misdirected conflict over unrelated issues. A more common consequence would be a passive-aggressive quit and stay attitude that eventually poisons the office environment.  

How much better to confront career advancement issues rationally when they arise! To do this the individual employee should be prepared to negotiate in a rational manner, with a built-in preparedness for success or failure. The outcome of negotiation will then dictate a course of action based on actual, not perceived realities.

Potentially Useful Guidelines

Consider the following as a suggested awareness check-list to prepare for an effective career advancement negotiation:  

• Appreciate the current net market worth of your individual experience, competencies, personality and aspirations in a specific work environment
• Understand the financial and operational realities/limitations of your organization and industry
• Set firm, articulate objectives/goals  that will be the focus of any negotiation
• Be aware of the negotiation playing field (who will be your negotiation opponent/party; what are the personality/historical factors that need to be taken into account)
• Maintain preparedness to compromise (unwillingness to compromise changes the prospective interaction from negotiation to aggression)

Confrontation VS Conflict

Directly asking for what is deserved is not conflict. It is the inherent right of any employee to seek advancement. Assertive behavior, however, is the balancing of individual needs with those of the employer. Negotiating while in a desperate financial or emotional state drastically increases the risk of confrontation escalating into conflict.
 
Unfortunately our personal requirements are not always uppermost in the minds of busy managers/executives. As many assume that silence equals contentment, we would do well to remember that we are responsible for keeping our requirements on the corporate radar screen…In good time!  

When training individuals to negotiate, I rely heavily on Benoit Mandelbrot and his Fractal Geometry of Nature (see the Mandelbrot Set) Theory that illustrates how chaotic enormity contains smaller versions of the same phenomenon… “Fractal property of self-similarity applies to the entire set, and not just to its parts.” Mandelbrot asserts for example that if the pattern of the smallest leaf is understood, so too is every leaf on the tree. Think of the process a child would follow if negotiating for an ice cream or a go-kart ride… The principles are exactly the same when the ante is upped! 

Does Your Label Fit?

by Administrator 16.Sep.2014 12:32:00

Humans undoubtedly want to understand one another in easily explainable and relatively certain terms. Yet so many of us seem barely able to articulate who we are and what we really want – preferring instead to fall back on assigned labels and behavioural etiquettes!

Fueled by technological advance, the popularity of psychoanalysis, and influenced by ubiquitous political correctness, today’s business world seems to be more heavily invested than ever in processes that label, tag and categorize everyone in sight. Certain! Safe! Detached!

Think how often we are asked, as an essential first step in determining suitability for a job, academic, social or volunteer opportunity, to interact with a program that definitively tells us we are a J … an X, a Yellow, a Blue …. or perhaps a giraffe, a tiger or an elephant?  Similarly, the business world seems to echo the psycho-babble tendency of the social realm. We hear constantly of empowerers, enablers, rescuers etc. Fast thinkers are immediately shelved as ADHD, and folks with any apparent lack of focus are, for sure, ADD! How complicit are we in this facile labelling of ourselves and others? How readily do we accept these results? Are we indelibly and eternally categorized? 

I suppose it is obligatory to state upfront that I am not knocking the popularity/efficiency of psycho-analysis, nor am I a Luddite hell-bent on discrediting the use of profiling tools. I am however questioning the accuracy and the efficiency of assigning a permanent label to any individual. I ask myself:

  • Are people, their moods, behaviour and thinking processes constant? Surely we change… day to day, year to year… depending on changing circumstance?
    What, and to whom, does any given label mean?
  • Are we abandoning our thinking/instinctive ability?
  • Surely technology and computed knowledge are limited to known variables and also susceptible to human error? (The garbage in garbage out cliché has some traction here…)

Is above average excellence, original expression & creative thinking a la Galileo, Da Vinci, van Gogh, Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence and Polanski easily labelled and tagged? Will much needed innovation be stifled if analyzed thinking does not fall into recognizable classification systems? 

The human factor, inter alia, instinct, gut-feeling and random perception, is a critical attribute in guaranteeing team efficiency. Think how often in medical or automotive scenarios, despite evident problems, we are told we are fine and sent home because the battery of diagnostic tests came back negative! Think how grateful we are in such context for the Dr. House types and their ilk who, in the face of stiff opposition brought about by persistent and maddening questioning, make a wonderful contribution to keeping the ball rolling and identifying workable solutions. Do labelling processes weed these folk out at the outset? Are they brilliant or are they out to lunch? Are they trail-blazers or negative time-wasters?

Recognizing others and their behaviour is time sensitive – It is perhaps prudent consciously monitor people, at any given time, as they are … rather than as they should/are expected to be…! 

The ROI of Understanding Personal Impact!

by Administrator 02.Sep.2014 10:27:00

"The law of action and reaction is not exclusively for physics. It is also of human relations.” –Dalai Lama

Do we always have we the time or inclination to consciously analyze how we impact, positively and negatively on others?

Perhaps relating an unforgettable incident from my days as a young diplomat serving abroad, will best illustrate the significant ROI of analyzing the cause and effect of even inadvertent perceptions:

In the car some thirty years ago, returning from an out-of -own conference with a member of the host government, he dropped a bombshell: In return for a tidy monthly stipend and eventual citizenship, I would make an ideal source of useful information for his government!

I distinctly remember the frisson of fear that ran through my body. I was being recruited as a spy by a foreign government!

What was I to say?

Would I be in mortal danger when I refused?

How would my own government react?

Would the Embassy operation be professionally compromised?

Panic soon gave way to anger. In the deafening silence I wondered how this guy dared betray the trust I and other members of the embassy had afforded him over the years. Filled with self-righteous indignation, I keenly anticipated blowing the whistle on him.

How could he be so stupid?

Then it struck me that I knew he certainly wasn’t stupid!

What had I said or done that had convinced him to take such a daring step?

I realized this question was where the issue lay… It must have been something I had done… not only what he (and his superiors) had decided to propose that had set the ball rolling?

This realization calmed me down – When his “So what do you think?” came a few minutes later, I immediately conceded that I must have led him to believe I would be open to such a drastic step. While I also allowed that I knew he was just doing his job, I stressed that betraying my country, living a life of deceit and fear and being owned by others was just not an option.

My concession and lack of visible emotion, allowed him room for a dignified escape. To my chagrin he reminded me of several comments I’d made expressing my extreme frustration with colleagues who had refused to enter the spirit of change/reform in South Africa, as well as declared distaste for aid project incompetence that I believed verged on corruption. Apparently, what I had intended as a strategic counter to negative perceptions, was erroneously interpreted as ideological variance. Added to the mix, my youthful enthusiasm for the lifestyle of Europe was mistaken for a ‘psychological separation’ from my country of origin.

I discreetly reported the incident to a senior colleague, who agreed that the bigger picture advantage of minimizing the incident, at a sensitive time in the bi-lateral relationship, would contain far-reaching fall out that would achieve little.

Leaders are encouraged to see introspection and empathy as a strong value proposition in facilitating response rather than reaction in operational spheres of influence. The positive ripple effect of breaking down the Us vs Them syndrome is, for me, immeasurable!

 


Here is the same message in another format. If you have time listen to The Balance – Moody Blues:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlFYWRajMKY&list=RDrlFYWRajMKY#t=0 to

2014 - Have South African Women Achieved Political Parity?

by Administrator 26.Aug.2014 14:31:00

The return to power of the African National Congress (ANC) party in South Africa on 7th May 2014 reflected a 63% majority with a 73% voter turnout. Significantly women achieved political representation of 50% - Important to note is that 59% of registered voters are women;

 “The candidates submitted [Prior to the May 7th election) are … not less than 50% women … It's a matter of policy in the ANC. We don't have a 50/50 policy; we have a policy of not less than 50% being women.”  - ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe

With a long standing involvement to the empowerment of women on all societal levels, I am surprised that my mention of the above over the past few months meets with little reaction and a decided lack of enthusiasm. This is surprising as many of the avenues of discussion have been with people who have dedicated huge chunks of their professional life to gender inclusivity and the political liberation of women.

What am I missing?

Does this not mean that South Africans have achieved gender parity on a national political level?

Surely this then is government consisting mainly of women, elected by women?

Is this not a heart stopping milestone and indeed a beacon of hope to those around the world engaged in seeking gender equality? More...

Leadership & The Daunting Task of Sustainable Love!

by Administrator 24.Aug.2014 12:53:00

That love makes the world go around is a no-brainer … We all, to varying degrees, embrace love in some or other form – If we did not we would be at each other’s throats like wild beasts!

Most religions, civilized governments, corporations and families espouse love of humankind, in its broader sense, as a basic starting point.  We talk often and comfortably enough of, and indeed idealize, inclusivity, human rights and romantic love.
Why then do we cast out the more empathetic/softer side of our collective and individual psyche the moment we are threatened? Love and Fear are basic, unbidden impulses! Does this mean that we live on two parallel, exclusive levels?

When one looks at the current state of the world, we seem an enraged species – Endlessly ‘shouting hate’ at each other. Those who in such circumstances suggest empathy, forgiveness or introspection are summarily vilified as weak, naïve or gullible – While those who advocate force, punishment, vengeance etc. are considered strong and steadfast … or so it seems to me? Surely big-picture love is most needed when the going gets tough?

Where does this breakdown or separation start? Perhaps when fear strikes TRUST is the first human casualty – Walking an unknown path is difficult when beset with fear. It is understandably impossible to love without trust. Betrayal in any human relationship illustrates this on a daily micro-level.
Consider the following logic stream:

  • People who perceive themselves as seen, understood, engaged, empowered & utilized are, for the most part, fulfilled, happy and content
  • Those who feel unseen, ignored, misunderstood, overlooked/by-passed, and underutilized are to varying degrees frustrated, unhappy & despairing….?
  • In a perfect world then, a huge component of LEADERSHIP would be the ability to identify, understand, engage, empower and utilize others, to ensure, in as far as possible that we all get a fair crack at happiness/fulfillment  - Would not this be a true manifestation of ‘loving one another as we love ourselves’? More...

Corporate Mentorship: Relevance in 2014

by Administrator 21.Jun.2014 15:29:00

I was pleased to be invited by the Invisible Mentor to write a 4-part blog post series discussing my ideas/experience with regard to the relevance of Mentorship Programs in the current corporate climate. Much of what I write reflects learning gained from ongoing mentorship program coordination and participation:

http://theinvisiblementor.com/mentorship-program-relevance-today-rodger-harding/

Leadership Training: Quest for Impossible Certainty vs Potential Ripple Effect

by Administrator 19.Jun.2014 12:09:00

When pitching/presenting prospective clients with options for leadership training, we have increasingly noticed in recent years that almost all request:

  • Matrix or technology driven tools that guarantee positive/measurable results upfront
  • Proof of results driven details from previous clients
  • Guarantees that seminar/workshop evolution will not deviate from the script (provided beforehand)

While finding it perfectly understandable that due diligence and ongoing accountability are part of the consulting/training process, I respectfully submit that it is impossible to give such assurances in good faith. I love technology, but am always reminded by McLuhan’s “technology extends ...rather than replaces human capacity” ... that, in the training realm, technology will provide, at best, frameworks that will accommodate/facilitate both delivery and future implementation.

More than 25 years’ experience and regular comprehensive feedback from long-standing clients has consistently provided an indication of the following trends… that belie absolute outcomes:

  • No two clients are alike – Best results are achieved by careful material/methodology customization as well as the facility to flexibly hold the course, while accommodating seminar/participant dynamics (For the more sceptical, this does not mean winging it!)
  • 70% of our audiences love the content/experience; 20% are on the fence; 10% are either non-committal/disinterested/negative; (I am actually perturbed when we receive across the board approval – Interacting with a diverse group involves thinking… in the tough subjective/objective balancing act that leadership training demands, I believe universal approval is impossible to secure!)
  • 10% of participants will endeavor to implement learned material (with or without a matrix) post training, 20% might, and 70% will move on as before without subsequent prodding;

So confident am I in regard to these pointers, that they are included in our every pitch/marketing initiative. Respectfully, because I sincerely believe in not promising the impossible, we are not a good fit with clients wanting a prescriptive approach, fixed outcomes or a download of what other clients requested.

 
That said, our Leadership Program will guarantee on individual/team levels:

  • A Thought Provoking, Introspective, Exploratory experience 
  • Identify/Re-affirm & Empower innate leadership competencies
  • A potential ripple effect organization wide
  • Total confidentiality - What transpires during client interation is never disclosed


For more information (416) 962-6700

Authentic Leadership Development vs Template Download

by Administrator 22.May.2014 10:25:00


Conceptual selling is an important part of our business - - Prospective clients always ask: "So what makes you program different?" - - Or -- "Why should we choose your services over XY program?"

Against this backdrop, I thought to again differentiate our approach:

The Harding Leadership Training Process, evolved via 20+ year’s diverse client interaction, as well as Rodger Harding’s business, diplomatic, legal & military experience, strives to build authentic leadership, unique to the competencies, innate & learned, of each individual/organization.

All components of our hands-on program, avoiding clichéd stereotyping/labelling, strongly focus on individual or collective competencies as the essential starting point of any training/consulting initiative - Facilitator Expertise, Client Preparedness & the Desired Outcome(s) are the key ingredients! This means that by default, no two clients will have the same experience – They will however, have a unique measurable leadership awareness model, that will facilitate required strategic/innovative thinking, push objective creativity boundaries within subjective budget/resource realities… And importantly, sustain a collaborative team environment that consistently identifies and taps into all available talent. 

This approach caters particularly those who appreciate leadership training as a distinct and ongoing investment that will bring future reward – A rigorous/customized exercise that allows individuals/the team to keep pace with changing operational, industry and global realties.

  
For more information: (416) 962-6700

ADHD Coaching Goals - Authenticity vs Conformity

by Administrator 18.May.2014 18:15:00

 Our simple good fit criteria for prospective ADHD clients are that each individual shows:

  •  A firm desire to achieve fullest potential without losing their innate sense of authenticity
  •  A unwavering belief that creative, lateral and original thinking are their greatest assets

Writer, Nikos Kazantzakis (of Zorba the Greek fame) in his famous work Report to Greco captures perfectly the reasoning behind our criteria:  While discussing state of 'Always on your feet'.... or ... 'Always uneasy', he writes of a learned monk’s dream:

“I saw myself as a great sage who could cure many diseases, but first and foremost could remove the demons from the possessed…  One day a woman arrived from Nazareth… ‘O illustrious sage, take pity on me and heal my son, he has many demons inside him’…
I asked him: ‘What is the matter my child, where does it hurt?’
‘Here, here…’ he replied pointing at his heart
‘And what’s wrong with you?’
‘I can’t sleep, eat or work. I roam the streets, wrestling.’
‘Who are you wrestling with?’
‘With God…’

I kept him near me for a month, addressed him ever so gently, gave him herbs to make him sleep. I placed him in a carpenter’s shop to learn a trade. We went out for walks together and we spoke about God… There was nothing impressive or difficult about these talks. We spoke of the weather, of the wheat fields and the vineyards, the young girls who went to the mountain…’

At the end of a month’s time, Jesus was completely cured. He no longer wrestled with God; he had become a man like all other men. I learned afterwards that he had become a fine carpenter… the best in Galilee… ...

Do you understand? Jesus was cured. Instead of saving the world he became the best carpenter in Nazareth. What is the meaning, then, of 'disease' and 'health'... “

The story speaks for itself! Each of us has a role, big or small, that our innate ability allows us during our lifetime - Rather than watering down the high capacity of an ADHD client to think, feel & engage, our methodology ensures that each client is accommodated in society for who and what she/he may be… !

For more information: (416) 962-6700



Recent Posts

    {#advanced_dlg.about_title}
  • {#advanced_dlg.about_title}
  • {#advanced_dlg.about_title}
  • {#advanced_dlg.about_title}

Youth Mentorship

Harding on Body Language

Random Posts

    {#advanced_dlg.about_title}
  • {#advanced_dlg.about_title}
  • {#advanced_dlg.about_title}
  • {#advanced_dlg.about_title}
  • {#advanced_dlg.about_title}
  • {#advanced_dlg.about_title}

QR Code

Harding International and Associates Inc QR Code