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Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 4.37.49 PMFor Every Action, There Is A Reaction: People, Process, Policy…

Sir Isaac Newton, my fellow alumni at University of Cambridge (admittedly, a few years ahead of me!)…

If only he knew the extent of application to his theories  – business operations in this instance. More about Newton’s Third Law shortly…

As we look forward, it is helpful to also look back and gain perspective. Today’s business operations are even more complex than two years ago… yet they are typically more aligned and proactive than they were five years ago. We are making progress, but there are still critical challenges to address.  Organizations are still not working at maximum capacity… experience tells me we can do better.

Typically, even though organizations may be consolidating for cost management and scalability purposes, the walls of the individual functions, channels and regions have become even thicker. As a direct result, it is harder for you, as a leader, to build end-to-end value chain functionality in ever-changing, complex organizations. It has become increasingly difficult to gain consensus and approval – both on specific, focused initiatives, as well as broader organizational change.

This is not a technology, process or policy problem – it is a people problem:

People make purchasing decisions…

People change processes…

People establish policies…

People change procedures…

People make budget decisions…

People decide to build and maintain organizational silos…

Although we tend to observe and react to events (or the fires they cause), it is critically important to really look at and assess the root cause of your problems. Go ahead, rip that band-aid off and look at what is really causing the infection –

Your “Core System” May Be Flawed

Recently I was speaking with a client in the SCM space. He was trying to understand why he could not consistently get the  business results he was looking for and wanted to discuss how he could drive change to achieve his objectives. What did we find upon examination?

Just as Newton predicted (yeah, that guy again) – For Every Action There Is A Reaction.

Organizations are designed as “systems” – a set of interrelated and interdependent elements and subsystems to form a cohesive whole. Bottom line: Many organizations are not designed for effective interaction and optimization – the “System” is often broken. Units within the system are not designed to function as single systems unto themselves.  Organizations are made up of many moving parts. If one part of the system is altered in any way, chances are it will affect other aspects of the business.   It is critical to organizational success that each business partner across the organization recognizes and optimizes as a part of the bigger whole. Instead of deploying processes, policies and technologies to leverage various forms of improvement across the wider organization, business units often do not consider the “ripple effect” that will occur when independent changes are made.

In addition, frequently there is a tendency to attempt to lay new tools and technologies on top of old policies and procedures that worked for a specific business purpose in the past – without the support of the people and other units that are affected. The reality is that time and effort must be invested to understand why old practices are failing, how any changes will impact the existing business and who it will affect outside of the immediate environment of the implementation.

Making the poor assumption that a new process or technology will fix the problem instead of understanding that no policy, process or technology change can be successful without recognizing the people component… and the system as a whole, is fruitless. As a result, my client was not realizing the potential value of interconnected organizational change.  Ultimately, we partnered to create a plan around “systems thinking” that incorporated not just his division, but the organization as a whole. He was able to leverage his new knowledge of “the system” to work across functions, channels and regions to get the very best from the system as a whole. As a result, he is now seeing strong, consistent results on a global basis… and the business is growing quarter on quarter.

Interacting With The System As A Whole Provides A Distinct Advantage.

My client is not unique in his challenge – the lack of a systems approach is pervasive in most organizations – just as sub-optimal business results are. Many leaders implement policies, procedures or technologies without ever looking at them in terms of the effects on the “system” and its people… and then wonder why they have not gotten the results they anticipated. Millions of dollars are wasted each year on failed projects for this very reason.

The reality is that today the average company has variant policies, procedures and technologies across the different functions and channels that preclude them from realizing exceptional results. Leaders typically focus only on their area of responsibility. Critically important, to be sure. However, the challenge in this approach is that your organization may have channels or functions that operate well in and of themselves, but they don’t integrate well together. Consequently, the organization suffers as a whole.

Progressive Leaders Are Recognizing How Important Aligning The Various Parts Of The Organization, And The Interrelations Of Those Parts, Is To Their Success.

As one of those leaders, you need to ensure your focus is on matters of ongoing organization and feedback. You need to diagnose problems, not by examining just your piece of the organization, but by recognizing the larger patterns of interactions between the parts of the integrated whole:

  • Focus on the outcomes you want from the organization in terms of the customer and your overall business results
  • Work backwards from your ultimate goal to determine what you need from the system to succeed
  • Understand that you are not an island and in order to be successful, you need to consider and integrate all the moving parts

While most of us like to consider our business as unique and different, the reality is that the more congruency you build into your organizational systems, the more you increase efficiency, visibility, innovation and knowledge management… and the more potential you have to maximize your business results. Think SLA’s, MOU’s, Partnerships – and systems.

Understand, at the end of the day, every action you take creates a reaction somewhere else in the system – people, process and policy. The bottom line of systems thinking is leverage – seeing where actions and changes can lead to significant, meaningful improvements – BUT understand those same actions and changes will have impacts on other structures and people throughout the system. Your overall success depends on the quality and quantity of the interactions within the system’s components.

While there may be functional or cultural differences across the spectrum, the more you can partner to translate and align, the more likely you are to succeed on a grand scale. Work hard to understand your counterparts and build consistent policies, procedures and technologies together. Each and every disparate instance adds to the challenge of building effective solutions that support holistic planning and deployment.

What do you have to gain in addition to the obvious? How about:

  • An Innovation Incubator
  • Connectivity That Breeds Efficiency
  • Cross-functional/Vertical Leverage
  • Improved Business Results Across The Board
  • Competitive Advantage Fueled By Solving Customer Issues Efficiently & Effectively

How Can You Contribute To Creating An Effective “System”?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how systems thinking can help you to exceed your potential. Need A Trusted Advisor to help you become the very best leader you can be while maximizing your organizational results? Contact me at SheriLMackey@gmail.com.

For better or worse… we are all extensions of the networks we have built – or the lack thereof. Those who are devoted to the intensive cultivation of the vine will prosper and grow, while those who do not, well, you can guess the outcome…

Ask any successful person which single skill has helped them to accelerate their career – an overwhelming majority will respond with one simple word… Networking.

We all know what makes the corporate world continue to expand and grow. It’s a giant social vine, with people dependent upon one another for success. Whether we like it (or care to acknowledge it) or not – we rely upon one another. We are very rarely solely responsible for our own achievements without the support and help of others.

That in mind, the single greatest skill you can develop is dynamic interdependence, which equates to NETWORKING. This is the most powerful marketing tactic you can employ to accelerate and sustain your own success! Few things will help you grow faster than a creating a strong network.

Dynamic Interdependence is about meeting people, developing contacts and exchanging information. It is about bearing fruit… and pruning, as necessary.

When cultivating vines, pruning is used to selectively remove unsuitable or extraneous shoots in your network, retaining the strong branches that are likely to bear fruit. This serves three functions:

1) to cultivate only high potential relationships for the current season of your career

2) to produce high potential contacts from which sustainable fruit can be selected for coming seasons and

3) to remove those shoots that will not grow into a valuable part of your network. You are a product of those you surround yourself with – It’s critical that you are prepared to nurture those high potential shoots, while at the same time willing to cut off those shoots you observe bearing no fruit – or worse, consistently producing bad fruit!

On the positive side, meeting and networking with the right people can lead to untold opportunities. Developing a network of dynamic interdependence translates into shared experiences, best-practices, and knowledge, culminating with shared professional development for everyone within the network! The reality is that you will not bear fruit yourself unless you remain tightly connected to the vine. The vine, your network, is the source and sustenance of your professional life – each and every shoot of your network relies on the vine in a dynamically interdependent way to survive and bear fruit.

Your pruning process will ultimately help you to bear more fruit. If there is no fruit on your vine, if there are no genuine connection points, you are in danger of falling off the vine. If you isolate yourself, you isolate your likelihood to succeed at the same time. Building a reliable network will increase your connectivity, your knowledge, your visibility, and most of all…your chance of success. Networking is about self-confidence, self-advocacy, and perhaps, self-discovery.

The old saying, “it isn’t what you know, but who you know” rings true. Statistics show that a staggering 70% of jobs are obtained through networking… Some believe that in this unstable economic climate, this statistic is considerably higher.  I see it over and over again: Many senior level individuals go far, but eventually find themselves at a loss because they just haven’t built the network they need to take them from being a respected professional… to recognized expert… to a formal leader … to a member of a Corporate or Not For Profit Board of Directors.

They have hit the proverbial “Bedrock” – their roots have stopped growing, their vine has stopped expanding… Why? Primarily because they failed to build a sustainable network – both inside of and outside of the organization!

Don’t be fooled – THE VINE IS CRITICAL TO YOUR SUCCESS!

Building a Network of Dynamic Interdependence provides the most productive, most proficient and most enduring tactic to build professional relationships. To succeed you need to continually connect with new people, cultivate emerging relationships and leverage your network.

Final Advice:

There are many “vines” out there…

  1. You will get out of your network only what you put into it. If you attend events and meetings on a passive level, at best your network will become a novel social forum. You risk losing the fundamental reasons why you should seek to extend your vine in the first place.
  2. Dynamic Interdependence is not about belonging to a formal group — it’s critical to network both within your work environment and outside of it (for obvious reasons).
  3. Finally, do not just hunker down and do good work and wait for the world to stop and notice (as most people do) – it just won’t happen!

The truth is, you make your own choices. As a successful businessperson, will you choose to make your way alone or seek Dynamic Interdependence?

How Will You Focus  On Extending Your Vine?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how networking has helped you to exceed your potential. Feel free to contact me at sherilmackey@gmail.com or by commenting below. Check back soon for the next post on Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.

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A separate, but inter-related key to success from last weeks post lies with YOU – the leader as a resource.  In today’s complex global business environment, the leader is the driving force and the magnet that draws people in – someone who has the ability to lead, connect, and (most importantly)  to ignite a fire within the global workforce that will result in invaluable contributions that will drive personal development and organizational success to levels never anticipated or previously dreamed of.  You are a key resource to the organization, and as such, you need to understand that how you allow yourself to be leveraged as a resource directly correlates with the success of your global teams and organization. 

How people perceive you – your words and actions – will define you across the globe. How you relate to people, from all cultures and functions, will determine to a large extent, your ability to succeed. Do people from across the wider organization see you as an inspiration?  Someone to follow, someone to believe in, someone to trust? Are you a partner? Does your global team perceive that they are a critical component to your vision and direction? Our research tells us over and over again, that people follow those they trust and those they are inspired by.

In today’s ever-changing business environment, you need to become even more than a known entity and an inspiration. You must become the social architect, constitution writer, and entrepreneur of meaning – in both thought and action. To secure global success as a leader, you must be willing to create an environment where every employee, from every culture and geography, has the opportunity to collaborate, innovate, and excel. Do this and you will have, not only global business success, but the undying loyalty of your workforce (a true rarity in today’s work environment).

Many centuries ago, Lau-Tzu said, “The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’ People embrace what they feel a part of –  YOU are a global resource for inspiration and inclusionary practices. YOU have the ability to do great things through your global organization, if YOU are actually maximizing ALL your resources…including yourself.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at SheriLMackey@gmail.com.  Check back next week for a new post on global leadership!

Slide1Hello All.

I realize I have not written much over the past year due to increasing business demands, as well as making the recent decision to sell our business, Luminosity Global Consulting Group. Given my incredible expedition so far, I am so excited to see and experience what comes next…

Over eight years ago, we launched Luminosity Global with the idea that we would enable executives to move toward their impossible future, while optimizing their people, process and programs on a global scale. Approximately one year ago, we were fortunate enough to have a corporate entity approach us and offer to acquire The Global LABB, our proprietary leadership platform built for Luminosity clients. Now, another year has passed and once again, we have had an amazing offer to purchase our consulting group.

As a result, I am excited to explore new opportunities and potentially move back into corporate life. While I have absolutely loved conceptualizing and seeing Luminosity grow into an incredible entity of its own, this is an amazing opportunity to pursue a new path in my career – one that will enable me to make a lasting impact on people, process and programs from a very targeted perspective. I am so incredibly excited to move into the next phase of my professional life… to see what adventure lies ahead. I feel so fortunate to have had the remarkable experiences I have had, yet I can feel the pull to move toward my own impossible future!

To each of you – never be afraid to change direction in unexpected way and go forward in the expectation that you can always become an even better version of yourself – if you give yourself the opportunity to do so!

I will continue to blog, as time permits, as I truly enjoy sharing my thoughts and insights with each of you – as well as receiving your questions and comments. Please continue to reach out with any questions or comments you may have. You can always contact me through Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders, as well as at sheri@sherimackey.com and I will always respond in kind.

Best Regards,

Sheri

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-8-49-39-amPolitics has a nasty reputation in business… and elsewhere. Many feel politics is a necessary evil, but the best leaders understand and espouse the idea that a keen comprehension of organizational politics is an absolutely essential component to both organizational and personal success. Political influence is leveraged to promote organizational agendas, as well as personal interests. In order to become the best leader you can be, you need to be able to influence from a political perspective. A critical component to the political perspective is sponsorship and stakeholder engagement. If you engage support from above, laterally and below, you are far more likely to succeed. This equates to political influence – and to influence others requires building relationships of trust… and persuading others to follow. That is what politics is really about.

The truth is that just by being a member of an organization you are committing a political act – in fact, you need to influence people on a constant basis. That is how things get done. To influence, you need power – the real currency at work. In healthy organizations, power is granted by virtue of your ability to inspire and provide vision – up, down and across the organization. Your political influence is a direct result of what you can do for other people.

As a leader, you need to quickly identify those likely to support you and build strong coalitions aligning individual needs with organizational goals, in such a way that fulfillment of collective goals results in automatic fulfillment of individual needs at the same time. Realize, without a doubt, that organizational politics is a function of culture, as well as an indication of trust levels in the organization. It will always serve both individual and organizational agendas.

Think of political influence as simply the art of influencing others to get things done – no used car salesman tactics needed. Despite the bad rap that politics gets, successfully engaging in politics requires the development and use of positive, highly valued skills. For example, research has found that those who espouse political power are more likely to believe they have the power to influence people and outcomes, which motivates them to achieve their goals through positive politics. At best, such confidence is grounded in self-awareness, self-management, and a desire to move people for both organizational and individual benefit. The combination of emotional intelligence and socialized power, can result in influence strategies that cause people to enjoy working together toward common goals.

In order to create political influence, you need to take a strategic approach to politics and should employ the following, as appropriate:

  1. Spend time with opponents: Most of us spend time with our allies, whom we trust and who agree with us… when the people we have the most to learn from are our opponents.
  2. Never take anything personally: If it is not personal it is far easier to maintain focus on what we are trying to achieve. It is our choice whether or not we will personalize things that happen.
  3. Constantly reframe: It is natural to assume that it is “all about us” – the alternative is to recognize that much of politics is about people working to get things done within a diverse community of interests.
  4. Leverage the power dynamic: Recognize that power can come in several forms: legitimate, referent, reward, expert, and coercive power. Much of politics is based on power – who’s got it and how you can use it to your advantage.
  5. Build on mutually beneficial interlocking relationships: The better you are at networking, the better you will be at organizational politics.
  6. Focus on interests, not positions: In the interest of finding common ground, care about people’s interests and ask more questions. Why is this person interested in …? What is s/he trying to achieve? How can you help? How do interests align?

Political Influence is power. No matter who you are, where you work, or what your professional goals are, achieving influence across your organization is critical for success. Gaining influence on a team can help you work together more effectively. Gaining influence in a leadership position can make you more respected and appreciated. Gaining influence in a meeting can make your voice more likely to be heard and acknowledged. You can’t avoid politics… and you shouldn’t. If you choose to opt out, you may be putting your relationships — and your ability to influence others — at risk. Get in the game. Be authentic. Claim your right to guide and inspire others. Broaden your group of friends at work. Learn what it takes in your organization to influence individuals and groups. Do something for somebody else, every day, without thought of personal gain. Treat politics with the importance it requires, as well as with all the seriousness and ethical consideration it deserves.

People who actively steer clear of politics don’t do what the best leaders always do — build strong, positive relationships that serve a purpose beyond themselves – they create resonant relationships built as a result of understanding people and valuing what they bring to the table. These powerful relationships are grounded in empathy as well as authenticity and mutual respect. In such relationships, you will come to know what drives people and what they value – allowing you to inspire, motivate, and influence in a way that makes them feel valued and enables you to get things done. People who avoid politics miss out on all of this, as well as on receiving help, benefiting from mutual support, and even having fun. Politics is really just the art of getting along with others and putting yourself in positions where your work will be noticed. That’s not a negative thing – that is simply the smart thing to do.

You, as a leader, need to inspire people to act by creating clarity and unity of purpose, while building synergies through political influence. We can leverage politics to manipulate others… or to influence them to achieve more than they ever thought possible – which one will accomplish more and move the organization forward faster?

Do you have political influence?

Please feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com.

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-9-27-58-amNetworking has long been recognized as one of the most powerful tools for business people… all professionals, really.  It is the lifeblood of professional success. The relationships you cultivate help you to enable sustainable, profitable business… and your own professional development. Networking is one of the most influential business tools you have at your disposal. When you know how to network effectively, you develop a powerful circle of influence – one that will translate into the growth of your business… and your career. Continue Reading…