Despite the hundreds of books, programs and websites devoted to leadership, the truth is that leaders can't be trained. Leaders need to be developed. Hopefully this doesn't seem like a simple matter of semantics, because it isn't.
Let me illustrate this distinction. Leadership is more about WHO you are than about what you do or what you know. Two executives can do and say the same things but get very different results - even when they do and say those things to the very same person! Although what you say and what you do are important, effective leadership is even more dependent on HOW you do or say those things. This explains why the actions of those two executives can elicit such different responses.
You can train people about what to say. You can train people about what to do. You can even show someone how to do and say those things. But getting them to change how they go about doing things and getting them to change how they go about saying things is a whole other story.
Leadership is about who we are, and it's this "how" of doing, saying, and being that defines who we are. I think a good deal of "who we are" is captured within the competencies of Emotional Intelligence, developed and made popular by Daniel Goleman. There are 12 EI competencies, with five of them being the one's that ultimately affect our effectiveness as leader. These five competencies are:
1) Coaching and Mentoring - The ability to develop others
2) Inspirational Leadership - The ability to develop a compelling vision and to lead with it
3) Influence - The ability to utilize persuasion
4) Conflict Management - The ability to resolve disagreements
5) Teamwork and Collaboration - The ability to build and guide teams
Let's briefly examine each one of these competencies with respect to training vs. development as it pertains to leadership.
Coaching and Mentoring
As a professional coach, I know many professionally trained coaches. They've gone through a curriculum of coach training from an accredited coaching school. And yet, although they have the necessary skills and knowledge to be a good coach, a number of them are really rather poor at coaching. Conversely, I've come across associates who are reasonably good at coaching, yet have never had any formal coach training.
How is this possible? How is it that someone with great coaching skills is mediocre at coaching? And how is it that someone without any formal training is very effective at coaching?
The answer of course, is in HOW they apply their coaching knowledge and skills. In order to be effective as a coach, one must, at the very least, be aware of one's own emotions, have control of one's emotions, be empathetic, and have good judgment. The reality is that each of those traits must either be developed or be natural to a person. They just aren't things that can be "trained".
Leaders need to be inspiring. They need to instill pride, they need to hold and communicate a vision, and they need to inspire an organization and its people to aspire to excellence.
Here's the challenge… People aren't simply inspired by the right words. The right words spoken by the "wrong" person will have only a minimal effect. In order for a leader to move others to action, he or she needs to be someone who others admire and respect.
How does someone garner the respect of others? It's obviously through our words and actions, but once again, "how" we say what we say and do what we do determine the impact those words and actions will have. "Who we are" is something that can be shifted and developed, but it cannot be "trained".
Effective leaders are influential. We influence people by our words and actions, but of course, it comes back to how we're viewed by others and how we do and say the things we do. Honing and improving those abilities comes down to development and not training.
Conflict and challenges are inevitable in business, and a good leader has the ability to diffuse and resolve situations as they arise. In order to be effective in this effort, a leader needs to have the respect and trust of those involved. How we conduct ourselves during these times is important, but even more critical is how we've conducted ourselves in the past. Establishing "who we are" takes time and is not something that can be trained - only nurtured and refined.
In order for a leader to successfully foster an atmosphere of collaboration, he or she must be good at the previous competencies - coaching, inspiring, influencing, and resolving. Clearly this ability once more rests on things best developed and not trained.
Now that we've made a case for leadership development and one against "leadership training", we need to address how this development occurs. Here's what has to happen:
1. An objective assessment of one's competencies needs to take place. Since "how" we do and say things is habitual, we're generally blind to our shortcomings.
2. No one needs to be excellent in every competency in order to be an effective leader. Based on the objective assessment of our leadership skills, we need to focus on one or two areas to target for improvement.
3. Enlist the help of one or two trusted associates to help point out (in a loving fashion, of course!) when we fall back into old patterns.
By being mindful of your words and actions, and being persistent in your efforts to improve, you'll find that over time - there is no "quick fix" for what we're achieving - your effectiveness and impact as a leader will increase. Not only should we strive to develop ourselves as leaders, but need to work to develop those around us. Ultimately, a great leader is someone who develops other leaders.
About the author:
Michael Beck is a Business Strategist and Executive Coach. For more articles on leadership, personal effectiveness and personal productivity, please visit www.michaeljbeck.com.
Despite the hundreds of books, programs and websites devoted to leadership, the truth is that leaders can't be trained. Leaders need to be developed. Hopefully this doesn't seem like a simple matter of semantics, because it isn't. Let me illustrate this distinction. Leadership is more about WHO you are than about what you do or what you know. Two executMichael Beck Articles
To better comprehend the association between Leadership, Spirituality and Sense of Happiness or satisfaction with regards to the working environment, I propose the concept of visionary leadership which is broadly utilized as a part of contemporary discourse of leadership. Visionary Leadership can be identified as an inclination to see higher spiritual powers behind the occurrence of every other event. Visionary leaders look for a relationship of events with these spiritual forces. They may or may not find themselves to be involved in such events but they may believe in the idea of alignment of events with the transcendent forces.
Visionary leaders have the vitality, drive and determination to get things going and lead others do likewise. They have an inner motivation and the ambition to achieve big. They believe in their motivation and their capacity to think for big goals.
Some of the great world leaders including President George Washington and Winston Churchill mentioned the assistance they got from a ‘guiding hand’.
Winston Churchill said: “... we have a guardian because we serve a great cause, and we shall have that guardian as long as we serve that cause faithfully.”
It is reported that the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat had been visited by Mohammed who told him to maintain peace in the Middle East, which he sought after with determination.
Below are some of the quotes from famous business leaders regarding the idea of visionary leadership and its spiritual connection:
"A leader's role is to raise people's aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there." — David Gergen
"The companies that survive longest are the ones that work out what they uniquely can give to the world — not just growth or money, but their excellence, their respect for others or their ability to make people happy. Some call those things a soul." — Charles Handy
"A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done." — Ralph Lauren
Visionary leaders comprehend that spirituality in the work environment setting is tied in with discovering the reason and meaning, past one's self, through the opportunities related to the work. Uncovering these purposes would incite significant sentiments of prosperity, a satisfying conviction that one's work makes an extraordinary or potentially noteworthy contribution.
It might empower a feeling of association with others. Visionary leadership is more than coordinating and directing the followers or people under the effect of leadership. Driving from inside is a method for concentrating on our internal knowing and our natural qualities and strengths. One way of releasing this rich source of knowledge can be by a plan of action to our strengths. Times of emergency and crisis may likewise prove to be the times of enlightenment with the potential for change and development. It may prove to be the time when we start to scrutinize our deeds, needs and the way we live and work.
Major life occasions which may be painful at times, for example, the loss of a friend or family member, separation of one's family, sickness or injury, may be perceived as opportunities as much as difficulties. Events like these, have a tendency to deliver a need to incite meaning, and the bits of knowledge that develop after it are vital to how we rise up out of them. In the similar context, encounters like near-death experience or such revelations may likewise have that power of such transformation. Visionary leaders may comprehend that with the end goal for them to ingrain a sense of meaning and satisfaction.
Following are the three kinds to happiness that we can experience as proposed by Martin Seligman (credited as the father of Positive Psychology):
1) pleasure and gratification,
2) embodiment of strengths and virtues and
3) meaning and purpose.
The "pleasurable and gratification" is what we encounter when we work on activities that makes us feel enjoyable, for example, purchasing of new things, recreational activities with our family members, sharing quality time with friends and family members or going out on holidays. The life of commitment and engagement is tied in with utilizing our qualities and strengths in the everyday events.
It may come through profound commitment in any action that one may find challenging, which could be a part of one's professional or family life. A life with a meaning is developed when we start utilizing our qualities for the goal of achieving something that is bigger than one's self.
"Meaning and Purpose" originates from serving others and may incorporate taking care of the family, helping other individuals, volunteering works, etc. Visionary leaders can help their supporters to these ways of attaining happiness or satisfaction, however the first path that is provided by Seligman can be accomplished outside the work environment and we, normally, know how to achieve it, while the second path has been a part of the work plan for more than 50 years. It is, however, with the third kind (meaning and purpose) with which the leaders may experiment by opening the opportunities to significant and meaningful work.
A manuscript studying more than 150 studies demonstrates that there is a similarity in relationship between spiritual values and leadership efficiencies. Qualities that have for quite some time been viewed as spiritual ideals, for example, empathy, meditation and contemplation, have been shown to be identified with success in leadership.
In a similar way, the practices that are traditionally been associated with the concept of spirituality, and are practiced in everyday life, for example, offering of prayers, etc. have been proposed to be associated with the effectiveness in leadership. In many spiritual practices, emphasis has been put on the application of beliefs like prayers, and it has also been found to be a part of crucial leadership skills including, gesture of respect for others, exhibiting equal or fair treatment, expression of concern, listening and recognizing the work done by others, etc. Spirituality may be utilized as a model or framework for organizational values. In the model being proposed here, the spiritual values may not exhibit an immediate co-relation but it can be perceived as something that enable a channel through which, the other values may found to be aligned.
About the Author:
Vedang R. Vatsa is an initiator and the one who get things done. He developed his skills and worked with some eminent clients on his own. He likes to travel far up to the mountains and deep down to the beaches with an aim to explore the mighty possibilities of reality. He loves to discuss ideas with people and appreciate an honest feedback.
Connect with him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vedangvatsa/
To better comprehend the association between Leadership, Spirituality and Sense of Happiness or satisfaction with regards to the working environment, I propose the concept of visionary leadership which is broadly utilized as a part of contemporary discourse of leadership. Visionary Leadership can be identified as an inclination to see higher spiritual powers behind the occurrence of every otherVedang R. Vatsa Articles
“This is boring,” Ty muttered as he sat through yet another management training session. “I could be showing my new team member, Jeff, how to do the social networking piece of our project,” he mused. Happily ignoring the trainer, Ty thought, “Now THAT would help the company, not to mention Jeff. And, I want to learn that new technology—this session needs to hurry up and end.”
The 1980’s brought about radical organizational transformation. According to Breda Bova, Associate Dean, University of New Mexico, and Consultant Michael Kroth, the traditional organizations our fathers worked for were going “haywire with corporate downsizing and massive layoffs.” Careers began to transition from working a lifelong job in one establishment to continuously changing jobs to learn new skills. Due to this fundamental change, some organizations today are at a loss for how to retain and develop top talent for taking over the business. Succession planning is definitely impacted by this seismic organizational shift.
Succession planning in today’s organizations includes retaining and developing the next generational leaders—Generation X and Generation Y. Gen X and Gen Y pose unique challenges for organizations’ older generational leaders: they ask questions; remain independent; and readily change jobs for personal and professional skills development. Richard Sayers, Director at CABAL Human Resources Group, believes they act as free agents characterized by a desire to have a “portable career…and even greater degrees of personal flexibility, professional satisfaction and immediacy.” If organizations acknowledge these characterizations, there is an opportunity for retaining and developing this next set of knowledgeable leaders by offering access to credible sources who know relevant information.
Many Gen X and Gen Y’s are technology-adept individuals who live and breathe constant access to global and cultural information. They are interested in accessing people, whether leaders, peers, subordinates, gurus, or techno geeks, to learn and apply new and relevant information that advances their skills and knowledge base. According to Sayers, they are “motivated by a desire to enhance professional skills and thus marketability to future employers.” It is an ongoing learning process known as “continuous learning”—a motivator and way of life for Gen X and Gen Y.
For an organization, cultivating a continuous learning environment in order to develop the next generational leaders includes designing programs that embrace both appropriate learning styles and accessibility to leaders in the organization.
There are three types of applicable learning styles according to Bova and Kroth:
1) Action learning: Learning by doing;
2) Incidental learning: Spontaneous learning with no specific outcomes; and,
3) Formal training: learning in a classroom setting.
For Gen X and Gen Y, action learning is attractive because it deals with real problems and solutions and implementing actions. Incidental learning is also powerful due to some of the possible outcomes of “increased competence, increased self-knowledge, and improved life skills” as noted by learning theorist Craig Mealman. However, formal training is not as attractive to Leadership Next because of their time and space orientation.
Cultivating a continuous learning environment for Leadership Next also requires accessibility to leaders in the organization—people who know information, have applicable job skills and portray leadership traits. As mentors, teachers and even “disciplors,” these are leaders with the ability to transfer leadership learning to Gen X and Gen Y. According to author Chip Bell, mentoring is “a process where one person helps another become successful by providing understanding of the informal systems involved in an organization. Mentoring is not about power, it’s about learning.” Shelly Cunningham from the Talbot School of Theology defines discipling as “the process of following another person or way of life while submitting to the group leaders’ discipline; also the adoption of the philosophies, practices, and ways of life of the teacher.”
Why would Leadership Next agree to mentoring and discipling in a leader-follower context?
They may not, unless today’s leaders mentor and disciple based on action and incidental learning techniques. If leaders apply innovative learning techniques and provide relevant skills training, Generation Next may very likely be enticed to stay and build their professional repertoire. If leaders do it right, protégés will carry on the organization’s legacy. David Clutterbuck, mentoring consultant, suggests a sponsorship approach; “The modern version of a sponsor is an informed senior manager, who takes on the long-term responsibility for balancing the career needs of talented individuals against the evolving needs of the business.”
How do you start a Mentoring and Discipling Program?
Do not be “mind-boggled” with the amount of knowledge your protégé knows and can instantly access. Keep an open mind, value what they know, but challenge their thinking. As confident as they appear due to facts, introducing inter-personal or real-world scenarios helps them expand their horizons and value new insights. Michael Shenkman, Founder of the Arch of Leadership, suggests “a mentor has to be willing to risk the hurt, the insult, even the parting of ways in order to bring to prominence the kinds of attitudes and orientations that go into creative leading.”
- Develop the plan together and provide a network of experienced leaders:
They know what they want; they don’t always know what they don’t know. Gen X and Gen Y like collaboration, transparency and openness. Plan together, and make the plan relevant, personalized, challenging, and rewarding. Stand in the gap between what they need to know and who they need to get it from by having a network of mentors or senior leaders available for introductions as needed. With these introductions, be prepared to transition your protégé to the next mentor or “disciplor” as they soak up leadership knowledge and experience. As Shenkman says, “the mentor lets the protégé experience the full force of leading, even to the point of failure.”
- Create an innovative learning experience:
Try e-Mentoring: e-Mentoring provides tools and technology to help bridge the relationship between mentors and mentorees in distant locations. Search on “e-Mentoring” and several website links are returned targeting specific industries or age groups. According to Sayer, Gen X and Gen Y “want the flexibility and freedom to access professional development on their terms; when and where they require it.”
Build a virtual community: Gen-X and Gen-Y live in a virtual world and community acceptance is important. Developing a virtual community for your organization could be a “learning incubator” for new protégés. Think about allowing a team of Gen-X and Gen-Y’s to work with advisors and subject matter experts to design and develop it. Klaus Nielson of the University of Aarhus in Denmark believes “collaborative learning…in the workplace plays a significant role in learning transfer.”
Think entrepreneurial: Get creative and be innovative by having the Gen X and Gen Y’s help develop a rotating internship program across the organization. Create discovery programs and social learning practices rich in media and knowledge. Bova & Kroth quote Davenport as saying “organizations are becoming increasingly sophisticated in creating and utilizing knowledge management repositories, supporting communities of practice, and facilitating the transfer of learning.”
Are you ready for Leadership Next?
About the author:
LISA R. FOURNIER is a doctoral student in the Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL) program with the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship at Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Lisa, an entrepreneur and innovator with over 20 years of start-up experience, also works with Idea Evolutions LLC, a coaching and consulting company serving entrepreneurial leaders. Lisa’s email is email@example.com
*Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/freedigitalphotos.net
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“This is boring,” Ty muttered as he sat through yet another management training session. “I could be showing my new team member, Jeff, how to do the social networking piece of our project,” he mused. Happily ignoring the trainer, Ty thought, “Now THAT would help the company, not to mention Jeff. And, I want to learn that new technology—this session needs to hurry up and end.”Lisa R. Fournier Articles
Teamwork, Productivity and Creativity. We have long paid these particular leadership concepts a lot of lip service, never more so than now, as insurance companies, banks, communications companies and hospitals struggle to do more with less. Alliances and mergers, for example, so prominent in today's business setting, are the very essence of teamwork. But there is a big gap between talking about this kind of leadership, learning the skills…and living it.
Well intentioned chief executive officers ask themselves: "I've set up incentives for creative problem-solving, used specific measures in assessing performance, initiated training in team approaches, yet I'm still not seeing an impact on my bottom line. What am I overlooking?"
More often than not, the answer is….their own behavior. For several decades, executives have sought to improve performance, especially that of their staff; but what about their own performance? Why is it so difficult to make changes?
First, many decision makers do not have an appropriate understanding of how to recognize and measure leadership performance. Secondly, the right behavior is not rewarded. Executives know they can and should improve their own behavior, but are not held accountable for achieving these improvements. Nor are these changes rewarded. When performance is tied to achieving results and executives are rewarded for these changes, only then will changes occur.
How can we Measure Leadership Performance?
Leaders treat people with care and respect. They are people willing to take risks to improve a situation, and seek creative solutions along the way. Frequently they are the quiet success stories that are rarely spotlighted.
Leadership can be measured and rewarded using the leadership performance criteria of Teamwork, Productivity and Creativity. Let's examine this Performance Management process briefly.
Measure and Reward Teamwork
Be a caring friend: Leadership begins with Teamwork, and teamwork begins with caring and respect. Start simply. Have fun together. Get to know each other. Become friends. Do what you can to help each other, whether it be a colleague, staff member, customer or supplier.
Example: An unidentified $2.88 charge continued to be billed on the AT&T/Qwest telephone bill, month after month. During a call to AT&T, the customer questioned this overdue charge, and refused to pay until it was explained. The representative listened carefully, put the customer on hold while she contacted the local carrier, came back on the line, explained the delay and asked for patience. When she returned, she requested that the customer call the local carrier and explained why she could not help further.
The Qwest (local carrier) representative listened to the customer's story and took the initiative to erase the past due balance, stating that it was more trouble to find the source of the problem. A win-win agreement was achieved.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Negotiating process
Measure: An agreement
Be respectful and build communication bridges: Learn how to speak respectfully and avoid roadblocks. Some roadblocks include: giving orders ("Don't write like that"), belittling ("That's silly"), reassuring ("You'll get over it"), denying ("You can't still be angry"), or giving solutions ("This is how you should handle it"). The effect of these roadblocks is that people learn not to come to you with their problems.
Example: Melissa, eight years old, was adopted from the streets of Calcutta, India in 1988. When she arrived in America, she spoke no English, had never been to school, and had lied and stolen to survive. Over the next five years, I loved and parented her as best I knew.
During her first year of school, her confidence and successes developed. In the following years, she commented that she 'didn't like school' and eventually refused to attend. By the time she was 12 in 1993, her behavior worsened. She ran away from home and school.
How could I build trust and influence the then-withdrawn Melissa to share her thoughts and feelings? The key to success was "getting acquainted", the second step of the negotiating process. I was determined to treat the now-teen Melissa with dignity, respect and tolerance. Instead of: "Put on your coat", I explained, "The forecast is for snow. You might think about…"
When I forgot to use this approach, she became defiant. I admitted my own mistakes, was patient with her mistakes, suggested alternative behavior and reasons why, and praised our smallest achievements. Most important were the humor, talks and laughs we shared. Gradually she shared her feelings and problems were resolved.
In corporate management, this function is known as counseling, mentoring, and building trust through fun, sharing and humor.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Negotiating process
Measure: Getting acquainted (talking)
Reward: Praise, fun
As a suggestion, make teamwork part of your performance criteria, and measure yourself by attempting to achieve an agreement though the process of negotiating-- illustrated by a handshake, a kind word, a smile, a hug or something in writing, and rewarded by praise or fun. Talking in terms of explanations, descriptions, experiences, and humor is the basis of developing relationships.
Measure and Reward Productivity
First let's examine what we mean by productivity, since it can represent different things to many people. Productivity includes structured processes, and knowing and understanding such processes; and specific productivity techniques and tools, including streamlining and simplicity.
The common processes in the managing function include planning, designing (life cycle), negotiating, and creating. The planning process, for example, has a specific set of steps, each of which results in a written document. These documents--which also serve as measures of quality--generally include:
* Organization charts which identify function and sometimes the name of one responsible person
* Work breakdown structures which break down the work to be done into systematic tree-like structures
* Schedules, both master and detailed
Various types of reviews and tests are quality measures of the design-build life cycle which is integrated within the planning cycle. Nested within the latter is the writing cycle since most, if not all, of management and planning efforts result in a document of some kind. These processes are integrated, occur frequently, and constantly cycle.
Learn the Correct Processes: Some common processes in management include: the planning and controls process, known by various names; the life cycle or design-build process; the writing process; the creativity process; and the negotiating process. These are the same whether one builds airplanes, runs a hospital, or manages a bank. The difference is in tailoring.
Example: During the beginning of a facility relocation project at The Boeing Company, team members had limited understanding of the project and were unclear about details of work to be done and team member responsibilities.
A statement of work, or a project description document, was developed and used as a discussion document during the kick-off meeting to introduce the major details of the project to the team members. This document served to increase common understanding and minimized miscommunication by the project team.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Planning process
Measure: Statement of work
Result: Improved understanding
As a suggestion, make productivity (including processes) part of your performance criteria and reward yourself for learning and using the right process measures.
Measure and Reward Simplicity
Examples of some productivity tools and techniques include: mind-mapping, doing all the same function at one time, being selective with perfection, putting it in writing, having more than one use for something, streamlining and simplicity. Not surprisingly, everywhere people speak of their frustration with complexity-- complexity in writing, methods, excessively large teams, duplicate resources. Then, why not measure and reward simplicity?
Example: At The Boeing Company, a supervisor simplified the training schedules, eliminated abbreviations to improve clarity and communication, reduced schedules to one format, used an easier graphics software tool, enabling the preparation of schedules in under one hour instead of two days, and surfaced numerous existing meeting rooms that were available for use and were previously unused. This eliminated the problem of double-booking meeting/training rooms.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Writing process
Measure: Something written, clearly and simply
Result: Increased understanding, efficiency
Reward: Praise, personal growth
As a suggestion, make productivity (including simplicity) part of your performance criteria and reward yourself for all types of productivity. Examples of simplicity in productivity might include the size of a document, the clarity of writing, the size of teams, the number of resources used, and the types of rewards offered.
Measure and Reward Creativity
A leader could be defined as a person:
- willing to take risks
- who is productive, efficient and has personal standards
- who is a caring, respectful team player.
Leadership is not the same as management, and has nothing to do with status or title. Anyone can be a leader, if they have the courage to make changes.
Be creative and take risks. Admitting/forgiving mistakes build trust.
In the trial and error process of making improvements, leaders must take risks, be kind, tolerant, and admit (and forgive) their own mistakes. Lewis Lehr, former chairman and chief executive officer of 3M Corporation states: "I am tempted to say that innovation at 3M works in spite of top management".
Example: When the once- rebellious Melissa was asked what contributed to her willingness to be creative in terms of cooking and tasting new foods, developing school reports, and making creative gifts, she commented: "It was 'talking', in terms of explanations, demonstrations, and praise, and that it is all right for us to make mistakes because that is how we learn".
Therefore key points are:
Process: Creativity process
Measure: An idea
Reward: Fun, praise
As a suggestion, make creativity part of your performance criteria and reward yourself for all types of creativity and results. Admitting and sharing mistakes build trust. Creativity, humor, and fun reduce tension, promote trust, and help build friendships in the journey towards teamwork. Reward yourself with something fun when you achieve your own goals.
Assessing and Rewarding Our Own Performance
Many organizations and executives are seeking ISO certification and Baldrige criteria performance assessments to determine how well their corporations are doing in terms of quality. While quality seems to vary, the area that most needs strengthening is leadership.
What's the answer? Consider using a leadership performance criteria that will discourage bureaucracy, cronyism and empire building, and measure your own performance. Reward yourself for your achievements. Explore using simple, yet fun rewards such as time off, free time, favorite work, fun, praise and recognition. If you find it difficult to reward yourself and have fun, perhaps you might start working on changing your own behavior.
Large staff and budgets erode morale. When there is a performance management system in place that rewards executives for teamwork, productivity and creativity-- and top managers exemplify this in their own personal practices--organizations will surely succeed. And learning teamwork by having fun and building trust is the best place to start.
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Teamwork, Productivity and Creativity. We have long paid these particular leadership concepts a lot of lip service, never more so than now, as insurance companies, banks, communications companies and hospitals struggle to do more with less. Alliances and mergers, for example, so prominent in today's business setting, are the very essence of teamwork. But there is a big gap between talking aboutJT Carr Articles
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creative and entrepreneurial author—a man who served in roles as actor, breeder of rare chickens, director, gardener, lyricist, merchant, movie producer, philatelist, photographer, playwright, printer and newspaper publisher, salesman, theater manager, window dresser, and, of course, celebrated author. Enter The Way of Oz: A Guide for Wisdom, Heart, and Courage and its roadmap for leadership development and travels down the yellow brick road of life.
Now, imagine the characters of Oz bearing special symbolism for learning, loving, serving, focusing on the future, and humility. You might imagine the associations: the Scarecrow for wisdom and learning, the Tin Woodman for heart or loving, the Cowardly Lion for courage and service, Dorothy for leadership and a focus on the future, and the Wizard for humility and related virtues. For the purposes of this short essay let’s focus on Dorothy and her character as a metaphor for a future focus and leadership. At end we’ll see how a focus on the future and leadership are tied inextricably to the characteristics imbedded of the other major players of the Wizard of Oz masterpiece.
Dorothy in The Way of Oz is the leadership person—the character with a focus on the future—the character who brings out the best in others through understanding, heart and her own courage—all cast in a spirit of kindness and service. And, with Dorothy’s savvy about personal and institutional planning, diversity, sustainability, scientific and political understanding, and personal responsibility—she is a character who makes significant differences in the lives of others—men, women and creatures alike! Dorothy in The Way of Oz also knows how to detect and deter life’s wicked witches, both of the internal (e.g., self-doubt, imposter syndrome) and external (e.g., aggressive, manipulative and envious co-workers, friends or family members) varieties.
Through The Way of Oz, we learn about Dorothy’s approach to personal planning, involving integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, selective volunteerism—all while drawing on the wisdom of teachers and mentors, and connecting learning and wisdom through caring and service.
The 21st Century Dorothy also understands institutional strategic planning and its components: vision, mission, environmental context, goals and objectives (directed through implementation strategies and articulated challenges), group oversight and shared understanding, and benchmarking integrated with periodic reporting and results-driven revisions of plans.
In The Way of Oz, Dorothy accentuates the best in colleagues and institutions through her understanding of the mosaic model of diversity and the importance of science and political insight for developing policy and actions related to sustainability. She is also wise in her comprehension of secular democracies and their power to serve our worldwide community.
On the “personal responsibility front,” Dorothy of The Way of Oz is empowered by determination, persistence, priority consciousness, critical thinking, and complex reasoning—all with ethics in the lead. She is also able to manage life’s time—systematically and sensibly.
Our modern Dorothy’s focus on the future is powerful because it is cast through an archetypal story written by a man who, despite his foibles and frailties, knew how to relate to others in unique ways. In other words, Frank Baum made a difference and The Way of Oz can make a difference in many peoples’ lives—particularly in the area of leadership development.
Thus, the Way of Oz approach to leading, involving personal planning, integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, and selective volunteerism, fortified by organizational strategic planning, an understanding of diversity, science and political insight to guide decisions about sustainability, and personal responsibility—all with ethics in lead—prepares one for a life of personal and professional fulfillment. These elements of the Way of Oz and the new book of the same name—enriched by the creative graphics of Dusty Higgins and video content portraying leadership roles of students, faculty, and staff in universities as one segment of society—can make a significant difference in lives of seekers and future leaders of our world community. Many have found—in these thoughts—the true magic of The Way of Oz. Consider joining us!
Below are the main characters in The Way of Oz as conceived by Dusty Higgins. See if you can identify them all?
About the author:
Robert V. Smith serves as Provost and Senior Vice President at Texas Tech University (TTU). He has oversight responsibility for fourteen colleges and schools, along with the libraries and several other academically related units and programs.
He is the author or co-author of more than 320 articles and nine books. The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage (Texas Tech University Press, 2012) is available in hard cover, paperback, and electronic versions in all electronic formats. You can find out more about Robert Smith and his book at http://www.thewayofoz.com/index.htm
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creativeRobert V. Smith Articles
If the organization provides safety and security for employees, then employees will provide the organization with their brawn. But what about the brain? That is a different issue.
Money buys employees’ brawn: at least you can see them at their desk by 8:00 a.m. and see them leave at 5:00 p.m. You observe them walking the halls with papers in hand, working at their computers, talking on the telephone, and in other ways physically doing their jobs. They appear to be working hard and the employer pays for the fundamental tasks the employee was hired to do. But, is the employee’s brain engaged? Is he satisfied with his current level of production and on autopilot? Is she just going through the motions to get a paycheck?
In production jobs where people are hired for their brawn, brain engagement is not a major issue. However, it is a different story for people with information jobs. People who are paid to think need reasons to keep their brain engaged and keep it from wandering into La-La Land: thinking about the weekend, plotting how to get even with the person in the next cubicle, or surfing the Internet for wakeboards. Brain engagement of employees is a clear leadership challenge.
The brain has many levels of intellectual and emotional involvement and employees decide on an hourly basis how much of their brain they will share at work, how much creativity they will give to solving problems, and how much they will flex to get along with co-workers. The amount of brain effort they choose to give is called discretionary effort.
Some employees only engage their brains to do their jobs just to the level so they won’t get fired. Little if any discretionary effort comes from these employees and they may never choose to change their engagement preference. However, if an organization increases the invitation to be engaged, most employees will respond in a positive way.
To better engage employees, organizations can employ a variety of methods such as offering monetary rewards, giving opportunities for personal development and education, recognizing employees for outstanding accomplishments and achievements, extending the leadership of a team assigned to a plumb project, etc. The ideas for engagement are numerous and once the organization has matched their method with the employee, the level of an employee's intellectual engagement and the amount of discretionary effort they choose to give will increase.
Discretionary effort equates with energy at work. There is a difference in the level of effort and energy one is capable of bringing to an activity or a task, and the effort required only to get by or make do, which requires little discretionary effort. It is the difference between the minimum acceptable versus the maximum level of energy and discretionary effort an individual is capable of giving and is related to the integrity and trust between an employee and the organization.
This places the level of employee engagement and discretionary effort squarely on the shoulders of leadership. To engage your employees and earn discretionary effort, use this checklist:
Give your employees stimulating tasks. This gives them positive expectation and a sense of excitement to come to work. It engages their creativity, improves their brain activity and increases the pleasure of working.
Assign employees to find answers to tough problems. This honors them by showing you believe in them and their abilities. Human nature will make them knuckle-down and bring you solutions.
Make employees accountable with deadlines and midpoints. Just like a teenager secretly appreciates the enforcement of rules, deep inside people feel good when they meet deadlines with integrity.
Explain the organizational vision and mission and ask them if they can align personally with the objectives and goals. Just like in a sales process, you can uncover and overcome their objections to business strategy and in the process and discussions, make them a more loyal employee.
Take note of their completed tasks in their performance review and see if their completed responsibilities support the goals and objectives of the department. This audit will help you determine if they have inadvertently veered off target.
Provide team building activities and relationship training so employees can intelligently solve problems, resolve minor conflicts and understand how to collaborate.
Reward them and recognize them for their contributions. Rewards and recognition give employees a sense of self-esteem and individual pride increases when they are thanked for their contributions in front of their peers.
Teach managers how to be relevant to the employees. Relevance means you matter. Because some managers underperform, they do not matter to the employee and worse yet, get in the way of employees performing at high levels.
The fundamental building block to effective work production and customer satisfaction is employees who are engaged and excited about their jobs. Their brains are fully engaged and they willingly give discretionary effort. Their energy is directed toward task completion, solving complex problems in innovative ways, and ensuring happy customers.
They seldom visit La La Land.
About the author:
Karla Brandau is CEO of Workplace Power Institute. She offers keynotes, workshops, and retreats to move your organization forward in the chaotic environment of the 21st Century. You can contact Karla at email@example.com visit her blog at www.FromTheDeskofKarlaBrandau.com
*image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
If the organization provides safety and security for employees, then employees will provide the organization with their brawn. But what about the brain? That is a different issue. Money buys employees’ brawn: at least you can see them at their desk by 8:00 a.m. and see them leave at 5:00 p.m. You observe them walking the halls with papers in hand, working atKarla Brandau Articles
Motivating others is at the heart of leadership and organizational success. Before we discuss motivation, we need to understand the proper symbiotic relationship between people and organizations. First of all organizations should exist to serve human needs and not the other way around. Organizations and people need each other.
Employees need careers, opportunities, satisfaction and fulfilling work. Organizations need the energy, ideas and talent of its people. When the environment between the organization and individual is poor, one or both will suffer and become victims! The eventual result will be that either certain individuals will be exploited or they will exploit the organization.
With this foundation in mind we can see that leaders seek to nurture an organizational culture where work is productive, energizing and mutually rewarding. To motivate people we need to also understand their basic needs. Psychologist Abraham Maslow created an influential theory to group human needs into five basic categories. These needs are hierarchical and begin with lower or basic needs. As these lower needs are met and satisfied, individuals are motivated by higher needs. The five basic categories begin with physiological needs like water, food, air and physical health. As this need is achieved an individual would seek a higher need for safety from danger or threat. Next is the need for belongingness and love through personal relationships with other people. As this need is met one is then motivated by esteem, the feeling of being valued and respected. Finally, Maslow defined the highest need as self-actualization or the need to develop oneself to our fullest potential. Since Maslow published his “hierarchy of needs”, others have also introduced various theories to explain human needs. All of these theories confirm the complex nature of human motivation.
Researcher Chris Argyris discovered a basic conflict between human personality and the way typical organizations are managed and structured. He determined that managers or bosses tend to control people at the lower levels and this produces dependence and passivity, which are in conflict with the real needs of human beings. Many organizations attempt to restrain workers through the creation of mechanized jobs, tight controls and more directives resulting in frustration. Argyris identified six ways workers respond to these frustrations.
1. They withdraw…through chronic absenteeism or simply by quitting.
2. They stay on the job but psychologically withdraw by becoming passive, indifferent and apathetic.
3. They resist by reducing output, or by deception, sabotage or featherbedding.
4. They try to climb the hierarchy to escape to a better job.
5. They form groups like labor unions to redress a power imbalance.
6. They socialize their children to believe that work is unrewarding and opportunities for advancement are slim.
For many of us we have personally experienced or felt at least some of these frustrations. So what is motivation? It is the ability to provide an incentive or reason to compel others into action or a commitment.
How can a leader motivate others? It starts with the core value that employees are an investment and not a cost. The old model of management was that people are basically lazy, passive, have little ambition, resist change and must be treated like children. This dysfunctional management approach created generations of frustrated workers who reacted and worked exactly like they were treated. The leadership model of management realizes that people are the most valuable resource of an organization and typically its greatest untapped resource!
With this basic value, leaders establish a philosophy of an enhanced human resource strategy. They seek to hire the right people and reward them well. They provide a reasonable sense of job security, promote from within the organization whenever possible, budget generously to train and educate workers, share the wealth of the organization, and provide autonomy and participation. However, there is still one unique trait that sets leaders apart from others regarding human motivation. Leaders recognize that a “one size fits all” approach does not work in motivating most workers. Each person has individual and personal needs. When these are discovered and fulfilled, the human potential of each worker can be maximized.
For example, some individuals are primarily motivated by money, though this has proven to be a short-term motivator. Others are motivated by being part of a team or something bigger than themselves. Others are motivated by continual challenge. Others need constant praise. The point is that all people are different and your leadership goal should be to help each individual to meet their own needs as well as the organizations needs. In reality, helping individuals achieve their personal needs is the most powerful motivator and will result in successful organizational accomplishment. A leadership perspective recognizes the personal contribution of each worker as a source of his or her highest motivation. Each individual has enormous creative power and is a steward of change, problem solving and progress. The very first step in motivating others is to give them respect, dignity and praise for their efforts!
For weLEAD, this is Greg Thomas reminding you that it was Eleanor Roosevelt who once said, “When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”
*Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Motivating others is at the heart of leadership and organizational success. Before we discuss motivation, we need to understand the proper symbiotic relationship between people and organizations. First of all organizations should exist to serve human needs and not the other way around. Organizations and people need each other. Employees need careers, opportunities, satisfactiGreg L. Thomas Articles
Big plans are already underway for next year’s festivities and celebration! Many believe that next February 2nd will not be a routine February 2nd. Why? It is 2/2/02! All those two’s certainly must signify that next February 2nd will be a very special occasion!
If you haven’t figured it out yet, here is a hint. It has to do with predicting the weather. Yes, that’s right! February 2nd is Groundhog Day! It is the day the groundhog, also called the woodchuck, is supposed to come out of its burrow after a long winter sleep and look for its shadow. Groundhog Day has been a tradition in the United States since 1886, when it was first reported in The Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper. (www.groundhog.org/history/tradition.shtml)
The origins of this tradition are clouded, but it appears that it originated in Rome and was passed on to the Teutons, or Germans. The original European tradition taught that if the hedgehog casts a shadow on Candlemas Day, which occurs on February 2nd, there would be six more weeks of bad weather.
Over the years the legend of Groundhog Day has been growing. Much credit is due to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. As many as 30,000 people now gather at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, PA to observe the most famous groundhog in the world—Punxsutawney Phil. Over the years Phil has not only predicted the weather, but has also met the President of the United States and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show! The Club even has its own web site (www.groundhog.org).
In 1993, Columbia Pictures released the humorous movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Bill Murray plays a grouchy weatherman, also named Phil, who has been assigned to cover the Punxsutawney Phil groundhog event with his producer, Rita.
After covering the event, the weatherman gets caught in a traffic jam and decides to spend the night in Punxsutawney. He wakes up at 6:00am to his alarm clock playing the exact same song from the day before. In fact everything is exactly the same. It is Groundhog Day all over again! Everything he does begins to repeat itself. Somehow, only Phil, the weatherman, remembers anything about what has to happen from the previous cycle of the day. No matter what he does, every day is a repeat of Groundhog Day! After going through many cycles of the same Groundhog Day, Phil begins to tire of living. He tries ending his life by jumping off a building, but to no avail. He wakes up the next day at 6:00 to the very same song on the radio! Nothing stops the repetitions of Groundhog Day!
The movie reminded me of a dark side to life within some organizations. Such organizations exhibit what I will call Punxsutawney leadership. No matter who is in charge, everything remains the same! Leaders come and leaders go, but nothing really changes. Phil’s repetition of Groundhog Day is like the daily grind most of us experience within modern organizations. The leadership may change over time but the underlying culture remains the same. There are the same old situations with little variation. We keep repeating the same old things hoping for different results. Just as this weatherman was about to go crazy with the repetition, so many within these organizations feel like going crazy over the lack of new and better ideas. The leadership in these organizations is like the constant repetition of an old 78 rpm record that is scratched—constantly going over and over the same groove. The messages from Punxsutawney leaders sound like a “broken record”.
In the movie theater, when Phil’s alarm clock goes off at 6:00am for about the twentieth time, the audience groans, hoping that somehow Phil can escape from the daily grind of Groundhog Day. So it is within many organizations. As a new leader appears, you can hear the groan of employees hoping that the “groundhog day” cycle can be broken. However, it is a rare occurrence to break the Punxsutawney leadership cycle. That is because culture and leadership are two sides of the same coin. When an organization’s culture is formed, based on certain assumptions, then the next generation of leadership is usually determined by the existing culture! This is especially true when times are good.
Once an organization’s culture is formed, it is usually the case that those who are considered for future leadership positions must support and conform to the existing culture. The culture survives by passing itself on to newcomers and by selecting the next generation of leadership. Organizational culture is the mechanism for social control, determining how current and future leaders will perceive, think, and feel.
Organizational culture is formed from assumptions. However, assumptions grow from experiences. When a solution to a problem seems to work repeatedly, it comes to be taken for granted. It becomes a shared assumption. It becomes the organization’s reality. Leaders within the organization will then find it inconceivable to see things in any other way than the way the culture dictates. Those who challenge the culture stir up challenges and defensive behavior. Cognitive defense mechanisms allow the organization to continue to function as it has in the past.
Edgar Schein, considered one of the founders of the field of organizational psychology, has this to say:
“Rather than tolerating such anxiety levels we tend to want to perceive the events around us as congruent with our assumptions, even if that means distorting, denying, projecting, or in other ways falsifying to ourselves what may be going on around us.” (Schein, 1992)
“It was Machiavelli who said, you know if you really want to see people at their worst just try to change the existing order of things.” (Nathan & Tyler, 1987)
An organizational culture does not form spontaneously from nothing. The original leader(s) of an organization creates it. Schein says that there is little doubt that the initial shaping force is the personality and belief system of the founder. (Schein, 1987) Leaders create a culture by articulating their assumptions about reality. Sometimes these assumptions are false or incomplete. Some may be based simply on fantasy or habit. (Kilmann, 1986) False assumptions may appear correct in the short run, or under certain conditions. However, false or incomplete assumptions can be very dangerous to the health of the organization in the long run.
Often the assumptions upon which a culture rests remain unstated and untested for years. For leaders to be truly effective, they must recognize their role in cultural modification and face the difficult challenges such action presents. It will require considerable humility and the exercise of personal listening skills. Often those most blind to incomplete or incorrect assumptions are those who have risen to the top of their organization. In fact, that is why they are at the top—because they have been so loyal to the current culture and its underlying assumptions!
Effective leaders must examine their own taken-for-granted assumptions, which can be a very painful process. However, this process is absolutely necessary if they are to make things happen that will move the organization forward and allow it to adapt to changing environmental conditions.
Successful cultural changes are typically made incrementally. This is why it is so important that cultural changes be made in good times. This allows sufficient time to complete the evolution of the cultural change. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” People who fear sweeping changes may exhibit sufficient courage to make one small change. Once the change has been successfully completed, be sure to celebrate it. Celebrate each small step. Don’t wait until your entire vision has been accomplished before celebrating.
Be aware of the tendency to allow things to just “rock along” during good times. The human tendency is to ignore those who challenge the culture and its underlying assumptions during good times. When new leadership positions open within an organization lead by Punxsutawney leaders, such positions are typically filled with more Punxsutawney leaders—those who will do things the same way as in the past—based on the same assumptions that the old leadership held. Punxsutawney leaders embrace the most deadly assumption of all—erroneous extrapolation. (Kilmann, 1986) They assume that by changing nothing, the good things that have happened to the organization in the past will continue to happen in the future! They react to cultural change like the groundhog seeing its shadow. They become scared and quickly scurry back into their corporate burrow for six more weeks of inactivity! By the time bad times arrive, it may be too late to change!
Too much change too fast will bring on the wrath of those who desire the status quo. Those attempting to change the status quo are almost always viewed as “troublemakers.” The more drastic the change, the more preparation needs to be made ahead of time to counteract the human tendency to counter change.
When accepting change means admitting that the way things were done in the past was wrong, people are certain to resist. People do not like to lose face or feel embarrassed. Therefore, to be effective, cultural change must be both incremental and presented in a way that shows that what was believed or done in the past was done under very different conditions—and therefore perfectly understandable. Those who are willing to change must be portrayed as strong, flexible, and exercising vision. Effective leaders will focus on the positive benefits of the future rather than what went wrong in the past.
To facilitate cultural change, pick out individuals who are “on-board,” and encourage them to be cheerleaders and coaches to the fence sitters. Change will require considerable effort and determination over time. It will not come automatically or over a weekend. Patience and determination are critical characteristics of change agents. Cultural change is never a “quick fix.”
When positive cultural change does occur, don’t forget to publicly support and compensate those who have helped you overcome the resistance. Cultural change is usually personally disruptive—and is never easy. Those who help you in your mission will certainly pay a personal price. If you ignore the sacrifices they have made you will weaken future change efforts.
Once change begins to take place within the culture, there will be a tendency to lapse back into the “old ways.” For change to be lasting, it must be made in such a way that it will be self-perpetuating. However, while blocking the tendency to relapse, one must never make the new way the “only way.” As an effective leader you must not allow a new generation ofPunxsutawney leaders to arise. The last thing that needs to happen is to start believing that the new culture is now the ultimate culture.
Effective leaders must always be reexamining their assumptions. They should always be diagnosing the present strengths and weaknesses of their organization. Such leaders set a positive example of humility, learning, and personal growth. They make it clear that there is “no going back,” but there is always” going forward!” Those following such leaders will not groan like the theater audience watching the twentieth cycle of the same Groundhog Day, hoping that the “groundhog day” cycle can be broken. Rather, they will be energized to challenge their own assumptions and think creatively. “Creativity breeds enthusiasm; and enthusiasm, correctly focused, breeds productivity.” (Smith, 1985)
Comments to J. Howard Baker: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. J. Howard Baker is Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Dr. Baker has been a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator for eight years, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their facilitator for four years. During the summer he offers a graduate and undergraduate course at U. T. Tyler in personal and organizational leadership. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Kilmann, Ralph. “Beyond the Quick Fix: Five Tracks to Managing Organizational Success”. Executive Excellence. Executive Excellence Publishing, 1986.
Nathan, John & Tyler, Sam. “Entrepreneurs: Excellence in Action”. Executive Excellence. Executive Excellence Publishing, 1987.
Schein, Edgar. “Leadership as Managed Cultural Change”. Executive Excellence. Executive Excellence Publishing, 1987.
Schein, Edgar. Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1992.
Smith, Hyrum. “How To Build Your Own Pyramid of Productivity”. Executive Excellence. Executive Excellence Publishing, 1985.
Big plans are already underway for next year’s festivities and celebration! Many believe that next February 2nd will not be a routine February 2nd. Why? It is 2/2/02! All those two’s certainly must signify that next February 2nd will be a very special occasion! If you haven’t figured it out yet, here is a hint. It has toJ. Howard Baker Articles
The other day I was talking with someone about a start up idea. He is a very successful sales person and wanted my view on the concept. As we moved on with the discussion I realized that there were some strategic holes in his plan which I wanted to point out. What I had not realized, however, is that he had bought into the idea lock, stock, and barrel and only wanted to hear me echo his feelings. The same day my daughter was unsuccessfully trying to explain to her friend that unlike what she thought, their common friend's behavior was not an affront. A few days earlier, I was telling my wife to give up the idea of trying to go to India in November when the chances of getting certain things done on time was practically impossible, but it was a completely futile exercise.
You know what I am driving at – situations where you try hard to make someone see reason but feel as if you are banging your head against a wall. Intensely frustrating as they can be, they are very, very common. I have no doubt that many of you could recall having been through a similar situation or two in the recent past. I mentioned a few incidents where I was the one banging my head against a wall, but I am sure people who know me can point out situations where I have played the wall instead.
Now these “not uncommon” interactions are not limited to friends and family members, they are an integral part of how the human mind works. Maybe it’s something to do with our natural instinct for self-preservation. Or maybe our egos, fears, and greed gets the better part of our intellect. I am not sure about that, but what I do know is that we all get caught up in our own ideas so deeply that we do not see, or want to see what is obvious to others. The numbers driven corporate world has also had to bear the brunt of executives forging ahead bullheadedly with their convictions to the detriment of their organizational goals, ignoring the logic of well prepared advisers.
Obviously, when decision makers and stakeholders have precarious view-points they need to be made aware of the risks. But bluntly stating your position will not only make it likely that you would fail to get your point across, it might also land you into trouble. How one handles such situations makes the difference between success and failure of projects, goals, and relationships.
So, what are we to do?
There is more than one way to skin this cat, so to speak. Nobody has a definite set of answers. But here is one strategy that works really well for me. I call it the PAQ (Pause-Answer-Question) Method. The central idea behind this approach is to lead the listeners to see the consequences of their current approach or thinking. Let them arrive at your conclusions on their own.
PAUSE: When you realize that you have to say something which goes against the grain for the listener, pause to understand how the listener sees the situation and plan your communication beginning from his or her point of view and leading to yours before you state your position. Develop this attitude of restrained communication. It takes time but you will become more effective with continued practice.
ANSWER: While you frame your thoughts based upon the position of the listener make a conscious assessment of his or her emotional stance. People don’t see reason when they are emotionally attached to certain ideas. So emotion is where you have to do the real work. Answer the question: What is the degree of awareness and willingness of the listener? Plan the effect you wish to seek from the interaction based on what is possible in the given situation. Clearly define what you seek from the interaction. Remember, you can’t give them the solution until they see the real problem and are ready to listen to you. You would be wasting your breath otherwise. Remember, the real problem is that they have not thought through the idea in question completely as they are bonded emotionally to their position.
QUESTION: Frame your desired effect as a set of questions the answers to which should lead to the point you want to make. Lead your listeners to discovering the consequences of their line of thinking on their own. For example avoid saying directly why business A will not succeed like Business B because A and B are fundamentally different, which is unlike what the person believed so far. Instead you could ask one or more of the following questions -
a. How important is it to succeed?
b. What do you think are the consequences of failure?
c. Is the opportunity cost high enough to demand careful thinking before moving ahead?
d. What do you think can be done to minimize the risk of failure?
e. Are there any holes in the analogy being banked upon?
f. How is this business different from the one managed before?
g. How can we prepare for the differences between the two business models?
As you talk about the issue remove the word ‘but’, ’should’ and the like from your conversation. Substitute them with “and”. Essentially you are not going to tell them what they should be doing or how they are wrong, you are only going to provide them with various other options or perspectives, thus helping them really think through the idea. When you take this approach you will notice a remarkable difference in your communication. Try, experiment, and internalize this process, practice it in imaginary conversations until it becomes your second nature. As you use this method regularly you will have a lot more buy-in for your idea and the change you expect will be practically guaranteed in most situations, unless of course if you were wrong to begin with. This process of communication takes longer but it gets the job done and also saves you from putting your foot in your mouth.
About the author:
Nick is the Managing Partner of The 8020Strategy Group, the President of the Global Alliance of CEO's, and the Managing Editor of The CEO Entrepreneur Magazine (www.8020ceo.com). The magazine has been created and designed to promote collaboration among CEOs, and to inform and inspire the community towards making businesses more efficient. For keynote addresses, workshops, and consulting engagements, Nick can be reached at email@example.com
*image courtesy of Ventrilock/freedigitalphotos.net
The other day I was talking with someone about a start up idea. He is a very successful sales person and wanted my view on the concept. As we moved on with the discussion I realized that there were some strategic holes in his plan which I wanted to point out. What I had not realized, however, is that he had bought into the idea lock, stock, and barrel and only wanted to hear me echo his feeNick Vaidya Articles
Let’s be honest, any kind of change, much less corporate change, is difficult, really difficult. Whether a start-up experiencing growing pains, a company faced with increased competition, a floundering company trying to stay afloat, or a successful business attempting to expand into global markets, the path toward change can often be unclear at best and the barriers can seem insurmountable at worst. Yet change your company must if it is going to become or remain a “player” in its market. The question isn’t whether your business must change; that is a given if you want it to survive and thrive. Rather, the question is: Will our company change?
If you answer in the affirmative, there are two more questions that you must ask. First, what will your company change? In the ever-morphing marketplace, there isn’t always clarity on what needs to be changed for a company to stay competitive. Second, how specifically will your company change? It’s one thing to have grand ideas about what changes your company needs to make. It’s an entirely different thing to take those “50,000 feet” ideas and bring them down to Earth.
Though change is always complex, like all complicated processes, it begins with a basic framework that orients and guides the course of transformation. A useful way of framing this process is by what The Trium Group calls “the Six I’s”: intention, inspiration, information, insight, integration, and implementation.
The foundation of any change is intention that change is needed. Intention provides the objective for an initial course of action that will lead to the desired change. For example, “We intend to modify our sales practices to make it more customer friendly” or “ Our intention is to increase our market share by 25% over the next 12 months.” This intention creates a sense of purpose that provides the preliminary impetus for the change.
As the saying goes, though, the road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions. Simply knowing what your company wants just isn’t enough for change to occur. Instead, there needs to be inspiration that puts the wind in the sails to propel the change forward. Because change is so difficult, the motivation to change must come from a deep place within the leadership of an organization and that strong desire for change must then emanate outward and be embraced through all levels of the organization. This inspiration can be grounded in many forms so that it is more readily accessible to everyone involved in making the change a reality, whether due to a sense of ownership, pride in being part of a productive team, personal ambition, or the determination to take the company to the next level. The key is to infect your organization with this inspiration from the corner office to the “boots on the ground.” Without this powerful emotion, any efforts at change are sure to be dead in the water.
One of scariest things about change when it’s first proposed is lack of clarity and its magnitude.
Everyone knows that a change needs to be made, but there are many questions that are left unanswered and the change can seem overwhelming It can feel like you are told to climb Mt. Everest, but without the necessary equipment, route, or guidance. This feeling of “How can I possibly do this?” is where the idea of change collides with the reality of change. And that collision can stop even the most powerful inspiration in its tracks.
The remedy for this feeling of being overwhelmed is information. When everyone in your organization has the relevant data needed to put the required change in perspective, the scope and process of change seem more manageable. You want to answer the what, why, who, where, when, and how of the change. So, my recommendation to you when it comes time to announce the changes through your organization is to follow it very soon after (if not concurrently) with the information that will allow everyone to gain perspective and understand that the change is not only possible, but doable.
Once everyone in your company understands the ins and outs of the proposed change, insight is necessary to take the intention, inspiration, and information and make the change personal. In other words, every team member must understand their role in the organization-wide change. This insight provides each person with a framework and process that will guide them in their particular responsibilities in making the change happen.
One of the most challenging aspects of company-wide change is that your team is expected to make the changes while also continuing to fulfill their normal roles and responsibilities. The stress-inducing question that everyone asks is: “How am I going to do this when I’m already maxed out in my ‘day job’?” This is where you must ensure effective integration of the change process into everyone’s already-busy schedules. The simple reality is that change will not occur if your people lack the time, energy, or resources to do their part in initiating the change. You must be explicit in identifying the when and how of the change for each member of your team, otherwise they are likely going to feel overwhelmed and demoralized, both of which will undermine the company-wide efforts at the needed change.
All of your company’s efforts to this point are in preparation for rolling out the intended change in your company. Everything to this point will go for naught if it isn’t able to take action in pursuit of the change objectives. The final phase of the change process, implementation, is where the rubber meets the road. If you have successfully fulfilled the mandates of the first five I’s, meaning everyone in your company knows the what, when, where, and how, implementation should be, well, not easy, but a natural extension of the earlier groundwork. These efforts will then, over time, produce the intended change and help your company to achieve its goals and find continued success.
About the author:
Jim Taylor a partner at the Trium Group, a boutique corporate consulting firm based in San Francisco that specializes in strategic, organizational, and human transformation and performance. You can contact Jim at
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Let’s be honest, any kind of change, much less corporate change, is difficult, really difficult. Whether a start-up experiencing growing pains, a company faced with increased competition, a floundering company trying to stay afloat, or a successful business attempting to expand into global markets, the path toward change can often be unclear at best and the barriers can seem insurmountable atJim Taylor, PhD Articles
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