Monday, April 30, 2012

Transparency in Succession Planning: To Tell or Not To Tell?

"To tell or not to tell"?, now THAT is the question when it comes to succession planning and high potential programs.

I recently attended a talent management networking meeting hosting by PDI Ninth House. It was well attended, with over 100 participants, all responsible for some aspect of talent management. The two presenters had a packed agenda with over 50 slides to get through.

While it was all good and interesting, the part that sparked the most questions and discussions was the section on "transparency".

At one point, participants were asked to raise their hands if their high potential programs were:

1. Not transparent;

2. Somewhat transparent; or

3. Fully transparent

There were not many hands in the air for "fully transparent". PDI (and Bersin) strongly suggests that there should be. You can answer the question for your organization in the poll at the end of this post.

According to research conducted by the Center for Creative Research (CCL), 77% of high-potential leaders surveyed reported that being formally identified was highly important to them.

Furthermore, knowing one’s status as a high potential has a significant impact on retention. Of those formally identified, only 14% were currently seeking other employment compared to 33% who were not formally informed by their organizations.

The data matches my own experience in running high potential programs and as being tapped on the shoulder as a high potential.

So - is that data compelling enough for those of you that are "in the know" to pull back the curtains on your high potential program?

Before you go out and publish those lists on your company website, there's another part of "full transparency" that you're going to have to deal with: what about having to tell that former high potential that they are no longer on the super-secret list? Arrrgh, now that's the real reason why most organizations don't go all the way with transparency. Managers - and HR - hate having to have those tough discussions.

You might even argue that for every hipo you retain by telling, you lose another former hipo (but still a damn good performer) by telling them they're no longer on the list.

To address this, PDI recommends being clear upfront as to what it means to be a high potential. It's not a life-time membership; it's only a point-in-time designation.

Communicate the criteria for selection to everyone, what it means and what it doesn’t. Status is re-evaluated every year, and you can drop off the list due to changes in organizational plans and talent needs, changes in the high potential criteria, and competition for entry into the pool.

Sure, they're still going to be disappointed, but having these conversations about expectations upfront will help soften the blow.

I mostly agree with PDI's recommendations. In fact, I've written on this topic before and given my own 2 cents on hipo notification guidelines with "High Potential Notification Guidelines: Not Too Heavy, Not Too Light".

With all due respect, the only part I may disagree with PDI is regarding the concept of telling a high potential that they are in "a program" (or on a list), or not in a program or on a list. To me, that sounds a little on the  "too heavy" side.

Why not just have candid discussions about how the person's performance and potential is perceived, and what the options are for development given their status? This should be a regular (at least yearly) two-way discussion. With regular and candid feedback, there should be no surprises and each individual gets development that's appropriate for their unique development needs.

Of course, that’s in a perfect world where managers have regular discussions with employees about their performance and development….. Before we turn blue holding our breath waiting for that to happen, perhaps organizations do need to implement a more formal notification process?

What do you think? Should high potentials be told that they are high potentials? If so, should they be told if they are no longer high potential?

Take the poll below, and/or leave a comment:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Inspire People to Change

Here's an encore guest post by Paul Thornton:

Leaders not only challenge us but also inspire us to take action. Some leaders post quotes in their office as reminders to inspire themselves and others. Here are a few examples.

“Make It a WOW Experience!” —Sign in the office of Kate T. Labor, Vice President-Customer Support, Systems, and Software.

“I will change one life today!” —In the article, “Understanding the Importance of Rituals,” author Justin W. Carter said that this sign was in the front office of a small company. As employees entered the office, they tapped the sign with their hand. This ritual instantly reminded them of the importance of their mission.

“Bring Energy!” —Sign on the desk of Maxine Clark, Founder and Chief Executive Bear, Build-A-Bear Workshop.

“Prove Your Groove.” —Sign on the office wall of Peter H. Reynolds CEO/Owner, FableVision Enterprises.

“The Buck Starts Here!” —Sign on the desk of Donald Trump.

Leaders inspire us by what they say, how they say it, and what they do. You must believe in yourself, your employees, and your message.

What Leaders Say
Leaders speak the truth about what is—current reality and about what’s possible—their vision. They keep it real but also identify opportunities for a better future. Leaders use words that are positive, affirming, uplifting, and encouraging. They inspire us by making us feel good about ourselves.

We all want to feel respected, valued, useful, and part of something important and successful. Package your message in a way that connects to these universal feelings. In addition, you can inspire people by tapping into their core values. Emotions and values are the spark that get us excited and energized.

The words leaders say that inspire us include:

 Telling Stories. Stories that describe setbacks, great struggle, hard work, perseverance, and eventual success inspire us to press on and achieve demanding goals.

What’s your inspiring story?

 Affirming Statements. Leaders inspire us by telling us we have the ability and talent to be successful. Doug Conant former President and CEO of Campbell’s Soups said that in graduate school his grades started to slide. He was working two jobs and taking a full course load. His favorite professor pulled him into his office and said, “You can do better.” Those four words touched him, affirmed him, and inspired him.

Who have you affirmed in the last two days?

 Planting Seeds. Leaders inspire us by getting us to see ourselves performing a bigger role. They plant seeds with comments such as, “I can see you leading our international marketing campaign.”

 Encouraging People. One of my mentors always encouraged me to pursue bigger goals. Whether I was applying for a new job, considering graduate school, or starting my own business, her consistent response was: “Now’s your time. Believe in yourself and your goals. I’m confident you can do it.”

Who are you encouraging to pursue loftier goals?

 Empowering People. Ralph Stayer, former CEO of Johnsonville Foods, inspired his employees and built their confidence by empowering them. He gave people power and authority to get things done. When leaders empower us, they’re saying, “I have confidence in you.”

How Leaders Say It
Leaders deliver their message with passion and conviction. Check out some of the YouTube videos of Tom Peters, Pat Summit, Colin Powell, and Tony Blair. Observe how animated and passionate they are. If you don’t have enthusiasm for your ideas, who will? A passionate speaker gets the audience to sit up, open up, and fully consider the key points. You must have great conviction for what you’re advocating. Leaders have no doubts, no hesitation, and no questions about the correctness of their ideas and recommendations. If you’re not fully committed to what you’re doing, why should anyone else?

Do you deliver your message with passion and conviction?

What Leaders Do
They set the example. When change is taking place all eyes are on the leader. Setting an example is a powerful way of inspiring people. People can’t ignore what you do. Leaders are often the first to take action. Their actions are strong and decisive. You increase your influence exponentially by adding highly visible examples to your words. Author and Artist, Susan Conroy said that the best example of leadership she got was from Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Susan states, “I made my first trip to work with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity in 1986. Mother Teresa inspired us by her example.” Every day she was a consistent role model of humble service.

What example are you setting for your people?

Problems Related to Inspiring People

1. Some leaders lack optimism. Others are too optimistic and are thought to be out of touch with reality.

2. Some leaders aren’t inspiring because they are flat in their delivery. They lack energy and conviction when presenting their message.

3. Some leaders don’t create a sense of urgency. There is no burning platform so people are reluctant to jump into the water.

4. Some leaders talk a good game, but don’t back it up with action.

What Can You Do
First, inspire yourself. Discover what gets you excited. Second, think about your life stories. What challenges and obstacles have you faced and overcome? Craft your own personal stories that you can use to inspire others. Third, build your vocabulary. Ed Zimmer, Founder and President, Zimmer Foundation says that a large vocabulary helps you select the best words to sell your ideas and inspire people to change.

The Author:
Paul B. Thornton, MBA, M.Ed., is an author, trainer, and professor of business administration at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, Massachusetts. He has provided leadership training for over 10,000 supervisors and managers. This article is an excerpt from his new e-book,
His e-mail address is

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Future of Leadership Development

A colleague from another business school recommended the book, The Future of Leadership Development, Corporate Needs and the Role of Business Schools, edited by IESE Business School Dean Jordi Canals. She said it helped set the direction for her executive development program and really got her thinking about our profession.

All of the content is written by business school professors and deans and much of it deals with MBA programs, so my practitioner readers may find it….well, academic. That’s corporate code word for deadly boring and irrelevant.

However, it was interesting enough for me to wade through it and jot down a few nuggets that I thought were worth sharing.

BTW, I’m also halfway through Physics of the Future, by Michio Kaku, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the future these days. This one actually creeps me out. It makes “The Matrix” and “The Terminator” look rosily optimistic.

Anyway, here are 10 current and potential trends for leadership development that shouldn’t creep anyone out too much, from the book and with my own embellishment:

1. The use of coaching in leadership development programs and classes.
There are pros and cons to both group and individual leadership development. Groups facilitate networking and shared learning, and are efficient, but may miss the mark for some. Individual coaching is “all about you”, but is expensive. Why not combine them both, like a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup? I’m seeing more university based executive development programs incorporate both individual and small group coaching into their design (CCL’s been doing it forever). Coaching is even starting to work its way into some MBA programs, which is good news for the coaching industry.
The challenge for business schools will be that most of their faculty don’t have coaching expertise and credentials, so when it’s outsourced, it’s often not fully integrated into the program.

2. Senior leadership development.
Lots of people are planning to work beyond the traditional retirement age, and many of them are looking to make a career change (moving into a not-for-profit, etc…). There are plenty of “Youth” leadership development programs - why not a transition program for seniors? Maybe you could get 20% off the registration cost with your AARP membership.

3. Building Block leadership development programs.
This would be kind of an umbrella concept which would include senior programs. The idea is that leadership development needs are very different depending on your age and where you are in your career. Instead of getting an MBA in your 20s and then that’s it, why not break it up into phases and make it a lifelong educational experience? While this one’s a bit self-serving for the business schools, the concept of life cycle leadership development is intriguing.

4. Social responsibility.
Some say the organization of the future will be more socially responsibility – that profits will not even be the primary mission of an organization. This new business model will require a different model of leadership development – one that pays more attention to ethics, the environment, how decisions impact the community and society, and human rights.

5. Global leadership development.
While not really a trend – globalization has been going on for decades – the world continues to get smaller. Global leadership development isn’t just for the big multinationals anymore, and we’ll continue to look for innovative ways to develop a global mindset.

6.Virtual reality.
Second Life, simulations, avatars, virtual reality, gaming, and artificial intelligence all have the potential to change the way we develop leaders. These technologies have the potential to develop higher level competencies, like critical thinking and emotional intelligence, in a safe, accelerated, and realistic environment. Need to prepare for an upcoming performance review? There’s an app for that!

7. Liberal Arts and the “soft stuff”.
Business schools have been slow to catch on to the importance of the “soft stuff”, while instead continuing to teach their MBAs analytical and quantitative skills. Some are even starting to question the value of a traditional MBA. In response, will business degrees and leadership development programs begin to integrate more “liberal arts” into their programs? In browsing some of the program descriptions for executive development programs, it appears the humanities, arts, and social sciences are beginning to infiltrate some of the more innovative programs.

8. “The Apprentice” model for leadership development.
No, not the Donald Trump reality show. The idea is to develop leaders like we develop other skills trades – though hands-on doing vs. classroom learning, experiential learning, shadowing, mentoring, and certification. Why not? We do it with doctors, lawyers, electricians, and engineers – why not for the profession of management?

9. Those that teach have been there and done it.
In the professions mentioned above (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc…), the teachers usually, if not always, have extensive work experience. Why shouldn’t we demand the same from our leadership professors, instructors, and coaches? This could be a great way to tap into the knowledge and experience of “senior” executives that are looking to transition into teaching, instead of relying so heavily on professional instructors.

10. Woman’s leadership development.
Instead of force fitting woman into a male model of problem solving, decision making, and leadership, progressive organizations are starting to recognize that there is tremendous value in cultivating both male and female ways of leading. One is not better than the other, but having an equal balance of both will give you a competitive advantage.

What do you think? What’s the future hold for leadership development?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Leadership: It’s the Softer Side That Counts

Here's a guest post by Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry International:

Never underestimate the softer side.

By the time you become a senior leader, you have already mastered the technical skills. What may be missing, however, are the nuances and the seemingly simple truths that get lost in the noise around how to run an organization. These are the softer skills, which may look simple, but are deceptively so.
There is nothing simple about empowering people so that the decisions they make and the actions they take are aligned with the overall values and strategy of the organization. It is not easy to remember the importance of rewarding your team continuously with praise and acknowledgement of milestones achieved, especially while you’re steering an organization to an endpoint over the horizon.
As I have found in my own career, and in discussions with global leaders, from well-respected CEOs and board members, to heads of state, leading is less about analytics and decisions, and much more about aligning, motivating, and empowering others to make those decisions. These truths are part of essential elements of leadership, which I call “the absolutes.” Although strategic and practical, they are inspiring and motivational, as the entire organization becomes aligned behind a greater purpose and a grander mission that is bigger than any one individual.

To be a leader is to make others believe; in challenging times to convey that “everything will be okay,” and that together the team will find a way forward. As a leader, you must have confidence in your own ability, but most important in your team. Leadership is humbling, knowing that it is never about you, as the leader. Leadership is all about what others achieve.

No matter how many times a basketball player practices a shot, what counts most is his performance with the team. So too it is with leadership. Leaders seek feedback on what can be improved, make the change, and measure the outcome. Leaders review some performance indicators on a daily basis and others weekly. The best measure of all, I have found, is talking to and observing customers and employees. Through the tone, cadence, and content of the feedback I receive, I can glean what no computer screen or spreadsheet can reveal. I can gauge the subtleties of whether the organization is engaged and aligned to the purpose, vision, and strategy, as well as where the opportunities and challenges can be found.

Several years ago, when we were in the early stages of transforming our mono-line brand, focused on executive recruiting, to multiple lines of business by moving carefully outside of our core offering. I visited one of our large operations. As one of my colleagues gave me a tour, introducing me to all of the employees, I noticed that she skipped three individuals who were sitting in interior offices. When I asked who they were she replied, “Oh, you don’t need to meet them. They are with our new business,” as if they were not part of our company at all.

I bit my tongue and kept my reaction to myself. I made it a point, however, to welcome these newcomers to the company. That night as I flew home I was so upset by how these employees had been dismissed that I crafted a “One Company” strategy, which today is the basis for how we operate. Had I not taken the time to visit the office and walk around to meet everyone, I never would have seen what was happening, including the need to create unity and alignment.

That is the softer side of leadership, which if unheeded will become a leader’s blind spot. Being a leader, being a CEO, is not just a position; it is a privilege and a responsibility. The lessons learned from the leadership journey are numerous. I am continually reminded that I’m not simply a messenger of our strategy. My job is to be the message—not only in words, but in demeanor, mannerisms, decisions, and actions.

It is the nuances of leadership that make the difference—the soft side, which just may be the hardest part of all.

Gary Burnison is CEO of Korn/Ferry International, the world’s largest executive recruiting firm and a leader in talent management. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller "No Fear of Failure" (Jossey-Bass, 2011), and the bestselling "The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership" (McGraw-Hill, 2012).

Monday, April 16, 2012

How to Lead Yourself When the Boss is Not Around

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work for an organization and not have a boss breathing down your neck?

Sure, everyone – even entrepreneurs and CEOs answer to someone. However, there are jobs that are so far down the deep end of the empowerment continuum that it feels like you’re on your own with little or no supervision. In many organizations and occupations, “management by walking around” and micromanagement have fell by the wayside, either by design or out of necessity. Organizations are flatter, spans of control have increased, and hundreds of thousands of employees now work from home.

I’m in one of those positions. I run Executive Development Programs at a large university. The search committee and the Dean told me they were looking for a self-starter that could work with a high degree of autonomy. They weren’t kidding.

While it might sound like a great deal, working independently offers its own set of challenges. After all, the role of “manager” must have been invented for a reason, right? As much as we like to complain about our managers, some of them – the ones who can actually lead – can be inspiring, motivational, and help us do more than we could have on our own. In the absence of that kind of leadership, it’s up to us to lead ourselves. Here are a few things I’ve learned about self-leadership that might work for you:

1. Have a clear set of values or principles.
That’s leadership 101, right? Well, it’s just as important to have a clear set of values when leading yourself as it is when leading others. It’s about making the right choice when no one’s watching.

2. Have an “ownership” mindset.
You run that little piece of the world like it’s your own business. It’s your balance sheet and income statement, and there’s no one to point fingers at if you make a mistake. Accountability is a must.

3. Develop a vision, set of 2-3 year goals, and actions plans.
Having goals is a habit I developed years ago and take it with me wherever I go. It’s a lot more energizing too when you get to create them because you want to, not because someone’s making you do it.

4. Develop measures.
Without a boss, you have to monitor your own performance. Objective, measurable performance indicators help prevent us from getting delusional about how good or bad we think we’re doing.

5. Develop an informal “Advisory Board”.
Identify a small group of stakeholders that can give you hard, honest feedback, will listen to your ideas, and offer great advice.

6. Cultivate strong relationships with your peers and other key stakeholders.
In the absence of direct supervision, peers can offer the support you need to get things done, collaborate on problems and opportunities, and offer encouragement. The strength of your peer relationships is also a strong indicator of your leadership potential; in the absence of direct observation, your manager will heavily weigh the observations of your peers and others.

7. Make sure there are “check and balances” in place.
When it comes to signing contracts, spending money, selecting vendors, hiring decisions, and anything where you could be exposed to allegations of favoritism, always review these decisions with someone else – even if you’re not required to. In the absence of a “the buck stops here” manager, you need to find someone else to play that role. It could be a hard-nosed peer, the CFO, HR, the company attorney, whatever – someone who’s willing to call you out if needed.

8. Keep your boss informed.
Your boss may not require or want regular meetings or updates – but do ‘em anyways. If you can’t get the regular meetings, then at least provide regular updates on key decisions, achievements, metrics, and a head’s up on any problems that might end up finding their way to your manager’s desk.

9. Stick to a schedule.
Disciplined time management is essential when you’re not punching the clock and no one’s watching. You values should be your guide here.

10. Celebrate your achievements.
Give yourself a pat on the back now and then. Brag to your spouse or friends. Keeping yourself motivated though positive recognition is just as important as kicking yourself in the rear when things go bad. Go ahead, take a bow.

How about you – anything to add?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How Leaders Can Build a Change-Friendly Culture

Guest post by Lisa Jackson and Gerry Schmidt:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.
 – Charles Darwin

Organizations today are caught in a leadership perfect storm. The forces of internet transparency, rapid technology and young generations demanding empowerment are challenging organizations of all sizes across every industry to sail differently. Yes change is a constant … but it has bigger waves and smaller waves. Currently, we are about 25 years into a 50-year cycle of massive transformation. At the end of this cycle, every part of our society will be unrecognizable. *History tells us this is the 8th mass transformational era since the dawn of writing. This particular stage is unprecedented in its global scale and speed. No industry or economic power is immune.

In such an era, existing power structures crumble like the levees in New Orleans. What flows forth are new, transparent, and ways of thinking and leading in a global society. Leaders who can harness people together in shared power, collaboration, and transparency will help their organizations avoid extinction.

What is required of leaders to make this transition?

Think Sherpa. Leaders today need to focus less on traditional methods of strategy and more on preparing people for a very different kind of technical climb: Achieving and sustaining competitive advantage amidst short life cycles. The climb requires more than good equipment. It’s mental as much as physical. A storm or unpredictable conditions can strike at any moment. Leaders must exhibit fearlessness to show people how to expect, notice and respond to anything.

There are 5 characteristics leaders must strengthen to build a culture that embraces change:

1) Clarity. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a clear, visible goal. Such clarity is typically absent for people, and yet is the single most important criteria for building a change-friendly culture. When every person in the company can recite “What is our goal?” (an inspiring version of “How we define success”) it creates unity and alignment. Defining success in financial terms doesn’t inspire anyone beyond the top few people in the company. Use language like “Be the best _______________.” Clarity stops the feeding frenzy on change programs. It provides clear guidance to start saying “no” to most initiatives and “Yes” to what will create competitive advantage and move you towards the vision.

[Our success] comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much – Steve Jobs

2) Role Models. “Be the change you want to see.” Nelson Mandela’s wisdom is essential in a change-friendly culture. There’s no substitute for being a role model for what you are asking people to do, because people believe what you do more than what you say. Leaders who tout values of “empowerment” or “collaboration” and default to barking orders in high-stress situations undermine people’s desire to change. People don’t resist change - they resist being changed. In a change-friendly culture, leaders demonstrate how programs and initiatives are part of the same path to the vision. As well, they initiate “inviting conversations” about change versus a feeling of “mandatory draft.” Asking good questions and providing outlets to discuss change are important tools in this era of leadership.

3) Right-Sizing Empowerment. Workplace engagement is the heartbeat of your business. But true engagement is not a program … it’s simply what human beings DO. You can’t get it by copying infamous Gen Y party tricks and concierge benefits. Think about this for a moment: What engages you fully? When you become lost in what you’re doing, passionate about it, in the “flow” – what’s true? If you’re like most of us, you chose it, you see an opportunity to learn or grow, it connects you to something bigger and more meaningful, you have some autonomy. Are those qualities mirrored in how teams are set up and decisions are made in your company? These are the basic conditions for engagement. Anything else is window dressing.

4) Bias to Act for the Customer. There is a lot of rhetoric on innovation and its companion, risk-taking. The type of risk that works in a change-friendly culture is “decisive experimentation.” Stop talking and start learning by taking small steps toward the right things (see #1). Change-friendly cultures have socialized ways of working that encourage and reward smart experimentation that is tethered directly to their customer (internal or external). Try it … course-correct … adjust … expand. In a change-friendly culture every part of the company is in this cycle (Accounting, HR, Customer Support, Product Development). Every team knows who it serves and has a bias to act on the customer’s behalf.

5) Procreate DNA. Your company culture – grounded in clear values – is a stabilizing force during change, like climbing ropes. What can people hold onto and count on, that never changes and keeps them anchored to the familiar and comforting? A crucial factor in helping people embrace change is knowing what is stable. Cultures that are change-friendly are systematic in passing on the DNA of their culture. “Know thyself” and talk about it. To build a positive workplace culture, you must name it, celebrate it, and pass it onto new generations through leaders.

Lisa Jackson and Gerry Schmidt are corporate culture experts and authors of the book “Transforming Corporate Culture: 9 Natural Truths for Being Fit to Compete.” They offer a proven method to teach leaders how to evolve their corporate cultures to perform better, innovate faster, and show they truly care about people in an unprecedented era of rapid change and transformation.
Visit them on the web at or follow them on Twitter at

*Navigating the Badlands: Thriving in a Decade of Radical Transformation, Mary O’Hara Deveraux, © 2004.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Is it Ever OK to Demote a Manager Back to Their Former Position?

Is it ever OK to demote a manager back to their former position? Your first, intuitive answer might be "hell, no!"

Some companies or managers won’t even allow it, under any circumstances.

But why not? It happens all the time in baseball. Major league players are “sent back to the minors” for further development, and sent back up to the majors if and when they are ready.

I’ve seen cases when moving a manager one level down in the organization has turned out to be a win-win for the manager and the organization. It's usually happened when a technical expert was promoted either before they were ready or for the wrong reason, i.e., best sales rep promoted to sales manager, best engineer promoted to engineering manager, etc…
Why in the world would you want to lose the person who used to be the best performer in the group? Why should they pay for the organization’s dumb promotion mistake?

Besides, spending even a short time in a higher level role can be a developmental experience that can be leveraged for improved performance at the level below. That manager can now “see the big picture” and has an appreciation for why and how higher level decisions get made.

However – it probably won’t work, unless the following conditions are in place:

1. The new position is legitimate and justified – no “made-up” job to allow the person to save face or avoid having to fire someone. Being pushed aside into one of these roles isn’t compassionate at all – it can be humiliating and isn’t fair to the rest of employees doing real work.

2. No one is being bumped to make room for the manager. The exception to this would be as a result of a formal restructuring, when an organization wants to keep the best talent through a ranking and placement process. Still, even in this circumstance, it’s a crappy situation to walk into.

3. The manager is well qualified for the new position, or can get back up to speed quickly.

4. The manager is willing to make the move and is committed to succeed. The manager’s not going to do it kicking and screaming and holding a grudge. Yes, maybe they are willing to do it, and they can do it, but yes, they even have to like it. This is critical – success is all about attitude, and a new team member with a chip on the shoulder can poison a team. For some managers, it's even a relief to go back to the old job they loved.

5. The manager didn’t burn too many bridges to get the support needed to be successful.

6. The manager is willing to take a cut in pay. The cut doesn’t have to come all at once – it can be gradually reduced or frozen in order to give the person a chance to adjust to the new salary.

7. Its better if the manager has the opportunity to do his/her new old job in a different group (new office, territory, division), but this isn’t always possible in smaller organizations or if relocation isn’t possible.

8. The manager should be given the opportunity to develop the skills needed to be considered for promotion again and be given the resources and support. The message isn’t “never again”, it’s “not now”.

I know there are lots of examples out there where this kind of move didn’t work – but if it didn’t, I’ll bet one or more of the conditions above were missing.

I’m thinking I might be an outlier on this question…. How about you, what’s your take on it?

Friday, April 6, 2012

10 Ways to Improve Your Credibility

To build on the "trust" theme from my last post, here's a guest post from performance coach Darryl Rosen:

Leaders and managers spend a lot of time and effort figuring out how to develop their people’s talent, shape their performance, and motivate them to improve.

But when was the last time you focused on yourself? Specifically, how’s your credibility? Does it need some attention? Here are 10 ways to boost your credibility with associates, customers, and everyone else within your sphere of influence.

1. Demonstrate ownership and a sense of urgency. Your associates and customers want a quick turnaround when they have a problem or concern. Show them they matter.

2. Be clear on when you will respond. When a problem or concern arises, quickly communicate details on how you will fix the issue, and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

3. Return calls and emails promptly. Don’t let emails sit in your inbox unanswered, and don’t hide behind your voicemail—especially if you’ve made a mistake. Be reachable.

4. Meet face-to-face when possible. Email is handy, but it isn’t the right mode of communication for resolving conflicts, having discussions, or expressing feelings.

5. Be open, candid, and transparent. Don’t withhold information that you should be sharing. Don’t force others to ask for the truth; volunteer it. Being open instills trust.

6. Earn trust—don’t ask for it. The worst thing a manager can say is “Trust me!” Build credibility with your actions and you’ll never have to ask for it.

7. Follow through with agreements. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Never make others beg for information that you said you would provide.

8. Admit your mistakes. Be accountable for your actions. Nothing destroys credibility more than blaming everyone else and refusing to point your finger at yourself.

9. Restate commitments. If a customer or associate agrees to anything, restate back to them what they’ve just agreed to. That way there will be surprises—from you or from them.

10. Set a good example. If you blame others, worry, get hysterical, do things in a mediocre way, have disorganized methods, or fail to see others’ potential, so will your associates.

* * * * *
Darryl Rosen has many years of experience running an internationally renowned company and is now a leading performance coach for managers and sales professionals. His newest book is Table for Three? Bringing Your Smart Phone to Lunch and 50 Dumb Mistakes Smart Managers Don’t Make! Learn more at

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

20 Signs That You Can’t be Trusted as a Leader

“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”
- Leadership Guru Warren Bennis

“In leadership, there are no words more important than trust. In any organization, trust must be developed among every member of the team if success is going to be achieved.”
- Duke Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski

“If I can’t trust you, then I can’t work with you – end of story.”
- Leadership Blogger Dan McCarthy

“The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won’t get much sleep.”
- Woody Allen

Are you a trustworthy leader? Take the assessment below. Sure, everybody may do a few of these now and then. However, if there’s a consistent pattern of multiple behaviors, then I’d say there’s a serious issue of trustworthiness.

1. You don’t do what you said you were going to do.

2. You overpromise and under deliver.

3. You’re unpredictable and inconsistent.

4. You always seem to have a hidden agenda.

5. You’ll agree just to avoid conflict.

6. You never share anything personal about yourself.

7. You never seem to finish anything you start.

8. You have a reputation that says you can’t be trusted.

9. You’re never willing to take a stand.

10. You won’t listen.

11. You don’t seem interested in what’s important to others.

12. You gossip about other people and disclose confidential information.

13. You make decisions but don’t explain how and why you made the decision.

14. You often change your plans or mind and don’t tell others about it or explain why.

15. You come across as uncompassionate and insensitive.

16. You won’t admit your mistakes or acknowledge your weaknesses.

17. You misrepresent other’s views.

18. You’ll say anything to achieve your objectives and results.

19. You sugarcoat the truth.

20. You see others as a threat when they are successful or come up with good ideas.

Anything to add to the list?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 2012 Carnival of Leadership Development: Earth Day Edition

The April 2012 Carnival of Leadership Development: Earth Day Edition is being hosted by my blogging friend Tanmay Vora at his QAspire blog.

Check it our right here. I believe this may be our first edition hosted from India?

Many thanks to Tanmay for hosting this month's edition!

The next Leadership Development Carnival returns back to Great Leadership May 6th. If you blog about leadership and would like to submit a recent post, just send me an email at danmccarth at gmail dot com with the following information:

Your name
Name of post author (if different)
Name of post with link
Name of blog with link
Any introductory comments

In order to participate, you must be willing to help promote the finished Carnival through your social media channels so that all can benefit from exposure to new readers.