Friday, October 28, 2011

Leaders vs. Managers

Here's the 2nd in a series of guest posts by Professor Jim Clawson, one of our Executive Development Program instructors for a custom program we offer on Leading Change.

I introduced Jim to Great Leadership readers a few weeks ago with a post called "A Four-wheel-drive Diamond in the Rough Leadership Model".

In this second installment, Jim offers his take on the difference between managers and leaders. I've always thought the "leader vs. manager" debate was kind of useless, and I wrote an early post about it here. However, I absolutely love the distinction Jim makes in this post. I've had a chance to hear him talk about the differences between "inside-out" and "outside-in" thinking and behavior a couple times. I think it's spot on and has had a impact on my approach to life.

Take a read, and let us know what you think.

Note: today, 10/28/2011, is the 4 year anniversary of Great Leadership. Over 500 posts, woo hoo! It's been an awesome ride and I plan to keep doing it until I run out of ideas or ambition, whichever comes first. Hope you've enjoyed it.

Leaders vs. Managers

Over the last month, I've participated in and observed a heated debate among academics (on-line) about the differences between leaders and managers. Everyone seems to have their own strongly held view and not much persuasion seems to have taken place. Perhaps this is an academic debate. For those striving to influence others and to make things happen, though, I offer what I think is an important distinction.

This distinction has to do with how much one lives outside-in versus inside-out. By "outside-in" I mean that one consciously or pre-consciously weighs what "they" might think before one acts or speaks. The more we adjust our behavior to fit in, the more we are living outside-in. And that's not all bad. It is the basis for orderly society. People drive on the correct side of the road, obey most of the laws, put on clothes in public, and speak with some deference and these things and many more allow for an orderly community.

At the same time, we can imagine in addition to how much we mindfully and mindlessly conform how much we initiate fresh thoughts and behaviors based on our own recognizance. How much do we allow original thoughts? Behaviors? Approaches? Insights? A community (or nation) that rates high on conformity is less likely to be adaptive, innovative, and probably even viable.

Why? Because things change.

So, here's the distinction I draw between leaders and managers. Both try to influence people but the underlying question is "with whose ideas?" Management (and again, it depends on how one defines the term, yes?) in my view focuses more on getting things done that others have determined, devised, and declared. Managers work toward goals, ideals, and outcomes--that others largely have set or prescribed. In that sense, while managers work hard to get others to do things, and are essential to every organization, they are living more "outside-in" than inside-out in that others have set the vision, the dreams, and the goals.

Managers tend to use what I will call "level one" and "level two" approaches. These are behavioral rewards and punishments for the former and logic and reason for the latter.

Leaders on the other hand are those who think beyond the current expectations and imagine a different emerging world. Leaders are those who see beyond current boundaries and expectations and dare to initiate stretches or changes or radical disruptions. Call it "vision" if you want, but the terminology is less important than the phenomenon--the ability to live more inside-out and less outside-in.

Of course, if one lives too much "inside-out" one might find one's self bankrupt or in prison. There are risks. And the risks run deep because they accrue to the leader's account not someone else's.

Take for example Jeff Immelt's eleven year run as CEO at GE. He inherited a company that had developed 20 years of cultural focus on fit and efficiency. Jack Welch's determination to get the right mix and then play only in games he could win created enormous wealth. Immelt decided that doing what was good for yesterday ever more efficiently wouldn't win the future. His emphasis on ten new technological innovative streams has yet to prove as financially successful as Welch's legacy. AND Mr. Immelt is clearly working inside-out. There's risk.

How much of your life do you live outside-in? That is, before you speak or act, how much do you consciously or semi-consciously think about what "they" will say? Are you willing to stretch or break current convention for the sake of a new initiative or direction?

People who live 100% outside-in and hence 0% inside-out, we might call "doormats," or "cowards" or "sheep" or as James Joyce termed it "clay." People who live 100% inside-out and 0% outside-in at the other end of the scale we might call ego-centric, self-centered, narcissistic SOBs.

On average, where are you on this scale? If you wanted to be a leader and not "just" a manager, where should you be on this scale? That is, in your view, how much inside-out would an effective leader be? Do you habitually ask others where we should go? Or do you find yourself habitually thinking of new visions and directions. I invite you to think about this tension-balance and observe yourself over time. And to reflect on how differences in the proportions of this tension-balance might define leadership and management.

Jim Clawson Bio:

James Clawson has been a professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia since 1981. He has consulted with dozens of large and very large corporations in various parts of the globe on issues of leadership, career management, leadership development, human resource management, organizational development, and related topics.

Author of Level Three Leadership, Dr. Clawson has helped executives and managers at all levels learn how to be more effective leaders in today’s rapidly changing environment.

Dr. Clawson received degrees from Stanford University (Japanese Language and Literature with great distinction), Brigham Young University (MBA in marketing), and Harvard University Graduate School of Business (DBA Organizational Behavior). He taught for three years at the Harvard Business School before joining the Darden School. He also taught as a visiting professor at the International University of Japan in 1991.

If you’d like to discuss having Jim work with your company, please contact Dan McCarthy, at daniel dot mccarthy at unh dot edu.

Friday, October 21, 2011

13 Tips for Setting Performance Measures

Thanks to Ken Kuzia and Rand Gee, from Up Your Leadership, for allowing me to re-print these valuable tips for setting performance measures:

Setting clear, achievable, challenging, and unwavering (as much as possible given today’s rate of change) measures is critical to employee success. Appropriate measures are also strong motivators because most employees want to excel, and knowing the target helps them self-measure.

1. Involve your employees to enhance their involvement and ownership. Your direct reports are closest to the action and in the best position to provide information on what's possible in their work.

2. Focus on results and not activity – unless the work to be accomplished has not been done before.

3. Drill down into the goal to determine the “One Measure” that clearly determines success. Set a single, discrete measure for each “fundamental” of the business that equates to success. For example In-bound Sales answering each call within 3 rings.

4. Set aspirational targets for “Break-throughs”. For example, reducing cost or time by 20% in a key business process.

5. Examine past data to establish a performance trend or baseline. Then, determine the extent to which the baseline must be altered to meet overall business targets.

6. Consider using a 3-point target. For example, Sears uses their quality measure of Good, Better, and Best. Can you establish levels of performance that will encourage achieving beyond the target?

7. Get your boss's input on metrics to ensure that you are all measuring the same outcomes with the same language, measures and expectations. Your boss may have some helpful suggestions based on his or her experience and understanding of unit and company goals.

8. Consider the employees” or group’s strengths and weaknesses. Determine what targets would encourage strength building that is directly linked to business goals and the individual’s career development aspirations.

9. Examine customer or other stakeholders feedback to determine expectations that aren’t being met. Exercise caution here! Don’t get caught in the trap of giving your customers what they want while your competitors create innovation that the customers are going to need but don’t yet realize.

10. Ensure that targets are clearly aligned with corporate measures and goals so effort is cumulatively productive.

11. Set the standard that employees measure their own progress against targets and report their progress or slippage to you on an agreed-upon time frame. Establish the up-front expectation that when slippage occurs the employee is to report results for the period with a workable and realistic plan to reach the target before the end of the performance period.

12. Provide routine opportunities for employees to review progress. Teach them how to “brag” about their good performance, results achievement, and help them feel a real sense of achievement as they are reporting progress that will enable target accomplishment.

13. Make the rewards worth it. That means you may have to push your boss to permit substantial rewards to be give for phenomenal performance – and then don’t “cheap out” but really deliver. You may have to provide rewards that are counter-culture for the organization. Be sure to determine the employee’s aspirations so you know what rewards will create a real enticement. For example, many employees want barriers to be removed so they can really produce. Others want better computers, a better desk chair. Too many organizations fail to see the value in giving high performers what they want for fear that the employees are going to want a million dollars each. And – maybe an employee that gets enough business to produce a hundred million in profit should get that million!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

10 Ways to Select Participants for a Leadership Development Program

A colleague and I recently talked about the challenge of selecting participants for leadership development programs. With limited resources and budget dollars, companies often have to be selective when it comes to who can attend and who ends up on the old “waiting list”.

Then there’s always the inevitable political landmines that need to be navigated, i.e., “So why was Sparky selected and not Snooky?!”

It really comes down to the purpose of the program, or what you’re trying to achieve. Use these guidelines (1-7) for participant selection for leadership development programs, and you’ll ensure that the right person gets the right development at the right time. Use 8-10 to waste your time and resources.

BTW, if you are someone who is interested in getting picked for your company’s leadership development program, this will give you some insight as to how selection decisions are commonly made.

10 Ways to Select Participants for a Leadership Development Program:

1. Clueless new managers:
This one’s the easiest. If the purpose of the program is to train brand new managers, then ALL brand new managers must attend, preferably within three months of promotion or hire.

2. Next level preparation:
If the purpose is to prepare high potential managers for larger roles (succession planning and development), then individuals that have been identified as potential successors (or your high potential pool) should be selected. If you have to prioritize, then start with the most “ready” candidates.

3. Organizational need based:
If you are trying to develop a new competency in an entire management level or unit, then send them all, one group at a time. Prioritize based on those that have the most urgent need for the new competency.

4. Individual need based:
Send those managers who need the training the most, based on the results of a competency assessment.

5. Building cross-functional capability:
If you are trying to give participants exposure to many different functions, units, or locations, then allocate slots accordingly to ensure a good cross-section.

6. Inclusion and diversity
If you are trying to build a more inclusive, diverse population of leaders, then in addition to any of the other methods, give priority to non-majority participants. Rather than a “check off the box” exercise, this usually helps to stimulate more creativity and disruptive thinking in a program.

7. Applications:
Given that aspiration is an important component of leadership potential, some companies open up the opportunity to everyone in a given population and require participants to submit an application. Often the participant’s manager has to approve the application and add their own comments, and final decisions are made by a selection committee.

The application method is also commonly used in open-enrollment, public programs as a way to ensure the right person go to the right program.

Also, here are some methods I’ve seen organizations use to select participants in a leadership development program that I’d recommend you NOT use:

8. Reward and recognition:
Training should not be used as a way to recognize good performance. There needs to a developmental reason for the training, otherwise you may as well just give the employee a free trip or dinner gift certificate.

9. A warm body:
Please don’t send us your stiffs, the employees with nothing better to do in order to get them out of your hair for a few days. It ruins the program for the rest of the participants that deserve and need to be there.

10. Special interest lobbying:
Although it’s sometimes difficult to avoid, try to ensure those “squeaky wheels” that wouldn’t otherwise meet the criteria don’t force themselves in.

Are there other approaches that I may have missed that your company uses?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Got a Bad Boss? Do the Opposite

One of the best ways to learn leadership is from your bosses – both good and bad ones. It’s a pretty simple technique – emulate the good ones and do the opposite of the bad ones.

Given that most of us will be lucky to have had the opportunity to work for even one great leader, the majority of our leadership lessons will have to come from the bad bosses.

Here’s a 10 examples of “do the opposite” lessons I’ve learned from former bad bosses:

1. The boss who never comes out of his/her office: the importance of being visible, communicating, and connecting with your employees. 

2. The boss that plays obvious favorites: the importance knowing how to objectively assess performance, and basing rewards and recognition, assignments, and promotions on actual merit, not who sucks up the best.

3. The boss that never accepts responsibility for failure or mistakes: the importance of being accountable.

4. The boss who talked a good game but couldn’t execute: the importance of paying attention to the details, planning, and change management.

5. The boss with a temper: the importance of staying calm under fire.

6. The gossiping boss: the importance of discretion and confidentiality.

7. The “retired on the job” boss: the importance of always staying energetic, positive, competitive, and maintaining your physical fitness and appearance.

8. The know-it-all boss: the importance of genuine listening, and being open to learning.

9. The unethical boss: the importance of always doing the right thing, even when no one’s looking. Rule of thumb: would I be comfortable if my decision ended up published in the local/company newspaper?

10. The “buzz kill” boss: the importance of being aware of the effect you have on your employees, though your actions, words, and especially your reactions to their suggestions, accomplishments, or concerns.

How about you? What “do the opposite” lessons have you learned from a bad boss? Once you’ve identified those lessons, then just do what George Constanza did, and you’ll be the one getting those cards and thank-you's on Bosses Day!

Note: This Sunday, October 16, 2011 is National bosses Day (it’s actually observed on Monday). How about taking a moment to let your boss (and/or a former boss) know about something they do or did that you appreciate? Better yet, give your favorite boss a copy of Art Petty’s new book, Leadership Caffeine, Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development. Or just say thanks and buy the book for yourself – it’s a keeper, I’d highly recommend it. (-:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

“You’re Just Not Leadership Material”

Guest post by Tom Salonek:

Hundreds of leadership books suggest various theories and exercises designed to awaken one’s inner leader and other mystical secrets to unlocking one’s rightful leadership potential. Others suggest that some people are meant to lead and others are destined to be followers, as though leading an organization is on par with the priesthood. If you’ve been following some of the more ‘mystical’ leadership leaders (for lack of a better word) you might start believing that leadership is as mysterious and complicated as locating the Holy Grail.

That thinking is bunk. I’m living proof.

In the early 1990s I was fresh out of college and employed at my first full-time professional IT job. I was working hard, putting in extra hours, reading all the tech journals and volunteering for extra assignments, trying to prove to my manager that I was going places! He didn’t see it that way. I’ll never forget the day he put his hand on my shoulder, gently smiled and told me to stop wasting my time. “You’re not leadership material Tom,” he told me, quickly adding that that was “Ok” because I was a great programmer.

That was the day my inner leader kicked into high gear and I decided to start my own business. Twenty years later my company, Intertech, is a successful IT consulting and training firm. We have won dozens of awards for growth and for being a “winning workplace” and a “best place to work” in Minnesota. We are highly profitable, we have hundreds of satisfied clients, we help families with critically ill children through our Intertech Foundation and our people are tremendously loyal. And in the past ten years despite a tough economy, we’ve grown our revenues from $2 million annually to $10 million.

Hey, maybe I did have some leadership potential after all!

All kidding aside, I believe good leaders are just people who have mastered basic leadership skills. There’s no magic to leadership and it’s certainly not mystically pre-ordained. Anyone with enough motivation and reasonable smarts can become a successful leader. If someone tells you differently, follow my lead and chart your own path. Here’s a quick summary of the top leadership qualities I’ve learned, and outline in my book Building a Winning Business:


1. Think and act positively.

2. Match their words and actions.

3. Plan goals.

4. Insist on results.

5. Solve problems.

6. Delegate.

7. Give others credit.

8. Correct people correctly.

9. Show others they care.

10. Accept the importance of communication.

11. Give meaningful feedback.

12. Tell the truth.

13. Listen.

14. Communicate strategically.

Of course, mastering these skills takes effort and motivation. Learning from others who have successfully gone before – people like Jim Collins, Bill George and Patrick Lencioni – can save you time and frustration. I also hope my modest business treatise will help point you in the right direction. But, at the end of the day, never forget that you can be a leader if you’re willing to do what it takes to get the job done!

Tom Salonek is the founder and CEO of Intertech, a leading IT consulting and training company based in Minnesota. He is the author of the recent book, Building a Winning Business and frequently writes about leadership topics in leading business publications, on Facebook and on his blog Tom Talks.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How to Involve Participants in a Leadership Training Program

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”

-- Confucius

Even the most brilliant, credible, and talented instructors with the most dazzling PowerPoint slides won’t guarantee participants in a leadership training program are actually going to learn anything.

In order for all that good content to actually sink in, people need to have a chance to do something with it.

I was recently asked by one of our professors for some ideas on exactly how to involve participants more in one of our leadership training programs. I was happy to oblige. (-:

Telling vs. learning:

Start by cutting your content in half and build in “soak” time. Instead of presenting 10 best practices in 2 hours, present the 5 most relevant to the participants and build in a learning activity that facilitates knowledge transfer to help them build a bridge to on-the-job application.

For example, after each, or after a series of best practices, ask participants to take out a piece of paper and write their answers to the questions: “What’s one idea from this best practice that I could implement at my company?” “What would be the barriers?” “How could I overcome or minimize those barriers?”

Then, have participants pair up or form triads to discuss their answers. Encourage them to mix up their groups throughout the program to encourage networking. Keep the activity brief and fast-paced – about 5 minutes for individual reflection and 10 minutes for group discussion. Monitor the energy level in the room.

Then, debrief the discussion. This allows for everyone to hear each other’s ideas. Ask each group for a brief summary, ask questions, and add your own comments. More importantly, encourage other participants to join the discussion. A skilled facilitative instructor knows how to “fan the flames” of a potentially hot discussion yet keep the pace moving. Again, it’s about monitoring the energy level in the room. For example, people standing and checking their emails are signs of low energy and engagement. When all eyes are focused and multiple hands are in the air, you know you’re in a zone.

Build involvement into the design of a program:

Adult learners, especially senior managers, are ADD when it comes to training. They can only actively listen for a limited period of time before their minds begin to wander. In any program, participants should be spending at least 50% of their time “doing” something (other than listening). High involvement instructional techniques (also known as “experiential”) include case studies, simulations, role plays, pair/small group discussion, learning journeys (field trips), and project work (action learning). Low involvement techniques include lectures, guest speakers, listening to long project presentations, reading, and watching videos.

Note: Even low involvement techniques can be very effective, as long as they are not overdone. For example, for videos, think 2-3 minute “Youtube” clips, vs. those long boring science videos we used to have to watch in high school. Lectures can be very engaging with a healthy dose of Socratic questioning, stories, examples, and group discussion.

The learning effectiveness of any high-involvement learning activity can be amplified with an effective debrief. Participants are not always consciously aware of what they learned, and a good facilitated discussion can help bring these “aha’s” to the surface, and provide potential learnings to other participants.

One more note on experiential learning: unlike a planned, sequential lecture, participant learning is usually random and unpredictable. You could run the same simulation for 10 different groups and get hundreds of different outcomes and learnings. However, the learning is usually more personalized and meaningful to each participant.

Beginnings and endings:

They say in any speech, the audience always remembers the beginning and end. For training programs, a high energy, high involvement beginning and ending helps to create a memorable and positive experience. At the start of a program, get participants involved right away. Introductions can go either way – they can be long, drawn-out, and boring, or highly engaging. The key is to pick provocative questions or activities directly related to the course content, and then engage with each participant. The focus should be on the participant, not the instructor (i.e., “hey, that reminds me of a story….”).

At the end of a program, try having each participant announce what they are committed to implementing back on the job, then “graduate” them with a certificate and a handshake or high five. It should be high energy, fun, even emotional experience.

The impromptu role play technique:

I’ve seen Jim Clawson, one of our instructors, use this technique very effectively in our Change Leadership course. He doesn’t overdo it – maybe 2-3 times per program – and it’s always “in the moment”.

When a participant makes a comment, suggestion or asks a question that he wants to explore, he’s say something like “OK, let’s try that out. I’ll be your manager, and let’s have you pitch that idea to me.” He’ll then divide the class in half, with one half on his side, and the other on the precipitant’s side (like boxing corners). He turns around and gets his side involved in planning the discussion, then turns around and role plays it with the participant. He’ll call time outs, debrief with the entire class, have both sides strategize again, and then continue the dialog. It’s fun, high energy, and most importantly, allows participants to try out concepts by putting their own “skin in the game”.

While a group of students or new managers might find this intimidating, senior managers seem to love the competitive aspect of it.

To learn more about high involvement training techniques, I’d recommend two classics that are chock full of tips and techniques to build more involvement in any corporate training program or MBA class: Telling Ain’t Training, by Harold D. Stolovitch, and Active Training, by Mel Silberman.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Transforming Perceptions: 10 Steps to Managing the Way You Are Perceived at Work

Here's a guest post from executive coach Joel Garfinkle, from his new book, Getting Ahead: 

Success at work starts with positive perceptions. If your boss and co-workers have a negative image of you, it's a pretty good bet you won't be getting a promotion anytime soon. That's why it is so important to take charge of the way you are perceived in your organization. This 10-step perception transformation plan will show you how. I recommend trying to focus on one step each week for ten weeks.

Step 1: Pay attention to how your behavior affects others

As you interact with others, take note of the way they react to you. Pay attention to their behavior, speech and body language. Do they seem to react positively or negatively to you? Are they interested in what you have to say? Following each interaction, record your observations in a notebook. Review them later and try to pin point what behaviors you may be exhibiting to cause any negative reactions.

In addition, select two or three co-workers and ask them for feedback about the way they perceive you. Explain that you are concerned you may not be projecting the right image and ask if there is anything you can do to improve the way you are viewed by others in the organization. One of my clients, an executive at Cisco Systems, told me about a colleague who talked so much that he annoyed everyone around him. No one would speak up to tell him, so he was unaware of the problem. You may never know if you don't have the courage to ask.

Step 2: Avoid behaviors that provoke a negative response

Now that you know which behaviors are making negative impression on others at work, you can make a conscious effort to avoid them. From the notes in your observation log and the feedback you received from your colleagues, identify three specific behaviors to work on changing this week.

Step 3: Associate with people who are respected by others

If you hang out with people who gossip, you will be perceived as someone who likes to gossip. Make an effort to spend more time with those who are respected by their co-workers and managers and avoid spending too much time with colleagues who are perceived negatively by others.

Step 4: Take the lead on a team project

In this step, you'll raise the stakes by taking the initiative to step into a leadership role on a team project. Talk to your boss to find out what you need to do to make this happen.

Step 5: Ask your boss to acknowledge your successes to others

It is much more effective to have other people speaking about your accomplishments than to talk about them yourself. That doesn't mean you shouldn't mention the ways you have contributed to the company's success—you should—but you should try to get others people talking about you too. Your boss is the most logical person to ask to tout your successes because your boss looks good when you do.

Step 6: Make sure management knows how much effort goes into your work

Upper management often has a distorted view of the work done by those further down the ladder. If you make your work seem too easy, they may think you are expendable. Make sure those in leadership positions understand how important your job is and how hard you work to ensure it is done right. Find opportunities to engage those in upper management in conversations about tasks you've completed that show the value you provide to them and the organization. You can do this in person or via e-mail.

Step 7: See if your boss will tell his or her boss how valuable you are

Your boss knows how valuable you are, but what about his or her boss? Try to get your immediate supervisor to talk about your successes with those in higher management. This is an extremely effective way for you to get more visibility in the organization, and it benefits your boss as well by showcasing his or her skills in managing important projects.

Step 8: Find a way to get involved in a visible project

Be on the lookout for opportunities to participate in projects that will get you more visibility within the organization. Find out which projects are considered important by upper management and try to get involved in them. Talk to your boss about how you can be included in some of the most visible projects.

Step 9: Interact with influential corporate leaders

Talk to your boss about helping you identify opportunities that will give you exposure to your company's senior management. Sit next to them at meetings whenever you get the chance, and engage them in conversation. Find subtle ways to tell them about the contributions you have made to your company's success.

Step 10: Identify advocates who will promote you to others

Having your boss speak highly of you is great, but if you can get half a dozen advocates singing your praises, you'll really be able to improve the way you are perceived among your co-workers, managers and upper management. When you have advocates working to promote you, it won't be necessary to be as aggressive about promoting yourself, which is good, because being too aggressive about self-promotion can make you seem pretentious and boastful.

If you follow the ten steps above, I can almost guarantee you'll see a significant improvement in the way people respond to you by the time you finish. As a visual reminder to keep you on track, print this article out and tape it to the wall above your desk. If you complete one step each week, you'll be able to complete them all in just a few months. When you see the results you achieve, you'll undoubtedly want to keep going. Just think what you can accomplish in a year!

JOEL A. GARFINKLE is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the U.S., having worked with many of the world's leading companies, including Oracle, Google, Amazon, Deloitte, Ritz-Carlton, Gap, Bank of America and Starbucks. He is the author of seven books and 300+ articles on leadership, executive presence and getting ahead at work. View his books and FREE articles at He is regularly featured in the national media, including ABC News, NPR, the New York Times, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. You can also subscribe to his Fulfillment@Work E-mail newsletter and receive the FREE e-book, 40 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The October Leadership Development Carnival

The October Leadership Development Carnival is up!

This month's edition is being hosted by Rochester, NY blogger (my old home town) Lynn Dessert, at her Elephants at Work blog.

You can read it here.

Next month's Carnival returns to Great Leadership. See the Carnival sidebar widget for details.