President, Enterprise Management LTD.
Tuesday, 30 April 2013 14:59
Who, How and What
Personality insights, group interaction, and listening skills were notable advances after World War II. This focus on the who of leadership encourages self-awareness and interpersonal mastery. After all personal mastery is foundational.
In the 1980s, proficiency, competence, and skill development highlighted personal talents and knowledge. Leadership development was expanded by targeting a new aspect: job skills. Knowing how to do the job became a critical component not only in appraising a leader’s performance but also for career development and succession planning.
Now we need to focus on the what must be achieved. Business savvy, judgment, and prioritization must be added. Achieving goals and balancing short- and long-term results are essential leadership aspects.
Helping leaders determine the what of leadership is key. Deciding what resources to allocate to a project, adjusting to new trends, reading the culture, validating assumptions about customers, and setting priorities that align energies requires business insights into the competing demands and multiple time horizons. Short-term goals might be rewarded on Wall Street but long-term consequences also play a crucial role.
The Business Acumen Gap
While businesses, governments and non-profit leaders struggle with achieving goals, our leadership models avoid the matter, except for the term business acumen. Which seems to be recognized in hindsight rather than preparing leaders decision-making wisdom, business judgment, or action planning. Ronald Heifetz suggests that leadership is “what you do” and many leaders’ careers are judged using this formula.
HP, Home Depot, J.C. Penny, and Bank of America all have lost CEOs due to miscalculations. HP’s Carly Fiorina , Home Depot’s Robert Nardelli, and J.C. Penny’s Ron Johnson were successful in prior executive roles, and, yet, failed in a new and different leadership context. However, poor decision-making resides at all leadership levels, not just the top. IBM’s The Future of Enterprise study in 2008 surveyed 1,100 global CEOs and found that the pace of change is expanding and there is a need for agile leaders who can read their environment and select the right path forward. The path not only diverges in the woods, it also shifts in organizations.
Setting a Wise Course
The personal approach to leadership cannot provide the flexibility, assessment of complex interactions, or ability to build a business case for change that organizations need. Leaders require a new dynamic framework that they can use to balance competing demands and juggle multiple stakeholder interests.
John Dewey in his 1910 book How We Think identified six perspectives that when analyzed would produce effective decisions. In business terms these are:
1. Creating new products or internal synergies
2. Customer focus, market share, and competitive position
3. Organizational systems, policies and governance
4. Quality, maximum return, and process improvement
5. High performing culture and talent development
6. Scanning for new opportunities and testing assumptions
Let’s just examine the last: checking assumptions. In the 1990s, mortgage bankers operated on the assumption that home prices would never fall more than 5%. Therefore, a 95% mortgage was viewed as a reasonable risk. While we all recognize the flaw now, identifying it earlier would certainly have benefited many financial institutions.
Unlike the personal approach to leadership, the outcome or WHAT focus can be mastered quickly. Much like the quality check sheets, having a list of questions addressing internal and external realities boosts a leader’s ability to make wise choices. Reviewing key questions in each of the six mindsets permits effective data collection and effective analysis of the trade-offs. Identifying alternatives and weighing them must precede selecting a decision, goal, or action.
In a world of change, a reality or contingency framework must be constantly tested to stay on track and ensure success. Wise decisions can run into detours. Like a GPS system challenging us when we veer off course, these six mindset questions can also be used to “recalculate” our decisions and ensure we get to our intended destination.
And, just like our GPS the navigation models must be updated to reflect current reality. It is time to update our leadership models.
Monday, 15 April 2013 06:17Innovation. The very word conjures breakthrough products, magazine covers, and celebrity status. But those associations are too good to be the whole story. It requires a closer, more balanced, look. Innovation comes at a cost to leaders, teams and the organization.
Organizational Culture and Policy Change
Attention to measures, accountability and efficiencies have dominated organizational initiatives in the last few years. Innovation thrives on exploration, curiosity and discovery, rather than productive performance. It takes time to identify new options or synergies. Google and 3M are known for providing some of their employee’s discretionary time. How much time are you willing to provide? Which employees would be eligible? Can you shift from a short-term mindset to a longer time frame to develop and test those ideas? What changes to your reward system are necessary to support and maintain innovation?
Change in Leadership Practices
A leader’s role is typically defined as setting goals and measuring performance. While coaching and analytical thinking have been added in the last decade, leading for innovation requires additional skills. Engagement, risk taking, supporting setbacks and building resilience have become critical to innovation.
Overcoming the fear of failure or the stigma attached to anything less than stellar success stems from leaders who are willing to challenge thinking and insist on asking hard questions. One leader I worked with had a practice of starting each staff meeting with the question: What mistake have you made and what have you learned from it? It certainly set a standard for creative thought. Great ideas can come from any part of the organization. What are you doing as a leader to support the probing questions and assumption testing? You might be surprised what a brand new team member might ask and the opportunities those questions open.
New Support for Collaboration and Cross Functional Teaming
Did you know that the Wizard of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison worked with a team? In fact, several of his patents included the name of his teammates. While we have the image of the lone inventor, innovation thrives in teams. Cross-functional teams have one of the strongest track records for innovation. Combining engineering and medicine has provided breakthroughs in cardiology, orthopedics and more. The field of bioinformatics is just one example of how new fields of study can arise at crossroads of traditional functional definitions. What kind of teaming are you relying on? Is the team’s culture based on competition or collaboration? Is it siloed in one functional area or expanded across areas of expertise. And, how is teamwork rewarded?
Stand Up for Cancer Research efforts (SU2C) have demonstrated how the hero inventor must be transformed into a more collaborative effort not only across disciplines but also across organizations. Instead of researchers striving to be singled out for a Nobel Prize, the need to digest a torrent of data and complex interactions mandates a different approach across research centers. How can leaders build teams, overcome turfdoms, and create collaboration to identify new opportunities and solve intricate problems?
Is Innovation Worth the Price?
Recognizing the fact that there is a cost associated with innovation, does not mean that the costs outweigh the benefits. The pay-off in market leadership, new business models, product introduction and extension, service to customers and personal significance more than compensate for the adopting the quest for innovation. Just because a lunch is not free, does mean that you forgo the meal. It can still be a delicious delight.
Thursday, 04 April 2013 13:58Command and authority power result in speedy compliance, clear direction, and action. Using the “do it because I said so” approach rarely requires discussion or heated debate.
However, the salute and execute approach can be very helpful. During a crisis, the use of command power saves lives and organizes action. In the case of Hurricane Sandy or another critical safety issue, the use of a command is a natural, effective, and reasonable approach.
Moviemakers create our superheroes. From Iron Man to Superman or Spiderman, they give directives to help others. We also associate command power with movie villains, from Darth Vader to the Godfather. In the Lord of the Rings, the search for the one ring of power pitted the good Hobbit Frodo again the lidless eye, Lord Sauron. Their dictates and motivation stem from greed and ego.
Command power: decisiveness, direction, and clear expectations
Despite a negative reputation, command power can aid others, create positive outcomes, and direct needed resources to the most critical problems. Medical triage might be one example. Doctors yell assessments about who should be treated first. The other medical staff follow their directions and save lives.
While events like the 2009 crash of US Air 1549 happily do not happen as often as medical triage, it highlights again the benefits of command power. When the geese hit the engines shortly after take-off, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his disabled plane safely on the Hudson River. His decisive actions saved 155 lives.
In the corporate world, command power can provide clear goals and initiatives, create standards, align energies, and ensure high levels of performance.
There is a downside to using command power when the situation does not warrant it. This impersonal approach can create passivity, low levels of risk taking, and withholding information. It can also breed fear and crush personal motivation.
Authority power: clarity and unity vs. bureaucracy
Organizations grant authority power by title, position, and office space. Pay and perks including furnishings are metered out by position and title. In some organizations people of a specific rank prefer to speak only to those of an equal rank or higher.
The popular series Downton Abbey lays out the hierarchy not only upstairs but also downstairs. The “this is the way it is to be” approach clarifies the chain of command and responsibilities without regard to personality or personal connections.
With military, police, fire and medical staff, uniforms are a part of their authority. But even those without a uniform feel the role they play when they accept a title. Each title – professor, board chairperson, or elected mayor – has a role to play. Each recognizes the duties and obligations that accompany a position.
Organizations tend to use authority power to ensure appropriate decision review, set a direction or goal, and create unified action for goal achievement. However, authority power can become a morass. In one organization, there were seven signatures up the chain of command required to hire a security guard. Other war stories about approving travel reimbursement or multiple rejections of key decisions due to the submission of a proper form become part of an organization’s lore. It also creates a cumbersome bureaucracy that creates barriers to success.
The election of Pope Francis offers interesting insight into authority power. The pope has infallible power and substantial public and private obligations. In the first month after his election, there are signs that he will break from some traditions and practices as he sets a model of humility and service. It just may be that a pope can serve just as well as pope without wearing red shoes.
When those in authority rely on authority all the time, they are playing a dangerous game. The trump card of authority has its limits. It cannot produce commitment, loyalty, or develop future leaders.
To use power effectively it must match the situation. While it might be tempting to rely on one or two power levers, all seven must be in your tool kit. What are the signals you observe that tell you when to use which of the power levers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 16:09
Expanding recognition power enhances engagement, satisfaction, employee retention, collaboration, innovation, performance. Why would a leader neglect such a powerful leadership tool? Too often recognition is confused with tangible rewards so the short- and long-term benefits are missed.
Let’s explore the potential behind recognition power.
What is recognition power?
Some leaders think recognition is limited to tangible rewards – a bonus, a raise, a promotion – and consequently ignore the intangible power of praise and recognition.
One leader told me, “They get a paycheck and an annual review, that’s enough recognition.” News flash: These are not enough. In a 2010 Harvard Business Review brief researchers Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer explained that most people today are motivated by a sense of progress. In particular, the younger generations – the Gen X’ers and Millenials – thrive on constant praise, recognition and feedback.
Without recognition, high performers revert to being average. If excellence receives little response, why put effort into any task? Why use discretionary effort or display initiative?
Benefits and examples of recognition power
Recognition takes time rather than money. It can actually be quite easy. The following are some effective examples I’ve seen implemented to achieve different results:
1. Recognition from customers
A study of nurses found that hand written thank you notes was the most meaningful recognition possible. For call center customer service representatives, it was a weekly printout of voicemail surveys praising them.
2. Recognition from the team
Instead of relying on management to recognize performance, the team can provide timely and specific recognition. One director I’ve worked with would have a quick, five-minute meeting on a Friday afternoon and ask, “Who helped you this week?”
When someone spoke up the person they thanked was given a Klondike bar – a Klondike bar! The simple act boosted engagement and created a culture where the staff recognized each other.
3. Recognition as respect
A labor dispute was brewing because a plant leader didn’t say a simple “hello” to his workers. Many in the workforce interpreted this as disregard. The simple act of informing an introverted manager of how his action was being interpreted changed the tone and contributed to improved trust, respect and communication.
4. Recognition as visibility and pride
Another form of recognition is when a worker’s performance is recognized by upper management. For example, when an employee prepares a key report, recommendation, or suggestion, he or she should have his or her name on the report or be asked to attend the meeting wherein it is presented. This not only offers intrinsic pride but also increases confidence and sustains excellence.
5. Recognition of innovative thinking and initiative
Organizations require innovation to stay competitive and effective. If you want to foster a culture of innovation in your organization, then you must recognize initiative, not just outcome. One leader would start her staff meeting by asking, “Who has tried something new?” This simple question set an expectation that out-of-the-box thinking was important, even if the idea was not a slam dunk success. After all, the Lisa computer was the precursor to the Mac. We have to recognize those who overcome any fear of failure by speaking out, by engaging people and issues, and by proposing new solutions and alternatives.
While recognition is not currently a common practice, it is one that sustains performance, encourages thinking, and supports initiative. Recognition has a return on investment that every leader must recognize. What additional approaches or techniques have you seen or used to recognize others? Share your ideas in the comments below.
Monday, 04 March 2013 12:35
While “six degrees of separation” has historically been a standard reference point, today technology and social networking sites have helped to cut this figure in half. In our world it is easier to connect than ever before. However, all connections are not equal. An acquaintance is not the same as a friend or confidante. Understanding how to use your personal power enables you to expand your circle of influence and power.
Every relationship starts with an introduction and a period that might be dubbed the “get to know you” stage. It is when we learn small tidbits about another person’s background, skills, and experiences. Some people enjoy working a crowded room, displaying a mastery of the fine art of networking, while others intermingle more cautiously. Whatever the speed, the ability to make contacts and new acquaintances expands our personal or Linkage power.
Linkage power stems from conferences, cocktails, social media, etc. and is marked by the exchange of business cards or contact information. These connections are beneficial but restricted. The “mileage” is limited to other surface connections.
Translating the typically superficial linkage connection into Relationship Power takes time, respect, and mutual exchange. Only then can you really “count” on another person or group. The benefits of learning to effectively foster Relationship Power include: increased job satisfaction, improved team spirit and loyalty, and the sharing of insights and information.
Cultivating a relationship entails iterative interactions that increase comfort and deepen a sense of mutual ties. Commonalities are discovered and differences respected as connections are transformed into relationships. Evidence of relationship power varies from a mentor who offers guidance, a team member who has your back, or a colleague who gives you a heads up. In addition, there is a sense of reciprocity in a relationship. Favors are returned, increasing the strength of the bond. Going above and beyond the call of duty to help another is the hallmark of a solid relationship.
If you are interested in expanding your personal power, here are a few tips to help you build both Linkage and Relationship:
6 Tips for Enhancing Linkage Power
1. Just do it. Set aside time and make it a priority
2. Attend social events and meetings
3. Embrace technology. Find opportunities to interact digitally
4. Be visible and accessible
5. Build connections within your group as well as across the organization
6. Pay it forward; help to connect others
6 Tips for Enhancing Relationship Power:
1. Show sincere interest in another’s ideas, initiatives, and successes
2. Listen to concerns and suggestions while exploring potential solutions
3. Take time to connect on a professional and personal level
4. Maintain personal contact
5. Request feedback and input
6. Demonstrate respect personal values and/or cultures
Take a moment to assess your personal power practices. What will expand your network? What will deepen those connections into relationships? Today is a good day to capitalize on your “three degrees of separation.”
Friday, 15 February 2013 16:11
You are probably familiar with the saying “there is no substitute for experience” and perhaps can even attest to its accuracy. Over the past several weeks we have redefined power and explored the new and popular Systems Power lever. As the opening sentence alludes, this week I am delving into Mastery Power. That is, the power stemming from experience, training and education. In a recent study on power practices, the power of expertise ranked high - it was the third most cited. Not surprising, as it is a key contributor to organization success, it warrants attention and support.
Those who exercise Mastery Power are recognized and highly valued. Mastery Power even And, it operates independently of formal titles. There are some without a prestigious rank that are sought out for advice.
Mastery provides insights that not only enable better decision-making but also reduce risk but this cannot be attained overnight. In fact, it may take as much as 10,000 hours of practice to be a true master. This may seem extreme, but take for example the historic guild system. There was a progression from an entry-level apprentice to journeyman before being recognized as a master and the same is true today. It takes time and effort to develop the skills necessary to begin exercising Mastery Power. Whatever the investment of time, training and practice, it pays off.
The benefits of Mastery Power include the ability to:• Offer new alternatives
• Assist others by designing or explaining processes
• Apply their skills to develop new perspectives in a time of change
• Coach others and develop talent for the future
While we all realize the benefits, many organizations face the problem of losing mastery through retirements or the loss of key talent. How is your organization developing Mastery Power? Are those who currently have Mastery Power mentoring and coaching others? Are your current masters stuck operating in a tried and true universe?
Our complex and changing world requires more mastery than ever before. What are you doing to develop your mastery? What are the areas you foresee a need for mastery in the future? What can you do to help others develop their mastery?
Friday, 25 January 2013 15:40
In my last blog "Which is More Detrimental: Power or Powerlessness?" I redefined the term “power” to challenge common misconceptions and introduced the seven levers necessary to effectively wield power. This week, I will take an in-depth look at one power lever that is often dismissed out of sheer misunderstanding: system power.
We have all heard the saying, “You can’t fight the system.” But the truth is: systems are powerful and useful. You can exhaust yourself by continually struggling against it or you can learn to effectively leverage system power by understanding system nuances.
A system can be defined as “a group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole.” Translated this means that systems include the organization’s structure, policies, rules, standard practices, established processes, and plans. While they may be documented and fairly consistent, you can still use them to influence action, impact decision-making, and align activities.
The research conducted by Enterprise Management indicates that the system power lever is the most widely used type of power in both business and government. Constructive use of systems levers include:
• Linking new requests for authorization to similar approvals
• Providing new interpretations and applications to rules or conventions
• Proposal introduction at multiple entry pathways
While I recognize that flaws exist in every system, implementing these constructive tips will help you make the most of the systems currently in place within your organization. Be cautioned though, there is a negative use of systems power that surfaces as bureaucracy, change avoidance, and excessive red tape. Innovation and creativity do not have to fall victim to static systems. There are creative ways to initiate change while still “playing by the rules.” The art lies in understanding the systems within your organization and using them to achieve your goals.
Friday, 11 January 2013 11:59
What comes to mind when you think of powerful leaders? Do you envision the trustworthy, inspiring, and successful leader who steadfastly focuses on goals and who fosters genuine loyalty in his/her followers? Or do you see the ever lurking evil leader who craves power for personal gain, trampling whatever (or whoever) gets in his/her way? Power has long been viewed as a double-edge sword and as such has been cast out of business operations for fear of corruption. But what if power is the key element missing from your career?
Power, as many view it, is limited so it must be preserved and never diluted. A limited pie that only has so many servings. It is for the aristocrat, the superior, the wealthy, the elite, the titled and the cagey. This self-serving definition expects nothing more than ill intentions, misuse and abuse. The result is that power becomes the elephant in the room that no one acknowledges. Ignoring and banning the topic does not solve the problem or erase the harm. Certainly the misuse of power comes at a cost but what is the cost of prevalent powerlessness?
The Problem with Powerlessness
Powerlessness puts you in a box. It limits you to a salute and execute mentality. When you are powerless you have no sense of ownership, you have limited job satisfaction, you have no room to show initiative and are less productive. One who lives in powerlessness lives by a list of shoulds: “you must do this at this time,” “you should produce that,” “you should…” Powerlessness seeps into the crevices of an organization, slowing its momentum and sapping commitment. Powerlessness keeps organizations and individuals alike stuck in the past and in a rut. So what is the alternative?
Power is Energy
We need to re-define and understand power as the “ability to act or produce an effect.” Like electricity, power moves us and enables us to perform. It aligns interests and gains support, which is the essence of leadership. It enables choices, builds confidence, and increases agility in the face of change. Power stirs calm and vital energy beyond anything bestowed by a formal title or position. It is an awareness that the ability to impact results, sway decisions, and respond to change is accessible to everyone. It is knowing YOU can make a meaningful contribution. Innovation, initiative, discretionary effort, and ownership stem from a personal sense of power. Since power is leadership, we need to encourage both the training and application of effective power.
Pushing Past the Past
Embracing power means moving from the realm of shoulds into the realm of coulds: “I could do something different,” “I could enable, enlarge, expand, innovate…” It begins by employing a new power mindset. The great Greek mathematician and physicist Archimedes famously stated, “Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough and I will move the world.” If he could think he could move the world, what is it that you could do? Once you understand how to apply your power you can also leverage your influence to move what appears to be immobile. You just need the right tools used in the right way.
I believe there are seven power levers that provide a path for you to move from should to could:
2. System Power
A true leader who understands power will know when and how to exercise each of these levers for optimal success. Over the next seven blogs we will begin an in-depth exploration of each and how you can use each lever to effectively wield your power.
Monday, 06 August 2012 00:00In a complex world, speedy solutions rarely work. Unintended consequences, time lags, and interconnected systems whirl risk and ramifications to side track easy solutions.
Ralph Kilmann’s 1991 book Managing Beyond the Quick Fix remains valid today--leaders need a new mindset that goes beyond simple response toward sustainable resolutions. In a rush to action, symptoms divert attention from root causes. Are today’s problems, issues, or opportunities really simple? Leaders should not be being playing the equivalent of speed tic-tac-toe where getting to any win first is the goal.
Acting is critical but it must be the right action at the right time in the right way for the right results. A quick overview, a readymade response or reverting to “what we have always done” cannot substitute for careful analysis, critical thinking, creative solutions, and integrated planning.
Dr. Paul Nutt in his 2002 book Why Decisions Fail reported that 80% of decisions are made without considering an alternative. While it is understandable that past success is alluring, the financial advisors caution that past success is not a guarantee of future success also holds true in other fields. Leaders do not need speed as much as they need accuracy and sustainability.
This means that the leader’s role as the person with “all” the answers must change. Instead of thinking that leadership equates to the font of all knowledge, leader’s real role is to ask penetrating questions. It is discovery, innovative and systems thinking, not the “tried and true,” that deliver lasting results.
The next time a binary choice is offered, recognize it as trap. Few situations in life have only two options. And many have learned to present one reasonable proposal paired an unworkable. The apparent easy choice leads into the uncharted school of hard knocks territory. Instead, allocate time to examining assumptions, identifying multiple options, and considering both the possible and improbable before making the decision. Speed is not the answer on the highway or in organizations. Remember it was the tortoise and not the hare that won the race. Take the time and involve the right resource to get it right the first time.
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 15:48As anyone who has ever driven a car knows, blind spots are potentially lethal. This holds true in leading business organizations as well on the road, so it’s time we worked to eliminate them from one of the most critical business tasks of our age: culture change.
The danger of blind spots helps explain the continued popularity of Kaplan and Norton’s book The Balanced Scorecard. That influential book, after all, addressed the value of having multiple measures or perspectives. Incomplete scorecards resulted in ignored aspects or blind spots.
Now, culture change initiatives must adopt this practice. To date, culture change initiatives generally concentrate on values, mission, personal interaction, and morale. All of these are important, but together they represent an incomplete picture. These blind spots help explain the poor rate of success –: in the 11-30% range – among such initiatives.
To address those blind spots, I propose that the culture change scorecard needs to incorporate three additional factors:
By incorporating these three factors into a change-management model and adding new benchmarks to measure power distance, risk orientation and time horizon, we will have the peripheral sight as well as the hindsight and foresight needed to help drive culture change.
Friday, 19 August 2011 14:27
You do not have to have a lofty title, sizeable budget, or media coverage to be powerful. We can grow our own power without a formal grant from the organization or “in crowd” status. Power is not popularity or office size. Let’s rethink our assumptions about how confidence impacts power.
First having confidence and having competence are not the same thing. I know very competent people who have little confidence. And the reverse is true also. Some highly confident people have no understanding of the facts or mastery of the situation. They just shoot from the hip or a standard script. Confidence is generated internally and we can choose to become confident when we realize that it is a choice and that it is never too late for us to become powerful.
Power is not a matter of intelligence, tenure, or charm. It is a matter of recognizing what we know and using that knowledge at the right time and in the right way to get the right results. We can choose to use power to influence others.
Second, power changes over time. All of us were limited during childhood. However we grew physically, while we were also advancing our skills. Do you label your power based on the power you have had? If you do, you are making a huge error. Power usually grows.
In most instances, we start out our professional lives feeling pretty powerless, like an infant. We rely on others and stick ardently to the role of follower. But we gain experience and grow. Next we start to exert some autonomy and independence, much like teenagers. In time and with enhanced confidence we exert greater power to achieve our goals, just as we did in early adulthood.
However, great leaders do not stop there. They advance to another final stage where their goal focus broadens from the personal and organizationally driven. Whether we call this orientation wise, humble, or hero, it is clear that there is a way to use power for the greater good.
Recently, we honored members of the U.S. Navy Seal Teams and other soldiers who demonstrates this larger focus, but they are not alone. There are many who elect to serve behind the scenes and avoiding the pomp that can accompany power.
Who was the most powerful person in your life? I bet it was not someone on a magazine cover or with a famous name. Your answer is probably a teacher, coach, family member or local leader who chose to make a difference. They chose to be a powerful influence in your life. ? Assert your confidence, make the right choices and grow your power.
Why not use your power to make a difference too?
Friday, 22 July 2011 11:07Archimedes was on the right track when he said many years ago, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Selecting the right lever for the situation is something a successful leader does, if not by second nature by learning. There are many different power levers – some too unwieldy and some too weak. Finding the right one for the situation requires analysis.
Just like a ships’ captain must continually verify the ships course, it is essential that a leader stop and review the situation to make sure the lever and associated actions they are using are the most effective. No one wants blowback from being overpowering or ineffective by using too little. This is a pull use of the power lever, where the leader pulls their employees to action instead of pushing them into action
When specific decisions need to be made quickly, the authority lever that flows from position power or the power to command is appropriate. However, when creative thinking or a high level of commitment is needed, relationship power or systems power yields better results.
Since we learn power levers from others, many of us overlook valuable options. The goal of Leadership Power Levers™, is to identify the type of power that will provide the greatest success in any given situation. Misuse of a lever can shatter reputations, sour relationships and cause trust to evaporate. Take the time to identify which lever is appropriate given your context. Then you will have the opportunity to move, if not the world, at least your organization.
Wondering which power levers you are using? Please contact us for a free Leadership Power Levers™ analysis and find out what your options are for enhancing your power!
Tuesday, 07 June 2011 10:18If leaders keep on doing what they have always done, they will get the same results, which is a recipe for disaster. Both leaders and poker players need to know when to “hold to and when to fold.” They need to decipher the internal and external environment and adjusting plans to actual reality and opportunities.
US Airways’ Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s success in dealing with total engine power loss with a clear decision to land in the Hudson River stemmed from his ability to prioritize goals. In his biography, Sully talks about “goal sacrificing” when you have to select which goal is the most critical to act on. He accepted the loss of a multi-million dollar plane to save lives. He was able to make that decision only because he was clear about his priorities and the situation.
How effective are your leaders in dealing with change or handling unanticipated problems? Are your leaders prepared to make mid-course adjustments or do they keep on trucking with their plan on a pre-determined route no matter what is happening around them?
Concentrating on results, or leading with the “end in mind,” is one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He stresses the importance of starting with the “end in mind.” But what happens when the start, middle or end changes? Staying the course or achieving what is no longer desirable should not be seen as an accomplishment. In fact, it can threaten an organization’s survival. Leaders who know how to keep their “eye on today’s key prize” based on current circumstances are those who succeed.
A solid understanding of the six business priorities helps leaders adjust to critical priorities and avoids being blindsided by “unanticipated” events. It is not just in hindsight that financial executives should have recognized that giving 90 to 95% mortgages was too risky. Experts were warning about a real estate bubble, and yet leaders continued to make mortgages. One bank executive summarized his decision making process by saying that “I know this thing will blow up but as long as the music is playing, I have to dance.”
As Peter Drucker observed “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” Can you leaders deliver the right results are at the right time in the right way and at the right cost? We cannot expect leaders to control events, but we can expect them to act wisely.
Effective leadership requires not only personal awareness and skills, but also business insight and judgment. Captain Sully knew how to prioritize his goals. He did not try to save the plane, and he did not try to make it to an alternative airport. He understood his resources, his situation, his team, and his key goal, resulting in life saving landing. Are you doing all you can to help your leaders understand the critical goals and what it will take to achieve them? It could be your critical priority right now.
Tuesday, 31 May 2011 12:08I bet a few thoughts popped into your head when you read the title of this post.
- Who in their right mind?
- Err…how big was the crib?
- Wait, I thought Charlie Sheen was in his 40’s?
A 50 year old CEO sleeping in a crib is as ridiculous as a leader who Insists there is no reason to change from the tried and true.
Organizations, like people, have a life cycle. Too often leaders in our organizations fail to correctly identify where they are in the life cycle of the organization and fail to make the adjustments necessary to accommodate changing circumstances, technology, competition and customer requirements; instead, clinging to one concept of leadership, a concept that no longer works.
In so many areas of life, consistency is considered a benefit or virtue. Not so when you're talking about leading today’s an organization. The demands of a baby, much like the demands of a new business, necessitate a constant devotion and involvement to keep pace with changing requirements. Whether a parent adequately adjusts to the teenage years or leader flex to meet changing customer expectations, agility counts. . If an organizations or a parent, get stuck in one parenting stage or a leader stays mired to tradition or practice, the opportunity for evolutionary change is lost. The only option left is radical shifts..
Entrepreneurs are famous for being too “hands on” and end up resisting the natural growth of their firm. . They miss the need for professionalism as part of organization life cycle. Leaders of mature organizations make a similar mistake by refusing to see the need to reinvent their firm, product line or processes. Holding on too tightly to the past is a recipe for failure, much as trying to hold on to a college student can invite turmoil.
Change is often easier to identify in a child than in an organization. The child’s need for new clothes or their changing interests and preferred technology are obvious. Organizational change may not be as clear as the rising marks on a doorframe or wall, but change is ongoing and leaders must identify it and adapt.
The impact of the recession has created a fixation with cost cutting, waste reducing, and redundancy hunting. While these methods likely paid-off for many firms, sticking to them over the long term is ill advised. Companies and leaders who have the ability to recognize the change in their organizations have the ability to lead that change and stay ahead of the curve. . Adopting a firefighting mode in a crisis mode appears heroic. It isn’t and it invites disaster.
Leaders need who recognize their organization’s life cycle and help guide them through the shift are essential Shifting may be the antithesis of consistency but it is the bedfellow of excellence. Make sure your leaders do not dig in their heels and fail to see how cycles impact them, much like the toddler who is in the “no” phase.
What signals have you used to successfully identify where your organization is in it’s life cycle?
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 12:44It’s time to update the carrot and stick approach. A cartoon of a donkey hitched to a wagon with a stick in front of it with a carrot in the hand of the highlights the problem of trying to influence action without thinking about ramifications.
For centuries, dangling the carrot in front of the hard working donkey or threatening the stick were two types of motivational power leaders used. Just as technology has advanced, we must expand this narrow view. Encouraging our leaders to rise to the challenges of new workforce expectations, requirements, and levels of competition requires more than a carrot or a stick.
Employee motivation, be it positive or negative, is a direct result of the appropriate use of power by a leader. Power is a bit of a dirty word that inspires a love-hate relationship. On one hand, it is connected to strength, forward motion and inspiration. On the other, it is often connected to despots, tyrants and evil bosses. The love, or carrot, of power reflects the ability to motivate others to achieve goals. The negative, or stick stems from the forceful use of power over others that yields distorted behavior, corrupted decision making, or reduced initiative. Bearing both of these associations in mind, the use of power accomplishes goals and stirs engagement among employees.
While it is convenient to only have to evaluate two options: punish or reward, motivating both people and animals is much more complicated. The assumption is that we are just a “dumb” means to accomplish a goal diminishes us to the single task of cart hauling.
The fast reaction to the carrot or stick overshadows more sustainable options. Everyone may welcome a bonus but after a month, what is the power of the monetary incentive? Feeling like your contributions led to successful goal achievement, a sense that people trust and respect your experience, or the recognition that your insights made a critical difference in gaining support offers long lasting benefits.
How have you reacted when a “stick” strategy is evident? What motivates you? What type of power have you used to bring out the best in others?
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 14:29Welcome to Linking Leadership to Results. This blog will provide you with knowledge, resources and discussion teaching you a new approach to improving leadership and teamwork within your organization. We’ll focus on identifying business priorities rather than improving self-awareness or focusing on a leaders skills set or competencies to lead organizations. Focusing on the specific evolving needs of the organization lead to quicker and more lasting change, ultimately, delivering superior results.
There are six business priorities that need to be examined and defined in order to make the right decisions at the right time to achieve the right results in the right way.
2. What should be done so that the firm gains market share, retains customers, or better serves customers?
3. What changes should be made in our policies, structures, and practices to ensure outstanding performance?
4. What should be done to make our processes and procedures more efficient or of higher quality?
5. What should be done to develop a committed and competent workforce as well as top performing culture
6. What trends, assumptions and issues should be examined to guarantee continued success and position the organization for the long term?