Category Archives: Leadership

Business Vision is the key to Business Success

Now that you have a personal vision on why, how and what you want to get out of your life it’s time to ensure your Business’ vision supports your personal vision.

Business Vision 01

WHY?

There is one commonality amongst successful business owners and that is a very clear vision on why, how and what they are committed to achieving personally and from their business.

A successful business owner starts with why they are in business because this enables them to overcome any road blocks that may be in their way along their business journey.  Should you not have a vision you leave yourself exposed to external forces which inhibit your ability to overcome road blocks.  It is the business vision that you are driven by that enables you to take control and be responsible for the decisions that you make.  By doing this you eliminate external forces from blocking your business success.  These are the reasons why your business vision is the most important tool for business success.

HOW?

There are many ways to critically think and brainstorm your business vision, the following are a few activities to get you visioning about your business over the next 5 years:

Where you are right now?

SWOT Analysis

o   External factors (Threats and Opportunities) – competitor focused.

o   Internal Factors (Weaknesses and Strengths) – your business focused.

o   What do you want to be famous for?

Points of difference

o   What are the Top 3 things THEY get wrong that YOU get right by comparison?

o   What do YOU get wrong that THEY get right by comparison?

o   How are you different from your competitors? Is it obviously different or quite similar?

o   Why would customers purchase your product/service over your competitors?

What business do you want to become?

Target market

o   Who are your customers that are raving fans?

o   Who should you have as customers that your opposition have?

o   Who shouldn’t you be working with?

Quality position

o   How do you tell the difference between a GOOD verses a BAD operator in your industry?

o   What Quality should you be known for?

Customer service

o   How would you want to be dealt with?

o   How should you treat your customers?

o   What standards should you set for this as a minimum?

Summarise your critical thinking and analysis and prepare a one page document, dated 5 years from now, in the 1st person, that illustrates WHY, HOW and WHAT you are operating your business.  Ensure it is in alignment with your personal vision.  Sign it off as a commitment, review it routinely and note where you have chosen to edit your path.

Business Vision 02

To amplify your business success ensure that the key members of your business understand and where possible have contributed to the business vision.  Over the years it has been a pleasure watching the smiles on the faces of long term employees of a business when they are introduced to the businesses vision.  They are involved in the business’ Why!  This is the same for your customers, suppliers and the public as it illustrates commitment to act your beliefs.

WHAT next?

If you need any further inspiration to WHY you are in business and what your business vision should look like then watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk.  I guarantee it will be the most valuable 18 minutes you have ever spent working on your business.

Book in for a 2 hour free no obligation discovery session with me to take your business to the next level!


Cross Cultural Leadership

Over the last six months I have been heavily involved in the formal establishment of a subsidiary in the Philippines.  This involved the initial legal structure right through to daily operations.  During this period I have reflected on the business theory related to cross cultural leadership and management.

We know that modern day leaders work in a global world, even when they are based domestically and this exposes many leaders to different cultures frequently.  This exposure is intensified when you venture internationally.

“…the single greatest barrier to business success is the one erected by culture.”

Hall & Hall (1987)

In my experience working in many Asian countries cultural differences can impact business activities such as effective leadership, meetings, entertainment, negotiation, expectation, decision-making, conflict resolution and communication style.  To succeed, leaders must be aware of the relevance of ‘culture’ and ‘multicultural’ environments.

There are two types of culture that influence an employee and need to be considered by the leader:

Culture image  

National Culture

“…those customary beliefs and values that ethnic, religious, and social groups transmit fairly unchanged from generation to generation.”

Guiso, Sapienza, & Zingales (2006)

 To understand and effectively negate cultural barriers to business, leaders must appreciate the employee’s emotional attachment to ethnic traditions; places; events; stories; and memories.  I have found this especially true in relation to traditions (that may be carried out during working hours) and events (that occur throughout the year during work days that have relevance to an employee’s way of life).

 

Organisational culture

There are many definitions of organisational culture however Schein (1985) explains it succinctly, in that an organisational culture can be explained on three levels:

  1. Basic (underlying) assumptions – Belief in the correct way of doing things – deepest level of culture and hardest to change.
  2. Group Values – A sense of what ought to be.  As the group changes overtime so do the values, this is more evident in the smaller groups within an organisation.
  3. Group Artefacts – Established procedures, technology and communication methods.  This has certainly been the hardest to manage on a day to day basis especially in a start-up organisation.  Founding employees bring the group artefacts from their previous employer, if they are negative and/or unproductive they need to be negated quickly.

 

Parting comment

In order to deploy effective leadership, leaders need to take the time to explore, investigate and understand these manifestations of culture in the workplace before adapting their leadership style.


The toolkit to be a better business leader

My toolkit to be a better business leader was the result of studying for my MBA and drawing on the wisdom from the many business commentators.  It is a high level overview and its purpose is to navigate leaders in the right direction as I found there was no exact kind of leader that one should model themselves.  To be a better leader encompasses a range of competences; an awareness of ones emotions and self; and effective communication.

 

Competences include the underlying personal factors of a leader such as character traits, patterns of behaviour and cognitive mindsets.  It was DuBrin et.al (2006) that provided the framework from which a leader can measure their personal traits against that of the researched list identified as traits of a better business leader.  That intelligence can be used in conjunction with the Hersey-Blanchard situational leadership model to aid in an understanding of a leader’s behavioural match to their followers.  Then Gosling & Mintzberg (2003) came from a different perspective to illustrate the five mindsets that leaders should move between and integrate into their behaviour as an all-encompassing competence.

Emotional awareness encompasses qualities such as having an awareness of oneself; ability to self-regulate; motivation; empathy; and social skills.  It was Goleman (2004) that provided a framework of emotional competencies and his contention was that leaders who were emotionally aware have a tendency to provide a nurturing and encouraging culture within their organisations.  Whereas Caruso & Salovey (2004) explored a leader’s disposition in the context of influencing others and identified that an awareness of one’s mood assisted when dealing with followers, problem solving and communication.

Self-awareness involves reviewing and analysing feedback about oneself to improve personal effectiveness as a leader.  It was Drucker (2005) that stated performance comes from strengths not weaknesses and that leaders should improve their strengths as this generates a higher return on investment than bettering their weaknesses.  In contrast, England (2002) described The Johari Window where the contention was that too much of the time leaders ignored their weaknesses unless they had the self-awareness to reflect and see that inability for themselves.  An ability to reflect is aided by the use of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that identifies a leader’s preferences, ways of thinking and how they interact with others.

Communication encompasses awareness for positioning or influence; and the ability to use communication to influence others.  It was Brenneman (1998) and Gerstner (2002) that illustrated in their situations how communication was paramount to explain what mattered to turn their organisations around.  In contrast the Centered Leadership model outlined the capability to focus on the networks required by leaders as their research indicated that leaders needed to manage their connections differently with newer ways of communication for the digital age.

 

“The picture emerging from the neuro-science labs is that you ignore your gut at your peril.”

Morse, G. (2006). Decisions and desire. Harvard Business Review, 84 (1), pg 51.

A final thought to ponder; does an awareness of one’s effectiveness of Gut feel fit within a toolkit for a better business leader?  Possibly, however it is an awareness that is utilised in all of the components of the toolkit.  It maybe discouraged in organisations as there are many quantitative and qualitative frameworks, models and tools to use to arrive at a justifiable decision, however the business leader is not immune to the pressure of ignoring his/her gut as such an awareness of its effectiveness can provide a competitive advantage.


A conflict competent leader

I recently attended a professional development session by Noel Posus on “becoming a conflict competent leader” which was an interactive two hours that allowed for experiential learning and development.  Following this session I have had some time to reflect, compare with the Emotional Intelligence framework and draw parallels with real situations.

“Conflict is any situation in which people have apparently incompatible goals, interests, principles or feelings”

When the word conflict is mentioned usually there are immediate negative connotations, however there are benefits to conflict, such as:

  • Stimulating creativity and problem solving
  • Encourages listening
  • Promotes reflective thinking

When a conflict situation is a “task focused” there is a higher chance of resolution and benefit than a “person focused” conflict which results in escalation due to negative emotions.

Task focused ~ focus on task and problem solving

Person focused ~ focus on personal with negative emotions

How wonderful it would be if we could keep all conflicts task focused, however emotions can get the better of us and conflict can become person focused quickly.  The competent leader according to Noel needs to build relationships (dynamic listening and communication) before the future conflict occurs to ensure when it does occur that it is constructive.  Other keys to success involve managing your emotions (have a clear head); actively resolve the conflict (co-operate and take action); and accept conflict (adapt).

“Be the better person no matter what others do in the conflict”

Reflecting on a conflict situation where the technical treatment of a payroll transaction was the focus, the intention of both parties was to seek a resolution and some negotiation was required to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution.  It was clear that problem solving was the key to achieve this outcome.  According to Boyatzis (1982) through his competency framework the ‘diagnostic use of concepts’ is a critical component to the development of a resolution strategy.  We did just that by diagnosing the issue as part of negotiation and a resolution strategy.  Similarly, Goleman (2004) highlights the competency of ‘conflict management’ from his emotional intelligence framework which highlights that it is critical to understanding the differing perspectives of the parties to achieve a win-win outcome.  Overall, the result was that we diagnosed the implications of the task focused conflict; had an awareness to encourage debate and open discussion which to lead to a more innovative or creative solution.

“Effective managers understand that conflict is not always about resolution; it can also be about orchestrating win-win situations” ~ Goleman (2004)

 

What sort of conflicts have you been involved with that have resulted in the complete opposite?


Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter

I recently attended Business Forum 2012 in Melbourne and witnessed Liz Wiseman keynote presentation on the concepts from her book Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter.  She discussed the experiences we have all had over the years with the very different leadership types and illustrated the benefits for every organisation to employ Multipliers.

“People won’t figure it out without me”

The Diminisher drains your intelligence and capability by supressing your talent and ambitions for their need to be the smartest person in the room.  They are known as The Empire Builder, The Tyrant, The Know-it-all, The Decision Maker and The Micromanager.

“People are smart and will figure it out”

The Multiplier amplifies the intelligence and capability of their people by engaging and encouraging thoughts that ultimately lead to results beyond initial expectations.  They are known as The Talent Magnet, The Liberator, The Challenger, The Debate Maker and The Investor.

Liz then took us through a self-reflection as part of illustrating the detrimental impact Diminishers have on organisations compared to Multipliers.  She asked the following questions:

  1. What did your Diminisher do to you?
  2. How much intelligence did they get out of you? (0-100%)
  3. What did your Multiplier do to you?
  4. How much intelligence did they get out of you? (0-100%)

There was consensus around the actions of Diminishers (they prohibit growth, supress motivation) compared to Multipliers (trigger ideas, stretch and challenge) as well as the average scores from the room at the forum (mine included) were identical to the results from Liz researching 150 leaders from 35 companies (pre and post the financial crisis) in the United States.  On average Diminishers accessed 48% of their people’s intelligence compared to Multipliers at 95%.  Therefore, it was concluded that Multipliers achieve 2 times more capability, energy and intelligence from their people than Diminishers.  The gap between the two types of leaders is quite outstanding and costly for any organisation.

http://multipliersbook.com/

Are you a Diminisher or a Multiplier?


Emotional Intelligence and Developing Others

Over the last couple of years I have been exposed to the works of Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis in relation to Emotional Intelligence (EI) and how it relates to managing and leading.  More recently I have been interested in how EI can be applied in every-day situations, particularly in the work environment with developing my employees.

I see developing others being the advancement of the interests of employees through coaching, mentoring and staff development.  Managers who understand their employees and know what motivates them are in a position to further the organisational goals at the same time as developing multi-skilled employees.  Another component is the provision of timely and constructive feedback which can take the form of performance management.

Coaching

 “…[coaching] focuses on uncovering actions that enable people to contribute more fully and productively” DuBrin, Dalglish and Miller (2006)

Coaching is a process of one on one development that can be professional and personal in nature.  Coaching creates capabilities; actionable outcomes; and increased performance.

Mentoring

 “…[mentor is] a more experienced person who helps to develop a protégé’s abilities through tutoring, coaching, guidance, and emotional support” DuBrin, Dalglish and Miller (2006)

Similarly mentoring develops capability and it is a process whereby a senior takes the junior under their wing to learn the nature of the organisation.  To this end developing others requires trust from all parties to the relationship.

EI provides a framework for the manger or leader to assist in developing others as it works hand in hand with the EI competencies of emotional self-awareness and empathy.  To be effective a manager or leader needs to exhibit an understanding of their employees if they want to be able to develop them further.  They need to gain an understanding of what motivates them; what makes them feel valued; what expectations they have; and what they see for the future.  The understanding of employees links directly with how a manger or leader builds empathy and trust with their employees.

Positive Regard

Richard Boyatzis developed a model for effective management performance and identified twenty one characteristics of management competence.  Within the human resource management cluster is the EI competency of Positive Regard which is critical in the effectiveness of managing and developing employees.  He defined positive regard as “…a competency in which people believe in others”.  Taken literally, any coach or mentor relationship that is not founded on a belief in the other person is doomed for failure with a negative impact on performance.  The belief mentioned in employees is in contrast to a belief that employees can do their jobs effectively.  It is possible to believe in the employee however that does not necessarily mean they can execute their job.

Positive regard is useful for managing relationships (coaching, mentoring or other) as effective managers are able to make others in the relationship feel valued.  From a valued relationship comes trust and respect which increases performance outcomes.  Having a positive perspective of employees is an enabler to developing and multi-skilling staff to meet organisational and personal goals.

Case Study

Garvey and Galloway (2002) provide a case study description of the beginnings of mentoring at Mentoring at the Halifax plc (HBOS).  The preliminary results of the study confirm the benefits of developing others which is evidenced from the feedback of the mentees such as providing focus; increased confidence; ability to discuss events as they occur; ability to consider alternative courses of action; and the ability to address difficult work situations.  The study also confirms the importance of the relationship with mentees stating that they felt the mentor showed a genuine interest in them; were open and honest; and they felt respected.  The results confirming why developing others is a critical competency to achieve a relationship that is beneficial for employee and organisation.


Self-awareness to become a better business leader

Recently I participated in an executive leadership workshop at Readify.  This reminded me of work I had previously been doing around how to become a better business leader and whether a deeper self-awareness made for a more effective leader.

Self-awareness involves reviewing and analysing feedback about oneself to improve personal effectiveness as a leader.  Self-awareness is influenced by a leader’s personality and gaining an understanding of their personality typology through self-profile and self-audit. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of many personality typology frameworks that aid in identifying a leaders preferences, ways of thinking and how they interact with others.  It allows for a deeper understanding when a leader reviews feedback as part of one’s self-awareness.

Myers Briggs:

I established that a self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses assists the business leader to be better when confronted with varied situations.  After undertaking a variety of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) I confirmed myself as ISTJ and the description rang true mostly.  It identified to me the traits and characteristics that I have a preference towards, which are not always the most effective for the situation.

This activity has enlightened me as a business leader especially on the limitations of my characteristics and in that same vein it has crystallised my strengths that I was reasonably aware of, however I now have a new perspective that will enhancement my effectiveness as a leader.

DISC:

I was introduced to the DISC framework at the executive leadership workshop.  The framework allows for a self-awareness of communication style.  There are four quadrants that focus on style and preference of communication.  We were asked to allocate 10 points across the quadrants to establish our style preference.  There were interesting results when comparing with others’ perspective of your preference of style.  Having an awareness of not only yours, but others style assists with more effective outcomes of negotiations.

A general criticism of personality typologies is that they have the potential to justify poor leadership and/or behaviour based on the leader or followers personality type.  However a leader’s type may suggest how they think or predict that they will act a certain way in a situation there is no excuse for removing the potential for personal growth through self-awareness.

Am I now self-aware? Yes, I am now more aware.  Time and reflection will aid in a deeper self-awareness and being a more effective business leader.


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