Friday, August 29, 2008

DDI's Gloomy Global Leadership Development Forecast

Last week, a recent McKinsey survey told us HR can't manage talent.

More bad news from DDI:

Forecast Reveals Stormy Weather for Global Leadership Development Efforts
by Rich Wellins, Sr. VP, DDI

Every other year, DDI conducts the Global Leadership Forecast to measure the impact of leadership development programs around the world. More than 13,700 leaders and HR professionals from 76 countries participated this year, making it the most comprehensive study on organizational leadership practices in the world.

This fifth edition of the Global Leadership Forecast is not the report that DDI's chief scientist Ann Howard and I wanted to bring you. The 20052006 Forecast brought high hopes that organizations would finally get leadership development right. We expected to report improvement in this latest survey; instead, we mostly found intensified dissatisfaction.

Since 1999, when the Global Leadership Forecast first measured organizations' perceptions of their leaders, HR confidence in leaders has declined steadily, with only 35 percent citing high confidence in the most recent survey. This deterioration of confidence is a sign that leaders aren't meeting the needs of the organization, and business leaders need to take note of this if they want to grow their organizations.

Some of the major findings of the report are:
- Leaders are dissatisfied with their development. Two out of five leaders don't feel they're getting the development they need, which is a key obstacle to leadership confidence. Great leadership doesn't happen by accident-organizations need to start listening to their leaders and make the right development investments.

- CEOs aren't sending the right messages to leaders. Innovation and global acumen represent two large gaps in leaders' and CEOs' priorities, according to research from the Global Leadership Forecast.

- US lags behind most of the world in succession planning. Globally, only half of organizations have succession plans for their leadership team, and US organizations were lower than the global sample-a scary reality, considering the high rate of retirements we're expecting over the next 5-10 years.

- Leaders who cross borders are unprepared. As organizations expand their global footprint, 20 percent of all leaders have some multinational responsibilities. But, three in five of these multinational leaders consider their development for this role only fair or poor.

- It's not all gloom and doom, though. The report also contains a number of solutions to these problems. I invite you to download and read the report, and hope that you find the findings and recommendations helpful. While the forecast may be rainy today, I'm confident that blue skies are in our future.

Dan's comments:

I agree, it's not all gloom and doom. The good news is that Seventy-five (75) percent of executives identified improving or leveraging leadership talent as a top business priority. That's been consistent with my experience and other reports.

We can fix this! There are plenty of best practices we can learn from. The solutions are right in front of our noses. HR, again, THIS IS YOUR TICKET TO THE TABLE. Managers, if you want to be a LEADER, then you need to embrace the notion that developing employees is your primary mission, and stop making excuses. Start doing something TODAY.

The key is for leaders and HR to step up to the plate and BOTH take responsibility to address this challenge. This line from the DDI report says it all:

"In the Global Leadership Forecast, HR professionals and leaders appeared to hold the other primarily responsible for the failure of leadership development programs. HR professionals
pointed to management’s lack of accountability and commitment, while leaders showed limited confidence in HR. Unless HR and top management can make their partnership work, they will never see their dream of developing excellent leaders become a reality".

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Coaching Self-Assessment for Leaders

The questions below relate to the skills and qualities needed for effective coaching. Use this assessment to evaluate your own effectiveness as a coach.

1. Do you seize development opportunities and focus on immediate performance problems for your employees?

2. Do you try to develop a supportive, emotional bond with your employees?

3. Do you observe your employee's behavior?

4. Do you form and test hypotheses about your employee's behavior before acting on them?

5. Do you separate observations from judgments or assumptions?

6. Do you listen for signals that your help is needed?

7. Are you careful to avoid using your own performance as a yardstick to measure others?

8. Do you prepare employees for coaching sessions in advance?

9. Do you use open-ended questions to promote sharing of ideas and information?

10. Do you use closed questions (those that require a “yes” or “no” response) to help focus the discussion?

11. Do you blend inquiry (asking questions) with advocacy (offering opinions and ideas) during discussions with individuals you’re coaching?

12. Do you listen actively when someone is talking with you?

13. Do you paraphrase or use some other method to clarify what is being said in a discussion?

14. Are you able to discern the emotions behind your employees’ words?

15. Do you identify causes of performance problems or look for ways to close skill gaps?

16. Do you work with the employees you are coaching to generate alternative approaches or solutions that you can consider together?

17. Do you work with your employees to reach agreement on desired goals and outcomes?

18. Do you set a positive tone during coaching sessions?

19. Do you demonstrate sincerity in wanting to help your employees?

20. Do you customize your coaching approach depending on the person you are coaching?

21. Do you give specific feedback?

22. Do you give timely feedback?

23. Do you give feedback that focuses on behavior and its consequences (rather than on vague judgments)?

24. Do you give positive as well as negative feedback?

25. Do you always follow up on a coaching discussion to make sure progress is proceeding as planned?


If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, congratulations, you are probably an effective coach.
If you answered “no” to some or many of these questions, you may want to consider how you can further develop your coaching skills. For starters, see:
Six Principles of Leadership Coaching
Four Tips for Coaching Managers
The Manager as Developer: A Critical Coaching Competency
If you answered "no" to most of these questions, then you just might be a PHB. Consider an leadership extreme makeover.

The High Impact Learning Organization (HILO) 80

I take a lot of pride in the awards my company wins: Fortune Magazine's 100 Great Place to Work, Training Magazine's Training Top125, and others. It was already a winning company before I got here, but I'd like to think my team and I have had a lot to do with it since. I'm also pretty competitive, in case you haven't noticed.

So I was pleased to hear we were recently named one of the "HILO 80s" (High Impact Learning Organizations) by Bersin and Associates. Here's an excerpt from Josh Bersin's blog:

The HILO 80 - Leaders in Corporate Learning
Thursday, August 14, 2008by Josh Bersin

This week we introduced an important new set of research and recognition, the HILO 80® - the top 80 organizations we benchmarked in high-impact corporate learning through our High Impact Learning Organization® research program.

On an annual basis, we investigate the highest impact best-practices in corporate learning, looking at more than 50 different elements of the corporate learning strategy, organization, systems, processes, and governance. In addition to understanding how these companies manage and implement their learning strategy, we also look at their performance: performance in workforce readiness, in adapting to change, in talent management, and a variety of other business measures.

The result of this research is a set of modern and actionable best-practices which truly drive results. These results are summarized in our Top 17 best practices, as well in the High Impact Learning Organization® research. (I highly recommend you read it, it is one of the most complete research studies in this topic I have ever written.)
In addition, however, we also decided to look at precisely who these “high-impact” organizations are. With close to 750 companies participating in this research, we had a lot of data to work with. What we found was that there are a set of organizations that perform far above the average, and we named these the HILO 80.

How they Differ from the Rest:
If you look at these organizations, you find that they are good at many things. They have strong executive sponsorship for enterprise learning, they invest continuously during good and bad times (but they do not necessarily spend more per employee on training!), they have adopted collaborative and informal learning strategies in addition to formal learning, and they run corporate training like a business (not like an education organization). They have strong leadership, they hold themselves accountable to the business, and they spend money wisely, measuring the adoption and effectiveness of programs rather than institutionalizing training as an employee “benefit.”

The biggest thing I would like to point out is that they have a strong “learning culture.” We are going to talk a lot more about what this means throughout the year, but consider the following simple chart:

You can read the rest of the article here, along with a lot of other valuable information and research findings from Bersin and Associates.

And although I am competitive, there are very few "secrets" I'm not willing to share. This blog is part of a commitment I've made to give back to my profession. You can email me with any questions or topics you'd like to hear more about.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Study Finds Americans Prefer Male Leaders?!

I was surprised when I picked up my local newspaper yesterday and read this headline and article:

Why Hillary lost? Study finds Americans prefer male leaders
By Kat Glass McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Men and women agree that women are more honest, intelligent, compassionate, outgoing and creative, according to a survey out Monday. But men still get a significant edge as leaders — and from both sexes.

The finding, in a survey commissioned by the Pew Research Center, may help to explain why Hillary Clinton isn't making an acceptance speech this week and why acceptance of women as leaders in politics and business has been slow.

Among men and women whom Pew surveyed, a large majority — 69 percent — thought that men and women made equally strong leaders. But only 6 percent said women made better leaders while 21 percent said men did. Men and women held those views almost equally.

"You've got a public that on some level has a complex mix of views on this subject: admiring of women, admiring of traits that they associate with leadership, (but) not yet admiring of women in top leadership roles," said Paul Taylor, the lead author of the report and the executive vice president at the research center.

Here's the rest of the article, and here's a link to the full research report.

My first reaction was, "wow, how could so many people be so incredibly ignorant"? Then when I read the entire article and scanned the report, I calmed down. As it turns out, only 27% (21% for men, 6% for woman) actually believe gender should have anything to do with who would make a better leader. The majority (69%) of respondents answered the way I would have: it doesn't make a damn bit of difference.

So the headline should have said:

Most Americans Think that Men and Woman Make Equally Strong Leaders.

Also interesting is that when it comes to honesty, intelligence and a handful of other character traits they value highly in leaders, the public actually rates women superior to men.

But then again, who really cares what people think, especially when those opinions have nothing to do with actual leadership effectiveness?

Perhaps the Pew Research Center's next project should be:

Who makes better leaders, short or tall people?


Who makes better leaders, black or white people?

or better yet,

Who makes better leaders, brown eyed or blue eyed people? (watch the Frontline documentary to see the impact of labeling and discrimination)

Monday, August 25, 2008

How to Create Your Own Personal Mission Statement

A question from a reader:

"What advice do you have to offer to people in terms of how to create your own mission and vision?"

Good question, but unfortunately, this is not my area of expertise. I have LOTS of experience in helping managers and management teams write visions, missions, goals, and values for organizations, but not so much on the personal side.

So rather than faking it, I'm going to "outsource" my answer, and point you to a few articles that describe how to write some combination of your own personal mission, vision, or values:

1. Here's AJ West, from Lifehack, 'How to Write a Personal Mission Statement":

2008 is here and it is time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements. A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success. For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

Read the rest here.

A personal mission statement is a brief description of what you want to focus on, what you want to accomplish and who you want to become in a particular area of your life over the next one to three years. It is a way to focus your energy, actions, behaviors and decisions towards the things that are most important to you.

While there is no unique format or formula for creating your personal mission statement, the following guidelines may be helpful: read the rest here.

This site even offers all kinds of mission and values templates and samples.

3. Randall Hansen, from Quintessential Careers, "The Five-Step Plan for Creating Personal Mission Statements":

The biggest problem most job-seekers face is not in wanting to have a personal mission statement, but actually writing it. So, to help you get started on your personal mission statement, here is a five-step mission-building process. Take as much time on each step as you need -- and remember to dig deeply to develop a mission statement that is both authentic and honest. And to help you better see the process, we've included an example of one job-seeker's process in developing her mission statement. Go here for the complete article.

Hope that helps. If anyone else has ideas or a good source on this topic, please comment.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

14 Key Elements of an Executive Talent Profile

As a part of a company’s talent management system, information is usually gathered about individuals that have either been identified as a high potential, part of a talent pool, a successor to a key position, or some targeted level of management (i.e., senior team, next level).

This article describes recommended information to include as part of these profiles.

This information isn’t just for HR; it’s also for managers that are interested in maintaining “Talent intelligence” about their own teams or organizations.

And oh by the way… if you’re ever fortunate enough to get a request from your manager, or someone from HR that you may not have even heard of, and they are requesting that you provide any of the information in this article – GIVE IT TO THEM! Promptly. And be nice about it. If they ask for a picture, then get a decent picture taken, not a mug shot. If they ask for a resume, then submit a good one. Don’t act like you’re Brad Pitt being hounded for an autograph. Someone, somewhere is looking at this information (or lack of) and making some pretty serious decisions about your career.

All of the following data can simple be kept on documents in a confidential folder, or, for larger, more complex organizations, be entered into a talent management database.

14 Key Elements of an Executive Talent Profile:

This information can be filled in by HR, the individual, or the manager:

1. Name, position, organization, age, reports to, and location. Basic information that can usually be pulled from the HR database.

2. Picture. Believe it or not, you may be famous in Topeka, but not everyone at HQ or on the Board may recognize you. And they can be used to produce slick looking org charts or replacement tables.

3. Chronological listing of positions held, with dates and summary descriptions.

4. List of significant accomplishments. Stick to results, preferably big hairy ones.

5. “Relocatability”. This one’s tricky. Unless you are 100% certain that you could NEVER relocate, it’s best to check off the “yes” box. You never know, and when you “no”, you could be placed in a secondary talent pool and be overlooked for a great opportunity.

6. Education, training, languages, certifications, and external relationships.

This information is filled in by the individual’s manager with the assistance of HR, and usually confirmed or overruled by the next level manager:

7. Performance: Often a simple rating (1-3), sometimes directly from a performance and potential matrix assessment.

8. Potential: Again, a simple rating (A-C), from a performance and potential matrix.

9. 360 assessment score or other talent management assessment results. Not often used or looked at, but if available, could be helpful.

10. Ratings against a competency model, if available.

11. Potential next position(s), and “readiness”. These are position(s) the individual desires and/or is being prepared for. A “readiness” indicator is often used (now, 1-2 years, 3-5 years).

12. Retention risk: High, medium, or low.

13. Race, gender, passport. Often used for diversity considerations.

14. Top 3 development needs and actions. This is a summary individual development plan, often discussed in talent review meetings and sometimes tracked and monitored.

When information like this is collected and kept up to date, an organization or manager is bettered equipped to assess, develop, and promote the right people for the right jobs.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ouch! McKinsey Survey Says HR Can't Manage Talent

More bad news for the HR function. This just in from The McKinsey Quarterly Chart Focus Newsletter:

Realigning the HR function to manage talent
Although McKinsey surveys show that business leaders around the world are deeply concerned about the intensifying competition for talent, few companies make it an integral part of a long-term business strategy, and many even try to raise their short-term earnings by cutting talent-development expenditures. Other factors compound the difficulties of recruiting enough appropriate talent: minimal collaboration and talent sharing among business units, ineffective line management, and confusion about the role of HR, not to mention challenges such as Generation Y employees seeking greater work/life balance, expansion into global markets, and the specific needs of the fast-growing category of knowledge workers.

The exhibit below focuses on another problem: the declining influence of the human-resources function. Yet only HR can translate a company’s business strategy into a detailed talent strategy. HR professionals should assert their influence and provide credible and proactive business counsel and support for individual business units.
To find out more about how companies can bolster the HR function and successfully recruit and manage employees, read “Making talent a strategic priority” (January 2008).
So I did. More bad news. Here's what McKinsey had to say about HR in this report:
"The HR department’s declining impact and the dearth of talented people willing to serve there haven’t helped at all. McKinsey’s global organization structure database and work by the Saratoga Institute separately found that less than two-thirds of all HR directors report directly to the CEO. Recent UK salary surveys show that senior sales, finance, marketing, and IT managers earn up to 50 percent more than their HR counterparts. Our research confirms the idea that HR’s influence is declining. The executives we interviewed criticized HR professionals for lacking business knowledge, observing that many of them worked in a narrow administrative way rather than addressing long-term issues such as talent strategy and workforce planning (Exhibit 3). As one HR director explained, senior executives “don’t see us as having business knowledge to provide any valuable insights. We’re doing many things based on requests, and they don’t see HR as a profession.
Bolster HR
Ten years ago, HR specialists were preoccupied largely with formulating and managing standard processes—notably, recruitment, training, compensation, and performance management. We believed then, as we do now, that human resources should assert its influence over business strategy and provide credible and proactive counsel and support for the chiefs and line managers of individual business units. Only HR can translate a business strategy into a detailed talent strategy: for instance, how many people does the company need in order to execute its business strategy, where does it need them, and what skills should they have?"
OK, HR, here's an engraved invitation to your coveted "seat at the table": Help wanted -
Talent management.
Your company needs you. Are you up for the challenge?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Great Leadership Selected as #9 in the Talent Management Blog Power Rankings!

I was catching up on three days of email today when I opened up a nice surprise from Kris Dunn, one of my favorite HR bloggers:

"Fistful of Talent (FOT) is proud to announce the first installment of the Talent Management Blog Power Rankings!

The rankings come out on Wednesday morning, and reflect recent blog entries across 103 Talent, HR and Recruiting-related blogs. How do we rank them? Check out the complete Poll Methodology that will also be posted on Wednesday morning... Find the poll and the “science” behind it on Wednesday at

As a result of bringing the crew at FOT aboard, this poll is comprised of professionals working in the field as HR pros, corporate recruiters, 3rd party search professionals and consultants working in the Talent Management industry. In short, they're people just like you, and the poll results reflect the collective view of the team regarding the best blogs in the Talent Management game.

Additionally, all pollsters (click for profiles - Jessica Lee, Maren Hogan, Kelly Dingee, Jennifer McClure, Jason Pankow, Josh Letourneau, Paul Herbert and Kris Dunn) selflessly gave up the right to have their blogs considered for ranking since they are pollsters. That means we can't vote for each other either. At least I think they understood that was part of the game.

In our opinion, the top 25 and those also receiving votes represent the best of the Talent/Recruiting/HR/Human Capital Blogs. Thanks to all listed here for your commitment to the Talent/Recruiting/HR/Human Capital community!"

Thanks, FOT, for picking Great Leadership #9! Be sure to check out the rest of the top 25 too, along with all fo the others that received votes (as well as the panel member's blogs who were not eligible for vote: HR Capitalist, Big O Recruiting, Incentive Intelligence, LG and Associates ).

The best part is, I finally get to post one of those cool "brag badges" on my site. At least until I get bumped from the list.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Captain Kirk and Leadership

This post is all about about one simple, yet powerful leadership lesson:

Leaders don't need to know more than every single person they are leading.

OK, so where did I come up with that brilliant revelation? And whys it such an important leadership lesson?

It started after reflecting on something Randy Paush said in his "Last Lecture". I finally got around to watching it last night with my 17 year old daughter. I know, I know, I'm probably one of the last people to watch it, and being in the leadership development business business, I should have watched it a long time ago. It was everything I've heard - inspirational, funny, touching, and loaded with leadership lessons. Just in case you're one of the few that haven't watched it, here's a link. It's a must for any leader or aspiring leader.

Anyway, back to the lesson. One of Randy's childhood dreams was to be Captain Kirk. He talked about what a great role model leader Captain Kirk was. He didn't know everything about everything. Scotty knew more than him about engineering, Spock about science, and Bones about medicine. In fact, you wondered what the hell was it that this guy brought to the table. Randy nailed it - it was leadership. He was able to lead that team to extraordinary results, harnessing all of that collective genius.

Then, this morning, while reading the Sunday newspaper, I came across today's Dilbert comic (another of my favorite sources for leadership wisdom). See my sidebar Dilbert widget for the full strip, but here's the text:

Pointy-haired Boss (PHB): "Find out what the users want before you build it"

Dilbert: "Why are you explaining my job to me as if I'm an idiot?"

PHB: "It's called managing. I assume you're dumb because you work harder than me and earn less money."

That's exactly how a manager comes across when they act like they know more than every one of their employees! Arrogant, condescending, stupid, and obnoxious. A real PHB.

Are there managers that really believe this? Yes!! I see it everyday, and recently, I even heard a senior manager articulate it in one of our classes for new managers.

I'm paraphrasing, but this manager's words of wisdom went something like this:

"It's your job to know more than anybody in your organization that's making less money than you".

I wanted to set my hair on fire when I heard that.

So let's see how that plays out: I'm a manager, I have 10 employees. Each one of them has some area of expertise and knowledge. Each has a brain. As a leader, I would need to know more than all ten of them combined, plus the unique stuff that I bring to the table. That's the equivalent of 11 brains! Wow. I'd say under that model, leaders would need to have very large heads to hold those humongous brains.

It sounds silly, but if we really take a hard look at ourselves as leaders, are we coming across this way to our employees? Are we acting like a "know it all" in subtle ways?

When an employee comes to you with a problem, do you immediately jump in and solve it, instead of helping your employee solve their own problems? Do you come in at the last minute and make "suggestions" in order to enhance your team's work, without having had the benefit of understanding how they came up with their solutions?

Think about it: Captain Kirk or PHB? Who would you rather be like?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What’s Up with All of This Leadership Development, Anyway?

I was recently interviewed by The Research Board regarding some work they are doing on talent management. (The Research Board is a membership-based IT think tank serving a select group of CIOs and their direct reports of the Global 100 and 200 companies.)

I found it interesting that talent management, specifically leadership development, was by far the number one topic of interest coming from their member company executives. A lot of the “research” on the growing strategic significance of talent tends to come from the same companies that sell leadership development software, coaching, and training programs, so I’m always a little skeptical of these reports. So this one seemed to be a bit more credible.

I asked him why, and he really wasn’t sure. He was working on a hypothesis, and suspected it was due to globalization and demographics (retirement of the baby boomers).

While I’ve heard this before, and know its true, I wondered if it’s more than that. One of the things I try to do with this blog is to personalize leadership development and leadership, and to write about my own experiences. In other words, to make it real.

The demand for leadership development hits me right in the face every day! I’ve been swamped at work these days (well OK, running off to the beach a couple times may have contributed to that). But it’s not just me – my entire team is stretched to the max, and always has been for the three years I’ve led them. My friends in the executive coaching business seem to be doing well, and I get regular calls from recruiters, sourcing openings for leadership development. And the “Business & Leadership” section of Borders and Barnes & Noble seems to get bigger every year.

So where’s all this demand coming from? Here’s what I’m seeing:

1. Growth. I’m fortunate to work for a company that’s growing every year. Growth creates new leadership opportunities, and those openings have to be filled.

2. Promote vs. buy. We’re a “promote from within” kind of company, so many of our managers have never led before. They need to learn. Buying is risky and expensive, so development provides for a better ROI.

3. A development culture. Training is a key part of our business model and culture – it’s a big reason why we can sell credibly and service our clients. Everyone is expected to learn and teach in order to maintain our success. The best companies get this.

4. Change and complexity has created the need for new leadership competencies. What got us here won’t get us there. Leadership is hard! People want to perform well, to be successful. It’s human nature. When they struggle, they look for help.

5. Leadership positions are often difficult to fill because top talent doesn’t want to relocate. So in many cases benches are thin, and we end up “over-promoting”.

6. Yes, demographics play a part. I’m seeing a “graying” of our top executives. But I’m not ready to call this a “crisis” yet. An entire generation won’t retire overnight. There's also the impact of "Gen Y". There's no need to convince this new generation of the need for continuous development - they expect and demand it.

7. Intense competition. Every year gets harder and harder. Sharp leaders make a huge difference and provide a tremendous competitive advantage. In fact, I’d say it all comes down to leadership. Great leadership gives you great products, service, financial returns, and engaged employees.

8. Employee expectations for development. We’ve all watched our parents, neighbors, friends, and coworkers get laid off when a company decides they need to trim its workforce. Decades of this has created a “free agent”, “take responsibility for your own development” mindset in employees (as it should). We no longer depend on our company or union to take care of us in sickness and in health – it’s survival of the fittest! Employees demand opportunities for development, and they’ll leave (especially the A players) if they don’t get it.

9. There’s a shortage of good, really good, leadership development practitioners. While there may be a lot of candidates out there that say they “love working with people”, ex-managers, teachers, and aspiring social workers, there’s not many that have a solid background in leadership development, talent management, and succession planning. It’s not something you can learn from a book, and takes years (at least 10) to get really good at it and be able to sit across from a CEO or VP and be involved in decisions that can make or break your company. There’s also a lot of charlatans out there, selling all kinds of crap, trying to capture a share of this market.

10. Globalization. While I don’t see too much of this at my current U.S. company, I sure did at my last one (a big multi-national). Most of my attention was focused on developing talent in greater China and other developing markets. There was just an incredible appetite for leadership and management development, with most of the expertise coming from the U.S. and Europe. The same for the top executive education business schools. More and more of these programs are being filled by aspiring leaders from around the world.

How about you? If you’re in HR, is leadership development at the top of your priority list, and if so, why? If you’re a consultant or coach, are you experiencing an increased demand for your services? And if you’re a leader or aspiring leader, is your own development as a leader important to you, and if so, why?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Carnival of HR #40

Scott McArthur is hosting the latest Carnival of HR over at McArthur's Rant.

Here's Scott's introduction:

"So here it is the 40th Carnival of HR – and what a carnival. Topics this month range from talent, CSR, communications and diversity. Girls football even gets a mention! Enjoy the show and please pop over to the contributors blogs I promise you will not be disappointed."

And you won't be!

A reminder:

The next edition of the Leadership Development Carnival will be here on September 6th. Deadline is September 5th; use the carnival submission form if you'd like to submit a post.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

“Be Honest, Does This Make My Butt Look Big?”

OK, so how would you answer this question? Here’s some options:

1. Fake deafness. Ignore the question. This, however, is only a stalling tactic, but it will buy you time to figure out how to answer.
2. Complete candor and total honestly. “Well, hell yes, now that you mention it, you could serve cocktails off that thing”.
3. Lie through your teeth. “Of course not, your butt looks just fine”.
4. Change the subject. “Hey, we better get going, or we’re going to be late!”

I don’t know about you, but I’d pick option 1, 3, or 4 every time. There’s a reason I’ve been happily married for 23 years and have never been fired. I don’t always tell the truth. Any good friend would do the same. (It’s why friends are usually the worst sources of developmental feedback.)

I was recently faced with one of those moments of truth. A manager, who I happen to really like and respect, was reading me a list of comments he’d received from a 360 leadership assessment. He was devastated by the feedback. I did my usual head nodding and empathetic listening, and was hoping he wouldn’t ask, but I knew where he was going. He wanted me to agree or disagree with the feedback. No, on second thought, I think he really wanted me to disagree with the feedback. The problem was, as I was hearing the comments, I pretty much couldn’t disagree. It was consistent with what I’ve heard and experienced (most of it – these things are never black and white).

I sat there and tried to pay attention, but part of me was trying to figure out how to respond when he asked. Sweat started to trickle down my back. Finally, the moment of truth – he asked. “So Dan, I want you to be honest with me… you know me… is this true”?

What would you do?

My response: “You don’t really want me to agree of disagree with each of these, do you?” I lucked out – he said no, he didn’t. Whew!

I told him the important thing to focus on was what to do about it, that people don’t judge us by our intentions, they judge us by our actions, and they form perceptions, and those perceptions are their reality. We needed to figure out what he was doing or not doing to create those perceptions and start making changes. Yada, yada, yada.

I felt horrible for the guy. Getting feedback that challenges how we see ourselves – that points out blind spots – can be devastating. It’s one of the least favorite parts of my job. But I know in many cases, if a leader if willing to accept it and commit to changing, candid feedback can often save a leader’s career and have a dramatic impact on those around them. It’s one of the most effective (and cheapest) ways for leaders to develop.

I had the chance to give the “gift” of feedback – and took a pass. I justified it by saying it’s not my role to judge – my role is to deliver the message and help the leader accept it and commit to change.

How about you? How would you answer the dreaded “big butt” question?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Woman’s Leadership Programs – No Boyz Allowed

Companies will often use external, university-based programs as a way to develop their high potential senior leaders. These programs typically are 1-2 weeks in duration and offer an intense (and expensive) learning experience.

According to Iris Marchaj, Director of Smith Executive Education, “99% of leadership development programs offered by elite business schools are male-oriented...which is precisely why they fail when it comes to leadership learning for women!”

Woman’s leadership programs can be effective because they create an environment where woman are more comfortable taking risks and focus on leadership issues unique to woman. They also provide an opportunity to network with peers and form life-long bonds.

These programs can often always stir up a little controversy. The debate usually centers on challenging the need for “special” programs for woman. I’ve actually heard this more from woman, although I’m sure some men are thinking the same thing but don’t speak up. In fact, I’m surprised some idiot hasn’t filed a “Hooter’s” kind of reverse-discrimination lawsuit.

If you're going to offer a woman's leadership programs, here are some things to consider that would help address these issues and ensure program success:
- Offer leadership programs for all groups
- Give woman a choice – either or both
- Evaluate the programs – talk to women who have attended, and determine if they are right for you or your company, and continue to monitor

- Allow influential woman leaders to make the final decision, and encourage them to be sponsors and advocates

- Form internal graduate network groups

- Encourage graduates to apply what they're learned to a company sponsored internal project

I’ve had the pleasure to manage and be associated with a number of woman’s executive development programs. Here’s a summary of the ones I’ve used and would highly recommend:

Smith College
At my last company, we were a member of the Smith College Leadership Consortium. A handful of companies (Johnson & Johnson, MetLife, JP Morgan Chase, Eastman Kodak, and others) sent groups of mid to senior level woman leaders to this two-week, custom program. It always proved to be an outstanding development experience for some of our best woman leaders, and I feel it helped with retention as well. Smith also offers the open-enrollment Smith-Tuck Global Leadership Program for Woman.

UCLA’s Anderson School of Business Leadership Suite
The UCLA Leadership Suite is composed of four programs designed to enhance the management and leadership skills of specific groups of managers and high potentials. The programs examine management and leadership issues from the perspective of each of four audiences: African American; Latino; women; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender managers. I’ve sent executives to all four programs, and all received rave reviews.

The Center for Creative Leadership: The Woman’s Leadership Program
The Women's Leadership Program, designed for and staffed by women, brings together the powerful assessment and feedback tools found in other Center programs, coupled with research-based content that centers on issues and perceptions unique to women. CCL’s programs are always top-notch.

What are your thoughts on woman’s leadership programs? Do they foster inclusion or exclusion? What are the potential advantages and disadvantages?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Taking Command of Time: Getting Things Done

Nikki Leigh, an author and web publicist, asked me to help promote her client's new book as a part of a "virtual book tour". OK, I'm easy. So here's a guest post by the author, Hugh Ballou:

Taking Command of Time: Getting Things Done
By Hugh Ballou

Choosing priorities and ordering our time
A good leader is not the person who does things right, but the person who finds the right things to do.
Anthony T. Dadovano


Decide why you are doing every thing you do. Is it consistant with your vision and mission
statements? If you do not really know why, then don’t do it! Transform your life by eliminating
unnecessary tasks!

Develop a reliable system

Develop a system and support for that system. Use paper or electronic means. Make a decision.
Make a plan and work the plan. Have ONE calendar. Those who keep two calendars know that
BOTH of them are usually wrong! Record all your data in one source and have a reliable back up! If you keep a paper system, attend a seminar on the effective use of the system. They will teach you the basics and then you can modify it to suit your needs.

The greatest help is to write everything in one system. EVERYTHING! When writing phone
numbers or notes to call someone back, don’t use those silly pink phone pads and have lots of little pieces of paper floating around. They are always in the way and you can’t find the phone number when you need it! Scattered and disorganized people waste time that could be better spent in productive ways.

Don’t take legal pads to meetings to record notes – use a meeting sheet in your calendar system. Time cue the action items on your calendar and refer to the appropriate page in your notes for the details. Your calendar page should have a section for tasks next to the times of day for appointments. Remember, only put items that require your physical presence on the calendar. Other items go on the task or project list.

Here’s the basic idea. Record meetings in your date book. Record follow-up calls or actions in your task list. Connect the two in some way. Only put meetings that require your physical presence in your date book or calendar. That is a clear statement of where you are to be. Here’s a good place to plan your personal time as well. If you don’t schedule planning time, preparation time, study time, thinking time – then it most likely will not happen. Make a date with yourself and keep it.

Set a time of day to return phone calls. As the messages collect, put them into your task list for the time scheduled. The best time for calls is at the end of the morning or the end of the day. Do not interrupt productive time with phone calls, unless they are a priority. Plan your day the day before.

This chapter outlines the principles of establishing and choosing priorities as well as adhering to those decisions. These priorities come from having a strong mission and vision statement. If we cannot order our time, then we cannot be constantly effective.

Plan the major events of the week on Friday and review or refine and put in the details the day
before, not on the current day. If you begin your day without a plan, much of the day will slip by
without being productive.

Use your computer calendar program, PDA, or paper calendar system such as the Covey/Franklin planner. They have all the resources you will need and the training to go along with it. Keep everything in the system you use - phone numbers, addresses, e-mail, names, and other pertinent information. The beauty of this kind of consolidation is that you always have contact information handy when you need to follow up, and you can use extra time for planning or making notes. Extra time comes when you don’t expect it, such as when waiting for a doctor’s appointment or in the school line to pick up kids. By now, you’ve got the idea – now find a system and work it! Transformational Leaders are disciplined and structure their time to get things done so that they have time to live.

Learn to plan ahead

You don’t need to plan out your whole life in one sitting or even plan out the year, but learn to
anticipate what needs to be done in the short and long term. You can plan several events at the same time and save time and energy as well. Set aside time to enter events into your calendar. Set aside time for study projects. Set aside time on a regular basis to think, reflect, and research. If you are constantly running full-speed ahead, then you have no time to get ahead, or to evaluate or resource your efforts.

Don’t wait until things are in crisis. Look at the big picture before planning all the details. Make a rough outline, then fine-tune and fill-in the blanks. Make a resource list for planning so that you don’t leave out anything. Assign priorities to every item. Choose a system, such as giving letters for priorities (A=Highest, B=Next Highest, etc.). Don’t give every item an “A” or this system won’t work. Do the highest items first, then go the next priority.

As you plan your daily schedule, consider priorities as well. Do not plan your day too tightly. Allow for sliding priorities – those things that are important, but unanticipated. If someone comes to visit who has a personal tragedy in his or her life you must be able to adjust your priorities so that you can deal with that hurting person. This is an unanticipated priority that must be fit into place. If you have planned your day with too much on your schedule, then something of value must be bumped. Bumping is fine on an occasional basis; however, if this is a normal routine, then it will undermine your effective and careful planning process.

If you have unassigned time in your schedule (dream on), then look ahead to the next day’s or the next week’s schedule and see if there is something that can be done ahead. It will be valuable to have some tasks out of the way if you have a scheduled task that takes more time than you have allowed. There must be a place to catch up. The other option is to reward yourself for being efficient. Learn from this – do not over plan.

Allow for creative reinforcement - time away from your normal surroundings to work on a creative project without the burden of the ordinary or the pressure of the workplace. Allow for creative space – both physically and chronologically – to recharge your administrative energy.

When items on your “Task List” are complete, then find a way to mark them off boldly. Celebrate the completion of the task or assignment! Don’t mark it off with just a fine point pencil – use a big bold marker! Feel the success! Enjoy marking it off! Know that you have succeeded. You might think this is funny. Try it! See how good it feels! Success is not only intellectual. It is emotional as well. Enjoy!

Transformational Leadership begins with transforming yourself and your personal routines.
Your daily personal schedule should allow time for greeting people as you come and go. In arriving at work, leave time to visit with those whom you encounter on your way into the office. Learn to spend a little time with people so that you can cultivate a relationship with them, viewing people relationally and not functionally. Ministry is about relationship. You must earn a relationship with someone before you can impact what that person does. Give yourself room to breathe in your daily schedule.

Know your schedule and adhere to it

Have you ever missed a meeting because you simply did not look at your calendar? Certainly, we all have done this and regretted it. Use your calendar! Know how your day looks from the beginning. Know what needs to be done and how much time and energy it will take to do it. Prepare mentally and physically for the day ahead.

You have planned your day; now work your plan. If you are constantly revising your daily plan, then learn to plan more efficiently. It takes time to rewrite your plan every day. Now, please don’t be too hard on yourself. Revising our schedules is normal. Undergoing a complete makeover means that you were not realistic when planning. Planning is not an automatic success. You will have to learn this skill as you have learned others. The essential point here is to keep on planning. You will learn as you go. Plan - read your plan - work your plan. It only takes a little time each day.

Knowing your plan also lets you know if you can interrupt the plan when others need you. Decide if their priority is your priority. The old saying is: “Lack of planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on my part.” Don’t let those who do not plan constantly interrupt your plan with their problems. Learn to say no to interruptions that are not valid. Learn to tell others that you can schedule time later for them. Ultimately, they will respect this – or figure out how to solve it themselves.

Know what is important on today’s schedule because if you do not get it done, then what is
important today might become urgent tomorrow! Start your projects early enough to do them well. Don’t get caught spending time solving problems that are unimportant or that have less importance. Give preference to important things and solve unimportant issues in less productive times of the day, before they become urgent. Management by crisis might give you adrenaline, but it might also give you more stress than you can handle on a regular basis.

Your carefully managed schedule allows you time for recreation and rest, for socializing, for personal reflection, and for time to enjoy your day. This is actually good stewardship. Learn to be a good steward of God’s blessing of time.

Constantly evaluate your schedule

I repeat a very important concept - know WHY you are doing everything on your schedule. If it
does not support your personal vision and mission and the vision and mission of your organization, then why is it on your schedule? Evaluate the why along with the other factors of time, resources, and talent.

Know that something is on your schedule because you cannot delegate it or that it is important to your personal fulfillment of your vision and mission. If it can be delegated, then delegate it. Refer to the chapter on volunteers for ideas on delegation.

Do it now

Procrastination is an art, a fine-tuned skill, and a deadly mistake! When you open your mail – do something with each piece - NOW. Don’t put it away to file later. Moving paper around in your office is a royal waste of time. Touch it once! Act on it – or discard it! Move on!

Actions on mail or notes could be handled in one of several ways:
1. File it.
2. Return it to the sender with your notes.
3. Discard it.
4. Pass it on to the appropriate person - with your notes.

Learn to plan; learn to delegate; learn to say “no.”

For more information about Hugh Ballou – visit Book information is available at For full tour details, visit

The Learning and Development Carnival #1

OMG, it's another new Carnival! UK's Chris Morgan, from the Learn2develop blog, has started this one that brings together bloggers from the world of training and development. You'll find over 30 submissions for from top bloggers like Jeanne Meister, Tom Haskins, Wally Bock, Clive Shepherd, John Castledine, Anna Farmery.....and myself. Go here to see the complete carnival line-up. And while you're at it, take a look at the rest of Chris's blog - I'll bet you'll become a regular reader like I have.
Thanks, Chris, for getting this started!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Leadership Development Carnival #2

Welcome to the second edition of The Leadership Development Carnival !
This month's midway of attractions is bigger and better than ever. While last month's successful inaugural carnival had an impressive 37 posts, this month's edition features 41 posts!

I also did a couple things to enhance the quality of the carnival . First, I reached out to some of my favorite leadership development bloggers and asked them to submit posts. I was also more selective this month, rejecting a few submissions that I didn't feel were relevant enough to the carnival theme of leadership or leadership development.

So go ahead - buy yourself a cotton candy, play a game of chance, ride the ferris wheel, and spend a few hours soaking up some of the best leadership development advice and information you'll ever receive!

Featured Attractions:
Here's posts from authors that I read on a regular basis:

We'll start off with a double dose of Wally Bock, who presents Why the definition of leadership doesn't matter and posted at his Three Star Leadership Blog, and Feedback: breakfast of champions posted at his other blog, Momentor.

Next up is Art Petty presenting The Emerging and Strange Alliance Between Boomers and Millennials posted at Art Petty on Management.

Tom Magness presents Battlefield Circulation (Part I) posted at Leader Business.

Lisa Haneberg presents The Creative Space - real space and the space in your head posted at Management Craft.

Kris Dunn presents Vegas Baby, from The HR Capitalist.

Chris Morgan presents Being a Role Model.... posted at Learn2Develop - Thoughts from the World of L&D.

Ask a Manager presents how to mentor someone posted at Ask a Manager.

Chris Young presents AMA Releases Interesting Stats About Employee Coaching posted at Maximize Possibility Blog.

Kevin Eikenberry presents Five Ways to Overcome Boredom at Work - and Anywhere Else posted at Kevin's Blog.

Michael Wade presents Finding the Leadership Balance between Revealing and Filtering posted at

Jim Stroup presents Leaders and Conflict posted at Managing Leadership.

Steve Roesler presents 10 Lessons For Self-Leadership posted at All Things Workplace.

Totally Consumed presents The Stress of Leadership posted at Totally Consumed.

Step right up, there's more!
Here's the best of the rest:

GreatManagement presents Be on the Lookout For Desk Rage posted at The GreatManagement Blog.

Jordan Viator (written by Chris Bailey) presents Five Steps To Make Employees Your Best Brand Ambassadors posted at Connection Cafe - A nonprofit technology and online philanthropy blog by Convio.

Woman Tribune presents Mind Your Own Business Girls: Business Coaching, Education & Empowerment for Woman Entrepreneurs posted at Woman Tribune.

Tip Diva presents Tip Diva Top Ten Tips - Getting Your Ideas Heard posted at Tip Diva.

Mike King presents How to Make Delegation Work For You posted at Learn This.

Phil presents Characteristic of Leadership: Seeing Things Differently posted at What's New On The Happy Manager.

Ben Simonton presents Leadership, Good or Bad posted at Leadership Skills.

Karl Goldfield presents Messaging: Do you hear the words coming out of my mouth? startup sales mentor blog posted at Karl Goldfield.

Anya presents Why tenacity and persistence are essential for sales success posted at Gavin Ingham.

Michael Anderson presents 12 Angry Men posted at Executive Coaching Tips.

Benjamin presents Be A Better Employee (or Boss): The #1 Element in Effective Performance Appraisals posted at Trees Full of Money.

Andrew Heath presents The Purpose of Apology posted at The Gift of Life.

David Cassell presents Feel The Pain posted at

bernardsia presents Tai Chi - The Ultimate Master's Weapon posted at The Dark Arts of Management.

swiper presents Critical Elements of Strategic Leadership: Beyond Corporate Strategy posted at CMOE- Leadership Development.

Dawn Abraham Life Coach presents Announcing an Easy and Effective Way to Improve Your Communication Skills To You Get What You Really Want! posted at Qualified Life Coach.

Phil for Humanity presents Grow, Plateau, and Go <<> posted at Phil for Humanity.

Emmanuel presents Are your prepared for Success? posted at PACE with Emmanuel Oluwatosin.

Dereck presents A guide for increasing your creativity posted at I Will Not Die.

John Phillips presents Brett Faux posted at The Word On Employment Law.

Dr Joe Capista presents Key Behaviors for Success posted at The Success Triangle.

Alvaro Fernandez presents Top 10 Brain Training Future Trends posted at SharpBrains.

Shamelle presents 10 Vital Actions To Inspire Others And Gain Respect posted at The Enhance Life.

Steven Heron presents The Mindset Of A Leader posted at The Clan Leader - Resource Portal for Clan and Guild Leaders.

Linda Griffin presents Leadership lessons from the tennis court posted at CareerShock!.

Rich Maltzman, PMP presents Have a little look-see. posted at Scope crêpe.

Cameron Price presents The Leadership Choice posted at Leaders' Log.

That's it for this month. Next month's edition will be September 6th. Deadline is September 5th; use the carnival submission form if you'd like to submit a post.