Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A “Survival of the Fittest” Approach to Leadership Development Produces Cockroach Leaders

Read my latest post about the dangers of using a survival of the fittest approach to grooming emerging leaders over at About.com Management and Leadership:

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Marathon Effect of Leading Change

When senior managers announce a significant change, their goal is to get employees on board in the hope that they will embrace and support the change. When employees react with confusion, fear, uncertainty, or question the change, managers mistakenly see this behavior as “resisting change”.  They forget that they went through the exact same process. They had more time to deal with it and are now ready to move on.

This “lagging effect” of how people respond or organizational change is called “The Marathon Effect”. It’s an important change model for leaders to understand when planning and leading change.

Read my latest post over at About.com Management and Leadership to learn more.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Power of One Minute Goal Setting

You learned it in Leadership 101: goal setting is the most powerful motivational tool in a leader’s toolkit. But is your goal setting up-to-date?

Read a guest post from management and leadership guru Ken Blanchard, author of the One Minute Manager over at About.com Management and Leadership:


Monday, June 22, 2015

How to Make Better, Faster Decisions

Bad decisions can ruin an organization and kill careers. Have you been given feedback that you need to improve your decision making? If so, you are not alone. Managers often get poor grades from 360 degree feedback assessments in the areas of quality and timeliness of decisions.

Decision making, like any other managerial or leadership skill, can be improved.

Read more for tips and techniques on how to make better, faster decisions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How to Build a Better Meeting: Part Two

More on running better meetings, from the Great Leadership archives:

The burden of running better meetings don’t just fall on the meeting leader’s shoulder – we all have a responsible for better meetings. Read 8 Meeting Commandments that we all Need to Follow to learn how.

There’s nothing like a meeting with a CEO to raise your anxiety level! See How to Survive a Meeting with the CEO.

Your first department meeting? No worries, read 7 Tips for Department Meeting Rookies for a survival guide.

Meetings don’t have to be so painful! Read How to Make Team Meetings Less Painful Than a Root Canal.

Finally, for a more humorous look at meetings, take a look at 30 Thoughts We All Have in Staff Meetings.
Please retweet the articles, share them on Google Plus, like them on Facebook, or forward the newsletter.

You can follow me on Twitter: @greatleadership or email me with suggestions for articles at: danmccarth@gmail.com.

Monday, June 15, 2015

How to Build a Better Meeting: Part One

This week’s posts are all about running better meetings!

We start with a new article over at About.com on how to run better team meetings. Follow these 10 tips and you’ll  have more productive team meetings where your employees walk away feeling engaged and valued.

One-on-one meetings are another way for managers to demonstrate leadership. Follow these 12 tips to learn how.

To create a shared vision, you need to get others involved in creating the vision. Read more to find out how.

Are you using your meetings to cultivate the talent on your team? If not, then learn how to  Incorporate Learning into Weekly Meetings.

When you get a group of people together in a room, conflict is inevitable. Learn to resolve small group conflict in a productive way.

Please retweet the articles, share them on Google Plus, like them on Facebook, or forward the newsletter.

You can follow me on Twitter: @greatleadership or email me with suggestions for articles at: danmccarth@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

5 Ways Leaders Can Be Prepared for Ongoing Change

Guest post from Nancy Falls:

I was a girl scout.  My brothers were boy scouts.  Naturally, we used to argue about which had better programs, handshakes, rules, etc. One thing we didn’t have to argue about was mottos, because they were the same: “Be Prepared”.

Leaders today, former scouts or not, would do well to heed the scout motto, especially when it comes to change.  Last time I checked, the inevitability of change was one of the few things we could count on not changing.  Given that, it is remarkable how many people and organizations are ill prepared for it.  Here are 5 ways in which you can Be Prepared for change. 

1. Know Your Culture, and Take Responsibility for It
Change is hard, for people and for organizations.  People and companies that get good at it are intentional about creating a culture that embraces constructive change.  They have what I call Organizational Readiness: The condition of being prepared, culturally and structurally, for significant change, or having in place the foundations for accepting and participating in constructive transitions.  What is the culture of your organization?  As a leader not only should you know, but you should be part of the force creates conditions for change readiness.  As Peter Drucker says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.  The best laid plans and strategy will fail when confronted with a culture that resists what needs to happen to execute on them.  But as Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “Culture is one thing and varnish is another”.  Be prepared for employees and departments that give the impression of change readiness, but who in fact are adding a varnish to send you looking another way.

2. Practice Change Resistance Awareness
One of the most common organizational roadblocks to change is the well-known NIH (not invented here).  You may hear it as “We don’t do it that way.”  When you hear this it is a cultural roadblock you need to work to clear.  If you have been with the organization for a long time, you are no doubt aware of historical ways of doing things, and in some ways have a leg up on helping people being understand why the old ways must change.  But as often as not you are a newer player seeking, or even brought in, to change the old ways of doing things.  Clearing this attitudinal roadblock requires listening intently and generously to understand what did work about the old way, and why individuals reject newer ways.  Taking the time to understand those who have to change will increase the odds of getting by in for the new way.  First cousin to NIH is the “We Are Not Broken” attitude.  This attitude can be a more powerful argument for not changing than NIH because on the surface things often do not seem broken.

3. Embrace the Power of Interim Leadership
When there is a change in leadership, a period of interim leadership with a skilled interim leader from the outside can facilitate organizational readiness for change. Organizations often appoint the closest available inside person to be interim. These folks have great institutional knowledge and can keep current projects on track, but they are not as well positioned to evaluate organizational readiness for change as is an outsider, especially one skilled at interim work.  It takes a special skillset to move into an organization, without the presumed authority of position, know where to go to “find the buried bodies,” and work independently as needed. And interims that have no interest in the permanent position can be more objective in their evaluations.

4. Remember that Personnel Is Personal
I remember a case study from my MBA studies, which laid out a situation where a manager had to choose one of two candidates for a promotion and overseas assignment.  The candidate who was more qualified had tremendous personal challenges to relocation, including resident invalid parents.  Many students thought the obvious choice was the guy who was most able to make the move, given he did have the basic skills needed. The right answer was to pick the absolute best candidate without second guessing the personal because you can never know all of the facts.  In fact, the candidate with the elderly parents had recently decided to move the parents to a facility, making a move possible.  Likewise, I know a leadership team that was working on succession planning and failed to plan for departures among those execs with certain long-term incentives.  They figured they were locked in and wouldn’t leave.  In fact, for personal reasons, one of the most valuable of these team members did in fact leave early.  It turns out money was not the driver.  Personal issues were.  The point is it’s always personal for your employees when it comes to change.  And while you need to remember that and anticipate personal change and preferences, it is critical to appreciate that you can never know all of the facts.  Plan for personal factors to contribute to change, and in ways you don’t expect.  When planning on the people side of change, have alternative plans prepared.

5. Know What the Organization Can Handle
Different industries have different requirements for change. A tech firm not expecting to move at a rapid pace can expect to be eclipsed.  Also, different employee bases have different appetites for change. Planning for change at a big bureaucracy that is dependent on large staffs of long-time workers requires deliberation and a slower pace.  Different owner structures also have different change values. Family-owned companies can often follow a path of change that brings results more slowly than can publicly traded companies. As a leader you need to understand these differences and drive change at a pace that is right for your company.

When it comes to building a culture of change, leaders would be well served to channel their inner scouts, boy or girl.  Follow these 5 tips and Be Prepared for ongoing change.

Author Bio:
Nancy Falls is a founder and CEO of The Concinnity Company, a boutique advisory that transforms the way boards and leadership teams work together. With more than thirty years of experience in and around the C-suite and the boardroom, Falls is a leadership and governance expert who understands what it takes to drive authentic success. Falls is a Governance Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors. She and her family live in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the author of Corporate Concinnity in the Boardroom: 10 Imperatives to Drive High Performing Companies.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Debunking Three Common Myths About Leadership from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Guest post by Brenda Corbett:

The Star Wars franchise has seen numerous leaders, including great ones of the dreaded Dark Side. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens coming out late this year, we will see new and old leaders take the big screen with various styles of leaderships. There are many definitions of leadership, but sometimes the best way to define something is to explain what it is NOT.  Looking at the common myths and misconceptions can shed light on the truths that can set us free as leaders and help us unleash the best kind of success in an organization.

Myth #1: I can use my motivation to help others be motivated
Make no mistake! One of a leader’s key responsibilities is to motivate others, to “rally the troops.” But what motivation are you using? The operative term here is “my motivation.” What motivates the leader does not necessarily motivate everyone else in the organization. This can be a real stumbling block for leaders as they make assumptions about why their employees do what they do.

Most of the time, leaders are just not digging deep enough to determine why it matters to employees. But having that complete understanding of the reasons people behave the way they do is crucial for a leader’s – and company’s – success. Yoda nailed this in the head. He took the time to understand and influence those he led. He continuously asked questions encouraging others to think. He engaged them in their thoughts and ideas to truly understand what motivated them. By getting to know your employees like Yoda got to know his students, you can help employees make positive choices when deciding what behaviors to use – all based on THEIR motivations, not yours.

Myth #2: My job as a leader is to get my team on board
Most leaders think that their job is to get everyone in the company to think like they do. Align everyone to the company vision and mission. Get them all speaking the same vernacular to go onward and upward to productivity and profits. Create uniform processes so that everyone does everything the same way in perfect, efficient harmony. But as soon as this occurs, it starts to become solely about the leader, starting the steps towards the Dark Side.

Certainly there has to be a team mentality, a loyalty to the company and to each other, but to be successful, companies should be full of free thinkers. Sure, Darth Vader has ultimate respect from all of his followers, but not for good reasons. They respected him out of fear. He didn’t approve (to use the lightest word) when people spoke up or had different thoughts or ideas than him. If someone disagreed with him, they knew to keep their mouths shut or expect Vader to use the force to choke them to death. Darth Vader had the power and respect, but remember how he ended up? Yeah.

As a leader you should aim for diversity of thought by welcoming opposing viewpoints and be open to new ideas. I think you’ll find that’s where some of your best ideas come from.

Myth 3: Every argument has a winner and a loser
This sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Surely this cannot be a myth. But there is an alternate scenario, one in which everybody wins. The key is in your approach. As decisions are made, some go one way, some go another – and as a leader you’ve got to be okay with that. Have you heard of the term “right fighter?” It’s someone who just wants to be right, that is what is most important to them. Not success or solutions, just being right. If you are a strong leader, you know that it just doesn’t work. Being right or getting your way or winning the argument is not the goal, it’s not the path to success. Recognizing and fostering a “we’re all winners” mentality is the best self-fulfilling prophecy of all! Han Solo could be quite the narcissist, but he had this down when it came to taking action. While under attack from Imperial Forces, he made the decisions as a leader and Princess Leia and Luke followed. It was not without digs and questioning from Princess Leia, but ultimately Han Solo led his crew to safety and the argument definitely resulted in everyone as a winner – and more importantly, a survivor.

So tell me…can we agree to disagree? I think so.

We want to know what you think. How do your personal motivations come in to play with your leadership style? Do you ever fall prey to these myths?  Are there other myths you’ve encountered?

Let us know in the comment section below or connect with us on Facebook.

Good luck in your leadership journey. May the force be with you.

About the Author
Brenda Corbett is the co-author of Why It Matters – The Sherpa Guide to What You Are Looking For, centered on a concept she created as an executive coach. Your Why It Matters provides the inspiration for what you choose to do, personally and professionally through four key points leading to your ultimate sense of satisfaction. Based in Cincinnati, but working all over the world, Corbett literally wrote the book on executive coaching, The Sherpa Guide: Process-Driven Executive Coaching. It’s the foundation for certificate programs at 10 major universities. Corbett’s next project will incorporate neuroscience research into her executive coaching methods because it all starts with the brain!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Leadership Lessons from Being Fired

Speaker and author Henna Inam shares her leadership lessons learned from being fired from her region president position at a Fortune 500 company.
Read all about it over at About.com Management and Leadership to learn from her remarkable experience!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Leadership Strengths Can Turn into Weaknesses

This post recently appeared on SmartBlog on Leadership:

When it comes to leadership, is there such thing as too much of a good thing? There sure can be! In fact, just about any weakness can be attributed to one or more strengths that are overused.
In a recent talent review meeting, the executive team was discussing the strengths and development needs of a promising up and coming leader. One of her greatest strengths was her customer focus. This was a company that placed a high value on customer service, so that strength had served her well.

However, this leader was developing a reputation for breaking too many company policies and rules, alienating or bullying other departments, being too narrowly focused, and not strategic enough. Her passion for taking care of her customers at all costs was now turning into a liability.
So yes, you can even be too customer focused.

Here are six other common leadership strengths that when overdone can turn into leadership weaknesses:
1. The results focused leader. This is the leader that gets things done and delivers results. The downside? They often get results at the expense of others, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. In the worst cases, they may even cut ethical and legal corners.

2. The courageous leader. This is the leader that’s not afraid to take a stand, makes the tough decisions, and stands up for what’s’ right. However, when overdone, can come across as dogmatic, uncompromising and overly critical, picking too many fights and burning too many bridges.
3. The caring, compassionate leader.  Yes, you can be too nice, especially when the leader can’t deal with underperformers, avoids conflicts, and can’t make tough business decisions that have a negative impact on people. They can also be taken advantage of and be seen as naïve.

4. The empowering leader. This is the leader that gives lots of room and freedom, is comfortable delegating, and takes a hands off approach to managing others. When overdone, the leader may give too much responsibility to employees that are not ready for it, and not enough direction to those that need it. They may also be seen as others as avoiding doing any work themselves.
5.  The motivational leader. This is the leader that knows how to rally the troops and which buttons to push to get people energized. Could there be a downside? Only if the leader pushes people beyond their limitations, burns people out, or be seen as showing favoritism in their attempts to appeal to what motivates each individual.

6. The visionary, brilliant leader. The Steve Jobs leader. They are the brilliant strategists, masters of their domain, often the smartest person in the room, and always one or two steps ahead of everyone. However, when overdone, they may disregard the views of others, be impatient, and have difficulty relating with those that may not be as smart as them (meaning just about everyone!).
The lesson here is when strengths are overdone, they can turn into weaknesses. While it’s good to be aware of and leverage your strengths, don’t overuse your strengths to the point where they can have negative side effects. Be open to feedback and learn to “dial it back”, especially when under pressure.