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Speakeasy Leadership

Seakeasy Leadership

Seakeasy Leadership

The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a cultural rebellion against classic traditions, inspiring social revolutions around the world. Everything seemed to be possible through the modern technology of automobiles, motion pictures, and radio, which all promoted ‘modernity’ to the world.

One of the most mysterious trends that came out of the Roaring Twenties was the establishment of Speakeasies—hidden sections of an establishment that were used to illegally sell alcoholic beverages and feature new artistic expressions of music, dance, and risqué behavior. To enter a speakeasy, one would need to say a password to the doorman, indicating that the person-seeking entrance was welcome by the owner or other members of the “business within the business.”

In many ways, today’s workplace resembles the spirit of the twenties, with a rapidly evolving workplace, cutting edge technology changing and shaping the culture norms of organizations around the world.

Unfortunately, one of the dangers of today’s workplace is Speakeasy Leadership—the hidden sections of an organization where only a few people in positions of power make decisions that affect the rest of the organization. The practice of exclusive leadership, rather than inclusive leadership practice is alive and well in today’s organizations. But the reality is that the old school leadership hierarchy is an ineffective novelty in a knowledge-based economy.

Outside Looking In

Outside Looking In

Today secret societies and “good ole’ boy networks” only work at your local grocery store or coffee shop as a special promotion tool. In a Knowledge base economy, where individuals are empowered through the Internet, smart phones, and social networking that empowers a variety of information and connections that naturally drive higher levels of collaboration and success.

One new workforce member expressed it this way, “I am used to being so connected to my colleagues and playing off each other in the office, via social media, and creating ideas together with high levels of synergy everyday…” The open organization, without the Speakeasy executive office on the second floor, is a robust place where individuals create new best friends instantly and in days create a strong network with everyone on the team, as well as the friends made at their last organization.

Speakeasy Leadership promotes the opposite atmosphere at work where a few gatekeepers of ideas, formulate a plan from the top of the organizational pyramid, then pass it down to the people on the frontline to try and implement—void of passion and intimacy. 
 “I feel like there is a secret group of people running the organization,” says another frustrated employee. “It’s like were sitting in a meeting, and there are two or three people sitting at the table, speaking their own language, giving each other a wink and a nod to each other when I present our teams creative solutions to our organizational challenges.”

Collaborate for Success

Collaborate for Success

Speakeasy Leadership will kill today’s knowledge based company, because today’s leadership model and workplace formula for success is one based in wide-open communication, effective collaboration, social networking, and truly empowering individuals that are encouraged take ownership in the vision—not just contribute to it. Touch the untouchable by bringing energy and productivity to work, breaking down the interior walls of Speakeasy Leadership, creating a community where people work and play together, stimulating innovation, connection, and wild success.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant and New Media Producer at The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a non-linear learning program that promotes individual empowerment and collaboration.

Leadership Failure

Not too long ago I was put in charge of a couple sections of soldiers who were working on some military intelligence products for an upcoming mission. Since the teams were working on separate products, I assigned myself to one team and had a Lieutenant take charge of another team. The LT had been in the army for a few years, so I had no qualms about giving the team to him. I spoke with him privately and told him that he had “full autonomy” over his team and gave him full discourse over what his team did and how they finished their products. The next morning I come into work at 7:30 fully expecting everyone to be there for unit physical training. They weren’t. When I asked the LT where his team was, he said that he told them that they could do physical training on their own and that they didn’t need to show up until 9:30am. “What? Why did you do that? We always show up at 7:30.”Leadership

So, of course, they decided to sleep in and didn’t do any physical training for the day.

And of course my team was upset that they didn’t get to sleep in and come to work at 9:30. The last thing I wanted to create was resentment across the two teams. I thought that maybe a “team building” exercise was in order, but I didn’t carry it out because I felt I would probably screw that up too.  I was upset about the whole situation, but mainly I was irritated at myself.

After looking back on the incident, here’s what I learned:

  • I never really gave him full autonomy

Here’s what I really said: You can have full autonomy unless you do something I don’t want you to do or something that I disagree with you on. What I told him he could do and what I wanted him to do were two separate things.

  • I shouldn’t have given him full autonomy

Giving full autonomy over everything is not really leadership at all. I thought I was doing the right thing by giving him autonomy, but what I should have done in that situation was to give him more direction as to what is expected and necessary. Autonomy has its place and limitations; using it correctly is when it’s the most impactful.

  • My communication was not aligned with my expectations

I was never clear on my expectations. What was standard and status quo for me was not necessarily the same for him. Talking through each other’s expectations would have been helpful for minimizing conflict and building trust.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

The End of Innovation

“Innovation is dangerous!” says Yawn Fearman, Gatekeeper of Ideas at Acme Corporation—an international consulting firm that provides executives and managers the tools and skill sets needed to maintain power and balance within organizations. “Innovation is an unruly attitude that ignites revolutions and unwillingly forces change upon the slow and steady hand of the status quo.”Death of Innovation

Fearman asserts that there several simple mindsets to avoid disruptive an inconvenient ideas within an organization:

Isolate Innovation

When a child acts up or misbehaves at home, the best discipline is to give them a Time Out and send them to their room. You don’t have to kick them out of the organization, but isolation will make them think about the real vision and values of the company in more detail. It will encourage them to align their hopes and dreams with the hierarchy of the organization who own the vision and values.

But if you do want to innovate within your organization, keep it limited to one or two departments that are led by individuals who have a degree from a prestigious school and who are in close collaboration with you as a key leader.

Just Say No

Hey, if it worked for Nancy Reagan in the mid-80s (and look how far we’ve come since then), it can work for leaders when individual contributors come up with creative and new ways to serve clients. When ideas come up from the front line, just say, “no.” You probably don’t have the resources or money to implement the ideas anyway, so no real harm can come from this approach. It’s clean and effective and eventually, people will stop coming up with their own ideas so that you can do your job—implementing your own.

Show Them Who’s Boss

When the first two strategies don’t work, flex your Position Power. You have the degree, the experience, the complex title, and the pay grade—so use them!

If employees discover that they have other avenues of power, such as personal experience, knowledge, relationships outside the organization, or a specialized ability to perform specific tasks that the executives may or may not, this could become very disruptive to an organization. Don’t shy away from the fact that you are getting paid the big bucks to drive the organization into the future—not them. You have the title and the authority to make the first and final decision.

Enjoy the Silence

Don’t allow the loud distractions of individual or collaborative innovation to drown out the brilliance of your leadership ability. You’ve earned the corner office, and you were born to lead. The future of the world depends on you—don’t leave it to chance by putting its fate hang on someone else’s wild ideas.

** The views and opinions expressed in this fictitious article do not necessarily reflect sound advice or the views and opinions of
 the author, or The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant at The Ken Blanchard Companies and Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, an asynchronous learning experience for Individual Contributors within Organizations.

Want to be productive? Stay home from work

Absenteeism (not showing up to work) is a well-documented and researched metric. However, the evil twin brother of absenteeism is presenteeism, and it’s now starting to get some more attention. Presenteeism is defined as showing up for work when one is ill, and it is literally a productivity killer. It is estimated that the costs associated with presenteeism due to poor employee health is at least 2 to 3 times greater than direct health care expenses. The total cost of presenteeism to US employers has been increasing, and estimates for current losses range from about $150 to $250 billion annually. Consequences to presenteeism can be loss of productivity, major health costs, inaccuracies on the job, and spreading of illness to name a few. We all have done it, but we should really think twice about coming into work when we are sick. However, it’s just not that simple, and there are many reasons why just can’t say no.

Presenteeism

There are many antecedents to presenteeism but here are some major reasons:

1) Our culture/manager fosters this behavior
I’m probably not the only one has been praised for being a team player and coming in when I was extremely ill. In a recent survey by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), researchers found that employees who indicated that their employer was not supportive in helping them become emotionally healthy were 320% more likely to have high presenteeism. A 2010 study by the Work Foundation found that more than 40% of employees were under pressure from managers and colleagues to come to work when ill.
2) Fear of losing your job
In research done in 2012, nearly a third of employers have reported a rise in the phenomenon of “presenteeism” in the past year. With the economy slowly turning the corner, employees are worried about losing their job or falling behind in the rat race. Dr Jill Miller, research adviser at CIPD, said, “Continuing economic uncertainty and fears over job security appears to be taking its toll on employees. We are seeing employees struggling into work to demonstrate their commitment, suggesting presenteeism can be a sign of anxiety.”
3) Pressure to perform
For some reason we equate our perception of the seriousness of the illness in direct proportion to justifying taking time off. “It’s probably just meningococcal so I should be fine; I doubt it’s contagious anyways.” Let’s leave the diagnoses to the professionals and see if we can’t rest for a little bit. In a recent conversation with an old friend he told me, “I have worked for my company for 20 years and I have never ever taken a sick day.” Well, why not? He said he had maintained the “old school” mentality of work, work, work. This never made sense to me; if you are sick, then why don’t you just stay home? Now I’m being a little hypocritical here because I have often got to work when I really was too sick to go. But the worst part about it was that he worked in a hospital!
4) Little or no sick days
Increasingly, employers have minimized the number of sick days and most of the time; we just can’t afford to miss work. Also, with the increasing amount of households turning into a dual income family, many parents are using their sick days to care for their children when they become ill instead of taking care of themselves.

There doesn’t seem to be any extreme changes on the horizon in the way employers handle presenteeism, however we owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies and be present when we can afford to. Sometimes urgent can just wait until tomorrow.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

Hail to the King? – Not If You Want to Manage

Have you ever worked for someone who thought they were the center of the world?  The person was so demanding that if you didn’t do what they wanted you to do, when they wanted you to do it, you would be getting an earful or worse?  When you hear the term “manager”, does your past experience make you think “dictator”?

caesarChances are, if you’re thinking about moving up to a leadership role (or are even in a leadership role now), the “bad boss” example from above probably showed you how not to behave.  However, in some cases, the way that person acted may have shaped an image for some who think that’s how a manager is supposed to act, especially for younger employees who may not have had many managers.

Consider the purpose of a manager – in the simplest terms, they provide task distribution and guidance.  Being a manager does not mean you are above others.  Just because you are in a position of power, it doesn’t mean you are “Lord of the Cubicles”.

I might be able to get away telling my dog “Hail to the King!”, but if I tried that with my wife, I’d be sleeping in the doghouse.  If I can’t get away with it at home, you better believe I can’t get away with it at work with people who aren’t even related to me.

chesskingHistory shows that most dictators only last so long before their people rise up an overthrow them.  While employees might not literally rise up against a toxic boss, you better believe that senior leadership will eventually take notice when a manager’s employee turnover rate exceeds the rest of the company, or that the manager-in-question seems to have their own filling cabinet of internal complaints in HR.

The bottom line is that a manager is there to support their people. The best managers look at their employees being the real bosses.  They tell their leader what they need, and the leader helps them get whatever they need to be successful.  If they are successful, the leader is successful, as well.  Plus, it makes for better all-around working conditions for managers and employees alike.

If your mindset still falls into the realm of management equaling power, you might find yourself facing your own coup d’état in the future…

Leave your comments!

What’s wrong at work? You may need an Alberti

As a kid, I watched the movie Renaissance Man with Danny DeVito. Some of you may remember the film. Danny DeVito is this Advertising Executive with an Ivy League background who is fired from his job. He gets a temporary teaching position and is given six weeks to teach low-achieving soldiers the basics of comprehension and use of English language. He uses Shakespeare, the Renaissance, and other avenues to teach his students. Yet, only one of the historical figures covered in the film has mesmerized me ever since: His name is Leon Battista Alberti.alberti
When I was in Spain a few years ago I had the opportunity to see some of his work at the Prado in Madrid. That’s when I knew, Leon Battista Alberti was the quintessential Renaissance Man. He was the Renaissance Man even before we knew what it was. In fact, Alberti is largely credited with actually defining the term Renaissance man as “men can do all things if they will.” He grew up pre-Renaissance in Bologna because his family was ousted out of Florence by the republican government, run by the Albizzis. His mother died as a result of the Bubonic Plague and he and his brother were raised by his father. He studied architecture and painting, he was a self-taught composer and musician, and he was a heck of an athlete, particularly known in the area for his fine horsemanship. A legend of Alberti states that he could stand flat-footed, look into a man’s eyes and leap right over his head. This legend is exactly why I still remember Leon Battista Alberti today.

“No crime is so great as daring to excel.” Winston Churchill

Often times in our work we become overrun with responding to emails, balancing projects, and stressing over the unknown that we hardly have time to develop certain skills that will set us apart from our peers. Or even leap us beyond our peers. Here are some questions to ask yourself for self-evaluation and reflection to help you find your “Alberti”:

What am I good at? Be honest here. Don’t overvalue your stock on this because others won’t see the same value and you might end up trying to sell a stock that’s overpriced.
What does this organization need/lack that I could champion? Your Alberti needs to be aligned with the organization. In order for it to be value added it must correspond with the vision of your organization.
Do I have the resources? If not, how can I get them? Look at your own career. What is the next step? A degree? A certification? If you can’t access any resources where can you go to get them? Getting stagnate on your skills is one way to have a mediocre career.
Does this matter to me? In a recent interview, former President Clinton was asked if he was selfless for committing so much time to his non-for-profit organizations. He said, “It’s because I’m selfish. I do it because it makes me feel good about myself.” If it doesn’t matter to you, your motivation to prioritize it and work on it won’t be sustained.

So, what’s your Alberti? Are you known in the office for doing something that adds value? If not, then find your Alberti and pursue it.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

Narcissism and How We Perfected It

I’m taking a rather ambitious stab at clearing the name of an entire generation with a single blog post. I have not been chosen by my generation to represent us, but by definition I’m entitled so I deserve a shot. Many have called Gen Yers as Generation “Me”, but I see it more as “Generation Y Not Me?” We’ve been called rude, entitled, lazy, narcissistic, and smart – ok, I snuck the last one in there, but you get the point.

Ok, so we like to watch a little TV and play video games, so what’s the big deal? We live life on the edge (of reality) and love to surf (the web) and socialize (on Facebook) all day. We are the doers. We seek not war, but peace. We love reality television and hang on every word they say (even the illiterate ones). We are not better than any of you, but we are special. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are just extensions of our inner self. We love rap music, iPhones, and Dancing with the Stars (my wife made me put that in here). We are not all about ourselves; everyone is just all about us.

This is our motto.

normandy soldiers landingTom Brokaw accurately named the World War II generation as the Greatest Generation. After reading the book, watching the Band of Brothers series, and hearing the stories from WWII vets themselves, I can’t deny this. These men and women were some of the purist of Americans—hard-working, dedicated, and loyal to their values. I remember visiting Normandy about 10 years ago and seeing the crosses of the buried soldiers neatly displayed—such a beautiful display of sadness and pain. In my own experience as a captain in the Army and a combat veteran serving in Afghanistan, I hardly saw any sense of entitlement among the troops. There were men and women who were generally unhappy to be there (I admit even sometimes I wondered why we were there),  and hated everything about the war, but they still wanted to fight. There was a sense of pride about them and they fought long and hard. While in Afghanistan, I had a West Point Captain tell me about his 18-month deployment. He said the length of the deployment really hit him hard at the first Thanksgiving dinner. They were just about to start eating when one of his soldiers said, “Hey sir, don’t worry about saying grace. I’ll do it this year and you can say grace next year.”

20090513TalibanUnderwearI don’t claim we are the Greatest Generation but I do think Gen Y has contributed significantly more than just TV and video games. We are a young generation, but like many others we adapt, overcome, and move on. I never liked the label, “entitlement generation” because frankly I don’t think we deserve it. I hope this generation can rid ourselves of this brand and demonstrate the core American qualities that have been delivered to us from previous generations.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

Molding A Culture For Millennials

In a Deloitte survey published last month, almost 5000 Millennials across 18 different countries were asked various questions regarding their gen-y-imageviews on innovation.  According to the survey, 78% of the Millennials surveyed believe innovation is essential to business growth.  However:

  • 52% believe their workplace environment helps them innovate.
  • 26% believe their organization’s leadership encourages innovation and idea sharing regardless of organizational hierarchy.

That’s a huge gap in the number of Millennials who feel innovation is critical, yet who also feel their leadership teams aren’t fostering cultures of innovation.

Where does your company leadership stand on innovation?  Do you believe that innovation comes only from the top?  Should new ideas be shared and implemented based on seniority, or do employees on the frontlines have opportunities to innovate?

A lot of this deals with change.   Well-established companies may be struggling with an old way of thinking that leadership is where all of the good ideas are generated.  53% of respondents perceived that newer businesses were better able to innovate compared to older businesses.

In reality, innovation should come from all levels.  Innovation shouldn’t be thought of as flowing in a pyramid starting at the top.  Instead, think of innovation spreading across a level playing field in an organization.

innovationFrontline employees who work directly with customers are often the ones who see areas for change.  They can spot problems with processes and even products and services.  They’re the ones who hear the most feedback from customers.    That makes them a great source of new ideas.

How do you know if your employees feel they can innovate?  Can they come to you and/or other company leadership and bring up new ideas for products, processes, and solutions?  Do you have any established process for those ideas to be shared?  Are you open to listening to those ideas, or are they quickly dismissed regardless of how innovative they may be?

There are various other studies/surveys that have shown Millennials are less “loyal” in staying with a single employer.  In other words, if they aren’t getting what they perceive is essential to their work environment, they are more likely to find employment elsewhere compared to the other generations.

In seeing how important Millennials feel innovation is, this could also lead to a possible conclusion that businesses who don’t foster a culture of innovation will have a hard time retaining talent from this generation.

There are some other key data points in the Millennial Innovation survey:

  • 66% of respondents agreed that innovative organizations will be better positioned to attract talent.
  • Innovation was considered a top reason for the purpose of business.
  • Employee satisfaction and retention was ranked as the #1 non-financial  measurement for business success (the interesting part about this is that this category could be further broken down by the Employee Work Passion survey published by The Ken Blanchard Companies on what factors affect employee satisfaction).

No matter where you are in your organization’s hierarchy, what are you doing to foster innovation?

Leave your comments!

Lead Your Team To Effectively Use Technology To Learn

Ensuring employees have ample opportunity to learn and develop is crucial to organizational success. Yet, leaders can be bombarded with messages to increase the use of technology if they want the most effective means for their teams to learn.

As a leader, how do you judge which learning modality will lead to the most effective, quality learning experience? How do you appeal to learners on your teams at differing levels of technological savviness without discouraging their development? Or, worse, avoid humiliating anyone who is not as technologically savvy while simultaneously avoid disengaging your digital learners? Preventing yet more training materials being set up on a shelf never to be used again is key!

GEIKuMAosmicN5EZXkEBKDl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBXEejxNn4ZJNZ2ss5Ku7CxtSteps you can take to lead your team to effectively use technology to learn include:

1. Understanding how your team learns - Become intimately familiar with how your team learns. Do you offer a learning product on a flash drive only to find you run out before you can order more or are you scheduling face-to-face classes on their behalf with little resistance? Are your most productive employees viewing recording links from live stream workshops because they want to learn in their own time in the comfort of their office? How your employees learn will help you intuit in what form content should be delivered to increase learning. Don’t discount your own observations regarding what your employees seem to gravitate toward.

2. Determine their favored modalities – Fit how the content is offered to the learner by offering it in various forms such as audio, video, face-to-face, and asynchronous. Have a workshop that you know learners on your team will love but know it’s in a format they won’t be interested in learning from? Encourage your employees to determine if they would be interested in learning the same content in a different modality. If the content is off the shelf, inquire as to whether it is offered as mp3, asynchronous, and face-to-face format. Purchase and offer multiple forms and see which format your team seems to prefer. Learn from your purchases and take note of what your employees want more of and most often request.

3. Then…limit options – mp3 audio books, asynchronous learning groups, virtual book clubs , CDs, DVDs, hard-copy libraries, face-to-face workshops…the list goes on as to how employees learn and you could potentially intimidate and confuse learners by creating modality overload. Most important after determining how your team learns is to introduce new technology and options slowly by choosing their favored modality. Then, let them get comfortable with change by limiting the options offered to those two or three favorite modalities the team gravitates toward. Don’t get caught up with the new, shinny technology if you know your employees will most likely not be interested in learning in that particular format. Perhaps you have determined your team enjoys reading hard-copy books, listening to CDs, and asynchronous learning. Invest in these three modalities by allowing your employees to show you this is how they most feel comfortable learning. If the content is then offered as a webinar with live chat, don’t spring it on the team. Wait to allow them to lead you in their own learning.

Understanding how your employees learn will help increase the benefits derived from learning in modalities that best fit the learner and resultantly most benefit the organization.

***

Cheryl DePonte is a Human Resources Learning and Performance Specialist at The Ken Blanchard Companies and has over 15 years experience in the fields of organizational effectiveness and human resources development.

Is Workplace Bullying on the Rise?

Have you ever been bullied by a boss, coworker, or another employee? Chances are, you may have been. Research by the Workplace Bullying Institute has revealed that 35% of the U.S workforce has reported being bullied. That’s an estimated 53.5 million Americans! And that’s bad news for both employees and organizations. Employees who have been bullied suffer tremendously from stress, somatic disorders, anxiety, and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In fact, in some cases, the effects of bullying were comparable to WPB CartoonPTSD from war or prison camp experiences. The organizations themselves don’t escape so easily either. High turnover, low employee morale, and medical and insurance costs are just a few of the detrimental effects an organization must face. In fact, many European countries have adopted laws against workplace bullying, often called mobbing in Europe, costing organizations millions of dollars a year.

Ok, so still not sure if you have ever been bullied? Well, there are many definitions of workplace bullying (wpb) but a widely accepted one is harassing, offending, socially excluding someone or negatively affecting someone’s work tasks. In order for the label bullying (or mobbing) to be applied, it has to occur repeatedly and regularly (e.g., weekly) and over a period of time (about 6 months). Having a bad day at work and yelling at an employee, though not excusable, is not considered bullying. Bullying is a more divisive, targeted behavior that is usually aimed at one particular employee for a long stretch of time.

Bullying can come in many different forms such as intimidating, threats, physical abuse, verbal abuse, and even covert bullying—giving an unrealistic deadline to an associate for the purpose of belittling or embarrassing them.
But people can’t really be that mean can they? Gulp!!! In the years that I have studied the subject, I am more convinced it’s not just the bully who is responsible. It’s an institutional issue and really a global issue. In fact, workplace bullying has been identified as one of the major contemporary challenges for occupational health and safety around the world. In the U.S alone, it has been found to be four times more prevalent than sexual harassment in the workplace.

I used to think bullcartoon bullyying behavior was just a leadership flaw. But it’s much worse. Research has shown the culture of an organization may breed or allow for this behavior to thrive. Many different cultures see exuberant amounts of bullying instances, including the military, para-military (police, fireman) and commercial kitchens—Hell’s Kitchen anyone? If you’re like me, you don’t want Gordon Ramsay critiquing your cooking and you definitely don’t want him as your boss. But why does bullying seem more acceptable or permissible in these environments?
Unfortunately, some of these questions are yet to be fully answered, but hopefully soon these gaps will be filled and we will have a more comprehensive picture of bullying. Both the organization and the individual have a responsibility to mitigate this behavior and should actively seek ways to provide a safe environment for employees to work. Although wpb may seem to suddenly be on the rise due to the economy, social factors, etc., it may be that we are now just revealing what has already been at work for quite some time.

For any further information or questions contact me at gus.jaramillo@kenblanchard.com

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