Posts Tagged Leadership

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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Seven Habits of a Successful Career

Successful Career Moves

Successful Career Moves

 

Time is nearing for another group of bright, young people to graduate from college.  Many are interviewing for their first job that begins a career.  They are prepared having spent about four years taking over forty classes in a variety of areas of knowledge.  Thousands are eager and ready to go.

But wait.  After years of schooling and a degree(s) in their chosen area, most of the ‘habits’ these new graduates need for a successful career were not emphasized nor taught in their curriculum. They were taught ‘subjects’.  People’s ‘attitudes’ and ‘behaviors’ are the biggest differentiator in a successful career.  People need to embrace and develop these Habits sooner than later.

 

 

 

The Seven Habits for a Successful Career include:

1)   Define Success/Goals and Priorities

First and foremost define what success is for YOU – career, professional and personal.  Too many people have their definition of success defined or overly influenced by family, friends, etc.  Second, layout a path to achieve your success by setting 2, 5 and 7 year goals.  Lastly, prioritize these goals and events.  Repeat this exercise at least every 2 years and/or after a significant life event.

2)   Be Proactive and Adapt to Change

Proactive people learn to anticipate future events and take initiative in shaping the results.  They understand that change can create problems, but focus on opportunities change creates.  During difficult times, they look for the good in people and events, and know proactive people can be counted on.

3)   Build Trust and Credibility

Trust and credibility is like oil.  It’s the ‘stuff’ that makes relationships with people work.  Consider this. “With high trust, success comes faster, better and at a lower cost” says David Neeleman, Founder of JetBlue.  Trust is not just a touchy, feely concept.  It (interpersonal trust) is an attitude or state of mind that has been cultivated between people.  Consider this definition of trust from the Covey’s:

TRUST = One’s Character + One’s Competency

4)   Embrace a Passion for Learning

After enduring four or more years of college, most are ecstatic to get out in the ‘real world’ – and quit studying.  But if a successful career is one of your goals, then recognize that learning is a journey, not a destination.  Success requires continued knowledge and skills improvement in areas like current events, technology, selling, business, management, communication, leadership, etc.

5)   Put Some Gratitude in Your Attitude

Successful people are consistently enthusiastic and energetic, and their attitude is contagious.  Others want to work with people with this attitude. No matter how much success a person may attain: (1) never take yourself too seriously; (2) be a team player; (3) have fun; and (4) celebrate other’s successes.  Cultivate others that have put some gratitude in their attitude as team members, colleagues, mentors, coaches, etc.

6)   Understand the ‘Business’

Most people’s careers are associated with business ventures – small, medium, or large.  No matter what position/career a person holds, successful people have at least a good breadth and depth of knowledge about their business.  Learn and continue expanding knowledge in the business including: the industry, business model, products and customers, processes, technology, economics, financials, etc.

7)   Develop Your ‘People’ Skills’

People skills are very important regardless of where a person is in their career.  But later in a career if a goal is to be an executive/leader, accomplished people skills are mandatory.  Continually learn and improve an array of communication skills including: listening, listening, listening, writing, speaking, presenting and selling.   In addition, successful careers are usually associated with people that have built strong relationships and networks.  Lastly, cultivate people that will be your coach and mentor, and return this help by coaching and mentoring others.

 

If a person becomes accomplished in these Seven Habits, and masters some, their goals will be in reach, and can be successful in any career.  And remember  . . .

We are what we repeatedly do!

Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a Habit!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Aristotle

Update:  See discussion on 4Q’s of Successful People which compliment these 7 Habits.   http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130621191454-73785410-the-four-qs-of-career-success?trk=tod-posts-art-

 

 



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Building Trust and Credibility

TrustTrust is like oil.  Its the stuff that makes relationships in and with IT work.  Without trust and credibility, IT goverance, project management, conflict resolution, career progression, etc. can happen, but are slower and have many issues.  Consider this. “With high trust, success comes faster, better and at a lower cost” says David Neeleman, Founder of JetBlue.  In IT organizations that are struggling, trust and credibility are the  most important habits for IT leaders (and staff) to build, improve and maintain.

Trust is difficult to build, remains fragile and can be lost.  Every struggling IT professional and/or organization has major problems in this area.  Some believe once trust is lost it can not be regained, but from my experience this is not true.  The best sources I used regarding trust and credibility are from Stephen R. Covey and his son Stephen M.R. Covey, and much of this blog is based on their work and my experiences using and mastering their concepts.

Trust is not just a touchy, feely concept.  It (interpersonal trust) is an attitude or state of mind that has been cultivated between people.  Consider this definition of trust from the Covey’s:

TRUST = One’s Character + One’s Competency

Trust between people is a combination of a person’s:

  •  Character – What you say/do, How you say/do, and  Why you say/do
  •  Competency -  What you can do, What you do, and What results you deliver

So why is competency required to build trust?  I thought you just needed to be a ‘good person’ – high character.  Let’s look at a doctor/patient relationship.  As a patient needing open heart surgery, would you trust a doctor that had good bed side manners and high personal integrity, but was in their first year as a cardiologist, and had never performed open heart surgery?  Partially, but if I was the patient, I want someone more accomplished (competent) to do the surgery.

People build trust by building ‘trust wealth’ in what the Covey’s call an ‘Emotional Bank Account’ (EBA).  As with any bank account, people can add to the account with deposits and reduce the account with withdrawals.  Here are just a few examples of deposits and withdrawals IT professionals make.

Character

  • Deposits – Think Straight, Talk Straight; Listens to Understand; Manages Expectations; Work to Right Wrongs; Put Employees First, Then Customers, Then Stockholders; Promote Win/Win Decisions; Accountable for Mistakes
  • Withdrawals -  Show Disrespect; Listen to Respond; Not Trusting; Talk Behind People’s Backs; Avoid Conflict; Talks the Talk, Does Not Walk the Walk; Being Intolerant/Inflexible; Blame Others

Competency

  • Deposits – Keep Commitments by Under Promising and Over Delivering; Manage Risks; Solve Root Cause of  Problems; Promote Continuous Improvements; Admits When Wrong/Do Not Know; Manages Things and Leads People
  • Withdrawals -  Sell Poor Ideas; Does Not Understand the Business; Does Not Measure Success; Is Reactive versus Proactive; Does Not Align with Business; Poor Track Record

So how can you, somewhat objectively, measure your EBA with colleagues? I use the Trust Quotient:

TQ = EBA Deposits / (EBA Withdrawals * 2.5)

That’s right – withdrawals are more expensive than a single deposit.  You need 2 to 2.5 deposits to make up for a single withdrawal.

 

Do you have stories/experiences with trust in IT??

 

PS Check out HBR blog on Trust – http://blogs.hbr.org/hill-lineback/2012/03/do-your-people-trust-you.html

 



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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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Drivers and Barriers in Establishing Business Alignment?

 

Alignment

Alignment

 

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organizational Alignment 101

Before getting started with “how to” establish business alignment (BA), the champion of the effort needs to understand certain conditions exist inside organizations that are drivers or barriers for BA.  Think of drivers as conditions that make it easier, but not impossible if absent, for BA.  Barriers are conditions that may prevent BA or make it more difficult.  These evaluations will be helpful in determining a strategy for success. The most important are:

Drivers

  1. Business executives and leaders understand and support BA
  2. Executives and leaders understand all parts of the business – strategy/model, processes, etc.
  3. BA a priority for business executives and organizations not in alignment
  4. All executives participate in developing business strategy, model, goals, etc
  5. Individual business MBO incentives support BA
  6. Demonstrated leadership depth and breadth
  7. Executives have track record of delivering on commitments
  8. Active process to measure BA

Barriers

  1. Business units and departments are not well aligned
  2. Executives and leaders do not trust each other
  3. Business and/or  culture and decision making highly political
  4. Misaligned organization relegated to a ‘vendor’ instead of a business partner
  5. Lack of consistent and repeatable project portfolio management process
  6. Lack of consistent and repeatable project governance process
  7. Lack of consistent and repeatable service level agreement process
  8. Poor or no definition of IBA

It is imperative for executives and leaders to understand which drivers and barriers exist.  Periodically, they need to honestly evaluate drivers and barriers for each business unit, department, etc. that needs a high degree of BA.  They must take actions to create and continuously improve drivers.  For barriers, take actions to eliminate or continuously mitigate.



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