Tuesday, September 30, 2014

7 Elements of a Compelling Leadership Vision for Change

This post was recently published at Smartblog on Leadership:

Leading change starts with a compelling leadership vision for change. According to leadership expert John Kotter, a lack of leadership vision is one of the most common reasons why transformational change efforts fail.
A leadership vision isn’t just for large, CEO led, company-wide transformational changes. Leaders at all levels need to inspire people to change in order to overcome significant challenges and achieve important goals.

“Transformational” is always relative and defined by those most impacted by the change. While an office reconfiguration at a branch office may seem insignificant and trivial to a CEO and his executive team, it’s probably considered transformational to the employees that work in that office. It’s up to the branch office manager to have a vision for that office reconfiguration, or the move is going to be met with skepticism and resistance. The change is going to take longer than it needs to, and may not even achieve the desired results.
Here are 7 important elements for any leadership vision for change:

1. It should be positive. A vision should focus more on how the future will be better, and why. It should paint a picture of a better place to be.
While many would say a “burning platform” approach should be used to convince people to change, I believe it’s a less effective because it relies on fear in order to motivate. I’d much rather rely on positive psychology.
2. It should be inspirational. “We’re all going to show up for work on time for the next 90 days” isn’t really going to inspire the troops to be all that they can be. Decisions are emotional, not logical. People don’t make decisions by facts – they are swayed by their emotions. They then use facts to justify their emotional decision. A vision needs to appeal to the emotions of those involved in order to be inspirational, then supported with logic.

3. It should be bold. What’s the most inspirational movie that you’ve ever seen? In most cases, you’ll probably think of movies that involved overcoming seemingly impossible odds. Don’t just say “We’re going to make a 10%” improvement” – go for 50%, or 90%! The best visions are BHAGs – big, hairy, audacious goals.
Is there risk involved? A Chance you could fail? Sure, there always is with bold visions. Here’s a good way to look at it: There are 32 NFL football teams. Each year, every one of those teams set a goal to win the Super Bowl. Only one of them can win – the others will all lose. However, that doesn’t mean a team should set a vision for “making the playoffs and losing in the first round”.  If you don’t achieve it, you’ve most likely made positive steps forward, learned a lot, and had a blast trying.

4. It should be inclusive. Involving other will not only create ownership and buy-in for the vision, it will most likely result in a better vision. There are a lot of ways to involve others in your vision. You can ask people upfront for their input, include them in the creation of the vision, or involve them in the implementation planning.

5. It should be measurable and attainable. While a great leadership vision may not always have a specific number attached it, it should at least be directional enough so that people will know when you’ve achieved it. Again, some may disagree, but I believe a vision should have a destination.
6. It should connect to the greater good. “Increasing revenue by 25%” may be important to the CEO and the Board, but it’s not going to inspire too many employees or other stakeholders. Nowadays especially, today’s employees want to feel like they are making a difference, and a contribution to making the world a better place. They crave a sense of purpose – that’s what inspires us to change and give it our all.

7. It needs to be communicated - often. Many leaders believe they have a vision, but when employees are asked, they don’t have a clue what it might be. Visions should not be well guarded secrets! Leaders need to get out and talk to their employees about the vision. Communicating a vision is not an event – it’s an ongoing process, where the vision is constantly and consistently communicated until every single employee has internalized it.
Creating a leadership vision for change isn’t easy – it’s hard work! But then again, there’s a lot of hard work in creating a lousy vision too, so you might as well do it in a way that inspires people to change and achieve extraordinary results. After all, that’s what leadership is all about. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dealing with the Slacker Employee

When one employee is not pulling their weight, it can have a devastating impact on productivity, customer service, or sales. Today’s lean organizations can no longer tolerate anything less than 100% effort from all of their employees.

However, the most negative impact a “slacker” employee can have isn’t necessary organizational results – it’s the impact on that employee’s coworkers that have to work extra hard to cover for their coworker. When a manager doesn’t see this – or, chooses not to address it - morale suffers, and ultimately, good employees will either lower their own standards or quit.

Read my latest post over at About.com Management and Leadership to find how to deal with the “lazy” employee. You might be surprised at some of the possible causes and solutions.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why Pope Francis is the World’s Most Effective Leader

Guest post from Jeffrey A. Krames:

While I was writing my book on Pope Francis, I asked over 200 people who they felt was the most effective leader on the world stage today. I even gave many hints, such as "the person is living and doing well, does not live in the U.S., has little money, but makes news several times a week around the world."


Not one person responded "Pope Francis." How can that be? After all, he was Time Magazine's Person of the Year, and was also named the World's Greatest Leader by Fortune Magazine. I believe that the Pope's avuncular way, his humility, and his humanity are traits that are not often associated with leadership. How we got into this pickle I am not sure. Think about it: shouldn't a leader have all of those traits? Aren't the days of bullies and authoritative mavericks (bullies by another name) over? If they're not, they should be. However, Pope Francis has much more than a smile and a wonderful demeanor. He has all the "stuff" that great leaders are made of. Let's examine a few of his best characteristics so we can better understand what makes him tick---and what makes him so effective.

He articulates a clear vision: This is something that the Pope did from the moment of his election. Humility would define him and his papacy, and he made it as clear as crystal. For example, when he was newly elected, he asked the people around him to pray for him. That was unprecedented. It is the custom of any new pope to give a prayer to the crowd assembled to greet him in St. Peter's Square. He did that, but not until he claimed himself to be a "sinner" in need of a prayer. Since then, everything he has done has reinforced that trait. He drives a Ford Focus when his protection detail allows him, he eschewed the papal palace, and removed the papal throne; instead, he opted for a modest two-bedroom apartment and sometimes cooks for himself like he has done for so many years of his life. That leads us to our second trait. 

His Entire Life is an Example: As in the examples above, Pope Francis lives very modestly. But that is only the beginning of the Pope Francis leadership memoir. He also does many things that he wants other members of the clergy to do in order to signal to the world that his vision is a more pastoral, more open and loving Church. For example, for his 77th birthday last December, who did Francis choose to dine with? Was it other cardinals or members of the clergy? Of course not. Instead, he decided to eat lunch with four homeless people. No cameras. No photo ops. He feels more comfortable eating with "regular" people. He honed that trait before he was Pope, when he was known as "the Bishop of the Slums." During that period of his life Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis' name before he became pope), made a conscious decision to become more humble. His humility did not come naturally to him. This is important, because it gives the rest of us hope that we all can become more Francis-like.

He Does what Feels Right, Not What Others Want to Hear: This is a stand-out trait given today's 24-hour, cable news, TMZ- YouTube news cycle. Think of the politicians of today. Whether it be in the U.S. or Europe or wherever business is conducted, the vast majority of leaders pander to cameras and constituencies. Not so with Pope Francis. I guess you can say that he panders to one person: Jesus Christ. Everything he does is an attempt to give the underdogs of our society a leg up. His entire focus is on opening the church door wider so that he and the members of the clergy he leads can heal souls.  

He Executes with Precision: The best leaders know that nothing is done well unless the leader executes in a timely and effective manner. This is another area in which the pope shines. Since the outset of his papacy he has made few wrong moves. He has signaled to the LGBT community that they are welcome; he did the same thing with divorcees and spouses of divorcees. He has transformed a cold and scolding church into a warm and welcoming one.

His Numbers are Incredible: How do we really know how effective Pope Francs is? After all, how hard is it to send up a few trial balloons about new ideas? So let's look at what we can measure. Isn't that our, for example, business leaders are measured? Within six months of assuming the role of Pope, Francis had increased weekly attendance in St. Peter's Square by an astronomical 1,700 percent! He also has an approval rating of 88 percent, double that of the American president and about 600 percent better than members of congress. And as time goes on, he built bigger audiences and only gets more popular. I, for one, cannot wait to see what he comes up with next!

Jeffrey A. Krames is the author of LEAD WITH HUMILITY: 12 LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM POPE FRANCIS. He is the CEO and president of JK Literary Services, a publishing & literary agency that specializes in leadership, management, and other business-related works. In a career that has spanned more than 33 years, Jeffrey served as editor-in-chief of Portfolio, the business book division of Penguin, and Vice President and Publisher of McGraw-Hill’s trade business books division. Jeffrey has personally edited and published more than 400 business books, including many award-winning, best-selling titles on business luminaries that include Jack Welch, Michael Ovitz, Ross Perot, William Paley, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Herb Kelleher and Lou Gerstner among others. Learn more about him at LEADWITHHUMILITY.COM.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It All Starts With Leadership!

How can leaders create a workplace culture where employees are raving fans? It all starts with Leadership.

Read  Beth Armknecht Miller's guest post over at About.com Management and Leadership to find out how.

Monday, September 22, 2014

10 Nightmares That Cause Managers to Lose Sleep

Management has its share of perks and rewards. You get a fancy title, maybe an office, and a big chair.

However, there’s a price to pay for those extra rewards and perks. Being a manager means you also have to deal with the tough issues that can cause you to lose sleep at night.

Read my latest post over at About.com Management and Leadership to find out what
the top ten issues are that can keep a manager up at night.

I’ve also included a “sleep aid” for each one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Learn to Speak Finance and Accounting!

Managers need to be able to hold their own with the Bean Counters. See my latest post over at About.com Management and Leadership for a handy cheat sheet for some of the most commonly used finance and accounting lingo.

You could also tell a couple of accountant jokes, but that's only going to get you so far and may backfire:

Why did the accountant cross the road?
To bore the people on the other side.

How can you tell when an accountant is extroverted?
He looks at your shoes while he's talking to you instead of his own.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Do you Know the Difference Between a Performance Issue and a Pet Peeve?

How would you like it if your manager told you that you were putting the toilet paper on the wrong way?

Probably the same way your employees feel when you get on their case about your own personal pet peeves.

Read my latest post at About.com Management and Leadership to find out the difference between a legitimate performance issue and an annoying pet peeve.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Not Everyone Appreciates Your Type of Appreciation

Guest post By Dr. Paul White:

One of the lessons that aspiring leaders must learn is:  to be an effective leader, you have to be able to lead individuals who are different than you.  If you don’t, you will only gather and lead those who are similar to you. This, in turn, limits what you can accomplish.  You actually don’t want to lead a group of “Junior You’s”  (although the idea seems intriguing, at first.)  You may be talented but you can’t do everything, and to accomplish significant goals you need team members who are different (and even significantly different) than you.

The 5 Different Types of Appreciation People Value

Here is a simple but foundational truth: not everyone feels appreciated in the same ways.  Not everyone likes public recognition or social events.  One leader stated, “You can give me an award but you’ll have to drag me up front for me to get it in front of a crowd.”  And for many introverts, going to a “staff appreciation picnic” is more like torture than a reward for doing a good job.  They may prefer getting a gift card for a bookstore and staying at home and reading.  Find out what they value and communicate in that language.

Some people highly value words of affirmation—which can be a simple compliment.  (“Jill, thanks for getting the report completed and to me in time for the presentation.”) 
However, other individuals don’t value verbal praise because to them “words are cheap.”  One office manager reported that “John compliments everyone all the time and that’s fine.  But what I really would like is just 15 minutes of his time and undivided attention, where I can talk to him without distractions.” 
A third language of appreciation isacts of service.”  As one team member shared, “It’s not that encouraging to me to get a bunch of praise for all the work I’ve done while I continue to work long hours to finish a job.  A little practical help would be quite encouraging.” 
For some individuals, a small tangible gift can be quite meaningful.  This is not the same as bonuses or additional compensation.  Rather, it is a small gift that shows that you’re getting to know your team members and what is important to them in their life outside of work.  It can be something as small as one of their favorite cups of coffee, or a magazine about a hobby that they enjoy. 
Appropriate physical touch is the final language of appreciation that can be utilized in the workplace.  While it is critical that any physical touch is appropriate (not being sexualized or unwanted), physical touch is actually common in many workplaces and cultures. “High five’s” when a project is completed, a “fist bump” given when a problem is solved, or a congratulatory hand shake when an important sale is made are all examples of appropriate physical touch in work-based relationships. 

If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.mbainventory.com) was developed to identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee.  You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another.

Remember, not everyone desires to be shown appreciation in the same way that you do.  If you are going to build (and keep) a team of diverse individuals, you need to learn how they want to have appreciation communicated.  If you don’t, your scope of influence will be severely limited.

Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace and Rising Above a Toxic Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.  Go to www.appreciationatwork.com for more information.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

You're Just Not Strategic Enough for Me

Have you gotten that feedback? Ouch! That's almost as bad as "let's just be friends".

But have no fear, you can learn to be more strategic!

Read my latest post over at About.com Management and Leadership to find out how.


Monday, September 8, 2014

You know You're a Micromanager When....

No manager likes to think of themselves as a "micromanager"..... yet, working for a micromanager boss is one of the most frequently reported reasons employees hate their jobs or hate their bosses.

Take my 20 questions quiz over at About.com Management and Leadership to find out if you're a micromanager!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

10 Rock Solid Truths About Management vs. Leadership

Stop me if you’ve heard this one….

Three guys walk into a bar – a boss, a manager, and a leader. The bartender says “whadda ya have?”

The boss abruptly orders a round of beers without asking the other two what they want. The manager asks how much the beers are going to cost. The leader inspires everyone to reach their full potential.

Bad jokes aside, there is a difference between management and leadership. While the two terms are often used interchangeable (as I often do), management and leadership are not the same.

Read my latest article over at About.com Management and Leadership to find out what they are.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The September 2014 Leadership Development Carnival

This month's Leadership Development Carnival is being hosted by Jon Mertz, over at Thin Difference.

Jon and his team have collected 25 recent posts that guide future and new leaders on how to approach an issue, collaborate with teams, develop a strategy, or enhance key skills. 

You can find it right here.