Posts Tagged ‘ Leadership ’

Leadership as a Lifestyle

Go to any Instagram account, Facebook or social media and you will see a host of lifestyle brands – fashion, makeup, fitness, food, sunglasses, restaurants, coffee shops, shoes – from GQ to the next up and coming photographer or fitness expert. We are attracted to these brands for the messages they portray – fun, motivational, luxury – whatever you have an appetite for.

These brands send a clear message and have a strong theme in common – they are these lifestyles all the time.

Fitness at my gym, to “abs are made in the kitchen”, and wearing workout clothes to the grocery store. These brands say, “I am a 24/7” brand. A few weeks ago, I saw guy on the I-15 south curling a dumbbell while driving – I’m not making that up.

In the same way, your outlook as a leader needs to be just like these lifestyle brands. You need to be a lifestyle leader or what I call a five to eight leader. What many people don’t understand is that true leadership is not just a skill, but a lifestyle. It’s not just something you do “in between the lines” of your 8-5 but how you interact from 5 to 8 as well. A leader in the community, a leader at home, a leader at work….a leader. Leadership as a lifestyle.

Great leaders do not create artificial barriers between time, people, work, community or based on the positions they hold and what they can get in return from the relationship. They are real, honest, authentic, and trustworthy. Here’s one that made me chuckle a little bit. There’s a 2+million viewed  TED Talk about how one develops the necessary skills to sound like a leader. Fifteen minutes of discussing how to best develop a persona that exudes leadership from your stance to vocal intonations. I’m not sure what that means or even how you go about “exuding” a leadership persona.

What we should be doing is spending that time developing a leadership lifestyle full of skills such as listening, sympathy, decision making, and trust. If you are a good leader, you’ll sound like one too.

Be a lifestyle leader.

Praise Where Praise is Due

Great Job

Who doesn’t like positive feedback?

 It’s great to feel you have done a job well, beat a target or helped others. Being recognised boosts our confidence, self esteem and drives us to perform well.

 According to a study in Forbes complimenting workers can have a similar impact and incentive as cash rewards. They found ‘scientific proof that a person performs better when they receive a social reward after completing an exercise’. The striatum area of the brain is activated when this happens, the same area of the brain activated when you are given a monetary reward.

 So, when was the last time you gave positive feedback or praised a colleague’s performance?

 The link to performance seems obvious, yet excuses and busy schedules get in the way of this kind of feedback being given regularly or becoming a workplace norm. There is a stigma associated with praising colleagues; maybe it will be seen as a weakness and how often should we really be giving positive feedback?

 According to Business Zone giving positive feedback improves performance, quality of work, accountability, strengthens relationships and ‘prevents destructive information gaps’. Evidence enough of the power of praise.

 How much of an effort would it be to commit to praising one team member a week and making sure that feedback is timely, constructive and genuinely heartfelt? Does sticking our neck out and giving someone the feedback they deserve really dent our ego and make us weaker? Or does it show that we are strong individuals, comfortable with recognising others and respectful and grateful for the hard work others put into their jobs every day? 

These are all rhetorical questions as I think we all know the answer. Let’s give a colleague the gift of praise and make their day – I can assure you it will be appreciated!

 Thank you

I couldn’t find a great quote on feedback; let me know if you find any. I will leave you with my thoughts on giving praise:

 Being able to give praise purely, simply and honestly to others is the greatest gift you can give. Be the person who steps forward and has the strength to give this gift where it is deserved. You will inspire and bring joy and appreciation to those who are giving their best.

Strategy: Ignore Culture at Your Peril

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It’s December – not only is it peak Christmas shopping time for some (I am completely unprepared!), it’s also when leaders are formalising their strategic planning for 2016 and beyond.

Organisations are thinking about strategic change; whether this is incremental or a larger scale transformational change.

If your organisation needs to make some difficult choices for the year ahead you should ensure close attention is paid to culture.

‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ – Peter Drucker

We regularly review our corporate, regional and departmental strategies, but how many of us also take this time to review our culture and it’s alignment with strategy?

Perhaps it’s because the perceived ‘emotional’ side of culture seems at odds with the more ‘rational’ side of strategic planning.

Culture impacts the way employees react and behave to any change in strategy, so ignore it at your peril!

What is Culture?

According to Segal-Horn and Faulkner, in their book Understanding Global Strategy, culture includes:

‘knowledge, values, preferences, habits, customs, practices and behaviour’

Which…

‘have the power to shape attitudes and behaviour’ within organisations.

Culture can be created, written down and driven formally by an organisation; the values may be developed collaboratively with employees, communicated by HR or the leadership team and ‘lived’ daily within the workplace.

However, there are also assumptions made by employees and ways of working that have developed over time. How many times do we hear it’s the way we work around here…?!

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Working with Culture to Facilitate Change

Creating a Forcefield analysis is an ideal way to ‘view the forces at work in an organisation that act to prevent or facilitate change’ (Johnson, G et al, Exploring Strategy).

Forcefield Analysis.png

This kind of analysis requires us to ask ourselves tough questions on what can block (resisting forces) or aid (pushing forces) change when creating a strategy.

Culture can be a fundamental catalyst for change and can be used as a vision for what change would look like once the strategy is implemented. However, it can also be a barrier.

A forcefield analysis can shine a light on the potential for resistence to a change in strategy. This in turn can lead to initiatives that are introduced in-line with the new strategy to:

  • Build trust
  • Break down any negative power structures within the organisation
  • Address information concerns and ‘fears’
  • Improve and increase lines of communication between management and employees

Barriers to strategic success must not be ignored and culture is a crucial factor that can make or break new policies.

I think of the aspects of culture like waves in the sea – work against it and you will struggle, take it into account and you can use them to your strategic advantage.

Top 5 Things People Don’t Know About Virtual Workers

The Leaders Guide to Mediocrity—Less Than a Million Ways to Maintain the Status Quo

“Proceed with caution in the direction of your hopes, and live safely, the life have.” —Hank Dave Locke

Mediocre is a good. Moderate quality is ok. “Average is the norm,” as Yogi Berra might say.

300x300Today’s world is complicated—every segment of society is continually changing and very little seems to be certain anymore, like it was two hundred years ago. No amount strategy, planning, or consulting can change this reality.

The great challenge for today’s leader at work, in sports, at home, or in academia, is to help everyone just hold on through the chaos and hope that things turn out for the good. We need to lower our expectations on what “greatness” really is. Our primary focus as leaders today is to maintain the status quo and not allow innovation, excellence, or a utopian idea of high-performance disrupt people from allowing people to get their job done the way they always have—for the most part.

The following are a host (who really counts how many points there are in articles like this anymore?) of ideas, or habits, or secrets, that will help leaders around the world avoid the stress caused by the quest for “higher levels” of performance and help maintain the status quo within your spheres of influence—if you have any.

Don’t Have a Vision

Visions are nothing more than “pie in the sky” dreams about the way things should be, not the way things really are. Having a vision for your organization only stresses people out and puts too high of expectations on them—expectations that are impossible to live up to in the end. And besides everybody forgets the vision after the town hall meeting anyway. So leaders need to save everyone the stress—don’t create a vision.

Don’t Set GoalsIMG_0517

Like vision, goals are a big stress in any area of life. People don’t need really need goals; it only sets you up for failure and disappointment. People come to work and know what they’re supposed to do and should be left alone to get it done—they don’t need a goal to tell them what they need to do. Without the stress of goals we don’t have to plan our week or take time every day to think about our activities we need to do. Without the burden of goals, people are free to just get straight to working—on something!

Don’t Give Feedback—And Never Ever Ask for Feedback

Feedback is just an illusion. It’s just someone else’s perception. By offering feedback you’re suggesting that something could be actually done a certain way—that’s pretty judgmental if you think about it. The reality is that everybody has their own way about going about doing things. By giving feedback to someone you’re know judging them, you’re insinuating that things could be done even better, and this is very disruptive to an organization—especially when you give feedback to someone that’s been leading people for 20 or more years. By asking for feedback you’re insinuating that someone knows how to do it better than you. That’s a no-no. You’ll look like a fool and people may begin to think that you don’t know how to do your job if you ask for feedback

Don’t Listen

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There’s only so much time in a day that you can sit around and listen to people’s complaints and problems. A leader that wants to maintain the
status quo and promote mediocrity, keep things flowing, should have no part of listening to somebody else’s challenges concerns or feedback. Time is of the
essence so don’t waste time listening to people’s concerns, and they’ll figure it out on their own—probably.

Don’t Solve Problems—Today

Like listening, problem-solving is another big waste of time. Problems exist, they always will, so what’s the point of trying to solve a problem when the reality is there will be 10 more, at least, that will spring up the next day. And if you really must try to solve a problem, sometimes you do, than the best strategy is to put it off until tomorrow. An average leader instinctively knows that today is all we have, and today’s troubles will take care of themselves; tomorrow.

Don’t Measure Performance

Yardstick-500x375Our society is beginning to understand this at a youth sports level—it’s time to understand this at a corporate level. If you hand out trophies and reward people for a “excellent” performance, what does that say to the rest of the organization? Measuring performance is just another way to discourage those who want to show up and work and just collect a paycheck. It’s another way to create distrust of the executives. Remember, your mission is to help your people survive, it’s not up to you to help them thrive—making the “scoreboard” irrelevant.

Feed Them Coffee and Donuts

This is a no brainer. Pavlov proved long ago that food, and now today, coffee, is a real good way to keep people satisfied. As long as people can come to work and know that donuts and coffee will be available, they will keep showing up. Sure it didn’t really work out with the orca whales at that Entertainment Park, but then again people aren’t really whales—food defiantly will satisfy humans. It’s not that complicated.

Which brings us full circle. Today’s leaders need to provide a safe environment with moderate expectations. The primary purpose of leadership is to help people survive and get through life in one piece—and enjoy the weekend. Leaders who follow these simple guiding principles will more than likely produce a culture of mediocrity and maintain a steady balance and certainty in an otherwise uncertain world.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He works with Fortune 500 Companies, Small Business, and Start Ups developing Performance Intelligence strategies that are linked to research based, leadership development curriculums and cutting edge application software.

Can women have it all?

Millennial+working+woman+xxx

When is it the right time in a woman’s career to have children? Is there a right time, and can women (dad’s too) still have a career? (I am very much counting on it).

To set the scene, I am a 30 year old woman who recently finished my MBA currently working in sales for a leadership consultancy firm. I would say I’m career driven, and really like what I do but I am only really at the start of my career journey. I am getting married next year, and the first question everyone asks is… When are you having babies? I would like to have them straight away but what does that mean for my career? Is there a right time for me to have a baby/babies, will others judge?

One of the best articles I have read recently around this subject is by Katharine Zaleski’s . In this article Katharine confesses how she used to criticize working mothers, and mentions about firing women before they ‘got pregnant’. I have also heard from friends that they have taken off their engagement rings so that companies don’t know they are engaged, as they felt companies wouldn’t employ them if they thought they were getting married soon.

Then you read about superstar women like Marissa Mayer taking 2 weeks maternity leave, is this what women need to do to ensure they stay on the career path? In reality she has a nanny who can help her out, with rising childcare fees if you have more than 2 children it often isn’t cost effective for both parents to go back to work.

When talking to working mothers (and fathers) they often feel like they can’t give 100% to their job and 100% to their child. Why not? In this day and age surely working parents can have it all? I think a large part is companies setting the environment to retain working parents and top talent.

What do companies need to do to retain mothers/fathers who want to give 100% to home and 100% to work?

  • Create a culture where people don’t feel uncomfortable about asking for flexibility or taking time off for their children.
  • Managers need to have open/honest conversations about supporting new parents.
  • Focus on results/productivity rather than the time spent. Just because some people work extra hours, it doesn’t mean they are more productive.
  • Make it easier for fathers to have time off to support their children too.
  • Be flexible – This is give and take from both sides. For example if you have a 35 hour week, make those hours count for work and for home life. We work in a global world with multiple different time zones, it would benefit the company and home life to flex the working hours throughout the day/night.
  • Allow working from home days.
  • Flexible benefits – Childcare help.
  • Social events during breakfast meetings or work lunches rather than evening events.

With a supporting partner, and a company who are willing to look at the work you do rather than when you do the hours I think women can have it all.  It would be great to hear of your experiences in the workplace, having a baby is daunting enough without the worry of your career.

Are Organizations driving out talented Millennial Leaders?

As I stepped up to the podium to give my Keynote at a recent leadership conference, I begin to second guess my whole topic of conversation. My topic, How Millennials may be the Catalyst for Change, was a very provocative approach to letting the majority of the audience know that Sam Cooke said it best when he said “Change is gonna come”. Millennials have a different take on work and truthfully, they have a big crush on work life balance. They talk about it, they breathe it, they live it, and they just want it really bad. Truthfully, they are just too big to ignore anymore. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce and as of first quarter this year, make up the largest segment of general workers.

Newly minted Millennials leaderbigstock_Portrait_of_young_business_peo_12587012s are also in a really precarious situation — they have to be more flexible, agile, and willing to adjust to change than ever before. They have to lead their peers, lead older generations and even deal with this current climate of pushing for more work life balance. Currently, there is a dichotomy in researching human interactions: the research on the workplace is studied separately from an individual’s personal life or home life. As a result, research has yet to focus on the individual as a whole but often view him/her separately as if he/she is somehow neatly segmented into two different worlds. What Millennials are calling for is a fusion of the two. Life isn’t arbitrarily and artificially segmented, so they believe their work life and personal life shouldn’t be either. When asked in a recent focus group, 90% of Ken Blanchard Millennial employees desired a working life that was more in tune with the realities of life.  Recently, General Electric (GE) announced it will forego PTO and vacation hours and make the vacations unlimited to the majority of its employees. Roughly, 2% of all employers have this option but GE is the largest. This number will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years, as the shift is currently being made to a flexible workplace.

And that’s not even the scary part. The scary part is that, currently, 51% of Millennials are in formal leadership positions and the majority hasn’t received the proper training to become a leader. Organizations are setting up their new up-and-coming millennial leaders for failure! I spoke with a friend of mine in San Diego who mentioned that her VP of Sales left the company and they were replacing him with the top sales rep in the company. When the change was announced, they threw a huge party on Friday and everyone congratulated him for the promotion. On Monday, he submitted his resignation. He realized over the weekend that he didn’t want to do it. In fact, he said he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t trained to become a leader, didn’t know the skill set needed to transition from a high performing individual contributor to now a leader of his peers, and frankly had no desire to do it. He said, “I’m good at selling, that’s what I do; that’s my strength. Why would you think just because I’m good at selling I can become a high performing leader?”  It makes no sense, and employers do it all the time. If you want to keep your young, millennial talent you need to set them up for success by equipping and training them for their next role.

So, I’ve begun to really analyze this question around aspiring leaders to determine the best way to capture how Millennials are transitioning into become leaders in their organization. How do they feel? Do they feel equipped? Are they excited or nervous? If you’d like to contribute to this area of research, you may take this short survey linked here. I will share my findings in a follow up post after the data is analyzed.

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