“On” Versus “In”

By Tim Thoelecke Jr., Member, Executive Leadership Alliance International

Michael Gerber is one business writer who “gets” entrepreneurs. My dog-eared, highlighted copy of The E-Myth Revisited is barely intact. In fact, I have given countless copies of the book to other business owners who are looking for a better way.

The “E” is for “entrepreneur.” The book’s premise is that most small businesses do not work because owners work too much “in” the business, when they ought to be working “on” it.

Gerber uses the idea of a well-structured franchise as the model. For example, if you go to a McDonald’s anywhere on the planet, you will have roughly the same experience. Why is that? Many in big businesses know all about processes and procedures and all the things that seem to get in the way of getting work done. But all businesses—even small ones -need it.

In many small businesses, the owner is the bottleneck. All decisions go through him or her, including office supplies purchases, call screening, even production. Businesses that grow cannot depend on the owner to do those things. Ideally, it does not depend on the owner to do ANYTHING.

Gerber’s protégé, Sarah, owner of “All About Pies,” faces many of the problems all small business owners face, and readers experience several epiphanies as solutions are revealed.

As the owner of a number of small businesses, I can testify that Gerber’s methods work. Here are some key takeaways that have served me well:

Draw up your organizational chart for the future: What will it look like in 2 years, 5 years and 10 years? Think BIG! Many of the boxes will be filled with the same name: Yours! This helps you keep an eye on the big picture. As you define each role, you develop a job description, and then describe the processes and procedures needed to perform that job. Document them.

Document every process that anyone in the business performs, including what you do. You know what you do. Each team member knows what he or she does. Write it down. Not only does that help define the process, but it also forces you to think about whether you are doing the right things.

Here’s an example: What happens when a potential client calls on the phone? How is the phone answered? How are leads screened? How are meetings scheduled? How are phone messages/transfers to voice mail handled? How do you qualify leads? By establishing a script and the guardrails for decision making, you empower the person who answers the phone. If you know the boundaries of your job, you can perform it with confidence. Also, in a very small business where more than one person may pick up the phone, everyone handles calls the same way, thus providing roughly the same experience for each caller.

How do you go about the sales process? How do you set appointments and meetings? What sales techniques have proven most successful for your product and your target client? Write it down. How do you open and close the office every day? Write it down. What font is used in all company communications? Write it down.

Marketing, Sales, Administration, Production, Client Communication, Financial Processes. Everything and anything that an employee needs to know in order to perform his or her job functions ought to be documented. Write it all down.

This becomes your Operations Manual. It becomes your Employee Orientation Manual. It becomes the blueprint for your business. If you are going to clone it, you can theoretically hand this document to the “new guy” and he can use it to build a business exactly like the original. You can hand the Sales Operations Manual to the new sales person or sales manager.

And what if you don’t intend to clone the business? Do it anyway. The intent of this is to build a business that does not rely on a single individual. It is an entity separate from the owner. It creates a scalable business. It allows an entrepreneur to be a “business owner” versus being “self-employed.” Self-employment is a job. An owner plays golf.

That is the meat of what the “E-Myth” is all about: Working ON the business rather than working IN it. Of course, there is much more to being successful in business, but for entrepreneurial types like me, building the structure has to come first.

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Was Steve Jobs an Effective Leader?

By Mark Kardon, Member, Executive Leadership Alliance International

Much has been written about Steve Jobs’ leadership style. Walter Isaacson, author of the recent bestseller, “Steve Jobs”, spent more than two years speaking with fellow co-workers, bosses, friends and family to understand his style. He provides insights into Jobs’ greatness and shortcomings. My perspective on Steve’s leadership effectiveness follows.

How does one measure leadership effectiveness? Is it based on driving revenue performance, improving profitability, active community involvement, introducing innovative new products, creating a culture for a great place to work or someone with a vision you want to follow? I think it is a combination of all these skills and attributes. However, effective leaders have a vision for where they want to go and work tirelessly to pursue their dream. Henry Ford, Lee Iacocca, Michael Dell, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs all believed in their vision and would not take no for an answer. Their single minded focus has led to some of the greatest product developments of our time.

Steve Jobs’ leadership effectiveness certainly can be viewed as less than stellar on many levels. He wanted things done his way, no exceptions. Anything less than that was not acceptable. He publicly berated employees, had temper tantrums and raised his voice (yelled). It was difficult to meet his expectations. Steve was exceptional at manipulating people, making promises he did not always keep and placed his passion for perfection above his own family. Clearly, he never would have won father of year or the best boss award.

However, from my perspective as a marketer, Steve Jobs’ leadership was brilliant. His drive and unrelenting pursuit to provide consumers with the absolute best product remains unmatched. He believed the journey was the reward, always pushing to achieve the impossible. Through his vision and tenacity, he created a product consumers never even realized they needed or wanted with the introduction of the original Mac computer. Later, the introductions of the iPod, iPhone and iPad all offered consumers game changing innovative new products. His methods and style are not for the faint of heart. He only wanted the absolute best talent on his team. If you didn’t measure up he was not shy about telling you. To his credit, he did recognize talent. If he wanted you to be part of team, he was very charming, motivational and persuading.

Steve Jobs’ leadership style probably only works for the type of genius unique to him. Most leadership gurus would not consider his style role model caliber. The difference, it worked for him because he never wavered on his vision to offer great products and constantly innovate. It was never about the money, fame or title. It was about the product. Jobs stated “Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do”. He never believed in market research. He was a free spirit who used his talents to motivate a team to reach for the stars and not accept anything less. Was Steve Jobs an effective leader? His legacy of current and future products being developed by the team he selected will be the best answer to this question.

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Are You a Leader or Just Another Boss?

By Jud Ely, Member, Executive Leadership Alliance International

The book, “Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders” written by Rajeev Peshawaria, a leadership development expert, who had senior HR Training and Development roles at American Express, Coca-Cola, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, provides a systemic roadmap and framework to execute effective leadership within an organization.

The following provides synopses of some of the book’s key points:

A leadership void exists in many organizations because many people underestimate the task of leading. They accept leadership positions without fully understanding what is involved, and without asking themselves if leadership is for them. Leadership is hard and leaders must overcome significant obstacles, and succeed in spite of their environment, not because of it. Furthermore, there is no guaranteed reward at the end. Leadership is all about energy, finding your personal sources of it and then mobilizing the energy of others.

You need to first Energize yourself. So the first step is to make sure that you even want to be a leader, and why. You can do this by defining your purpose and values. Rajeev has six questions that you need to answer to help you do that. The questions relate to what are the most important things to you, what results do you want to create, how do you want people to experience you and what values will guide your behavior. Your defined purpose and values comprise the foundation for leadership. Then you can start energizing others one individual at a time.

Enlist co-leaders (the core team). Most managers ask themselves what they can do differently to motivate and energize others on their team. He proposes that you turn that question upside down and ask not what you can do, but what they want. While every person is motivated differently, most have expectations that fit neatly into three buckets; Role, Environment and Development or (RED). The three fundamental questions that everyone has are: What is my Role? What is my work Environment? What are the prospects for growth and Development? Energizing another individual is finding out their preferences and trying to match their work as closely as possible with those preferences.

Galvanize your Organization. As individuals transition to leadership positions, they need to focus less on doing and more on facilitating. It is less about creating the results yourself, and more about creating conditions in which others can create successful results. Though in my experience, this is not always possible in smaller organizations where resources are scarce and doing is part of your role. A delicate balance needs to be struck and a focus on leaders facilitating others efforts cannot be overemphasized in any size organization.

The second change is a shift in personal orientation from “I” to “We”. Your job is to make others successful – hard work in itself, but you might not get credit for it at all. This is where clarity about your purpose and values helps in deciding if you want to (and can) make this transition successfully.

He argues that the following three leadership activities provide the most leverage to an organization:

1. Setting direction (the BRAINS of your business) as measured by a clear and compelling vision that can be articulated by everyone in the organization. Recognizing core capabilities with a differentiated strategy that gives the organization a competitive edge.

2. Designing the organization (the BONES of your business) by having in place the highest quality talent with the right skills and experience in all key jobs. Supporting systems and structures that encourage desired performance. Roles, responsibilities and authority rights are defined as clearly as possible, people and resources are deployed to best support the execution of the strategy, and formal organizational structure enables building and strengthening of core differentiating capabilities.

3. Creating a culture of excellence (the NERVES of your business) by having a well-defined cultural philosophy (who we are and what we stand for) that is well understood by everyone and having compensation and rewards practices that encourage desired behaviors that reinforce and are in alignment with that philosophy. Through their actions, leadership proactively creates a culture of collaboration, teamwork, listening, learning and constant renewal, while maintaining a balance focus on short-term success and longer term capability building.

Review Conclusion

Though I feel that this book is more focused on and geared to enterprise leadership in larger organizations, I feel Rajeev Peshawaria has laid out a great framework of leadership principles that can be applied in varying degrees to any size organization. The key points that resonate with me are:

• A track record of superior individual performance does not necessarily translate to leadership success (we have all had bosses like this).
• Effective leadership is hard, requires a tremendous amount of energy and is not for everyone.
• I applaud his emphasis on leaders and organizations defining their purpose, values, and desired results and taking consistent behavioral actions that support and achieve them.
• His Role, Environment and Development (RED) questions provide a great methodology to understand individual expectations in an effort to determine what motivates them and to help enlist co-leaders.
• A leader’s focus on the organization’s Brains, Bones and Nerves (his analogies) and the emphasis on facilitating other’s efforts are in my opinion critical to leadership effectiveness and organizational success.

I highly recommend this book and consider it a must read for anyone interested in better understanding and executing the difficult art of leadership in any organization!!

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How CEOs Build Company-Wide Results

By Allen Pratt, Member, Executive Leadership Alliance International

“Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” ― Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.

In his first book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, Lencioni identifies the fifth temptation as invulnerability. “The need to maintain an air of invulnerability among the people we lead is natural – but deceptively dangerous. The old adage, “don’t let them see you sweat” may be appropriate for actors or salespeople, but for leaders it is a problem. This hampers our ability to build trust among our people. Employees want to see their leaders as human beings, so that they can be comfortable being human. In organizations where a CEO is never wrong and never weak, employees emulate that behavior. The result is a never-ending posturing exercise, where real dialogue and decision-making die.

Leaders who are open to being wrong, to being weak, to being honest about their shortcomings build rapport with their people. They eliminate much of the politics and butt-covering that exists in many companies where blood in the water means death.”

I’ve seen first-hand how a CEOs need for invulnerability can lead to mistrust among his/her staff and throughout the organization. Over time, the organizations results are limited and the CEO eventually fails to reach his/her full potential. Begging the question, how does a CEO build trust? According to Lencioni, first, acknowledge your own weaknesses and mistakes and second, allow direct reports to see your human side. I do like Lencioni’s encouragement but if you haven’t read his book, this may not be enough to get started. Let’s go deeper to discover how a CEO builds company-wide trust in an organization.

Michael Hyatt has created a list of thirteen behaviors of high-trust leaders:

“I approach this strategy primarily as a practitioner, both in my own experience and in my extensive work with other organizations. Throughout this learning process, I have identified 13 common behaviors of trusted leaders around the world that build—and allow you to maintain—trust. When you adopt these ways of behaving, it’s like making deposits into a “trust account” of another party.”

Allow me to share my experience-based observations expanding on this list of thirteen.

1. Talk Straight. Be true in your words. Open and honest communication with all employees is a good start. Don’t tell employees that the company is not for sale when the CEO is directly involved with the negotiations at the time. Do share honestly the company’s market position and upcoming prospects so they can make an informed decision. Will they stay and help the company fight to recover lost ground or move on to another opportunity? Either decision is healthier for the company in the long term.

2. Demonstrate Respect. Mutual trust and respect is a stronger basis for a CEO to operate from. Employees want to be respected and will respond favorably when they know the CEO respects their value. If the CEO fails to respect the company or the employees, he/she must immediately leave the firm.

3. Create Transparency. Not every company is in a position to reveal all financial information but the CEO can find operational metrics that tell the employees how well the company is doing. While earnings are the CEO’s number one priority, translate the health of the company in terms that can be shared with employees to inspire a unified effort to maximize the performance for all stake holders.

4. Right Wrongs. Be sensitive to wrong decisions from the past. I’m not ready to right every wrong from the start, but the CEO must be aware of those wrongs and work to correct any issue that is an obstacle to organizational performance improvement.

5. Show Loyalty. Be the first to demonstrate loyalty to the company. If the CEO expects loyalty from employees, then he/she must be willing to show loyalty too. Too many companies allow internal disputes to distract from outside competition. Be loyal within the company and focus the organization’s attention on the enemy outside the company.

6. Deliver Results. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. Focusing the organizations attention on results with performance improvement methods will create the win.

7. Get Better. Employ a process of on-going improvement. Seek out a professional who has a track record of creating performance improvement in an organization that’s a living process. Find someone with the energy to start over when one initiative is in place and the company is ready to tackle the next biggest issue.

8. Confront Reality. Don’t hide from bad information or avoid unpleasant issues. Attack the process, not the people is a good mantra but when changing personnel is the obvious answer, take action without delay.

9. Clarify Expectation. Over communicate individual roles, company vision and mission. Be the flag bearer, so the entire organization knows where the company is headed, why and how fast it needs to move. See questions as teaching moments and an opportunity to remind the organization about expectations.

10. Practice Accountability. Trust leads to constructive conflict and an openness to conflict leads to improvement accountability. With trust and clear expectations, individuals will find their role better defined.

11. Listen First. Steven R. Covey once wrote, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” Interview key employees and engage others in conversations with the intent to understand what’s important to them. This is an effective method for newly arrived CEOs and tenured CEOs alike. Walk around to hear and see the organization. Be available and approachable, so employees can express their concerns about how to improve the company.

12. Keep Commitments. Stay true to promises made. This assumes that the CEO doesn’t make promises he/she can’t keep. Be prudent with commitments, write it down and make sure you keep your word.

13. Extend Trust. Be open to vulnerability. This may be the hardest for many CEOs. Clearly, the organization can take advantage of the CEO when the company’s history has been unhealthy. A good CEO will know the limits but he/she will also know where to extend trust that will help the company to find a course for improvement.

A CEO has the responsibility to influence others. The job of a leader CEO is to go first, to extend trust first. The best leaders lead with a decided propensity to trust. As Craig Weatherup, former CEO of PepsiCo said, “Trust cannot become a performance multiplier unless the leader is prepared to go first.” The best CEOs recognize that trust impacts us every day throughout the year. Live trust every day and build company-wide results into the organization.

NOTE: This article first appeared on www.hawkeyeconsultingadvisors.wordpress.com on February 26, 2012. It appears here by permission of Allen Pratt.

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Situational Leadership

By William Witkewicz, Chairman of Executive Leadership Alliance

Some believe that an important characteristic of leadership is stability and consistency. Others indicate that flexibility is critical, given the dynamic environment leaders face. I know several of the blogs on our site have dealt with this issue, expressing the opinion of the writer from that individual’s specific experience and viewpoint. You, the reader, may also have experiences which lead to one view or the other.

A numbers of years ago, in a training session, I was exposed to a concept developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. It was first presented in “Management of Organizational Behavior” and later came to be called Situational Leadership. I’ll present a brief overview and encourage you to explore it further if you find it interesting and useful, as the authors have continued to develop the concept. I have always found it beneficial in leading organizations and individuals through different stages of development and growth.

The basic concept is that there is no one best leadership style, but rather effective leadership must adapt to the situation or task at hand, hence “Situational Leadership”. But what makes this concept particularly useful is that it offers clear guidance on the leadership style that is most appropriate and best for the situation or conditions present. Effective leaders adapt their style to the maturity of the individual or organization they are leading. Maturity has two dimensions: competence to perform the task, and commitment or willingness to accept the responsibility for the task. Similarly there are two dimensions of leadership that apply: task behavior or directive behavior, and relationship or supportive behavior. These dimensions can be placed in a simple matrix to get a visual overview of the four leadership styles, and the appropriate fit of these to the relative maturity of the individual or organization. The styles can be described as follows:

Tell/Direct: The leader directs the individual with a strong focus on the task, less on relationship. The individual has low competence or capability to perform the task but relatively high commitment. Tell the individual what to do, and how to do it.

Sell/ Coach: Strong focus on task and relationship. Individual has low competence and low maturity or commitment. Tell the individual what to do and how to do it and also tell them why it needs to be done.

Participate/Support: Individual is capable but lacks some commitment, or unable to take full responsibility. Leader can spend less time on the task focus and will spend more time supporting the individual.

Delegate/Join: Leader lets the individual carry out the task with little support and direction. The individual has high level of maturity and the leader has only to join the individual in the performance to the task.

I have found this concept to be a very clear and concise description of how leaders should apply and adapt their styles based upon the relative maturity of the individual or organization to carry out the specific task or responsibility. What do you think?

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Is a Nonprofit Board Chairman More a Referee or Cheerleader?

By Joe Gurreri, Member, Executive Leadership Alliance International

What is the ideal metaphor for the role of a nonprofit Board Chairman? With Super Bowl season upon us, the choice between Referee or Cheerleader seems timely. I have led a variety of organizations, both NPO and business consortium groups, and my experience points to Cheerleader as the ideal and most functional acting role for a Board Chair. The following are true for both a Board Chair and a cheerleader:

• Cheerleaders know the score and pay attention to the game to stay relevant. Cheerleaders won’t know every play and don’t sit in on the huddles, but they do lead the rally cry to support the team, based upon what is happening on the field. Board Chairs understand the organization’s mission and general business workings in order to ensure that the board relates to the organization in the most helpful manner.

• Cheerleaders understand that the crowd is the “12th man,” and they are accountable for that 12th player’s effectiveness to help the team. If the home crowd is not creating that home field advantage, it is the responsibility of that cheerleader to get them up on their feet. Board Chairs are evangelists, first with their board, then with the committees, and as an example to that network of connections that are prospects as new stakeholders. If the crowd isn’t on their feet when it’s crunch time, neither the cheerleader, nor the Board Chair is doing her/his job.

• Cheerleaders pay attention to what the team needs. When the defensive line is on the field, the cheerleaders will make the right rally call. They make different support calls when the offensive line is on the field. Board Chairs are accountable to lead the board to respond to the needs of the organization by supporting the team on the field. Examples include widening the number of stakeholders sourced from each board member’s network, increasing the organization’s reach to achieve its mission and obviously, the funds from donations from new donors touched by the mission.

• Cheerleaders are tough on new cheer applicants and have high standards for those on the cheer team. As a Board Chair, if the board members or committees are not performing, it is the Chair’s responsibility to lead them to productivity to help the organization achieve its mission and earn funding objectives.

• Cheerleaders understand how to help the team from the sidelines, not on the field of play. Cheerleaders don’t have a say on the players roster or the next play. Board Chairs do not insert themselves into the cogs of the organization. Yes, boards do need to affirm that the organization’s leadership is sound, and that the organizational structure is set to achieve the mission, but this is an occasional review, not an ongoing activity.

The role of Board Chair is rarely one of a mediator or referee. When acting as a mediator between staff/president and the board/committees the Chair must put forth resolutions to the discrepancy and then rapidly move forward with that resolution while tracking improvements. It is imperative that the Chair not linger or be indecisive while leading the board/committees through this said challenge. Once the issue is resolved, it is critical that the Board Chair step out of the tactical in order to become more strategic to rebuild the momentum, enthusiasm, and unwavering support for the organization and its mission.

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MANAGING CHANGE EFFECTIVELY

By Philip W. Bertram, Member, Executive Leadership Alliance International

As leaders, our stakeholders often ask us to catalyze or lead change. Whether hired into new positions or asked to turnaround our existing business, we receive requests to dramatically improve results, radically reengineer processes, or change the business culture in which we operate. To do so effectively, we view ourselves as accountable for that change and the results our teams are to achieve, and for modeling the behaviors necessary for an accountability culture to develop effectively. That is, we define the desired results and set the “Tone at the Top” to ensure all our team members work together to accomplish the desired results. After we set that “Tone”, we, however, may forget all the steps necessary to effect the change we desire. Where might we find guidance on how to manage change more effectively?

In Change the Culture, Change the Game by Roger Connors and Tom Smith, the authors remind us that to achieve breakthrough results, we need to create a “Culture of Accountability”. This means we must foster, encourage, demand, and integrate “Above the Line” thinking, behavior and performance into our business. That is, when presented with a challenge, we need to empower all our team members to: “See It, Own It, Solve It, Do It!” We also must discourage our teams from falling into “Below the Line” thinking and behaviors. We must encourage them not to play the “Blame Game”. That is, we need to discourage “It’s not my job” or wait and see attitudes, finger pointing, covering your tail efforts, or inaction due to waiting to be told what to do.

Connors and Smith, as consultants by trade, provide a practical methodology for changing the culture to achieve any new goals we set. They remind us that we often focus on actions to achieve desired results without creating the experiences necessary to change beliefs first. They encourage each of us to create a new set of experiences that will change our team’s beliefs, so they can witness and then perform the right actions to achieve breakthrough results.

To help us integrate the Accountability Culture into our business, Connors and Smith suggest we master three skills:

1. Leading the Change by owning, not delegating it, and by clearly setting the “Tone at the Top”.

2. Responding to Feedback by identifying the beliefs we need to change, telling our team what beliefs we want them to hold, defining the experiences we will create for them, asking them for feedback, and enrolling them in monitoring our progress.

3. Being Facilitative by encouraging frank discussions, actively listening, and solving problems at their root, possibly through the knowledge our team members may already possess. It also means asking our team members the following questions often: What do they think? Why they think that? What would they do? And listening to and acting on their answers.

Many of us may intuitively use these three skills, but Connors and Smith effectively remind us that we need to work on them more diligently before we can fully integrate any change in the culture within our business, and fully enroll our entire organization in achieving the results desired.

I encourage you to read Change the Culture, Change the Game by Roger Connors and Tom Smith. The next time I need to lead an organizational change, I know I can effectively employ the instruction and tools they provide. I hope you will find them helpful as well.

© Philip W. Bertram 2011 All Rights Reserved

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Leadership – The Approach to Business Excellence

By Bill Grundy, Member, Executive Leadership Alliance International

Walt Disney once said, “A leader is anyone who influences change.”

Business excellence includes executive leadership, people management, quality service, brand loyalty, and inspiring creativity. Achieving business excellence requires incremental change and continuous improvement with a connection and bond between inspired leaders, motivated employees, satisfied customers or clients driving financial results and repeat business.

The five traits most valued in a Leader are:

Honesty
Forward-Looking
Competency
Inspiration
Intelligence

A leader’s responsibility is to insure that change happens constructively.

Employees look to the organization’s leaders for direction about shared values, beliefs, and strategies. Behaviors demonstrated by those in leadership roles are instrumental in conveying values, guiding strategy and inspiring employees and customer interest. This practice is more effective than directing employees to adhere to company policy. Actions tell a story of the leadership and their values. The behaviors and values conveyed will be the tone the employees will naturally follow.

Leadership: Adapt leadership strategies and best practices to your organization
Vision: Develop & communicate your leadership vision
Operations: Maintain systems & structures to meet goals
Engagement: Foster individual responsibility throughout the organization
Results: Inspire commitment and leadership in others

The behaviors, values and qualities of such a leader include achieving a leadership style and approach that has an affect on every facet of the organization.

Ask yourself; do most people remember a product or a person? It has been determined that people remember people.

As a leader, it is important to align the mission and objectives of the organization to the organization’s human resource culture. Creating and organizing the company culture, finding or realigning the right person for the right roles, nurturing the culture, communicating and supporting the culture, while developing an environment the organization can embrace.

Organization: Creating and organizing the company culture
Talent: Finding or realigning the right person for the right roles
Culture: Promote organizations values, history and philosophies
Communication: Effective communication reinforcing & supporting the culture
Environment: Appreciation, empathy, supportive and caring environment create pride in supporting the organizations culture

Such a leadership approach will have far reaching affects on the organization’s success and encompass: Quality Service, Building Relationships and Brand Loyalty, and Creating a Competitive Advantage over Competition.

The approach inspires creativity, collaboration and new ideas, which are essential to an organizations overall growth and success.

The leader’s role is to instill the responsibility for the culture and success in everyone in the organization. Everyone should be committed to the cultural identity, accept responsibility, working to enable innovation and inspiration throughout the organization.

Leaders, who recognize the values they demonstrate, will be remembered longer than their accomplishments. Leaders, who live the day to day values of the organization and what they personally value, provide insight into their character, leaving a long-lasting, positive affect providing a legacy to be remembered.

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What Kind of Leader are You?

By Dave Beeson, Member, Executive Leadership Alliance International

Almost everyone is asked to lead at some point in their career, whether that is to lead a group discussion or to manage a Fortune 500 corporation. Whatever the extent of the leadership tasks requested of you, knowing your leadership style can make it easier for you to formulate your plan and work with others.

There are a lot of ways to define leadership style, but for simplicity, leadership can be defined using four general personality types. Knowing them can help each of us define our own management style. Those types are Commander, Peacemaker, Wizard and Rainmaker.

COMMANDER – The commander leads by giving orders. The orders are followed and results are achieved. Input is accepted, but the Commander is the Boss and will lead the group where it needs to go. Similar to a Dog Sled Team, all the members work hard and pull. But only the Lead Dog can control where the team is going.

PEACEMAKER – The Peacemaker leads by building consensus. Input is solicited from the team and a group plan is developed. The leader considers personalities and opinions in developing their leadership plan. Much the way a Shepherd guides his flock. The Shepherd knows where they need to be and when, but allows the flock to move somewhat freely in that direction. As long as the result is achieved, the group will have flexibility in its movement.

WIZARD – The Wizard leads because they have extensive technical expertise or have specific creative abilities needed to achieve the goal. The team follows because they have a far better chance of success by following the leader than by striking out on their own. An example might be the lead design engineer, who is now the President of a division. No one else knows the product or systems like they do.

RAINMAKER – The team follows the Rainmaker because he/she has a strong relationship with the customers. The strength of the relationship can be a key factor in the success of the team. Think of a top sales person with years of customer contacts now in charge of the company.

In many cases, you may be a combination of more than one of these types. For instance you may find that you are a Commander/Rainmaker or a Peacemaker/Wizard. Knowing your leadership style can give you an advantage over your competition. You will start to see these traits in others. You may find that as you hire management talent, one style fits your company better than another. You may find that different groups within your company respond better to one style than to another. All of these are possible benefits to knowing what kind of leader you are.

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Filling the Leadership Pipeline

By Michael W. Potempa, Executive Leadership Alliance International

Many organizations, big and small, are facing a dilemma – where to find their future leaders. They typically have strong leaders in place now, but demographics indicate that a large number of men and women in leadership positions will be eligible for retirement in the next few years. Further, the recent economic climate has prohibited allocating valuable resources to develop and/or hire potential replacements. Succession planning dropped down on management’s priority list creating a gap between the available talent pool and the organization’s upcoming needs. Current leaders are, or should be, refocusing on filling the leadership pipeline and keeping it full to drive future success.

This refocused effort should start with an evaluation and understanding of the organization’s strategic objectives. At the same time, current leaders must identify the skills, knowledge and criteria necessary in leadership at all levels of the organization to achieve these objectives. This will result in a list of core competencies that form the basis for a development approach used to create Individual Development Plans for employees determined to be high potential candidates for leadership roles. In generating the criteria and position descriptions it is important that current leadership remains consistent, but avoids being too regimented in a way that could stifle free thinking and creativity in future leaders.

In Growing Your Company’s Leaders, Fulmer and Conger state that “Best practice organizations do the following:
• Begin the identification process by establishing competencies for each position
• Competency models are most effective when they focus on a few items that set effective leaders apart from less effective ones, rather than listing every positive trait that all leaders might possess
• Establish methods to assess individuals against the competencies
• Identify types of developmental assignments
• Track ongoing development of individuals”

As an example, one organization identified four Key Competency Areas for leadership positions – Drive for Success; Grow the Business; People Leadership; and Personal Effectiveness. They developed subsets consisting of from 5 to 7 bullet points describing competencies that define each of the four areas. They used this as the foundation for constructing a Strategic Talent Review and Development Planning program. It is showing positive results and seems to have the organization on the right track for filling its leadership pipeline.

Leaders in all organizations must take this situation to heart and ask themselves if they are on the right track in addressing the need to fill the leadership pipeline. If so, they should be congratulated on their vision for future success. If not, it is time to get going to avoid a leadership drought that is coming at them faster than they may think.

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