Blog Archives

Wisdom for Busy People

  1. 'Wisdom for the Way' by Charles R. Swindoll (ISBN 1404113258) When improving a skill, your performance will deteriorate before it gets better. That’s because doing it the old way is easy, while you’ll make mistakes trying to do it better. Be persistent and endure while you learn from your experiences.
  2. After formal education, you begin a career by learning the business. If you’re really earnest about being successful, work on who you are. Never stop improving your people skills and personal strengths.
  3. For the day when you find yourself in charge of other people, here’s one of the secrets: If at all possible, don’t accept losers on your team. Try to surround yourself with talented people. Arrange for the weak links to get involved in other opportunities.
  4. You have limited time for personal development, and working on many things at once can be confusing. The key is to make your mind up which personal strength or people skill you need to work on most and then focus on it consistently until it becomes a habit.
  5. Practice self-encouragement. When bad things happen, take a day or so to let your disappointment fade into the background. Then deliberately weigh up the positives in your situation—strengths, advantages, solutions, and opportunities.
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Posted in Health and Fitness Philosophy and Wisdom

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

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

Hierarchical is out; horizontal is in.

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

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

Horizontal Leadership Success

Leaders intent on this transition must take four actions:

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

Turn Conflict to Collaboration

Turn Conflict to Collaboration

I’m often asked to perform a quick fix on two or more people who are not getting along. Usually, I’m summoned to help them work out their differences. As a conflict mediator, I happy to help resolve disputes; however, I find that happy endings are rare. Often the conflicts that arise are symptomatic of bigger problems, system errors, things like poor leadership, dysfunctional work groups, inadequate performance management, and a lack of soft skills training and resources.

It is a mistake to limit the scope of conflict mediation to the immediate players in the dispute. You also need to look at the system. Without such an assessment, managers can easily get into the habit of treating the symptom while ignoring the problem.

Four Checkpoints

To assess the system factors that add to conflicts, I use four checkpoints:

  • Checkpoint 1: Is leadership being demonstrated? First check the leader to assess whether the conflict is a symptom of a bigger problem. Look for efforts made by the leader to address the conflict. Is the leader modeling effective conflict resolution skills? What has the leader done to create a supportive environment? Does the leader address conflicts? Is the leader held accountable for resolving conflicts? Are effective conflict resolution skills being practiced? If leaders are ineffective in handling conflict, are they are receiving any coaching or guidance?
  • Checkpoint 2: Do co-workers or team members foster a supportive environment for conflict resolution? Coworkers and team members (including those involved in the conflict) share responsibility for the interpersonal dynamics within their group. Look for group norms around conflict, who is impacted by the conflict, what isn’t happening that needs to happen to resolve conflict, how the group sees the role of the leader, what guidance and support does the group need from the leader.

Accountability that supports teamwork and communication skills

  • Checkpoint 3: Is there an accountability that supports teamwork and communication skills? Define appropriate behaviors. What gets reinforced is the behavior that gets exhibited. Are conflict resolution skills part of the criteria in performance reviews? Are core values reflected in the review process? Are team norms identified around conflict resolution and followed consistently? Is peer input part of the performance review process? Is the disciplinary process ever used for employees who exhibit poor communication or cooperation skills? The performance review process must reflect the desired skill sets required for effective conflict resolution. These include teaming skills, communication and problem-solving, collaborative and listening skills. Create accountability around these skills to foster effective communication and conflict resolution.
  • Checkpoint 4: Is the organization providing skill training and resources to maintain effective working relationships? It takes a proactive philosophy when it comes to effective communication and conflict resolution skills. Proficiency in the soft skills area requires time, effort and practice. By helping their people to grow in these areas, managers can’t empower them to resolve their own conflicts.

If any one of these four “checkpoints” are suspect, the conflicts that arise will likely be of a system error. If two or more of the are lacking, the system is faulty.

So, the next time there is a conflict, investigate whether or not the conflict is an isolated event or a system error. You might be surprised by what you find.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Create Partners, Not Employees or Followers

People want to succeed. The vast majority want to feel good about themselves and their work. Nevertheless, sometimes, it is tremendously difficult to balance day-to-day duties with the emotional needs of your employees.

There are no quick fixes or simple formulas for generating a culture that unleashes the competency of people. It occasionally requires intervention into a number of dimensions of organizational life: challenging management philosophy and practices, communicating and aligning everyone to the business strategy, cultivating processes and systems, providing training in social and business skills, etc.

Whom would you rather have at your side in a tough spot? A partner who shares full responsibility for decisions and their outcomes? Alternatively, a subordinate who does just what you say and shuts up about ideas he has that may be better.

Rationally, you want the former; emotionally, you may choose the latter. Leaders bow to a multitude of short-term pressures: severe demands for quarterly earnings, risk aversion, distress with uncertainty, resistance to change, linear extrapolation from past experience, and reluctance to cannibalize established businesses.

'It's Okay to Be the Boss' by Bruce Tulgan (ISBN 0061121363) Reflect on your career. Have you ever kept quiet when superiors were creating problems? What caused you to withhold your counsel?

I guarantee you they were being “the boss.” Everything about their tone, body language, verbal language, and behavior was indicating you that they were the boss and you were the subordinate. Chances are you learned from them what a boss looks and sounds like. Whether you admired their style or not, some of it rubbed off on you.

When you act as a superior, you will have subordinates. Act as a partner, and you will have partners. Yes, you may be the senior partner, but they are still partners, not underlings, or subordinates.

One key dissimilarity between the behavior of a “boss” and a “partner” is the way you talk. You talk differently to partners. It is not just what you say, but how you say it. To a subordinate, you might say, “This client wants his order fulfilled now. Make it happen.”

What is the message? It is not just “Get the order done now,” but it is also “I’m the boss; this is what I want—and there could be outcomes if I don’t get it.” It does not require a dramatic act to make the point that the receiver is your subordinate. Are you aware of how often and in how many ways you send similar messages?

This is not how you would talk to a partner. You might be just as clear about what you want and when; however, your delivery would create partnership, not subservience. You might ask, “How can we do that?” Alternatively, “Can you make it happen?” You would seek the individual’s knowledge, responsibility, and mutual obligation. When employees are seen as partners, they will understand that their leaders do not simply see them as the means to achieve their own personal targets.

You talk differently to folks below you than to folks across from or above you. So what? The higher you go, the less direct experience you have of customers, stakeholders, and problems. It is harder to get a real feel for what is happening. You become more reliant on on good information and insight from those who are in touch. So, they need to feel invited to tell you the reality they see, especially when it differs from the one you believe is out there.

You likely think that you already extend this encouragement, but you may discourage people from giving you inconvenient information. Unless you make an effort to discover in what ways you do this, you will continue to do so.

Create Partners with Your Subordinates

Create Partners with Your Subordinates

To create partners and have your employees’ best interests in mind, try this exercise:

  • Start every meeting with a question: “Is there anything I’m not getting about this issue that you think I should?”
  • Whatever the answer, respond with interest and ask, “Can you tell me more about that or give an example to help me understand it better?”
  • Ask questions until you have clarity on the points. Do not argue. Do not cross-examine—just clarify.
  • Thank the individual or group making these points.
  • Incorporate what makes sense into the decisions.
  • If no one spoke up, after the meeting ask the individual who is likely to be forthright, “What am I doing that keeps everyone from talking?”
  • If this individual gives you insight into how you dissuade feedback, convey your gratefulness. Find a way to reward the honesty.
  • Invite this truth-teller to sit in on more meetings and after each one gives you feedback on anything you did that made others act as subordinates.

Simple Ways to Build Trust With Your Employees

Build Trust with Your Employees

Trust is established when even the newest rookie, a part-timer, or the lowest paid employee feels important and part of the team. This begins with management not being reserved, as well as getting out and meeting the troops.

'The 27 Challenges Managers Face' by Bruce Tulgan (ISBN 111872559X) By doing this you will have the self-awareness to create partners. You will also have earned their trust. They will give you their best advice and devotedly support decisions that are based on reality.

By creating this environment where your employees are treated as partners working toward a shared purpose, you will foster in your employees a sense of ownership not simply to their job, but to the whole process. This will inspire not only partnership between the company’s divisions/teams, but it will also help nurture innovation as employees are stimulated to look beyond what they usually work on or how they approach their job.

Good partners invest time and energy in making cognizant judgments about who their leaders are and what they espouse. Then they take the appropriate action.

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How to Create a Great, Happy, Satisfied Workplace

How to Create a Great Workplace

How does any company, small or large, gain competitive advantage in a crowded and highly competitive marketplace? Instinct tells us to watch what our competitors do and try to the same things better. But, because competitors are also trying to get better, you won’t gain much from that approach. Though counterintuitive and less comfortable, a more productive approach is to be different. By taking that tack, your activities are less likely to end up as commodities, differentiated only by price.

Several companies have taken their basic assets and by rearranging them, have created unique business propositions and a distinctive presence. These companies have made specialization decisions that enabled them to align their assets and activities differently.

First, there is Southwest Airlines. Their strategy is to compete with the automobile as a means of intercity transportation. To that end, they serve short routes with frequent departures. To keep costs low, they limit themselves to one type of aircraft—the Boeing 737. Because they have the industry’s largest 737 fleet, they buy or lease on very attractive terms. Further, they serve no meals, offer no seat assignments, and do not transfer baggage to other airlines. They avoid airports with high landing fees or frequent delays. This enables them to make quicker turns and fly more legs each day, resulting in lower fares. Today they are profitable.

Second, Enterprise Rent-A-Car has shot from relative anonymity to become a leader among car rental companies. They achieved this not by copying Hertz and Avis, but by specializing in a different market. Instead of competing for airport rentals, they aimed at the insurance and car repair markets. They cultivated both by giving superior service and tailoring their activities to individuals who have lost the use of their cars for a period. No one else was doing that.

Edward Jones experience was shaped by just few factors. The first was the insights Ted Jones. Unlike his father, Edward D. Jones Sr., whose vision was to be a department store of finance, offering every product and service, Ted saw a vast underserved market of serious, long-term investors. Instead of offering everything in one market, he wanted to distribute a limited range of highly reliable long-term investments in many markets. His vision was different.

The second factor was the decision in the early 1970s to codify Edward Jones’s beliefs and strategy. Edward Jones had a successful business model with 120 representatives, but also had only $1,005,000 of capital in a business that was based on capital. Edward Jones had to specialize in areas that were not capital intensive.

The thinking of Peter Drucker guided Edward Jones. He teaches that every business must answer three questions:

  1. What is our business?
  2. Who is our customer?
  3. What does the customer consider value?

With so little capital, Edward Jones couldn’t compete for the highly profitable institutional or underwriting business. Knowing it was impossible to do it well, Edward Jones chose not to do it at all. Edward Jones were making trade-offs to align its resources to serve one customer one way. As Michael Porter points out, you define trade-offs not in terms of what you choose to do, but what you choose not to do. At that point, Edward Jones had begun to make ourselves different.

Edward Jones

How to Create a Great Workplace

Here are 10 trade-offs made by Edward Jones. None made was unique. None suggests moral superiority. However, each makes that company a little different and together, they make us so different that few competitors even want to emulate Edward Jones.

  1. Edward Jones’s initial decisions addressed the Drucker questions. Edward Jones were in the securities industry serving the serious, long-term “buy-and-keep” investor. The value Edward Jones sought to add was to help our customers achieve their financial goals through sound advice and a face-to-face personal relationship. In doing so, Edward Jones chose not to serve large institutions, or frequent traders because few, if any, traders are consistently successful over time. Edward Jones chose to forego these markets, one promising large commissions and the other, and frequent commissions. However, they were realistic decisions, knowing that others were not lining up to offer personal service to smaller investors.
  2. If Edward Jones were to serve one customer, Edward Jones felt they should focus on one profit center—the investment representative (IR) who directly serves the customer. They wanted to closely align their activities with their customers’ interest. That notion prohibited profit centers in their trading and syndicate departments. One profit center also meant no manager would get an override commission from the work of their investment representatives. Each of these decisions was at odds with industry practice.
  3. Edward Jones chose not to manufacture its own products. As distributors of a number of mutual funds, it would have been possible to start selling Edward Jones’s own funds. By offering house brands, they would capture the manufacturer’s profit. However, by concentrating on the products offered by preferred vendors, Edward Jones still had the best investment managers working for customers.
  4. Rather than try to lure licensed and trained IRs from competitors, Edward Jones chose to grow its own. Since Edward Jones couldn’t pay competitors’ brokers a bonus to come work for them, Edward Jones dedicated ourselves to on-going training to prepare IRs to serve one type of customer—the individual investor, one way—with sound long-term investments, and in one format—a community-based office. This was and is Edward Jones’s only business. For training Edward Jones were eager to invest capital. Today, using specialized materials and customized facilities, Edward Jones prepares 200 new IR candidates each month. Edward Jones also provides ongoing training to all 7,500 IRs and office administrators. All training is aligned to serve the needs of one customer. Training is the company’s main investment.
  5. Compliance with regulatory and industry standards is the foundation upon which all else rests. Again, alignment helps Edward Jones with their task. They see IRs as artists. Each is given a canvas and a palette of paints. The canvas is compliance. One may not stray beyond its boundaries. Here, the power of technology and the judgment of associates are applied exhaustively to oversee and monitor all activity. The IR’ s palette, meanwhile, contains the products and service Edward Jones want to offer and excludes those they don’t. Within those boundaries they create their masterpieces. The most important aspect of compliance, however, is the sense of responsibility built into the local nature of Edward Jones’s business and the face-to-face relationship. When an IR meets a customer at church, the club, at scout meetings, or in the grocery store, the customers are real people. In seeking alignment with the needs of the serious individual investor, Edward Jones closes off potentially profitable options. But, by specializing, Edward Jones increase its leverage, offering tailored services to the one market they choose to serve. Also, by avoiding compromises they sharpen our image, which is our brand.
  6. To reduce internal competition, Edward Jones ties all bonuses to the firm’s success. Every IR has a direct financial incentive to help, rather than compete with, fellow IRs. Since this model attracts high-achievers, if Edward Jones were to set up incentives that rewarded them for outperforming one another, the resulting conflicts would be destructive. So, Edward Jones never reward the top 10 percent or top 100. All incentives are inclusive. If you achieve, your reward never comes at the expense of a colleague.
  7. Since none of Edward Jones’s products or services is tangible, nearly every associate at our firm is a knowledge worker. Their screens could contain calculus or video games. The only thing that matters is results. Because knowledge work defines the worker’s identity, the reputation of the company and its work style are crucial. Both contribute to the worker’s self-image and self-worth. Since most knowledge workers live to work, not work to live, they aspire to provide a collegial workplace. Edward Jones retain a dress code. They expect civility. They also respect the contribution of each associate.
  8. Edward Jones loves technology. Technology enables Edward Jones to deliver excellent service to more than 7,000 locations in 50 states, Canada, and the UK. For some financial services firms, the Internet presented a dilemma—should they offer online trading? For Edward Jones the decision was easy. In society, about 15 percent of the population likes to do it themselves. Since our value added is the IR-customer relationship, Edward Jones chose not to establish channel that would compete directly with IRs. Instead, Edward Jones’s internet site supports the IR-customer relationship.
  9. Edward Jones have always had heroes. Peter Drucker teaches Edward Jones how to respect the dignity and contribution of each worker. Michael Porter affirms that it’s crucial to be different, to sustain competitive advantage. John Kotter teaches that a growing organization requires many leaders. Warren Buffett shows us the power of principles and discipline in investing. Southwest Airlines shows that enormous potential exists in markets that others reject. Wal-Mart proves that you can grow without compromising service or profit margins.
  10. Edward Jones chose to remain a partnership. It will only become a corporation if they have a compelling need to do so. Because Edward Jones started with so little capital, it created a model that minimizes the need for capital-intensive items, such as bricks and mortar, product manufacture, large inventories, or proprietary trading. Edward Jones limits spending. Thus, as a partnership, Edward Jones have funded our expansion internally.

You need to find way to set yourself apart, even if those differences seem minor. Align your activities so customers and prospects can recognize your unique business proposition. By striving to be better at what you already are the best at doing, unlimited growth is possible.

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If You Want to Inspire People, Build and Earn Their Trust

Interdependent relationships in which leadership and power are shared broadly

Most leaders agree that rigid hierarchy is dying because it runs on position power, instead of relationship power or people power.

Leaders are becoming increasingly divorced from formal authority because organizations are becoming decentralized webs instead of hierarchical entities and from power because the few people can coerce or control much of anything.

One reason for this major shift is a change in the way people are willing to be managed and led. Today’s employees want to have a voice and make a difference—they no longer want to follow blindly what the boss asks them to do.

We also see a new generation of leaders who operate on the relationship power and who believe that every individual counts and needs to be valued and treated as an unique person. We see more personal and professional relationships that are forged irrespective of positions. The public accomplishes now comes from the ability to develop trust and honesty, to build collaborative teams, and to empower every team member to participate fully.

For example, a generation ago, a father might have asked, “you’re lucky even to have a job, so stick with it and play by the rules.” Since no organization today provides guaranteed lifetime employment, doing what one is stored don’t pay off in complete security as it once did. Now with more options, people want to live by values and principles that they believe in, not just once but are imposed upon them.

The message we hear from leaders is this: if you want to inspire people, build and earn their trust, so they want to be with you and support you. But then people today, there is a desire to amount for something, to be one’s own person, to feel empowered, and to make a difference. Effectiveness and leadership can no longer be centered in positions within a rigid hierarchical structure, but must be centered in interdependent relationships in which leadership and power are shared broadly.

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How to Create Collaboration

How to Create Collaboration

The goal of collaboration is to achieve a desired outcome in the best way possible for all parties. Cooperation, synergy and teamwork can only be achieved if the parties pay as much attention to how they work together as they do to the work itself.

Before agreeing to collaborate, people must know the key elements: parity among participants, mutual goals, shared responsibility for participation and decision making, shared resources, shared accountability for outcomes, and mutual trust.

Collaboration is a highly interdependent process that requires an upfront commitment to work within these elements from all participating entities before going forward.

The collaborative process involves creating guidelines for how people will work together. You might customize these seven items to fit your situation:

  1. Bring the parties together;
  2. define the scope of the project;
  3. define success, expectations, or desired results;
  4. discuss leadership, roles, responsibilities, support, ownership, control, communication, decision-making, time management, prioritization, disagreements, accountability, resources, milestones, rewards, recognition, and evaluation;
  5. identify possible barriers to collaboration and problem solve around those;
  6. identify components that may not need to be completed collaboratively; and
  7. obtain a commitment to collaborate from each member to move forward under the guidelines.

Once people engage in the collaborative process, they are well on their way to achieving superior results. The process is not for everyone or for all situations that call for greater teamwork. It needs to be used with the right people, for the right reasons, and with the full support of management.

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How Do You Inspire Others

How Do You Inspire Others

Leaders who are rated as “highly inspirational” are also rated high in the following three areas:

  1. Have positive expectations of others. Inspirational leaders have faith in the people with whom they work. They believe that others are capable of great accomplishments. They believe others will work hard, follow through on assignments, and do whatever is needed to achieve goals. Having positive expectations of others predisposes leaders to expect more, check less, and encourage people to give their best.
  2. Get people the resources they need to do the job. Leaders often create a compelling vision of what needs to be done; however, as employees start to do the real work, they look for the resources to support them, only to find that systems don’t work, equipment is on order, or added personnel can’t be hjred. Leaders who inspire provide needed resources at the same time.
  3. Ask for input. When communicating, most people concentrate on their message and how it is delivered. Yet one of the strongest competencies for communicating powerfully is involving others—asking others for their input and encouraging alternative approaches. Leaders rated low give their prepared presentation but fail to ask for input from the audience.
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Posted in Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

Jeff Bezos’ Two Pizza Rule: Small Teams Work More Productively

Jeff Bezos' Two Pizza Rule: Small Teams Work More Productively

When you look deeper into teams within companies, one factor stands out as a predictor of success: size. There’s a right size for every team, and it’s almost always smaller than you think.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon likes to use the “two-pizza rule” for strategy and development teams: if it takes more than two pizzas to feed the team, the team is likely too big.

Bezos didn’t invent the term; it seems to have first appeared at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in the 1970s. The surface reason most often cited for using the two-pizza rule is that it keeps teams agile and fast—and it does. But there’s a deeper reason it works. When teams consist of a dozen people or fewer, each team member is more likely to care about the others, and members are far more likely to share information. They are also far more likely to come to the aid of another team member.

  • Small teams are more entrepreneurial
  • Teams with fewer people move faster
  • People in small teams trust each other
  • Sometimes they’ll even sacrifice themselves for their teammates
  • Small teams can become more specialized
  • They don’t waste your human resources
  • Small teams foster mentoring
  • Mini teams weaken the glass ceiling

Recommended Reading

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