On Leadership Styles, Philosophies and Where You Live

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How to Be a Rock Solid Leader

Rock Solid Leader

The en masse exodus of Baby Boomers alarms some in the business community as retirement encroaches. Varying reasons exist for the multiple reactions to retirement. The energized and ready can’t wait to quit the daily pace of dutiful work obligations in exchange for a more relaxed pace. Others are uncertain, wary and intimidated about this forthcoming season in their lives. 

The question arises, how do you stay a rock solid leader after retirement?

Leadership Validation Is a Core Process

Before a leader can navigate his retirement, an important and often overlooked step is the leadership validation process. This is the process of confirming that a job was well done. Meaningfulness becomes increasingly important as one becomes more experienced.

A rock solid leader who validates the claims of leadership manifested in the working years gains more assurance and is emotionally ready for the exit.

For many, this validation is unnerving:

  • How do they know if they were meaningful?
  • How do they know the caliber of their followers?
  • Or, what is the caliber of their potential successor?

The validation for leaders of core competencies is critical in all phases of the business and personal life cycle and increasingly important near retirement. This translates into core validation being essential from the first interview to the exit interview.

At my firm, we have found that we can confirm core competencies better with 3-D assessments and our clients gain a competitive advantage. This approach provides a much more realistic understanding of the leaders and how best to go ahead.

Leadership Validation

Essential for Rock Solid Leadership

Executive coaching, leadership assessments and evaluations and performance reviews are often the tools used by consultants to help investigate and test the leader’s hard and soft skills. The typical pen and paper approach has brought in results; but limited insights.

A better approach is the 3-D assessment that utilizes video as the main medium.

How to Be a Rock Solid Leader

Under pen and paper, the list of questions is often answered individually. Each response comes from how the leader sees themself. This self-evaluation is a good tool but limited. The way others view a person is critical. First impressions are important. Therefore, undergoing a comprehensive assessment is a better approach.

What variables validate core leadership competencies?

Peer evaluations have often been used to check the team or the leader. The problem is that they are often subjective and not good evaluations. So, the first key in gaining a tier-one evaluation is to make sure that the person diagnosing the skills is not a part of the team or related to the company. An outsider’s objectivity provides a level of analysis that cannot be attained by co-workers.

So this begs the question:

What leadership skills should you get assessed?

Leadership Potential

New and Underdeveloped

The skills gaps in the rise of new leadership is an increasingly challenge for many companies. The new enthusiast wants to lead well, but often lacks the knowledge that comes with hands-on experience. Thus, two categories of skills exist and assessed in a comprehensive leadership skills assessment to confirm core competencies.

Technical Gaps:

  • Computer
  • Engineering
  • Mechanical
  • Electronics
  • Math
  • Computer Programming

Interpersonal Skills:

Certain aspects of leadership depend on qualities – often subtly displayed – that others perceive someone to have. Leadership awareness of soft skills can be difficult to assess, so an effective way requires an in-depth probing and understanding to check core competencies.

This type of “deep-dive” assessment observations and resultant data explain feedback with a higher level of accuracy.

  • Critical Thinking
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Active Listening
  • Sales Techniques

In fact, many qualities are visible with 3-D analytics; thus increasing the effectiveness of each assessment. Now, you can know if you are a rock solid leader.

A Twist in the Leadership Validation Process

Many companies have focused on leadership development and training for the newbie. However, this is only a partial solution. 3-D analytics work for senior management too.

Good companies know the value of their human capital; the experiences of a mature leader adds wisdom to the organization.

Increasingly, the en masse exodus of senior management has upper management more aware of the knowledge loss with retiring senior management. The challenge is to capture and assimilate the knowledge of these retiring seniors. Their successes are what make a leader rock solid.

Rock Solid Leader Plans

The cycle of a leader begins with initiation into authority and continues until retirement. Throughout the business cycle a good leader should confirm his or her core competencies to strengthen weaknesses and strengths. A

potential leader is usually provided training and guidance to increase his skills. An experienced leader, yes, a rock solid leader guides others to maturity. Thus, the question becomes for a company how to keep the knowledge of a rock solid leader?

Succession Planning

Continuity of leadership is a challenge. This is one reason succession planning is fruitful. Succession planning helps find new leaders and explores ways to capture the knowledge of the predecessors.

  • How well is your company positioned to transition its rock solid leaders?
  • Has your company started its 5-year succession plan, yet?
  • What steps are missing to getting your plan on paper and into action?

I share effective succession planning to help prepare executives, leaders and management with programs for custom exit strategies that validate core competencies.

Q: So then, what is the best way to find a rock solid leader?

A: Please post your comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Loreen Sherman

Loreen Sherman is CEO of Star-Ting Inc | Executive Coach | Sr. Mgmt. Consultant
She serves clients with a 3-D Analytic Assessments and Succession Planning
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Corporate | Booking | ☎ 
403.289.2292

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Dealing with Nasty People Who Undermine You

Have you ever come across colleagues, coworkers, or “frenemies” who undermine you?

Or worse, have you had this happen to you and not even know that it was happening?

And how might you know if someone is working under-the-radar to cause you harm?

Understanding Sabotage

My intuitive senses are quite developed, but even for me it takes a few instances to figure out that someone is undermining me. Why? Because it is done in a subtle or gradual way and it often comes from people who you wouldn’t suspect such a thing.

These people could be your close friends or co-workers with whom you often hang out.

Most of the time undermining is done in a subtle way, but in other times it could be obvious. When it is subtle, it can be slipped in as a disguised compliment. You are left confused whether you were being complimented or slighted. It is only after a few repetitions that one figures out that they are being undermined.

So What’s Going On?

I am not a psychologist, but as far as I can tell, the following could be some of the reasons why people undermine others:

  • They genuinely believe that they are better than you. By undermining you, they are validating their beliefs to themselves and it makes them feel better.
  • Life is a competition for some people. I tend to think there are two kinds of competitive people. Some are too busy achieving and then there are others who seem to think that success is limited. When they see someone else’s success, to them it means their failure and therefore they try to undermine others in order to feel superior. In my humble opinion, I believe that success is unlimited. Moreover, success means different things to different people. One person’s success doesn’t mean other person’s failure. Aren’t we all on our own life path?
  • Co-workers may try to undermine you in order to get ahead or if they perceive you as boss’ favorite.
  • Some people feel that they haven’t gotten their dues in life. When they see someone who has gotten success easily, they may undermine their success.

Causing Harm

I have stated some of the reasons above and I am sure there are other reasons for which people may justify undermining others. However, it is a very negative experience for the person who is being undermined.

There is really nothing tangible to be gained from such an experience except for frustration and a bad taste in the mouth.

The person being undermined is often left with a confused feeling about his friend or co-worker and might also start thinking “What did I do wrong?” The fact is that he didn’t; the fault lies with the person who is undermining. It has probably become a habit with them and they do it subconsciously.

Dealing With Undermining People

In order to deal with undermining people, the best strategy is to ignore their opinions and not let that affect you. After all, they are undermining you because they think they are being heard or have a say.

Perhaps you gave their opinion of you a little too much weight in your life. Once you take that power away from them, they will likely stop or find someone else to undermine. T

his might be easier said than done but it is a good solution to walk away from a negative situation. Clearly such coworkers or fr-enemies are not adding any value. Instead they are trying to erode your self-esteem and in the process self-serving their own false beliefs.

So have you ever been a victim of work place sabotage? what did you do about it?  Or have you been guilty of doing this yourself? Why did you do this? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Aditi Chopra
Aditi Chopra is an experienced leader in the software industry
She is a consultant, writer and a leader
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Visionary Leaders Squeeze Their Creative Juice Every Day

Creativity is vital for leaders in a rapidly changing world. But as a leader, do you have those days when you wake up feeling dull and nothing creative seems to come to mind?

You’re tempted to retreat into the mundane and routine just to get the day over and done with.

Forcing Creativity

Maybe you do manage to pick a subject and try to bludgeon some creativity out of your brain.

  • Which subject to go for?
  • In which direction to travel?
  • What will my new creation look like?

It all seems too much like hard work to me. You’re tired and uninspired. You eventually accept it,  but now what? How do you get new creative ideas to flow from your mind?

A Creative Energy Crisis

The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell

Can we be creative only when we’re energised? I hear you saying something like this:

When I’m tired I have no energy and I feel incapable of raising the effort. Everything I want to think about just asks too much of me. Without energy how can I possibly come up with anything creative or useful?

Why would you expect to be a full-on high energy creative person every day? There are going to be days like this one. Should you retreat, lick your imaginary self-indulgent wounds and sit in a corner.

If you can crack this challenge you will not be a prisoner of “tiredness.” Luckily there is plenty you can do.

“Creativity is an act of defiance” ~ Twyla Tharp

How Creative Are You?

In a great TEDx talk by John Paul Caponigro, he tells us “You are a lot more creative than you think you are” and gives great ways to trigger our creativity.

The direction you want to take is entirely your decision

Steps To Juicing Your Creative Mind

A key message of John’s is to become childlike again.

  • First release the pressure.
  • Just mess about with “stuff.”
  • Aim nowhere in particular.
  • It doesn’t matter where you start or finish.
  • Have faith, something will develop out of the mist.
  • Keep playing and it will crystallize.
  • The stuff you throw away today might be useful another time, so keep brief notes.
  • Scratch away until things gel, and then focus down on the specifics.
  • Then analyse and introduce your mental editor.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” ~ Erich Fromm

“Scatching” and Keeping the Good Stuff

Twyla Tharp dancer and choreographer spends many hours in rehearsal, playing with steps and poses, throwing away most of her work but keeping the really good things. She coined the term “scratching.” If it’s good enough for her it’s good enough for me, and you.

Remarkably, energy appears as if by magic driving yet more creativity.

Triggering creativity is about letting the juices flow and revealing the gifts spontaneously. You cannot force it. Next harness and develop your new creation.

My formula for scratching is PTP – Place, Time and Permission.

  • Place – Find a place conducive to scratching. (e.g. a favourite coffee shop, jogging and crucially for teams an agreed thinking space).
  • Time – Give yourself sufficient time. Scratching shouldn’t be rushed.
  • Permission – Give yourself (and others) permission to put aside time to scratch. This time is valuable and not wasted; it’s the golden time which generates the most creative elements of our lives and our work.

Can I add a couple more P’s: patience and persistence?

The Creative Environment

In his brilliant study of the environment of creativity Steven Johnson describes in his video at the top of this post how many great inventions or intellectual leaps have required decades of patient development.

The great ideas often involve the collision of multiple smaller concepts and observations.

He also proposes that creativity is a product of chance and that “chance favours the connected mind.” We are all more connected than ever before which is a good thing. Our challenge is to prevent being distracted by the dross. We need to scratch purposefully to find the hidden gold.

Follow the Leaders

Finally, if this creative process is good enough for the leader it must be good for everyone who follows. The creativity of an organisation will be magnified many-fold if you create a connected physical and cultural environment.

Chance will then favour this highly connected authentically aware creative crowd.

“The things we fear most in organizations—fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances— are the primary sources of creativity.” ~ Margaret J. Wheatley

Action Plan

Your Actions Today

  • Find a Place, assign Time and give yourself Permission to scratch.
  • Let thoughts come and go – don’t concentrate on anything in particular.
  • Play around with ideas and make notes. Is it good for today or tomorrow?
  • Notice how you feel before, during and afterwards.
  • During and at the end of today make notes on what you observed and felt.

Recommended reading

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

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——————–
 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership, Playing Sports and Achieving Business Excellence

I have long recognized the strong correlation between having a history of playing sports and success in business.

And as a general rule, I have found this link to be remarkably evident in females.

Having competed in sports as a child and competing in the business world today, I know firsthand how valuable the experiences gained in sports can be.

On “Sporty” People

As a hiring manager, I often favor candidates who played team sports or engaged in other competitive activities in their youth. I find that the skills they honed on the “playing field” were often the very same that propelled them to the top of their game in business.

The most prominent skills are:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Perseverance
  • Discipline
  • Sportsmanship
  • Time Management
  • Grit
  • Punctuality

In my experience, “sporty” people are taught to stay focused on their goals. They have the motivation to continue following setbacks, and they know that success takes hard work.

Just the Facts

I recently found two studies that validate my experience and underscore the fundamental role that participation in sports plays in developing female leaders.

The most recent data is from a global survey commissioned in 2013 by the professional services firm Ernst and Young. This survey found that 96% of women in the “C-Suite” played sports at some level while growing up.

These survey findings are consistent with an earlier study conducted in 2002 by the mutual fund company Oppenheimer. The Oppenheimer study revealed that 82% of women in executive-level jobs had played organized sports after elementary school, including school teams, intramurals or recreational leagues.

It’s Not Too Late

If you didn’t play team sports as a kid, it’s not too late.

The study also showed that businesswomen exercise and play sports significantly more than the general population of women. Two-thirds of women business executives exercise regularly, which other research would show is close to double the proportion for the general population of women.

The data is clear and that is this:

Being sporty not only helps women succeed in business, it sends them straight to the top.

On Playing Sports

Consider the benefits of playing teams sports:

  • Teamwork:

Team sports teach athletes how to cooperate with others to achieve a common goal. Being able to work productively with a team is critical to achieving success in business. Being able to work on a team is a crucial part of my hiring process.

  • Goal Oriented:

As an athlete, you are always looking to improve your performance. It may be to run further, faster or lift more weight. Employers need workers that will work hard to accomplish their goals and continually “raise the bar.”

  • Perseverance:

Athletes learn that if you get knocked down, literally and figuratively, you can pick yourself up and keep going. People that persevere in business, work hard to hold themselves and others responsible for achieving business objectives. They don’t let obstacles get in their way.

  • Time-Management:

Child athletes learn at a young age how to balance school, homework and athletics. Employers desire efficient workers that are self-motivated and stay on task.

  • Competitive & Assertive:

Competitive activity teaches the importance of winning and bouncing back after losing. Engaging in competitive activity as a child may help women learn that it is acceptable to compete aggressively.

The “Ginormosity” of it All

Clearly, the value of engaging in physical activity throughout you’re your lifetime is enormous.

Hiring managers consider the benefits of hiring candidates with strong competitive and/or sports backgrounds? Individuals with a sports background, consider the skills you have gained and use them to help you garner success in business.

So did you play sports growing up? If so, what lessons did you learn that have helped you in business and in life? How has this background benefited you and those you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————
Dee (Wolfe) Mahoney

Dee Mahoney is Founder and President of Career-Lessons, LLC
Dee is an Executive Coach and a Leadership Trainer
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog

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When You’ve Fallen and You Have to Get Up

I was collaborating with a colleague this week on a session he’s doing with the senior leadership team of his company to identify the critical qualities they need in leaders for the future.

In the process, I came across General Stanley McChrystal’s TED talk on leadership.

It’s great. It could be a model for how to craft a leadership message.

Real Leadership

It starts with a personal story about jumping out of an airplane, landing hard and falling down. It includes self-deprecatory humor, shows vulnerability, gives meaning, connects to the future, and winds back to the beginning with a powerful call to action.

When you fall, says General McChrystal this:

“If you’re a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you out. And if you’re a leader, the people you’ve counted on need you on your feet.”

It’s a great statement of how leadership is the opposite of victim mentality or being caught up in fear.

  • If we’re thinking like victims, we’re stuck to a self having a problem.
  • If we’re caught up in fear – the very words suggest it – we’re snagged or stopped.
  • The more we worry, protect, or blame, the more we spiral into a dark hole of self-thoughts and bodily tension.
  • These thoughts and tensions make us weak and clumsy.

Even if we want to be authentic and do all the good things leaders are supposed to do, we will get in our own way if we are caught up in self-pity, self-doubt, or self-promotion.

Serving The Larger Picture

On the other hand, the more connected we are to others and to serving a larger picture, the more naturally we stay in the flow of now, the more naturally we move with the rhythm of what’s going on, and the more naturally our self adds its value.

There’s a quality of movement in McChrystal’s advice: so what if you’ve fallen; your people will help you and need you on your feet. Go! We sense this movement from other leadership voices, whether it’s Sheryl Sandberg leaning in or Kevin Cashman’s leading from the inside out.

Leadership moves, gets others moving with it, and creates more movement.

Getting A Move On

In this regard, Zen is great training for leaders and leadership becomes a great practice ground for Zen, as both emphasize penetrating now to the utmost whereupon self disappears and freedom of movement expands.

As Zen master Takuan (1573 – 1645) advised the leading sword master and military advisor of his day, “Don’t let your mind stop.”

“A mind that stops in any one place will not be able to move freely…By not stopping anywhere, it will be of use everywhere…The mind of one who has reached the highest level will not stop even slightly on things.  It is like pushing a gourd on the water’s surface.” (from Fudochi Shimmyo Roku)

The Zen Leader

When I was writing The Zen Leader, it struck me this “flip” from stuckness to movement or, as I called it, from coping to transforming, is where leadership begins (hence, the first chapter and a way to make this flip). Because if we define leadership – in the spirit of Cashman – as authentic self-expression that creates value, one cannot do this from a place of stuckness or coping.

The actions, decisions, or commands we issue from such a place are not authentic, they don’t express the authentic self, and/or they don’t create value for others.

Where have you seen this principle of not getting stuck, or “not stopping the mind” in leadership?  And how have you seen people get unstuck when they’ve landed hard, and are having trouble getting back on their feet?

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——————–
Ginny Whitelaw

Dr. Ginny Whitelaw, The Zen Leader, is President of Focus Leadership
She helps leaders transform with programs, coaching, FEBI assessment, keynotes
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog |  skype: ginnywhitelaw | +1 410 923 0285

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The Scourge of the Zombie Employee

`Zombies at Work

Zombies exist – and they just might be working for your company.

In the day and age of belt-tightening across industries, reduced budgets, and a focus on maximized productivity, employees are being asked to take on more and more responsibility, including increased workloads without an increase in pay.

Because many jobs are hard to come by these days, employees have no choice but to acquiesce to increased demand.

Creating the Dead

Unfortunately, the burden of an increased workload can lead to:

  • Employee health problems
  • Increased mistakes
  • Reduced effectiveness of communication
  • Decreased customer satisfaction

As employees push themselves harder, with no relief in sight, they tend to wear down over time, becoming less engaged in their work, and frankly, more apathetic about their role in the company.

Most of them just go through the motions.

So, in the age of cost cutting, what can an organization do about this potentially devastating problem?

4 Ways to Keep Zombies Away

Here are four ways to make sure your people stay engaged and don’t turn into zombies.

1. Focus on Customers

As ridiculous as it might sound, plenty of organizations are guilty of not putting their customers first. In an attempt to reduce overhead or fine tune internal processes, decisions are made that are not in the best interest of customers – like overworking employees or shortening business hours.

Companies should center every decision they make on what’s best for the customer, because a focus on providing the best products and the best service will keep customers coming back – and ultimately keep the doors open.

2. Consider “Line of Sight”

Line of sight” is the correlation between an employee’s actions and the impact they have on gaining and retaining customers.

Zombie Employees

There should be a direct link between the tasks your employees are completing and a benefit to your customers and prospects.

When employees understand this connection (and the importance is has to the organization), they are more likely to be engaged in their activities, and thinking about them in a larger context.

On the employer’s side, this means keeping employee assignments relevant, and if need be, explaining how a particular task is beneficial to the customer (and the company) in the long run.

Certain parts of every job are mundane, but if the employees understand the overall importance, they are less likely to be dejected about the less-than-interesting tasks.

Also, don’t assign “busy-work.” Everything your employees do should be important in some way.

3. Don’t Implement Layoffs at The Expense of Service

Budgets are hard to meet. Overhead is hard to keep down. Revenue isn’t always as high as you need it to be.

These are simple realities of running a businesses – but the answer to meeting these problems is NOT to simply reduce your workforce. In some scenarios, layoffs are inevitable (in emergencies or massive changes in service or scope), but it should never be a go-to method for saving money.

In fact, layoffs may even be more problematic than you realize.

Diminishing a workforce may save you some money each month, but at what cost? Trying to maintain the same level of service with fewer people will only bog down your employees.

And here’s what’s worse – when you start laying people off, it affects the people who keep their jobs as well. Suddenly, those people are feeling tense about their job security, feeling less emotionally and psychologically attached to the company, and maybe even a little resentful that some of their colleagues are no longer there. This means reduced productivity across the board.

4. Transparency

One of the key components of employee engagement is transparency, plain and simple. When an entry-level worker can see where they fit in the context of the whole company, they are more likely to embrace that role and put personal stock into the work they do.

Throughout an organization, the context of a particular task or role is important. Much like “line of sight” with customers, transparency between departments, or from management down through the ranks, helps everyone understand the important role they play in the overall success of the organization.

Stepping Up Your Game

When costs seem oppressive or sales are down, the solution is not to slash budgets or pare down services. In fact, the best solution is just the opposite – if the company is struggling, it’s time to step your game up and build the organization your customers are proud to do business with.

In doing so, you’ll create an organization that your employees are equally proud to work for.

Zombie employees are the byproduct of lack of engagement. Without anything to strive for, or a clue about why they’re performing a certain task, would you expect anything less?

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———————
Anil Saxena
Anil Saxena is a Senior Consultant and Business Partner with Coffman Organization
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog | (888) 999-0940 x-730

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