Category Archives: Leadership

Good Busy or Bad Busy

“Whew,” Marcy plopped into the chair behind her desk. “What a day?”

“How so?” I wanted to know.

“Lots of things going on. Good things. Everybody was busy. Lots of work on our plate,” she explained.

“Good busy, or bad busy?” I asked.

“It’s always good to have work to do,” Marcy replied.

“How do you know?” I prompted. “The just dessert for hard work is more hard work. How do you know that the increase in activity is good, or not?”

Marcy was just trying to follow the discussion.

“Look,” I said. “Most people allow the events of the day to happen to them. They judge their lives by what happens to them. To be an effective leader, you have to judge whether those events move you toward your purpose or away from your purpose. Good busy or bad busy has to do with purpose. And without a purpose, without an objective, you will have no way to judge.”

Before the Team Can Get Better

“I am really disappointed in my team,” Carole began. “I really need to get them to step up their game.”

“Whenever I watch a team,” I replied, “to see how it is performing, I always end up watching the leader. Most times, the competency of the team reveals the competency of the leader.”

“Are you saying that the lack of performance of my team, is my fault?” Carole defended.

“No, I am saying, before the team can step up, it’s the leader who has to step up. Before the team can change, the leader has to change. The team you have right now, is the team you deserve. If you think your team should be more effective, you have to become more effective. Your team and their output is the product of your effectiveness as a manager.”

Leading With Power

“But, I am the team leader,” Marion protested. “The company made me the manager. They gave me the authority to lead the team. But, when I look back over my shoulder, I am not certain that everyone is following.”

“So, you are the leader?” I asked, without waiting for an answer. “You believe, as the leader, that you are now vested with certain authorities?”

Marion shifted her posture. She was suddenly, not quite so sure. “Well, that’s what I understand about leadership,” she finally replied.

“Marion, let’s think about being a leader, not as a person, but as a role that has to be played. What is leadership? What are its authorities, what are its accountabilities?”

“Well, I assign tasks for people to complete. I determine what people do, or what they don’t do.”

“Anybody in power can do that,” I said. “Just because someone has the power, doesn’t mean they are a leader. Someone with power can simply be leading the team astray, screwing things up for everyone.”

What Determines CEO Effectiveness?

Here is an interesting question posed over this holiday weekend.

How does a CEO gauge effectiveness in the role of CEO?  Not conducting a 360 review for other’s perception, but how does the CEO track and consider those elements of CEO effectiveness?

Jack Daly describes the three most important pieces of the CEO role.

  1. Set the vision.
  2. Put key people in key roles.
  3. Build the appropriate culture to support the organization.

In some ways, gauging effectiveness may be in the selection of what the CEO should NOT be doing.  Your thoughts?

Working Leadership – Fort Lauderdale – Oct 21, 2013

Oct 21, 2013 kicks off our next Working Leadership Series in Fort Lauderdale Florida. This program contains twelve modules in six classroom sessions. The program instructor will be Tom Foster (that’s me).  We have five seats left.

If you would like to pre-register for the program, use the Ask Tom link, tell me a little about yourself and we will add you to the pre-registration list.

Schedule
Session 1 - Mon Oct 21, 2013 - Orientation, Role of the Manager, Time Management
Session 2 - Fri,Oct 25, 2013 - Working Styles, Communication
Session 3 - Fri, Nov 1, 2013 - Positive Reinforcement, Team Problem Solving
Session 4 - Fri, Nov 8, 2013 - Planning, Delegation
Session 5 - Fri, Nov 15, 2013 - Decision Making, Accountability
Session 6 - Fri, Nov 22, 2013 - Effective Meetings, Coaching

Location - All classes will be held at Banyan Air Services in Fort Lauderdale FL in the Sabal Palm Conference Room.
Banyan Air Services
5360 NW 20th Terrace
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309

Tuition - $1600 per participant. Vistage member companies receive a $100 discount per participant. This includes all books and participant materials.

Curriculum

Session One
Orientation. During the initial Session, participants will create both a company and a personal framework, setting expectations and direction for this program. Participants, through directed discussion, create the connection between the program course material and their day-to-day management challenges.

Role of the Manager. Introduces the distinction between supervisor and managerial roles. Clarifies the specific goals necessary for effectiveness. This module creates the foundation on which rest of the course material builds. Incorporates source material from Requisite Organization – Elliott Jaques.

Time Management. Introduces the textbook Getting Things Done by David Allen. (Text included as part of the program).

Session Two
Working Styles.
 Participants will complete a DISC survey (DISC is an online instrument published by TTI) and report on their own identified strengths and working style.

Communication. The largest challenge, for most managers, centers on issues of communication. This Session will introduce participants to a new level of conversational “reality.” Introduces the text, Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott, as reference material. (Text included as part of this program.)

Session Three
Positive Reinforcement

This segment reviews the management research of Elliott Jaques and Abraham Maslow regarding “why people work.” Explores the role of positive reinforcement outlined in by Aubrey Daniels – Getting the Best Out of People.

Team Problem Solving.
 Expands Fierce Conversations to the group setting. Designed to move a group into “real work,” using a team problem solving model. Demonstrates how to build a team through problem solving.

Session Four
Planning.
 This segment introduces a results-oriented planning model, based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done, which participants can quickly use in any situation where planning would be of benefit.

Delegation. Participants are introduced to a specific model of effective delegation. Most managers hold certain mental blocks to delegation that prevents them from using this powerful developmental tool. This delegation model challenges these mental blocks so the entire team, manager included, can benefit from delegation.

Session Five
Decision Making
. This segment introduces three decision models that participants can use to make decisions in specific circumstances. All models can be used in a team setting or for an individual decision.

Accountability Conversation. Introduces a results-oriented method to hold individuals and teams accountable for desired results. This combines concepts of Time Span, QQT Goals and Management Relationships.

Session Six
Effective Meetings.
 Moves from theory to the practical application of team dynamics. How to run a more effective meeting.

Coaching. This segment takes the communication models we have previously used and integrates them into a conversation specifically designed for coaching subordinates.

If you would like to pre-register for the program, use the Ask Tom link, tell me a little about yourself and we will add you to the pre-registration list.

Hanging Out the Target

“So, if morale suddenly improved as the speed of the line improved, what do you think changed? What changed inside their heads?” I asked. Emily and I were talking about her production line’s sudden improvement in both speed and attitude. She mulled the question over.

“Remember, before, we were talking about competence and incompetence,” she was thinking out loud. “I didn’t believe you when you said the problem was incompetence. But now, I see such an improvement, I think you were right.”

“So, what changed inside their heads?” I asked again.

“Before, they didn’t know the daily target number. That single number became a tool for them to get better. They became more competent.”

“They are on their way to mastery,” I said. That word mastery hung out there like a full moon. Inescapable.

“I never thought of it that way.”

“Put the two together.”

Competence and mastery,” she said.

“Why do people perform at a high level?” I asked.

“Because they can,” she replied. “Give them the tools to become competent and you will see progress.” Emily smiled. It was beginning to sink in.

“At least, that is half the story,” I announced.

“There’s more?” Emily asked.

How to Get Employee Engagement

“So, they ran the last manager off in three months?”

“Yes,” replied Julia.

“How do you think you broke through?”

“Well, the story about the previous manager was all pretense. Ralph was posturing to see how I would react.”

“And?”

“I could have responded the same way, but I didn’t. Instead, I asked him questions about the way things were being done. Fact-based questions allow the ice to be broken. Then I moved from facts to purpose.” Julia’s plan was emerging.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“First, I asked him about their most significant achievement, as a team. Everybody likes to brag so he told me about a particularly difficult project that had gone very well.” Julia stopped. “And then, I asked him why that was important. The level of the conversation had moved from pretense to purpose. And I had moved it in only four questions.”

“And?”

“And I still have a long way to go, but it’s a start.”

What do People Care About, in Their Manager?

Julia had a breakthrough, at least she hoped that’s what it was.

“Ralph thought I was going to tell how to do his job,” she said. “I could tell he was baiting me. He had some story about the last manager, how he tried to change things. Ralph seemed proud that, three months later, the team was successful in running him off.”

“How long has Ralph worked here?” I asked.

“Seven years.”

“And you?”

“Seven months, but I have an engineering degree and five years with another company.” Julia was trying not to be defensive.

“Do you think Ralph cares about that?”

Julia slowed her response. “No, not really.”

“So, what was the breakthrough today?”

“Well, he didn’t say he was going to try and run me off, too.”

“Okay, we will call that a start.”
___
Amazon still has a promotion going on Hiring Talent. Thanks to everyone who already owns a copy. -TF

The Purist Management Tool

“You seem confident in your ability to draw the team member into the conversation?” I asked.

“I feel like it is an important management skill,” said Julia. We had been talking about bringing value to the other members of her team. As a new manager, we anticipated resistance to her leadership.

“Some people call it the art of conversation, but it’s a skill, an essential management skill,” continued Julia. “I think about all the things I can do to make a difference, to influence my team to higher performance, to boost morale. I can’t do it with email, though I have tried. I can’t do it with pep talks, they don’t last very long. I can’t do it by putting teamwork posters on the wall. The strongest tool I have, as a manager, is the skill of conversation.

“It’s the purest of management tools, one person simply talking to another person. If you can’t do that, you can’t be a manager. If you can do that, you can be a great manager.”

“Julia, you talk about it as a skill, as something that can be learned?”

“Yes. Oh, yes,” Julia responded. “I was terrible at it. I mean, I’m not a wallflower, but having purposeful management conversations is something I had to learn. I have discovered some basic elements and patterns. These patterns help me consistently to have conversations about purpose, actions and accountabilities.” I could see through the glass window in the door that two people were standing outside. Team members with questions.

“Let’s pick this up tomorrow. I would like to talk to you more about this conversational structure.”

How to Deal with Pushback

“So, Julia, you are in this conversation, looking for common ground. What if the team member isn’t giving you anything to work with?”

“Impossible,” Julia responded. “Unless, they are stiff arming me.”

Julia was a new manager on a team with nine men and two women. I was anticipating some pushback from some of the vets. This was not going to be easy.

“What do you mean, stiff arming?” I asked

“Sometimes, egos come in to play. They think they have to act tough in front of their co-workers, be uncooperative with the new boss. Maybe if they stiff arm me long enough, I will get fired. But it’s only a pretense. It’s just a game. I have to draw them out of the game and into the conversation.”

“What does that sound like?” I pushed.

“I usually start with fact-based questions. I stay away from opinions and judgments in the beginning. In these fact-based questions, I am looking to build up the tiniest bit of trust. It’s pretty simple, really. I ask a question. They respond. Nothing bad happens. I ask another question. They respond. Nothing bad happens. And the questions are easy

Tell me about your job? What do you do? Where do you get the materials? What machines do you use? On a good day, how many units do you produce?

“After a few minutes, the pretense goes away,” Julia continued. “I have drawn them into the conversation by asking them fact-based questions. It may not be a deep conversation, but at least they are out of the ego game.”