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

  • Welcome to Great Leadership!
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on February 4, 2021 at 4:00 pm

     Welcome to Great Leadership!This blog is retired and no longer publishing new content or accepting guest posts. However,  there are over 1200 posts in the archive that can be accessed chronologically or via the search box on the sidebar.You can also purchase an ebook with over 40 of my best posts organized by chapters. See top tab. - Dan McCarthy

  • How to Cultivate Leadership Presence in a Remote Working World
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on January 28, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Guest post from Sarah Rozenthuler: In our rapidly changing world, new pressures are emerging. To navigate more demanding customer expectations, an acute distrust of business and so much remote working, leaders need to find new ways of operating. Cultivating leadership presence is foundational for this to happen. With deeper presence, a leader is able to remain centred when facing unexpected disruptions, be open to new directions and build trusting relationships. People follow people. Leaders who are grounded in who they are, what they stand for and what really matters take others with them. What leadership presence is When was a time that you became so immersed in what you were doing that you lost a sense of time? You might have been reading a novel, talking with a colleague or writing a report; any activity that requires focused concentration can take us there. Already you’ve had a taste of this capacity. When we operate from a sense of our presence, we are in a state of absorbed relaxation. There is a feeling of spaciousness or ‘flow’ inside us. Afterwards, when we look back, we realise that we’d been totally ‘there’ and in touch with our best self. When we are present, we are right here, right now. All our attention is focused in this moment. If we’re in a meeting, we’re attentive; we’re not thinking about our emails, ‘to do’ list or other distractions. We stay in contact with what’s happening in the room, as well as what’s going on inside us. We don’t try to control or manipulate others but allow them space to be themselves, just as we are being ourselves. Other people are attracted by this expansive energy and want to draw closer. Why developing presence matters There are several benefits to cultivating presence and building trusting relationships is chief among them. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, attributes the sustained success of the company to its operating principle of ‘values create value’. In an interview for Fortune, Benioff states: ‘If trust isn’t your highest value, the employees will walk out… Customers will walk out, investors will walk out and leaders will walk out, and you’re seeing more of that everyday.’[1] Deepening presence reduces the risk of ‘acting out.’ When a leader yells at others or humiliates them, it damages relationships. Retrenchment after the event can lead to feelings of shame or, at the other extreme, stubbornness that “I was right!” Wasted energy and lost potential are the result. Dealing with reactivity is key. Whilst lashing out at others provides a short-term release of pent-up energy, it pollutes the atmosphere. No one wants to work for a leader who ‘throws their toys out of the pram’ or withdraws into a sulky silence. When a button inside of us gets pushed, it’s an opportunity to pause, reflect and search inside ourselves so that the button loses its charge. How to become more present With the intensity of working online, it is particularly important to find ways of consciously managing your attention. Here are some things to try (whether on Zoom or in person) so that you stay energised as well as engage your co-workers. 1.    Before a meetingTake a few moments to become present. Find a quiet space where you can close your eyes, scan your body and notice what you’re feeling. Pay particular attention to any signs of stress that you sense. Breathe into this part of your body to help to release any tension. Put away your phone (unless you need it to be logged onto a meeting or for a call.) Keep it out of sight so that you’re less likely to swivel your attention in its direction. The people you’re with will feel more valued if they’re not competing for your attention. 2.    During a meeting Stay in touch with your own body as you interact with others. Feel your feet on the ground, your backside in the chair and your spine sitting upright. Notice yourself breathing in and out. If you’re able to, lightly place your hand on your stomach to help you to stay connected with this “belly breath.” When you notice that you’ve “jumped” out of yourself or lost touch with you sense of self, focus again on your breathing. Maintain eye contact when another person is speaking. On screen, move your eye gaze between looking directly at the camera (so that the other person feels you’re looking directly at them) and looking at their image on the screen. This conscious ‘shuttling’ helps to keep your mind from wandering. It communicates to the other that they have your full attention. If you’re not able to give other people your full attention, say so. It is better to say, “I know you need to talk with me and I’m interested, but I want to give you my undivided attention” than to be in a semi-distracted state. Take care of what you need to and then return to the conversation. 3.    After a meeting Carve out whatever space you can between meetings rather than rushing from one to the next. Even a short break of a few minutes helps to clear your mind and reduce “attention residue” (continuing to think about one issue when you need to pivot to the next.)If it’s possible to stand outside or open a window, even for a few seconds, the fresh air will help to keep your attention focused in the here-and-now. At the end of a meeting, jot down any actions or decisions that were taken so that these don’t remain as ‘open loops’ in your mind, which have been shown to consume a disproportionate amount of energy. Close your ‘loops’ from one meeting before you head to or log into the next. In closing When we are present, we see opportunities and identify risks that we miss when we’re only half there. In a state of presence, we are open to fresh insights and ‘action impulses’ that take us forward.   Our presence – so simple, so basic and yet so rare – is what creates the most impact when someone walks into the room, whether in person or on Zoom. Great leaders have it and you can too. Presence is available to us each moment. Cultivating presence will greatly enhance the quality of your leadership and life. Sarah Rozenthuler is a chartered psychologist, leadership consultant and pioneer of purpose-led leadership. She has over 15 years international experience consulting to many different organizations including BP, Spencer Stuart, Standard Chartered Bank, IUCN and the World Bank as well as numerous SMEs and not-for-profit organisations, including Choice Support and Booktrust. As the author of How to Have Meaningful Conversations: Seven Strategies for Talking About What Matters Most (Watkins, 2012), Sarah’s work has been widely featured in the media including the Huffington Post, the Sunday Times, the FT, Guardian, Psychologies Magazine and the BBC Business online. Sarah works with CEOs and leaders who want to create positive change by having the conversations that matter most. Increasingly these conversations are all about purpose. She founded Bridgework Consulting Ltd in 2007 to enable leaders to engage and energize their people around great work, with the intention of transforming organisations to become a force for good in the world.

  • “It’s Not My Fault” – Six Imperative Rules of Management
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on January 21, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Guest post from Ruth King:How many times have you heard “It’s not my fault” from an employee when it really IS that employee’s fault? He is making excuses about why he didn’t do his job. If he really can’t do the job either training is necessary, or a career readjustment is necessary (my euphemism for firing someone). He has to do what he was hired for or you don’t need that employee. Employees must be personally responsible for their work.  This is one of the toughest things to teach employees because most of them have grown up not taking personal responsibility for anything…and the media promotes this! In addition to employees not taking personal responsibility for their actions, managers being friends with employees also drives me nuts. Welcome to the world of management.  Here are six things managers MUST remember and manage by: 1. You can’t be friends with the employees who work with you. This is probably the toughest lesson to learn. If you’ve promoted from within or a new manager is hired from outside the company, the manager must be friendly but he can’t be friends.  If he goes to lunch with an employee, he has to go to lunch with all of the employees on his team.  No favorites. Managers must be objective and once fellow employees see that someone is promoted they will treat him differently.  This former friend has hiring and firing authority over him.  They won’t tell this person the mistakes they’ve made or complain to him anymore. New managers, if they are working for the same company, often have to develop a whole new group of friends.  And, it is very lonely at first. 2. Bad news doesn’t go away. Many times, people do not like to deal with the difficult things.  They think by ignoring it, the problem will go away.  A new manager must learn that he has to deal with the problems immediately.  If he ignores them, they usually get worse.  So, he has to deal with the tough issues first. When you give a person the responsibility, authority, and accountability, the accountability is the tough part…many times there are negative things to deal with in accountability.  He has to learn to confront the issues quickly and resolve them! 3.  You don’t have to be nice.  You just have to be fair.  A manager has to do things that are fair for everyone.  Some people will like the actions.  Some will not. However, your decisions must be good for the group as a whole. A manager cannot make a decision that will favor one person over another.  For example, if a good employee demands a raise and says that he will quit if he doesn’t get one, many times it is better to let that person quit.  If he gets a raise, everyone will know that they can threaten to quit if they want a raise.  This is not the environment you want. 4.  You have to return telephone calls. If you have an unhappy customer, you must deal with it and resolve the issue.  Letting messages sit only makes an unhappy customer even more unhappy.  An issue that was small could escalate into a major problem. Make sure that the customers are taken care of and solve their problems.  Try to return telephone calls immediately and resolve problems within 24 hours. After all, customers write your paychecks. 5.  You have to make the hard decisions…which are sometimes unpopular. Managers and owners get the privilege of seeing the whole picture. If things aren’t going well, then they get the privilege of dealing with them.  So, it is important that managers and owners see the total picture so they can make informed decisions.  If this means no overtime for a while, shorter hours, layoffs, etc.  then they make and implement those choices.  If it means firing someone who isn’t doing their job, then they have to do it.  6.  Behaviors don’t change by wishing they would change.If you need to change someone’s behavior (or a group’s behavior), then you have to clearly communicate the desired end result and the rewards for changing (or consequences if they don’t change).  Often this is a slow, long term process.  However, with patience and continuous follow up, changes in behavior can be made.  If someone absolutely refuses to make the desired changes, maybe that person doesn’t need to be working for your company.  This is one of those unpopular decisions that you have to make at times. These are six things that all managers must manage by.  If you don’t, the great employees won’t put up with poor management.  They will leave and find other jobs.  You will be stuck with bad employees who will stay. Profitability Master Ruth King has been helping companies get and stay profitable for more than 40 years.  She is the #1 best-selling author of The Courage to be Profitable and just released its #1 sequel, Profit or Wealth? You can reach Ruth at www.ruthking.info.

  • Values are Worthless Without These Four Things
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on January 14, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Guest post from Beth Miller: Values are more than a list of words on your website or a poster in your office. For values to benefit an organization they need to be lived by everyone and fully integrated into a company’s processes and decisions.  Without a focus in your values, a clear definition of each value, and integrating your values into your hiring and performance management system, your values will remain hollow words. Focus I remember many years ago going to visit a new client. Upon entering the lobby, I couldn’t help but notice the very large poster with a listing of company values, in fact there were 18 of them! When we got back to his office, I asked him with curiosity “I noticed your list of values out in the lobby. I’m curious can you name all of your values?” The fact is that he couldn’t, and neither could his employees. So, if you have more than 7 values, it’s time to bring your team together and narrow your values down to the top 7 or less of your most important values. One technique I recommend is from the book Traction, by Gino Wickman. Identify the 3 people in your organization you would want to clone and then start describing the characteristics and behaviors which make them special. This will provide you with an initial list you can narrow down. Meaning In recent years companies have realized they should focus on the important values which make their company standout from the crowd of their competitors. Company values are your company’s DNA. They are the beliefs and principles which drive your decision making and actions for your business, and your values impact the experience your employees, customers, and partners will have with your company. But what do your values mean? Values are abstract while behaviors can be observed and explained with more clarity. The specific actions and behaviors that demonstrate your company values need to be defined. The best way to define your values is to revisit those 3 people you want to clone. Identify 3-5 behaviors for each of your values you observe with these 3 employees. Here’s an example of the value “Working Together”. The behaviors which you observe with your 3 employees on a consistent basis are:1. Works with and supports other team members to drive results2. Builds two-way relationships with employees and customers3. Understands and respects other people’s priorities You now have behaviors that you can use in your hiring and performance management. Hiring Since you now have a definition of each value and the specific behaviors and actions an employee should be demonstrating for a value, you need to integrate this information into your hiring process. Start by creating behavioral interview questions to uncover a candidate’s values. Do they align with your values? You don’t want someone joining your team who won’t live your values. Values misalignment is a deal breaker when it comes to hiring. Behavioral questions are designed to uncover past actions and behavior and determine both culture and values fit. Here are tips to design behavioral interview questions: 1. A good behavioral interview question should first be open ended starting with “What” or “How”.  Open ended questions encourage discussion and require people to think and reflect, they aren’t recall questions. And the very best questions are really a request, “Tell me about a time…” “Share an example of…” 2. The question/request should be designed to not “lead the witness” 3. Understand what a good answer sounds like. Listen for the pronoun “I”. If you hear “we” being used, you will need to clarify what exactly the job candidate’s role was. For example, let’s use the behavior “Works with and supports other team members to drive results”.  A good behavioral interview question would be:“Tell me about a time that you had to deal with a difficult team member on a project.” If I had adjusted the question “Tell me about a time that you had to deal with a difficult team member to successfully complete a project”, I would have been leading the witness and assuming that the project was completed successfully. Instead, give the candidate the opportunity to share how the project turned out. Performance Management The behaviors and actions of your employees should be part of the performance conversation. Too often I see managers focused on goals and results i.e. what needs to get done. When you include how a result was accomplished you are measuring against your company values. The first step to take is to make sure the behaviors which support your values are part of all job descriptions. These behaviors can be measured as part of your performance conversations and can serve as the foundation for your ongoing 1-1 conversations with your employees. The more you relate an employee’s behaviors to their results, the more you will reinforce to the employee what you value. You can also use a 360 assessment to measure performance. The 360° assessment uses collected anonymous feedback from direct reports, managers, peers, and sometimes business partners, as well as a self-assessment, to identify areas where employees can strengthen their skills in order to progress effectively. It is designed to measure the core competencies (behaviors and skills) associated with a person’s position. Make sure that your company is living your values by understanding the behaviors behind your values, hiring the right people, and measuring their performance through both their behaviors and results. Beth Miller is an accomplished author, speaker, and solution provider; her insight and expertise make her a sought-after leadership influencer. A serial entrepreneur and executive coach as well as a former Vistage Chair of 13 years, Beth is featured in numerous industry blogs and publications including Entrepreneur, Leadercast, and TalentCulture.com. Her book, “Are You Talent Obsessed?,” compiles her best practices for business leaders.

  • Change Your Habits
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on January 7, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds Every leader can improve their team’s performance and the team’s values-alignment by changing what they pay attention to. Most people pay attention to what’s right in front of them. We track performance data, customer satisfaction, and the like. As leaders, we pay attention to what’s right in front of you. So, you need to put the right stuff in front of you. What Do You Pay Attention To? In my work with senior leaders and executive teams across a wide variety of industries, one of the most important questions I ask is to learn what those leaders pay attention to. Most of them tell me that they spend most of their time looking at performance indicators -       Summaries of key metrics -       Spreadsheet data -       Other dashboard tools. Monitoring performance metrics is a good thing. Yet sometimes internal systems present metrics that are easy for us to monitor but aren’t the right things for us to monitor. Here’s an example. A few years ago a printing plant client installed a new $20M high-technology press which could deliver speeds of 50,000 impressions an hour. The dashboard built into the press software kept careful track of impressions per hour. However, if the color scheme was off by just 2%, the printed matter would not meet their customer’s standards. The press’ dashboard did not monitor color requirements perfectly – only a human could do that. A run of one million pages/impressions wasn’t uncommon. Every job was easy to monitor with the dashboard metrics. Systems and incentives were created to meet a certain target of average impressions per hour. Yet if the color balance was off, the job would have to be run again (creating waste and higher costs for the job)! It was vital to monitor – and incent – both impressions per hour AND adherence to the customer’s color palette. You can see that what is easy to measure might not give you an accurate picture of reality. Here’s What Leaders Must Pay Attention To 1. Strategic Clarity – leaders must constantly assess how well their organization’s strategy is understood across operations staff. Communication and reinforcement of the declared strategy will lead to a clear understanding by all staff.2. Goal Alignment – Once strategic clarity is reached, leaders must constantly assess the degree to which projects, goals, tasks are aligned to your organization’s declared strategy.3. Expectations Clarity – Next, leaders must ensure that everyone in the organization has formalized end goals (performance standards) and means goals (values defined in behavioral terms). Also, leaders must ensure that all staff proactively commit to their performance and values goals.4. Consistent Accountability – leaders must hold all staff accountable, day in and day out, for meeting performance expectations and values expectations. Accountability means the prompt application of POSITIVE consequences (when folks do the right things the right way) and NEGATIVE consequences (when they don’t). 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. 

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