CEO Jobs are Dramatically Hard: Grow Leadership Talent from Within

CEO Jobs are Dramatically Hard: Grow Leadership Talent from Within

About 40 percent of CEOs disappoint within 18 months. These probabilities, plus demands placed on leaders, have caused a recession in senior executives who want the top position (from 50 to 35 percent in the last four years). Furthermore, CEO turnover is at a five-year high.

Who will lead companies in the future? This question has caused a leadership succession and development agitation. Boards are more apprehensive about finding executive talent wherever they can.

In his book Searching for a Corporate Savior, Rakesh Khurana, professor at Harvard University, proposes that looking outside for a CEO successor is part of a growing “irrational quest for charismatic chief executives” (selection of outside CEOs has gone from 6 to 50 percent in recent years). Fearing boards may be concentrating on the qualities of presence, personality, and media appeal rather than character and competence, he gives seven guidelines for finding successors:

  1. abandon hope for a corporate savior
  2. translate company strategy into operational terms
  3. identify skills required for key activities (activity/competency mapping)
  4. assess internal candidates
  5. search for external candidates
  6. test and choose from a short-list
  7. calibrate goals, milestones, and compensation to drivers of success.

'Searching for a Corporate Savior' by Rakesh Khurana (ISBN 0691120390) Khurana supports internal development of candidates, but admits that developing home-grown talent is not the only course.

After studying 276 companies that have decent track records at growing home-grown talent, The Corporate Leadership Counsel defined seven Hallmarks of Leadership Success:

  1. a culture of development
  2. enforcing development
  3. recruiting senior executives
  4. the power of meritocracy
  5. full business exposure for rising executives
  6. a focus on leadership skills in successor identification
  7. succession management.

Companies that are great at developing future leaders invest much time in fostering a candidate pool. As managers gain the essential training, coaching, on-the-job experience, they join an internal pool of high-potential candidates. But what divides the good processes from great ones is an emphasis on self-development.

'The Hero's Farewell' by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld (ISBN 0195065832) Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, former Dean of the Yale School of Management, calls this “an unrelenting drive for self-improvement.” You spot senior talent not just from their activities, but how they attain them. When great companies search for talent, they look for certain qualities.

In his book The Hero’s Farewell, Sonnenfeld classifies executives as Monarchs, Generals, Ambassadors, and Governors. Each has distinctive exit behavior related to the manner in which they identify with the title and role of CEO. Of these, three of the four classifications cause problems for incoming CEOs.

  1. Monarchs stay on the job until they die or are overthrown
  2. Generals leave reluctantly and look for ways to return to active service
  3. Ambassadors leave gracefully but maintain active, low-key relationships in the company
  4. Governors leave and go on to serve in other areas.

Monarchs suppress internal talent development because they can’t endure contest for their roles. Generals and ambassadors often restrict with or undermine incoming CEOs. Unluckily, boards tolerate monarch, general, and ambassador behavior.

All this leads me to conclude: Work harder on growing internal talent. You can improve your odds beyond 50:50 by doing the hard, but rewarding, work of developing more leaders internally.

While companies must often look outside for talent, having an effective process for developing leaders guarantees that you will have great candidates when the time comes to add or replace executive talent.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Most Workers are Starved for Recognition

'Employee Recognition That Works' by Cindy Ventrice (ISBN 1576756017) Most workers are starved for recognition. In fact, some of your employees may be experiencing a recognition deficit.

While most managers believe that pay is the most important factor in whether employees stay or go, employees consistently rank recognition for their good work as number one. The mother lode of employee motivation and job satisfaction lies in the cycle of challenge, achievement, and recognition—the CAR motivational cycle, as first presented by Frederick Herzberg, the father of modern motivation theory. His study showed that the factors that produce job satisfaction are, in order: achievement, recognition, the work, responsibility, advancement, and growth. These factors are related to job content. Factors that may take away job satisfaction but not produce it—demotivators—are related to job culture: policy, administration, supervision, relationship with boss, work conditions, salary, relationship with peers, personal life, relationship with subordinates, status, and security, in that order.

You may be measuring what counts, and what you are measuring may be getting done, but unless you recognize and reward what is done, the productivity of your people will decline, along with your retention rates.

Most Workers are Starved for Recognition

Why Managers Don’t Recognize People

Many managers get low motivational millage out of the CAR cycle because:

  1. They subscribe to the philosophy, “If you don’t hear from me that means you’re doing a good job.” This low-energy, low maintenance management practice is popular among autocratic managers who have worked for managers who treated them this way. Many managers who use this style think: “My people are expected to do their job, and they get paid to do it.” They resist employee recognition practices, and resent employees who are governed by their feelings and who need more praise and recognition.
  2. They believe that “rewards and recognition” is the responsibility of the human resources department. Some programs have the unintended effect of letting managers off the hook in providing recognition. If managers do not “own” the practice, they may never do it.
  3. They do not spend enough time observing or measuring employee performance to know if they are achieving results in the first place. Obviously, if they do not know who the top performers are, they will be reluctant to recognize and praise anyone.
  4. They do not know how to recognize and are afraid they will do it the wrong way. If you haven’t been taught how to recognize results, and if you aren’t being recognized yourself in creative and appropriate ways, how would you know how to do it?

Two Ways to Recognize Results

Employee recognition has become a large industry, providing prizes, travel, cash, and praise. Many managers believe that only cash rewards/bonuses, raises, and promotions are effective for motivating and keeping their best performers. While money is important to all employees, it is more important to some than others are. Money can help to motivate and retain when given promptly in recognition of a specific achievement. However, the top motivator is the chance to be challenged, achieve results, and be recognized.

Informal Recognition and Rewards

Informal rewards that managers initiate to recognize and motivate certain individuals in a timely way. Here are six ways to get the most out of informal rewards:

  1. Match the reward to the person’s personal preferences—some people are more motivated by a letter of appreciation.
  2. Match the reward to the significance of the achievement—don’t overdo when recognizing people for small achievements;
  3. Give the reward as soon as possible after the achievement;
  4. Explain why the reward is given;
  5. Recognize groups and individuals within groups—recognize everyone on the team, but single out those who made the greatest contributions;
  6. Find out what your workers value as rewards—if the yearly bonus, for example, is now considered an entitlement, it no longer has the power to motivate.

To encourage specific achievements or contributions by key performers on highly valued assignments, consider the following seven rewards:

  1. Outstanding Employee Award, based on completing urgent projects, collaborating cross-functionally, generating money-saving ideas, and fostering teamwork;
  2. Productivity and Quality Awards that provide meaningful incentives or rewards;
  3. Employee Suggestion Awards that encourage employees to submit more ideas;
  4. Customer Service Awards that encourage the highest standards of service;
  5. Sales Goal Awards that reward high performance;
  6. Team Awards that reward all the members; and
  7. Attendance Awards that encourage employees to be prompt and not miss workdays and Safety Awards that recognize employees for following safety procedures and minimizing accidents.

Formal Employee Recognition and Rewards

Formal Recognition and Rewards

Formal recognition and rewards that the organization initiates to motivate all employees. A well-designed formal rewards program will help keep your most valued employees. Here are some ideas:

  1. Multilevel reward programs and point systems that are tailored to the needs of different employees and recognize a few employees in a dramatic way.
  2. Contests that run a short time, have simple rules, offer desirable prizes, and reward performance directly and promptly.
  3. Field trips, special events, and travel that provide “bragging value.”
  4. Education, personal growth, self-development, training and services that build needed skills.
  5. Advancements or promotions that add responsibility, give special assignments, or allow people to mentor younger employees or lead a cross-functional team can yield payoffs in visibility and job enrichment.
  6. Stock or ownership incentives, such as employee stock options, that motivates performance and retention.
  7. Celebrating employee anniversary dates helps to keep long-term employees.
  8. Custom benefits, health, and fitness programs that allow employees to select benefits that best fit their needs.
  9. Charities, volunteer activities, and service projects that encourage employee participation.

Relate formal rewards to organization and employee needs, ensure the reward’s fairness, and present the rewards in a timely manner. Talk up the value of the rewards, but do not oversell the program. If you are not sure what recognition to give, just ask! If you do not tailor the reward to the employee, the reward will not have the motivating effect you desire. Give them several ideas to choose from and a chance to write in their own ideas and submit their preferences.

Ask Two More Questions for Employee Preferences for Recognition

To get the desired effect from your recognition and reward efforts, ask your people two questions:

  1. For what do you want to be recognized?
  2. How would you like to receive your recognition?

'1501 Ways to Reward Employees' by Bob Nelson (ISBN 0761168788) Start recognizing your workers, not as you would like to be recognized, but as they would like to be recognized. Instead of focusing on big events, work to create a culture of appreciation.

Make acknowledgment a part of the daily routine. Become an obsessive observer. Notice what other people are doing and acknowledge their efforts.

A simple “thank you” or “awesome job”—sincerely conveyed can transform a relationship.

Grade your organization on recognizing results what can you do to improve in this area.

Posted in Management and Leadership

Marissa Mayer’s Office Hours at Google

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) For about 90 minutes a day, beginning at 4:00 pm, Mayer used to hold office hours at Google. She was a professor before she came to Google, and she kept office hours going. The much-vaunted “open office” for engineers, where bringing brownies increases a project’s chance of approval by 50%. Google’s Marissa Mayer cleared an hour and a half of her diary at the end of each day and staff could book an amount of that time by putting their name on a board in front of her office. This permitted her to supposedly fit a large number of very short meetings into a block of time where employees could come and talk to her about anything. Get-togethers which evidently emerged interesting product ideas counting Google News. A decent option perhaps than filling too much time up with the half hour/one hour blocks that managers tend to segment their calendars into, or to keeping an completely open door guidelines which might lead to excessively common interlude. Per this noteworthy anecdote from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:

Another Mayer habit that annoyed colleagues was one she picked up straight from academia. For many years at Google, Mayer insisted that if her colleagues wanted to meet with her, they had to do so during her “office hours.” Mayer would post a spreadsheet online and ask peopl~ to sign up for a five-minute window. When Mayer’s “office hours” rolled around in the afternoon, a line would start to form outside her office and spill over onto the nearby couches.

Office hours are socially-acceptable in an academic environment because the power dynamic is clear. The students are subordinate to the professor, who is usually their elder and mentor. But Mayer’s office hours were not just for her subordinates; they were also for her peers. So there, amid the associate product managers waiting to visit with Mayer to discuss their latest assignment or a class trip to Zurich, sat Google vice presidents—people who had been at the company as long as Mayer and in some cases held jobs as important as hers.

Posted in Management and Leadership

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

Hierarchical is out; horizontal is in.

There’s no room today for the multiple layers, slow decision making, and dependence on leaders. Successful organizations are characterized by consultation, collaboration, and cross-functional problem-solving, decision-making, and planning.

Why are horizontal organizations so much more nimble? Extended product development cycles are replaced by rapid movement from design to market; decision-making bottlenecks are eliminated; leaders empower and delegate; and the focus is on the success of the business, not individual functions.

Horizontal Leadership Success

Leaders intent on this transition must take four actions:

  1. Horizontal Leadership Success Look into the mirror. The top team sets the tone. Before expecting others to “go horizontal,” senior managers must ask, “What are the decision-making patterns on our team?” “To what extent do we see ourselves as accountable and responsible for one another’s success and for the outcomes of our team?” “Do we depersonalize conflict and confront one another honestly and openly?” If the president is still calling the shots; if team members are constantly lobbying for resources; or if internal conflict has brought decision making to a halt-it’s time to practice what we preach.
  2. Align all your teams-beginning at the top. Raising team performance and refraining team behavior begins with alignment. Ask seven questions to determine whether or not a team is aligned: Does the team have clear goals? Are those goals aligned with the strategy? Do all team members know who is responsible for what and how they will be held accountable? Are protocols or rules of engagement agreed upon so everyone knows how decisions will be made? Are rules in place for how conflict will be managed? Are relationships between and among team members healthy and transparent? Do people assert their point of view honestly and openly and treat disagreement not as a personal attack but as a business case?
  3. Shift from commanding to influencing. In the new paradigm, the one who wins isn’t the person with the most clout, but the one who possesses the right strategic instinct, content capability, rapport, and persuasion. When Susan Fullman was director of distribution for United Airlines, she was a cross-functional player in a hierarchical context. Her success hinged on her ability to influence rather than command: “I had to sell my vision to each director. And I couldn’t do that without learning to clearly articulate my ideas, depersonalize the way I made my case, develop my powers of persuasion-and learn to listen to each person and address their concerns.”
  4. Become a player-centered leader. The horizontal organization calls for a shift in the role of the leader to a new “player-centered” model. The question becomes: How prepared are the players to handle increased authority and responsibility? As teams proliferate and decision making becomes decentralized, people must step up. Managers must know each person’s capabilities and skills and adjust his or her “style” accordingly.

'Lead with Lean' by Michael Balle (ISBN 154480844) For example, when managing an inexperienced team leader, a senior manager needs to provide a high level of direction, structure, and support; but as team leaders become more competent, the senior manager can adopt a more hands-off style. The goal should be to inspire and empower, not prescribe or direct. Provide coaching and collaboration as each player requires.

Many leaders talk about decentralization, delayering, and empowerment. But decisions continue to be made by the CEO; functional heads are still vying for resources; and further down are vacationers and victims.

Horizontal organizations are more states of mind than states of matter. It’s not as much about titles and boxes as it is about every employee showing up, every day, as an energized, strategically focused team member.

Posted in Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

The Distinctive Chalukyan Architecture Featured in the Ladkhan Temple of Aihole

Chalukyan Architecture Featured in the Ladkhan Temple of Aihole

Ladkhan temple is a significant temple at Aihole because of the method of its construction which marks an important stage in the evolution of the Chalukyan style of architecture.

The temple is called Ladkhan Temple because a gentleman named Ladkhan lived in the temple and consequently the local populace began to call it so. If truth be told, early India scholars like Percy Brown and others considered this temple to be the earliest in Aihole and assigned a date 450 CE. On the contrary, modern researches have revealed that it is not that early and scholars designate it to seventh century CE.

Numerous sculptures of amorous couples in Ladkhan Temple of Aihole It has a distinctive plan and does not give the mark of a temple at all in the first instance. In reality, it looks like a mandapa with rows of pillars. The temple consists of a small garbhagriha attached to the rear wall of a square sabhamandapa and a rectangular mukhamandapa/em>. Hence, there is no pradakshinapatha. The interior of the sabhamandapa is divided into two parallel enclosures with the help of a row of pillars.

The garbhagriha has a Sivalinga and therefore it might have been a Siva temple initially. The rectangular mandapa in the front is smaller in size and provides an entrance. As there is a good image of Surya, some scholars consider it as a temple devoted to Sun. The garbhagriha entryway has Garuda in human form on the doorjamb.

The temple stands on a cellar with moldings and the uppermost molding is very thick, over which rises the wall of the temple. A similar molding is found at the roof level. But what is more interesting is the roof itself. The posterior portion has a square in two tiers with a slight slope in all the four directions. On them are placed stone rafters in reproduction of wooden roof of the earlier buildings. Similar is the roof of the front mandapa, which is rectangular. On the roof of the sabhamandapa is an upper garbhagriha opening to the east with pillars and pilasters without any sikhara. These architectural features have made this temple unique.

Ladkhan Temple - Earliest Temple in Aihole

There are a large number of sculptures on the pillars and the koshthas. Numerous sculptures of amorous couples and the jalandhras are very eye-catching. The roof of the mandapa has a naga holding a lotus. The upper garbhagriha wall has niches in which are found sculptures of Vishnu, Surya, and Siva. Bearing in mind all the architectural features the Ladkhan temple is considered to represent an important stage in the development of early Chalukyan art.

Posted in Travels and Journeys

Zen Koan #19: Parable of The First Principle – Buddhist Teaching on Qualities Within

Zen Koan #19: Parable of The First Principle - Buddhist Teaching on Qualities Within Zen mind is one of those enigmatic phrases utilized by Zen edifiers to make you descry yourself, to transcend the words and wonder what your own mind and being are. This is the purport of all Zen edifying—to make you wonder and to answer that wondering with the deepest expression of your own nature. Fixating on what’s transpiring right here and right now, which is this physical body, whatever sensations there might be, and breathing.

Someone may think, “If a good person is the same as a bad person, wouldn’t this create a lot of confusion?” This problem does not arise for one who is deeply enlightened. The experience of one’s method and body disappearing can be due to two factors. It is still on a worldly level. It is not that they will not arise, but you will not worry about them.

Hold on to one method and go into it as deeply as possible. You are all cognizant that this Zen center is not an ideal environment for practice. It’s a spirit of taking what comes to us and really working with it. You can learn from that as well as anything else. Let it be simple. However, this creates a duality of subject and object. A carefree approach does not mean not caring about how you practice; it means considering anything that happens as natural.

Zen Koan: “The First Principle” Parable

When one goes to Obaku temple in Kyoto he sees carved over the gate the words “The First Principle”. The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a mastepiece. They were drawn by Kosen two hundred years ago.

When the master drew them he did so on paper, from which the workmen made the large carving in wood. As Kosen sketched the letters a bold pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy and who never failed to criticise his master’s work.

“That is not good,” he told Kosen after his first effort.

“How is this one?”

“Poor. Worse than before,” pronounced the pupil.

Kosen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First Principles had accumulated, still without the approval of the pupil.

Then when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Kosen thought: “Now this is my chance to escape his keen eye,” and he wrote hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction: “The First Principle.”

“A masterpiece,” pronounced the pupil.

Buddhist Insight on Awakening the Dormant Qualities Within

Having the good fortune of formerly hoarded merit, those of the highest powers, with the condition of the holy guru, are unshackled just by realizing that they are already liberated. By awakening the dormant qualities within, the nature of mind should be gripped as being like space, according to Zen Buddhism. Instead of being less conscious, rather than running away or deluding yourself, what brings you face-to-face with life and awakens you up—Cultivate that. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

The third of the wise and skillful efforts is the effort to encourage, inspire, and cultivate the emergence of the healing, lovely, and wise qualities of heart and mind that lie dormant within us. Vision reminds us of our capacity to listen deeply, to be aware, and to realize our own potential for greatness of heart and mind. It is wise effort to nudge those seeds of potential from dormancy into life. In the midst of our impatience in a traffic jam, we surprise ourselves by cultivating loving kindness. As we turn away with aversion from the person begging from us on the street, we pause for a moment and remember the power of compassion. As we feel ourselves becoming seduced by our inner stories of resentment or bitterness, we remind ourselves of our own capacity to find balance and calm. In the moments when feel we feel most despairing, powerless, or confused, we remember that we have the capacity to listen deeply and find connectedness. We remind ourselves of the simplicity, calm, and peace possible, and we cultivate them.

Posted in Faith and Religion

Fragrant Banarasi Pilau Recipe

Banaras or Kasi or Varanasi---Religious Pilgrimage City on the Holy River Ganges

Banaras (also Kasi or Varanasi) is a tirtha, a religious pilgrimage city on the sacred Ganges River in northern India. Pilgrims come from all over India to cleanse in the river at Banaras.

Banaras is the most distinguished and consecrated of the seven ancient holy cities of India, stationed on the west bank of the Ganga (Ganges) in modern day Uttar Pradesh in India.

Lionized in numerous Hindu texts, it is the emphasis of a whole series of homologies which at the same time place it at the center of the world, make it the complete cosmos and position it as the ford or doorway to heaven or liberation (moksha). This last transition is thought to be ensured by dying there—the explicit aim of many ageing and sickly pilgrims. Theoretically, the entire city may consequently be viewed as one great cosmic cremation ground.

Banaras is also an ageless center of long-established Sanskrit learning, since 1916 Varanasi has been home to what is now the biggest residential university in India, Benares Hindu University.

Ingredients for Banarasi Pilau

  • Fragrant Banarasi Pilau Vegetarian Recipe 1.25 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup peas, thawed if frozen
  • 3/4 cup carrots, cut into small cubes (about 2 carrots)
  • 2.5 cups hot water
  • 2 strands saffron
  • 3/4 tsp salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp nuts, such as pistachios or cashews, sliced

Procedure for Banarasi Pilau

  1. Wash the rice in several changes of warm water and leave to soak in cold water for half an hour. Drain in a sieve.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy pan and add the cumin seeds, cloves, green cardamom pods, bay leaves
  3. After about two minutes add the rice and stir gently on medium heat.
  4. When all the grains are coated with oil) this usually takes three minutes, add the peas and carrots and pour the hot water. Add the saffron and salt. Stir and adjust the salt if necessary before leaving to cook uncovered on medium heat for 10 minutes. When most of the water has been absorbed, cover, lower the heat and continue cooking for a further 8-10 minutes.
  5. Fluff up the rice with a fork prior to serving.
  6. Sprinkle over the sliced nuts and serve piping hot
Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

The Decline in Our Culture of Industriousness

Virtue of Industriousness

Virtue of Industriousness What does a worm do for its livelihood? It works without ceasing, tunneling beneath the surface, keeping the earth from excessive hardening. However, where does it get its own nourishment, to maintain its health and to give it energy to carry on its labors?

It is time to begin the public, forthright, and uninhibited questioning of this presumptuousness, however uncomfortable it may now and then make us. There is an economy in the rhythms of nature. Each creature has a purpose, each has a job to do and the same hand that placed these creatures on earth and assigned them their duties, also provided for their sustenance. Imagine being an obstinate Bull or an obstinate Bear in a fickle stock market? Its guaranteed downfall. The ant, the sparrow, the worm, and their fellow creatures that inhabit the spaces of the world all share in the same divine plan. Each serves in its own way and each is sustained in its own way.

Because I know that there is such a plan, I am confident in my own destiny. It is improbable that He who provided for the worm did not provide for me. Man is a free agent and he has the privilege of exercising his own judgment in selecting the work by which he serves and is himself sustained. However, I depend not on my particular job, nor on the man who makes it available. I am not dependent on my employer, my customer, my client, but on the Lord my God, my true Benefactor, who sustains the whole world with grace and with loving-kindness.

Committing to Mindful Economic Consumption

Running after our cravings has brought us a lot of suffering and desperation. Committing to mindful economic consumption is committing to our own happiness. It is a conscious determination to make space for the happiness that is available in each step and each breath. Every breath and every step can be nutritious and healing. As we breathe in and breathe out, or as we take a mindful step, we can recite this mantra: “This is a consequence of happiness.” It does not cost anything at all. This is why I say that mindful consumption is the way out of suffering. The teaching is simple, and the practice is not difficult. Stress management expert Pauline McKinnon writes in In Stillness Conquer Fear: Overcoming Anxiety, Panic and Fear,

The intensely anxious person desperately fears losing control, and at an inner level this is a fear he or she has created while attempting to maintain a preferred image, striving to feel fully accepted in the world. The onset of panic threatens to expose all—in the dread of a crumbling facade and he risk of likely judgement, criticism or public shame. But the highly anxious person also desperately fears taking control—for to do so would involve letting go of the defences he or she fights with to prevent loss of control. Taking true control does not involve fighting. It involves letting go—of tension and of the belief that there is something e must defend ourselves from. … So there is a double-edge to high anxiety: the fear of losing control, for fear of taking control. Paradoxically, it’s in the letting go that we successfully move through both edges of fear, with the result that we can then take calm control of our life.

Mindful Economic Consumption Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. There are two times in a man’s life when he should not conjecture: when he cannot afford it, and when he can. No general praise, or universal censure, can be passed upon them in this respect; for they disagree according to their kind’s as much as animal foods. One should subdue this aversion with all one’s might and let everything that they do impress one equitable. The boy heard what he imagines was a cough again and turned to see the mother beside the bathing tub.

Protection and security are only wrathful if they do not cramp life excessively. Live on not as though there were a thousand years ahead of you. Fate is at your elbow; make yourself good while life and power are still yours. Even so, such discernment is inadequate; because it is of the nature of the immanent that, it cannot be judged objectively. Looking at a tree with such purity they might have noticed a relationship with the tree and have been thankful to be alive, a gratitude that seemed irreversible.

Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Leadership Learning

Leadership Learning

The two most precious assets in the professional service firm are the capabilities of our people and the use of their time to produce results for the client. A delicate balance arises. Leaders require continual skill building, but time to learn is limited.

We discovered opportunities to leverage time in leadership development in a blended-learning solution.

Leaders learn the most on the job. So, target and pursue learning that extends the applications of key leadership capabilities on teams, in projects, and with clients. By employing multiple methods of learning, you can craft a leadership learning strategy that is delivered in a blended solution.

There are five steps to develop a blended model of learning:

  1. 'Hacking Leadership' by Joe Sanfelippo (ISBN 0986104949) Link learning to the core values. The clients’ experience of the firm’s core values is their relationship with each professional who represents the brand.
  2. Ensure that the business strategy is driving the learning agenda. The knowledge of critical client-service leadership capabilities and respect for time informs decisions on content and design.
  3. Conduct needs analysis and determine current capability levels. We conduct analysis on our shared competencies globally in 34 countries to determine where the real-time learning opportunities produce the maximum results.
  4. Select content and design a learning continuum. Our leadership roles model encompasses the capabilities required for success. This provides a framework for the leadership learning content. We designed a fully blended model to support the learning. The core of the model is Vision and the foundation Eminence and Expertise. Business and client Results are the target outcomes. Key roles of leaders and a selection of the primary skills required include:
    • Relationship builder: emotional intelligence, negotiation, trust and authenticity, consensus building
    • Communicator: influence, persuasion, listening, presence, storytelling
    • Innovator: change leader, creativity, custom solutions, risk taker
    • Global citizen: integrity, responsibility, diversity, global relationship network
    • Mentor/coach: developing next generation talent, coaching performance
    • Decision-maker: strategic analysis of options and courage to act, even when information is incomplete
  5. 'Learning Leadership' by James Kouzes (ISBN 1119144280) Extend the learning beyond the classroom to the job. Provide quality learning through on-line learning resources and coaching that is available just-in-time through a technology learning platform that gives access 24/7 to prime quality learning, when leaders need it and how it best works for them. This platform supports the blended leadership learning that is delivered over time in four main steps.
    • Launch leadership learning with a virtual class. A virtual class establishes the community of learning and values everyone’s time.
    • Push out self-paced online learning. A rich combination of online leadership assessment and individual leadership style report, e-learning, with readings and resources, are provided with opportunities to interact with coaches.
    • Conduct the classroom program. This highly valuable time is focused on knowledge exchange, problem-solving, action planning, practice application of new skills, performance coaching, building the culture, and networking.
    • Support on-the-job learning with targeted online learning. A combination of performance goal setting, dialogue with performance coaches, and availability of targeted online, self-paced learning incorporates learning on-the-job.

A leadership learning map offers just-in-time learning. Our experience has proven to us the power of extending leadership learning beyond the classroom.

Posted in Management and Leadership

The Magic of Customer Enchantment

Reality Check on Customer Enchantment

The Magic of Customer Enchantment We love hearing those service champion stories—always laced with awe-inspiring heroics and “happy ever after” endings. These way-beyond-the-call-of-duty stories are generally exotic, extravagant, and frequently involve helicopters, champagne, and penthouse suites. Then, we go back to work, thinking “My boss would kill me if I did something like that.” As the cold reality of work quickly freezes out the story’s warmth, it gets dropped in our brain’s “fairy tale” file.

But, is there another side to these enchanting stories? Could extravagant service have a return on investment of sufficient size to warrant repetition? Should managers challenge their employees to “bring me more lavish bills for unplanned, unbudgeted red carpet treatment for customers!” In this era of tight margins, ferocious waste reduction, and microscopic expense control, how do you cost justify an encounter which is by nature extravagant?

Service extravagance does have an important role in any service quality effort. Power, however, lies first in its uniqueness. A steady diet of extravagance and you not only abuse the bottom line, you turn unique into usual—and the magic disappears. However, what mileage can be gained by going the extra 10 miles? Assuming unique is kept unique, there are advantages to encouraging an occasional service extravaganza.

Experiment with service extravagance and customer enchantment

Three Big Benefits of Customer Enchantment

While the CFO might have to take a leap of faith, there are great payoffs of service heroics. Service indulgence fosters customer love and other benefits.

  1. Service Extravagance Releases Employee Power. When the subject of empowerment is discussed with leaders, they all bewail that employees have far more power and authority than they typically use. And, it is generally true. Get a group of employees together and they will quickly gripe about their lack of authority. Empowerment (or lack of it) is often code for fear of failure. Celebrating service heroics can encourage employees to “take it to the limit” and “push the edge of the envelope.” When their confidence is matched by affirmation, they learn to take risks. The goal is to encourage employees to experience the limits and, if they go too far, learn that the leader response will be support and coaching rather than punishment and rebuke. Empowerment begins with error; error begins with risks. Employees risk when they believe failure will spark growth, not censure.
  2. Service Extravagance Keeps Service Quality Top of Mind. The challenge in creating a service culture is how to keep the “shine from wearing off.” The early elation of the “The year of the customer” kickoff quickly turns to exertion when incensed customers make unreasonable demands on an already fatigued front line. How do you insure excitement wins over despair? Part of the answer is celebrated heroics. Effective service celebrations begin with “see.” The telling of heroic service stories provides a graphic pictures of what great service looks like. Too often those witnessing a celebration learn who but not why. They depart with little to emulate. So, tell the story in detail, along with the philosophy or attitude.
  3. Service Extravagance Builds Teamwork at Its Best. Service extraordinaire events, when instigated and implemented as a team, can raise morale and reinforce important lessons in interdependence. The adage that “nothing pulls a team together more than a crisis” can be expanded to a “celebration” as well. And, since teamwork is a decisive commodity in today’s service, the winners in the eyes of the customers are less likely to be the single acts of excellence, and more apt to be the collaborative efforts of colleagues who craft an experience which customers retell over and over. Simply the act alone can fuel teamwork.

'Delight Your Customers' by Steve Surtin (ISBN 0814432808) Remember: Celebrate customer extravagance as extra-ordinary. And, teach employees the principle behind the peculiar. Give leeway for the exceptional, and your employees will have exciting standards for excellence that can energize them to produce service performances customers will remember as special.

Experiment with service extravagance and customer enchantment.

Posted in Management and Leadership