Saturday, January 31, 2009

Beckhard’s Change Equation

One of the simplest yet most powerful change models I’ve ever used is the Change Equation, developed by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher. Try whipping this model out the next time your team is planning or discussing a major change; it never fails to focus a team on what needs to be done and stimulate some lively discussion!

Here’s the model (picture from George Ambler’s The Practice of Leadership blog):

Three factors must be present for meaningful organizational change to take place. These factors are:

D = Dissatisfaction with the status quo;
V = Vision of what is possible;
F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision.
R = If any of these factors are missing or weak, then you’re going to get resistance.

The model has two very practical applications:

Before the change:
When planning a major change, planning teams need to make sure all three elements are built into their plans.

During the change:
Use it as trouble-shooting tool for figuring out why people are resisting the change.

Here is some additional information on the three change elements for supervisors and managers to use:

D = Dissatisfaction with the Present:
• We must be clear why things need to change
• We need to articulate why it is unacceptable and undesirable to conduct business in the same way
• If we, and our people, are not dissatisfied with the present situation, then there is no motivation to change.
• Managers and Supervisors need to provide your organizational cases for change here. You should include the perspectives of the three publics:
--Shareholder Perspective (i.e. market share, revenue, cost of goods)
--Customer Perspective (i.e. customer satisfaction, quality)
--Employee Perspective (i.e. employee satisfaction, turnover)

V = Vision of the Future:
• It is critical the employees fully understand and can picture
--our future as an organization and
--their place in the new organization.
• Supervisors/Managers need to share their vision for the future organization:
--Share where the organization is headed to remove/reduce dissatisfiers
--Make sure you describe the future in a way that is very clear and easy for anyone in the organization to envision.

F = Practical First Steps:
• Employees still need one important factor: their role.
• Supervisors/managers need to make sure each employee understands what steps they need to take in order for this change to be successful:
--they need to know what to do to prepare themselves for the change (i.e. skill development),
--they need to know how they will be contributing to the successful implementation of changes (i.e. reengineering, job changes).

Again, the nice thing about this model is that it is simple. You don’t need to pay a consultant to explain it to you or figure out how to implement it. Give it a try!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Leadership Scruples: What Would You Do? 20 Ethical Dilemmas for Leaders

I’ve been watching an ABC News television series called “What Would You Do”? It’s a fascinating study of human behavior. Everyday people are secretly filmed in situations where they are faced with a choice, usually involving an actor or actors staging a scenario.

It reminds me of “Scruples”, the classic party game where players draw cards with a variety or moral dilemmas and discuss their answers. It then turned into a kind of online social networking meme in the “early days” of blogging.

Here are some of the ABC WWYD scenarios that have been aired:
- You see someone stealing at an open house… what would you do?
- You see a man putting a drug in his date's drink… WWYD?
- You witness someone stealing someone else’s gas while they are in the store paying…. WWYD?
- You witness a racist deli clerk treating an immigrant customer rudely… WWYD?
- A child appears to be lost in the mall….WWYD?
- You accidentally receive a confidential email about your manager about to be laid off. You know he is about to close on an expensive house. WWYD?

When I saw the last one, I thought it might be interesting to resurrect the old Scruples game, and create a “Leadership Scruples” game, or a series of workplace “What Would You Do” scenarios for leaders. Actually, it doesn’t have to be for just formal leaders… anyone can play… I’ve just tried to give it a leadership slant to better fit the purpose of this blog.

Here’s my starter list. (Many of these are from the now defunct website, “Saturday Scruples”). You can use these as a part of a leadership development program, a leadership team meeting icebreaker, or just to challenge yourself or perhaps your co-workers. Please feel free to comment with your answer to any scenario, or add your own leadership WWYD.

Warning: I actually tired this once as a part of a business ethics workshop. While it worked pretty well for the majority of participants, two of them wouldn’t let it go, and the “debate” ended up spilling into the evening dinner. So play it with others at your own risk.

1. You’re at a hotel and conference center. You’ve arrived to your meeting early, and have not have a chance to eat breakfast yet. On your way to your meeting room, you walk by another meeting and there’s a table full of food and beverages outside the room. Your meeting has no food. Would you help yourself?

2. Your manager congratulates you for a brilliant suggestion and hints at a promotion. Your employee gave you the idea. Do you mention this to the manager?

3. You’ve made a verbal agreement with a supplier. A competitor offers you a deal for 50% less. Do you take it the deal?

4. A colleague is out of her office. You notice her paycheck stub on her desk. Do you glance at it?

5. Your manager demands to know what a co-worker is saying behind her back. It's not flattering. Do you tell her?

6. You’re reviewing the results of an employee survey and accidentally discover a way to see individual responses and comments. Do you keep reading or report the problem?

7. You're traveling in Elbonia on business when you're invited to a feast by shepherds. You're given the sheep's eyeball, the greatest delicacy. To refuse it is the greatest insult. Everyone's watching. Do you gulp it down?

8. As a joke, a co-worker sends anonymous love letters to another co-worker who takes them seriously. Everyone is enjoying the prank. Do you expose it?

9. A disgruntled worker is brandishing an automatic weapon. You're near a door. If you try to warn others you may not escape. Do you save yourself?

10. After closing a big deal, your manager surprises you with a warm, lingering hug. Do you tell your manager you're not comfortable with this?

11. You’re playing tennis with your manager for the first time. You’re winning and your manager is getting angry. Do you let him win?

12. You want to quit a job without notice but you need a good reference from your employer. Do you invent a family health emergency?

13. You decide not to hire someone because he's wearing a nose ring. When he asks why he didn't make it, do you give the real reason?

14. You find an expensive pen in an airport lounge. Do you keep it?

15. A close friend will be interviewed for a job with your employer. He asks you for a list of the questions in advance. Do you supply it?

16. You have a struggling young company. You have to choose between two equal candidates for a job, a man and a woman. The woman will work for $2000 per year less than the man. Do you hire her for that reason?

17. You've just been promoted to manager at the branch where you work. The person you're dating has applied for a job there and would be reporting to you. Is this OK?

18. The customer wants a refund. You agree that a refund is called for but company policy says "No." If you go to Corporate, the customer's refund will be denied. If you act on your own authority, the customer will be satisfied, but you may get in trouble. What would you do?

19. The company procedure is very clear but you know a "better" way to do the job. Your productivity results are a bit low this month. If you use your new approach (and violate the "rules") you can raise your results to an acceptable level. What would you do?

20. You are working to correct a mistake that your manager doesn't know about. If you tell your manager, you will be blamed for the mistake. If you don't tell your manager, you’ll miss your deadline. Do you tell?

Have fun!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Implementing Organizational Change

Here's a guest post by speaker and author Paul B. Thornton. The topic is leading change, and I'll be running a series of change artciles in the next few weeks.

Implementing Organizational Change

Leaders challenge the status quo. They not only see what’s possible; they pursue what’s possible. Implementing change requires strong leadership and excellent management skills. Some of the major changes companies have implemented in recent years include:

* Acquisitions and mergers
* E-commerce
* Six Sigma quality programs
* Lean manufacturing
* Continuous improvement initiatives
* New company culture
* New organizational structures

Key Roles
In pursuing any major change, it is important to understand the following roles:

· Sponsor—This is the senior level person (president, vice president or other senior executive) who wants the change to occur. The sponsor provides the resources needed to make the change happen. In addition, he provides legitimacy and visibility for the change initiative.
· Support Group—This is a small group of people who act like a board of directors for the change. This group of 8-to-12 people provides advice, guidance, and support.
· Project Manager—The project manager creates a detailed project plan. This includes resources (human and financial) timeframes, milestones and actions required. Project manager needs a strong working relationship with the sponsor. He/she must be able to openly discuss relevant issues and make course corrections as needed.
· Target Group—The group of people who must change in some way. For example, the target group could be production employees, middle managers, a department, or the entire organization. In every change initiative, it’s important to pinpoint the attitude and behavior you want the target group to exhibit in the future.
· Secondary Group—This is the group that must change to support the changes being made by the target group. The secondary group is often the managers of employees in the target group.

Driving Forces and Resistors
It is always helpful to understand who supports the change and who opposes it. Kurt Lewin, an American social psychologist, developed the concept of Force Field Analysis. It is a simple tool that visually illustrates the pro-change forces, the forces resisting change and who’s on the fence. For change to occur, the driving forces must be greater then the restraining forces.

Handling Resistors
I have found that about 20-30 percent of the employees resist almost any change. A small percentage of resistors (5-10 percent) will be very vocal in complaining about the change.
How should manager/leaders deal with these naysayers? Listen to their concerns and comments. Resistors may have some valid points that should be considered. When resistors feel their views are heard, they are more likely to listen to other points of view. Ask resistors to stay open and give the change a try. However in some cases you need to remove resisters even if their performance is satisfactory.

Planning the Implementation of Major Change
The project leader needs to create a master plan that addresses the following:

1. Kick-off Event —Like a politician announcing his or her candidacy, the kick-off event is the opportunity for the sponsor to:
* announce the change
* explain the compelling reason for the change
* describe how it will help employees and the company
In addition, the sponsor should provide a high-level overview of the implementation schedule, including key milestones.

The kick-off event needs to be festive, exciting, and uplifting. Some kick-off events include giving employees hats, t-shirts and other mementos that relate to the change initiative.

2. Training and Orientation—Change requires employees to think and behave in new ways. It is important to provide the target group and the secondary group with the knowledge and skills needed for success. The first step is conducting a needs assessment. The next step is designing or finding the right training program. Just-in-time training works best. Train people on Wednesday and have them using the new skills on Thursday.

3. Monitor and Measure—The project manager needs to monitor performance and measure results. The sponsor of the change needs to monitor the overall plan and keep the support group informed and engaged as needed. Implementing any major change requires course corrections and adjustments as you go.

4. Reward and Recognize—Establish specific dates when you will reward and recognize both the target group and the secondary group as they achieve short-term wins. That builds momentum and keeps people motivated. In some events, the change sponsor should be the one doing the recognizing.

5. Ongoing Progress Reports—Keep people informed via the company newsletters, group meetings, memos, e-mails, videos, and one-on-one informal conversations. The sponsor and project leader should meet periodically with the support group to discuss relevant issues.

6. Institutionalize—The changes need to be integrated into the company’s policies, procedures, and job descriptions. One consultant advises, “Make sure the infrastructure supports the new changes. That makes the change stick.” The boring and not-so-exciting actions, such as updating procedures and manuals makes the change become part of the company culture.

Implementing a major organizational change is hard work. The senior leader who’s sponsoring the change must understand the roles and responsibilities of the support group, the project manager as well as his/her own role in making the change happen. Leaders not only challenge the status quo they take steps to achieve a better future.

About the Author
Paul B. Thornton is a speaker and author. His latest books include: Big Leadership Ideas (Foremost Press and The Big Three Management Styles (Multi-Media Publications His e-mail address is

Thursday, January 22, 2009

18 Financial Terms Every Leader Needs to Know

There are hundreds of finance and accounting concepts, formulas, methods, and terms, most of which the majority of leaders will never need to learn. That’s why we have our friendly neighborhood finance and accounting professionals.

However, there are a few critical financial terms that most leaders need to at least be able to define, better yet, have a basic working knowledge.
That way, the next time you boldly proclaim that your project will have an “awesome ROI”, and some smart alec says “oh really, can you show us your analysis”, you won’t run from the room in tears.

Why not give your finance/accounting person a call, and offer to buy them lunch in exchange for a free tutorial?

Take a pad or tablet, and ask them about a few of the following terms. Go ahead, you'll have a hoot!
If you already know at least 50% of them, then you can test out, and you get an invitation to the table!

1. Accruals. An amount incurred as an expense in a given accounting period—but not paid by the end of that period. An example would be the electricity bill for a given quarter.

2. Allocation. The process of spreading costs from one expense category to several others, typically based on usage. For example, such corporate overhead expenses as rent and utilities may be charged to departmental units based on square feet.

3. Amortized expenses. The costs for assets such as buildings and computers, which are depreciated (expensed) over time to reflect their usable life.

4. Cost/benefit analysis. A form of analysis that evaluates whether, over a given time frame, the benefits of the new investment, or the new business opportunity, outweigh the associated costs.

5. Direct vs. indirect costs. Costs that are directly attributable to the manufacture of a product—for example, the cost of plastic for a bottling company. Direct costs vary in direct proportion to the number of units produced. Indirect costs cannot be directly attributed to a particular product—for example, the cost of machines that are used in the production of more than one product.

6. Earnings per share (EPS). One of the most commonly watched indicators of a company’s financial performance, it equals net income divided by the number of shares outstanding. When EPS falls, it usually takes the stock’s price down with it.

7. Fixed assets. Assets that are difficult to convert to cash—for example, buildings, and equipment. Sometimes called plant assets.

8. Gross margin. A ratio that measures the percentage of gross profit relative to sales revenue.

9. Gross profit. The sum left over after all direct product expenses or costs of goods sold have been subtracted from revenues.

10. Hurdle rate. The rate of return on investment dollars required for a project to be worthwhile. It is typically a higher rate of return than what would have been obtained by investing the capital in low- or moderate-risk financial instruments.

11. Net present value (NPV). The economic value of an investment, calculated by subtracting the cost of the investment from the present value of the investment’s future earnings. Because of the time value of money, the investment’s future earnings must be discounted in order to be expressed accurately in today’s dollars.

12. Operating expenses. Expenses that occur in operating a business, for example: administrative employee salaries, rents, sales and marketing costs, as well as other costs of business not directly attributed to manufacturing a product.

13. Payback period. The length of time needed to recoup the cost of a capital investment; the time that transpires before an investment pays for itself.

14. Productivity measures. Indicators such as sales-per-employee and net-income-per-employee, which link revenue and profit generation information to work force data, thereby providing a picture of employees’ effectiveness in producing sales and income.

15. Return on investment (ROI). A financial ratio measuring the cash return from an investment relative to its cost.

16. Sunk costs. Prior investment that cannot be affected by current decisions, and thus should not be factored into the calculation of the profitability of an initiative.

17. Time value of money. The principle that a dollar received today is worth more than a dollar received at a given point in the future. Even without the effects of inflation, the dollar received today would be worth more because it could be invested immediately, thereby earning additional revenue.

18. Variable costs. Costs that are incurred in relation to sales volume; examples include the cost of materials and sales commissions.

Congratulations, you made it to the end! As a reward, here's a joke you can tell your new friend:
What's an extroverted accountant? One who looks at your shoes while he's talking to you instead of his own.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Help, My New Manager and I Have Different Leadership Styles!

I received this question from a reader after I wrote a post about different leadership styles:

I manage a team of Millennials in a very fast paced Marketing/Communications firm. So as you can imagine the atmosphere tends to be a little more creative, fun and relaxed. A new VP was recently brought in over my department who, in my opinion, has a very “old school” approach to managing people and setting expectations. He has a very “coercive” approach to managing, which differs greatly from my “coaching” style. I’ve provided him articles and research on managing Millennials in the hope that he may see there are other considerations that are more important than “must be here at 7:55 am, not 8:00 am” in order to make the best use of the talent and contributions these individuals can make to our organization. His response to everything he read is it is in line with what he is currently doing and frankly he thinks there is nothing wrong with challenging them to come around to his way of thinking. Anyway, I am challenged to take his demands and integrate them into the department in an effective and productive way. Two questions for you really…any advice for dealing with him and our differing styles? And any advice on how to make the two worlds come together?

It’s always a challenge giving advice when you’re only getting one side of a story. So in the absence of hearing the VP’s side of the story, I’m going to make up what he might have wrote:

I’m the new VP in charge of a Marketing/Communications firm, having been brought in to turn around an underperforming, yet promising firm. I’m challenged by one of the departments I’m responsible for. One issue, amongst many, is the lack of performance standards, discipline, and professionalism. For example, the manager in charge of this team seems to think it’s OK for some of her employees to come and go as they please. She doesn’t understand that those that arrive early resent those that stroll in whenever they want. The other managers have made a few comments about this as well.
I’ve tried to talk to her about it, and her response has been to try to “educate me” about how to manage Millennials. She keeps leaving articles and research on my desk, hoping that I’ll come around to her way of seeing things.
I’m trying to challenge these employees to come around to MY way of thinking, but I’m not getting much support from her, and it’s very apparent to them that we don’t see eye to eye.
I’m challenged to change the culture of this department, and my patience is wearing out with this manager. Any advice on how to deal with this situation and this manager?

So my first piece of advice is to put yourself in his shoes, and be open to the possibility that you may be presenting as much as a challenge to him as he’s presenting to you.

This may or may not be true, who knows. But here’s what I do know: When a new VP is brought in, it’s usually because there’s a need for change.

He’s going to come in with ideas on how to do things that you and your employees may not agree with. He’s looking for you and the rest of the management team to be open to his new ideas and support him. Your job is to help your employees adapt to and accept these changes and be successful.
(Take a look at a post I wrote called 10 Ways to Get Off on the Right Foot with Your New Manager.)

Crucial conversations
Let’s assume that you’ve already done all of this, and you’re still not seeing eye to eye.

When opinions vary, stakes are high, and emotions run strong, then I’d highly recommend buying and reading the book “Crucial Conversations, Tools for Talking when Stakes are High”.

It will give you a powerful, seven-step approach to handling difficult conversations with confidence and skill. The techniques are geared toward getting people to lower their defenses, creating mutual respect and understanding, increasing emotional safety, and encouraging freedom of expression.

I’ve read the book several times, have taken the training that goes with it, and have used the skills successfully at work and home. It wouldn’t serve you well for me to summarize the steps in this article- you really need to read the entire book.

Then have that talk with your VP.

Good luck!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Great Hero and Leader: Chesley Sullenberger

Wow, what a story. If you haven’t heard by now, and for the benefit of my non-U.S. readers, here’s a summary:

A US Airways pilot ditched his disabled jetliner into the frigid Hudson River on Thursday afternoon after a collision with a flock of birds apparently knocked out both engines, but rescuers pulled all 155 people on board into boats as the plane sank.
For the first time in 50 years of commercial jet flight, the pilots of US Airways Flight 1549 successfully executed one of the most technically challenging maneuvers, landing a jetliner on water without fatalities.

That pilot is Chesley Sullenberger. He’s being hailed as a great hero, but he’s also great leader.

Here are a few excerpts from various sources that speak to his leadership:

"Brace for impact," he warned the passengers before ditching the plane, a voice of lone calm in the seconds before they crashed.

Sullenberger wasn't done once his plane was down. He undid his safety belt and walked the length of the plane to make sure all the passengers were safely outside, Mayor Bloomberg said.

Once finished, Sullenberger turned around and made a second pass as the plane steadily took on water – and only then did he finally exit.

As the cabin took on water, Sullenberger climbed out of the jet only after the four other crew members and 150 passengers made their orderly exit. When he reached a raft, someone on a ferry tossed him a knife, and he cut away the tether to the jet.

One by one, the passengers were plucked to safety from the rafts, Hood and Sullenberger the last ones left. The passenger insisted the pilot get off first, but Sullenberger refused. He had been the last off the plane, and he would be the last off the raft.

A family friend Jim Walberg said being called a hero isn't likely to please Sullenberger.
"Sure, he's a hero, but he's also a humble man," said Walberg. "'Hero' isn't a name he'll take to very easily."

One of the first rescuers on the scene said Sullenberger seemed impervious to the chaos around him.
"He looked absolutely immaculate," the rescuer said. "He looked like David Niven in an airplane uniform. He looked unruffled. His uniform was sharp. You could see him walking down the aisles making sure everybody got out."

You can see elements of great leadership woven into his resume, along with his impeccable technical skill and experience:

Bottom-line driven manager supported by progressively responsible experience across 40+ years in the aviation industry. Possess in-depth understanding of aviation operations acquired through real world flight experience, professional training and leadership roles with one of world’s leading airlines. History of achievement in safety, innovation, crew training, operational improvement, cost savings, productivity improvement and customer service; proven ability to maximize crew performance and flight safety. Combine strong industry knowledge and business leadership skills to consistently manage complex scheduling, lead high-performance, motivated teams and implement efficient processes that ensure smooth operations and quality customer service. Strong communicator, effective negotiator and motivational team builder; able to effectively communicate needs and merge disparate teams in the support of market objectives. Respected for wide range of industry knowledge, solid sense of integrity and demonstrated passion for industry as a whole as evidenced by lifelong career of flying.

A few hours ago, I wrote a post about the importance of leadership for technical skills. When it comes to what’s important in a pilot, I think I’ll take both. I want Chesley Sullenberger flying my plane.

And a few days ago I wrote that there are great leaders all around us, we just have to look. I think we found one.

In fact, I’d like to nominate Chesley Sullenberger for the next Senator of New York.

Help Wanted: Great Leader. No Technical Experience Needed?

Who would you rather have for a manager:

A: Someone who has great leadership skills, but knows little about your specific work or…

B: Someone with tons of experience and skill in your work, but with only so-so leadership skills?

Ah, you say, it’s a trick question. The right answer is C: both, right?

Well sure, the ideal manager, or even CEO, brings the complete package to the table: functional, industry, leadership skills, diversity, and nice hair. However, we all know that those perfect candidates are hard to find and rarely exist.

The “leadership vs. technical” skills debate is not a new one, but it’s been in the news a lot lately. The issue was raised during the recent U.S. presidential elections, both with Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. Leon Panetta and Sanjay Gupta are two more names that have been criticized for a lack of technical experience.

Donna Bear from i4cp, just wrote an interesting article on the debate in this month’s i4cp Trendwatcher. She points to two recent examples (Microsoft and LinkedIn) of CEOs who appointed HR executives with no HR experience.

She goes on to ask some rather interesting questions:

“Why is it deemed perfectly acceptable to place someone with no related experience in HR but not in other functions? Does it reinforce a perception that "HR" equals "people-related" and, therefore, any executive should be able to handle it? Or does it prove that HR is an ideal training ground for executive talent?Some may feel that the idea of placing a generalist executive in HR is a dismissive statement about the necessity or value of HR expertise. Why not place a charismatic, trustworthy, intelligent thinker with no financial experience in a CFO position? Would a proven leader with these attributes but no direct manufacturing experience be a viable candidate for the VP of manufacturing? Those with this viewpoint might hold that this is just another slam to the HR profession: "Come head up HR ... no experience necessary."

Well, actually, yes, I’ve seen lot’s of examples of successful manufacturing, marketing, engineering, and HR executives with little or no technical experience (I admit, though, I’ve never heard of a successful CFO with no finance background).

LinkedIn’s CEO Dan Nye, in explaining his decision to hire an HR novice said, “…when it comes to people, I always put a premium on people who are incredibly bright who demonstrate strong leadership skills, and where they have strong critical thinking skills and really strong communication skills. I will always put a premium on that over functional experience.”

Scott Eblin, executive coach extraordinaire, and author of the book “The Next Level”, says it best, in a recent post where he talks about the selection of Carol Bartz as the new CEO of Yahoo, and Cisco’s John Chamber’s endorsement of her selection:
“What leaders like Chambers and Bartz understand is that the bigger the job, the more it’s about leadership and the less it’s about long term technical knowledge.”

Scott uses the following chart to illustrate the ratio of leadership vs. technical skills needed based on position:

Scott’s model makes a lot of sense. He’s also had a lot of first hand experience in coaching executives that are struggling, and it’s rarely a lack of technical skills that get them it trouble.

I’m sure we can all think of exceptions to this rule. I’ve already mentioned finance. HR colleagues in the motion picture industry have told me that it is so heavily dependant on relationships that it’s difficult to be successful without industry experience. I’m sure there’s many more. The problem is, while we all may agree that in higher level positions, leadership outweighs technical, we all think our situation is the exception. I see it all the time in the succession planning work I do, as I often run into resistance in trying to broker cross-functional development moves.

I know where I stand, and it’s based on one of my worst management mistakes ever. Years ago, I was hiring a trainer. I had two strong candidates. Candidate A had years or experience at different companies, a master’s degree, and all the right technical qualifications. There was something about her that didn’t sit well with me, and there was a report of her losing her temper and swearing at a trainee recently.
Candidate B was likable, respected by everyone, had chemistry with my team, and seemed to have unlimited potential. She only has an associate’s degree with little technical experience.
You can guess how this story ended – I made the wrong choice and hired A. She ended up swearing at me, and my manager, and finally quit before I could fire her. B went on to become a department head.

How about you: who would you rather have as a manager or leading your organization: the great leader or the technical expert?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

10 Leadership Styles

Do you always lead with a style that’s most comfortable for you, or can you adapt your natural style to meet the need of a given situation?

Here are two ways to classify leadership styles, and 10 different styles:

The Situational Leadership model uses a 4 box grid based on the amount of direction and support an employee needs. The four styles are:

Directing Leaders define the roles and tasks of the 'follower', and supervise them closely. Decisions are made by the leader and announced, so communication is largely one-way.

Coaching Leaders still define roles and tasks, but seeks ideas and suggestions from the follower. Decisions remain the leader's prerogative, but communication is much more two-way.

Supporting Leaders pass day-to-day decisions, such as task allocation and processes, to the follower. The leader facilitates and takes part in decisions, but control is with the follower.

Delegating Leaders are still involved in decisions and problem-solving, but control is with the follower. The follower decides when and how the leader will be involved.

Another approach categorizes styles according to emotional intelligence competencies, some of which work better than others in specific situations. These styles are:

Coercive: This “Do what I say” style demands immediate compliance. It is especially useful in turnaround situations, in a crisis, and with problem employees. However, using this style inhibits your organization’s flexibility and can dampen employee motivation.

This style mobilizes people toward a vision. Specifically, it provides an overarching goal, but gives others the freedom to choose their own way of reaching it. This approach is most effective when a business is at sea and needs direction, or during an economic or business downturn. This style is less successful when the leader is working with a team of experts who may have more experience—and may disagree with his approach.

This “people-first” style engenders the creation of emotional bonds and team harmony. It is best used when team coherence is important or in times of low employee morale. But this approach’s focus on praise may permit poor performance among employees to continue unchecked, and employees may lack a sense of overall direction. The downside of this style, however, is that it may result in indecision, and some people may be left feeling confused and leaderless.

Democratic: This style builds consensus through participation. It is most appropriate when organizational flexibility and a sense of individual responsibility is needed. The downside of this style, however, is that it may result in indecision, and some people may be left feeling confused and leaderless.

Pacesetting: This style expects excellence and self-direction. It works best for highly skilled and motivated people who work well on their own. Other people, however, may feel overwhelmed by a pacesetting leader’s demands for excellence. Their self-esteem, trust, and, ultimately, their morale may drop under the regime of this type of leader.

Coaching: This style focuses on personal development. Coaching leaders help people identify their strengths and weaknesses, and tie them to their career aspirations. While this style is highly successful with people who want to change or improve professionally, it is largely unsuccessful with those who are resistant to learning or changing their ways.

While some styles may be more comfortable for you to adopt than others, the more you stretch yourself to learn a range of styles, the more effective you will be as a leader.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Where Have All the Leaders Gone? Open Your Eyes, They’re All Around Us!

It’s become very stylish these days to write about the appalling “lack of leadership”, especially during these challenging times. This is understandable - when the going gets tough, we often point the finger upwards and blame it on “them”. You sometimes see this with sports teams that are struggling and under the pressure of losing; they often then turn on their coaches.

Lee Iacocca wrote a bestselling book a couple years ago, “Where Have All the Leaders Gone”, where he “sounds a howl of anger against the sad state of leadership in the U.S. today. Iacocca starts with a rundown of sins committed by George W. Bush and his administration, and then moves on to criticize the American auto industry… Along the way, Iacocca rails against the lack of leadership in vital national concerns such as health care, open markets and energy policy.”

The Washington Post is running a poll to select the best leader of 2008. One of the panelists, Fast Company’s Editor Alan Webber, picked “No one”. He had this to say: “Let's face it: 2008 was a year of utter leader-less-ness.”

Last Boss’s Day, I ran a “Best Boss Contest”, in an attempt to give away two free books. I got ONE nomination. In other free book contests, I’ve received over 20 entries.

I could go on and on. Boss bashing has become a national sport and makes great blog fodder. The mainstream media often focuses on the negative, so it’s no surprise that leaders are being gang tackled by the press each day. I’m guilty too… after suffering through watching the Big 3 bailout senate hearings, I went on my own CEO bashing rant.

In reality, there ARE leaders all around us. You just have to open your eyes and look for them. I’m not talking about the rock star CEOs, or prominent politicians at the highest levels. I’m talking about those grass-roots, every day supervisors, managers, platoon leaders, precinct leaders, town supervisors, team captains, little league coaches, scout leaders, church committee leaders, and small business owners and entrepreneurs. These are the leaders that really make the world go around. They work hard, care about their people, inspire, motivate, coach, and are role models for the rest of us.

Do these people really exist? In my work, having been responsible for leadership development at three different companies, I see and hear about them every day. It’s a common practice for leaders to take “360 degree” assessments, where they collect feedback from their manager, direct reports, and peers. I’ve had access to thousands of these reports, and while I see my share of train wrecks, most of them are pretty favorable.

Here’s a completely random sampling of comments from my 360 assessment files (the names of been changed to protect the innocent):

“Bill is very motivational and inspirational. He has more passion and energy than anyone I know. He leads by example. He sets the bar for passion, success, and motivation. He does a great job at giving recognition to motivate and reinforce good behavior. He provides clear direction and goals, and helps you develop to achieve them.”

“Amy is very ethical and has a great work ethic. We’re lucky to have her as a leader. She is one of the strongest leaders I have ever met. She is a great coach and mentor. She creates a team environment in which all team members want to work together to achieve our goals.”

Patty is a great listener. She helps me identify my areas for improvement and helps me come up with strategies for success. She’s a positive leader; she encourages me by being passionate about what we do. She believes I can do anything and is supportive of the work I do. She is always available and willing to help. She sets high, yet realistic expectations.”

“Bill is a true leader who makes everyone around him elevate their game. I am blessed to get to work with him.”

“Mandy leads by example. She is in the field as much as possible and gives constructive feedback when needed. She motivates the team to reach above and beyond our goals.”

“Don is an excellent leader, he leads by example. He shows patience and has a great ability to really listen to his employees. He gets honest feedback from doing this.”

“Al is a calm and steady leader, a great presence in hard times. I have never seen a manager demonstrate such high leadership values. He is great at motivating and leading.”

“Sam’s energy and commitment to results makes anything we want to achieve doable. He articulates his vision, and our goals and strategies, and holds us accountable. He’s a superb communicator and motivator with an enthusiastic presence.”

“Jody genuinely cares about her people and makes you want to go out and win for her. Her passion is unparalleled and she transfers that passion to the people she managers. She’s willing to anything to help us get better and succeed. She’s a true leader and makes everyone feel they have something to contribute and achieve.”

“Jack’s greatest strength is his ability to make those around him feel important. He shows a genuine desire to make those around him better. He does a great job in coaching and helping those who work for him develop.”

“Jerry establishes a sense of purpose and unity within our team. He’s a fantastic leader; a go to person, and someone I trust and admire. I can only hope to emulate what he has created here and look forward to working for him for many years to come.”

These quotes aren’t about anybody famous. In fact, you’ll probably never hear about any of them (unless you work with them). But they all make a difference in the lives of their employees and are responsible for the success of their organizations.

And by the way – the average age of these respondents is 24. So much for another piece of popular conventional wisdom - that managers don’t know how to lead generation Y. There’s nothing in these comments that suggests gen Y employees are looking for anything unique; they just want to be appreciated, motivated, inspired, coached, and developed. Sounds like good old leadership to me.

I’m inspired when I read these comments and it makes me want to work harder to improve my leadership skills. How about you? While it’s easier (and more fun) to complain about the lack of leadership, what are you doing to become a better leader yourself?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The January Leadership Development Carnival

Welcome to the January edition of the Leadership Development Carnival!

The theme of this month's carnival is self-improvement. January is the month we set goals, make resolutions, and look for ways to better ourselves as leaders.
This month's Carnival offers 28 articles on how to become a better leader, be more successful, learn more, and other valuable ideas that will help get the year started off on the right track.
Thanks to all of the contributors!

Featured Posts:

Assessments can provide really useful information. But the real payoff comes from the conversations surrounding them. Steve Roesler presents Are You Using Professional Assessments Professionally? posted at All Things Workplace.

Mike King presents Want More Influence? Give to Others First posted at Learn This.

Chris Young presents Succession Planning is a Fiduciary Responsibility posted at Maximize Possibility Blog.

Shawn M. Driscoll presents Career Portfolio Planning: Your Key to Long Term Success posted at Shawn Driscoll.

Executive education programs are getting better at marketing. They've learned that executives will sign up for fancy tours masquerading as education. When the program is done, everyone will claim that it was beneficial, even though no one bothers to prove it. Wally Bock presents Executive education boondoggles posted at Three Star Leadership Blog.

Mark Stelzner presents 2009 Predictions - HR And The Year Of The Ox posted at Inflexion Point.

It’s fair to say that there are some leaders who we all just must follow. It's almost as if they have “leadership pheromones” - or some type of chemical that elicits a natural response to follow them. Nina Simosko presents Leadership Pheromones posted at Nina Simosko.

Jack Hayhow describes how to care for employees in this 9 minute "Management Tips" podcast:
Nick McCormick presents Caring for Employees, with Jack Hayhow posted at Joe and Wanda on Management.

Michael Ray Hopkins gives us his take on Self Improvement from Lead on Purpose.

GROW is a simple coaching technique that every manager should know about. Chris Morgan presents More Line Manger tips: GROW - A model for coaching posted at Learn2Develop - Thoughts from the World of Learning and Development.

Erik Samdahl presents Leadership, Culture and Crisis: A Real-Life Simulation - i4cp posted at Productivity Blog.

Jerry Roberts presents What Assembling a Christmas Gift Can Teach Us About Helping Workers Succeed posted at CareerJolt.

Anna Farmery presents A New Year Thought posted at The Engaging Brand.

Meg Bear presents Pondering Greatness and deliberate practice posted at TalentedApps, a
recap of the Charlie Rose interview with Macolm Gladwell ("Outliers") and Geoff Colvin ("Talent is Overrated"), focusing on quantity of practice vs. *deliberate* practice (i.e. perfecting your craft.)

Jim Stroup presents Gaming capitalism posted at Managing Leadership. Capitalism has gotten a bad rap from the recent financial crisis and the response of CEOs. Many of them shamelessly seek government bailouts to be administered by themselves, whose previous performance contributed to the crisis. Thus, modern corporate capitalism is viewed as stealing from the rest of us coming and going – at first through predatory commercialism while money is available, and then through expropriation of our tax dollars when things inevitably, as matters so administered are wont to do, go bad. As we all know, though, capitalism is not about what CEOs do to us. It’s about what we all do to ourselves and each other.

The Best of the Rest:

American Entrepreneurship presents Understanding the Functions of Management posted at American Small Business News.

Allen Loomis presents The Secret of The Law of Attraction from Napoleon hill posted at The Law of Success.

Recent political scandals - including those involving ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich - awaken us to the dangers posed when sociopaths or those with serious personality disorders use their charm and persuasion to attain positions of leadership. Howard Ditkoff presents Publicizing The Threat of Personality Disorders Among Those in Positions of Power posted at Blog.

Trisha Wagner presents For Best Results: Use When Ready posted at Empowering Mom.

Srini Saripalli presents Information Marketing Business in A Distressed Economy: 5 Predictions posted at Internet Marketing Information Marketing Blog Marketing Business Success.

Syed Hus presents 3 Strategies to Overcome Procrastination posted at Powerful Living.

Ralph Jean-Paul presents Keep Your New Year's Resolutions posted at Potential 2 Success.

Shaun Killian presents Why Slashing Your Training Budget Can Be A Good Thing posted at HR Thought Leaders's Blog.

Do you remember your first presentation? Were you nervous, scared? Let Andy Rondeau share an easy to use tip in this 'mad' video which will improve your Public speaking...
Great Management presents A Simple Easy To Use Tip To Improve Public Speaking posted at Great Management.

Brian Terry presents Create Your Elevator Speech posted at Integrity Business Blog by Terry Dean.

Alvos presents Motivate your workers – Drop the whip! posted at

Do you want to be a successful executive? Fulfill these two requirements and Isaac will guarantee your success in every field you want. Isaac Yassar presents 2 Requirements Of Definite Success posted at Isaac Yassar .com.

Alvaro Fernandez presents The Overflowing Brain: Most Important Book of 2008 posted at Sharp Brains. Given the importance of the topic, and the quality of the book, we have named The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory The SharpBrains Most Important Book of 2008, and asked Dr. Klingberg to write a brief article to introduce his research and book to you.
The next Leadership Development Carnival will be February 8th. Please use the Carnival submission form located on the sidebar if you'd like to submit an article by February 7th. Here's the rules:
The Leadership Development Carnival accepts posts related to leadership, management, and executive development, leadership, management, coaching, human resources, succession planning, and organizational development. Irrelevant posts will be automatically rejected. Please include a post on your own site promoting the Carnival with a link back. Please submit only one recent (last 2 weeks) post along with a brief (1 line) description.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Action Learning and the Grow Model for Coaching

I have a notepad with a running list of post ideas, so when I can’t seem to find inspiration for a post, I can fall back to the list.

Two of the topics on my list have been:

1. How to Design an Action Learning Program….


2. The GROW Model for Coaching

As with just about any blogging topic, chances are, someone’s probably already written about it. That usually doesn’t stop me, but in the case of these two topics, I’ve got to defer to Chris Morgan, who writes an outstanding learning and development blog called Learn2Develop. Just about everything Chris puts out there is extremely useful and technically spot on every time. It's a great reference source for managers, training professionals, and HR pros.

Here’s a three part series of posts Chris wrote on action learning that’s as good as anything I’ve seen on the topic, and written in plain language (which is another thing I like about his writing):

1. Ride the Credit Crunch with Action Learning

2. Action Learning… Part 2

3. Action Learning – the Final Part

I’m a big proponent of action learning, because it’s not only an effective way to engage managers in relevant learning, there’s often a nice ROI from the project work that the participants produce.

I’m sure there’s hundreds of coaching models out there, but the one that seems to be the most universally used, and works best for me and others I’ve worked with, is the GROW model.

GROW stands for:
- Goals
- Reality
- Options
- What Next

Chris just published a post that provides a nice explanation and picture of the model, as well as links to three others sites to learn more about the model.

Thanks Chris, I’ll cross these two topics off the list!