Posts Tagged Lead People

Leadership – Piloting the Motorcycle in a Specific Direction: Part 3

Leadership – Piloting the Motorcycle in a Specific Direction:  Part 3

First, leadership is about “leading people, not managing things”.

In previous posts/discussions, I introduced this thought – ALL successful leaders, or leadership teams, provide the same four “leadership whats” for their organization(s) – just like riding a motorcycle.  The “whats” are as or ,more important than a leaders traits, “leadership hows”.  The four “leadership whats” include:  (1) pilot the organization in specific direction(s); (2) provide thrust/power to move the organization in the desired direction; (3) manage/mitigate risks of piloting the organization; and (4) make changes in the organization’s direction, thrust and risk based on current and anticipated situations/changes. 

Each of these four “whats” can be broken down into finer and finer specifics. The last post, Part 2, discussed the initial three “whats” in ‘piloting the motorcycle in a specific direction’.  Arguably, piloting the organization(s) in the proper direction(s) is the most important “whats” a leader, or leadership team, provides.  If an organization does not have direction, or is being piloted in the wrong direction, then success will be fleeting.  But what are some specifics that leaders provide to establish the proper direction(s) of an organization?

Leadership Cycle

Leadership Cycle

 

 

This post/discussion focuses on the last two “whats” – Strategy and Operational Plans

You might think that organization/business strategy is easily defined and well understood, but even a cursory look on the internet will prove you wrong.  Definitions are abundant, not always similar and sometimes vary vague.  So for purposes of this post/discussion, let’s define strategy as:

‘The art and science of determining or planning an organization’s overall (1) scope, road map, and goals, (2) branding, business and organization models,  (3) effective use of limited resources, and (4) performance measures to achieve its vision, mission and strategic goals.’

First and most important, an organization cannot be all things to all people.  So setting a strategy chooses the organization’s scope – focusing ‘where it will play and where it will not play’. This is a further refinement of the organization’s vision and mission to the point that the organization can produce strategic plans (road map) and goals.  Second, as a result of setting its scope, road map, and goals, strategy defines its business model (how it operates), organization model (how it is structured), branding (how it will be known).  Third, strategy provides direction, with some specificity, in how its limited resources will be acquired, retained and used.  And the last part of setting an organization’s strategy is determining the diverse measurements to use in evaluating its strategic performance.  This process of setting strategy is repeated by each business unit and major department to define and align their strategy with the organization.

The last set of “whats” that provide direction are operational plans (OP), also called annual plans, that are completed by every business unit and department.  Operational planning is the process of defining tactical plans and goals, objectives and performance measurements, and aligning them with strategic goals, objectives and performance measurements. OP describes operations, operation initiatives, capital projects, milestones, performance, and resource requirements during a given operational period, a calendar or fiscal year. An OP also includes a business unit’s and department’s annual operating budget and capital budget. The OP must be a collaborative effort between the business units and departments to insure the plans and budgets are in alignment with each other.

In the next post/discussion, we will introduce the second major “leadership whats” – the thrust/power to move the organization in the desired direction.

 



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Leadership – Piloting the Motorcycle in a Specific Direction: Part I

Leadership – Piloting the Motorcycle in a Specific Direction:  Part 1

First, leadership is about “leading people, not managing things”.

In the last post/discussion, I introduced this thought – ALL successful leaders, or leadership teams, provide the same four “leadership whats” for their organization(s) – just like riding a motorcycle.  The four “leadership whats” include:  (1) pilot the organization in specific direction(s); (2) provide thrust/power to move the organization in the desired direction; (3) manage/mitigate risks of piloting the organization; and (4) make changes in the organization’s direction, thrust and risk based on current and anticipated situations/changes. 

Each of these four “what’s” can be broken down into finer and finer specifics. This post/discussion focuses on some specifics of piloting the organization in specific direction(s) which is analogous to steering the front wheel of a motorcycle.  Arguably, piloting the organization(s) in the proper direction(s) is the most important “what” a leader, or leadership team, provides.  If an organization does not have direction(s), or is being piloted in the wrong direction(s), then success will be fleeting.  But what are some specifics that leaders provide to establish the proper direction of an organization?

 

Leadership Cycle

Leadership Cycle

 

This post/discussion focuses on the first, three “whats” – Vision/Mission, Values and Culture

Gertrude Stein states – “It is awfully important to know what is and is not your business.”  Vision and mission “whats” provide the cornerstones for any organization and are usually published as vision and/or mission statements.  For example, in Southwest Airlines early years their vision/mission was to “Give People the Freedom to Fly”. These “leadership whats” sets an organization’s purpose and direction that all other “leadership whats” will be based.    Each major business unit and department should have their vision and/or mission statements that support their organization’s top vision and mission.

The next “leadership whats” are an organization’s values that define and provide direction on how an organization’s people behave, think, act and make decisions, and are usually documented and published with the organization’s vision and mission statements.  Organization values can be grouped into sets of “core values” and “operational values”.  Core values, people focused, represent shared beliefs and expectations on how they behave and treat other people inside or outside of the organization, and build relationships.  Examples of core values focus on areas like integrity, treat others with respect, teamwork, have fun, celebrate success, be proactive, work hard, make excellence a habit, great attitude, etc.  Operational values, business focused, represent the shared convictions and expectations of what is important for the organization to be successful/profitable and must be aligned with the organization’s business model.  If the organization excels at these operational values, they can adapt to change, grow and be profitable.  Examples of operational values focus on customer service, innovation, reliability, safety, easy to do business with, low costs, low prices, profitability, etc.  Arguably more important than documented vision/mission and value statements is how an organization’s leadership communicates and lives these “whats” every day – do they “talk the talk, AND walk the walk”.

As the result of and closely related to an organization’s vision/mission, and core and operational values is the third “leadership what” – organization culture.  Culture has been defined by many as “a general term that outlines the collective attitudes, beliefs, common experiences, procedures, and values that are prevalent in an organization”.  Pretty nebulous.  I have found defining organization culture is like defining quality – “it’s hard to define, but I know it when I see it”.  Unlike an organization’s vision/mission, and values that are usually documented and published, an organization’s culture is not.  A positive culture, one in alignment with vision/mission and values, will have its people highly ‘aligned/invested’ in the organization, culture and success.  A positive culture results is an organization that exhibits traits like high trust, loyalty, productivity, performance, results, etc., and lower conflicts, turnover, setbacks, etc.  A dysfunctional culture and/or one not in alignment with vision/mission and values can be a toxic environment  exhibiting traits like trust issues, high level of conflicts and politics, CYA attitudes, ragged performance and results, high turnover, low or negative growth, etc.

These first, three “whats” must be in place before the fourth and fifth “whats” can be determined and effective.  We will cover these remaining “whats” in the next post/discussion.

 

 

 



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Habits for a Successful Career – Habit #7

Develop Your People Skills

Develop Your People Skills

 

Habits For a Successful Career

Habit #7 – Develop Your People Skills

Is one of your top career goals to become an executive, owner or partner in a business venture, or a university president?  Then Habit #7 is a primary concern.  Is one of your near term career goals to become a team leader, project leader, supervisor or manager?  Then Habit #7 is a primary concern.  Whether your career goals shoot for the stars or are more modest, people with successful careers have people skills that are above expectations because 60%+ of their role and responsibility involves People, not human assets or resources, PEOPLE.  You lead people, and manage things.  Habit #7 has seven people skills to be developed, improved, and possibly mastered including:

Order of Importance

  1. Listening to Understand (Covey)This is the most important people skill because it sets up success for the other six skills.  Most people, like many politicians, listen to ‘respond’, not understand.  True listening means asking clarifying questions, restating what you heard and empathizing with others to really understand what they are communicating.
  2. Communicating: Speaking, Writing, Presenting – Once you have mastered listening, then improve your communication skills in conversations, writing for business and making small and large group      presentations.
  3. Selling – Many people do not think selling is an important people or career skill unless they are in ‘sales’,      but people sell ideas and actions every day with colleagues at work, and with family and friends outside of work.
  4. Negotiating – Negotiating skills are the flip side of selling skills, and are very important if you aspire to be in a leadership position in any capacity.  In addition, improving your selling and negotiation skills are prerequisites to the next skill – resolving conflicts.
  5. Resolving Conflicts – All organizations, i.e. people, have conflicts – some small and some large.  The worse thing a successful person or a person in a leadership position can do is ignore or hide from      conflicts.  Improving your skills in this area will help remediate larger conflicts and resolve other without  destroying relationships.  In fact, it can help build trust and credibility.
  6. Motivating/Energizing – As hard as some people try to improve their people skills, many of us cannot ‘master’ all seven skills.  But they cannot be ignored!  For example, as an executive, I never ‘mastered’ the art of motivating and energizing people via public speaking.  To compensate, I brought in speakers that had a great motivating and energizing presence and then I would reiterate their points and lead by example to energize people in my organization.
  7. Mentoring/Coaching – Mentoring is a skill and quality seen in the most successful people and careers.  It is not only valuable to the person being mentored, but in many ways is as valuable to the mentor.  Put some gratitude in your attitude and help others develop their skills by mentoring and coaching them.

How many people skills are you proficient or a ‘master’?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Resolve ‘IT’ Paradoxes

 

 

In my last blog, I introduced several  ‘IT Paradoxes’  from Martha Heller and from my experiences, and the Seven ‘IT’ Habits that can mitigate or resolve these paradoxes.  By developing and improving these Habits and using them to address paradoxes, barriers, and issues, IT organizations, and the business, will see these improvements:

 

  • Faster Throughput (projects and processes)
  • Less Costly (unit costs)
  • Better Quality (products, software, systems and processes)
  • More Agility (ability to change)
  • More Capacity (do more with less)
  • Better Risk Management
  • Better Place to Work (less stress, turnover, etc)
  • Improved Trust and Credibility (less conflicts)

 

Let’s take a couple of paradoxes/barriers mentioned before and see which Habits IT Leaders must develop/improve to mitigate or eliminate the paradox/barrier.

1. The Business wants IT to be strategic, but force them to spend most of their time on operational issues.

This paradox can be complex, but usually exists because IT has low credibility with the its business peers and/or inadequate IT leadership.  ‘Leaders’ in IT must resolve this paradox by: (1) Build  trust and credibility; (2) Understand  the business, model and industry; (3) Align goals and objectives; and (4) Lead  People.

2. ‘IT’ can make or break a company, but its leader(s) are infrequently members of C – level executive groups.

This paradox is a good measurement of the overall success of, or lack of, an IT organization, and is a direct measure of leadership in IT.  C-level leaders in other parts of the business tend to see opportunities, issues, etc. in ‘shades of gray’ where many IT leaders see the same in terms of ‘black and white’, which can cause a lack of trust and credibility, and thus conflicts.   ‘Leaders’ in IT need to improve these Habits to resolve this paradox: (1) Build  trust and credibility; (2) Understand  the business, model and industry; (3) Lead  People; and (4) Adapt to change.

Next blog, I will discuss what it means to build trust and credibility, and how to begin.



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IT Organization Success

Keys to IT Success

 

 

 Keys to IT Organization Success

No secret, for decades many IT organizations have struggled to be successful – probably more so than any other.  When is the last time you saw a dozen articles on the struggling accounting, marketing or human resources organizations?

Martha Heller in a 2010 CIO Magazine article discusses IT struggles and suggests a few ‘paradoxes’ in IT organizations that may be barriers to a successful IT organization.

  • The Business wants IT to be strategic, but force them to spend most of their time on operational issues.
  • IT needs to be stewards of risk mitigation and cost containment, yet expected to innovate.
  • IT is seen as that of an enabler, yet is also expected to be a business driver.
  • IT can make or break a company, but its leaders are infrequently members of C-level executive groups.
  • IT is one of the most pervasive, critical functions, yet must prove its value constantly.
  • Many IT successes are invisible, yet its few mistakes are highly visible.
  • IT project teams are accountable for project success, even if the Business has ownership.
  • IT staff loves new technology, but must embrace/understand the Business to be successful.
  • Many IT teams/people are uncomfortable dealing with people, but to succeed must build relationships, influence others, and resolve conflicts.
  • IT infrastructure is a consistent, long-term investment, but the Business thinks in quarters.

And here are a few more paradoxes I have experienced:

  • The Business wholly adopted  ‘BPI’, but IT has poor processes and rarely has budget for improvement.
  • C-level executives believe IT costs too much and fails to provide comparable value, but have limited knowledge of IT project or operational successes.
  • C-level executives expect IT to deliver new, strategic capabilities to their Business unit, yet most of the project identification, priorities and governance is driven by Business users and managers.
  • IT needs/must align its goals/objectives to the Business, yet the Business units goals/objectives are not always aligned with each other.

Any of these barriers hinder IT leaders and organizations from being valued and successful.  They can be mitigated and/or knocked down, but requires a relevant, achievable Strategy, competent People, and consistent, repeatable Processes.  In addition it also takes the IT leaders and staff to embrace/develop these 7 Habits of Excellence.

  • Build  Trust and Credibility
  • Develop  a Proactive Culture
  • Understand  the Company, Business Model, and Industry
  • Align  with Company’s Goals and Objectives
  • Lead  People  -  Manage Things
  • Adapt  to Change
  • Embrace  a Passion for Learning and Improvement

 

Developing these 7 Habits of Excellence will mitigate or eliminate barriers and result in these IT organization benefits:

  • Faster Throughput (projects and processes)
  • Less Costly (unit costs)
  • Better  Quality (products, software, systems and processes)
  • More Agility  (change)
  • More Capacity  (w/o more resources)
  • Better Risk Management
  • Better Place to Work

What IT paradoxes is your group facing??



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The Weakest Link

Weak Link

Weak Link

       The Weakest Link

Is your organization struggling and/or under-achieving?  You LEAD people  -  manage things.  Don’t buy in?  Ever tried to manage your spouse  -  or your children??  Me too!  Yet for many the two concepts are the same.  Don’t get me wrong – leaders have to to both, but leading and managing are different.

That leads me to the weakest link in most organizations  – leadership.  Organizations and  many professions have not done enough to develop leadership skills and leaders.  They mostly focus on developing people to manage things – projects, systems, budgets, finance, etc.  Therefore, most leaders are much better at managing things than leading people.  In my career in IT, most IT organizations do not have formal leadership training or mentoring.  Instead they promote good technical people and people that are good at managing things into leadership roles.  Then they see them struggle in their new roles.  A few colleagues in other parts of the business do a much better job of developing leadership skills and leaders, and have formal training and mentoring.

Check out my Web Site’s Favorites page for other’s input on leaders and leadership at:  http://www.palominoconsultinggroup.com/favorites.html



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