Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Power of a Written Individual Development Plan


I’ve always been a strong proponent of the importance of having a written individual development plan (IDP) for leadership development. That is, identifying:

- What you want to get better at
- How you’re going to do it
- When you’re going to do it

I have one. I make sure my employees have one. And I try to encourage all employees to have one, not just managers.

The idea is often met with resistance. I hear things like “I’m developing all the time, why do I need to write it down?”, or “I don’t have time to do that”, or “That’s just some form HR makes us fill out… it’s worthless”, and on and on.

There’s some truth to all of these comments. Perhaps at one time you were forced to fill out a form, or maybe someone even wrote one for you. Maybe it was the last page of a performance appraisal.
There was little substance, little buy-in, and it really was just extra work that no one has time for.

When I conduct workshops on how to develop as a leader, or am coaching a leader, I usually get pretty good buy-in until we get to the point where it’s time to put it in writing. The moment of truth, time to make a commitment. Then, for some, picking up that pen is met with staunch resistance.
I heard a story that convinced me of the power of having written goals that I often tell to try to get people over this hump. It turns out I’ve had a few of the facts wrong, but it’s been close enough to often make the point and change some minds.

The Harvard Business School Goal Story
In the book What They Don't Teach You in the Harvard Business School, Mark McCormack tells a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program.

In that year, the students were asked, "Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?" Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84 percent had no specific goals at all.

Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing. The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all. And what about the three percent who had clear, written goals? They were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

While this story is about financial goals, the same concept applies to leadership development goals.

You can sit back and float though life hoping you’ll get better as a leader. And if you’re lucky, you will. Development will come to us.

But why not increase your chances of success ten times simply by putting your development goals in writing? Do it. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What if Leaders Were Allowed to Design and Deliver Their Own Leadership Training Programs?

Here are a few questions for leaders and leadership development practitioners to ponder:

What if leaders were allowed to design and deliver their own leadership training programs? Would there be anarchy? Would the Dow Jones plummet?

What if there was no training department, human resources, leadership training providers, or seasoned and expert leadership development practitioners (yikes!) and they were left to their own devices?

Could they do it? Would they do it? Would they be allowed to do it? And if the answer to those three questions was yes, how effective would it be?

One of the things I hope my readers like about Great Leadership is that most of what I write about is grounded in a practical reality. Just as Scott Adams used to get his best Dilbert ideas from working in a cubicle, I get a lot of my ideas from my own day job.

I had a humbling experience this week. I took a back seat support role and watched three executives design and deliver one of the best leadership training programs I’ve ever experienced.

It was their idea. For the most part, they designed it. They taught 90% of it. The participants loved it, having just left with pages of action items that will produce immediate and long term revenue and employee motivation.

Best of all, they pulled it off in 30 days with no costs other than travel.

There was no sophisticated needs assessment, competency modeling, job analysis, learning objectives, lesson plans, or thick participant binders. Absent were all of the overly hyped latest and greatest learning technologies, online collaboration, wikkis, blogs, learning management systems, and other bells and whistles that are supposed to transform the way we learn.

No action learning, break-outs, role plays, case studies, simulations, or any of the other leadership training tools we’ve grown to love.

There were no professors, consultants, trainers, coaches, facilitators, PhDs, or other learning experts. Just a few “amateur”, but well meaning executives.

How did they do it? It was really pretty simple:

1. The most important thing they did was to decide that they wanted to do it and commit to it. They each had a few recently promoted managers, and thought it would be a good idea to gather them together for two days to help them be successful. It never fails to amaze me what savvy successful leaders can accomplish when they decide something’s important.

2. We sent out a simple survey, asking the new managers what they wanted to learn and had them hold the days and make travel plans.


3. We worked with the three executives to design a high level, two day agenda, helping them decide which topics they wanted to cover.

4. The executives took the new managers to dinner the night before the program, then spent the next two days sharing their collective wisdom, advice, tools, war stories, and authentic commitment and passion to helping these new managers be successful. It was messy; they jumped around, didn’t follow the outline, and frequently strayed off topic. Worst of all, their flip chart skills were horrible.


5. The new managers eagerly listened, took notes, asked questions, and reflected on what they learned.

6. They all committed to stay connected as a cohort, and agreed to review their action plans with the executives at regular intervals.

That’s it. The managers loved the attention, took away pages of concrete solutions and new ideas, and left feeling sky high. One of them asked at the end: “What was the name of this program, anyway?” We had to make one up on the spot, along with a catchy acronym.

So here’s my message to senior leaders: You don’t have to leave leadership development up to the training or HR departments. You can do it, with a lot of commitment and perhaps little bit of help. Instead of bemoaning the lack of training budget and formal programs, take matters into your own hands and do it yourselves. You have a proven track record of success – why not share what you know with others and watch your business grow?

And for my practitioner colleagues: If you hear about one of these rouge training programs, reach out and offer your expertise to enhance and support it. Don’t kill the initiative, reward it.
At another company, I watched a leadership development “expert” ridicule and put a stop to one of these misguided efforts. The “right” solution would cost $350,000. And of course, nothing happened.
Keep an open mind – don’t insist on perfection as we define it. You might even learn something.

By the way, the learning methods I've poked fun at really do enhance learning. We use them all (except for the thick binders), and I'm proud of what I consider to be world class leadership development programs.

The key is to combine the best of both – a partnership between enthusiastic and successful leaders who want to teach and the learning & development experts who can help them do it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

10 “Off-the-Job” Leadership Development Opportunities

Life’s one long leadership development class.

There are opportunities to develop as leaders all around us, inside and outside of our Monday – Friday, 8-5 existence.

As you identify leadership capabilities you’d like to development, here is a list of 10 “off-the-job”, “non-work” experiences that you can incorporate into your individual development plan (IDP), along with the leadership lessons they can teach us:

1. Coaching a team: developing others, teamwork, building and leading a team, motivation, performance management

2. Parenting: coaching, development, patience, interpersonal skills, selflessness, stewardship

3. Step-parenting: Dealing with inherited problems, taking over and owning a project that wasn’t your idea, solving problems and dealing with significant stakeholders, overcoming resistance to change

4. Marriage (or being with a significant other): listening, patience, negotiation, collaboration

5. Being an in-law or dealing with in-laws: dealing with diversity, collaboration, acceptance of cultural differences, building and maintaining positive relationships

6. Managing a family: budgeting, financial planning, multi-tasking, planning and scheduling, resolving conflicts, setting priorities, resource utilization, leading change

7. Leading a community organization: an opportunity to practice leadership and receive feedback in a less risky environment

8. Planning a school or social event: project management, planning, budgeting, goal setting, building consensus, dealing with opposition

9. Home improvement projects: learning from mistakes, planning, patience, reflection

10. Joining a weight loss or exercise program: goal setting, motivation, discipline, reward and recognition

Can you think of others? How else can we develop our leadership skills when we’re not being paid?

Monday, October 13, 2008

More on Passion: Send 'em to Passion Training!


My last post Is “Passion” a Reasonable Performance Expectation? generated a lot of insightful and helpful comments. That's what's so great about this new world of blogging and social networking; throw a question out here and you'll find a lot of practical advice and information from experts in the trenches.

I also got a chuckle when I opened this week's issue of HR.com and saw this teaser:

Leaders Need Passionate Teams, Especially in Tough Times Difficult times call for difficult measures. As Jacqueline Throop-Robinson explains, leaders need to bring Passion back to the workplace.More...

How timely! That's sounds like what I need. So I did a quick Google search, and I found the author's website, called PassionWorks!

It turns out we can send our employees to passion training. Really, I'm not making this up. It's even in PersonnelToday.com, so it must be legit!

But wait, there's more! They even have an electronic diagnostic assessment that measures passion:

"If you are a leader looking to stimulate passion in your people - this diagnostic tool is for you. Leaders use our diagnostic tool to help their direct reports become more accountable for creating and sustaining the specific conditions that create PassionFlow™ within them. You can’t make someone else passionate, but you can help a colleague to take control over their own passion at work!"

How cool is that? I'm all for stimulating a little passion flow in the workplace. I am so in.

Maybe I can get a handle on that sarcasm and cynicism that rears its ugly head now and then.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Is “Passion” a Reasonable Performance Expectation?


I love what I do. I’m totally jazzed about leadership, leadership development, my department, and my company. I’m a rah rah, a cheerleader, and try hard never to be cynical or critical.

In other words, I’m PASSIONATE about my work.

Not every day, 100% of the time. I have my moments. But most of the time.

It’s not my nature to be this way. I have to work at it. I consider it an important part of my job as a leader. I’ve also found I’m more successful and satisfied when I feel this way about my job and company.

Here’s the dilemma, though. As a leader, is it a fair and reasonable expectation to expect our employees to be passionate about their work? What if an employee’s doing an adequate job, but just don’t give a @#%*?

I think I know what the HR answer would be: probably not. I’ve never seen “passion” in a job description or a performance appraisal. Somehow I don’t firing someone for a lack of passion holding up in court.

But as a leader, I don’t just want someone that’s just good at what they do; I want them to be good and love it. To me, it’s that enthusiasm for the job that separates most “A” players from the rest of the pack. Those kinds of employees raise the spirit and performance of those around them.

While I realize all organizations have a bell performance distribution curve, I’m greedy – I want ALL “A” players on my team. Shouldn’t every leader? Isn’t that the kind or leader, and organization, you’d rather work for?

But what about “mundane” jobs – how can you possibly get passionate about, say, delivering mail for the US postal service? Fred can. How about a Walmart greeter? Marty did.

Am I out of line here? Passion, commitment and enthusiasm about our work is a personal choice. Can we as leaders, expect it from our employees? Or do we just hope for it and appreciate it when we get it?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Strategic vs. Operational Leaders

Here's an interesting piece of information from DDI's (Development Dimensions International) Directions newsletter:

"According to DDI's 2008/2009 Global Leadership Forecast, 39% of respondents rated making the shift from a frontline leader to an operational leader, or leader of leaders, difficult to very difficult. A whopping 52% rated making the transition to strategic leader at that same difficultly level. Astonishingly, over half of the organizations surveyed had no formal development plan for their leaders making this transition.


With the increase in responsibility, it's crucial to ensure these leaders are receiving the guidance and development they need to take on their new role. DDI's new white papers provide additional guidance around those steps: identifying potential and assessing readiness; assessing performance; and developing your operational and strategic leaders. But first, you need to know what these leaders look like. In the following article we'll show the Success ProfilesSM for operational and strategic leaders. Read the article."

I like the success profiles DDI has put together. We often tend to mis-characterize the value of operational leaders. For example, when assessing talent, if someone is labeled "a good operational leader, but not strategic", it's often code words for career limiting. Most business need both types of leaders to be successful, and I've seen managers make very successful careers at being strong operational leaders. I'd even argue that a well-rounded, developed leader should try to get experience and development in both roles (although they may be more suited to one or the other).

Here's DDI's success profiles:

OPERATIONAL LEADER
Competencies:
At this level, look for the ability to be innovative and think “out-of-the-box” when introducing and managing change. Additionally, operational leaders will need to develop strong internal partnerships across departments or work groups, and build strategic relationships with external clients to ensure loyalty and satisfaction.


Knowledge: An operational leader candidate should demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the company’s business model, financials, and competitive landscape. Further, they should have an understanding of the other business units’ processes, products and procedures in all markets—domestic and international.

Experience: Operational leaders should have some experience in the following areas: leading a business unit with profit/loss accountabilities, leading cross-functional teams, preparation of business plans, and managing a significant function.


Personal Attributes: Finally, your candidate should exhibit personal attributes like receptivity to feedback, flexibility/adaptability, a strong desire for continued growth and development, and acceptable risk-taking.

STRATEGIC LEADER
Competencies: At this level, leaders must exhibit succinct and compelling communication, the ability to inspire and lead organization-wide change, entrepreneurship, a passion for results, and tenacious drive for high performance at all levels.


Knowledge: Strategic leaders need to make well thought-out, long-range plans and thus must intimately understand their customers’ needs and the competitive landscape. They must also have the ability to understand and drive key talent management functions, such as compensation, training, and performance management and measurement.

Experience: Leaders at the strategic level need to have experience in creating a corporate culture, cost control, and global or expat leadership assignments. This is even more crucial at this level since these senior-level leaders drive the culture and direction of the organization.


Personal Attributes: Finally, your candidate should exhibit high levels of ambition, inquisitiveness, imagination and innovation, and a high learning orientation.

Where do you see yourself against these profiles? And are you willing to think of yourself as a strong operational leader, and be proud of it?

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Leadership Development Carnival #4: National Bosses Day Edition

October 16 is National Bosses day, a kind of "Hallmark Holiday", that's celebrated in The U.S., as well as England, Australia, and South Africa. I have mixed feeling about bosses day. On one hand, it's a nice opportunity to recognize that great boss who treats you with respect, trusts you, puts you in a position to succeed, and cuts you a break now and then. In other words, a leader.

The problem is, if you buy a gift, you could be seen as sucking up. But if you don't, and everyone else does, your might get stuck with being the safety coordinator for the next two years.
And what if you have a lousy boss? Then what do you do? Take the day off? Fake a seizure?

Well, how about giving the gift of leadership development? The best leaders I've known are always looking for new ideas and advice on how to improve their leadership skills. And if you're stuck with an average or lousy boss, who knows, maybe they'll accidentally pick up a few good ideas and surprise you.

So, in honor of Bosses Day, here's the 4th edition of the Leadership Development Carnival! Go ahead and forward it to your boss with a nice note.

Featured Posts: Here's the best of the best, in my completely subjective and biased opinion:

We'll start off with Amazing Things Are Happening Here! posted at Michael Lee Stallard. I've just exchanged blogroll links with Michael and really like what he has to say.

Next up is Steve Roesler, award winning leadership and talent management blogger, presenting How To Reduce Your Influence In A Few Easy Words posted at All Things Workplace.

Mary Jo Asmus makes it to the featured post list this month with Hit the Pause Button posted at Intentional Leadership.

Another newcomer, who I just started reading, is Prem Rao, with 7 Things Leadership Isn't About posted at People at Work & Play.

Art Petty writes a nice piece on the fine line between leadership arrogance and confidence, with The Hubris of Leaders posted at Art Petty on Management.

I always enjoy reading what Nina Simosko has to say on the topic of leadership. Here she gives us Leadership Is About Skills Not Gender posted at NinaSimosko.com.

Another newcomer to the Carnival is Gautam Ghosh. This was one of the first blogs I starting following, lost sight of for a while, and have just starting following it again. Welcome Gautam, with On Learning to Learn posted at Gautam Ghosh - Management Consultant.

I'm pleased to welcome Anna Farmery, from The Engaging Brand. Anna used to run her own leadership development carnival, and I'm honored she's given us Wind - Bad Condition for Leaders to Have!

It wouldn't be a leadership development carnival if Wally Bock didn't show up. Wally's submitted posts from both of his blogs, Birdshot for the first round posted at Three Star Leadership Blog, and Help! I’ve been merged! posted at Momentor.

Another blog on my regular "to read" list is Mark Stelzner, presenting Resurrecting the Golden Rule posted at Inflexion Point.

Welcome Miki Saxon to the festivities! Miki's also got a couple of nice blogs. Here's Leadership falls on its ass posted at Leadership Turn (couldn't resist the title), and A corporate culture for all seasons. posted at MAPping Company Success.

One of my favorite legal bloggers, Michael Moore, serves up Paul Newman: A Lesson in Leadership from Butch Cassidy posted at Pennsylvania Labor and Employment Blog.

And finally, the man who brings you the "Fab Five", Chris Young, presenting Employee Productivity Coaching Tip - Effective Time Management posted at Maximize Possibility Blog.

But wait, there's more!

Here's even more great leadership development posts, in chronological order, first submitted to last (yeah, I'm bending the "must be less than two weeks old" guideline - that's why they call it a guideline). I really tried to cut down on a lot of the personal development posts, only including those that I thought were relevant to leadership development.

Britannica Blog presents 6 Unwritten Rules to Advancement in the Workplace (Professional Networking 2.0) posted at Britannica Blog.

Ralph Jean-Paul presents Napoleon Bonaparte's Guide to Leadership posted at Potential 2 Success.

John Phillips presents Boeing Workers Strike Back posted at The Word On Employment Law.

Great Management presents How To Deal With Difficult Customers posted at Great Management Articles.

Simon Stapleton presents The Most Inspiring Book I Have Ever Read! Peter Drucker's 'The Effective Executive' posted at SimonStapleton.com.

Tim Abbott presents Balancing at Scale in a Sea of Trouble posted at Walking the Berkshires.

George L Smyth presents One Minute How-To - How To Tune In To Be A Successful Business Leader posted at George L Smyth.

Mitesh Solanki presents The Real Challenge of Creativity posted at Invent Creativity.

Psypo presents The Most Powerful Leadership Technique That Will Make Everyone Accept Your Opinion posted at [ Psypo - The Human Mind - Version 2 ].

Stan Ward presents Know your point - make your point. posted at Idea Leaders.

Mike King presents How to Empower Someone to Become a Learner posted at Learn This.

Erik Samdahl presents How to deal with managerial resistance to employee coaching posted at Productivity Blog.

Marcus A Smith presents Public Speaking Quick Tip: Find Positive Energy Sources in the Audience posted at http://www.marcusasmith.com/.

Kacper Wrzesniewski presents 15 Advices For Creative And Productive Brainstorming posted at KacperWrzesniewski.com.

Mark McClure presents The Best Business Book I Have Ever Read posted at Mark McClure Today.

Michael Miles presents Effortless Abundance » The wisdom of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross posted at Effortless Abundance.

Alice Snell presents Taleo Blog - Talent Management Solutions - Succession Planning Strategies posted at Taleo Blog - Talent Management Solutions.

The Five Minute Mentor presents Managing employees layoff fears posted at The Five Minute Mentor.

Greg Shuey presents Which Comes First, Coaching or the Need for Coaching? Part 2 posted at CMOE- Coaching.

Shawn Driscoll presents What Should I Do For The Rest Of My Life? posted at Shawn Driscoll.

That's it!

The next edition of the Leadership Development Carnival won't be until December 6th. I'll be hosing the Carnival of HR on October 29th.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Guest Post: Management Styles

This guest post is by Paul Thornton, an author who contacted me about a new book he's written.

Management Styles

I believe there are three basic management styles:
· Directing
· Discussing
· Delegating.

Each style is unique in terms of how managers interact with their employees.

The Directing Style—The manager tells the employee or a group of employees the following:
- What to do
- How it’s to be done
- When to have it completed by

The manager assigns roles and responsibilities, sets standards, and defines expectations. The directing style is appropriate when employees lack experience and don’t know what to do. It’s also appropriate when there is a mandate from senior management that describes what must be done and how it must be done. The directing style is also appropriate in emergency situations.

How managers deliver the directions and instructions is important. Eric Berne’s book, Games People Play helps explain the tone and delivery some managers use. Berne described the three parts that exist in each of us—the parent, the child, and the adult.

- The child part in us is uninhibited, creative, curious, and impulsive.
- The parent in us wants control, order, and stability.
- The adult part of us is our mature, rational, problem-solving side.

According to Berne, the mature person has a balance of each of the three parts. But some managers take on the role of parent, forcing employees to assume the role of child. The unspoken message from the parent-manager to the subordinate-child is “I’m superior. Do what your told and don’t ask any questions.” This causes some managers to come across as being condescending and arrogant.

A healthier relationship between manager and employee is an adult to adult relationship. Employees want to be treated like an adult. When managers operate from this framework, they are respectful and treat employees as equals.

Bottom line—You need to organize your thoughts before you begin to direct others. Start with the big picture, and then discuss the details and due dates. If possible, show employees the desired output. Provide written instructions if the directions are complex or lengthy.

The Discussing Style—In some situations managing is more about asking the right questions than telling employees what to do. Using the discussing style managers ask focused questions to solicit ideas and opinions. They ask questions like the following:
- What’s our goal? What’s the problem? What are our options? What’s our plan?
- How should we proceed?
- When does it need to be done by?
- Who should do it?
- Why are we doing this?

Good questions get people talking and focus their thinking. The discussing style is appropriate when there are opportunities to influence goals, plans and assignments. It is effective when employees have ideas and confidence to speak up. Employee involvement increases their commitment to making it happen.

Managers need to ask genuine questions. Genuine questions come from curiosity and the manager’s desire to learn. “What do you think we should do?” Some managers ask rhetorical questions. They use questions to state their view. “Don’t you think it would be a good idea if we…”

Don’t ask questions from the parent-child mindset. Some managers ask questions more as a test to see if the employee can come up with the right answer. Finally don’t ask questions in a way that resemble an interrogation. “Where were you on Sept.8 between the hours of 8:00 and 10:00 pm?” Interrogations put the employees on the defensive. The best discussions happen when people are open and relaxed.

In group settings, managers should not allow one or two people to dominate the discussion. Ask questions and get everyone involved. One approach is to begin meetings by saying, “I want to start by giving each of you two minutes to discuss your views on this topic.” Managers should withhold their opinion until all employees have had a chance to comment.

Bottom line—when you use the discussing style you need to be open, curious, and interested in learning what each of your employees thinks. Probe and dig. Ask follow-up questions as needed. Observe body language. The non-verbal messages provide important information. Eventually get specific about assignments work and due dates.

Delegating Style—When using the delegating style, managers direct or discuss what needs to be accomplished and when it must be completed. However the how-to-do-it part of the equation is left up to the employee. It is expected that the employee will take action and make decisions. Employees are given power and authority to make it happen. Managers need to get feedback at appropriate intervals to insure appropriate progress is being made.

The delegating style is appropriate when employees have the experience, skills, and motivation to get the job done. Experienced employees want freedom to take action and solve problems on their own.

Certainly there are times when managers delegate tasks that are outside an employee’s comfort zone. Ineffective managers communicate doubt and questions about the person’s abilities to get the job done. “I’m taking a big risk giving you this project.” Effective managers do the opposite. They build confidence. “I’m confident you’re going to hit a homerun on this project.”

Bottom line--Delegate tasks that challenge employees but don’t overwhelm them. Don’t over-delegate to the same one or two “star” performers. When delegating a long-term project, establish specific follow up dates. It is useful for you to frequently ask yourself: Am I doing something I could easily delegate to someone else?

Summary

Each style is unique in terms of how managers interact with their employees. In essence managers can
* Direct—Tell employees what to do
* Discuss—Ask questions and listen
*Delegate—Let employees figure it out on their own

Like a good doctor, managers must diagnose the situation before deciding what management style to use. As employees gain experience, skills and confidence managers need to move from directing to discussing to delegating.

About the Author
Paul B. Thornton is a speaker and author. His latest book, The Big Three Management Styles (Multi-Media Publications) is available at amazon.com and bn.com. His e-mail address is PThornton@stcc.edu.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Leadership Development on a Dime


A while ago, I wrote a post called “Leadership Development on the Cheap”, listing 10 ways to develop leaders without spending a lot of money.

I hope that kind of information is helpful to the majority of my readers that don’t have huge budgets for leadership development but still want to do the right thing.

As I come across quality low-cost or free resources, I’ll continue to share them. But I’m changing the series title to “Leadership Development on a Dime”, after one of my wife’s favorite Home and Garden Network shows, “Design on a Dime”. (The “On a Dime” series challenges designers to transform a room on a $500.00 budget.)

Free Coaching Videos

I was recently reviewing a batch of 360 assessments, preparing for upcoming debriefs. ALL of them had relatively low scores in the area of listening. So I did a little searching, looking for a good article I could offer on the topic. These were for senior managers, and realistically, they are not going to go to a training program or read a book. In this case, I need something simple, quick, yet on the mark.

I found a resource on the Marshall Goldsmith Library called "Athena Online, SmartBytes". It's a collection of FREE two-minute videos on a variety of leadership coaching topics. Some have corresponding articles.

Bingo - just what I needed. Check them out – they’re really good.

Cheap Succession Planning Software

I’ve written a lot of posts on how to use the 9-box performance and potential matrix tool for leadership assessment and development. I was on the ASTD discussion board a while ago, and came across a consultant, Andy Beaulieu. Andy developed a product called “Succession Planner”, a piece of software that uses the performance potential matrix tool and allows you to generate automated reports. You can do position profiles, replacement organization charts, risk reports, and other nice color-coded charts.

It also comes with a comprehensive user’s guide that walks you through a succession planning process using the tool.

I was impressed for a few reasons. First of all, it’s very similar to the approach I’ve used, and I’m sure many others. Secondly, I was impressed with Andy’s background. He’s been doing this for a while and really knows his stuff. Lastly, and why I’m mentioning it here, is that it’s really CHEAP – only $60.00 for a single user license! Most “talent management” software products will cost thousands of dollars. You can even download a demo copy for free.

Granted, it’s just a simple tool – an Excel file - but in many cases, that may be all you need.

I ended up emailing a bit with Andy about this product, and was surprised to learn he really hasn't sold a lot of copies. This is after spending hundreds of hours developing it. Good product, bad marketing. Perhaps after this post he’ll see some increased interest.


New Supervisor's Toolkit

One of my favorite leadership development blogs is Wally Bock's Three Star Leadership blog. It's always a great source of business and leadership information and news, and I really like Wally's opinions. You can tell he knows what he's talking about, based on good practical experience.

Wally's developed a "Working Supervisor's Support Kit" for new supervisors. For only $39.95, you get Wally's book, a comprehensive workbook, a complete set of forms (developed by supervisors that he's trained over twenty years), and a set of pocket reminder cards. Combined with your company specific HR training, it's pretty much a new supervisor training program in a box.

Stay tuned for more "Leadership Development on a Dime". The next edition will feature a new line of perfume and cologne that makes you smell like a leader. Only $19.99 a bottle. No, wait, that's for my "Real or Fake Leadership Program" series.