Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Hiring Is A Science and An Art


Guest post by Lisette Howlett:

When we think about leadership and leadership development we rarely think about hiring and recruitment.  Yet one of the most important contributions of a great leader is creating, and sustaining, the organisation for success both now and the future.  Hiring talent, for now and the future, is fundamental to this ambition.  Yet so often, hiring is seen as a painful activity which takes time away from more important matters.  Yet what can be more important than ensuring the organisation has the right people?

Hiring well is, in my opinion, both a science and an art.  The science part is more easily learned, albeit not frequently integral to leadership development and training.  It is concerned with understanding, and executing well, the elements of the hiring process.  Some aspects can be successfully delegated, including elements such as the sourcing of candidates, documenting, initial screening, referencing.  However, leaders need to play a role in the messaging and selection elements of hiring.  Leaders play a critical role shaping the message communicated to potential hires which must be congruent with the leader’s vision for the organisation, or department, and consistent with the experience of current employees.  Playing a part in the selection of the candidate requires leaders to be skilled in interviewing and judgement. Learning how to interview effectively to remove irrelevant bias and get to the truth of the candidate is a skill and it can be learned by someone committed to mastering it.  Making the right judgment is more of an art.  It can be honed through experience and great leaders need to invest time and effort in developing, testing and improving their judgement on a range of factors including hiring decisions.

Perhaps because there is a great deal of system and routine involved in hiring, or perhaps because leaders do not consider this a skill that will further their personal success, many leaders do not invest time and attention in becoming great recruiters.  I believe that they are missing a trick here which results in either missing out on some talent, or perhaps even worse, hiring less than brilliant people into their teams and organisations.

As a contribution to energising leaders to repositioning hiring excellence as one of their key leadership competencies, here are a few thoughts:

·       -   It takes courage and confidence to make a good hire.  To refuse to settle in terms of quality and fit, no matter how much pressure there is to fill the spot to get the work done.  To be willing to take on someone who might, one day, overtake you.  To take a well mitigated risk on hiring someone outside the mold, and more importantly to nurture, challenge and mentor them to be a success.
·       -   It takes vision to know what people, attitude, skills, behaviours, competencies will be needed in the future and to attract these people into the organisation and retain them thereafter.
·        -  It takes integrity to be honest with a potential hire about what is great about the organisation today and what needs to be worked on so that candidates can make an informed choice about joining the organisation and once in it will be able to affirm their decision and not feel that they were sold something that is not quite true.
     - It takes strong critical thinking to be able to evaluate the information presented to you by a candidate and to pull out the important elements and make a determination about suitability for the immediate role, fit with the organisation and future potential.
·        -  It requires decisive action to make a timely hiring decision and to act quickly so as to secure top talent who have many other options that they can pursue and will be attracted not just by the role and the leadership but also by their hiring experience.
·        -  It takes self-development orientation to accept that some attention will need to be given and time invested in perfecting the science and art of hiring.
·        -  It takes strong communication and the ability to inspire others to attract top talent to your organisation in what is increasingly a tough market for talent, particularly if you are up against higher profile organisations, or higher payers.
·         - It takes flexibility to be able to reshape roles and challenges to better meet the aspirations and talents of a potential hire.
·         - It requires managerial competence and empowerment to allow your leaders to hire without unnecessary interference and to trust in their judgement, coaching and not controlling to support great decisions.
·          -It takes good judgement to get it right when hiring.

In summary, great hiring requires all the attributes of great leadership and allows leaders to leave a legacy which is greater than themselves.

Lisette Howlett is author of The Right Hire:  Attract And Retain The Best People, a licensed Sandler Trainer located in London Central, and she has fifteen years of global change leadership and business development experience. Howlett is called upon by business owners of small and medium-sized companies for strategy and business development. Her experience includes financial services, technology, pharma/biotech, manufacturing, IT, media, recruitment and professional services.
For more information please visit www.sandler.com/sandler-books/the-right-hire

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Fundamentals of Tomorrow’s Leadership, the Basics with a Twist


Guest post from Fiona Murden:

In 1998 I graduated from business school feeling I knew all there was to know about leadership. I began work as a management consultant and much of what I’d learnt was very quickly thrown out of the window. The basics of behaviour tell us far more than the latest fad. I became obsessed with observing like a detective, working out what, why and how. In fact, I was so fascinated that I soon returned to university to complete an MSc in Business Psychology.

Since then I have profiled and coached leaders from across the world. I have lived their journeys with them and while I’ve not bourn the scars or failure (nor shared in the rewards of success!) in their entirety, I have assessed and predicted who would fail, who would succeed. I’ve worked hand in hand with leaders who have struggled and those who have flourished.

With this experience in tow I returned to those original learnings to re-assess their relevance. What I’ve found is that it really isn’t the latest cutting-edge idea that’s most relevant, rather the foundations taught as long ago as philosophers such as Lao Tzu in 600BC that have stood the test of time.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Whilst we may now add in ‘he or she’ into this quote today, people are people and as the human brain has evolved very little (if at all) over the centuries the fundamentals of good leadership have also remained largely unchanged. What threatened people then, will threaten today, what motivated then, will motivate today. What is however changing is the rate of change itself and the volume of data leaders and followers have to deal with. As a result, those critical aspects of good leadership become even more important. They act as an anchor from which to weather the storm of a turbulent world and the foundation from which to build on new knowledge.

Hence, I believe the fundamentals of good leadership are as true today as they ever were, but with a twist:

1.    Resilience. Leaders have always needed be resilient but what that means is changing. A generation ago resilience meant continuing no matter what: sleeping under the desk, not sleeping at all, skipping vacations, taking calls from a hospital bed. There’s still a badge of honour associated with carrying on in spite of pressure but this sort of behaviour was never sustainable (Arianna Huffington openly talks about this) and is arguably becoming even less so. As a leader of tomorrow there is a need for constant flex to your own physical and emotional needs, being hyper aware, understanding what energises and what drains, carefully managing of life and duties and giving permission for others to warn you when you become blindsided by stress creeping up on you.

2.    Curiosity for Agility. We have an increasing understanding of how ‘plastic’ our brain is, even into later age. Until recently we believed many aspects of our personality were fixed and were unconsciously encouraged to approached life accordingly. However, as a leader of tomorrow, understanding this plasticity means that it is never too late to change or grow, to seek out opportunities, to learn, to flex to a new way of working and to adapt to the changing world around you. Remaining open and curious allows you to embrace unpredictable situations rather than being thrown off track by them.

3.    Building High Performing Teams. All too often top teams are made up of high performing individuals working in silos which is then reflected down through the organisation. This approach massively limits the potential of the whole organisation, restricting the ability to flex and quickly respond to the demands of the fast-moving world. As a leader of tomorrow, it will become ever more critical to understand how to build and enable truly high performing teams that challenge ‘bricks and mortar’ organisation structures and ways of working. You will need this to allow for optimal agility and to fully leverage the collective capability of employees throughout the organisation.

4.    Communicating Vision. The priority of this point is increasing exponentially with the ambiguity of the world around us. As humans we become emotionally and intellectually stifled in times of uncertainty. This results in employees feeling threatened and disengaged. As a leader of tomorrow, it will therefore be imperative to articulate the vision with clarity and passion, really connecting with the audience. This will allow people to feel a sense of unity, purpose and comfort that enables them to engage and perform at their optimum. As a leader it allows you to safely provide freedom to employees on how they work, empowering people to achieve in a way that is best suited to their own strengths, approach and personality.

The enabler of all of these is not only an increasing knowledge of behaviour and how best to leverage it, but also the presence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) working alongside that understanding. Many see AI as a threat but it’s also an amazing opportunity. A McKinsey article published in April 2018, for example says that AI ‘creates space and time to think by filtering the signal from the noise’. As a leader, letting algorithms work on the increasing volumes of data that you are expected to deal with, the aspects which are creating the constant flux and overload will mean that AI can ‘report back only what you need to know and when you need to know it.’ If used effectively both as a leader and employee, it could free up the brain from a huge amount of unnecessary processing and decision making. This will allow focus on the behavioural aspects for leaders who embrace AI to flourish in the landscape of tomorrow.

So, to be a great leader of tomorrow, don’t look to the latest fad or claim, return to the basics as your foundations to remaining agile, then leverage what the future world is offering. 

Fiona Murden is a Chartered Psychologist, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, best-selling author and stimulating public speaker who has spent the past eighteen years working with leaders of multi-national companies. She is also founder and MD of Aroka Ltd which she has run globally for the past 11 years.  Aroka profiles senior leaders in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia Pacific to assess their fit, strengths and the risks in relation to the role that they are being hired for. Her speaking commitments take her into boardrooms as diverse as the Institute of Directors, the Cabinet Office, the Royal College of Surgeons, Lloyd’s of London, The City Women’s Network and Nomura.
Fiona’s book, Defining You was published worldwide in 2018. Defining You opens a window into the process of psychological profiling in business and presents a clear path to improving your effectiveness with immediate actions and tangible tips. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Impact of the CEO on Leadership Development

I'm going through and cleaning up some old posts and found this one from 2007.  I still find this one to be very true 12 years later.

A Genie (actually an HR Vice-president at a former company) once asked me, “Dan, if you could make a wish and only do one thing for leadership development, what would it be?”

You see, this was a company that was going through some tough belt-tightening, and we spent a lot of time making hard choices as to what to keep and what to cut. My initial reaction was I a thought it was sucker’s choice question. That is, of course you can’t develop leaders by doing just one thing, leadership development is a system, involving many interdependent variables. 

But I knew what she was getting at – she was trying to get me to prioritize, or perhaps to test my ability to think strategically. I thought about it for just a few seconds, and then, without thinking of the political consequences, blurted out, “get a new CEO?” 

Definitely the wrong answer, not what she was looking for at all. Very career limiting.

But you know, I still stand behind the answer. My experience has been that it always does seem to link back to the top banana’s belief and commitment to developing leaders. I once heard a CEO say, “You know, I don’t have time to teach people, and at this level, I shouldn't have to!” 

Well, at least he admitted it – better than phony lip service with all talk and no action. On the other hand, I worked with an executive named who was proud to say he spent 75% of his time developing leaders. I sat though a few talent review meetings with him, and he was dead serious about it. It was painful to witness his wrath when a business unit president showed up unprepared, or was not doing enough to weed out poor performers and develop high potentials. (these butt-kicking’s were all part of his 75%). 

Why does it matter so much? When a senior leader understands the strategic value of leadership development and the ROI, all else falls into place. There’s a cascading effect from role modeling, setting expectations, inspection, and ultimately, improved business performance. As a practitioner, you’re not spending time deciding what to cut or figuring out how to sell your new program, you’re hanging on to a tiger’s tail and trying to keep up. The expectations are sky high, and you better deliver, but I’ll take that deal any chance I can.

So what's a CEO to do? See "A CEO's Guide to Leadership Development".

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The IFB Leadership Model


Guest post from Yvette Bethel:

Within each organization exists an ecosystem that extends beyond its boundaries into the external environment. Some workplaces are more complex than others and without a strategy to shape their cultures the conditions within can be continuously affected by interacting internal and external dynamics. In any organization, leaders have a choice, they can concentrate on urgent short-term goals, or they can equip themselves with the relationship sensing and building skills they need to balance priority tensions.

Because we coexist in unpredictable and ambiguous local and global environments, longevity has been a more pronounced business imperative. One way to achieve it is to facilitate quality relationships that can sustainably and meaningfully connect team members and networks. At a macro level, leaders should also master the skills they need to balance their strategic priorities with the dynamism of their organizational ecosystem. By doing this, they can incrementally transform into an adaptive, responsive establishment.

When leaders aim for authentic balance, they must first become better at keeping their fingers on the pulse of the quality of team and network relationships while simultaneously strengthening them as they achieve corporate goals. Building balanced relationships through trust is at the heart of the IFB Model of leadership. So, the question is, how can leaders lead by using IFB principles?

1. Align with the core value of trust:
According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer “In a time marked by turbulence at home and abroad, trust in institutions in the United States crashed, posting the steepest, most dramatic general population decline the Trust Barometer has ever measured.”  With an outcome of this proportion, trust is an increasingly important brand essential. Therefore, once you assess your trust levels, if required you can establish a robust corrective plan because when low trust persists, internal and external stakeholders will undoubtedly detect it.

Trust building requires mastery of integrity, emotional intelligence, and your “we” disposition. Therefore, any organizational core values and policies that are counterproductive to these three trust qualities—like reward systems that stimulate competitive behaviours—should be challenged and actively addressed by IFB decision makers.

Your relationship strengthening solutions should ensure the core values of your organization are compatible with trust. This includes your formal core values and the ones that exist informally, being transmitted through peer pressure, action, or inaction.

2.    Strengthen Your Interconnective Infrastructure:
Strengthening your interconnective infrastructure involves building relationships with members of your team, your internal network of teams, informal relationship clusters, and relationships with people in your external networks. As a leaders, your vision of how you relate should include clarification of the quality of the relationship between your organization and the community it serves.

Each team or network is defined by the quality of its relationships as well as the rules of engagement imposed by policies, procedures, standards, and other less formal cultural norms.  When new members join your team, normative behaviours can shift if there is no accountability to sustainable cultural design. Therefore, as you lead, it’s important to remain attuned to your vision of your culture and interconnective infrastructure so you can take proactive, meaningful steps toward trust-based transformation.

3.  Facilitate Concurrent Flows:
The quality and purpose of relationships within your organization can directly affect a variety of critical flows that impact your results. (E.g. work flows, customer flow patterns, revenue streams, hiring, succession etc.) Unhealthy relationships can hide sub-optimal flow dynamics because personal loyalties or low trust can conceal low performance. Healthy relationships have the potential to build beneficial synergies.

It is important to note that low quality relationships can yield high performing results. In cases like this, performance is driven by tight controls, expressed or unspoken threats, and numerous colleagues in perpetual survival mode. Imagine the capacities leaders can unlock when trust, robust talent development strategies, satisfactory engagement levels, and creativity are prevailing themes.

There are a variety of intricately linked flows within ecosystems, each with their unique intrinsic and extrinsic drivers—like fear, ambition, purposefulness or engagement.  When employees are intrinsically motivated and mutual trust exists between leaders and their team members, policies may be less necessary for healthy flow. In compliance cultures, by their very nature policies are controls designed to limit error making and standardize quality. These tools can have an unobserved outcome of limiting learning opportunities and growth. While establishing policies can create a sense of safety, a well-trained, engaged, and proactive team with increasing capacities can feel even safer.

4.    Balance Continuously:
When transforming your organization into one that operates on the principle of change as a constant, integral part of doing business, balancing activities must be ongoing. This means leaders should intentionally implement incremental transformative actions as well as larger change initiatives—both sequentially and simultaneously. At times decision-makers may consider the projected outcomes of change as ambiguous, and this is okay. Trial and error can work if you have the time, otherwise, you may have to take a calculated risk.

In organizations where leaders are proficient at balancing multiple tensions, they take time to identify priority, short and long-term pressures so they can develop and implement concrete solutions before these tensions become high risks. Mastering balancing skills requires consideration of strategic and cultural tensions so multiple sub-competencies are necessary, like: 1) Building your capacity to attune to and diagnose complex ecosystems; 2) Identifying tensions and the potential consequences and opportunities within them; and 3) Taking measured steps to balance priority tensions while implementing strategic initiatives.

Interconnectivity, Flow, and Balance are three dynamics that occur naturally within active organizations. The IFBSM Model can be used by leaders to strengthen relationship dynamics and by extension, improve performance, creativity and organizational growth. It does this by providing leaders with a powerful lens they can use to perceive new or vexing problems with new eyes. These insights facilitate evolving perspectives which can enrich your decisions and lay the foundation for sustainable success.

About the Author:

Yvette Bethel is CEO of Organizational Soul, an IFB Consulting and Leadership Development company. She is a Consultant, Trainer, Speaker, Coach, Author, and Simulation Producer. She created the proprietary IFB process for transforming organizations from the inside out. She is also a Preferred Partner at Six Seconds, the largest emotional intelligence network in the world. For more information you can contact Yvette at www.ifbcentral.com.