Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The 10/10 Technique

A colleague of mine loves to teach managers a simple, yet effective way of gathering feedback and ideas for improvement. It’s so simple it only takes about two minutes to explain it to someone. Yet it’s so effective, it’s led to dramatic improvements in leadership capability. Really, I have the testimonials to prove it.
Once someone learns it, they become evangelists for it and can’t wait to share it with others.

I’m not sure who is the originator of the technique – if anyone knows, please let us know so I can give credit. It may have been Jack Canfield, in his book The Success Principles, but I don’t have a copy to verify.

Got your attention? OK, it’s called the “10/10” technique.

Although it can be used for self-improvement in a lot of ways, we use it for leadership development as follow-up to a 360 degree assessment.

First, the manager identifies something they want to improve – say leading a meeting, delegating, listening, or conducting a one on one. Although not as effective, it could even be as general as “leadership”.

Then, at the end of a one on one, or whenever the opportunity presents itself (it only takes about 10 minutes), the manager asks the question: “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate my delegation skills?” Usually the answer is not a perfect 10, because the manager has already had it pointed out on their 360 assessment. So if it’s anything less than 10, the managers asks the follow-up question: “What would I need to do for you to rate me a 10?”

It works so well because it gives the manager very specific ideas for improvement, in terms of what’s important to the other person. It opens up dialog in a non-threatening way, builds trust, and creates a win-win developmental partnership.

The 10/10 technique is very versatile – it can also be used with your peers, manager, customers, suppliers, and even in your personal relationships. “So tell me honey, on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate my ____?”

Let’s try it out right now: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate this blog? If less than a 10, what would I have to do to have you rate it a 10?

Monday, September 28, 2009

How Do You Spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T as a Leader?

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T….Find out what it means to me.”
Aretha Franklin


The value of respect has been a subject of the news lately, featuring rapper Kanye West and congressman Joe Wilson.

John Spence just wrote a guest post for Great Leadership on the most important skills needed by global leaders, respect being one of them.

If you were to take a look at 100 corporate value statements, I guarantee you’d find the word “respect” on at least 90% of them. Respect usually ends up high on the list of those “what do employees value most” lists. Every wants and deserves a little respect at work, especially from our leaders.

So what does it mean to show respect as a leader?

R = Relationships. Do you have a transactional relationship with your employees? That is, you pay them X dollars, and they give you Y amount of work? Are they just another “human resource” to you? Or have you taken the time to cultivate a relationship, based on mutual respect and support?

E = Everyone counts, no matter who they are, at any level in the organization. Great leaders don’t selectively dole out respect, in a way that serves their own agendas. Want to judge the true character of a leader? Watch how they treat the cleaning people. I’ll never forget looking out the window and seeing the CEO of my former company in the parking lot, with the building’s cleaning crew gathered around him. While I couldn’t hear the conversation, it was very apparent that he was engaged in a lively discussion, they were laughing, and he looked like he was listening intently.
One of my favorite VPs said he learned this from his experience growing up around his father, who was a handyman for the rich and famous. He saw the way his father was often treated, and vowed if he ever ended up in a position of power, he would always treat everyone with a high degree of respect.

S = Support your employees. This means making sure they are paid fairly, are given the resources needed to do their jobs, barriers are removed, and sponsorship is obtained for their work. When they succeed, let everyone know. When they screw up, cover their backsides.

P = Please and thank-you. As a manager, you don’t have to ask your employees to do anything – you can simply order them. As a leader, if you treat them as if they do have a choice, they’ll end up exceeding your expectations. Saying thanks and showing sincere appreciation is another way to show respect. Most managers think they do a good job at this…. most employees think they don’t. Try doing it until it feels like overkill, and then you can pull back if people start complaining (it’s never happened).

E = Encourage every employee to grow and develop, in order to reach their full potential. Be a coach, a mentor, and a teacher. Set aside time on a regular basis for career and development discussions. Help your employees become more that they thought they could ever become. Better yet, help them become greater than yourself.

C = Care. That’s right, care about your employees (some would say love them, although that sounds a bit extreme for me). Care about their success at work, their families, their health, their goals, and their satisfaction. Here’s a test: do you know the names of your employee’s children? Do you give them a card on their birthday? What’s the first thing you do you do when an employee or family member becomes seriously ill? Ask how soon they can get back to work, because there are important project deadlines that can’t be missed? Or organize a food basket drive?

T = Treat people how they want to be treated (the platinum rule), not how you want to be treated (the golden rule).


Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Global Leader of the Future

Guest post by John Spence:

I was recently asked by one of the most prestigious Executive MBA programs in America to give a speech on the most important skills needed to be an effective “global leader” in the future. To prepare for the talk I sent a note to more than 20 friends and clients that are CEOs or senior leaders at multinational companies for their input on the topic. Although I received replies from nearly every corner of the globe that answers were surprisingly similar. By a wide margin, this group of extremely experienced leaders identified the following traits as the most essential:

· Ethics
· Honesty
· Transparency
· Integrity
· Humility
· Respect
· Flexibility
· Collaboration

I find this to be a fascinating list, because this is not at all what I heard just five years ago. Until very recently the major skills most companies focused on in their leaders were things like vision, strategic thinking, decisiveness, execution, drive, and accountability for results. And while these things still remain important, it is obvious that the pendulum has swung from a focus almost purely on maximizing ROI to highly ethical behavior that still delivers the numbers.

I, for one, am extremely pleased to see this shift. I have worked in far too many organizations that drove their people into the ground in an all-out effort to “beat the street.” The quarter-to-quarter pressure to “make the numbers” was so overwhelming that people began to play fast and loose with the rules. For example, several years ago I was invited to give a talk on vision and values to one of the leading financial service firms in the world. For two hours, I stood before the thirteen directors of this multibillion - dollar company and shared with them my thoughts on the importance of setting a clear direction for the firm that was solidly grounded on unyielding integrity to their corporate values, which revolved around professionalism, teamwork, respect, service, and client focus. At the end of my presentation, when I opened the floor for questions, an interesting debate ensued. One of the directors raised the issue of what to do about a top employee: he was a multimillion - dollar producer but treated other employees aggressively and rudely in his quest to deliver his stellar numbers. I turned and pointed to the wall where there was a huge brass plaque with the values of the organization written in foot - tall letters and said, “If this employee is not living your value of respect, if he is running roughshod over the rest of his team and causing significant internal strife, then regardless of how much money he generates for the firm, he either has to change his behavior or be terminated.” As those last few words came out of my mouth, one of the directors literally jumped out of his chair as if someone had hit him with a cattle prod. “You have got to be kidding me,” he said. “ There is no way in the world I’ m going to fire somebody who brings in $30 million a year. ” I replied, “That’s fine, as long as you chisel respect off the values statement. But if this group of directors tells the employees that these are the values that the firm believes in yet allows people to violate them openly as long as they generate massive amounts of cash, then people will know that making money is much more important than living the values. ”

It is no surprise that this sort of behavior by the supposed “leaders” of this firm eventually led to the demise of the company when people realized the numbers they had been reporting to Wall Street were a complete fabrication. What’s worse, when an employee works in an environment like this and starts down the slippery slope of bending the rules (or their manager pushes them) the loss of personal dignity and self-respect can be devastating.

It has been an exceedingly painful way to learn the lesson, but if the events of the past year drive a resurgence of the importance of ethics, integrity, honesty and respect in global leaders then perhaps there has been a silver lining to this economic storm. The question I ponder though is how do we keep these things at the forefront? How do we train the next generation of global leaders to focus on corporate values as strongly as they do profit margins?

To me the answer is to clearly show them that servant leadership, a positive corporate culture and a true dedication to sustainable business practices… are the ONLY road to sustainable competitive advantage and long-term profitability. It is my opinion that the number one factor in building a highly successful company is in attracting the absolute best people to your team and making sure that they are totally focused on continuous innovation and extreme customer focus. That means that what we used to consider the heat of the business business – the numbers – have now become “soft” and flexible – and what we used to consider the “soft side” of business, the “people” side, has now become the rock-solid foundation for success. In other words: Talent x Culture = Success.

What does all of this mean to you? That finding, hiring and growing insanely talented people should be a strategic objective for your company. That corporate culture cannot be left to chance; it must be nurtured, shaped and supported strongly through the organization. And that a leadership style based on values, ethics and integrity will be the cornerstone for being a successful global leader of the future.

John Spence is a executive trainer, professional speaker and author. His latest book is entitled: Awesomely Simple – Essential business strategies for Turning Ideas into Action. To learn more go to: http://www.awesomelysimple.com/


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Head’s Up – You’re About to be Promoted or Fired

When you work in talent management inside an organization, you often have advance information about which managers are going to be promoted and who’s about to be fired. Maintaining confidentiality is critical; as is being able to hold a poker face when people are speculating.

Unfortunately, people don’t always know why they were promoted or fired. There are times I’d love to be able to just spill the beans, and let the person know ahead of time, and tell them why. If I could, the script would probably be about the same for each scenario.

The Good News Script:

Congratulations, you’re going to be promoted next month! You sure deserve it. Here’s why:

- First of all, you’ve consistently achieved outstanding results, ¼ after ¼, year after year. Even in this tough economy, you’ve managed to hit or exceed the targets that were established for you. And not just recently – you’ve consistently demonstrated the ability to get results, in any situation you’ve been in.
- You’ve demonstrated the ability to learn and adapt. The last few years, you’ve been given a series of “stretch” developmental assignments. In each one, you quickly got up to speed, got results, and more importantly, developed new skills and incorporated those skills into your repertoire.
- You’ve got rock solid values, including ethics, integrity, credibility, and unwavering respect for others, no matter who they are. We did 360 interviews with your peers, coworkers, clients, and suppliers. Your scores were consistently high on each of these attributes from all stakeholders.
- You’re been committed to developing your people. Quite frankly, given the importance of your current role, we were reluctant to let you go. But you’ve done such a remarkable job developing a pipeline of talent, we have three outstanding candidates from your team to choose from.
- You are seen as a leader amongst your peers. You are the one they turn to for advice and look at to see how you react. They respect you and will have no problem working for you. You’ve demonstrated the ability to reach across functions and work collaboratively for the greater good of the organization.
- You’ve got outstanding “leadership presence”. The executive team respects you, you don’t back down, and are able to influence decisions at every level of the organization.
- You’ve created a motivating and inspiring environment throughout your organization. We’re wondering if there is something in your department’s water coolers. People seem to love their work, are always positive and upbeat, and you’ve got the highest employee engagement survey scores in the company.

Now, don’t forget to act surprised when you get the news.

The Bad News Script:

I’ve got some bad news for you – you’re going to get fired next month. Actually, we won’t tell anyone you’ve been fired – we’ll say you’re “leaving to pursue other opportunities” or “leaving to spend more time with your family”.
This shouldn’t come as any surprise to you, if you’ve been paying attention to the writing on the wall. Some of the clues you may have picked up on are:

- Your performance has been horrible. This has been going on for over two years now, and we don’t see it getting any better.
- You’ve been given every opportunity to be successful in this role. You’ve turned over your entire team (twice) and hand picked their replacements. You’ve been given management training and coaching (although you missed most of the sessions). You’ve shown no interest or ability to learn or change.
- While you used to get outstanding results, you’ve burned too many bridges to sustain those results. You’ve been described as arrogant, aloof, petty, self-centered, and defensive. People just can’t stand working with you.
- You’ve failed to build a team and have been a destructive force on your manager’s team. We’ve tried to do team building, and every time we do, the problems are all about you.
- You can’t be trusted. Last month’s ethics violation is a vivid example of this and the last straw.
- We’ve had more open door and HR issues come out of your department than any other. When HR has tried to work with you, you ignore their counsel.
- Every time we’ve tried to implement a change, you’re the last one to implement it. When it comes to change, the best we can expect from you is compliance (unless it’s your idea). More often than not, you’re a barrier.

As for your replacement, we are already conducting an external search. There’s certainly no one on your team who we would consider, given your team’s lousy performance and the lack of development you’ve given them. In fact, we’ll probably need to clean house and replace most of them thanks to your lack of leadership.
The good news is, being in this position has probably been killing you. It really will be a relief to move on and find something that you can be successful at. You may as well start looking now, and I wish you all the best.

OK, back to reality. I’ll never be able to have those advance conversations, nor would I really want to. However, I sure can spread the word on what it takes to get promoted or fired, before it happens to you!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How I've Learned to Develop Leaders

Every once in a while I’ll get a question from a reader, co-worker, or student about how to break into the leadership development field. The reality is, it’s not really an entry level profession, and there’s no one right way to get there.

The leadership development profession includes trainers, coaches, HR generalists, managers, authors, speakers, preachers, and every combination of these. They have degrees in management, organizational development, human resource development, psychology, education, and engineering. Some have certification… some don’t.

So while I don’t have a good answer on how to break into the field, I can look back and share how I’ve learned (and continue to learn) about leadership development. I believe these could be repeatable learning experiences for someone just getting started.

In no particular order:

1. Study real leaders
From the day we play our first sport or join our first organized activity, we are surrounded by opportunities to study leadership and management. We learn from all of those good and bad examples. It’s a numbers thing - the more of them we are exposed to, the more we learn. I started out training first level supervisors – blue collar foreman, nuclear engineers, and accountants - so in the course of just a few years, I was exposed to hundreds of new supervisors from all walks of life.
However, the “studying” needs to be intentional – it won’t just happen by osmosis.
You have to be rampantly curious about what makes great leaders tick – their skills, values, experiences, career paths, styles, etc….
More importantly, you have to be an investigative reporter to find out how they got to where they are. You begin to see patterns on how the good ones develop, and the bad ones don’t. Those patterns can then be replicated for others to follow or avoid.

2. Learn from the real “gurus”
Fortunately, there are already a lot of people out there that have already had all this experience and studying. When you can fit what you seeing and hearing into already discovered best practice frameworks, it all starts to come together and make sense. You develop a proven framework and toolkit.
For my money, the most credible source on leadership development is
The Center for Creative Leadership. They have the best research, models, theories, publications, and programs. No one else comes close, and those that do, tend to have roots that go back to CCL.
To be fair, there are others…. Dave Ulrich, Noel Tichy, Marshall Goldsmith, Morgan McCall, Warren Bennis, Peter Drucker, and way too many others to mention. I’ve accumulated over 200 books on leadership development, and am constantly looking things up and re-reading them. Good practice based on research is timeless, unlike some of the fads the charlatans peddle.

3. Learn from fellow practitioners
When you work for a big company, chances are, there will be others involved in leadership development that you can learn from. I’ve learned from my managers, peers, and employees. One of my favorite former managers now runs an executive development practice at Monitor. Another ran leadership development programs at GE, considered the best at leadership development.
There’s also lot’s of opportunities to learn from others outside of your organization. I’ve gone to a lot of great conferences and networking events, and am always looking for new opportunities to maintain an external perspective.
That’s one of the reasons I blog… I learn as much as I share. It’s a way to connect with others from around the world that are as passionate about this stuff as I am.

4. Don't just buy products and services; buy capability
I lot of what I learned came from external suppliers, consultants, and coaches. I suppose this is a combination of learning from experts and other practitioners, but worth calling out separately. I’m thinking more of those that I have hired to do work or provide products for the various companies I’ve worked for. In my early days, I did this a lot, because quite frankly, I didn’t know a whole lot about anything. Each time I did, I tried to soak up as much as I could during certifications and project work. Most were very generous about transferring their capabilities.
Some of the best I’ve learned from are DDI, PDI, Lominger, and a lot of small, niche consultants and coaches.

5. Stay in “school”
There are some good degree programs in this field (HRD, OD,), but that’s not where I’d recommend starting. First get a few years of experience, then the degree.
In addition to at least a Masters, and perhaps a PhD, I’d recommend attending as many university-based executive development programs as possible. Michigan, USC, and Harvard all have deep expertise in leadership development, as well as CCL.

6. Trail and error.
I’ve been fortunate to have worked at companies that have given me a lot of freedom to innovate, take risks, and screw up now and then. I love to tinker with the system, test new ideas, and add to my toolbox. I've always considered a 1/3 adoption rate a pretty good batting average.
Earlier in my career I fell for my share of fads and wacky ideas. Now, while I still like to think I’m open to possibilities, I’ll make sure anything new I try is based on research, tested, reference checked, and evaluated.

So while that’s what’s worked for me so far, I realize my experience is limited and there still is lot’s more to learn.

For those of you in the field, what’s worked from you? Where have you learned the most about leadership development, and what advice could you share for someone just getting started?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

MBA 2.0: Trading in Textbooks for Blogs?

I was pleasantly surprised to learn recently that Great Leadership is required reading for an MBA class. Wouldn't it be great if more online MBA programs followed suit too!

Bret Simmons, Assistant Professor of Management from the University of Nevada, Reno, is requiring his MBA students to subscribe to at least 5 leadership blogs and provide comments to at least one of them each week. They bring the comments and responses to class to discuss and are graded on their online activity.
I thought this sounded like a pretty cool idea, and wanted to learn more, so I contacted Bret and asked him for an interview. I also contacted one of his students, Christine Adams to get another perspective.

GL: When and why did you start using leadership blogs in your MBA class? How are you using them? Do you use other forms of social media as well?

Bret: I started using blogs in my MBA class about 18 months ago. I use case studies in my class, and I used to have students write stuff up prior to each case study. I got tired of collecting and grading papers, so I decided to require students to blog about each case prior to our in-class discussion. I like it much better. I also have them all join Linkedin and join a group that I create for the class. In Linkedin we can all see and communicate with each other and I can access their blogs easily.
GL: What are the advantages and disadvantages of blogs over traditional textbooks?

Bret: I still use a textbook for the class because of the nature of the subject matter. One thing I am doing this semester is requiring students to visit blogs like yours, Bob Sutton, Mary Jo Asmus, Wally Bock, and Art Petty. These excellent blogs allows my students to have conversations with someone other than me about leadership and management. I have a very definite perspective but it is by no means the only one, so reading these blogs helps my students get a broader picture of leadership.
Now that I have my own blog, I use it to support material we cover in class. I often leave a class with new questions about the subject and materials from interacting with students. I’ll do some research and document what I find at my blog. My blog provides an easily accessible record of all that we talked about during the course. If after the course is over a student encounters an issue at work and remembers we might have covered it in class, he or she can just visit my website to get my thinking on the topic.

I think the blog is a powerful communication platform. Many of my students have never even read a blog before my course, and of course few if any have ever blogged. I just developed a new course on personal branding and blogging is central to that effort.

GL: How are the students reacting?

Bret: I think they like it. They certainly prefer it to writing a paper every week and so do I. The behavior I am trying to encourage is preparation, and blogging serves that purpose quite well.
Christine (former student): Dr. Simmons is preparing us to differentiate ourselves in an increasingly competitive job market. The skills he is requiring us to master increase our written communication skills, highlights our strengths in business and proves to potential employers that we are investing in our future. Bret's courses contain real life applications that we are able to use on a daily basis.
GL: You strike me as an early adopter. What do you see for the future regarding the integration of "Web 2.0" into college curriculums?

Bret: I honestly have no idea whether or not I am an early adopter. I know that I will continue to explore ways to use Web 2.0. Personally, I would like to see more academics take up blogging themselves. It is by far the best thing I have done for myself in my academic career so far.Way to go, Professor Bret! So how about it, professors, teachers, and trainers – are you ready to trade in your textbooks for blogs? Or at least incorporate them into your curriculum? Here are half a dozen reasons why you should (come on, it wouldn’t be a blog post if we didn’t offer up a list):

1. Blogs are free!Having two in college, I’m faced with hundreds of dollars of used textbook bills each semester. A single book can cost up to $200.00! It sure would be nice to take advantage of the vast amount of expert information available on the web ease the financial burden a bit.

2. Diversity of thoughtAs Bret said, instead of 1-2 perspectives, you can expose your students to a broader range of thought leaders on any topic.

3. You can’t talk to a textbookWith blogs, you can leave a comment and get an answer. You can also participate in a dialog with “students” from around the world.

4. Blogs are more current.In many fields, by the time a book is published, it’s already reached its half life.

5. Administrative and learning efficiency
Bret points out many of the ways blogs have made it possible to keep a record of conversations and assignments, with less time on his part reading and grading, leaving more time for discussion, research, and learning.

6. Blogs can reduce back painAll those textbooks in a backpack are heavy! You can carry all of your blogs in a single laptop.

Is this a trend? I hope so, and I’ll bet most bloggers would welcome the opportunity to contribute to academic and corporate learning.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Managing Across Cultures

It must be author guest post month - when it rains it pours.
I get a lot of free book offers and just don't have time to read them all. So instead, if the book or author sounds interesting, I'll offer a guest post.

This one's from Michael Schell, co-author with Charlene Solomon, Managing Across Cultures: The Seven Keys to Doing Business with a Global Mindset (McGraw-Hill, 2009).

I was on a conference call this morning with participants from the U.S., Europe and Asia. Several people on the call had a few technical issues in terms of opening the software for the meeting platform. I was struck at how the American kept asking for directions, carefully defining the goings-on on his computer screen.

From the presenter screen I could see that our Asian colleague was not on the conference platform either. She was asking very few questions. When I asked what was happening with her computer, she deflected the questions and said she didn’t want to take up any more of group’s time and would just listen.

I started to wonder: What cultural process is in play when an American colleague is comfortable taking up the group’s time while they sort out a problem and conversely what caused our Asian colleague to be so concerned about everyone else’s time that we couldn’t get her to actively participate in the meeting?

As an effective team leader, should I have kept her on, recognizing her discomfort while we sorted out her connection issues? However, forcing her to stay connected and making her the center of the group’s attention was not working. The more I tried, the more uncomfortable she got, and the more insistent she became about getting off the phone.

On the other hand, if I were in the same situation, I would have also behaved in a typically American way--appreciating the attention so that I could participate and fully contribute, feeling that the delay would be worth it for the team—our Asian colleague felt differently.

As a leader, you need to recognize the culture of the people you’re working with. Leading teams in a global environment requires a whole set of new skills because working virtually magnifies the cultural challenges that global organizations face.

Amongst the cultural styles discussed in Managing Across Cultures: The Seven Keys to Doing Business with a Global Mindset are the seven keys for a global mindset. They include items such as: relationships, communication styles, hierarchy and empowerment, all of which will significantly impact the way people from different cultures work together and interact. For example, while a Swiss colleague will be most comfortable getting down to business right away and digging through details of facts and figures, a Chinese team member will be less productive unless they’re allowed to establish a relationship.

Even more, the cultural dimension of hierarchy shows that people from an egalitarian society feel comfortable participating and asking challenging questions, while people from hierarchical societies will be reluctant to challenge the leader, even if he expects to be challenged. Effective leadership requires different skills when managing in a global arena than when managing in a domestic environment.

It’s hard to imagine that it was only 15 years ago that I organized a group called the Global Relocation Partnership. It was made up of entrepreneurs who ran small expat support organizations in 40 different countries. At that point in my career, I was already well versed in culture, cultural behaviors and the impact of culture on business, including leadership.

My knowledge was based on a combination of theoretical learning, some international living, and global business experience. With all of that understanding, I still encountered leadership and management challenges that I neither understood (and in retrospect) was not really prepared to handle.

Over the course of the next several years, as we grew the Global Relocation Partnership into a cohesive powerful force, I learned by confronting challenge after challenge, how all the members—who came from different cultural backgrounds—had dramatically different expectations of the leadership they expected me to provide.

Some expected me to make the decision; others expected me to consult with them on the minutest detail, and still others saw my role as a consensus builder. Some members were happy for the group to discuss only the high points of transactions while others needed context and detail.

Today’s business leaders have more experience confronting intercultural challenges on a daily basis than I because of the day-to-day intercultural work experience and a business environment that more highly values diversity and appreciating culture. But that experience only means that they must be much more competent when moving into a leadership role.

Fortunately, culture is learnable, and it is learned incrementally—first by a theoretical understanding and next by the continuous barrage of experiences, both one’s own and that shared by colleagues.

If all of these requirements of global leadership seem confusing, I would assure you that they often are. It’s hard to know what is “right” in every situation, which makes it extremely important for global leaders to have a clear sense of their own leadership style and cultural preferences, and recognize that it is just that—a personal style. A word of advice: don’t change your style for every situation, but recognize when that style needs to be modified in order to achieve your goals.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

10 Free Leadership Video Sites

Once upon a time, in the “old days” of management development (it wasn’t even called leadership development), management training videos were often used in our programs. While some of them were good (classics like Meetings Bloody Meetings, The Abilene Paradox, Joel Barker’s Paradigms, anything Tom Peters, and of course the Muppet’s meeting openers), most of them were absolutely horrible.
The worst ones were the cheesy HR or OSHA compliance videos (i.e., harassment, office safety) featuring bad actors and completely unrealistic scenarios. It was hard not to laugh along with the audience. Although, I have to give Wendy's credit for at least trying to get creative with this 1989 training video called "Grill Skills".

They were also quite expensive, and still are. These aren’t the DVDs you purchase at Wal-Mart in the $5.00 bin - they can cost over $1000! But then again, you also get a facilitator guide and job aids so you can turn a 20 minute video into a 4 hour training program. (-:

Fast forward the wild and wacky world of Web 2.0 and free content. Sure, there’s still a lot of junk out there on Youtube, but there’s some pretty good stuff too. I tend to favor leadership videos that feature real leaders sharing their secrets, lessons learned, and best practices. Here are a few sites I’ve discovered and use now and then:

1. The Washington Post’s “On Leadership” videos
Well over a hundred good interviews with private and public sector leaders; about 4-6 minutes in length each.

2. The Wall Street Journal’s Lesson’s in Leadership
Similar to the Post’s platform, although many are less than 2 minutes.

3. BNETs’ videos
More of a “how to” collection, by trainers and consultants.

4. The Marshall Goldsmith Library Athena Online SmartBytes
While Athena is a fee based site, Marshall offers up his for free. Great for coaching!

5. Success Television
Hosted on YouTube, a lot of personal development, with some leadership.

6. American Express’s Open Forum
For business owners, lot’s of cutting edge expert interviews.

7. Harvard Business Review on YouTube
No need to spend $50,000 for a Harvard MBA… you can watch their star faculty for free!

8. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading
Very cool. Hi-tech, science, and business.

9. Fast Company TV
It’s, well, Fast Company… via video.

10. The Leadership Hub’s Hub TV
A leadership social networking site’s collection of leadership videos.

While I wouldn’t recommend any of these for a date night, they’re a great way to kill a little time at work, expand your own leadership horizons, or train and coach others.

Are there others that you would recommend? Or, what are some of the worst corporate training videos of all time?



Thursday, September 10, 2009

7 Reasons Why I Wrote 7 Lessons For Leading In Crisis

Guest post by Bill George:

In March of 2009 I wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal entitled, 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis. Several publishers encouraged me to expand that article into a book. Now that it’s been released, I thought I’d reflect on the (seven) reasons I thought this topic worthwhile:

1) It’s important to study leadership under fire. It’s easy to follow your True North – the internal compass of your beliefs, values, and principles that guide you through life – when times are easy. But when times are tough, leadership is tested, and I believe it is highly beneficial to profile the ways business leaders have resurged and triumphed under pressure

2) Young leaders need a reality check. The next generation of leaders must understand the inherent vulnerability of leadership, particularly in crisis. CEOs occupy a precarious space in the world as they make tough decisions with far-reaching impact and face scrutiny at nearly every turn. I highlight this not to scare potential leaders, but to insure they assume their posts with the necessary principles and humility.

3) Successful people deserve praise. Leaders like Anne Mulcahy at Xerox, Greg Steinhafel at Target, Indra Nooyi at Pepsi, and Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway deserve to have their principled leadership applauded. Leaders like Chuck Prince at Citigroup, Martin Sullivan at AIG, and Richard Fuld at Lehman Brothers likewise deserve to stand as cautionary tales. It’s crucial that we try to emulate examples of good leadership, while also recognizing and avoiding common temptations that steer towards poor leadership.

4) I’m a tinkerer. I’m an engineer at heart – graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering – so I like to know how things work. I wanted to explore the basic cultural tendencies driving leaders’ decision-making because I knew that certain core lessons could be drawn out that can inform our future behavior.

5) The record needs to be set straight, and the right lessons learned. As I say in the book’s introduction, the economic calamity of 2008-09 was not caused by subprime mortgages, credit default swaps, or even excessive greed. The root cause of the problem was failed leadership. Lessons in leadership are just as important as lessons in economics if we wish to avoid another economic collapse. The future harbingers of recession will look entirely different from credit default swaps and subprime mortgages, so the way to insure we do not over-leverage them again is to insure we have knowledgeable leaders at the helm.

6) The subject of crisis is timely. While showing progress, there is a great deal yet to be done if we want to pull America out of the economic doldrums. I hope this book can help those in charge to keep sight of their True North, and lead this country back to economic prosperity.

7) Legacies are made in troubled times. Overall, I wanted to convey a very important lesson. The good times do no define define you. The tough times do. This was true of my career, and I am sure if you speak with my contemporaries, they will say the same. With every crisis comes opportunity to truly lead, and I wanted to make sure you dictate the terms of your legacy.

Bill George is professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and author of
7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis, True North, and Authentic Leadership. The former chair and CEO of Medtronic, he currently serves on the boards of ExxonMobil and Goldman Sachs and previously, Novartis and Target. Read more at www.BillGeorge.org, or follow him on Twitter @Bill_George. On Sept. 17th Bill George is moderating a “Summit on Leading in Crisis” featuring John Donahoe, David Gergen, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, and Anne Mulcahy at the University of Minnesota’s Ted Mann Concert Hall.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The September 5th 2009 Leadership Development Carnival

In this Labor Day weekend edition of the Leadership Development Carnival, I'm going take the opportunity to acknowledge and thank some of the hard working leadership bloggers I've gotten to know and respect over the last few years. These are the ones who I read on a regular basis, have consistently supported me, and that I would welcome the opportunity to have dinner or a cup of coffee with. They are indeed “FOGLs” – Friends Of Great Leadership.

Featured FOGLs:

Wally Bock
Wally is the master of the leadership development blogosphere. He recently published his 1000 post this year! Wally was one of the first bloggers to comment on Great Leadership, and he’s been like a blogging mentor for me and countless others. I love his writing style, he really knows his stuff, and he’s a true gentleman. His specialty is the front-line supervisory – he’s their biggest champion.
In addition to being an awesome writer, Wally also is a keynote speaker, trainer, and coach. Check out his blog, his website, and his Working Supervisor’s Support Kit – a must-have survival kit for any new supervisor.
Here is What if we chose leaders differently? posted at Three Star Leadership Blog.

Steve Roessler
Steve’s blog, All Thing’s Workplace, has been voted as the Best Leadership blog for the last two years. And I have to say… it is! Hey, even I voted for it over my own. I’m amazed at the number of incredible posts Steve can put out in a week. And they are all great!
In addition to blogging, Steve’s also a worldwide coach, consultant, speaker, and trainer. I’m so impressed with Steve’s insights. He’s to CEOs what Wally is to supervisors – he really knows what makes them tick and how to help them succeed. Steve’s been a good FOGL, and I hope to meet him for some seafood some day. If you’re looking for great advice, read Steve’s blog.
Here is All Things Workplace: I'll Change If You Tell Me What You Really Want posted at All Things Workplace.

Jason Seiden
Jason’s a speaker, coach, trainer, award winning author, blogger, and all around great guy. He’s been a big supporter of Great Leadership and we serve on the SmartBrief on Workforce Advisory Board together.
I love his no nonsense approach to leadership development. He cuts through the fluff and fads and makes it real. There’s a lot of education and experience behind Jason- the guy’s got an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and his Bachelor’s from Wharton, as well as executive experience with some top notch companies. He just presents himself in a very down to earth, humble way.
Check out his blog, book, and website.
Although Jason didn't submit a post this month, here's a sample of his work: Screw Your Career Path. Live Your Story.

Mary Jo Asmus
Mary Jo has been a long time FOGL. She’s a coach, speaker, trainer, writer, and writes the blog Intentional Leadership. I love what Mary Jo has to say about all things leadership. Coaching is her real sweet spot – it’s very apparent to me she’s a genuine expert in that field. Mary Jo just hosted the August Leadership Development Carnival and is a frequent Great Leadership commenter and Twitterer. She always has something valuable to add to the conversation, and has been an inspiration for my writing.
Here is Four Selfish Reasons to Develop Your Employees posted at Intentional Leadership.

Art Petty.
Art’s knows a lot about a lot of things, but I’d call him the project manager, strategy, and marketing expert. He’s a speaker, trainer, professor, writer, and consultant. I consider his book, Practical Lessons in Leadership, to be a must read for any new manager. Or for any experienced manager for that matter. His blog, Management Excellence, is always at the top of my reading list – it's chock full of excellent advice, how-to-guides, and even a free ebook. Art’s a trusted and valued FOGL, is a great guy, and I’m looking forward to getting together in Chicago some day for a stuffed pizza with him.
Here is New Leader Identification: Exploration Before Promotion! posted at Management Excellence.

Scott Eblin
Scott literally wrote THE book on executive presence and what it takes to succeed at “The Next Level”. I had been using Scott’s book for a while, often giving a copy to newly promoted VPs. So I was glad to see his first comment on my blog. I ended up giving Scott a few blogging and social networking pointers, and wow, in a short time his Next Level blog has really taken off. It was voted as one of the 10 best leadership blogs in 2009, and is often featured in SmartBrief on Leadership.
It’s no wonder that Scott’s blog has done so well. He’s a clever writer and writes about what he knows very well – executive development. Scott’s an executive coach, writer, speaker, and trainer. If I could pick my own executive coach, it would be Scott. But for now, I’m glad to have him as a FOGL.
Here is What Leaders Can Learn from Lab Rats: Five Tips for Beating Stress posted at Next Level Blog.

Becky Robinson
Becky writes the relatively new blog, Leadership Talk, developed in collaboration with Mountain State University's School of Leadership and Professional Development. Becky has quickly built her blog into another one of the top 10 Leadership Blogs of 2009 the old fashioned way – hard work, great content, and relationship building. She’s a frequent commenter, contributor and Twitterer on Great Leadership, as well as many other leadership blogs. While Art Petty initially convinced me to give Twitter a try, Becky has taken the time to patiently teach me the ins and outs.
Here is Organic Leadership Development posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk.

Jim Stroup
First of all, you’ve got to read Jim’s bio. What a life! That’s why he brings so much to the table when he writes about leadership development. He’s been there and done that. I’d characterize Jim as a “deep thinker” (way deeper than me!) and I’m always inspired by his wisdom. Jim’s a blogger, author, speaker, and consultant (mostly C-suite), and someone I’m looking forward to meeting next time I’m in San Diego.
Jim also didn't submit a post this month, so I picked What We Want From Work, the start of a series Jim will be writing in the next couple weeks over at Managing Leadership.

More Great FOGLs:

Fistfull of Talent
I love FFOT! Founded by blogging leader Kris Dunn, FFOT features posts from some of the best talent management bloggers on the planet. Jessica Lee is the Editor.
This post is from Paul Hebert, posting on Fistful of Talent... on management skills we don't teach including what's a manager to do once their team is in top top shape and the comparisons of it being like having an empty nest as a parent. The One Management Skill We Don't Really Teach... posted at Fistful of Talent.

Mark Stelzner
Mark's an HR leader, an awesome blogger, and a great guy. He's the founder of Inflexion Advisors, a financial, operational, marketing, market development and organizational consulting firm. He also writes Inflexion Point, one of my favorite HR blogs.
Here is Criticism - Much Ado About "Nothing" posted at Inflexion Point.

Chris Young
Chris has generously promoted Great Leadership over at his Maximizing Possibility blog, often selecting my posts as one of his "Fab Five Blog Picks of the Week". Chris is the founder of The Rainmaker Group, a top-notch talent management consulting firm.
Here is Onboarding New Employees - Six Steps to Success posted at Maximize Possibility Blog.

Miki Saxon
Miki's a regular Leadership Carnival contributor and one of my favorite leadership bloggers. Here are posts from both of Miki's blogs:
A short series on leadership as fertilizer (you need to spread it around) and why compost is better than the kind created in a lab (or classroom) - Composting Leadership posted at Leadership Turn; and
Taking the path of motivator or controller is a function of how one thinks, still, it is a choice and not one locked in stone. In Charge Or In Control posted at MAPping Company Success.

Meg Bear
Meg's one of the featured bloggers over at Talented Apps, an awesome group of Development and Strategy individuals within the Oracle Fusion HCM team, and a regular contributor to the Carnival.
Meg Bear writes about the need to find better and more effective ways to recognize people vs. putting so much pressure on the promotion process. Promotions and job fit posted at TalentedApps.

Eric Pennington
Eric's an inspirational leadership speaker and author. Here are some of his insights on what to do when you're faced with working for a corrupt leader:
Corrupt Instincts and Leadership posted at Epic Living - Leadership Development Career Management Training Executive Life Coaching Author.

Sharlyn Lauby
Some of you may not yet know Sharlyn, a.k.a, The HR Bartender. She's an emerging force in the HR blogosphere, and is becoming one of my favorites.
See why: Is being nice a leadership competency? Nice and Likable posted at HR Bartender.

Alice Snell
Alice is the Vice President, Taleo Research, blogs for The Taleo Blog, and is a regular contributor. In addition to barbecues and beaches, the US Labor Day holiday is a time to celebrate workers and contemplate the future employment landscape....But what do workers want? Alice presents Taleo Blog - Talent Management Solutions - Labor Daze posted at Taleo Blog - Talent Management Solutions.

Jennifer V. Miller
I've only recently gotten to know Jennifer and really like her. She's the owner of a performance management company and just started blogging in June. In this post, she writes about
stories leaders tell themselves that prevent teams from optimal performance. Jennifer presents What Stories Are in Your Bedrock? posted at Jennifer V. Miller.

Anna Farmery
Gotta pay tribute to Anna - she founded an earlier version of the Carnival.
Anna Farmery presents Show 256 - Reward and Recognition for Employees posted at The Engaging Brand.

Bill Matthies
Bill's another one of my regulars and a great guy. I love his words of wisdom.
Here is Management Genius: Stirring the Pot posted at Business Wisdom: Words to Manage By.

Michael Ray Hopkin
Michael's a steady regular, and I'm a regular reader of his Lead on Purpose blog. Here he writes about if you really want to value something you have to work for it. Ultimately you will not find joy in what you do without working diligently, and you cannot achieve success without making a concerted effort. Michael Ray presents Value comes from work posted at Lead on Purpose.

The Best of the Rest:

Erik Samdahl presents New Managers: Alone and Out of Their Depths - i4cp posted at David Wentworth.

Nick McCormick presents Facing the Hard Facts About the Soft Side of Business posted at Joe and Wanda on Management.

Halston Williams presents Leadership for young people posted at Halston Williams.

A key to leadership is recognizing the work of all employees. A young Marine's death brings this principle home. John Phillips presents Recognizing Employees? Work: It?s Critical posted at The Word.

Having an effective team is a must. This post talks about helping your team to be effective. Utpal Vaishnav presents How To Inaugurate Effectiveness In Your Project Team posted at Utpal Vaishnav.

Sam Carrara presents Recalibrate Your Business posted at Sam Carrara's Marketing Education.

Is this a leadership style that is appropriate to all companies?Is this the only way that companies need to be managed especially in times of turbulence? Great Management Tips presents Is win at all cost the no 1 quality for great leaders? posted at Great Management Tips.

Alisha Harmann presents Top 50 Career Management Bloggers posted at Best Court Reporting Degree. I had to include this one, given I'm on the list. (-:

Jonathan Alan presents What Is A Leadee? posted at Leader-Leadee.

Shawn M. Driscoll presents Signature Spotlight: The Institute for Leadership Fitness™ posted at Shawn Driscoll.

Leaders and mangers often say things that send the wrong message and unintentionally bring up topics that distract the teams. How often has THAT happened to you? Communication is a hard skill. But it can be learned by conscious effort and diligence. CA presents Mastering Communication at Work: How to Lead, Manage, and Influence - Review posted at Atlantic Canada's Small Business Blog.

What experience do you have with fiery managers? Manager skills presents Is a fiery temperament the no 1 must have quality for great leadership posted at Manager skills.

This post details what the game show The Price is Right can teach managers about motivating employees: Aaron Windeler presents The trick to motivating employees: watch The Price is Right posted at Scientific Management.

Management interview questions are questions that focus on evoking a reaction from a candidate for a certain purpose - to provide a general image of the manager (i.e. the candidate).
nissim ziv presents Management Interview Questions and Answers posted at Job Interview & Career Guide.

Next month's Leadership Development Carnival will be on October 4, hosted by Becky Robinson of Mountain State University Leader Talk.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How to Develop a Leadership Preparation Program

Want to grow a better crop of leaders? Start by selecting the right seeds, watering the garden, removing the weeds and in a season or two, you’ll have a bumper crop of ready- to- harvest leaders.

Companies that excel in leadership development identify and begin to prepare leaders well before their first promotion into a management role. The primary benefits of a “pre-leadership” program, or leadership preparation program, are:

1. Shorter learning curves for newly promoted managers

2. Improved opportunities to assess high potential management candidates; which leads to better selection

3. Better career choices – which leads to improved satisfaction and job fit

4. Improved ability to recruit employees that are looking for leadership development opportunities

Although every organization’s needs many be different, the following generic program design that should work in most cases.

1. Determine program objectives
Be very clear about what problem you are trying to solve. Do you anticipate a wave of upcoming retirements or organizational growth that could create demand for new managers? Are high potential employees unwilling to consider management promotions due to negative perceptions? Are you experiencing a high failure rate for new managers? If you don’t have a good reason, then don’t do the program.

2. Determine program focus
Will the program be to assess candidates, to develop them, career exploration, or some combination? All are possible, just be transparent about it. Don’t tell candidates the program is all about career exploration, and then secretly use the program as a way to test their readiness.

3. Candidate nomination and selection
Managers could nominate candidates, or you could open up the selection process to anyone who is interested. The benefits of the later approach is that it casts a wider net for potential managers and creates a perception of equal opportunity and fairness. The first approach benefits a handful of employees; the second benefits all employees, even the ones who don’t apply.
For either approach, you’ll need clear nomination and selection criteria. Candidates could fill out an application or write an essay that describes why they are interested in leadership and why they are qualified. Managers can then make final selections based on criteria like tenure, performance, and leadership potential criteria.
Final selections could be capped, based on projected opportunities and resource constraints. For example, if you are anticipating 10 openings in the next 1-2 years, use about a 3 to 1 ratio and cap your program at 30.

4. Participant notification and preparation
The participant’s managers should be notified first, then given instructions how to notify, congratulate, and prepare the candidates. All too often, managers derail the process if they are not properly involved in supporting the program. Candidates show up with no clue as to why they were selected and with inadequate preparation, turning what should have been a motivating and rewarding experience into a potential embarrassment.

5. Program Elements
The actual development program can take many shapes. One approach is to bring all candidates to a central location and conduct a formal 2-3 day workshop, facilitated by trainers or managers. Activities can include:
- Pre-work assignments, i.e., manager interviews, readings, and reflection exercises
- “Day-in-the-life” manager panels
- Simulations
- Interest, style, or motivation assessments
- Training on different aspects of leadership & management
- Role plays
- Case studies
- Journaling
- Individual development planning.
Company specific issues such as relocation policy, management compensation, and HR policies could be addressed as well. It all depends on what your primary program focus is: career exploration, assessment, or development.
Effective programs can also be run in a distributed way, using online modules and manager facilitated activities and discussions. This allows for greater participation with no travel costs. For a distributed program, the manager is the primary facilitator and would need detailed instructions. For larger locations with multiple candidates, there may be opportunities for group work as well.

6. Post program follow-up
A pre-leadership program should be a process, not an event. Candidates should be given time and a chance to revisit their interest in leadership. A “not now” does not mean “never”. Actually, having someone decide they don’t want to be a leader is a huge win-win for the individual and company. Those candidates that are still interested and had a positive assessment (if assessment was part of the program focus) should be provided with follow-up developmental activities to help prepare them for potential opportunities. These activities could include:
- Participation in selection interviews
- Running meetings
- Team leadership opportunities
- Additional reading and training
- Training new employees
- Peer coaching
- Mentoring
- A subscription to Great Leadership. (-:
Some companies, especially in Europe, even use a process that “certifies” candidates as ready for promotion.

Organizations that use these kinds of programs end up making better management selection decisions with a greater degree of confidence. Open positions are filled faster, and new managers can assimilate quicker into their new roles. Having these programs in place sends a strong message to potential and current employees about how much the organization values employee development.