Making The Time For Effective Leadership

Making The Time For Effective LeadershipLeadership is both a result and a process; it’s an outcome that is only achieved by the investment we make in it. And that investment takes many forms: learning, practice, feedback, self development, and support. Leadership takes time, so leading requires that we make time for the things that deliver effective leadership.

Effective leadership requires time, which is one of the reasons leadership is challenging. It doesn’t happen by osmosis or by simply agreeing it’s a good idea. Especially when you consider that “leadership” is a quality that’s determined by those being led.

“If you want to make something happen, you have to make space for it”, goes one of my personal reminders. Read “space” as “time” … and consider some of the following seven leadership behaviours that require an investment of time. You might also want to ask which of them you currently take time for and which you and others might benefit from making a little more time for.

  • Thinking critically -“Unless we direct our thinking, we only see familiar patterns”, says Edward De Bono (the Six Thinking Hats guy). Without critical thinking there’s no learning. Disciplined thinking takes effort. It takes reflection. It’s a challenge. Because it requires that we challenge the well-worn, familiar and comfortable neural pathways that have formed our “mental maps” about things. In some ways, all of the points in this article link to this “critical” idea of thinking.
  • Expressing appreciation – Thanks and gratitude for specific things others have done. One of the conversations I’ve had frequently in the past couple of years with people in leadership roles has been around how easy it is for many of us to “think” complimentary things of others but struggle or neglect to actually express those thoughts. Of course, others can’t know it if we don’t say it. As a sidebar to this, persuasion researcher Robert Cialdini notes that compliments are a proven way of increasing our persuasiveness with other people. (Yes! 50 secrets from the sience of persuasion.)
  • Encouraging input and asking (open) questionsHigh performing teams have a higher ratio of inquiry versus advocacy than lower performing teams, according to Marcial Losado’s research. In significant part this is due to the more positive and less judgmental environment inquiry creates, because it encourages a more open, honest and learning environment in which better thinking can take place.
  • Listening – Yeah, we’ve all heard it (but have we really listened?). Interestingly, as our responsibilities increase, so too does our need to listen – attentively, actively, openly – to others. Partly because we need to be as well informed as we can be (and the further we get from the front line the less we know about what’s really going on) and partly because it shows respect and builds trust in our relationships.
  • Looking ahead – “If leaders are to be admired and respected, they must have the ability to see across the horizon of time and imagine what could be”, say Kouzes and Posner in Credibility, citing the results of their research across 25 years which has identified being “forward looking” as the second most most respected and expected characteristic of a leader. (Honesty is number one.) “If they [leaders] don’t know where they are going, no one is likely to go any further ahead with them than they themselves can see.” Heads-up leadership leads to both clearer vision and clearer direction. And it takes time to look up, look out and look ahead.
  • Slowing down long enough for others to actually talk to us intelligently – We all know someone who gives off nonverbal (and sometimes verbal) messages that they are just too busy to talk to us, let alone listen to us. Frantically busy people don’t have time to lead, so they’re hard to follow. Constantly checking mobile devices, finishing others’ sentences, agitated body language, distracted eye contact, the head down dash out the door … all of those discourage people from engaging with us. If you want people to talk to you, make sure they know they’re welcome (and please don’t say “my door is always open” … no one’s going to talk to the door! The question is: Are you open?). Slow down and lead!
  • Coaching and development – One of the great privileges of leadership is developing others and bringing out the best in individuals and teams. And that takes time. It involves all of the points above. But it also involves an intentional and focused commitment to the task of leadership – one relationship, one team and one business at a time. Talent is the only sustainable competitive advantage a business has, say Bill Conaty and Ram Charan, authors of the Talent Masters: Why smart businesses put people before numbers.) Providing opportunities, support and feedback are among the key things that “create the conditions for success” – which is what we look to leaders to provide.

The great Peter Drucker once said that “Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives but their tender loving care of time”. That’s why it’s so important to take the time for leadership.

Guest Author

Aubrey Warren, Australia’s Situational Leadership® master trainer and growth coaching international accredited coach. Used with permission. For more information about leadership and team development, communication training or accredited coaching visit www.pacific.qld.edu.au or call 1300 736 646.

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Put On Your Leaders Hat And Watch Their Attitude Change

The Three Skill-sets of an Effective Manager (Part 3)People are the biggest cost to any organisation and their performance has a direct impact on your bottom line. The most successful organisations are the ones that can get the people right and in turn get the culture right. It’s not enough to have the right products or services, you need the right people with the right attitude!

Let’s face it, not all staff have attitudes that are productive. So how do you change their attitude? You start by changing yours. If you change your attitude to them, you will change their attitude to work!

Let’s take a look at some typical workplace attitudes of managers and show you how they have an affect on the productivity and profitability of your organisation.

What hat are you wearing?

There are 4 basic attitudes that managers can take. See if you can recognise yourself or others in these descriptions. I know I’ve had all these types of managers in my career.

Do as I say, not as I do – The Crown

I like to think of this as the Royal attitude. There is one set of rules for management and another set of rules for the staff. Royal decrees are made from up high and the subjects are expected to comply.

This type of manager uses their position to gain loyalty and force staff to comply or maybe it’s the workplace equivalent of “off with your head!”. The result is people start to act like helpless subjects, losing the ability to make decisions.

Do as you are told – The Hard Hat

The manager is in charge and simply tells the labour what to do. They take on all the responsibility for decision making, hence the need for the hard hat for when things start to fall down around them.

They use fear to get the job done and on the surface it appears to work but consider this. In his book “Emotional Intelligence“, Daniel Goleman found that 7 out of 10 American workers are afraid to question their manager even when they know they are wrong and could cause the company to waste money. When people act out of fear they make more mistakes and spend time trying to hide them.

Do what you think is right – The Mask

On the surface it seems like a great idea to give staff more responsibility but if overdone it’s not managing or leading, it’s showing you don’t care. This manager shows no emotion and never lets people know what is going on. Their favourite saying is “come and see me if you have any problems”. There is a major lack of communication as they hide behind the mask (or the closed door). Some managers justify it by saying their team are all professionals and know what they are doing so they don’t need their help. This approach doesn’t work because even trained professionals like some feedback on their performance.

Let’s do it together – The Baseball Cap

These managers have the attitude that it’s a team effort. They are the coach and their people are the players who get the real job done. The coach knows you can’t be successful without making the best use of your players. They see their role as making sure the team is free of distractions that might get in the way of winning the game and keeping their motivation to win at a high.

On the other hand, they know enough about the game that they can jump in and become one of the players where necessary. Their staff appreciate their willingness to pitch in and help when required.

Time to put on your hat

I believe that the right management attitudes are vital to the success of any organisation. The first step in developing the right attitude is recognising your behaviour patterns and modifying them where necessary.

So tomorrow morning when you get ready to go to work, put on your leaders hat . . . and watch out for a change in the attitude of your staff!

Guest Author

Karen Schmidt. Karen Schmidt from Let’s Grow! is an award winning professional speaker, workshop leader and author who creates fresh workplace attitudes that help people and organisations grow! To book Karen for your next conference or professional development event contact her on 0411 745 430 or visit http://www.letsgrow.com.au.
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The Power Of Leading By Influence

The Power Of Leading By InfluenceImproved leadership standards increase productivity, and an organisation’s ability to manage change. Organisations have many ‘position descriptions’ of leadership. All describe leadership outputs. How can we specify the leadership inputs of influence that motivate increased productivity, and the ability to manage change? Leadership has only two sources of power:

  1. Power of position
    Leadership dependent on the power of position, inhibits initiative and communications, increases stress and staff turnover. Leaders dependent on the power of position, are plainly unsuited to deal with, and lead, change. Such leadership is typified by:
    • Responding only to their own expectations and requirements
    • Rely on the power of their relationships or precedent to achieve their objectives
    • Have one leadership style only
    • Finds and delegates problems – but takes no responsibility for their process, or outcome
  2. Power by influence
    Leaders, who use the power of influence:
    • Are broadminded with people, tasks, relationships and situations
    • Manage their stress
    • Actively listen to criticism without pre-judgement
    • Motivate other people
    • Clarify situations and communications
    • Encourage job satisfaction
    • Reduce stress

We live in a world of increasing change that demands leaders be able to anticipate the future, see beyond the established, accepted and approved way of doing things, to what can be … what might be … what should be.

Leaders with good communication skills and the power to influence others are very effective in a world of change, as they foresee, plan and deal with many things at the same time, motivate a wide range of different personalities, encourage other’s leadership abilities, to the advantage – and profit – of everyone.

Leadership specification

There are myriad descriptions of a good leader.  A typical description is:

  • Sets challenging, achievable goals for others
  • Measures, reviews other’s work performance against clear standards and expectations
  • Provides regular feedback to others on work performance
  • Recognises excellent performance, and deals promptly with performance problems

These leadership specifications fail on just one single, critical, point. They describe leadership outputs not inputs!  If a person’s leadership inputs are not correct, then how can their leadership outputs possibly be correct?

Organisations and businesses specify the inputs to their administration procedures that achieve their administration output objectives; they specify the input ingredients, processes and skills to produce their service, or product. But none specify, or benchmark, the intangible inputs of leadership needed to achieve their organisation’s leadership objective.

Leadership founded on influence

Your character is formed by the output, and interactions, of your temperament, attitudes of feelings, emotions, thinking, beliefs and values, and is seen by others in your behaviour.

Your character determines your leadership.

However your character alone is not enough to make you a successful leader. In the real world your character is only half of your leadership equation. The other half is decided by your awareness and recognition of other people’s attitudes, and your ability to instantly adopt the strategy and tactics that most effectively influence the attitude, and behaviour of other people.

You ask: “What is so important in recognising another person’s attitude and character to my success as a leader? Have they not ears to hear, eyes to see, minds to understand how I want them to think and behave, and just get on with achieving the objective I set?”

The answer lies in the fact that behaviour is the result of motivation. Feelings and emotions alone motivate behaviour. Feelings, and emotions, that are inextricably entwined in a person’s beliefs and values, as attitude. Those beliefs and values of attitude are the gatekeepers to that person’s mind. Those beliefs and values determine what information is allowed to enter that person’s mind, to motivate and decide their behaviour.

It follows therefore that if your leadership is to motivate other people to be equally committed to achieving the objective as you are, you must:

  • Adopt their attitude of thinking and behaviours towards your objective, to ensure your leadership is allowed to enter their mind to motivate and decide their behaviour
  • Develop their trust in you, and understanding of your objective, by communicating with them on their frequency of situationally changing attitude, beliefs and values, to ensure the information exchanged is allowed to enter and influence each of your minds, and mutually motivate and decide each other’s behaviour

Guest Author

Harry Wolfe, Director Management Dynamics International. Consultants for culture due diligence and fit; selection for high performance; performance management; and executive coaching. Visit http://www.managementdynamics.info email solution@mandyn.com or phone on +613 9820 4899
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Leveraging Leadership Effectiveness

Image

Leveraging Leadership EffectivenessIn real terms, leadership today is about creating the circumstances where people can express the best they have to offer, in service of the purpose of the organisation. Leaders who understand how to empower people to go for greatness, and create the conditions for us to flourish are always in demand.

If you ask most people what good leadership is, they typically will reflect on leaders who have been effective for them in the past, and be able to say with confidence what good leaders do – that is, effective at engaging and enrolling people to achieve great results.

If you get  these same people to reflect on how well they do these things themselves, you start to realise it is not just a matter of knowing what works. Turning knowledge into effective action is a much greater challenge.

Measuring effectiveness

Most people are comforted that if they know something, they can do it. We therefore tend to have some illusions about our effectiveness. The only real test is to look at our results. What is the evidence of our effectiveness?

Try this quick assessment of your leadership effectiveness:

  • Is the vision being realised?
  • Are you executing the strategy?
  • Is the business performing financially, achieving market share and with strong customer relations?
  • How is your reputation with all your stakeholders?
  • How healthy is your culture?
  • How do your score on engagement, job satisfaction and retention?
  • How healthy is the workforce psychological contract with the organisation, including the board?

Organisations are involved in a creative activity

Organisations exist to create some outcome that is valued by our society. If it is a commercial organisation, people will pay money for what is created. If it is a community service, money will be invested in it, reflecting the value placed upon the service. Leaders are therefore realising a collective creative activity.

The creative process involves:

  1. Vision
    Conceiving of what you want to create
  2. Strategy
    Determining how to create it
  3. Skills and resources
    Ensuring you have the capability to create it
  4. Relationship
    The will and persistence required to go through the process
  5. Execution
    Bringing it into being

This includes the painful parts as well as the inspiring ones. Not only does it need to be clear in your mind, but also in the minds of everyone who has a role in creating the results. The more people involved, the bigger the challenge. In organisations, leading can become quite a complex activity and leaders need to understand and be able to influence all the forces at play, both directly and through others.

Artist/leaders

Looking into the life of creative artists can give you a window into the key ingredients in human creativity. Leaders need to understand this well if they want to be optimally effective in leading this collective creation.

Let’s assume the artist/leader has no shortage of ideas of what they want to create. The artist must know and understand all the tools and techniques of their craft. In the case of business, this is the activity that is the purpose of the organisation, and how to engage and enroll people to do this. Simply put; the task and the relationships

If the artist/leader -

  • Creates focus on the desired outcome,
  • Calibrates progress against that desired outcome,
  • Embraces the challenges and makes adjustments using their skill and judgment, and
  • Learns new approaches,

- then progress will be achieved.

However, if the artist/leader becomes focused on the problems/difficulties and/or refuses to face facts and explore alternatives, the relationship with the creative process changes. It becomes about frustration and removing the undesired obstacles; or worse, delusional. Energy is directed in such a way as to cause hardship. This is where struggle sets in. Artists who are overcome by this are limited and often don’t produce impressive results.

Leadership effectiveness is about making life easier to create the desired result, to remain in the creative orientation, not the reactive. It requires you to work constructively with the forces at play.

Reactive tendencies arise whenever we feel the need to comply, protect or control. It is based on deep assumptions that work very subtly to inhibit our creative ability. Mostly we have such strong rationalisations for the value of our actions, we are not aware of the reactive tendencies that make our lives more difficult than they need to be.

Self-awareness and courage

If leaders are to leverage effectiveness, they need to be insightful about their own reactive tendencies and how they inhibit their leadership. Awareness allows us to make choices about our behaviour rather than being blind to their very real effect. Self-awareness is a powerful tool in enabling us to be more effective.

If you examine where resistance or opposition exists within organisations you will find reactivity rather than creativity. People often lack the skills and appetite to face reality and deal with it constructively. It confronts defenses that make us feel safe. We prefer to keep them intact, rather than open Pandora’s box and face the challenge they represent.

The ability of the human mind to create comforting illusions is strong. Developing the skills and disciplines for discerning reality from illusions requires significant courage and commitment.

Creative and reactive competencies

There have been themes in the leadership development field that highlight various aspects of leadership effectiveness. Much has been made of emotional intelligence and its importance in the relational aspects of leadership. Others have focused on execution being critical to achieving results, by getting things done. Systems thinking has become key to dealing with complexity, which is increasing, with the strong trends of convergence.

In addition, as we confront increasingly significant ethical dilemmas, character and personal mastery command strong attention. It is not any one of these things but a dance between them all where they are integrated into a whole concept of leadership effectiveness.

Guest Author 

Sarah Cornally is the Managing Director of Cornally Enterprises, dedicated to Leveraging Leadership Effectiveness. She specialises in diagnostic analysis of corporate and leadership issues and developing effective strategies to influence people’s behaviour and performance. She has over 20 years experience as a leadership advisor. To learn more about Sarah Cornally’s services or for more details about Courageous Conversations refer to the lead chapter in the book ‘Awakening the Workplace 2’ that can be ordered online at: http://www.sarahcornally.com.
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Claiming Leadership

LeadershipClaim your own leadership – and light the way for others to claim theirs.

“Sheer survival in tomorrow’s business environment demands extraordinary leadership abilities today!”

Are you sitting at your desk scanning this article with your head going ‘Oh no, not another article on Leadership!’.  Do you feel as if you have seen and heard more than enough on the topic in recent history?

You’re not alone.

Unfortunately it’s become almost as overdone a cliché as ‘excellence’ was a few years ago.  To our great misfortune.

I sat in a conference briefing a while back, and heard the comment: ‘Oh no, not excellence again, we did that last year’.  If it hadn’t been so sad, it would have been funny.  Now we are in danger of creating the same response around leadership.

Wouldn’t that be a tragedy?  A world blasé and cliché’d around something as vital as developing leadership!

Do you in fact see yourself as a leader at all?  Do others?  Of course leadership is much more than a nominated position – the prerogative of the anointed ones!   Leadership is a chosen state for any individual in any role who wants to excel – and in so doing, to guide and inspire others.

In fact, genuine leadership cannot be conferred or appointed.  It is a combination of learned skills and fostered qualities and attitudes, which creates an aura of respect and authority, of charisma and character, in such a way that others want to follow.

Is it really learned? Or are some people actually born leaders? The debate rages on.

From my studies, research and practical experience, it seems to me that rather than a genetic tendency to leadership itself, some children are born into environments that encourage and support the qualities, attitude and characteristics of leaders.  Others, in their home and school environments, are suppressed.  So the internal concept and ownership of the role of leader is either learned and developed, or quelled.

Which type of family were you in?  It can be a cultural factor, and even a generational one.  There’s no doubt that today’s young people have far greater permission to challenge, to envision change and to break rules in search of new ones.

It’s a prime environment for growth.  To create a leading organisation, there first needs to be a team of ‘leading’ people.  Of leaders.

The skills, qualities and attributes of leadership can be learned.  They are most easily learned in childhood; there is no question.  But how many of you know that you’re still a child at heart – still willing and able to learn and grow in new and undreamed-of ways? (That’s one of the qualities of a leader!).  And so the learning and the growing can begin, or continue, at any age and stage of one’s life.

Flying geese have a lesson to share with us. When geese fly together in formation, they fly 71% faster than any single goose is able to fly alone.  The team effort creates an impetus greater than any one participant can develop.  It’s called synergy.

And more importantly, there is no one permanent lead goose.  Each team member is willing and able to take the lead when called upon; each is ready to move up front when, from time to time, the front flyer takes a break.  Think about it.  Is every member of your team equipped with leadership skills?

My preferred personal model of leadership is one where ‘Positional’ leadership (the appointment or election to a position of authority) is only an outer rim.  Real leadership happens in the inner circle of ‘Circumstantial’ leadership, where someone, anyone, anywhere is willing to put their hand up in a given circumstance and take the lead.

My definition of leadership is the ability and the willingness to imagine, inspire, influence and implement positive change.  And in order to be able to do that, we need the innermost circle of ‘Personal’ leadership operating within us, the calm quiet knowledge of our own inner power with its capability for vision, for action and for continual self-development.

The first task of a leader, I was told once, is to develop leadership in others.  I believe we are all capable of it in those times and circumstances where our gifts can shine.  Are you helping everyone in your team to polish theirs, so they can shine?

One of life’s greatest rules is that you can not hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening your own.

Guest Author

Catherine Palin-Brinkworth CSP MAppSci speaks internationally on Leading Change and Managing Chaos at conferences, seminars and workshops. Visit her on http://www.catherinepalinbrinkworth.com or contact her on Email: office@catherinepalinbrinkworth.com or Phone: +61 7 5528 5255.
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The Three Skill-Sets Of An Effective Manager (Part 3)

The Three Skill-sets of an Effective Manager (Part 3)In Part 2 of this blog, we looked at how managers acquired empowerment skills in the past and how the modern work environment makes such skills all the more necessary but harder to acquire.  In Part 3 we look at how different generations handle the new work environment and its impact on the practice of empowering others to get things done. 

Many Baby-boomers react to redundancy with a sense of anger towards management; they feel let down by an employer that did not return the loyalty that they have shown; many may also experience a sense of shame despite their performance having had no bearing on management’s decision to dismiss them.

Gen Y, in contrast, have lived in this world of job insecurity for the whole of their working lives.  They feel under less obligation to show loyalty to their current employer because their employer shows less loyalty to them.   Their strategy to counter the ever present threat of redundancy is to use their technical knowledge and self management skills to climb the management ladder as rapidly as possible reasoning that, as they progress, their employability credentials will be enhanced when they seek another job.  Unless the job in question is at the very highest levels of management, the selection criteria will be heavily weighted towards the first two skill sets.

Job insecurity and Gen Y’s reaction to it has further ramifications.  Looking after one’s vested interest takes priority over that of others.  People stay in the same job for much shorter periods of time.  People operate under much greater time pressures.  These three consequences militate against managers exercising empowerment skills.  It takes time that they do not have; it’s not worth it because they won’t be around to reap the rewards of their efforts and even if they were motivated to exercise them, it will do little to enhance their employability for their next career move.

That leaves Gen X.  Such is the pace of change in technical knowledge, many Gen X managers often feel threatened by their more technically advanced Gen Y reports.  When this happens, some managers will seek to neutralise this advantage by withholding information, by deliberately excluding their reports from the planning process and generally keeping them at arms length – in essence not taking those actions that have previously been identified as the foundation steps of empowerment.  There is a lot of truth in the axiom that people join companies and leave managers.

There is one further factor that militates against the managerial deployment of empowerment skills.  Let me take a hypothetical example.  It concerns a hospital nurse.  She has her degree and is recognised as being highly competent from a technical standpoint.  She’s keen and enthusiastic and works hard with a sense of self discipline.  Her relationships with her patients leave something to be desired  – her degree course focused almost exclusively on “technical knowledge”.  Neither its practical application nor soft nurse/patient interpersonal skills featured – the general attitude was that these could be learned on the job through experience.  Her manager is pleasant enough but she has only recently joined the hospital staff.  She doesn’t seem to be adequately informed by her boss on the overall picture except that money is very tight.  She appears stressed and the basic message to her staff may be summarised as “heads down, bums up”.  After 15 months in the job, she takes maternity leave and our nurse is promoted to replace her.  Suddenly, our newly promoted manager needs to exercise a whole new skill set for which she has been inadequately prepared.  Even if she recognises this, she doesn’t take steps to acquire these skills for two reasons.  Her predecessor didn’t display them so she has no example to follow and she feels much more comfortable exercising her technical knowledge.

This scenario is played out again and again where people are promoted because of their technical competence when what really matters in their new managerial position is their ability to empower their staff.  If this sequence repeats itself often enough, managerial role models become increasingly hard to find.  Management mediocrity becomes the norm.

Of course, there are natural leaders.  People who are very competent technically, have excellent self-management skills and who seem to know instinctively how to empower others.  But such people are rare – and becoming rarer.  You may be fortunate to have worked for one but the need for such managers is too great for any economy to rely on those few found in the wild.  We need to domesticate the breed and improve the gene pool with the ultimate goal of breeding managers with all three skill sets who will inspire those whom they manage to emulate their example.

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, the best selling authors of “The Leadership Challenge” summarised the findings of their extensive research on the subject as follows:

“Managers who focus on themselves and are insensitive to others fail, because there is a limit to what they can do by themselves.  Those leaders who succeed realise that little can be accomplished if people don’t feel strong and capable.  In fact, by using their own power in the service of others rather than in the service of self, successful leaders transform their constituents into leaders themselves – and wind up with extraordinary results”.

If the research is so compelling, why don’t more managers practice the skill of empowering those whom they manage?  It can’t be because the skills are hard to learn.  Indeed, the late James Strong, industry captain and patron of the arts, commented that “the key to leadership is simple common sense – treat people with respect and they will respond, no matter what background they’re from.  It’s worth 5000 textbooks on management, and the tragedy is it’s just plain common sense”.

Perhaps Voltaire had the answer when he observed that “common sense is not so common”.

Guest Author

Graham Haines is principal consultant of Plans To Reality, a consulting practice that specialises in the planning and execution of organisational strategies. He is both a Certified Management Consultant and a Certified Practicing Marketer. His book, “Execution to Die For – The Manager’s Guide To Making It Happen” identifies why things don’t happen the way the planners intended and demonstrates how to make sure they do.  Upwards of forty blogs on a variety of management and marketing topics can be found at www.planstoreality.wordpress.com. 

The Three Skill-sets Of An Effective Manager (Part 2)

The Three Skill-sets of an Effective Manager (Part 2)Part 1 of this blog identified the three skill-sets of an effective manager – technical skills, self-management skills and empowerment skills.  Since the last mentioned is not taught, how are empowerment skills acquired?

There appear to be four sources of such knowledge.

  • In-house training programs
  • External training courses
  • Personal experience of what ‘works’ and what doesn’t
  • Learning by example from your manager or supervisor

All are valuable but I believe that the fourth is the most valuable of all.  I say this because the most fundamental requirement for getting things done – effective execution – is neither leadership nor change management skills, nor teams and teamwork.

It’s organisational alignment.

Organisational alignment is the bridge between planning and execution. It’s also unique to the workgroup, the department or the division as the case may be.  Before a manager can effectively deploy his or her empowerment skills, there has to be a collective and clear understanding as to who the customer of the group’s output is, what the objectives are, what the standards are and how the role and goals of your workgroup mesh with the goals of the organisation as a whole.

In my study of the reasons why things don’t happen as the planners intended, four out of the thirteen barriers identified at the planning stage relate to the empowerment of others and since the grand total of thirty-six barriers is arranged in sequential order it follows that an inability to overcome those at the planning stage will seriously compromise the quality of execution – the ability to get things done.

If you did select someone in response to the first of my two questions in Part 1, – who is the best manager that you have ever had? – it’s highly likely that you chose him or her because that manager did take the trouble to explain the current situation that the workgroup found itself in; did involve you in the planning process itself; did listen to your views and act on your input; did acknowledge the extra work involved in implementation and take practical steps to ameliorate it and was prepared to explain how your workgroup’s objectives fitted with those of the organisation as a whole.

These are the things that good managers do and poor managers don’t.  This is Organisational alignment.

It starts with the alignment of the organisation’s goals to the environment in which it operates.  Next is the alignment of the strategies to achieve those goals.  It ends with the alignment of employees behind that part of the strategy for which they are responsible for executing.  Only when everyone is pointing in the same direction can managers empathetically manage change; display leadership and encourage responsibility; develop teamwork to meet performance challenges; foster employee engagement and set the example for meaningful and interactive communication.

So how widespread is effective leadership?  When I asked you to think about the best manager that you have worked for, did anyone spring to mind or was there more than one contender?  Certainly the research points to a decline in the ability – and I would maintain the willingness – of managers to empower their staff.  And to understand the reasons for this, you have to look at the modern work environment.

These days there are so many forces acting on organisations of every kind that result in one thing – change.  Change that happens with greater frequency and is ever more radical.  Its impact on employees is twofold.

  1. Firstly, the timeframe for implementation is diminishing.  That old adage that “the more people that plan the battle, the less there are to battle the plan” is forgotten in the latest knee jerk reaction to cut costs, outsource manufacturing, install a new IT program, combat a new competitor or react to new legislation etc.
  2. The second impact flows from the first.  Security of employment has pretty much ceased to exist.  There was a time when enforced redundancy was principally caused by poor performance.  Not so these days of off-shoring, out-sourcing, sub-contracting, takeovers, mergers, down-sizing, right- sizing, restructuring and insolvency. Employment has never been less secure.  An employees’ response to this insecure environment depends on which generation the employee is from.

In Part 3 we look at how different generations handle the new work environment and its impact on the practice of empowering others to get things done.

Guest Author

Graham Haines is principal consultant of Plans To Reality, a consulting practice that specialises in the planning and execution of organisational strategies. He is both a Certified Management Consultant and a Certified Practicing Marketer. His book, “Execution to Die For – The Manager’s Guide To Making It Happen” identifies why things don’t happen the way the planners intended and demonstrates how to make sure they do.  Upwards of forty blogs on a variety of management and marketing topics can be found at www.planstoreality.wordpress.com

The Three Skill-Sets Of An Effective Manager (Part 1)

LeadershipLet me ask you two questions:

  1. Who is the best manager that you have ever had?
  2. Why did you select that person?

You might be hard pushed to think of anyone in response to the first question but if you did identify someone, I bet I know why. It wasn’t because of that person’s ‘technical’ skills as a salesman or engineer or physiotherapist or teacher. Nor was it because of that person’s self-management discipline – always had reports out on time, always seemed capable of doing a dozen things at once, never flustered. No – the reason for your choice was that they treated you with respect, made you feel good, made you want to make that extra effort, made you feel part of the team. In short, you felt empowered.

The qualities required of a manager fall into three skill sets.

  1. Technical competence – Requires little explanation – it is simply the knowledge and skills required to undertake the role that has been given to the employee
  2. Self management skills – These are the personal attributes that enable employees to effectively exploit their technical knowledge
  3. Leadership skills – I prefer the term “empowerment skills” – may be defined as the ability to get the best from those for whom the manager is responsible

The Western education system focuses overwhelmingly on teaching technical competence – even at a tertiary level. University courses consist of a specific number of units that the student undertakes to acquire an academic qualification. The units by definition are ‘single and complete’ and are usually taught by a specialist in that particular discipline. Some universities are now recognising that this narrow focus on technical skills does not adequately prepare the graduate for a subsequent career. I know of at least one university that is adding what it calls a “personal edge” module to its Management Degree in the belief that its graduates will have a competitive advantage when seeking employment.

Regarding the third set of attributes – empowerment skills – there are indeed units on Leadership, Change Management, Teams and Teamwork etc, but these units again are taught in isolation from one another and tend to focus on concepts and theory rather than on their practical application in the workplace.

When one considers the utilisation of these skill sets in the workplace, it is evident that, during the course of a manager’s career, the emphasis on two of them undergoes significant change. At the commencement of one’s career, by far the greatest emphasis is placed on technical knowledge. When technical knowledge is combined with self management skills, a junior management position will result and the third skill set will be brought into play. As one’s career progresses, the ability to empower others will eventually supersede technical knowledge as the key requirement. These days, technical knowledge becomes redundant very rapidly whereas empowerment skills have remained essentially unchanged over thousands of years.

In the final analysis every organisation is judged on its ability to get things done – to achieve its goals. So a company exists to make an adequate profit; a hospital to cure the sick; a charity to aid the disadvantage; a government to enact legislation etc. Unless the organisation is extremely small, getting things done can only be achieved by a collective effort and if that effort is to be effectively harnessed, an organisational structure is required, comprising workgroups, departments, divisions etc each with a designated manager. The role of each manager, whether he or she is responsible for 5 or 5000 people, is to empower others – to get things done.

In the next blog, I will look at the sources of such empowerment skills and will consider the reasons for their decline.

Guest Author

Graham Haines is principal consultant of Plans To Reality, a consulting practice that specialises in the planning and execution of organisational strategies. He is both a Certified Management Consultant and a Certified Practicing Marketer. He is also a regular contributor to IIDM. His book, “Execution to Die For – The Manager’s Guide To Making It Happen” identifies why things don’t happen the way the planners intended and demonstrates how to make sure they do. Upwards of forty blogs on a variety of management and marketing topics can be found at www.planstoreality.wordpress.com.

Top 8 Tips For Time Management

Top 8 Tips For Time ManagementWhat’s the first thing to learn about time management? You don’t need training – you need discipline! It takes a strong desire to be productive in order to discipline yourself to best manage your time. By implementing the top 8 tips for better time management, you will find yourself doing more purposeful things and getting more done each day.

  1. Recognise what you like and don’t like doing

    The first thing to understand about time management is this – “We do what we like to do and what we are good at”. For example, if you don’t like doing expense reports and are not that good as at using accounting software, your expense reports will fall to the bottom of your list, and you’ll never seem to get them done. If something better comes along, you’ll gladly put your expenses aside for ANY other task.

    It is critical to identify those tasks that you don’t like and are not good at – but still need to undertake as part of your work. As these things will naturally go to the bottom of your list (and usually not get done), instead develop a plan to become more proficient in these tasks. Once it’s easier to do them, you will generally like doing them more. And when you enjoy doing something, you tend to do it faster too, increasing productivity further.

  2. Mentally prepare yourself

    Get mentally prepared for the things you don’t like to do and force yourself to do them when they need to be done. When driving into work in the morning, tell yourself “I have to do my expenses as soon as I get there”. You need to be disciplined to make sure that you keep your commitments to yourself. Remember – being disciplined is half the time management battle!

  3. Do the things you don’t like first

    Then treat yourself to the things you do like. Get the monkey off your back first, then treat yourself by doing something that you do like to do. Your best friend when it comes to time management is an egg timer. Set the timer to a specific amount of time and then push yourself to get your task finished before the alarm rings. It’s like having a race with yourself to see how fast you can get to the finish line. Then after you’re done, go back and review for quality control.

  4. Use your calendar as well as a to-do list

    Put items on your calendar rather than just making a to-do list. To-do lists are endless, and you may feel discouraged if you still have things left on your list at the end of the day (which most of us do!). Instead, first thing in the morning, get out your calendar and insert the tasks that are already scheduled – such as meetings, conference calls, interviews, etc. Then insert items that you want to do – like coaching your employees. If you schedule time for coaching your employees, you’ll find that most times you’ll get it done. 

    Now set aside time on your calendar for the standard items that need to be done, making a specific list of them. For example, send emails to the following people, make phone calls to X, Y and Z, and write these particular memos. Block that time out on your calendar just, like it’s an appointment.

  5. Implement the ’10 minute rule’ 

    Put into effect the ’10 minute rule’. If something is taking you 10 minutes or more to figure out, you’ve probably exhausted your resources and it’s time to step back and get creative. Is there someone else who may know where to find this information? Is someone more knowledgeable about this topic and could show you some short cuts? Sometimes we get so focused on finding the answer, that we forget to use other resources to get things done faster.

  6. Group tasks together

    Put all similar tasks together. Reply to all emails at the same time, call all of your clients back in one sitting, and coach all of your employees in back-to-back sessions. You will find that you’re much more productive if all similar tasks are lumped together, rather than making one phone call, then sending one email and then meeting with one employee at a time.

  7. Start and finish meetings on time

    I have two rules when I conduct meetings – the first one is:

    1. ‘In on time, out on time’ – This means that we start the meeting on time, and end the meeting on time – full stop. How much time is wasted sitting around waiting for everyone to get assembled for a meeting, or standing outside of a conference room waiting for the previous meeting to end? Don’t waste any more time standing around!
    2. Make sure your meetings are meaningful –  Look at ways to make meetings more meaningful. If the decision-makers aren’t in the room, what is the purpose of meeting? If you are unprepared, what is the purpose of your meeting? You should have no problem telling people, “We don’t need to meet until these decisions have been determined”. Have meetings because you have a problem to solve – not just to meet.
  8. Does your current task have purpose and meaning?

    Ask the question, “Is this purposeful to what I am doing?”. How much of what we do during the day is actually meaningless, and not focused to helping us achieve our goals. I challenge you to ask yourself, “Is this a purposeful way for me to spend my time?”. If it’s not, look at other possibilities of what would be purposeful and do that instead.

Especially as leaders, being called to do more with less, time management is critical to our success. Review the list above and consider the points that you’re not currently acting on and put a plan in place to make them happen. Every minute that you sit thinking about whether or not this will work, is a minute that you could be doing something purposeful and productive!

Guest Author

Kimberly Mitchell, president of InterWeave, focuses companies on behavioral management and servant leadership. Her passion for coaching is contagious and her commitment to her clients will get you performance results. Kimberly can be reached through her blog at http://www.wowperformance.com.

Republished from IIDM – your online business resource – www.iidmglobal.com. Get valuable business tips and easy-to-read articles delivered direct to your inbox. Register NOW for your copy of IIDM’s FREE e-newsletter: http://www.iidmglobal.com/subscribe/

Six Warning Signs Of Leadership Failure

Six Warning Signs Of Leadership FailureIn the recent past, we’ve witnessed the public downfall of leaders from almost every area of endeavor – business, politics, religion, and sports. One day they’re on top of the heap, the next, the heap’s on top of them.

Of course, we think that such catastrophic failure could never happen to us. We’ve worked hard to achieve our well-deserved positions of leadership – and we won’t give them up for anything! The bad news is: the distance between beloved leader and despised failure is shorter than we think.

Ken Maupin, a practicing psychotherapist and colleague, has built his practice on working with high-performance personalities, including leaders in business, religion, and sports. Ken and I have often discussed why leaders fail. Our discussions have led to the following “warning signs” of impending failure.

Warning sign No. 1: A shift in focus

This shift can occur in several ways. Often, leaders simply lose sight of what’s important. The laser-like focus that catapulted them to the top disappears, and they become distracted by the trappings of leadership, such as wealth and notoriety.

Leaders are usually distinguished by their ability to “think big”. But when their focus shifts, they suddenly start thinking small. They micro manage, they get caught up in details better left to others, they become consumed with the trivial and unimportant. And to make matters worse, this tendency can be exacerbated by an inclination toward perfectionism.

A more subtle leadership derailer is an obsession with “doing” rather than “becoming”. The good work of leadership is usually a result of who the leader is. What the leader does then flows naturally from inner vision and character. It is possible for a leader to become too action oriented and, in the process, lose touch with the more important development of self.

What is your primary focus right now? If you can’t write it on the back of your business card, then it’s a sure bet that your leadership is suffering from a lack of clarity. Take the time necessary to get your focus back on what’s important.

Further, would you describe your thinking as expansive or contractive? Of course, you always should be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, but try never to take on what others can do as well as you. In short, make sure that your focus is on leading rather than doing.

Warning sign No. 2: Poor communication

A lack of focus and its resulting disorientation typically leads to poor communication. Followers can’t possibly understand a leader’s intent when the leader themselves isn’t sure what it is! And when leaders are unclear about their own purpose, they often hide their confusion and uncertainty in ambiguous communication.

Sometimes, leaders fall into the clairvoyance trap. In other words, they begin to believe that truly committed followers automatically sense their goals and know what they want without being told. Misunderstanding is seen by such managers as a lack of effort (or commitment) on the listener’s part, rather than their own communication negligence.

“Say what you mean, and mean what you say” is timeless advice, but it must be preceded by knowing what you mean! An underlying clarity of purpose is the starting point for all effective communication. It’s only when you’re absolutely clear about what you want to convey that the hard work of communicating pays dividends.

Warning sign No. 3: Risk aversion

Third, leaders at risk often begin to be driven by a fear of failure rather than the desire to succeed. Past successes create pressure for leaders: “Will I be able to sustain outstanding performance?” “What will I do for an encore?”. In fact, the longer a leader is successful, the higher his or her perceived cost of failure.

When driven by the fear of failure, leaders are unable to take reasonable risks. They want to do only the tried and proven. Attempts at innovation – typically a key to their initial success – diminish and eventually disappear.

Which is more important to you: the attempt or the outcome? Are you still taking reasonable risks? Prudent leadership never takes reckless chances that risk the destruction of what has been achieved, but neither is it paralyzed by fear. Often the dance of leadership is two steps forward, one step back.

Warning sign No. 4: Ethics slip

A leader’s credibility is the result of two aspects: what he or she does (competency) and who he or she is (character). A discrepancy between these two aspects creates an integrity problem.

The highest principle of leadership is integrity. When integrity ceases to be a leader’s top priority, when a compromise of ethics is rationalised away as necessary for the “greater good”, when achieving results becomes more important than the means to their achievement – that is the moment when a leader steps onto the slippery slope of failure.

Often such leaders see their followers as pawns, a mere means to an end, thus confusing manipulation with leadership. These leaders lose empathy. They cease to be people “perceivers” and become people “pleasers”, using popularity to ease the guilt of lapsed integrity.

It is imperative to your leadership that you constantly subject your life and work to the highest scrutiny. Are there areas of conflict between what you believe and how you behave? Has compromise crept into your operational tool kit? One way to find out is to ask the people you depend on if they ever feel used or taken for granted.

Warning sign No. 5: Poor self management

Tragically, if a leader doesn’t take care of themself, no one else will. Unless a leader is blessed to be surrounded by more-sensitive-than-normal followers, nobody will pick up on the signs of fatigue and stress. Leaders are often perceived to be super-human, running on unlimited energy.

While leadership is invigorating, it is also tiring. Leaders who fail to take care of their physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs are headed for disaster. Think of having a gauge for each of these four areas of your life – and check them often!

When a gauge reaches the “empty” point, make time for refreshment and replenishment. Clear your schedule and take care of yourself – it’s absolutely vital to your leadership that you continue to grow and develop, a task that can be accomplished only when your tanks are full.

Warning sign No. 6: Lost love

The last warning sign of impending disaster that leaders need to heed, is a move away from their first love and dream. Paradoxically, the hard work of leadership should be fulfilling and even fun.

But when leaders lose sight of the dream that compelled them to accept the responsibility of leadership, they can find themselves working for causes that mean little to them. They must stick to what they love, what motivated them at the first, to maintain the fulfillment of leadership.

To make sure that you stay on the track of following your first love, frequently ask yourself these three questions: Why did I initially assume leadership? Have those reasons changed? Do I still want to lead?.

Heed the signs

The warning signs in life – from stop lights to prescription labels – are there for our good. They protect us from disaster, and we would be foolish to ignore them. As you consider the six warning signs of leadership failure, don’t be afraid to take an honest look at yourself. If any of the warnings ring true, take action today! The good news is: by paying attention to these signs and heeding their warnings, you can avoid disaster and sustain the kind of leadership that is healthy and fulfilling both for yourself and your followers.

Guest Author

Mark Sanborn is an acclaimed speaker, bestselling author and president of Sanborn & Associates Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. For more information, visit http://www.MarkSanborn.com, http://www.FredFactor.com, http://www.FredFactor.com and http://www.YouDontNeedaTitle.com

Republished from IIDM – your online business resource – www.iidmglobal.com. Get valuable business tips and easy-to-read articles delivered direct to your inbox. Register NOW for your copy of IIDM’s FREE e-newsletter: http://www.iidmglobal.com/subscribe/