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Great Leadership Opinions and information on leadership and leadership development by Dan McCarthy

  • It’s Great to Lead with Smart Experiments
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on October 15, 2020 at 8:35 pm

    Guest post by Steven K. Gold, M.D.: Leadership is all about decision and action. As leaders, our goal is to make the best decisions that lead to the most productive actions. As the world becomes less certain, even highly unpredictable, how do we go about optimizing our chances for success?Fortunately, we have a group of experienced leaders who have been grappling with the challenges of uncertainty for many years: successful entrepreneurs. For over 20 years, I have studied entrepreneurs. As an academic and as a thought leader, I have conducted studies of thousands of entrepreneurs of all kinds, on three continents. This has included embedding myself within various accelerator programs to observe the daily (and even moment-to-moment) decisions and actions of successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs. This led to the idea of Smart Experiments. Experiments are investments of a first set of available resources that produce a second (hopefully more valuable) set of resources. I use the term “resources” broadly, and they include human connections (networks), knowledge, experience, expertise, and ability to influence others, among many others. Resources are the foundation of experiments. Experiments – like everything else in life – can be done poorly or well. Despite this, most of us have never been taught how to do an experiment in a way that predisposes to success. Expert entrepreneurs, on the other hand, have developed and mastered a particular process that I refer to as a Smart Experiment. Smart Experiments are done in an ongoing cycle that includes four steps: 1) DESIGN. Entrepreneurs always look around to assess their available resources. What resources do I have – human connections, material, knowledge, experiences, expertise, finances, etc. – that I can combine in creative ways to design a possible experiment? Entrepreneurs make formal and informal lists (referred to as Opportunity Registers) of all of their possible experiments, based on the resources they have at hand. Expert entrepreneurs like having many opportunities, and options. 2) DECIDE. Given a long list of possible experiments, entrepreneurs categorize them. They do this continuously, and are always reassessing their resources in light of the results of ongoing experiments. Any possible experiment that has been Designed in Step 1 can be placed into one of four categories: a) do it now, b) do it later, c) find a partner, or d) forget about it. This prioritization determines what happens next. 3) DE-RISK. Before embarking on the “do it now” experiments, entrepreneurs de-risk their experiments. This means that they identify the most likely potential causes for failure, and prepare for them in advance of doing the experiment. This step recognizes that certain easily predictable and fixable issues can make a big difference, and they are addressed up front. This predisposes any given experiment to success. 4) DELIVER. Only then do entrepreneurs do the experiment, which almost always involves a series of small steps. Since every experiment is an investment of resources intended to secure (more valuable) resources, expert entrepreneurs harvest all of the value that results from any given experiment. They do not leave value on the table. We can each choose to do our experiments poorly or well. Doing Smart Experiments – and helping others to do them properly – increases chances for successful outcomes. The best entrepreneurs encourage everyone around them to do Smart Experiments. Here are a few take-away lessons for leaders: First, Smart Experiments involve thought and action. Entrepreneurs rarely get stuck in “analysis paralysis” because they break down risky activities into less risky, small steps. Instead of jumping across a room, they take it a step at a time. By taking a step at a time they increase the likelihood that each step will go well, and they are much more likely to make it across the room – even if they encounter an obstacle. Obstacles (representing uncertainties) are easy to walk around, and much harder if you fly right into them. This is one way that expert entrepreneurs deal with uncertainty. Second, the best entrepreneurs understand that succeeding and failing are two sides of the same coin. Smart Experiments, using prioritization and risk mitigation, mean that our failures become smaller. That said, failures do occur, and are expected to occur. If an entrepreneur is not failing at least a good portion of the time (remember, they are taking small steps and so these are relatively small failures – or learning adventures), this means the entrepreneur is probably not trying hard enough. So why is it great to lead with Smart Experiments? First, understanding resources is the best way to understand the value you have to invest. The more you have to invest, the more you are likely to reap greater returns. Second, Smart Experiments prioritize those actions that make the most sense – to do now, do later, partner, or not do at all. Smaller steps that make up Smart Experiments are also easier to get started with, and to make successful. When things go awry, as they often do in uncertain environments, smaller steps lead to smaller failures, which protect resources. All of this predisposes to a higher probability of success, which has a dramatic compounding effect. Leading with Smart Experiments means one more thing: prioritizing intelligent action over results. If people are empowered to do their best, to do their best experiments, then they are pursuing their potential. They will succeed much of the time, and fail at other times, both of which are indicators of effort. With this in mind, celebrate Smart Experiments. Teach Smart Experiments. Be a role model for Smart Experiments. Steven K. Gold, M.D., is the author of HOW WE SUCCEED: Making Good Things Happen Through The Power Of Smart Experiments. He is Chairman of Gold Global Advisors, a firm that advises leaders and teams in the science of sustainable success. For more information, please visit https://www.stevenkgold.com/.

  • Accountability Under Pressure
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on October 8, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    Guest post from Helen Horyza: Under pressure, when you have been disappointed or your direction has been ignored, do you lose your temper? Do you attack the person who made the mistake? It can happen in a split second. Unfortunately, the memory of your behavior will linger much longer in the hearts and minds of your employees. Over time, you create a culture of fear and mistrust. So, how can you take an “accountable perspective” it the heat of a stressful moment? The answer lies in your values. Ask yourself the following questions: · What is your why? · What are your leadership values? · What principles guide you at the deepest level? When you answer these questions, you have the basis for choosing accountability under pressure. Here is a real-life example. Dave, a former client of mine, was a Chief over about 700 people. He was working hard to create a healthy work culture. As part of this effort, Dave held a multi-day off-site meeting including both middle and top management. On the second day of the event, one of Dave’s senior-staff members (without consulting Dave) sent middle management home to save travel and hotel costs. When Dave found out, he was livid. His entire motivation for the event was to include everyone. He was ready to attack. I happened to be presenting at the front of the room that day and could see Dave rocking back and forth on his feet, clearly agitated. I walked to the back of the room and stood next to him. I asked him what was wrong. He explained the situation, red faced and irritated. His anger was intense. He needed to be grounded. I asked Dave what his top three leadership values were. He looked at me like I was insane. How dare I ask such a stupid question at a moment like this? With some effort, he pulled himself together and answered. “HIT” he said. “Helping Others, Integrity and Team Work.” I looked at Dave and calmly suggested he handle the situation based on those values. I walked back to the front of the room and continued teaching. Several days later I checked in with Dave to find out how he resolved the offsite debacle. “I didn’t do anything” he said. “What was done was done. My values helped me remember the bigger picture. Confronting or blaming was not going to change anything. It was a mis-communication.” He now had a tangible life experience to fuel his efforts to be accountable under pressure. Choosing accountability allows you to clear your emotions and focus on what you want to accomplish and preserve relationships. Take a few moments to identify your top three or four values. Write them and post them where you can see them every day. Practice filtering your choices through your values, driving you, and the people you lead, towards accountability. Helen Horyza is the President of Elevate Your Career Inc., and a recognized leadership and career development expert, Helen@HelenHoryza.com. Helen integrates psychology, talent management and employee engagement to elevate organizational culture. Her most recent book is Elevate Your Career:  Live a Life You’re Truly Proud Of.

  • The Three Main Organizational Drivers
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on October 1, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds: Is your company primarily power-, profit-, or purpose-driven?Approaching a meeting with the CEO of his organization, one of my culture clients (a senior executive of a major retailer) said, “I’m going to ask him whether he thinks we are a power-driven company, a profit-driven company, or a purpose-driven company.” I’d not heard about those differentiators, so I asked him to define them for me. Organizations are not exclusively driven by a single one of these approaches,  but their primary drivers are not that difficult to diagnose. An organization’s plans, decisions, and actions provide very clear indicators of their core interests and drivers. Power Driven: A company that is primarily power-driven ●     seeks to be a standard-setter, a “big player” in their industry that others must work with to gain a foothold in their marketplace. ●     seeks to make profits, but their primary actions are designed to increase their influence, their market share, their breadth. ●      exhibits behavior that can be seen as self-serving and arrogant. Based on these criteria, I see Microsoft as primarily a power-driven company. (Full disclosure: I’m running Microsoft 365 on my Macs & iPad. I’m as culpable as any other Microsoft product user for helping them extend their power.) Profit-Driven: A primarily profit-driven company: ●     seeks to create organizational wealth, first and foremost. ●     analyzes potential products, services, and markets carefully to identify the most profitable avenues, then pursues those avenues for as long as the profits meet expectations. ●     exhibits behavior that can be seen as self-serving and manipulative. ●     are known to take advantage of existing rules and/or laws to create profits. Based on these criteria, I see pharmaceutical companies as primarily profit-driven. (Full disclosure: I’m a big believer in Western medicine. I take prescription medications daily to keep my heart healthy and my knees working smoothly.) Purpose-driven A primarily purpose-driven company: ●     seeks to engage employees and customers in helping the organization’s service vision to become a reality. ●     often promote social responsibility and demonstrate service to their communities regularly. ●     employees typically are very vocal about their organization’s purpose and community benefit. Certainly, purpose-driven companies must be profitable to continue their good works; profits serve a purpose, rather than being the primary desired outcome. A few years ago, socialbrite.org celebrated four terrific examples of corporate social responsibility. Based on these criteria, I believe that Newman’s Own, the late Paul Newman’s charitable organization, is a purpose-driven company (they’ve given over $300 million to charitable causes since 1982). (Full disclosure: I LOVE Newman’s Own products, particularly their black bean & corn salsa. Amazing quality & taste, and I’m helping community organizations every time I inhale a jar of it.) The Rest of the Story I connected with this client after his CEO meeting, and he said the conversation was a rich one. “He thinks we’re a profit-driven company that wants to be a purpose-driven company,” he related. “I like that – it means we’re not ‘done,’ that we can evolve to the kind of purpose-driven company I think we can be.” I’m optimistic, as well. Creating a purpose-driven company is more art than science, pulling together key pieces that make a cohesive, vibrant whole. This client has the heart, skills, and commitment to help his organization evolve.S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here. 

  • Playbook for a New Leader’s First 90 Days on the Job
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on September 24, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    Guest post from Kristin Harper:The first 90 days of a leaders’ tenure set the foundation for their future success. Below are five time-tested approaches for new leaders to get off to a fast start.  I’ve written about these and other crucial tools for helping leaders improve relationships, gain executive presence and succeed in my new book, The Heart of a Leader: 52 Emotional Intelligence Insights to Advance Your Career. 1) Focus on Learning and Listening Prior to starting a new role, read as much as you can, for as far back as you can about the business, strategy, plans, performance, people, opportunities, and challenges. Meet with your predecessor and other stakeholders to ask questions that seek to understand and not judge. Forming conclusions and making decisions too early in your role can be disastrous. Marry your independent research with insightful conversations to accelerate your on-boarding and business mastery. During your first 90 days, absorb as much information and insight as possible. Besides periodic questions aimed at deepening your understanding of the organization, business, people, and processes, most of your time should be spent listening. Capture your hypotheses, ideas, and observations in a journal. As you meet more people and learn about the business, validate or invalidate your hypotheses, which will become the basis of your future vision, strategies, and/or operational plans. 2) Establish Yourself as both a Person and Leader Change of any magnitude naturally causes anxiety. Ease your new team’s worries by hosting a Day 1 meeting. This is your first opportunity to establish your personal brand. Demonstrate self-awareness and authenticity by sharing the following content, which will help build trust, establish expectations, and accelerate relationship development with your new colleagues: A summary of who you are as a person and leader, what you believe, how those values and beliefs guide your actions, and how you operate - Why you accepted this role - What you are committed to for the team, business, organization, and culture - Address questions and concerns - Team introductions plus an interesting fact or icebreaker - Paint a picture of the next few weeks - Close with your optimism about working with this team - Consider telling stories, which demonstrate vulnerability, emotional intelligence, and can help create connections that translate to a more motivated team. 3) Build Multiple Relationships Within your first week on the job, host 1-hour on-boarding meetings with each of your direct reports. Within the first two months, host a 30-minute 1:1 meeting with team members across multiple levels in your organization plus cross-functional colleagues. In preparation for these meetings, review the organizational chart, form a cursory understanding of their roles and projects, and read their last performance review and résumé, if they’re on your team. Onboarding meetings are one of few meetings without much two-way dialogue. Send the following questions as a preview, then listen and take notes as they share: Tell me about your background. 2) What motivates you? 3) What are your professional goals? 4) What should we Start/Stop/Continue? Be cautious not to rush to judgment about talent during 1:1 onboarding meetings. Give yourself 60-90 days to determine if you have the right mix of talent to achieve the goals and objectives. 4) Stay Connected Engage with your team through impromptu conversations, team meetings with direct reports, 1:1s with direct reports, all-team meetings, annual skip-level meetings, quarterly development conversations and end-of-year performance reviews. Monthly all-team meetings help build camaraderie, and provide a forum for recognition, to discuss business performance and key projects. These meetings also provide an opportunity for your team to demonstrate their talent, and for you to demonstrate inspirational leadership. 5) Reflect and Envision After 90 days, reflect on what you’ve learned, key observations, and early wins. Share this information with your manager as a head start to your performance review. Reflect on what changes could make the biggest differences in the outcomes, performance, and culture of the business and team. Then develop your vision, objectives, strategies, goals, measures, action plan, and solicit feedback from your direct reports, wise council, cross-functional colleagues, and manager. Once you’ve secured buy-in, cascade the vision and measurable goals throughout the team. Be cautious about change fatigue. Changing too much at once could overwhelm your team, dilute the impact, and put them on the defense if not done thoughtfully. Creating a culture of trust, open communication, accountability, recognition, and commitment to a common vision is the #1 job of a leader. These strategies and tactics will help you engage your team, develop healthy relationships, and build a healthy culture that delivers stronger results.  Kristin Harper is CEO of Driven to Succeed, LLC, a leadership development company that provides brand strategy consulting, market research, and keynote speaking on leadership and emotional intelligence. She is also author of The Heart of a Leader: 52 Emotional Intelligence Insights to Advance Your Career. www.DriventoSucceedLLC.com.

  • 5 Tips for Inspiring Leadership
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on September 17, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Guest post from Karlin Sloan: As a leadership development consultant, I have spent my career with people in business, NGOs, government, and not-for-profits who are focused, competent, talented and who have a deep sense of their personal power to impact those around them.  Recently, those same people are having doubts. They doubt their ability to lead their companies through increasingly challenging times. They doubt their ability to protect their loved ones in a world experiencing ecological, health and social crises. And they doubt our collective human family’s ability to solve the problems facing us on a global scale.  Our organizations, both large and small, are facing the need to adapt to rapid change that is not predictable or particularly controllable. If those who lead us are in doubt, then who can we turn to to inspire us, to calm our fears, and to build a path to a better future? How will we effectively address immense changes as individuals, groups, organizations, and as a world community? There is no more important time for inspiring leadership.  Inspiring leaders are those who practice ‘alignment’.  They are leaders who cultivate personal and organizational openness, adaptability, and meaning. They are leaders who practice confidence in our ability to create a positive outcome no matter what the circumstance. They are the ones who will get us there.  They are capable of aligning themselves to their higher purpose and inspiration, aligning others to a shared goal, and to aligning resources to get the job done. Here are five tips to create alignment in yourself and your organization, with the goal of being a truly inspiring leader: Tip #1 - Accept Reality and Focus on the Future Accepting reality and focusing on the future is sometimes easier said than done.  “Jamie” is a successful entrepreneur who I’ve known for many years.  During the first three months of the Covid-19 shutdown, she’s had to cope with some very difficult realities, including the fact that her booming events-based business was in deep trouble. Tip #2 - View Challenges as Opportunities Reframing is the capability to look at your reality from new frames of reference. If you viewed the challenges of present circumstances as an opportunity for the future, what would it look like?  Tip #3 - Build Relationship and Community The most inspiring leaders know that we all need each other, and that during times of stress and change we need to feel connected and part of something larger than ourselves. Despite social isolation we need to be ever more present to each other. Part of the leader’s role is to reach out individually and collectively to boost morale and allow people to express their concerns and their ideas.  Tip #4 - Practice Physical and Mental Discipline In order to cultivate peak performance we need discipline. Regular daily practices keep us grounded, focused, positive, and healthy. These may be as simple as taking a short morning walk, listening to music that inspires you, reading or working out. Anything that you can establish as a healthy ritual optimizes your performance in other areas of life. My favorite ritual I’ve heard this week - say no to doing something at least once per day.  Tip#5 - Remember a Bigger Purpose Every organization has a core purpose for being. Every brand that is driven by purpose has the capacity to connect directly to a customer need. As a leader, it’s your job to bring people back to why they are working in the first place. What is most important about the services or products you provide? What is important about each and every team member’s contribution?  Times of change bring out the best and the worst, and inspiring leaders focus on the best of themselves and others. Karlin Sloan is a global leadership & development coach, CEO of Sloan Group Internationaland author of new book, Inspiring Leadership for Uncertain Times.

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