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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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Posted in Management and Leadership

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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Posted in Management and Leadership

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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Posted in Management and Leadership

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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Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership

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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How to Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

How to Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

The workforce is changing dramatically. For the first time in modern society, four generations—Millennials, Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers, and Matures—are working side-by-side. The fastest growing segment is comprised of employees age 27 and under. In the past four years, they became 21 percent of the workforce. About 50 percent of the workforce is age 40 and under. A larger proportion is past traditional retirement age as Baby Boomers continue to redefine retirement and Matures continue to work.

These generational differences can cause friction, mistrust, and communication breakdowns; prevent effective teamwork and collaboration; and impact job satisfaction, retention, and productivity.

To manage a multi-generational workforce, leaders must first understand each generation, and the common experiences that connect its members. This enables them to align all employees with goals and create an inclusive culture in which age differences are recognized and leveraged.

Multi-Generational Workforce: Where Are You Coming From?

Knowing more about each generation affords a better way for managing and motivating employees of all ages. The common experiences of a generation, along with age and life stage, drive the attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyles of its members. Each generation has a different perspective. Each brings unique attitudes and expectations to work, and each influences the manager-employee relationship. We need to understand other generations so we can build relationships that lead to cooperation and job satisfaction.

Millennials: Age 27 and Younger

Raised by Baby Boomer parents, Millennials want responsibility, recognition, and opportunities for high engagement. Many have a friend-friend relationship with their parents and expect to be treated as equals. At work, they are adaptable, open, and comfortable with ethnic diversity. To Millennials, a leader is a guide and mentor, not an autocrat. Their work style is independent, but they need feedback. Their solutions are often technology-oriented. They have a strong sense of social responsibility, and carefully select the organizations they work for. Millennials thrive on short-term goals and deadlines, and want frequent feedback and reinforcement.

Generation X: Ages 28 to 40

Gen-Xers were raised when many women worked outside the home, and so they learned to be self-reliant, resourceful, and independent. They bring work-life balance to the workplace. Gen-Xers are strategi, altruistic, tech-savvy, and impatient with Boomers’ emphasis on meetings and relationships. Though they are collaborative, they prefer to work independently with minimal supervision. They focus results and are masters at multi-tasking. With their focus on work-life balance, many Gen-X women are giving up high-powered careers or cutting back on work hours in order to raise their children. Finding ways to retain high-performing Gen-Xers as they start their families is a challenge. Gen-Xers are motivated by independence, growth opportunities, and managers who trust them.

Baby Boomers: Ages 41 to 59

Often called the “Me” generation, Boomers were raised in a time of economic prosperity and civil rights upheaval that fostered individualism and a sense of entitlement. Work is a high priority, which translates into 12-hour workdays and stressful lives. They are innovative, and tend to challenge the rules. As managers, Boomers pay attention to relationship building and expect others to work the same long hours. Boomers look for new challenges that leverage their experience, and recognition for their contribution.

Matures: Ages 60 to 80

Matures were influenced by the Great Depression and World War II. As children, they were “seen and not heard.” Their values of hard work, honesty, and dedication became America’s values. They respect authority and seniority, and prefer a formal relationship with their manager. Matures are comfortable with hierarchy and a top-down management style. Matures desire to contribute and want respect for their experience.

Multi-Generational Workforce: Aligning the Generations

You can manage all four generations by recognizing and valuing differences and by creating a culture of inclusion in which every employee can thrive.

We have developed three action steps for greater engagement:

  1. Understand your workforce. Develop a deep understanding of your workforce-demographics, skill sets, personality traits, and perspectives on the culture.
  2. Build and maintain a balanced workforce. This requires recruiting strategies that appeal to diverse ages. Online job boards may have more appeal for Millennials than Matures. In contrast, newspaper ads that feature employees with 20-plus years of experience connect with Matures. Each generation expects and needs something different from work, and retention strategies should be tailored to those needs. For example, Gen-Xers may value a flextime program, while Baby Boomers will want recognition.
  3. Create an accepting culture. A culture that accepts and values each person can make a positive difference for everyone involved. Incorporating multi-generational workforce management into business goals is one effective way to develop an accepting culture. Facilitate interaction by including development programs geared to managers, leaders, and employees at other levels; mentoring and reverse mentoring; participation on committees; and informal social activities. Foster relationships among employees of all ages.

Manage a Multi-Generational Workforce

A workforce comprised of all generations offers flexibility, a range of skill sets, different approaches to problem solving, and the ability to attract and retain high-performing people.

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10 Characteristics and Competencies of an Effective Trainer

10 Characteristics and Competencies of an Effective Trainer

  1. Know what you want to accomplish within the learners and measure it. Provide an exercise that simulates the behavior or action you are teaching in the second half of your training session. Now you have a way to estimate if the learners understand what you are teaching. If not, you have more time to get your point across as you discuss the results of the exercise. If the learners did get it, you can instill confidence by telling them they got it right! They will feel successful and be more likely to apply their new learning at work. Leader-trainers gain respect among participants just by saying, “Yes! You’ve got it!”
  2. Use PowerPoint slides as a learner-aid, not a trainer-aid. Learners need a few key graphics or words to help them focus. For words, use the 3×3 to 6×6 rule (no more than 3 to 6 words per line; no more than 3 to 6 lines). For graphics, use representations of your words, or use graphs, charts, and models to organize concepts. Don’t stand behind a podium or hold your notes in front of you when present. Nothing should come between you and your learners. Use body language to indicate that you are open to them.
  3. Tell them what they can do as a result of your training, not what you will do. Paint the picture of what the learner will accomplish during training and after it. Speak their praises, not your own. Use interactive, active words for which any observer could see the result. You cannot see if a person “understands,” “learns,” or “knows.” You can see if a person “applies,” “improves,” “uses,” “describes,” or “creates”.
  4. 'The Trainer's Handbook' by Garry Mitchell (ISBN 0814403417) Plan an interaction every 10 minutes. The interaction can be an exercise, or question to the learners with a chance to respond to you, their fellow participants, or on paper. Communications help learners process the information. Try asking each person to tell their neighbor one significant thing they heard in the last 10 minutes.
  5. Put the learner to work, instead of you, during the training. Give learners opportunities to try out new information and make new connections with carefully designed exercises. Direct them as they practice new skills or ideas. Tell them when they are on the right path, and when they are off. Learners look for both your assurance that they are correct, as well as your supervision if they are off-target.
  6. Provide Purpose, Action, and Limit (PAL) for every activity. Tell the learners why they are doing the activity and what they will do. Often, this is a list of steps to complete the assigned activity. And, give them limits—such as a time limit, a limit on resources, or a limit on location, such as in the room or at their table. If your activity is multifaceted, consider trying it out first on a few friends to hone your directions, avoid misunderstandings, and save face-to-face time at the training event.
  7. Use the magic numbers—3 and 6—for group work. I find that teams of 3 or 6 people is optimal group size for any activity or exercise. Three people bring diverse thinking to a problem and help each other learn complex tasks or skills. Groups of six provide a critical mass to assure a high level of energy.
  8. 'What Great Trainers Do' by Robert Bolton (ISBN 0814420060) Know your audience. Learn what they care about and what interests them. Are they energized by stories and examples? By doing it themselves with guidance? By cooperating or discussing with others? By having time to reflect? Learn how participants are responding.
  9. You are responsible for the energy in the room. You may have a tough group, but you should never have a quiet, nonresponsive, low-energy group. If the energy is low, you need to be more vigorous. If their energy is too high, you can take your energy level higher still in order to gain control; then bring the energy level back to a good level. Your passion for the subject can boost energy.
  10. If you are concerned about the learners’ success, they will value you. Your attitude matters. If you sincerely care about the learners and their success, learners respond more positively. People learn more from someone they respect and value. You need to be that someone, so members will learn and apply their learning.
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Stress: A Catalyst for Change

Stress: A Catalyst for Change “People don’t like change.” I perhaps hear this statement at least once a week. Regrettably, it perpetuates the thinking that people will try to avoid change. The reality is quite the opposite.

Change is an essential part of our living experience. We change to live. But we don’t live to be changed. When you understand this difference, you can use the stress of change as a potential energy source.

Hans Seyle originally defined stress in the 1930s. He identified it as a biological and psychological response or condition brought on by events outside of the person, such as a marriage, a divorce, getting a new job or losing a job.

Stress is often characterized in terms of “good” (eustress) and “bad” (dis-stress). This view of stress limits its potential as a catalyst for enabling change in your organization. To unlock your organization’s change energy you need to shift your thinking away from stress as an end state toward stress as an energy source. As energy, stress is needed to ignite and propel your change forward.

Viewed from yet another angle, it can be a spur for personal growth and enlightenment. Stress can be used as a justification to play the victim card, and it can also be the force that thrusts you forward into a better existence. Stress can be used as the motivation you choose to become numb through drugs, medication or alcohol, and it can also be the reason you are led to education, exercise and nutrition.

Successful Change Needs Stress

'Thinking for a Change' by John C. Maxwell (ISBN 0446692883) In his book Thinking for a Change, John Maxwell notes that all change feels awkward and uncomfortable, and if it doesn’t it probably isn’t really a change. Organizational change can only happen when people feel a strong disconnect between where the organization wants to be and where it is now.

It is the tension between the current state and the desired state that creates the stress necessary for change. At this critical point where new meets old you have the chance to excite people with the prospect of the new opportunities or paralyze them with the fear of uncertainty. It all depends on the beliefs your organization holds about change and the actions you take based on those beliefs.

Being under stress truly is an absolute growth-opportunity—none better. Rather than numb it or suppress it with drugs and alcohol, or run from it in denial or as a victim, why not use it as a catalyst for learning and change. During my life, my moments of intelligibility as well as my biggest achievements, individually and in business, demonstrated themselves just after the most stressful and painful times in my life. No matter how bad it can get, something good can always come from it. You just have to be open enough to see it through all the pain, misunderstanding or upset.

Enabling organizational change requires you to create enough stress to allow people to act on the need to let go of their current state without generating so much stress that they are immobilized with dis-stress.

'The Tao of Personal Leadership' by Diane Dreher (ISBN 0887308376) Diane Dreher compared conflict to electricity in her book The Tao of Leadership. The same comparison could be made about change; like electricity, change can either light up your world or destroy it. It all depends on the appropriate and careful use of stress.

Here are a few tips to help you balance the stress to dis-stress continuum:

  1. Enable the time and opportunity for people to recognize the need for change.
  2. Encourage and guide people’s need to make the change meaningful for them.
  3. Enable active participation in the “creation of their destiny”.
  4. Talk about the change and its transition (especially) when you think you have nothing to talk about.
  5. Recognize and acknowledge the discomfort of the change process—support people’s journeys.

Using Stress as a Catalyst for Change

Profound organizational change unavoidably produces stress. Those who lead change often try to suppress stress in an effort to sustain positive energy and forward movement.

Nevertheless, attempting to squash stress is a mistake. Successful leaders actively use stress to help transform organizations. To turn stress into a catalyst for change, implement these four practices:

  1. Build a shared mission to hold the core group together;
  2. Leverage the power of dissident voices;
  3. Give the work back: let others resolve conflicts;
  4. Raise the heat to uncover conflicts that need to be addressed.

Recognizing that employee engagement can help build a deeper sense of purpose, your team can develop a one-of-a-kind strategy that encourages employees to spend four hours a month, during the business day, volunteering on creating change.

Stress may not be pleasurable, but it can be beneficial.

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