Sunday, February 27, 2011

A New Career Opportunity!

If you’re wondering why I haven’t been posting very frequently lately, I’ve been a little distracted.

A couple weeks ago I started a new job. On 2/14, I became the new Director of Executive Development Programs at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore School of Business and Economics (WSBE).

Here's a link to the press release.

With our two daughters in college, this opportunity allows my wife and me a chance to pursue our goal of moving to the seacoast area of New England. UNH is located in Durham, New Hampshire, about 30 minutes from the ocean and Portsmouth, NH, 60 minutes north of Boston, 60 minutes south of Portland, Maine, and about 30 minutes from the mountains. We’ve vacationed in this area for years, and it’s our favorite part of the world. We're in the process of selling our home in upstate NY, and looking for a new one in the Seacoast area.

I'll be responsible for marketing and managing custom executive development programs. Basically, I'll be working with clients to determine their needs, and then collaborate with WSBE faculty and external partners to develop and deliver high-impact learning experiences. We can deliver programs at the client’s site, or at our partner conference facility in downtown Portsmouth, NH.

My last position was Manager of Leadership & Management Development at Paychex, Inc, a $2 billion payroll and HR outsourcing company. As you can imagine, much of what I wrote about was based on my work at Paychex, as well as previous companies. For example, a recent post about “Passing the Leadership Baton” was written as I was working on my own transition.

This new opportunity should now give me plenty of new blog material. I hope to have guest posts from some of our staff and professors and lot’s of new insights, learnings, and fresh leadership development advice.

It will be an exciting new career transition for me.... a chance to keep doing what I love to do, while at the same time practice what I preach and branch out in some entirely new directions in order to learn and develop.

At some point, I'll probably even do a little succession planning and leadership development consulting on my own; maybe even finish that e-book I've been working on.

I don't anticipate any major changes for Great Leadership. I'll still maintain ownership of it and post as often as I can. One small difference is I’ll now be public about where I work, although the opinions expressed will be my own and not UNH’s.

I’m so jazzed about all of this, and am pleased to finally share it with all of my readers.

So…… in the spirit of social networking, here are my top 10 questions for Great Leadership subscribers and readers:

1. Where are the best restaurants in the seacoast area (you can see where my priorities are)? Who makes the best "chowda"? Best lobster roll? Best "woopie pies"? Can I still get an good order of chicken wings?

2. Do you have any tips for successfully transitioning from industry to academia?

3. How about from being a "buyer" to a "seller" of leadership development/training programs?

4. Tips on succeeding in a new job in general?

5. Do anyone have any contacts in the New England area? Potential clients, suppliers, partners, or other networking opportunities? Email me at Daniel dot mccarthy at unh dot edu or LinkedIn.

6. Is it hard to learn to surf? Or should I stick with boogie boarding?

7. Any home selling or buying advice? We've already buried the Saint Joseph statue.

8. Any tips for settling into a new community?

9. What's the most important thing you look for in a university-based executive development program, or any leadership/management development program?

10. Is  it possible  to remain a Buffalo Bills fan in the heart of Patriot's country? Should I remain loyal to a losing franchise, or jump ship?

Thanks for your continued support, and I look forward to your advice and hearing from you!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

3 Simple Presentation Tips for Leaders

While there are hundreds of definitions of leadership, most would agree that one of the important characteristics of a great leader is the ability to inspire others to change.

Unfortunately, some leaders seem to lose sight of that objective when they have the opportunity to speak to an audience. Here's some simple yet impactful presentation skills advice from frequent Great Leadership guest blogger Paul Thornton that will help a leader inspire their audience to take action.

Keep It Simple
By Paul B. Thornton

Some leaders miss the mark when presenting their message for the following reasons:

1. Providing too much detail.
Big ideas are buried in the presentation. Effective leaders make their big ideas stand out. They remove the clutter. They eliminate the things of little value to their message. Impactful speakers make their message concise—as long as necessary, as short as possible.

Suzanne Bates, author of Speak Like a CEO, Secrets for Commanding Attention and Getting Results (McGraw Hill 2005) states, “Every speech, presentation, or communication needs one big idea. Without big ideas, you’re just another speaker. A big idea has a life of its own.” Suzanne makes the point that a big idea doesn’t require a two-hour speech. It’s big because of its power to change and transform people and organizations.

What’s your big idea?

2. Not identifying actionable steps for people to take.
The best leaders describe one or more actionable steps people can take. If people are left with no specific actions to take, guess what, they keep doing what they have always done. It’s business as usual.

It’s said that Abraham Lincoln often slipped out of the White House on Wednesday evenings to listen to the sermons of Dr. Finnes Gurley at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. After one sermon, an aide asked President Lincoln for his evaluation of the sermon. The President thoughtfully replied, “The content was excellent; he delivered with elegance; he obviously put work into the message.” “Then you thought it was an excellent sermon?” questioned the aide. “No,” Lincoln answered. “Dr. Gurley forgot the most important ingredient. He forgot to ask us to do something great.”

What actions do you want the audience to take?

3. Not convincing people to take action.
Impactful leaders make the sale. They present the facts, arguments, and emotional appeals that convince people to take action. They explain what’s in it for the audience and why it’s important to take action now. In some cases the leader needs to explain the negative consequences of not taking action. The most effective presenters deliver their message with great passion and conviction which helps seal the deal.

Have you convinced the audience?

The challenge for all leaders is to:

 Make their big ideas crystal clear

 Identify actionable steps

 Convince people it’s the right thing to do

About the author:
Paul B. Thornton is an author, speaker, and trainer. He teaches management and leadership courses at several colleges. His latest book, Leadership - Off the Wall, highlights the guiding principles some well-known CEOs and presidents keep on their desks or post on their office walls.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Training Reveals Rankings for 2011 Top 125

Reprinted with permission from Training magazine, Lakewood Media Group. Copyright January 2011.

Congratulations to all of the winners! Especially to the awesome team at Paychex - you guys rock!
2011 Top 125 Organizations Excel at Employee Development

Excelsior, MN (February 8, 2011)—The insurance industry was a big winner this year, as Farmers Insurance and The Economical Insurance Group claimed the top two spots on the 2011 Training Top 125. Training magazine recognized the 2011 Training Top 125 winners with crystal awards and revealed their rankings during a black-tie gala held last night during the Training 2011 Conference & Expo at the San Diego Convention Center. Themed “The Crystal Ball,” the gala was sponsored by Ashford University, Franklin Covey, Harvard Business Publishing, KnowledgeAdvisors, Orrefors/KostaBoda, and Turning Technologies.

Now in its 11th year, the Training Top 125 is the only report that ranks companies unsurpassed in harnessing human capital. Some statistics of note:

• The median revenue among applicants was $1.2 billion. The median training budget was $4.9 million, representing 2.9 percent of payroll.

• The median number of employees trained per organization was nearly 6,000, with 3,500 trained online via self-study.

• Some 96 percent of applicants have a technological infrastructure to support the delivery and management of training.

• The median rate of turnover was 11.5 percent, and the median length of service was 7.2 years.

• Internal candidates filled a median of 37 percent of job openings, while employees referred a median 22 percent of new hires.

• Some 93 percent used employee satisfaction surveys, while 56 percent tied managers’ compensation to the development of their direct reports.

• Some 98 percent used competency maps and personal/individual development plans.

During the gala, Training inducted two companies into the Top 10 Hall of Fame. Three-time No. 1 winner PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG LLP qualified for the honor by being in the Top 10 of Training’s Top 125 companies for at least four consecutive years. They will remain in the Hall of Fame for a period of no less than three years and no more than five years after which they may reapply for Top 125 awards consideration. PwC and KPMG’s induction created two opportunities for other Top 125 companies to move into the Top 10 in 2011 and beyond. This year, 27 newcomers cracked the Top 125 list.

Training also recognized the following Top 125 companies for receiving the highest scores in three application categories and overall qualitatively:

Top Training Programs/Scope Score
NCO Financial Systems, Inc.

Top Evaluation/Business Metric Score
SCC Soft Computer
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
Edward Jones

Top Human Resources Score

Top Qualitative Score
Farmers Insurance Group

In addition, yesterday afternoon, Training editors recognized innovative and successful learning and development programs and practices utilized by the Training Top 125 winners. Best Practice and Outstanding Training Initiative winners received crystal trophies during a ceremony on the Expo Stage. They were:

Best Practices
Automatic Data Processing, Inc.: Leaders In Action
Farmers Insurance Group: Reserve Business Builder & Career Development System
FedEx Express: Destination Success For All (SFA)/SFA Workshop
InterContinental Hotels Group: Leaders Lounge
Oakwood Temporary Housing: Hardwiring Sales Training for Business Results

Outstanding Training Initiatives
EMD Serono, Inc.: Virtual Preceptorship
Jiffy Lube International: Evaluation & Continuous Improvement Program
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.: Accel - Retail Bank Development Program
Quicken Loans: Quicken’s Got Talent
SCC Soft Computer: Office Support Department Mentoring Program

“Training Top 125 companies realize how vital training is to their success and continue to invest in it, even in trying times,” said Lorri Freifeld, editor-in-chief of Training magazine. “Equally important, though, they maintain a laser focus on tying training to the achievement of corporate strategic goals and making sure they have the results to prove it. Congratulations to all the companies named to the 2011 Training Top 125 and to the newest inductees to the Top 10 Hall of Fame.”

The Top 125 includes ranking based on myriad benchmarking statistics such as total training budget; percentage of payroll; number of training hours per employee program; goals, evaluation, measurement, and workplace surveys; hours of training per employee annually; and detailed formal programs.

The Top 125 ranking is determined by assessing a range of qualitative and quantitative factors, including financial investment in employee development, the scope of development programs, and how closely such development efforts are linked to business goals and objectives.

Companies that wish to be considered for Top 125 ranking complete a detailed application, which is scored both quantitatively by an outside research and statistical data company and qualitatively by Training magazine editors and Top 10 Hall of Fame representatives.

For a profile of each of the Top 5 companies on the Training Top 125, additional information about the training efforts of all 125 companies, and Top 125ers’ visions of training in the next five to 10 years, see the January/February 2011 issue. The digital edition and individual articles can be found online at

About Training magazine
Training is a 47-year-old professional development magazine written for training, human resources, and business management professionals in all industries that advocate training and workforce development as a business tool. Training also produces world-class conferences, expositions, and digital products that focus on job-related, employer-sponsored training and education in the working world. Training is published by Lakewood Media Group.

2011 Training Top 125 Winners
1. Farmers Insurance
2. The Economical Insurance Group
3. Verizon
4. SCC Soft Computer
5. The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.
6. EMC Corporation
7. United States Navy
8. Vanguard
9. Microsoft
10. CareSource
11. Edward Jones
12. Best Buy Co., Inc.
13. Shaw Industries, Inc.
14. Miami Children’s Hospital
15. Cerner Corporation
16. University of New Mexico Hospitals
17. Automatic Data Processing, Inc.
18. Mohawk Industries, Inc.
19. Chesterfield County, Virginia
20. BB&T Corporation
21. Intel Corp.
22. Aetna Inc.
23. Allied International Credit
24. McDonald's USA, LLC
25. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
26. Paychex, Inc.
27. Suffolk Construction Company, Inc.
28. AlliedBarton Security Services LLC
29. American Infrastructure
31. Quintiles Transnational Corp.
32. CarMax, Inc.
33. Jiffy Lube International
34. ESL Federal Credit Union
36. First Horizon National Corporation
37. Shape Corp
38. Wells Fargo & Company
39. Scotiabank Group
40. Miami Cerebral Palsy Residential Services, Inc.
41. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
42. SpawGlass
43. Navy Federal Credit Union
44. MetLife, Inc.
45. Western Summit Constructors, Inc.
46. ABF Freight System, Inc.
47. Keller Williams Realty
48. Healthways, Inc.
49. U.S. Security Associates, Inc.
50. SPIN, Inc.
51. ResMed
52. EMD Serono, Inc.
53. ISP/America’s Home for College Sports
54. Cartus Corporation
55. Baptist Health Care
56. Cianbro Corporation
57. Steelcase, Inc.
58. Bank of America
59. DaVita, Inc.
60. Coldwell Banker Real Estate
61. Healthpoint LTD
62. Buckman
63. Banner Health
64. NIIT (USA), Inc.
65. InterContinental Hotels Group
66. NCO Financial Systems, Inc.
67. VSP
68. Orkin, LLC.
69. Verity Credit Union
70. FedEx Express
71. Grant Thornton LLP
72. Baylor Health Care System
73. Windstream Communications
74. American Fidelity Assurance Company
75. G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc.
76. Loews Hotels
77. J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc
78. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM)
79. APC by Schneider Electric
80. Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.
81. MasterCard Worldwide
82. Choice Hotels International
83. CHG Healthcare Services
84. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
85. Vi
86. Century 21 Real Estate LLC
87. TD Bank
88. Wequassett Resort and Golf Club
89. William Osler Health System
90. Special Response Corporation
91. The Nebraska Medical Center
92. Tandus Flooring
93. Sanofi-aventis Pharmaceuticals
94. SuperMedia LLC
95. Gables Residential
96. CareerBuilder
97. Avanade
98. Scottrade
99. Oakwood Temporary Housing
100. Lam Research Corporation
101. LQ Management, LLC
102. Cbeyond
103. UPS
104. Perkins+Will
105. Morrison Management Specialists
106. IKON Office Solutions, Inc. a Ricoh Company
107. Western & Southern Life
108. Nevada Federal Credit Union
109. Discover Financial Services – Customer Service and Consumer Banking (CSCB)
110. White Lodging Services
111. NetApp
112. McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.
113. Quicken Loans
114. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division
115. Vistage International
116. WellSpan Health
117. University Health System
118. ValleyCrest Landscape Companies
119. AIT Laboratories
120. Sierra Nevada Corporation
121. Kendle International, Inc
122. Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Newport
123. Carilion Clinic
124. Union Sanitary District
125. AAA - The Auto Club Group

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Does “CEO Commitment” to Leadership Development Really Mean?

To: All CEOs and senior executives

From: Great Leadership

Subject: CEO commitment to leadership development.

You've recently learned that the biggest differentiator of companies that excel in succession planning and senior leadership development ("talent management" is the latest buzzword) is the commitment and ownership of the CEO or top executive.

I heard you candidly say recently: "OK, I'm committed all right, I'm just not sure what to do".

The good news, there IS something you can do. Lot's of things. The bad news is you could waste a lot time and money on low impact things. As you know, activity does not always produce results.

First of all, don't let anybody tell you that this stuff is easy and there are silver bullet solutions. ALL companies struggle with this challenge - some handle it better than others - maybe due to a little luck, but mostly because they pay attention to it. I'm a geek when it comes to benchmarking what other companies do - I look forward to the annual "Best Companies for Leaders" lists like movie critics do the academy awards. I then cold call their HR person and ask them what they are doing right.

I've also worked for a number of senior executives - and have experienced the differences between those that "get it" and those that don't. A lot of them only pay it lip service- a nice pretty book for the Board, but no results. However, I worked for a business unit president named Marty Coyne that was the best. Marty used to tell people he spent 75% of his time on talent management. I used to sit in on his talent review meetings, and if one of his execs showed up unprepared or had not followed up on an action items, it was painful for that poor exec. But they learned (he would count those kind of lessons in his 75%).

So.... what would I recommend that you do? Here are 10 that I believe would give you the best ROI. None of these involve spending much money, and you may already be doing many of them:

1. Focus on results and don't let the process be the tail wagging the dog.
Yes, it's important to do "the book" and make the Board happy - that's part of managing your board. However, I've seen way too many organizations get caught up in the process and lose sight of the results. Once the meeting is over, the book gets set aside and nothing happens until the next year. VPs and senior managers soon catch on that it's nothing but an exercise, and focus on "looking good instead of being good".
This doesn't mean the annual CEO and Board reviews are not important - it's been my experience that if you don't do this, then nothing happens. Events, like annual check-ups, force things to happen that otherwise get pushed aside because they are not urgent.
You of all people know how to do this really well. Treat it like just client satisfaction or revenue and insist that your HR team provide you with world-class processes and tools.

2. Make sure your HR VP that knows how to do this.
Your HR partner not only needs to know all of the best practices and processes, but they have to have the ability to influence and be trusted by the executive team, as well as be your own trusted advisor on talent. It's a tough balance - they may be coaching a struggling VP one day, and recommending to you the same VP be replaced the next day. They have to be able to play match-maker and broker job changes, and manage all of the ego and politics involved.

3. Practice what you preach.
Here's a good article by Marshall Goldsmith - it's about being public about your own development as a CEO. I've seen you do this already - you've always been pretty humble.
Then, work with your executives on their own development. Coach them, give them feedback, develop IDPs with them. Support their development.
Your actions are powerful, more now than ever before - if you do it, they are more likely to do it with their reports and the behavior cascades down through the organization. If you don't then the opposite occurs.

4. Understand how executives really develop.
Think back on your own career - where and how did you learn your most valuable lessons? It was probably
1. New jobs
2. Challenging assignments
3. From other people (good and bad bosses, a coach, mentors, etc...)
4. Courses, books, articles, other
Too many companies spend too much time on #4 - it's not only the least effective, it's lazy. The top companies understand it's all about learning through experience. When you think about it, it's a sunk cost – you might as well leverage it. Don’t get me wrong – courses can be effective, when they are designed in ways that incorporate #2, #3, and #4.

5. Be the CTB (Chief Talent Broker).
We all understand the challenges of cross-functional movement. Well, maybe these are just excuses. ALL the best companies at executive development do this. They intentionally move their HIPOs from job to job to get them ready for bigger jobs.
If you leave it up to your executive team - it won't happen. It's not in their best interests. The CEO is the only one (other than the HR VP) that's looking at executive development from a "what's best for the company", long range perspective. They won't do it - or even see value in it - unless you establish it as an expectation and "encourage" them to give up their top talent and be willing to accept (and develop) "unlikely" developmental candidates. I know, you can't do too many of these at any one time. They have to be phased in and out and managed. You can at least start with one.

6. Spend time assessing talent.
Again, you're pretty good at this already. It's about regular talent reviews, formal assessments, meeting with high-potentials when you visit a site. Carry those lists around with you. Know what to look for too.....indicators of success in larger roles isn't the same as performance in a current role. It's not an exact science, but some are better at it than others. I think using high quality selection assessments - maybe even assessment centers for C level or critical positions - will help you here.

7. Hold other's accountable for assessing and developing future leaders.
We all sit around these talent reviews and succession plan reviews and discuss development and IDPs..... then, a year later, nothings happened. Take a look at the action items from your last talent review meeting. How many of these things were implemented? Some, but not many, so you’re another year behind and no strong candidates for that key executive’s job.
Your executive team has "qualitative" goals for succession planning and senior leadership development - I've seen many of them - most are weak with no teeth. Again, I know you know how to do this. Set the vision, set meaningful goals, measure them, and hold people accountable. It takes time to change the culture, but a few public coronations and hangings help send the message that it's important.

8. Stay actively involved in company leadership development programs.
Keep sponsoring those executive development programs, being a guest speaker, teaching in senior level programs, and all that good stuff. Don’t just show up at the beginning and end – be a teacher, get to know the participants, and help set program objectives and measures.

9. Keep the Board engaged.
Your Board is involved in all of the other strategic aspects of your business – why not this? They could be valuable sources of insight, advice, connections, and you’ll want their support then it’s time to make key talent decisions.

10. Take decisive action on underperformers. They are retarding the development of your high potentials.
When I've conducted 9 box meetings, leadership teams often clam up when I try to engage them in this discussion. They don't do a good job differentiating (everybody's a B or A), and they are too hesitant or slow to take action. I think in general, most companies are too tolerant and slow to act.

I hope this is helpful.

Readers: anything to add before we send it?