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

  • 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. 

  • Culture is Not Enough
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on December 31, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Guest post from Thomas Steding: Slowly, almost inexorably, culture has big become almost top of mind as a key factor in effective leadership. From the Harvard Business Review “Strategy and culture are among the primary levers at top leaders’ disposal in their never-ending quest to maintain organizational viability and effectiveness.” In the high tech industry, the emergence of culture as a critical factor has been greeted with a sense of relief, a respite from the reductionistic venture investor sole focus on numbers. As a result, Peter Drucker's alleged comment that “Culture eats strategy for lunch” has become popular in our collective memory. The problem remains, however, that leaders declaring the culture is a critical factor in their thinking is akin to one wetting one’s pants in a dark blue wool suit: It may give you a warm feeling, but it doesn't show very much. The issue is that few people can define what they really mean by culture. One venture capital colleague was heard to talk about the importance of culture yet was unable to define what he meant. Another CEO colleague told me that his company had a wonderful culture described in detail in his company presentation. Upon examination, I discovered it contained in a series of typical bromides like “We don't do politics” or “Be passionate” or “Go for the best” along with a promise for pizza on Fridays. A subsequent HR benefits survey across 1500 employees included questions about the company culture. It revealed that a vast majority of the employees actually hated the culture. I suggested to the CEO that he pour himself a glass of wine and sit in a quiet corner to review the results. I never learned his reaction to the survey, but the company stock eventually went from $95 to $2. To understand an effective culture you need to start in a different place. If you define the Cultural Layer as the de facto patterns of behavior between members on the team you can define the Mindset Layer as the de facto patterns of thought between the ears of the key leadership. The Mindset Layer, therefore, sits below the Cultural Layer and determines its outcome. We have defined the four archetypal (“original model or prototype”) dimensions of the Mindset Layer. These are the underlying, universal factors driving mindset. Over more than a decade, we have found that understanding where an organization resides along these dimensions provides a powerful predictor of organizational outcome and is critical to establishing an effective underlying culture. The four dimensions are Courage, Relatedness, Awareness, and Agility. Each of these dimensions has a dual, or complementary, aspect, typically along intellectual versus emotional dimensions. Courage is facing danger and fear with confidence and resolution. Courage includes the capacity to take bold and fearless action in the marketplace, but also to be willing to hear and process unwelcome input from the team that could have a redeeming effect on organizational outcome. Relatedness implies an intellectual understanding of staying connected with customers, but also insists on respecting the emotional connections across the team. Awareness implies a thorough understanding of the company’s markets, technologies, and strategies. It also implies a close understanding of the emotional life of the team. Agility is nimbleness of thought and action. It means the ability to change direction and turn on a time due to changing conditions in the market or industry conditions. Emotional agility, on the other hand, means the ability to hear and consider another person's perspective even in the case that you hold an opposing point of view ex ante. A balanced state among these four Mindset dimensions provides a defense against organizational dysfunction. The inferior Mindset dimension is the gateway for dysfunctionality to penetrate. At the same time, it can offer an effective roadmap for organization improvement. For example, a team was stuck in the process of making a fundamental product development decision for six months. Clearly, their inferior dimension was Courage—in this case, courage to make a product decision, get the product out, and determine its viability. The lack of team courage lead to dysfunctional behavior, such as gossip, blame shifting, and, obviously, schedule slippage. Their dysfunctional behavior cost their firm market leadership. Hence any conversation, or program, addressing culture has to start with the Mindset Layer. Misalignment between mindset and culture leads to the all-too- frequent case where the behavior in the room bears no resemblance to the code of ethics on the wall. Authentic culture must reflect who the company and its personnel are authentically. Going through the intellectual process of specifying the culture without understanding underlying mindset is like building a structure starting on the second floor. So, we add: “Mindset eats culture for breakfast.” Dr. Thomas Steding is a senior corporate executive with an excellent track record in founding and growing successful businesses based on complex, leading edge technologies.  He has been CEO of over 12 high tech companies and active chairman of several others. His new book is called Real Teams Win: What Smart Leaders Need To Know About Achieving Performance.

  • Great Leaders Attract Great Talent
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on December 24, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    Guest post fromSusanna Camp and Jonathan Littman   As a leader, you shape the ideas, provide the direction, set the goals. You’re great at focusing the journey and laying a course, especially when winds are uncertain. It can be a long, strange trip indeed – and your success depends on attracting the right talent. Entrepreneurs, corporate executives and managers know from experience that the best teams sport a rare mixture of friction, freedom and alignment. Diversity and complementary skill sets are key. So how do you assemble a great team? We spent many years interviewing and writing about talented people and teams for our new book The Entrepreneur’s Faces: How Makers, Visionaries and Outsiders Succeed. Our biggest takeaway? Talent comes in many different flavors, and the best startups and companies recognize the benefits of building a kind of superhuman tensile strength in their teams.  We call these talents archetypes. We’ve met so many entrepreneurs that we can usually identify someone’s type in a few minutes. How do we know? They master challenges with a characteristic approach, and echo the habits of renowned innovators and entrepreneurs. What’s perhaps most valuable about understanding someone’s type is how their behavior plays out in the dynamics of a team. We all know the conflicts that upend teams. Dueling leaders or visionaries throw obstacles in the path to success. The opposite happens when you achieve superior compatibility. A human-centric approach to designing high achieving teams begins with filling out your squad with a healthy cross-section of talent and mindsets. And that starts with learning to recognize patterns. In The Entrepreneur’s Faces, we present ten archetypes.  When you build your team, make sure you have a good mix. Here are the top seven types leaders need to know. Step One: Start with the idea generators  1. The Outsider: This is person who finds novel opportunities in industries and markets you might not normally target. They master the “beginner’s mind.” Defy the experts.  We believe every team needs at least one Outsider. The global crisis has made this role even more essential. When trends and habits change overnight, the Outsider is even more attuned to dig up emerging possibilities.2. The Visionary: The future is coming, and it helps to have someone on your team who sees its first. This type brings a different kind of focus, based on their uncanny ability to see months and years ahead. What makes them so valuable is that they are practical. They map “from now to then.” They understand how the future will build on present realities, and start taking key steps to get there.3. The Accidental: This may sound surprising, but you want someone on your team who will run with ideas that seem long shots. Google and many other firms have officially recognized this entrepreneurial type with a 20 percent or 10 percent rule, allowing staffers to pursue their own project ideas on company time (this has led to Gmail, Google Maps, and Google AdSense, among other G-Suite products). Accidentals bring passion to your company and that energy can be contagious. The Accidental infuses a project or company with authenticity. Step Two: Round out the team with the problem solvers and doers4. The Maker. It’s key that your team has someone with an aptitude at finding new ideas and opportunities. But you need Makers to put them to the test. Makers dive right in. They find a way to do an experiment or a test. They’re great at designing prototypes to provide quick feedback. And they learn fast from small, inexpensive failures.5. The Collaborator. Every leader could use a few Collaborators. They excel at  analyzing how everyone and everything fits together. Collaborators keep their own ego in check, knowing they’ll  rise farther by connecting others and bridging ideas. They are the glue connecting the whole team.6. The Evangelist:  Even the best of products and services need a story to catch fire. Evangelists bring an uncanny ability to fan interest. They’re naturals at creating the story behind the product, and know how to strike just the right points to touch hearts and move minds.7. The Athlete:  This is the type that loves a contest and a challenge. Athletes relish preparing for the... unexpected. During tough times you couldn’t ask for a more robust, versatile staffer. They love to work. Adapt, recover, pivot is their mantra. Athletes figure out the connections between seemingly diverse activities, building new processes and opportunities on the fly.  Smart Choices Make Strong Teams Who you choose depends a lot on the kind of team you want to create. There can be a world of difference between a startup of four or five individuals and a corporate squad of ten or more. You’ll also want to consider where you stand on the seven-stage journey we call the Entrepreneur’s Arc. Are you just getting started at the Awakening and Shift? Midstream, approaching the Launch, or hitting do-or-die time, at the Test. We think you’ll find these archetypes and this team question of diversity and compatibility valuable. Building out your team starts with self-awareness. To learn more about all ten types and take our diagnostic quiz, please visit our website at theentrepreneursfaces.com. Of course, share the results with your friends and networks! Jonathan Littman and Susanna Camp are the authors of The Entrepreneur’s Faces: How Makers, Visionaries and Outsiders Succeed. Jonathan Littman collaborated with IDEO on the bestsellers The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation(more than 650,000 copies sold worldwide in 12 languages). The author of ten books, five of his works have been optioned for films. His award-winning journalism has appeared in Playboy, the LA Times and Forbes. Follow Jonathan on Twitter. Susanna Camp is the Editor-in-Chief of SmartUp.life. A journalist specializing in emerging technology, she was an early team leader at Wired magazine, and has also been on the staff of Macworld, PCWorld and Outsidemagazines. Follow Susanna on Twitter.

  • Great Leaders Nurture
    by noreply@blogger.com (Dan McCarthy) on December 17, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Guest post from Barbara Bruno: Would your current team or new hires describe you as a leader who supports, teaches, and encourages them?   This type of nurturing often determines whether the members of your team become engaged and retained employees or end up as a costly turnover statistic. Technology has changed the way we communicate however a combined high-tech and high-touch communication style is most effective.  Nurturing plays a significant role when it comes to a new employees’ view on the leadership and vision of their new employer. Nurturing helps them adapt to their new role, feel comfortable, essential, and appreciated in their new workplace. As new hires understand the significance of your vision, it allows them to develop working strategies which align with your vision.  It also helps build self-confidence, knowledge, and the drive to succeed.  By helping smooth the transition to their new role, you deepen your relationship with your employee that continues well beyond your onboarding process. To assist your nurturing efforts, consider the value of mentorship on new hires as well as your current employees.  Mentorship is also extremely effective for employees who may be working remote.  Modern mentorship programs are designed to support both the mentor and the mentee with a high-touch approach.   A strong mentor-mentee relationship will help new hires learn from an experienced employee.  It also provides solutions and approaches to accomplish objectives from the fresh perspective of your new employee. Mentoring also demonstrates to the new hire the benefits of an open culture where employees share knowledge, generate ideas and work together to build a successful company.   Benefits of being a mentor include development of leadership and management qualities, increased recognition, a sense of fulfillment and personal growth. Another benefit of nurturing is increased referrals of top talent.  When your new and current employees have a great experience working for you, they are more likely to refer others.  Nurturing is an important element to your internal employee referral program and can dramatically reduce your cost per hire.  Take time to review the new hires you have made in the past twelve months.  If a majority were not the result of referrals, it may be time to upgrade your onboarding, nurturing, mentorship, or employee engagement efforts.  Your employees are either your army of recruiters enticing others to work for you, or they are being recruited away. Too often employees are only interviewed twice, their initial job interview and their exit interview, when it is too late to resolve their issues. Consider conducting regularly scheduled stay interviews, where you ask your current employees why they enjoy working for you and your company.  A stay interview will reveal what you are doing well but, will also identify areas that may need improvement. Stay interviews are much more effective than the high-tech approach of utilizing online employee satisfaction surveys.  They are a high-touch conversation where both you and your employee can ask questions and then set a specific date to follow up on any action items discussed. When your employees are happy, they become more engaged, productive and will help you attain your goals and objectives.  In any type of relationship people want the answers to three question: Do you care about me?  Can I trust you? Will you do what you promise?  When you nurture your team members throughout their career, the answers to all three questions will be yes.  Barbara Bruno, author of HIGH-TECH HIGH-TOUCH RECRUITING: How To Attract And Retain The Best Talent By Improving The Candidate Experience, is an internationally recognized recruiting expert who has a proven track record of helping recruiters and talent acquisition professionals become more successful and less stressed. She has created several popular LinkedIn Learning courses and is president of Good As Gold Training, HR Search, Inc., and Happy Candidates.

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