Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Why Invest In Leadership Training in 2019? - Part #3

People in leadership positions during the next 3 - 5 years must be able to do the following in order for them and their organizations to be successful over time.

First, they must be able to create and communicate strategy in a manner that creates focus instead of panic.

Second, they must be able to define a problem, technical or adaptive, and then be able to solve the problem.

Third, they must be able to build and maintain teams, analog or digital, and then get them to deliver results in a timely manner.

Finally, they must be able to coach individuals and teams so they improve their performance.

The challenge that I see this fall is that few people in leadership positions are good at coaching and even fewer are good at delegation. While on one hand these seem pretty basic skills for people in leadership positions, the reality is that to do them well, a person needs a greater depth of understanding and clarity to be effective. 

For example, in order to be an excellent coach, one should receive excellent coaching. Many report to me that this is not taking place on a regular basis within their company. Next, to be an excellent coach, one needs to understand that coaching is a structured dialogue and development process to improve professional competence to execute a particular goal while supervision is to observe, direct and oversee the execution of a task, project or activity. Many people confuse the two different activities.

When it comes to the subject of delegation, most people in leadership positions have also experienced very poor delegation. They are not sure if they have complete control to do whatever needs to get done or if they need to first run all decisions before action past the person who delegated something to them. Finally, many people feel like they got delegated the work but not the clarity or authority to do it well.

These are problems during the next 3-5 years that we can not let continue to take place. We need individuals and teams to receive solid and effective coaching. We also need people to delegate well given the expectations of customers and strategic partners.

And here is where the 2019 From Vision to Action Leadership Training can help. Through a challenging and interactive curriculum which blends lectures, selected readings, small and large group discussions, and how to skill-building exercises, participants in this four part leadership training gain critical knowledge and skills which improve their ability to not only create and communicate strategy, define and solve problems, build and maintain teams, but also coach people and teams better plus learn how to delegate effectively. 

For more information about this unique training experience, please click on the following link: http://www.chartyourpath.com/VTA-Leadership-Training.html

For more information about the dates, location, price and how to register for the 2019 training, please click on the following link: http://www.chartyourpath.com/VTA-Training-Details.html#Train2019

Now is the time to create better leaders in your organization. If we are to be successful in the next 3 - 5 years, we need to be well prepared. 

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, November 12, 2018

How do leaders improve team performance? - part #1

During our extended meeting, the three of us discussed the issues related to why their two teams were not getting better over time. Each leader reported that their team was defaulting to silo based team behaviors rather than collaboration based behaviors. Give one team was in sales, i.e. mission delivery, and the other was in operations, i.e. mission support, this was a major problem. Each needed the the other team to be successful in order for them both to be successful.

As I listened, I kept thinking of a quote by Gordon Livingston, MD who said “People mistake thoughts, wishes and intentions for change.” The problem was that each team wanted the other team to change first. At the end of our meeting, those gathered realized that their team needed to embrace a continuous improvement mentality rather than a blaming mentality to make both teams to improve. 

Richard Hackman in his book, Leading Teams: Setting The Stage For Great Performances (Harvard Business School Press, 2002) notes there are three common problems on teams who struggle, First, there is the problem of social loafing by team members. Next, there is the problem of mindless reliance on habitual routines. And finally, there is the problem of inappropriate weighting of member contributions. I have seen all three of these problems over the course of my career. I suspect I will see them over the coming years, too. 

However, I have also seen exceptional teams and team leaders get past these problems. The best teams and team leaders I have met build and embrace a continuous improvement mindset. Now, at this point, it is important to reference the work of Patrick Lencioni in his recent book, The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize And Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues (Jossey-Bass, 2016). This author says that the ideal team players are humble, hungry and people smart. While I agree, I always encourage people to dive deeper into what Lencioni wrote. As he explained, “Hungry people are always looking for more.… hunger can be directed in a selfish way that is not for the good of the team but for the individual.” As he continues, the healthy kind of hunger is one that is a “sustainable commitment to doing a job well and going above and beyond when it is truly required.” 

From my experience, these individuals on the team who role model the healthy kind of hunger are the people who want to get better. They understand the purpose of the work, and understand how the needs of the customer are changing.

From my experience, this individual level of work is complemented at the team level by leaders doing what Martine Haas and Mark Mortensen wrote about in their very good article called “The Secrets of Great Teamwork” (Harvard Business Review, June 2016). As they explain, the key is to develop “a shared mindset among team members - something team leaders can do by fostering a common identity and common understanding.” When I see common identity and understanding, I also see one other critical factor, namely common language. I have come to believe that this is the foundation to a shared mindset.

This week, ask yourself how are you building shared language and a shared mindset. Once you are clear about this, then commit to doing it even more. It will pay off in the short term and the long term.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

Monday, November 5, 2018

How do leaders maintain successful teams? - part #2

One of the things I have learned from meeting with leaders of successful teams is that they role model and empower healthy behaviors. Jeffery D. Ford and Laurie W. Ford in their very good article called “Decoding Resistance to Change” (Harvard Business Review, April 2009) write that “People expect history to repeat itself - and they resist going through it all over again.” Leaders who overcome resistance focus on understanding why people are showing resistance or lack of clarity. They do not suppress dialogue but instead encourage it. They also assume they and the team will spend time in the trough of chaos and plan accordingly. They get that it is normal for things to get messy. Therefore, they role model healthy personal choices and behaviors when it does.

Second, these same leader continually try to improve their capacity to coach others. They understand, as Patrick Lencioni points out in his book,  The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business (Jossey-Bass, 2012), that behavioral problems almost always precede quantitative results. They also recognize that behavioral problems “occur long before any decrease in measurable results is apparent.”

What we as leaders need to remember is that once a person “experiences good coaching, one becomes a better coach.” Peter Cappelli and Anna Travis say this is very important in their article called “HR Goes Agile” in the March-April 2018 issue of the Harvard Business Review.

Richard Hackman in his book, Leading Teams: Setting The Stage For Great Performances (Harvard Business School Press, 2002) explains that coaches focus on the following three areas: the amount of effort members of the team apply to the work, the appropriateness of the performance strategies to carry out the work, and the knowledge and skill they apply to the work. Therefore, coaching can be motivational, consultative, or educational.

But as I reflect on his writing I am reminded of what Marshall Goldsmith wrote in his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful (Hyperion, 2007). Goldsmith challenges us to “stop trying to coach people who shouldn’t be coached.” As he notes, “stop trying to change people who don’t think they have a problem” and “stop trying to change people who are pursuing the wrong strategy for the organization.” He continues by pointing out that we should “stop trying to change people who should not be in their job” and “stop trying to help people who think everyone else is the problem.” I think we must embrace his perspective and harken back to Jim Collin’s early work where he said “who before what”. From my experience, the best coaches know who should be coached and who will not change no matter how much we try and coach them. Instead, we need to coach these individuals out of the organization rather than try to coach them into the organization.

Along this same line of thought, the big thing about hiring people to join a team is to remember Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Ideal Team Player (Jossey-Bass, 2016), about the three virtues of a team player. Lencioni says that the best team players are humble, hungry and people smart. While I agree with Lencioni and have seen this in my own experiences as a consultant and executive coach, I think there is a missing element.

Last May, I read a quote by Pastor A.R. Bernard that stopped me in my tracks: “Without character, talent will only take you so far.” Upon much reflection, I realized that we, as leaders, need to talk more about character and focus more on character rather than just talent development. We need to discuss the importance of integrity, compassion, and courage during our coaching and our team meetings. We need to talk about what is commitment, faithfulness, and truthfulness. As Abraham Lincoln wrote, “Reputation is the shadow. Character is the tree.” 

This week, reflect on the following questions: Who are the people of “character” that I have known in my life? What separates them from others? How do they engage with people in group settings that is unique? How do they role model? It is time that we follow in their foot steps.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257