Friday, April 24, 2015

3 Myths of Leadership Development: Part II

This is the second part of the 3 Myths of Leadership Development series. Myth #1 - "leadership is knowledge" considered how truly effective leadership development models go beyond knowledge transfer and focus on putting that knowledge into practice. In part 2 of the 3 part series, the myth about who should engage in leadership development is explored.
Myth #2 - Leadership Development Should Only Happen with the Top Leaders
When creating a leadership development model, the executive team, or c-suite, is typically the first to engage in the process. When it comes to leadership models, the conversations, strategic planning, etc. frequently stay at the highest levels of leadership. Yet engaging the leaders in the middle level of an organization in the planning and building of a model adds tremendous insight and value. After all, mid-level leaders are the direct link to organizational success. 
The best way to understand the demands and needs of your organization is to go straight to your middle management and get their feedback. This provides benefits that are two-fold: it not only allows you to build your leadership development plan, but also creates the opportunity for extra opportunities for your high potential leaders. Conger & Fulmer of Harvard Business Review comment, "succession management must be a flexible system oriented toward developmental activities, not a rigid list of high-potential employees and the spots they might fill." When you engage your mid-level leaders in the process, the possibility of engagement and competency development in your leadership pipeline emerges.

This process should not only be an opportunity for these leaders to provide feedback, but also allow them to do some of the heavy lifting. This group can help determine the competencies needed from their leaders in order to be successful in reaching business goals and outcomes. Being pulled in two different directions (leading while being led) typically gives them a strong sense of the competencies needed from their leadership team to help meet business objectives.
When selecting the team to get feedback from, it's important to choose your star performers, in critical roles in the organization with a wide breadth of responsibility. This also builds engagement in the leadership process throughout multiple layers in the organization, and strengthens your succession planning. That is how we grow future leaders.
Instead of having the top-level execs always driving the leadership development process, strive to involve those mid-level managers. By doing so, we are creating opportunities to build a stronger and deeper model throughout the organization for leadership development. It might even spark the identification of new leaders in the organization! Chances are those star performers at the mid-level want to grow as individuals, reach organizational goals, and not to mention - move up on the leadership ladder. If they want to help be the voice and spread the word, let them. What better way to reach a broader scope of your employees than by engaging them in the leadership process?
If the long-term goal is to become a stronger organization and grow future leaders, then engaging leaders in the building of the leadership development plan should be key to not just the executives, but to those in the middle who are stars and who want a voice. Give them one!
Stay tuned for part three of the 3 Myths of Leadership Development.
Jim Finkelstein is the President and CEO of FutureSense, Inc. He is a life long student of people and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Sonoma State University in the Executive MBA program. You can follow him on Twitter @futuresense
Melissa Mead is a writer for FutureSense. You can follow her on Twitter at @mloves2run

By: Jim Finkelstein & Melissa Mead

Source: Huffington Post

3 Myths of Leadership Development: Part I

All the time and money in the world doesn't necessarily buy or translate into effective leadership development. Ironically, seventy billion dollars was spent in the US and over $130 billion worldwide on corporate training (Forbes, 2014). Why spend billions of dollars and countless hours on leadership programs, when efficiency has not necessarily been proven? Much of leadership development is built on several long-standing myths.
Through a 3-part series, we will dissect three basic myths of leadership development and uncover the truths hidden behind them. These myths are: Leadership is Knowledge, Leadership Development Should Happen Only with the Top Leaders, and Leadership Development is about Learning, Not Asking.
Myth #1: "Leadership is Knowledge"
People often assume that leadership equates to knowledge. Think about how many times leaders (ourselves included) have left leadership events or programs chalked full of ideas and ready to make change, only to find things back to business as usual within a few days in the office. This is the challenge with "event-driven" leadership development programs -- the focus stays on knowledge and retaining new ideas and concepts. Sitting through a survey, or assessment, or retreat, or training session, simply absorbing information, is not what is going to make us or our learning and coaching strategies better.
To build effective leadership development programs, efforts need to shift to a leadership program or model that accounts for the intellectual knowledge base, as well as the emotional capacity and opportunity to actually make changes. It is being aware that building or altering a leadership development model takes more than just spelling it out on a piece of paper. Leaders need the opportunity to actualize what they have learned on a daily basis. With this in mind, effective leadership programs and models are built to engage the desire to change within our organizations in both thought and the opportunity to execute the ideas.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the series as we look at the Myth #2 in leadership development.
Jim Finkelstein is the President and CEO of FutureSense, Inc. He is a life long student of people and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Sonoma State University in the Executive MBA program. You can follow him on Twitter @futuresense
Melissa Mead is a writer for FutureSense. You can follow her on Twitter at @mloves2run

By: Jim Finkelstein & Melissa Mead

Source: Huffington Post

3 Common Leadership Habits That Are Stifling Your Success

As an entrepreneur, you work in a high-stakes environment -- you receive all the glory when your company flies high and all the blame when it hits a patch of turbulence. This pressure to perform can lead you to develop habits that end up hurting your chances for success.
And the habits most likely to cause problems often are the very ones often associated with strong leadership.
Here, three of these deceiving habits and how you can nix them for good.

1. You know everything.

When you need to make decisions in uncertain times, the pressure to have all the answers might lead you to rely too much on history and not realize that you need a new game plan. You think you already know everything.
This tendency toward self-reliance undermines your team. When you know everything, there’s no reason to engage others in conversation. Your team members become bystanders, and that makes it harder for them to share essential information and input, much less rally around your goals.
With a know-it-all approach, you also lack the humility to change course when you’re off track. When Ron Johnson left Apple and became CEO of JCPenney, he went in with a bold and dramatic change in strategy -- exactly what the company needed.
However, his strategy was largely based on what had worked in another industry with a very different customer profile. The changes didn’t resonate with JCPenney customers, and Johnson left the company after less than 17 months as CEO. Today, JCPenney is rebounding. Had Johnson listened to more input, he might have been successful in his turnaround attempt.
People closest to the front lines often have the most valuable insights. The best way to break a command-and-control mindset is to focus less on having all the answers and more on listening to these people. You always have the final say, but your front-line workers might suggest options you'd never have considered. They'll feel much more involved in a new strategy or initiative when they are able to contribute.

2. You overvalue data in decision-making.

You can track and measure nearly everything today, so it’s tempting to want to collect every data point and to address every uncertainty before you act. But too much data can be paralyzing. And waiting until you have the perfect answer might mean missing the chance to stay ahead of a changing market.
A classic example is Blockbuster, which waited too long to address the threat of streaming video. By the time the company decided to act, it was too late. Blockbuster went from being an industry leader to a has-been, and it couldn’t recover.
Data should act as a guide -- not your only input. In addition to data, use informed intuition, insights and wise judgment. Be willing to let solutions evolve as you learn more. When you move swiftly, you can adjust your strategy as new information emerges.

3. You focus on 'wowing' more than collaboration.

I once sat through an hour-long acquisition presentation in which two senior leaders shared numerous slides and concluded with upbeat, positive music. They walked away thinking they'd nailed it.
But over time, it became clear they'd only nailed a performance and not truly engaged their audience. Employees had felt more like spectators than important contributors. They didn’t feel the company recognized or valued their involvement.
The most compelling presentations capitalize on the power of human interaction and involve the audience. Scrap the idea of a “perfect” presentation, and don’t try to perform an act. Instead, speak with your audience and promote discussion. By doing this, you’ll reap the benefits of collaboration and allow others to see how they can contribute to meaningful change.
When starting out, you might feel the urge to know all the answers, rely too heavily on data to make decisions and communicate your vision flawlessly. But these habits can lead to costly setbacks. The best entrepreneurs approach every situation with a learning mindset.
Be an incrementalist and listen. Forget the search for the perfect answer, and be comfortable with collaboration.

by Patti Johnson

Source: Entrepreneur

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What Will Your Leadership Legacy Say About You?

Leadership is often messy and unpredictable. Leaders today are trying to do more with fewer resources, and in a shorter timeframe. In addition to managing limited resources, leaders are expected to build solid professional relationships, coach and mentor employees, be in tune with team morale, manage conflict, and successfully navigate corporate culture . . . and that’s just the short list of expectations.  The ways in which you handle these expectations are the daily deposits you put into your leadership legacy account.
Many leaders think that their legacy will be built much later in their career.  In reality, you start shaping your legacy the moment you assume your first management position.  Your legacy is not determined by wishful thinking. It is defined by your daily decisions, interactions with others, mistakes made, and what you learn along the way.  Thinking about how you want to be remembered as a leader in the future will help you become an even stronger leader today.
In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Successful PeopleStephen Covey advises us to “begin with the end in mind.”  If you want to be a respected and remembered leader, start thinking about your legacy now.  People need to know who you are, what you stand for, and what you will and won’t negotiate.  Here are a couple of tips to help you better define who you are as a leader as you begin crafting your leadership legacy.

Why The Greatest Leadership Tool You've Ever Overlooked Is Gathering Dust on Your Bookshelf

Here’s a depressing (yet unsurprising) fact: 42% of all college graduates will never read another book after graduation. Even I have contributed to this epidemic of literary abandonment, and I was an English major.
I, like many of you, fell prey to a singular focus on my professional ambition. I subconsciously began to believe that reading stories about fictional characters detracting from precious time that could be spent reading more informative books that contributed to my career.
While business books have undoubtedly enriched my professional life, it turns out I was missing out on an entire world of cognitive potential by ignoring fiction. Studies have repeatedly shown that fictional literature is an exceptional key to unlocking the minds of your peers and becoming uniquely adaptable in the face of uncertainty.
How to Walk a Mile in Someone’s Shoes
As of yet, human beings are incapable of experiencing another person’s life. However, brain scans reveal that reading fiction may bring us amazingly close.
Researchers at the Emory University Center for Neuropolicy found that being absorbed in a fictional novel increased connectivity in several parts of the brain, including the sensory motor region. This area enables you to exercise “embodied cognition;” in other words, to represent a physical sensation in your mind, like running. This kind of brain activity suggests “that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” explained principal researcher Gregory Burns.
So what is the benefit of physically feeling the experience of a fictional protagonist?
It turns out this “extreme empathy”—the ability to not only care about your characters but to literally feel their pain or pleasure—actually translates into higher aptitude for recognizing the motivations of others in the real world.
Courtesy of National Media Museum of UK
Courtesy of National Media Museum of UK

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Business Impact of Authentic Leadership

Workplace diversity is a top goal for companies of all sizes today. Research shows that enterprises which include people of both genders and of multiple generations, cultures and physical abilities increase their productivity, improve the effectiveness of their employee teams and better their bottom line. A more diverse workforce clearly equals rewards.
At the level of the individual, however, less is more. Rather than trying to be "all things" to their employers, people perform better and are more engaged when they focus on being their singular, authentic selves.
When companies also encourage and reward this kind of authenticity and genuineness among their leaders, these leaders, in turn, are more likely to create real value for the organization.
So, how does authenticity support a business? When people feel free to be who and what they are -- both privately and publicly -- they have more energy to create and innovate. Authentic workers are more likely to bring their whole selves to the job, engage with the company’s goals and participate fully in the mission of the enterprise.
These same employees also recognize and are attracted to authentic leaders, and follow them with greater dedication -- leading to stronger teams and enhanced business performance.

Monday, April 20, 2015

We need more than women in leadership, we need cultural diversity

We asked a number of leading women who are speaking at the upcoming She Leads conference what they'd like younger women to know about navigating the career in front of them. Below, DAWN CEO and founder Dai Le shares her advice. 
How do we define leadership? What does it look like? What does it take to lead?  And for a woman like myself, that is, of non-Anglo Saxon background, (a double whammy as it has been described) what opportunities are there for us to lead? And should the opportunity presents itself, what barriers will there be that could stop us succeeding?
My foray into the political arena in 2008 educated me a lot about ‘leadership’, especially in politics. The characteristics I would normally associate with those in leadership positions  -- such as “treating others how you would like to be treated” “take risks”, be responsible for one’s own actions, be open to ideas with those you work with, be humble, have integrity, be mindful, be strong, and lead with the greater good of society in mind – are not all that common in the political arena.
Why are such leadership traits lacking in politics? I believe that this is probably due to the lack of diversity – gender and cultural – in the key leadership positions of our political system.
Leadership is male dominated across all aspects of life. And it is dominated by Anglo Saxon men. I am not saying that that is wrong or right.  It’s just plain fact. It’s how our society is structured. How can we then transform these institutionalised structures?  What conversations do we need to have to begin the shift?

Research: 10 Traits of Innovative Leaders

Many organizations would like their leaders to create more innovative teams. But how exactly should they do this? If you ask highly innovative leaders what makes them effective you are apt to hear, “Well, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it.” Or they will make something up that sounds compelling. But the fact of the matter is that people who excel at something aren’t usually very good at pinpointing exactly what accounts for their skill.
So to find out more, we conducted our own study. We began by collaborating with a respected organization in the telecommunications industry whose leaders scored well above average on most managerial competencies. We identified 33 individuals who scored at or above the 99th percentile on innovation, as measured by their peers, subordinates, and bosses in a comprehensive 360-degree feedback survey.  We believed these closest colleagues would have the most accurate view of what made this group of leaders stand out from the pack in this large organization.
Then we interviewed each leader by phone, together with the leader’s boss and a number of direct reports and peers, to ask for concrete examples of what the leader did that caused him or her to be perceived as highly innovative. The colleagues were also asked how this leader differed from other leaders they’d served.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Creating a Company Culture Where Employees Never Leave

According to a recent report released by the Labor Department, there were 5 million job openings on the last business day of January. This was the highest levels of job openings in the U.S. since 2001. It also found 4.8 million American workers left their jobs in January. This was a result of either voluntarily leaving or being laid off or terminated. Both of these stats indicate that the economy is doing pretty well, as long as the departures aren’t mainly from layoffs.
While this report may sound promising for businesses, having a high turnover rate as a result of employees quitting isn’t exactly a great scenario for a business. As The Wall Street Journal notes:
“High employee turnover hurts a company’s bottom line. Experts estimate it costs upwards of twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. And churn can damage morale among remaining employees.”
So, how can you ensure that your employees won’t leave you for someone else? I've found that it's all about company culture. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to create a culture where employees will stick around for the long haul.

How to Be More Resilient When Things Get Tough

The choices we make every day determine how resilient we can be when things go wrong. Discover the secret to thriving in challenging times.

It's human nature to resist change--particularly when it comes in the form of adversity or challenges. But change is inevitable, and developing the trait of resilience helps us not only survive change, but also learn, grow, and thrive in it.
Resilience is the capacity to cope with stress and adversity. It comes from believing in yourself and, at the same time, in something bigger than yourself.
Resilience is not a trait that people are born with; it involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.