Wednesday, 14 July 2010

How To Make Company Strategy Work

“Only 5% of employees understand their company’s strategy. This makes successful execution nearly impossible. So how can you help frontline employees not only understand but get behind your company’s strategy?” Source: “Making Your Strategy Work on the Frontline,” Harvard Business Review Blog, 6/24/2010.

Strategy may seem simple for senior management who can often look down on the organisation as a whole. However, strategy is only effective in so far as it is interpreted and implemented by people at ground level. How can employees know what to do if they don't understand the overall plan? As Michael Porter has continually reminded us,  if the salesperson doesn't know what the strategy is, he won't know which customers to call on. And if the engineer doesn't know what the strategy is, he wont know what products to build. The most successful leaders are the ones who make it their job to teach and communicate their company's strategy at every opportunity.       

Monday, 28 June 2010

True Strategic Planning

According to Harvard Business School research and an April 2010 article in Chief Learning Officer titled “The Four Myths of Strategy,” more than 90% of all corporate strategies are “not executed successfully,” or the strategies themselves are inferior from the start.

“In reality, most companies craft a half-baked strategic plan that is only partially implemented and has sketchy buy-in at best,” claims the article.

The article then details four commonly held myths about the strategic planning process, including: Myth #1: Content is King; Myth #2: Consensus Equals Success; Myth #3: Exclusion is Efficient; Myth #4: Communication Creates Commitment.

“Strategic planning is not an accounting and forecasting exercise,” the article shares. “It’s not a weekend off-site spent in a room, hashing out who’s willing to go along with what. And it’s not a bunch of words put to paper and placed in a binder. It is a living, breathing, organic leadership action. It requires not a calculator, but the courage and conviction to inspire everyone to be their best and get on the same page. As Academy Award-winning director Francis Ford Coppola once said: ‘The first step in making a good movie is getting everyone involved to be making the same movie.’”

You can read the full article Here

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Jobs for over 40s

Many readers of this post may be looking for new jobs or business opportunities. A new blog has been created which promises to be valuable and interesting to people who are interested in jobs for over 40s. You may wish to subscribe to the blog to receive fresh information and ideas on a regular basis. Here is the link:

Jobs for over 40s

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Best Innovation quotation

“We often think of grand innovations, like the invention of the light bulb, as what drives economic growth. But equally important, and perhaps more important, are the 1,001 small innovations that regular business managers and line workers do every day at their jobs.”

- Erik Brynjolfsson, MIT Sloan economist and Digital-Business Expert, as quoted in the MIT Sloan Management Review

Monday, 12 April 2010

Innovation Quote of the week

“The ROI on innovation is survival.”

- Andrew Howlett, CEO of Rain, a marketing company

Think Winning Through Innovation & Creativity

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Leadership Return on Investment

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Famous Leadership Quote

“Genius is the fruit of a thousand failures.”

- Greg Linden, as quoted in the MIT Sloan Management Review

Innovation in Business

Leadership, Business and Innovation

“While corporate leaders may intellectually accept the need for innovation and promote their commitment to innovation at every opportunity, many really don't get it…Chief executives are doing surprisingly little to build innovation cultures in their companies. If they were, surely more than 10% of these leaders would say they were following ‘best practices’ in their industry in pursuit of innovation. Perhaps this is why only about 25% of the members of my network groups say their CEO has the right mindset and understanding of innovation to support the company's innovation success.” – Source: Copenhagen-based author Stefan Lindegaard, as quoted in Business Week magazine, March 3, 2010

Are your competitors innovating for you?

“Despite the very real prospect of prolonged economic malaise, the financial services industry is at an amazing moment,” claims guest columnist Ryan Jacoby in a March 22 Business Week article. In spite of this being an “amazing moment,” Jacoby shares his view that “most big banks are terrible at innovating” and are letting this moment slip away.

“Consumers want new products and services to help them become more confident, educated caretakers of their own money. There's real opportunity here,” writes Jacoby. “Only, most big banks are letting startups figure out how to serve their customers better.”

Jacoby shares that big banks can reverse this trend by bringing greater creativity and innovation to such areas as customer experience, data use, and new product and service design.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Aging Workforce?

A study by The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, referenced in a recent issue of T+D magazine, finds that, “The top four (business) priorities ranked as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ among state agencies are: increasing productivity through increased efficiency (97.3%), management of workforce talent (95.3%), organizational ethics (93.5%), and cost leadership (89.8%).”

In addition, the study found that government offices actually “excel” in, “their awareness and assessment of the impact of the aging workforce on their organizations.” However, in comparison to the private sector, government offices, “have found it more difficult than the private sector to implement change.” The study determined that some state agencies’ negative perceptions of late-career employees include, “reluctance to travel and new technologies,” “burned out” and “difficult to train.”

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Innovation Quotation

“Innovation is invention times impact. Invention is nice, but if it has no economic or social impact it is useless.”

– Source: Marco Iansiti, author and Harvard Business School professor

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Leadership quotes

Words of Wisdom

"If you think the cost of an over-satisfied customer is costly, think about the cost of an under-satisfied customer."  Lisa Ford

"Good customer service costs less than bad customer service" Sally Gronow, Welsh Water.

"You cannot improve one thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 things by 1%". Jan Carlzon.

" A diamond is  just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well" Anon

"For fast acting relief, try slowing down".  Lily Tomlin

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important" Bertrand Russell.

"A poor life this if full of care we have no time to stand and stare" William Henry Davies.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Motivating Staff

Motivating Staff

In a respected psychology paper published in 1943 and titled "A Theory of Human Motivation" Abraham Maslow defined his hierarchy of human needs.  It is described in summary in this pyramid diagram with the most basic human needs at the bottom.

Maslow pyramid
Employment by itself provides part of the basic needs but engagement and motivation play a bigger role in supporting the higher level needs.

In more recent research Dr Gerald Graham conducted studies into levels of employee motivation and found that money was not the biggest motivator for people. (This may be different if there is a big discrepancy with market rates).  The top 3 motivators were:

  • Personal thanks from their direct Manager.
  • Written thanks from their manager.
  • Promotion based upon merit/performance.

As can be seen these are within the reach of all managers and can be achieved without the expenditure of unreasonable amounts of time and effort.

Recommended Reading:

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Customer Service Leadership

Customer Service.

If you operate in an environment where you have no competition then you are different to most businesses today. Most of us do not have a unique product or are not still in the "first mover advantage" zone and have to compete on both price and service.

There are several common perceived wisdoms about customer dynamics such as "it takes 8 times more effort to get a new customer than to keep an existing one" and "a customer who has had a problem that has been handled well will become more loyal"

If a customer stays with you then their value to your business increases.  Repeat business means that you can consider the lifetime value of a customer rather than the single transaction value.  Supermarkets that make a virtue of their low prices offer loyalty cards to encourage customers to get in the habit of shopping with them each week.

Giving front line staff the authority to resolve customer issues and to offer discretionary compensation (up to defined levels) can really help in resolving customer issues before they escalate.

Being good at resolving customer issues and dealing with emergencies when they arise is a good skill but building-in reliability to avoid customer issues in the first place will have a more lasting impact on customer satisfaction.
Customer Services Levels
Lisa Ford refers to Customer Service circles with the basic requirements in the centre and extra circles of added service, which can differentiate us from our competitors, in the outer circles.

formatted circles

 Customer service levels need to be under regular review for the simple reason that customer expectations will change over time as the higher level of service become the norm and migrate into expected and  generic.
1. Generic/Basic      The minimum level
2. Expected.             What customers have grown to expect.
3. Augmented          More than, better than or faster than competition.
4. Potential              Innovation, on line ordering, delivery tracking...

Customer service levels need to be under regular review for the simple reason that customer expectations will change over time as the higher level of service become the norm and migrate into expected and  generic.

Recommended reading:

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

360 Degree Feedback

360 Degree Feedback.

According to research from Affinity Health at Work and the Health and Safety Executive employees that feel free to speak their minds about their managers abilities are more likely to feel happy, healthy and stress free at work. The study which was presented at the British Psychological Society's conference in January, found that the most commonly reported cause of stress in the workplace is the relationship between an employee and their line manager. In companies where staff are involved in rating and giving feedback on their line manager's performance, stress is reduced.

No matter how open we are as managers most of our people will  find providing face to face feedback difficult. One mechanism that provides a safer environment is 360 degree feedback which has the benefit of providing wider feedback. This is a process that is structured and can be run by an external organisation which collates responses.  As a  manager you provide details of  the person you report to, people who are your peers in your organisation and people who report to you. This covers your working relationships up, down and sideways, hence the 360 degree term. Typically this also results in feedback from 8-12 people and so is reasonably comprehensive.  The collated results can give a manager a real insight into how their colleagues perceive them and provide very useful feedback without damaging relationships.   Some specialist organisations  provide these as web based questionnaires which reduces the administration and speeds up the process.

Recommended Reading:


Sunday, 21 March 2010

Leadership Qualities

In one of our workshops in London last month the participating senior managers and executives identified these qualities of powerful and influential people.


Good Communicator      



Self Motivated

Consider exceptional managers that you have worked for in the past and  compare their qualities with the list above. How did they compare with the qualities listed here?

How do you stack up against your revised list?




Individuals and businesses develop a reputation whether they are planning to or not. As managers  we do well to take note of ours and that of our organisations and to decide what we need to do to maintain it or change it.   Reputations are built as a result of many actions performed over a long period of time and a good one represents  a valuable asset for the individual or business.

Here are some examples of people, professions and businesses that are currently experiencing problems with their reputational capital.

Toyota.  The well publicised concerns over the potential for problems with accelerator and brakes has impacted negatively on the Toyota reputation for quality. So far Toyota's actions to handle the issue seem to indicate that they are more interested in dealing with the safety issues, reassuring their customers and rebuilding their reputation than looking at the immediate bottom line impact.

Climate change scientists. The publication of emails that seemed to indicate that some scientists were less than open when their findings were subjected to critical review has caused ripples throughout their community.

Members of Parliament.  The publication of details  of  MP's expense claims has led to just 3 of the 646 members facing criminal charges. However the reputation of  parliament as a whole would seem to have been impacted negatively as a result. 

How can we test our own decisions and actions for impact upon our reputational capital?  We could consider. "How would I feel if this was on the  10 o'clock news tonight?"

Recommended Reading:

Communication Skills

Communicating well.

There are many obstacles to effective communication. As managers we will spend as much as 70% of our working time in verbal communication.  We learn to talk very early in life and tend to take the way we do it for granted. If we engage in any further verbal communication training in adult life then it is often about how we present to a group, how we express ourselves, how we can communicate our requirements more clearly in order to get what we need to be done actually  done. The main focus is on talking.

Being a good listener is a different skill. There is a story which makes the distinction between the skills of two famous, successful and contemporary British politicians who are reported as loathing each other. A young women had the good fortune to dine out in London two nights in a row and at the first dinner party was sat next to William Gladstone and at the second next to Benjamin Disraeli. On giving a summary of the experience she reported that she had engaged in fascinating conversation with both of them and that after meeting Gladstone had been left with the impression that he was the smartest man in London but that after spending time with Disraeli she was left with the impression that she was the smartest women in all of England.

This story may not be fact but is one that was used at the time to highlight the difference in the verbal  communication styles of these two successful politicians.

Effective Listening.
As managers we will often have a crowded schedule with little time for reflection. The people who work with us may have trouble finding a moment to raise an idea or a concern. Invariably we seem to get interrupted at the most inconvenient moments and push away a discussion.  This can be problematic for two good reasons.  The nagging concern that we may be missing something important and the negative impact on the person trying to impart the information.

So how can we be better listeners as managers?

Make time for the discussion. If  you can not talk now then set a time when you can.

Avoid distractions. There is nothing worse than to try and talk to someone who continues to do their email or read messages on their PDA when you are trying to communicate something important.

Be engaged and make the decision to actually listen.

Here are some ways that you can communicate to the other person that you are listening and at the same time these techniques will also result in you  hearing more of what they are saying.

Terms relevant to this article: 
Communication skills, communication, leadership tips listening skills, effective listening, leadership skills, management skills, top management skills top leadership skills, how to communicate

For a list of the top 10 books on leadership visit: Top 10 Leadership Books on Amazon

Saturday, 20 March 2010

How To Win Negotiations

We tend to consider negotiating as a skill used in business and exercised by a separate group of specialists who negotiate big commercial contracts. In fact negotiating is an important life skill that we all do more of than we think.  In a family setting agreeing lights off time with your children becomes more of a negotiation than an instruction as they get older not to mention pocket money, allowances. use of the car,  curfew hours or holidays without the parents.

At work, negotiating your first salary is not something that occurs to most young people starting their first job but research shows that the affect of  getting an extra few pounds on that first salary can have a huge knock on effect across your whole career.

In business negotiation is often seen as a highly charged game of combat where there are only winners and losers.  This is not the most productive way of building your business. John Paul Getty is reported as having learnt from his father how important it was  when negotiating a deal to not try to make all the money that was available but to allow the other party to made some money as well.  This pragmatic approach was based upon his fathers conviction that if you stopped the other party making any money then pretty soon you would have nobody to do business with. 

Is Win Win possible?
One big problem when negotiating is that we don't know what the other party will settle for and what their sticking points are. We tend to find these out by feeling our way around and sometimes a deal will fall through because of some relatively minor point. 
How can we increase our chances of making a deal without giving in?
Try to avoid a fixed "bottom line" position.  While this protects you from selling yourself short it does not give you any leeway to respond to new information that comes up during discussions.
Establish beforehand if you can afford to walk away from the negotiations and the deal.  Try to identify the risks and judge if you can afford to take them. Remember that if you need to make a deal at any cost then you cannot reasonably expect to negotiate the best possible terms.
Look for scope to expand the deal to cover other areas and increase the potential.
Most negotiations are started because there are two parties who do  want to make a deal. This will  give you more power in the process than you may think.
Listen to what the other side are saying and be open to changing your tack.  Don't offer concessions unless they are asked for.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Imagine leadership - Video

A truly thought-provokingvideo about Leadership. Anyone who is an existing or aspiring leader should watch this.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

How Good Are Your Listening Skills?

A January 14 article in The Wall Street Journal shares that listening to employees is also a terrific way to motivate people when times are tough and/or when money is tight.

"You've got to think outside the money box when it comes to motivating your employees in this economic environment,” shares an executive in the article.

Listening is one of the “outside the box” tactics suggested.

When the co-owner of a debt management company, quoted in the article, encountered low morale among his staff, he began weekly meetings with 14 employees to share (and listen to) ideas and just chat. "I found the more I listened, the better they pepped up," said the company owner. "It takes time from me, but it's worth it. When they get it off their chests and realize I do care, it becomes my problem to solve. I can address it and they can go about their day being productive."

On a related note, do you realize that the popular concept of “Management by Walking Around,” set forth by such admired executives as Andy Grove of Intel, might actually be wrong? Researchers at Harvard studied 238 people on 26 teams in different companies and found that leaders can actually hurt employee perceptions of team leader support if these team leaders proactively monitor personnel effort and offer feedback BUT fail to show lack of sincere interest in employee work and ideas? Therefore, if a manager walks around and tries to be visible and appear involved…but fails to show genuine interest in the people doing the work…that leader is doing nothing more than wearing out his or her shoes. And what’s one of the best ways to show employees that you care…while walking around?
You can read the January 14 Wall Street Journal via this link

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Click Here

Thursday, 18 February 2010


Strategy Delegation and Motivation

Barely half of senior managers are excited by their own business strategies.

Are your people skills weak? Are you out of touch with the needs and feelings of customers? Are you infuriated by dissent? According to an article in the Director magazine, if you answered, “yes” to these questions, congratulations, you’re a perfect candidate to craft business strategies in the world today.

“Business strategy is often conceived in an ivory tower by top executives and then handed down in tablets of stone for middle management to implement,” claims the article. “But, because the strategy is not grounded in the reality of the business and lacks ‘emotional edge,’ the rest of the organisation neither believes in it nor engages with it. So it's not surprising that only 19 per cent of corporate strategies achieve their objectives, according to new research among more than 1,600 top, senior and mid-level managers in public and private sector organizations.”

This article also points out the only 25 percent of executives themselves are excited or motivated by the strategies they create and just 28 percent of senior leaders are engaged by their strategies.

If this is the perception that senior executives have of their own business strategies, how can they expect middle management and employees to be motivated by them, embrace them or wholeheartedly implement them? Delegation of goals that are not fully “owned” is a recipe for mediocrity or failure.

Based on the statistics above, is it any wonder that 81 percent of strategies fail to achieve their objectives?

You can read it here

Recommended Reading:

Relevant topics: Strategy, Motivation, Delegation

Fancy a Little Light Relief? Here are some interesting links:

Change Management

Change management, transformational leadership, business transformation

Have you spotted the replacement for your company yet?

I stumbled upon a fascinating article about change management the other day from 2007. I was struck by the power of the message which reminds us just how quickly new companies can arrive and how quickly they can take over and even dominate an industry. When the article was written, I wonder if anyone had hear the names Twitter, Squidoo, Technorati and many other household names that exist today? What may be even more fascinating would be to hear if any of the business ideas mentioned in this article ever took off themselves?

In a training video presentation, the famous leadership trainer Bob Johnson warned that, as leaders, “We have to find a better way to do things. If we don’t our competition will.”

As proof that this warning may be becoming a reality – right now – in several industries (including maybe your own), consider the following four examples profiled in the August 22 2007 edition of Business 2.0 magazine:

Startup wants to make power plants obsolete. Do you realize that almost two-thirds of energy produced in the conversion of fuel into kilowatts is lost as heat? Now, a company called Bloom Energy is taking solid-oxide fuel cells – a concept that been around since the 19th century – and using it to create more efficient, cleaner and more localized power production that can run on a variety of fuel sources, including ethanol, biodiesel, methane and natural gas. While making large, inefficient power plants obsolete, many experts also predict that this development could bring more affordable, more reliable power to developing countries and remote villages around the world.

Tired of car and insurance payments, fuel costs and auto maintenance? New firm has left a fleet of cars parked around town; use one of theirs instead. A company called Zipcar is out to prove that you no longer need an automobile. The firm has a fleet of 3,000 hip cars scattered throughout 23 dense urban areas – including London, Boston, New York and Vancouver – that subscribers can locate via the Web and use 24 hours per day for a $50 annual membership and $8 - $15 per hour. The firm already has more than 100,000 members and more than $60 million in annual revenue this year.

Who says that old dinosaurs can’t learn new tricks? If you thought that digital photography killed the old Polaroid camera company, think again. Housed in an old Polaroid R&D facility in Massachusetts is a little spin-off – with big plans – called Zink, which stands for “zero ink.” Zink wants to turn your cell phone, laptop or TV into a high-end color printer.

Think there’s a market for a $176 laptop that uses 90 percent less electricity than today’s models? While a “do-gooder” named Nicholas Negroponte set out to create computers for Third World kids, his invention, which relies on something called Wi-Fi mesh networks, just may transform personal computing for the entire world.

Remember Bob Johnson’s warning that, if we don’t find a better way to do things, our competition will. Maybe they already have. You can read the full story here.

Please do let us know if you have come across (or worked for) any of these 4 innovative companies? Did their dreams (and other peoples nightmares) ever come true?

Topics relevant to this article include change management business transformation, transformational leadership

Recommended Reading:

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

How to achieve a Work-Life Balance

Here's a great leadership tip for anyone in a management position who finds themselves working too hard.

A column appearing in the The Wall Street Journal makes a strong case that effective managers aren’t necessarily the people who work longer hours. In fact, the article argues that one of the tell-tale signs of effective management is that people might actually work less. Many managers and leaders are being swamped by an ever-increasing workload and the pressure to balance work and family commitments. The constant battle to achieve more with less can only be achieved by making some definitive decisions.

“New research suggests some have reached the point where a paradoxical truth applies: To get more done, we need to stop working so much,” claims this article.

Citing the results of a groundbreaking four-year study to be published in The Harvard Business Review, this column claims that scheduling purposeful time away from work responsibilities, “forced teams to communicate better, share more personal information and forge closer relationships.”

It’s important to note that two of the firms profiled in the study are top-performers Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and professional services firm KPMG. Originally, BCG executives virtually had to threaten employees in the study to take time off.  By the end of the study, the firm was so pleased with the performance improvement from this initiative that it is rolling out similar efforts in other groups. “It really changes how we do our work,” said a senior BCG partner.

“Amid layoffs and burgeoning workloads, it seems, working any time, all the time, has become a habit,” shares this Wall Street Journal article. “A survey of 605 U.S. workers by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 70% of employees work beyond scheduled time and on weekends; more than half blame ‘self-imposed pressure.’”

The article also introduces an interesting differentiator in workplace efficiency between “good intensity work” – that positive “buzz” you get from constant learning and involvement – and “bad intensity work” – which is the negative feeling you get from never having time away from your job, from foggy priorities or a lack of control over your life.

“Setting limits on work motivates people to work smarter,” claims the article.

Terms relevant to this article: Leadership tips, management skills, staff productivity, time management, prioritisation, prioritization GVHCAJGCMKFW

Recommended Reading:

Monday, 15 February 2010

Management Training Continues

Management attitudes to training:

76% of Canadian senior executives say their training budgets are unchanged – or increased – from 2008

An article appearing in the August 13 edition of Canadian business development publication Exchange magazine claims that while 23% of executives admit that training budgets have been reduced this year, 45% of senior execs claim their training budgets are unchanged, while 21% say their development budget has “expanded somewhat” or has “expanded significantly” (reported by 10% of survey respondents).

Selected Management Training/ Leadership Quotes:

“Knowledge is like a garden; if it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.” - African Proverb

“In this economy, you need to take advantage of every available resource to propel your career. Finding a mentor – and preferably a network of mentors – is an easy and smart way to get started.” – Source: An article titled “Pile on Mentors in Tough Times” published in The Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2009

Topics relevant to this article include: leadership development, management training, training budgets, training, mentoring

Recommended Reading:

Staff Motivation Drops

Article shows there has been a big drop in staff motivation and morale.
If you are looking for a way to boost morale as part of your own leadership development, then this leadership tip will be extremely helpful.

An article published recently by CNN finds that as tougher economic conditions have led to increased workloads for less pay, employee morale has dropped sharply.

“Forty percent of employees at organizations affected by layoffs say productivity has been negatively impacted,” claims the article. “Of those 40%, two-thirds of them say that morale is suffering and that employees are less motivated than before.”

What’s concerning businesses most about this trend, however, is the corresponding impact these falling attitudes are having on corporate productivity and performance.

"The risk here is the organization's financial health," said business author Roxanne Emmerich in the article. "Employee morale is the leading predictor of future growth and profitability."

In the article, Emmerich predicts that at some point, employers will have to do more to incentivize employees. She recommends rewards that tie into the company's vision and values, but that are not necessarily monetary. "People just want to be recognized for the most part," she said.

You can read the full story here

Subject matter of this article includes: staff motivation, morale, Leadership tips, leadership development, management training

Fancy a Little Light Relief? Here are some interesting links:

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Management Development

Have you ever wondered if you are getting a good return on the money you are spending on management development?

Despite the billions of dollars, euros, and yen invested in coaching and management development, remarkably few executives can be regarded as skillful managers,” says Gill Corkindale, the former management editor of The Financial Times. In a posting on a Harvard Business School blog, Corkindale asks readers how this reality is possible.

Answering her own question, Corkindale offers two reasons, saying, “It's my guess that the majority of managers with responsibility for large teams and significant businesses either do not possess the requisite skills of a manager — or they just don't put them (new skills learned) into practice.”

Corkindale then proposes three reasons why executives fail to apply the leadership development skills they learn, including lack of time, budget constraints and the reality that, “behavioural change is difficult.”

Next, Corkindale proceeds to share some of the rules she recommends to help ensure that new managerial development skills are applied, including being open to experimentation and new ideas in learning, trusting that the learning will help, and committing to the plan for a minimum of six months. She also outlines five of the key development areas that she recommends for executives.

Recommended Reading:

Light Relief:
Most Embarrassing YouTube Videos
Magic Wheel videos

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Qualities of Leadership

Leadership Tip: Qualities of Leadership

For people who wonder about what are the qualities of leadership the following research may be interesting.

”Our team (at Gallup) initiated a study of more than 10,000 followers around the world. In this study, we asked followers to tell us – in their own words – why they follow the most influential leader in their life. Three key findings emerged from this research: 1. The most effective leaders are always investing in strengths. In the workplace, when an organization’s leadership fails to focus on individuals’ strengths, the odds of an employee being engaged are a dismal 1 in 11 (9%). But when an organization’s leadership focuses on the strengths of its employees, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%). So that means when leaders focus on and invest in their employees’ strengths, the odds of each person being engaged goes up eightfold.” – Source: Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath & Barry Conchie

The moral of the story? Focus on the strengths of your people and make this your main focus.

Recommended Reading:

Staff Motivation

Sometimes the best way to deal with workplace mistakes is to honor them

On the subjects of staff motivation and leaderships, an article published in Volume 26, Issue #3 of the Journal of Business Strategy shares that a BMW plant in Regensburg, Germany enacted a successful program between 1990 and 1993 where employees could nominate colleagues who had come up with clever ideas that, despite thorough testing, failed to work. Nominees then got the opportunity to discuss their creative failure and win a prize, such as a fine bottle of wine.  According to the article, this program was successful in building a culture of innovation and creative thinking and trial without glorifying routine, unhelpful errors.

Key Terms for this article: motivation, staff motivation, incentives

Recommended Reading:

Middle Management

When storms hit, middle managers stand in the gap

Why is it important to grow the leadership and management skills of middle managers and aspiring, young leaders?  We see this question answered beautifully in a September 19 Wall Street Journal column by Carol Hymowitz just a few years ago.

When Hurricane Katrina caused a five-mile stretch of railroad tracks connecting New Orleans and Slidell, La. to fall into Lake Pontchartrain, Norfolk Southern couldn’t transport badly needed products from the East Coast to the Pacific. 

And it wasn’t a CEO who saved the day.

Before the storm hit, Jeff McCracken, a chief engineer in Atlanta, prepared the materials he thought he might need for repairs and he readied 100 employees to help. After the storm, the team responded quickly, removing 5,000 trees from roads.  Then, when he discovered that the railroad tracks had fallen into the lake, McCracken gathered 365 engineers, machine operators and other workers and devised a creative plan to rescue the fallen tracks from the lake, rather than wait several weeks to build new tracks. The crew even slept in campers on site and worked in shifts around the clock to restore the rail line. Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit, the damaged tracks were repaired and returned to full service.

“CEOs who feel under particular pressure from investors these days need to relinquish their imperious status or they'll end up having power taken away from them,” claims the article. “CEOs who don't want upheaval among their rank and file should take note of one big change in the job market. Ambitious and talented middle managers have more opportunities to land new positions now than they've had in the past five years. Retaining them may require giving up some big corner-office compensation increases to improve their salaries.”

It would seem that growing and training middle managers when the business climate is good helps to ensure that they’ll be prepared to weather the storms when they inevitably hit. And investing in the development of middle management is also a terrific way for executives to ensure that the storms that hit aren’t caused by their own doing.

Leadership, middle management, management training

Recommended Reading

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Friday, 12 February 2010

Businesses Mismanage Communication and Promotion

One-third of middle managers say their organizations are mismanaged.
Perhaps its time for leadership at the top of our organisations. Middle managers are continuing to feel under-informed about key organisation issues that affect them and their staff.

An article appearing in the November 8 issue of Chief Learning Officer newsletter (and based on a recent research study) claims that, “middle managers are increasingly dissatisfied with their current organizations, believe their organizations are mismanaged, and see few prospects for advancement.”

Here are some other excerpts from this article:

“Only 28 percent rated the way their organizations manage prospects for advancement as good or excellent.”

“Only 31 percent said their companies were good or excellent at helping them communicate bad news.”

“Only about one-third of respondents reported that their companies were good or excellent at managing: compensation, flexible work arrangements, communications between supervisors and subordinates, and training and development (33 percent, 34 percent, 37 percent and 37 percent, respectively).”

“When asked about the most frustrating aspects of their jobs, the greatest number of respondents -- 47 percent -- cited compensation issues, followed by balancing work and personal time, the feeling that they do the bulk of the work and don't receive the appropriate credit, and having no clear career path (chosen by 40 percent, 38 percent and 35 percent, respectively).”

"Reinventing the role of middle managers will be critical to this effort, particularly as increasing numbers of employees look toward retirement. Creating positive environments for employees to succeed will be a critical factor for winning in the marketplace."

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Leadership Tip - How To Avoid Recruitment Mistakes

The greatest hiring and recruiting mistake might be not recruiting at all

A column in The Wall Street Journal claimed that managers have been working so hard for so long with so few workers that they have forgotten the importance of searching for and recruiting new talent. A few years later, the view could not be more true. How does one achieve leadership in recruitment? Here are some excerpts from this article:
“How can companies improve their recruiting efforts? To begin, chief executives who know this is a business priority must make sure managers regularly step away from their day-to-day duties to meet new talent -- whether or not they have an immediate job to fill.”

“Managers in charge are working under such pressure to deliver the product ahead of competitors that they have no time to recruit. ‘So they're digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole, trying to get people inside to lend a hand, when they need outside candidates with different skills.’”

Small business owners claim that attitude is 106% more important in recruitment decisions than occupational skills

Leadership: A survey of small business owners by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 66% of respondents believe that a good attitude and work habits are the most important factors they consider when evaluating new hires, followed by the ability to follow directions at 63%. Occupational skills were a requirement among only 30% of respondents.

Speakers like Zig Ziglar who present publicly about leadership have been telling us for many years the importanc of attitude in the recruitment process.

About 61% of leaders polled said that a fellow employee will work with new hires to teach required skills, while 11% send workers to a course or seminar. After one year, however, 90% of owners claim that they will continue to invest in training and the top source of this training shifts to sending people outside the business.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Leadership - Performance Appraisal Disaster

Here are some more great tips for anyone wanting to progress in leadership. Recognise these pitfalls and commit to doing something different in your organisation! Leadership is about leading people. Performance appraisals (performance reviews) are a great tool to help with this task.

Studies conclude that most performance appraisals are an abysmal failure, leading workers to view HR Departments as failures as well.

A 2005 survey of 48,012 employees, managers and CEOs in 126 companies found that only 13 percent of employees and managers – and only 6 percent of CEOs – believe that their performance appraisals are useful. In addition, an astounding 88 percent of respondents said that their current performance appraisal system negatively impacts how they view their HR department. Here are some excerpts from a news release about this study:

• Only 18 percent of people in the survey said that their performance appraisal system effectively differentiates between high and low performers.

• 42 percent of respondents said that the comments they receive from their managers on their performance appraisals are too generic.

• Only 13 percent of employees believe that their manager has an effective method for tracking and recording performance-related events and items.

Click Here read more from this article


The Complete Guide to Performance Appraisal

Fancy a Little Light Relief? Here are some interesting links:

Leadership - Most Companies Are Lousy At Developing It..........

Most companies…and their CEOs…are “lousy” at leadership development, says a Fortune magazine article. A feature story appearing in the January 25 edition of Fortune magazine claims that, “Top talent has never been more valuable, nor competition for it more fierce.” This article claims that the competition for top managerial performers makes it imperative that companies get, “serious about growing their own leaders.” Here are some other excerpts from this article:

• “Even amid today's massive new supplies of talent, there isn't nearly enough of the very best stuff. Even in China, where you can hire factory workers by the million, companies can't find enough managers. ‘They're constantly getting stolen away,’ says Tom Johnson, former CEO of Chesapeake Corp., a packaging maker with a plant in China. ‘Labor is abundant, but management is scarce.’”

• “The No. 1 skill companies seek in managers is ‘ability to motivate and engage others.’ Ranking a close second is ability to communicate, a trait Neff's clients also increasingly want. How many people with those qualities are you likely to find if you just go out looking? The depressing answer -- not many -- is why many companies are getting serious about growing their own leaders.”

• “Most companies aren’t very good at leadership development.”

• “Companies increasingly realize their pipeline is broken: In that survey from Right (Management Consultants), 77 percent of companies say they don't have enough successors to their current senior managers. Yet they have a miserable time doing much about it.”

• “Sponsorship from the top is key. Not many bosses will match the 70 percent of his time that Jack Welch says he put into development when he was running GE… When a company says it's getting serious about management development, I say great -- just let me see the CEO's calendar"