Lead-Wise

MEANINGFUL & IMPACTFUL RESULTS

Month: January 2016

How Should Leaders Earn Their Premium?

8FBZGFVLLT

After years of observing leaders in business and non-profit environments around the world, one point is absolutely clear to me.  Leaders play fundamental roles that determine the success of any organization and impact many lives, directly and indirectly.

If you have any doubt, please check out the business news sections or conduct a quick, direct opinion survey among your experienced connections.  We see this power of leadership manifesting everyday through the news about flourishing or struggling organizations and the resulting massive impact on individual lives and communities, both positively and negatively.

How should leaders earn their premium?

1. By making key decisions/judgments and executing successfully.
This is probably the most important element.  By the nature of key strategic choices, decisions and judgments being made, tremendous value can be created or destroyed quickly.  Think about organizations that announce hundreds or thousands of job cuts and those that create opportunities.  It is easier to destroy than create value.

Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis defined judgment as an informed decision making process that encompasses three domains – judgments about people, about strategy and in time of crisis.

Every key business decision, strategic choice or judgment made by a leader can hugely impact the future of an organization and the lives of many people and their families.  Decisions should be followed by effective execution and both need equal attention.

Leaders have to be focused on building sustainable businesses and organizations.  This may sometimes result in difficult choices in the short run but if they miss to balance financials with employees or other key stakeholders aspects, morale drops quickly and trust gets impacted.

A recent Fast Company article noted that leadership in the future depends less on knowing things others don’t know, and more on seeing new relationships among facts available to all of us – pattern recognition.  The time honored relationship – correlation of knowledge with greater influence in business – is now dissolving, as technology dissolves knowledge monopolies.  It is not uncommon even nowadays, to see many individuals holding on to knowledge without sharing, to feel important and secure.

2. By building highly engaging organizational environments and capabilities.
Ensuring the first element alone will not work.  Leaders can influence sustainable success for the long run by engaging, empowering, motivating individuals and teams to deliver successful outcomes; creating an environment of openness, inclusion, trust, with high performance practices and systems.

For most employees, the “company” means “leaders”.  It’s not uncommon to hear employees across the world say, “The company did something.”  It is worthwhile to think, “Who or what is this company?”.

Leaders also influence heavily how employees feel about themselves and their relationship to the organization.  Studies in one of the best books on leadership (The Leadership Challenge) note that leaders understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts; they strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity. They strengthen others, making each person feel capable and powerful.

At the heart of it, leaders create the feeling of “We” and “Us” in organizations with shared responsibility, not “You” and “Me”.

Boards, executives, shareholders and organizations at any level or sector who understand these fundamental elements and expectations from leaders will be able to build and enable sustainable and impactful organizations.

(Posted on LinkedIn)

References
1. Judgment, How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls by Noel M. Tichy and Warren G. Bennis, Summary;  http://sitemaker.umich.edu/umhs-talentmanagement/files/judgement.pdf
2. How Expertise is changing the way we work and lead; http://www.fastcompany.com/3047911/lessons-learned/how-expertise-is-changing-the-way-we-work-and-lead
3. The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Model http://www.leadershipchallenge.com/about-section-our-approach.aspx
4. Image Credit – https://stocksnap.io; Tomasz Bazylinski

Make Yourself Irrelevant For Higher Growth & Impact

paraglider-701440_1280

We tend to believe that if we stay important, at least in perception and hold on to the things we do that normally make us feel important, we become invaluable to our business and organization.  This leads to many interesting and unhealthy behaviors – including holding on to information without sharing openly, reluctance to collaborate, unwillingness to share resources, making others feel insecure, and controlling or micromanaging.  We continue to move on superficially without self reflection, personal growth and reach a stage where our egos and fears prevent us from stepping out of our comfort zones – until a major change inevitably hits us and forces us to rethink.

It may be surprising to hear and sometimes hard to accept but making yourself irrelevant will make you more valuable to the business and yourself as a leader and human being.

What does ‘making yourself irrelevant’ mean?
This means empowering and enabling team members to take up some of your important responsibilities and more.  This does not mean stepping away from your leadership responsibilities or not managing.  This also does not mean dropping your troubles and issues on others.  Rather, this is about transitioning your role to leading, developing, transitioning from being a possessive individual contributor to focusing on high impact areas for organizational success today and in the future.

Why is this important?
You create more opportunities for team members to continuously stretch, learn and grow.  You create more space for yourself and the organization for reflection, insight and action.

How can you as a leader start in this journey?
Let go of few elements that you’re currently doing for your team members.  Take a step back, let them own those elements and drive them.  Coach, support them and provide constant feedback and recognition.  Be patient through the process and reflect on the learning together.  Encourage your members to take on more challenges afterward.  Constantly build confidence.  Invite members to join key conversations and discussions.  Let them feel included.  In most cases, your team members  will step up, be happy and grateful for the opportunities to do more impactful work.

As a result, you’ll create more space for yourself as a leader to reflect, do more impactful work, innovate and explore untapped areas in personal and organizational effectiveness.  You’ll create opportunities for others to grow and do more meaningful work.  The extra space created will help stretch your thinking.  During the initial phase, it is normal to feel uncomfortable and insecure as you let go of perceived important elements or activities.  Self-compassion is important.  You’ll become more agile and adaptable to change from both the individual and organizational perspectives.  The business and organization will gain tremendously.  You will be respected as someone who can build more leaders and leadership in your organization.

Doing this successfully and developing this capability as a manager or leader will bring you more (many times bigger) opportunities within your organization. More talented individuals will want to join your team.  If not, there will be other great opportunities waiting outside.

Suffering In The Workplace

Woman Looking At Metro_Image

Similar to life in general, it is not uncommon to see constant suffering in our workplaces.  This is influenced and brought many times from our personal, social lives and also  influenced by the work environment.

The word ‘suffer’ means to experience pain.

Workplaces tend to see a lot of pain for many reasons, with a feeling of constant unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

In my observations, the following topics are some of the major causes of personal suffering in the workplace.

1. Unhealthy Ego
When the “I” and “me” feeling becomes very strong, it results in inevitable pain for oneself and others.  The need to prove oneself all the time blocks the action of encouraging and enabling others.  This also results in skewed views and inability to listen to and understand other perspectives.  The focus moves away from the key topic that needs attention from an organizational perspective.  Everything becomes personal.  There is also a need to control as much as possible directly.

2. Envy
This is probably one of the most common reasons for unhappiness and suffering.  In organizations, some people grow disproportionately  faster than others due to better capability, fit for the job/organization, specific circumstances, environment etc.  Sometimes, it may seem unfair.  Irrespective of the specific background, constant comparison with others leads to dissatisfaction with everything, personal pain and intense unhappiness that may seep into other areas in life.

3. Never satisfied
Many individuals are never satisfied.  The focus is always on gaining more, what I don’t have and what is missing for me.  There is a need for good balance in one aspect of striving for perfection and continuous improvement.  The suffering that results from dissatisfaction leads to unhappiness with self and others and constant urge for more and more, without enjoying the present.  There are umpteen number of examples of brilliant corporate leaders who have lost all credibility due to greed or need to be perceived as high achievers always.

As A Result…
The resulting themes noticed in organizations are anger, jealousy, frustration, stress, conflict, intense lack of trust and unhappiness.  All these lead to a feeling of disconnectedness and  disengagement  with self, work and colleagues.

Many people also go through a feeling of helplessness or no hope, especially during changes.  There is a feeling of having very limited or no alternative choices during difficulties.  Hence, they decide to suffer through the situation making life worse for themselves and others around them.  The negativity and helplessness seem to just grow bigger.

Extreme scenarios even lead to individual depression or mental health issues.  Unfortunately, normal work environments are not very kind or supportive in such instances due to various reasons including the high pace and demands of business.

Negative emotions in the workplace are also transferred quickly among individuals and groups.  ‘Emotional contagions’ spread much quicker than one may think or imagine.

Excessive unhealthy competition and lack of collaboration are other signs of a ‘sick’ work environment.  The organization overall suffers and falls behind in achieving its full potential and success.

What can be done…
Approaches for improvement can be reviewed from an individual and organizational perspective.  Each one of us can start by looking after our own mental and physical wellbeing, without waiting for someone else to come with a magical answer.  Organizations can support with appropriate practices and environmental approaches.

Self-Awareness and Self-Management, two core pillars of emotional intelligence are fundamental for anyone to manage individually.  We all can learn from our own experiences, reflection and actions.

Coming to terms with something that we may not agree with (acceptance) or finding our own ways to accept the difficult change helps tremendously.  If that is not possible personally and if there is a persisting strong feeling of unfairness which cannot be addressed, finding a new stream or possibility becomes a healthy choice for everyone.

During difficult times, we need constant energy and encouragement from ourselves, our closest support groups, friends and cheerleaders.  It is really important to believe that the tough times shall pass and it is up to us to start making the small steps and changes that will start a new path.

Having an individual practice to find state of peace, harmony and balance like meditation, time with nature, time out from constant interruptions, hobbies etc. can help tremendously.  Constantly reflecting on the good things in our lives and focusing on gratitude (many studies indicate that maintaining a Gratitude Journal helps tremendously) can help focus on ‘what we have’, not ‘what we don’t have’.  Self compassion and forgiveness are very important when we are not able to meet our own expectations.  Studies seem to indicate that we are tougher and more critical of ourselves than others.

From an organizational perspective, building a community feeling and social support in the workplace can also go a long way.  Social support is at the core of successfully helping individuals to rebound from difficulties and challenges.  Work practices, supporting tools and environment have to be developed.  Every leader and manager can also play a key role in the wellbeing of the their teams and organizations through mindful interactions and actions.  If consciously and carefully managed, they could play a major role in building healthy environments and mental well-being in the workplace.

Even a minor reduction of suffering in our lives and workplaces can bring a major difference to the individuals in our lives and the world around us.

(Posted on LinkedIn)

Image Credit:
www.unsplash.com, Eutah Mizushima

Paradoxes At Work For Leaders

Paradox photo - Please Do Not Touch

paradox is a statement that apparently contradicts itself and yet might be true (or wrong at the same time).

Figuring out and thinking through a paradox is an important and valuable exercise in any organizational environment, for individuals and teams.  This also becomes valuable for leadership decision making and judgment calls.

Thinking through paradoxes is also extremely useful to stretch, question and develop our own thinking ability and approach.  From personal experiences, the lack of clarity and absence of active dialogues on such topics can lead to confusion, frustration and stress within organizations.  Getting caught in ‘no man’s land’ on decisions happens more frequently than we imagine.

Leaders encounter many of the following paradoxes frequently (all but one are from the book, “HR From The Outside In”).

  • Business & People
    How do you balance the tradeoff between people and business?
  • Organization & Individual
    How do you manage the tensions between individual talent and teamwork, individual ability and organizational capability? How do you balance differentiating top performers and rest of employees?
  • Outside & Inside
    How do you simultaneously understand the dynamics and operate in the external and internal environments?
  • Strategic & Administrative
    How do you balance flawless execution of administrative and operational actions with strategic adaptation to future business scenarios?
  • Short Term & Long Term
    How do you choose between short term and long term benefits, especially in decision making?

There may also be relationships to be considered among these paradoxes.  e.g., balancing the tradeoffs between business and people may need to take into consideration the balance between the future and past.

We can build clarity through a continuing, active dialogue with ourselves, our stakeholders, teams regarding our thinking, core principles and approach.  This becomes fundamental for success and increased effectiveness in a constantly changing world.

It is great to see that the 2016 RBL Group/University of Michigan HR Competency model includes ‘Paradox Navigator’ and brings out many tensions commonly faced – tensions between global and local business demands, between the need for change and stability, between the internal focus on employees and external focus on customers and investors, and between high level strategic issues and operational details.

How do you think about and manage these paradoxes?

What other paradoxes do you encounter?

(Previously posted on Linkedin)

Suggested reading:

  • Paradox – Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox
  • Book – “HR From The Outside In – Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources”; Dave Ulrich, Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank, Mike Ulrich; McGraw Hill.
  • Paradoxes for HR – http://www.tojoeapen.com/blog/paradoxes-for-hr/
  • 2016 HR Competency Model – The RBL Group, University of Michigan
  • Image Credit – Zach Stern, The Observer’s Paradox, http://foter.com,https://www.flickr.com/photos/zachstern/7532320120/

Largest HR Competency Study Results (2016) Are Out

2016 Round 7 of the Human Resource Competency Study (running since 1987) by The RBL Group and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, involved over 30,000 surveys ratings, 23 regional partners and around 4,000 HR professionals around the globe.

CEO surveys increasingly point to businesses winning through differentiating themselves through organization and people.  This research identified what individual HR professionals should know and do to respond to these business opportunities.

In my opinion, the latest competency model also reflects the increasing complexity and demands on the global HR professional.  Here’s a quick introduction to the model and some of my selected notes from the RBL Group HRCS report.  The findings have implications for who is hired into HR and the development, promotion and rewarding of HR professionals.

The report shares nine competencies through which HR professionals deliver business value.

Three Core Competencies
1. Strategic positioner – applies knowledge of business context and strategy.
2. Credible activist – builds relationships of trust and influence with key people within the organization.
3. Paradox navigator – navigates the many embedded tensions in business operations.

Six HR enablers
Three of these enablers focus on building a strategic organization:
1. Culture and change champion – makes change happen and weaves change initiatives into culture change.
2. Human capital curator – manages the flow of talent by developing people and leaders, driving individual performance, and building technical talent.
3. Total reward steward – manages employee well-being through financial and non-financial rewards.
Three enablers focus on tactical delivery:
4. Technology and media integrator – uses technology and social media to create and drive high-performing organizations.
5. Analytics designer and interpreter – uses analytics to improve decision making.
6. Compliance manager – manages the processes related to compliance by following regulatory guidelines.

According to the study, some competencies seem more critical for certain stakeholders.  Creating value for internal stakeholders, such as line managers and employees, requires being a credible activist. Creating value for external stakeholders such as investors and external customers, however, requires being a strategic positioner.

The study also found that about 50 percent of the perceived performance of HR professionals comes from their competencies.  About 35% of the perceived performance of HR professionals comes from their demographics and career histories.

A key overarching finding was that the activities of HR departments as a whole consistently explain more of the department’s performance than the competencies of the HR professionals within those departments.

Activities of HR departments that most impacted HR value creation for key stakeholders
1. Employee performance HR practices: HR activities that help employees develop their skills and abilities.
2. Integrated HR practices: HR activities that offer integrated and innovative solutions to business problems.
3. HR analytics practices: HR activities related to a scorecard for the HR department.
4. HR role in information management: HR role in managing information to make better business decisions.

HR professionals have more impact on key stakeholders when they work as an effective HR department. The report also notes that the old adage, “I like my HR professional, but I hate HR” needs to change because the HR department’s activities have more impact on all stakeholders than individual HR professionals.

For those interested in learning more, you can find Dr. Dave Ulrich’s videos introducing the latest model and competencies here.

(Previously posted on LinkedIn)

References
1. HRCS Round 7 – Creating HR Value From The Outside-In
https://s3.amazonaws.com/rblip/HRCS/pdf/hrcs-7-report.pdf?utm_source=RBL+Newsletter&utm_campaign=867e0e23f2-11_15_Newsletter_Test11_20_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_24fb7cc248-867e0e23f2-19097425

Another Year…Questions To Reflect On…

mountain-lake-931726_1280

We see many people in our world every day and sometimes ourselves go through daily routines in a pre programmed, meaningless manner.  At the same time, we also are reminded constantly that our lives are valuable gifts with an expiry date, at least in this realm.

The end and start of a year provide valuable opportunities and reminders for personal introspection and reflection.  Great questions help us think and reflect deeply about our existence, life experiences and progress.

Few useful questions that may help with the self-review process:

  • How did I live my previous year, especially in the context of things I aspired to do?
  • How much did I live meaningfully and purposefully?
  • What impact did I have on the people and environment around me?
  • How much progress did I make in becoming the person I really aspired to be?
  • What have I learned from my experiences?
  • What are key things in life that I am grateful for?
  • What do I need to do more of, less of and stop doing?
  • When did I feel in touch with my soul? How can I do more of this?

Don’t worry if the answers are not found easily.  Not having answers may hold opportunities to look inside deeper, become more aware and mindful.

Best wishes to you for a peaceful, meaningful and happy new year…

“It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.” – Seneca, On the Shortness of Life

References
1. Image Credit – Joshua Earle; pixabay.com
2. On The Shortness Of Life by Seneca, goodreads.com

© 2017 Lead-Wise

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Follow by Email
Facebook
Google+
http://tojoeapen.com/blog/2016/01
LinkedIn