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Traits of Effective Change Leaders

'Facilitating Effective Change' by Patrick Love (ISBN 1505402387) Leaders invest remarkable talent, energy, and caring in their change efforts, yet few see the desired results. There is a good reason. Today’s leaders simply do not have much practice at large-scale change. Few organizations were doing sweeping reinvention 30 years ago, so there is little experience to pass on. The changes undertaken today—producing better products, faster, at lower cost—were inconceivable 30 years ago. Over the next decade, leaders will guide remarkable changes. That is a social and economic imperative.

Leaders exist at all levels. At the edges of the business enterprise, needless to say, leaders are responsible for less territory. Their vision may sound more simple; the number of people to motivate may be few. However, they perform the same role in leading change.

  • They outshine at seeing things through fresh eyes and at challenging the status quo.
  • They are energetic and pervade through, or around, obstacles.
  • People who provide great leadership are also deeply interested in a cause or discipline related to their focus area.
  • Such change leaders also tap deep convictions of others and connect those feelings to the purpose; they show the meaning of people’s work to that larger purpose.
  • The most prominent trait of great leaders is their quest for learning. They push themselves out of their comfort zones and continue to take risks.
  • They are open to people and ideas. Often they are driven by goals or ideals that are bigger than what any individual can pull off, and that gap pushes them to keep learning.

The single biggest impetus for change tends to be a new manager in a key job. It is often a new division-level manager or a new department head—someone with fresh perspective—that sees that the status quo is unacceptable. Producing change is about 80 percent leadership—establishing direction, aligning, motivating, and inspiring people—and about 20 percent management—planning, budgeting, organizing, and problem solving. Regrettably, in most change efforts, those percentages are reversed. We continue to produce great managers; we need to develop great leaders.

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Being on The Leading Edge: How to Create Strategies That Change Quickly

Being on The Leading Edge: How to Create Strategies That Change Quickly Even under the best of conditions, life and business seldom work as planned. For leaders, the capability to predict has become a pipe dream. For businesses to stay ahead of the pack, strategies must change quickly. The top-down decision-making system no longer works. Today, the best companies seek the knowledge of employees to generate strategies that meet six goals:

  1. Stay responsive to customers. No one knows better than front-line employees what customers need and anticipate. Those who work most closely with buyers should lead the decision-making in product development because these employees do not have to deduce to reach a decision-their close proximity to customers gives them both empirical and anecdotal knowledge that managers cannot have. Managers must expand their focus to the needs of external customers by helping create boundary-less organizations that permit information about and from customers to flow quickly to everybody. Managers must kill policies and practices that prevent a focus on the customer and include customer orientation and service in performance reviews, promotion criteria, and incentive compensation plans. Managers must have the external customer in mind at all times.
  2. 'Strategic Management Awareness and Change' by Frank Martin (ISBN 1473726336) Hire and develop the right people. Too many executives fail to recognize their primary mission: to make a direct contribution to corporate profits. The key is to hire the “right” employees based on desired skills and competencies and guide them through the right jobs. Human Resource managers can help determine where, when and how to integrate employee skills, training and competencies to achieve corporate objectives. The HR manager must engage in a consultative role with the leadership team, and become a partner in strategic planning. Every HR practice, principle, program, or process must directly support the business objectives and strategies. Work hard to bring into line people, programs, and practices with business strategies.
  3. Retain valuable employees. The number of employees working at any company now ebbs and flows. In place of a fixed workforce, companies hire up or scale down depending on production requirements. In theory, that makes sense. In practice, however, it often clashes with the realities of the new labor pool. Today’s young workers rank empowerment high on their list of expectations. For managers, the challenge is to create a workforce that thrives in both quantitative and qualitative terms. The best and the brightest employees must be retained at all cost. The best companies go to any length to protect their “intellectual capital.” To retain the best workers, companies are creating more dialogue to find ways to give them a strong sense of purpose, control, and ownership.
  4. Reduce management burnout. As cutbacks persist, many companies are transferring more work to a smaller management team. What results, of course, is premature burnout. Many managers, in whom the company has authorized a lot of training, suddenly are bailing out. Empowering all employees is a way to reduce pressure on managers. Teams also make it possible for managers to more broaden their knowledge, and to delegate more efficiently.
  5. Achieve greater flexibility. If workers see their role as merely to carry out a plan handed down from on high, they aren’t likely to adapt strategies to new circumstances. But, if they see themselves as having the power to shape the strategies, they are more likely to act flexibly and responsively. Today, our best companies find ideas and move them up to managers who then judge and prioritize ideas and facilitate their implementation. These decision-makers have the right to make the final call. Without these key managers, employee empowerment stands little chance of prospering. When empowerment is done appropriately, a company will retain good employees, reduce burnout, respond more quickly to customers, and be malleable enough to flow with marketplace changes
  6. 'Strategic Leadership for a Change' by Kenneth McFayden (ISBN 156699392X) Listen to build profits and morale. Managers need to hear employees’ suggestions because employees are closer to customers and processes. Most fast growth companies implore employee recommendations. Their success rests on a steady flow of ideas, and most employees want to provide suggestions: They want to express their ideas and beliefs. For a suggestion program to work, however, employees must be encouraged to submit ideas and rewarded for exceptional ideas. Management must act on ideas to create a supportive culture.

Leading companies track employee ideas. They measure suggestions per employee, percentage accepted, average turnaround time to handle suggestions, and percentage of eligible employees who participate. They proactively ask for ideas, and they respond to all suggestions quickly-within days, not months. They make sure employees know company priorities so their suggestions reflect these concerns. They create a strong sense of teamwork by bouncing ideas around while working toward the same goal. In companies with a strong team culture, ideas not only tend to come more often, but are better developed.

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To Manage Change Effectively, Transfer All Learning to Behavior

Successfully Lead in Change Management

Managing change effectively starts with determining what knowledge, skills, and attitudes are needed to achieve the desired behavior and results. Leaders must know the concepts, principles, and techniques required for managing change.

Managing has a two-fold meaning: (1) to decide on the changes to be made and (2) to get the acceptance of those involved in the change. Training professionals can control the learning content. However, changing behavior is under the control of the line managers whose people are trained. Therefore, these concepts, principles, and techniques are important to trainers and managers alike.

10 “Managing Change” Concepts

  • Everyone is resistant to change. Yes, everyone resists or resents change, but not all the time. It gets down to a simple fact: “How will it affect me?” The main reason why people resist or resent a change is that it will affect them in a negative way. For example, when in 1973, Sears’ management decided to build the tallest building in the world in Chicago and have all Sears’s employees in the area move there, not everyone was happy. Some people resisted the change because of the additional cost of travel, parking expenses, commute time, fear of heights, the lack of space, or the separation from friends. However, many welcomed the change because they would be in town for eating and shopping; be in the tallest building; look out over the city; and have better working conditions.
  • People will not always accept changes decided on by “experts.” It makes no difference whether or not “experts” made the decision or the boss made it. Many years ago, industrial engineering consultants (experts) were hired by manufacturing organizations to make decisions on reducing costs. In most cases, some people (10 percent) lost their jobs. The attitudes and feelings of those who lost their jobs as well as the other employees were so strong that cost reductions rarely occurred because of the negative attitudes and lower productivity of their friends. Seldom will “experts” or “facts” have the desired result because the feelings and attitudes of those affected are so strong.
  • 'Managing Change (Pocket Mentor)' by Harvard Business School Press (ISBN 1422129691)If you want people to accept or welcome a change, give them a feeling of “ownership.” When I taught decision-making, I used statements to describe the four choices a manager has when making a decision: 1) make a decision without any input from subordinates; 2) ask subordinates for suggestions and consider them before you decide; 3) facilitate a problem-solving meeting to reach consensus; and 4) empower your subordinates to make the decision. In deciding on the best approach for making the decision, consider two factors: quality and acceptance. Regarding quality, which approach will reach the best decision? There is no assurance that one approach will come to a better decision. However, the more involvement (ownership), the greater the acceptance.
  • People who do not understand the reason for a change will sometimes resent or resist it. For example, my pension benefits at the University of Wisconsin were changed so I could retire at age 62 without losing any benefits. I do not know why the state made the change, but I benefited from it and did not resent it. Any change that will benefit employees will be welcome, whether or not they understand the reasons for it.
  • Empathy is one of the most important concepts in managing change. Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of others and seeing things from their point of view. Training professionals must determine the needs of the learners so that the program will be practical. Whether using E-learning or classroom approaches, they must communicate so that the learners will understand. In addition, managers must know how to help them apply what they learn.
  • Persons who have no control over the people affected by a change can have some effect on their acceptance. A training manager once told me, “Don, I have no control over the learners when they leave the classroom, so it is up to their managers to see that change in behavior occurs.” This person was right in saying “I have no control” but wrong in saying it is strictly up to the managers. Trainers will have to use “influence” instead of “control” to see that change in behavior occurs.
  • Managers should encourage and accept suggestions from all employees. What can they lose? In addition, they might gain new practical ideas as well as build relationships with the person suggesting the change. Yet few managers welcome ideas and accept suggestions from other managers because there is little if any difference between a “suggestion” and a “criticism,” no matter how tactfully the suggestion is offered. To receivers, a suggestion says: either “you are doing something you should quit doing” or “do something you aren’t doing.” Someone came up with an interesting and “practical” idea for improvement in performance. Instead of using the typical performance appraisal approach where only the manager appraises the performance and offers suggestions on how to improve, the “360-degree” approach was introduced to include appraisals and improvement suggestion from managers, peers, and subordinates. If managers do not even accept suggestions from peers, imagine how many managers will resent suggestions from subordinates. Organizations that use the 360-degree approach have trouble convincing managers that their people are trying to help them.
  • 'Managing Change in Organizations: A Practice Guide' by Project Management Institute (ISBN 1628250151)If changes are going to be resisted, managers should move slowly in order to gain acceptance. Time can often change resistance to acceptance if the change is introduced gradually. Often people resist change out of fear of failure. You might decide to train the ones who want the new opportunity and terminate or transfer those who do not want to change. Alternatively, you might decide that you do not have to make the change immediately. Time, patience, and training eventually move most employees from the present state to the desired one. The question is “what is the hurry?” When you introduce change gradually, you increase acceptance, especially when you also encourage and help people adjust to the change.
  • Effective communication is an important requirement for managing change effectively. This includes upward as well as downward communication. Managers must listen even if they are being criticized, which in many cases was meant to be a helpful suggestion. Instructors must be effective communicators by gaining and keeping the attention of the learner, using vocabulary that the learner understands, and listening to the questions and comments of the learners.
  • Managers and training professionals need to work together for the transfer to take place from “learning” to “behavior.” An important principle has to do with the “climate” that the learner encounters when returning to the job. If the manager is “preventive” and operates on the attitude that “I am the boss and you will do it my way regardless of what you have learned,” no change in behavior will take place. Not only will learners be discouraged from changing, they will also be upset by all the wasted time. The ideal climate is where the manager encourages learning and its application on the job. The training professional must influence managers by informing them of the learning objectives and involving them in the training process.

The Three Keys to Change Management are Empathy, Communication and Participation

The aforementioned 10 concepts, principles, and techniques are necessary for managing change effectively. Managers must encourage people to apply what they learn and to transfer learning to behavior. Training professionals must be sure that the curriculum will meet the needs of the learners. The training programs must be effective using competent instructors. They must use empathy to understand the climate established by the managers. Then, they must work with managers to help them establish an encouraging climate so that the learning will be transferred to behavior change and results will follow.

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How to Address the Struggle for Self-Realization in Your Organization

At the dawn of the new millennium, two powerful factions are arrayed against each other. Each faction advocates an extensive list of reforms.

  1. those influenced to support the principle of equality of condition and to extend their progressive program of reforms
  2. those equally determined to reinstate equality of opportunity as the reigning principle.

Now, we need to tackle such concerns as the struggle for self-realization, the desire to find a deep-seated meaning in life than the endless accumulation of consumer durables and the pursuit of pleasure, education not only for careers but for spiritual values, methods of bankrolling an early and rewarding retirement, and increasing the quality time available for family activities.

The changing nature and distribution of work and leisure and changes in the structure of consumer demand are creating overabundance in some areas (such as the excessive consumption of calories and fat) and severe shortages in others (such as health services at all ages).

How to Address the Struggle for Self-Realization in Your Organization

To accomplish self-realization, we need to understand life’s opportunities and sense which ones are most attractive to us at each stage, and the requisite educational, material, and spiritual resources to pursue these opportunities. Currently fair access to spiritual resources is as much a benchmark as access to material resources was in the past.

  • Spiritual resources include a sense of purpose, a sense of opportunity, a sense of community, a strong family ethic, a strong work ethic, and high self-esteem.
  • Developments in physiology have contributed to the growth of the elderly population, giving rise to the problem of in, intergenerational equity—the assurance that one generation will not suffer a lop-sided share of the burden of financing a lifetime of self-realization.
  • Also pressing is the need to develop arrangements that permit prime-aged workers greater flexibility so that they can attend to their own and their family’s spiritual needs.
  • Lifelong learning is another new equity issue. It involves offering opportunities not only to upgrade skills to earn a living but also to extend knowledge in the arts and humanities.

For women, self-realization requires an end to glass ceilings and the creation of conditions that make careers and families fully compatible.

The new agenda is shaped by changes in structure that have reversed the trend toward economic concentration and the separation of work and home.

Today, 60 percent of our discretionary time is spent doing what we like (volwork). The abundance of leisure time promotes the search for a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.

Why this deep desire for volwork? Why do so many people want to forgo earnwork, which would allow them to buy more food, clothing, housing, and other goods? The answer turns partly on the extraordinary technological changes.

Food, housing, clothing, and other consumer durables have become so inexpensive in real terms that the totality of material consumption requires far fewer hours of labor today.

Indeed, we are approaching saturation in the consumption not only of necessities but also of goods that were in the recent past thought to be luxuries. The era of the household accumulation of consumer durables, which sparked the growth of manufacturing industries, is largely over. Most future purchases of consumer durables will be by those replacing items or establishing new households.

Quality of Life and Self-Realization

Today, ordinary people wish to use their liberated time to buy those amenities of life that only the rich could afford in abundance a century ago. These amenities broaden the mind, enrich the soul, and relieve the monotony of earnwork. They include travel, athletics, the performing arts, education, and shared time with family. The principal cost of these activities is often measured, not by cash outlays, but outlays of time.

Soon, the issue of life’s meaning, and other matters of self-realization, will take up the bulk of discretionary time.

'Rising Strong' by Brene Brown (ISBN 081298580X) New flexible work modes—such as a regular part-time work, blocks of work interrupted by blocks of released time, job sharing, flextime, telecommuting, hoteling, compressed work, early retirement, and postretirement earnwork arrangements—are desired by men and women who want a life that is not overwhelmed by earnwork. They do not measure success by income or position. They are content with a simpler lifestyle that places greater emphasis on family life, shared relationships, spiritual growth, religious faith, and good health.

Today, many corporations view alternative working arrangements as part of an inventory of personnel policies that increase corporate productivity and reduce absenteeism, labor turnover, and the cost of office space.

Today ordinary people must decide: What it the nature of the good life? Our world may be materially richer and contain fewer environmental risks, but its spiritual struggles are more complex.

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Four Mistakes That Cause Most Failures in Organizational Change

Change Leadership: Many Start but Few Finish Well

No organization is invulnerable to change. To cope with new technological, competitive, and demographic forces, leaders often try to adjust the way they do business—evaluate few of these efforts meet the goals. Few companies successfully transform themselves.

Here are four mistakes that cause most failures in organizational change:

  1. Mistake #1: Writing a memo instead of lighting a fire. Most leaders mismanage the first step—establishing a sense of urgency. Too often leaders launch their initiatives by calling a meeting or circulating a report, then expect people to rally to the cause. It doesn’t happen that way. To increase urgency, gather a key group of people for a day. Identify 25 factors that contribute to complacency and then devise ways to counter each factor. Develop an action plan to implement your ideas. Your chances of creating a sense of urgency and building impetus improve inestimably.
  2. Mistake #2: Talking too much and saying too little. Most leaders under-communicate their change vision by a factor of 10. Moreover, the efforts they make to convey their message in speeches and memos are not convincing. An effective change vision must embrace not just new strategies and structures but also new, aligned behaviors. Leading by example means spending more time with customers, cutting wasteful spending at the top, or pulling the plug on a pet project that don’t match up. People watch their bosses meticulously. It doesn’t take much inconsistent behavior to fuel cynicism and frustration.
  3. 'Change Leader Learning to Do What Matters Most' by Michael Fullan (ISBN 0470582138)Mistake #3: Declaring victory before the war is over. When a project is completed or an initial goal met, it is tempting to pat on the back all involved and proclaim the advent of a new era. While it is important to celebrate results, kidding yourself or others about the difficulty and duration of transformation can be catastrophic. Once you see encouraging results in a difficult scheme, you still have a long way to go. Talking about “wrapping this thing up in a few months” is nonsense. If you settle for too little too soon, you will probably lose it all. Celebrating incremental improvements is a great way to mark progress and maintain commitment—but note how much work is still to come.
  4. Mistake #4: Looking for villains in all the wrong places. The opinion that large organizations are filled with recalcitrant middle managers who resist all change is unfair and untrue. Often it’s the middle level that brings issues to the attention of senior executives. In fact, the biggest obstacles to change are often those who work just below the CEO—vice presidents, directors, and general managers, who have the most to lose in a change. You need to build a guiding coalition that represents all employees. People often hear the CEO cheerleading a change and promising exciting new opportunities. Most people want to believe that; too often their managers give them reasons not to.
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Excellence in Leadership Execution

Excellence in Leadership Execution

Just as the most dangerous part of a jet flight is going from cruise altitude to landing, making the transition from a lofty vision and innovative strategy to ground-level implementation requires great focus and flawless execution.

Having perspective and strategy is important; however, when we examine business plans that miss the mark, we find that the problem is rarely with the vision or strategy but rather with implementation and execution.

For 30 years, we have worked with senior executive teams on implementing sound strategies. We find that four key elements must be in place:

Operational Excellence for Execution

  1. Assessing and developing the knowledge and competency of the senior leaders. Assess the strengths and competencies of the senior management team and identify potential gaps that could impact implementation. You can learn what gaps in skills or knowledge exist through formal assessments conducted by an experienced third party to encourage candor and objectivity. In other instances, knowledge gaps become apparent through multiple interactions. Leaders must know their strengths and shortcomings and address the gaps, either by recruiting new members or developing the requisite skills or knowledge.
  2. 'Purpose Meets Execution' by Louis Efron (ISBN 1138049093) The senior leadership team must be fully aligned with the intent and direction of the strategic initiative. Although candor and cooperation among senior leaders are crucial, functional heads often pursue their own objectives to the detriment of the strategic initiative. The implementation of key initiatives requires the full alignment and shared accountability of senior leaders. A lack of cooperation is readily apparent. Passive-aggressive behavior in staff meetings, a “not invented here” attitude when presented with new ideas, or a reluctance to embrace change indicate something is amiss. Unless senior leaders embrace the strategic objective and commit to its implementation, the odds for success are low.
  3. The culture must support the initiative and adhere to the essential values set. Certain values are so vital that we refer to them as the Essential Values Set. Culture is largely determined by the values shared by its members. This Essential Values Set is a universal set of principles that govern how the organization defines acceptable behavior. The presence of the Essential Values Set explains why some companies excel in executing strategic initiatives.
  4. The reward and recognition system must be aligned with the outcomes of the strategy. The cash compensation plan, along with other rewards, needs to be aligned with the cross-functional goals of the strategic initiative. Leaders should be rewarded for accomplishments in their areas of responsibility and for their support of cross-organizational initiatives. How aligned is your rewards and recognition process with the strategic initiative?

High-performance Teams are Characterized by Six Healthy Values

  • Performance value. This “make it happen” value focuses on setting challenging expectations and achieving results with accountability. With a healthy performance value, people seek innovative ways to overcome obstacles, encourage teamwork, and accept prudent risk-taking. Without a healthy performance value, people engage in finger-pointing, passive-aggressive behavior, and blame-avoidance.
  • Collaborative value. Collaboration is built upon principles of trust, sharing, open and direct communication, and a belief in the positive intent of team members. Collaboration promotes teamwork, mutual support, and decisions made for the greater good.
  • 'Execution Getting Things Done' by Larry Bossidy (ISBN 0609610570) Change value. The successful execution of key initiatives requires innovation, openness, and positive support for new ideas. Leaders operating from a healthy change mindset act as coaches, as opposed to judges or critics of new ideas. They encourage innovation, risk, and growth, as opposed to dismissing new ideas or diverse points of view. They refuse to allow a rigid bureaucracy or current processes to kill innovatio .
  • Customer value. The customers’ experience is a barometer of overall health. This value can also be defined as how well the organization focuses on a greater purpose-something beyond itself. The best leaders are focused on better serving internal and external customers. Positive and productive initiatives are framed in the context of a customer-value perspective.
  • Integrity value. Integrity refers to the consistency between the senior leadership’s words and their actions. Integrity is crucial for effective strategy execution. Integrity goes beyond simple compliance. At its core, integrity goes to consistency between word and deed to walking the talk.
  • Health value. Senior leadership teams that execute well share a healthy climate characterized by openness, trust, mutual respect, optimism, and hopefulness. This health value enables leaders to generate positive energy, assume the best motives and intentions in others, be more present and listen to one another for different points of view.

These six values position senior leaders as positive role models. If there is mistrust, internal competition, or negative assumptions of motives among senior leaders, the implementation of the strategy will be impaired.

Case Study: Execution Excellence Framework

The new CEO of a cellular telephone company and his executive team grappled with many challenges—one being to determine a strategy for competing in markets dominated by better-financed competitors. The senior leaders concluded that excellence in customer service was the key. They believed that if they could endear themselves to their customers, they could reduce the erosion of their customer base and free up resources to attract new customers. Reducing turnover by improving its service could result in $400 million in additional annual profits.

Here’s how this firm used the Four Elements of Execution to achieve this goal.

  1. Assessing and developing the knowledge mid competency of the senior leaders. They assessed the strengths and capabilities of staff to ensure that those charged with leading the initiative had the requisite skills. Their analysis revealed some gaps in knowledge that would be difficult to develop internally. So, they recruited several new executives with these capabilities.
  2. 'The Art of Execution' by Lee Freeman-Shor (ISBN 085719495X) Senior feeders must be fully aligned with the intent mid direction of the strategic initiative. The success of the initiative hinged on everyone becoming committed to improved customer service. Knowing that employees would be looking to them, senior managers resolved their differences behind closed doors. While dissent and alternative points of view were welcomed in staff meetings, a unified front was required after the meetings.
  3. The culture must support the initiative and live the essential values. Presenting a positive and unified front reinforced the desire to better serve the customer. Although the leaders came from different business units, they put aside their individual needs and collaborated to identify innovative methods for serving the customer. Their ability to coach others and maintain focus on the customer’s experience contributed to the success. Senior leaders held each other accountable to “walk the talk.” They faced many setbacks and obstacles but maintained a healthy climate with an optimistic view of the future and cast a positive shadow.
  4. The reward and recognition system must be aligned with outcomes of the strategy. Senior leaders realigned their executive compensation reward and recognition system to support the collaborative measures necessary to implement the strategic plan.

Improve Your Execution

After two years, the company moved from 7th place to 1st in the JD Powers ranking of Cellular Customer Service and Loyalty. Customer turnover levels were 67 percent lower than national competitors. This resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional profits.

The behaviors of leaders cast long shadows and dictate success in implementing major initiatives. Senior leaders must embrace and model the four key elements of superior execution.

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Learn How to Execute Effectively with Strategic Alignment

Learn How to Execute Effectively with Strategic Alignment

Aligning Strategies Throughout the Business

It is a familiar situation. Corporation A misses severely on its obligations several quarters in succession and the stock plummets. Consequently, the Board loses confidence, the CEO “resigns,” and a new CEO is chosen who declares a restructuring of the business.

In recent years, we have seen numerous such reports. Even where top-level executives display signs of “vision” and express what seems to be a sound business strategy on paper, results go amiss of expectations.

Strategy is often thought of as something that only top-tier executives can effect, and while it may be true that “top-down” strategy is most customary. We continue that individuals throughout the organization must both recognize the organization’s strategy and create an supplementary strategy for themselves—a supplemental strategy that directly impacts their respective areas of responsibility and braces the core of the business.

'Rapid Realignment' by George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky (ISBN 0071791132) We have all been there. The leadership team spends long hours deciding on a strategy to improve performance. Management teams come up with supportive annual budgets. Bout teams settle long PowerPoint presentations and exhaustive spreadsheet files. Yet not much happens in terms of deliverables! Ambitious year-end targets are missed. Improvement curves keep being shifted to the right, and the reorganization begins.

Companies with obstructive cultures and meagre strategic alignment considerably underperform their competitors. Additionally, most executives recognize what’s at stake and what matters, even if their companies don’t always seem to get it right.

Questions arise as to why these events occur: What has gone wrong and why? Are the goals too assertive? Are the apparitions or strategies deficient? Are middle managers unable to execute? If the answer is yes to all these questions, then why is it so?

All are good questions; however, the key component is strategic alignment.

What is Strategic Alignment?

'Alignment Using the Balanced Scorecard' by Robert Kaplan and David Norton (ISBN 1591396905) Strategic alignment is the connection between the goals of the business, which quantify the progress of the implementation of the strategy toward the vision, and the goals of each key contributor, including groups, divisions, business units, and departments.

Strategic alignment, then, is one and all rowing in the same direction. The tighter the linkage and the better the alignment, the likelihood of faultless execution becomes stronger.

Once implemented properly, strategic alignment delivers four major advantages:

  1. it allows an well-organized use of frequently scarce resources;
  2. it results in improved speed of execution;
  3. it encourages team efforts toward common goals; and
  4. it increases motivation by giving people a keener sense of contribution to the results of their groups and the corporation in total.

These are great results, but few corporations realize them. Since many corporations and their leadership teams try to gain strategic alignment, what barriers must be overpowered?

Strategic Alignment and a Culture That Supports Innovation

Two Key Components of Successful Strategic Alignment

Culture plays a critical role in this strategy. According to Fred Palensky of 3M Company, “for over 100 years, 3M has had a culture of interdependence, collaboration, even codependence. Our businesses are all interdependent and collaboratively connected to each other, across geographies, across businesses, and across industries. The key is culture.”

  1. Communicate broadly to help people understand the elements of the vision and of the key strategic directions. Repetition by the leadership and management teams at every opportunity—including sales meetings, company meetings, and operational business reviews—empowers each employee to understand vividly how he or she can contribute.
  2. Link the results of each employee’s job to the progress of the entire corporation strategy, and do it clearly and simply. This is best done by using simple measures of key performances (KBMs = key business metrics, or KPMs = key performance metrics) that can be connected to the employee’s annual performance review.

Strategic Alignment and a Culture That Supports Innovation

'Achieving Strategic Alignment' by Barry MacKechnie (ISBN 1439274223) At our company, we use a cascading set of goals that determine the progress of the strategic implementation. This “waterfall effect” or “goal tree” starts at the top and cascades down. The objectives are assimilated into our annual performance targets and support the key goals of our leaders. This safeguards focus and alignment as employees deliver on their objectives. Objectives are rolled back up the “goal tree” in reviews of goals.

Implementing strategic alignment requires a robust promise from the top leadership and a focus on frequent communication using simple management principles of focus, clarity, and fortification. In the end, effective execution of strategic alignment is a leader’s top priority and ensures that goals are met and success achieved.

Purpose is what the business is trying to accomplish. Strategy is how the business will accomplish it. Purpose is durable—it is the north star towards which the company should point. Strategy comprises choices about what products and services to offer, which markets to serve, and how the company should best set itself apart from entrants for competitive advantage.

Keep corporate strategy at the heart of your organization’s culture by standing up a process to keep it front-and-center.

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How Leaders Can Motivate People to Think and Act Differently

How Leaders Can Motivate People to Think and Act Differently Will the induction of new technology present any menace to traditionalists? Of course it will. Innovation, by definition, is a undermining force. That is why we will need real leaders to champion the innovations. Leaders motivate people to think and act differently. We need to make sure that we are on the winning side of new technologies.

We must choose anything that will bring greater urgency and velocity to the search for new products, or advancements of existing ones, that are truly innovative. We can find some clues on how to act by studying the history of innovation. Here are some lessons learned.

  1. The instinct to create or innovate can be encouraged. We can systemize innovation by encouraging bright people with a real diversity of talent to work together in teams.
  2. Nothing stimulates innovation more than the rapid exchange of information, knowledge, and ideas. Faster transmission begets greater discovery. We see this in e-commerce. Amazon.com may constitute the greatest innovation in the distribution of the written word since the printing press.
  3. There must be obvious financial incentives for successful innovations. Undoubtedly, financial incentives add fuel to the fire for high-tech companies in the business-related world. But there is still a dearth of attractive financial incentives in defense procurement. Many leading companies have turned their backs on military R&D and defense contracting as a result of poor profit margins and red tape.
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Posted in Management and Leadership

Quotes from David Allen’s Masterpiece “Getting Things Done”

'Getting Things Done' by David Allen (ISBN 0143126563) Time management guru David Allen has established a cult following. His bestselling book, Getting Things Done, has produced an international crusade of dedicated adopters from executives, techies, soldiers, businesspersons, university lecturers, musicians, scholars, and ordained priests. It has spread into a flourishing “GTD” trade of web sites, blogs and software applications. Internet searches bring up tens of millions of references.

  • “The art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of our great men.”
    –Captain J.A. Hatfield
  • “Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organization, preparation, and action.”
    –David Kekich
  • “Time is the quality of nature that keeps events from happening all at once. Lately, it doesn’t seem to be working.”
    –Anonymous
  • “We can never really be prepared from that which is wholly new. We have to adjust ourselves, and every radical adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem: we undergo a test, we have to prove ourselves. It needs subordinate self-confidence to face drastic change without inner trembling.”
    –Eric Hoffer
  • “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”
    –Anonymous
  • “The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.”
    –Edward Gibbon
  • “Life is defined by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece.”
    –Nadia Boulanger
  • “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything.”
    Shunryu Suzuki
  • “There is one thing we can do, and the happiest people are those who can do it to the limit of their ability. We can be completely present. We can be all here. We can… give all our attention to the opportunity before us.”
    –Mark Van Doren
  • 'The Power of Habit' by Charles Duhigg (ISBN 081298160X) “Think like a man of action. Act like a man of thought.”
    –Henry Bergson
  • “The ancestor of every action is a thought.”
    –Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy.”
    –Kerry Gleeson
  • “Rule your mind or it will rule you.”
    –Horace
  • “The beginning is half of every action.”
    –Greek proverb
  • “Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.”
    Vaclav Havel
  • “It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.”
    –Sally Kempton
  • “The knowledge that we consider knowledge proves itself in action. What we now mean by knowledge is information in action, information focused on results.”
    –Peter F. Drucker
  • “Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are the most active.”
    –Leonardo da Vinci
  • “It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”
    Elbert Hubbard
  • “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
    –Michael McGriffy, M.D.
  • 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman (ISBN 0374533555) “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    –Albert Einstein
  • “The affairs of life embrace a multitude of interests, and he who reasons in any one of them, without consulting the rest, is a visionary unsuited to control the business of the world.”
    –James Fenimore Cooper
  • “You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing the small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”
    –Alvin Toffer
  • “Don’t just do something. Stand there.”
    –Rochelle Myer
  • “Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.”
    George Santayana
  • “Celebrate any progress. Don’t wait to get perfect.”
    –Ann McGee Cooper
  • “Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.”
    –Dee Hock
  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
    –Albert Einstein
  • “Your automatic creative mechanism is teleological. That is, it operates in terms of goals and end results. Once you give it a definite goal to achieve, you can depend upon its automatic guidance system to take you to that goal much better than ‘you’ ever could by conscious thought. ‘You’ supply the goal by thinking in terms of end results. Your automatic mechanism then supplies the means whereby.”
    –Maxwell Maltz
  • “I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.”
    –Lily Tomlin
  • “The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas.”
    –Linus Pauling
  • “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.”
    –Emile Chartier
  • 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen R. Covey (ISBN 1451639619) “Only he who handles his ideas lightly is master of his ideas, and only he who is master of his ideas is not enslaved by them.”
    Lin Yutang
  • “Plans get you into things but you’ve got to work your way out.”
    –Will Rogers
  • “It is easier to act yourself into a better way of feeling than to feel yourself into a better way of action.”
    –O.H. Mowrer
  • “I am rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what I want to do, but I don’t know where to begin.”
    –Stephen Bayne
  • “I got it all together, but I forgot where I put it.”
    –Anonymous
  • “I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”
    –Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • “We must strive to reach the simplicity that lies beyond sophistication.”
    –John Gardner
  • “Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness.”
    –Jean de la Bruysre
  • “What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.”
    –Aristotle
  • “To make knowledge productive, we will have to learn to see both forest and tree. We will have to learn to connect.”
    Peter F. Drucker
  • 'The Effective Executive' by Peter Drucker (ISBN 0060833459) “‘Point of view’ is that quintessentially human solution to information overload, an intuitive process of reducing things to an essential relevant and manageable minimum. In a world of hyperabundant content, point of view will become the scarcest of resources.”
    –Paul Saffo
  • “Thinking is the very essence of, and the most difficult thing to do in, business and in life. Empire builders spend hour-after-hour on mental work… while others party. If you’re not consciously aware of putting forth the effort to exert self-guided integrated thinking… then you’re giving in to laziness and no longer control your life.”
    –David Kekich
  • “We all have times when we think more effectively, and times when we should not be thinking at all.”
    –Daniel Cohen
  • “To ignore the unexpected (even if it were possible) would be to live without opportunity, spontaneity, and the rich moments of which ‘life’ is made.”
    –Stephen Covey
  • “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”
    –Buddha
  • “The best place to succeed is where you are with what you have.”
    –Charles Schwab
  • “The middle of every successful project looks like a disaster.”
    –Rosabeth Moss Cantor
  • “Luck affects everything. Let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it there will be a fish.”
    –Ovid
  • “How do I know what to think, until I hear what I say?”
    E.M. Forster
  • “Let your advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”
    –Winston Churchill
  • “Out of the strain of the doing, into the peace of the done.”
    –Julia Louis Woodruff
  • “It is the act of forgiveness that opens up the only possible way to think creatively about the future at all.”
    –Fr. Desmond Wilson
  • 'How to Win Friends & Influence People' by Dale Carnegie (ISBN 0671027034) “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting with the first one.”
    –Mark Twain
  • “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
    –Mark Twain
  • “No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step toward solution. Do something.”
    –George F. Nordenholt
  • “You can only cure retail but you can prevent wholesale.”
    –Brock Chisolm
  • “Talk does not cook rice.”
    –Chinese proverb
  • “There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
    John F. Kennedy
  • “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, they make them.”
    –George Bernard Shaw
  • “Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified.”
    –Dr. Samuel Johnson
  • “An idealist believes that the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.”
    –Sidney J. Harris
  • “A vision without a task is but a dream, a task without a vision is drudgery, a vision and a task is the hope of the world.”
    –From a church in Sussex, England, ca. 1730
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Posted in Education and Career Mental Models and Psychology

Speed with Balance: Towards a Balanced Leadership Framework

Speed with Balance: Towards a Balanced Leadership Framework

Speed is an Incredible Drug

Managers are under snowballing pressure to deliver ever faster and more expectable returns and to restrain riskier investments intended for meeting future needs and finding creative solutions to the problems confronting people around the world.

Just ask a Formula One driver, a day-trader, or the CEO of any startup trying to get to market first with the next great idea or technology. We are convinced faster is better; indeed, complacency could mean death in today’s markets. But what fuel is driving you? Is it high-octane intelligence or the fumes of fear-fear you’ll lose the race, be left behind, be dumped in the trash heap of what could have been?

The next challenge of leadership is not just to increase speed but to maximize the intelligence of people. Research has advanced our knowledge of human intelligence, opening up incredible new possibilities for creating more productive, resilient workplaces. Emotion plays a critical role in decision-making, innovative thinking, and effectiveness. Intelligence is distributed throughout the body-not just localized in the brain. The heart is an intelligent system profoundly affecting brain processing.

How can leaders balance these complex and often competing demands? The core question for modern leaders is to become more entirely human—to energetically develop a wider range of competences and to more deeply understand themselves.

Four leadership dynamics are crucial to creating a culture that honors the contributions of each person, while maintaining a clear vision and focus.

Leadership Dynamic #1: Manage Yourself

'The Well-Balanced Leader' by Ron Roberts (ISBN 0071772448) More than ever we have to see outside ourselves. The new economy is all about connecting, partnering, collaborating, and leveraging what we have through the strengths and talents of others. Many executives realize that the adaptability, creativity, and innovative intelligence within people is their only competitive advantage.

Three things are clear in this time of unprecedented change:

  1. Stress will increase because of pressure to grow, to learn, to adapt, to flex, to find and maintain balance among conflicting priorities.
  2. Understanding mental, emotional, and physical processes is essential to enhancing performance. Emotional mismanagement strains the heart. We can’t divorce personal or professional success from the everyday emotional pressures we face. Emotional turmoil causes poor health, weak morale, high turnover, and lost productivity.
  3. Identifying and plugging the leaks in your own system saves energy. A leak is caused by anything unresolved: a tough decision still unmade, a relationship that worries you, guilt over mishandling a project or relationship, or the gnawing anxiety that you are not doing work that fulfills your talent and potential.

We see a negative impact on clear thinking and decision-making when our emotions run amuck. Positive emotions—such as appreciation, care, and compassion—create an internal environment that neutralizes negative reactions and increases resilience.

Leadership Dynamic #2: Build Coherent Relationships

In a connected world, communication becomes more demanding. The speed of response is often critical. However, when you are rushing or frantic, incoherent thinking results. A balanced response, while appearing to take more time, actually saves time because of the added clarity. Coherent communication reduces internal noise while encouraging meaningful conversations among coworkers, customers, and constituents. You do this in four ways:

  1. achieve understanding first—don’t jump to conclusions or assume you know;
  2. listen nonjudgmentally—put your judgments aside to hear the views or concerns of staff;
  3. Listen for the essence—don’t react just to the words or tone or get lost sword-fighting over details. Listen for deeper meanings and patterns. Assume others have essential knowledge you need to succeed.
  4. Be authentic—Leaders soar in credibility and praise when delivering tough messages forthrightly. Leaders who cover up or sugar-coat are greeted with skepticism, cynicism, and apathy. Paralysis follows leaders afraid to take a stand with compassion.

As Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, said: “Engage your heart, your gut, and your mind in every decision you make. Engage your whole self, and the journey will reveal itself with time.”

Leadership Dynamic #3: Create a Positive Climate

'Balanced Leadership' by Sheryl Boris-schacter (ISBN 0807746983) Leaders understand the necessity of a positive workplace climate for innovation and creativity. Anyone who has been through a merger knows first-hand just how dramatic a climate change can be and how devastating to productivity are people who are unhappy about their role, or the organization’s direction (or lack of direction). Dissension and antagonism act like a virus that infects an organization, weakening vitality and resilience as it spreads.

A healthy climate combats the virus through an inoculation of essential human values and behaviors, such as supporting initiatives, valuing individual contribution, encouraging self-expression, and providing recognition, role clarity, and challenge. Adaptability, shared core values, care, and appreciation are not only qualities of great places to work, they also nurture an innovative spirit that serves all interests and stakeholders.

Leadership Dynamic #4: Renew Yourself and Your Organization

Balance is essential in people and organizations. As speed increases, imbalance becomes more apparent and catastrophic. A living system, like a mechanical one, needs to be renewed, refreshed, rejuvenated, and balanced.

  1. Introduce methods to help you examine your individual interests, desires, and goals
  2. Understand your workplace’s priorities and culture, and offer tips for identifying where there’s either a match or a gap
  3. Prepare to move forward through the creation of a personalized strategic professional plan that addresses professional development, gaining additional experience, and other options for growth
  4. Share your skills and experience through mentorship

Every Person and Organization Needs Renewal

To meet the challenges of the new economy, speed is essential. Balance will guarantee we don’t spin out of control in the process.

The success of a leader has more to do with intrinsic motivation, skills, capabilities, and character than with whether his or her pay is tied to shareholder returns.

The ambition is not to find a perfect balance, but to build a harmonizing set of strengths, so that we can move elegantly along a spectrum of leadership qualities. Incorporating our own complexity makes us more wholly human and gives us added resources to manage ourselves and others in an gradually complex world.

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Posted in Management and Leadership