In today’s demanding business environment (cost pressures, flatter organizations, more direct reports, “speed to market” as a competitive advantage, etc.) you have limited opportunity to devote time and energy to your own development. Most leaders struggle to meet all of the responsibilities of their positions and are too busy and too stressed to step back and learn from their experiences – or to implement changes that establish best practices. The one thing that is in no one’s best interest is for you, as a leader, to forsake your own learning and development – no matter what level you may be. In the current environment, Executive Coaching is one sure-fire way you can continue to develop your executive-level skills, as well as address your developmental and growth needs (which impacts the entire organization), while continuing to run your organization on a day to day basis. Continue Reading…
Archives For Rapid Result Initiatives
Becoming a great leader is more than just a title – it is hard work. It requires unprecedented levels of innovation and a commitment to the organization and its constituents, as well as the ability to continually inspire and motivate others to succeed. One key way to achieve ongoing innovation and sustainable results is through the creation of an execution culture.
You, as a leader, have an opportunity to accelerate progress in your organization through the deployment of Rapid Result Initiatives (RRI’s), which can be used to:
- Increase current performance
- Strengthen collaboration
- Facilitate innovation
- Demonstrate success in the process of executing your long term vision and mission
RRI’s are small, high-leverage, short-term projects that generate immediate impact and measurable results, while tapping into hidden capacity and building momentum to drive large-scale change – usually in 100 days or less.
Exceptional leaders understand they must calculate their steps and fully understand what they have and how to use it most effectively to continually move forward. One very beneficial way to do this is to structure your organization as a portfolio of RRI’s leading to the achievement of ultimate vision. This approach creates the opportunity to pursue strategically critical goals that deliver real impact, while linking directly to the long term plans and objectives of the organization. Each RRI becomes a vehicle for achievement, learning, and the advancement of long term goals.
The core of Rapid Results Initiatives involves working with your teams to set and achieve small, but aggressive, goals in one or more key areas of performance. From this perspective, they are compelled to tap into hidden reserves of capacity and energy to get the job done, taking action and testing assumptions to determine how to best achieve the desired objective on a compressed timeline. Through a succession of fast-paced, results focused initiatives, you can make remarkable gains toward major goals and objectives.
I think, as business leaders, we often have a Superman complex. We rarely seek advice because we believe we should be able to do everything, know everything, and be everything to everyone at all times. I, too, suffer from this illusion more often than not.
Despite this, I have found that to truly harness success, we really do have to buckle up, get out there and explore the resources that are available to us. We all need outside perspectives to stay balanced and develop a holistic view of our world, whatever that may encompass. More importantly, we need to ensure we are sharing our knowledge and perspectives with those around us… especially with those who are following us. Continue Reading…
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A positive attitude is a frame of mind – our perspective, as leaders, has much to do with how we engage and deal with challenges.
Like it or not, you are in the superhero business. As a leader, whatever industry you are in, you need to always remember that the energy you bring to everything you do will be noticed and amplified. Your personal attitude is a huge part of what you project to your team and organization. If you aren’t demonstrating a positive, supportive and encouraging attitude, how can you expect others to?
If you want to have a positive, lasting impact on others, realize that as you evolve your attitude it will be reflected in your actions – positively influencing your work, your team… and your world. In order to be seen as a superhero by your superiors, colleagues, employees and customers, focus on becoming: Continue Reading…
You can bet that if you do not set and manage expectations, drama will invite itself in for an extended visit. When people do not know what is expected, they will create their own expectations – and they most likely will not align across the organization. Disagreements and controversy ensue, causing chaos and distraction from driving positive results. While setting and managing expectations may seem time consuming, the cost – in time, effort, and drama – of not doing so far exceeds that of being responsible and clearly letting people know what you expect of them.
Before you, as a leader, can hold people accountable for outcomes, you have to let them know what success looks like and what you expect to see as a result of their efforts. If everyone knows what is expected, the focus is on driving for results and monitoring against set standards. The benefit of setting and managing expectations is twofold:
- Clear, concise expectations drive actions and decisions.
- Explicit expectations are a primary driver of success.
If you fail to create an environment where expectations are well understood and respected by your people, you are highly unlikely to develop a high-performing organization… or deliver strong business results.
Expectations are like the rules in the board game Sorry! When everyone knows the “rules” or “expectations”, some may try and cheat (like my husband, who can’t stand to lose), but the other players will hold the cheater accountable. When no one knows the rules, it is impossible to be accountable, much less hold anyone else accountable to anything. Organizations are no different – if you want your players to know how to play to win and hold others accountable, you are responsible for setting and managing expectations.
When setting expectations, consider these four principles:
Expectations should focus on outcomes, not activities. Leaders often make the mistake of attempting to direct the process that will be used, rather than focusing on the desired outcome. As a leader, you should be responsible for identifying the goal, while the employee (or the team) is then responsible for developing how to meet or exceed expectations.
Relevance helps define the “why” of what is expected. If employees have complete understanding of the importance of what they are asked to deliver, they will be more committed to the result because they see how it fits into the big picture, as well as how their efforts impact the company.
Simplicity creates a sense of grounding for both individuals and teams. If you identify what is expected in simple, straightforward terms, there is a clear understanding of exactly what is expected.
After setting expectations, you must maintain a consistent approach to managing expectations that can be applied in most situations. This facilitates a sense of unity and equality, and will bolster morale across the organization.
Now, let’s consider three important components to managing expectations:
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I was in a meeting with a senior executive recently, when he shared his concern that the processes and approaches the company is using to develop the corporate strategy may not take the business forward as planned, but backward. As we discussed his challenges, there were some key gaps that the organization was likely to fall into that could easily be avoided with a strong planning process. So, here are a few of the more prominent reasons organizations fall into the strategic planning gap…How many of these are evident in your business?Reason Number 1: Lack of leadership engagement
One important reason behind a company’s inability to create a visible and viable strategy is that, frequently, key senior leaders are not appropriately engaged in the development process. This frequently means that critical success factors are not considered, priorities are unclear, and incomplete strategies are developed. Leaders must engage in the process to understand how the gears of the business engage – how their domain aligns to and fits with the other critical pieces within the corporation. Critical insights and knowledgeable contributions regarding all aspects of the business will provide the pivot point for the strategic planning process – key decisions emerge from a compilation and understanding of the leaders perspectives. Companies often believe that strategic plans can be developed in one or two day strategic sessions – this is simply not true. Strategic planning is a dedicated process that is developed over a period of time with all senior leaders engaged and participating – not to mention, an ongoing process that drives the ability to stay ahead of the competition. Without a strong process for engaging leaders and formulating strategic plans as a unit, companies often end up with plans that are meaningless from strategic point of view.Reason Number 2: Leaders lose sight of the difference between strategy and planning
Very often I come across companies that confuse strategy with planning. The annual financial and operating planning process drives many corporate strategy exercises – which is a backward premise. They are different activities and should be treated as such: strategy is about developing a framework that drives future actions and decisions; planning is about resource allocation. Critical strategic decisions don’t fit within the annual planning timetable, and neither should the strategy development process. When strategy and planning combined, the plans thrust upon the organization are anything but strategic in nature. Upon closer examination one may find that these plans are (at best) a collection of tactical plans targeting operational efficiency – operational efficiency IS NOT by it’s nature strategic.Reason Number 3: Too much data, too little insight vs. too much insight, too little data
Few companies have a structured process for scanning the environment and observing emerging trends. There is either an information drought or an overload of information – generally, there is no middle ground. When there is information, often companies do not know how to draw any strategic meaning from it. In the absence (or lack of usability) of relevant data, assumptions are made that may not reflect the reality of the environment, which means a rapid decline in credibility and relevance of the strategic plan. While it is definitely not advisable to engage in paralysis by analysis – it is important to gather as many facts as you can, within a limited amount of time, apply what you know, and move forward with a decision. It is key insights based on the information you have (depending on risk factors, often 70% is good enough), not excessive data, that will drive a successful strategy.
Reason Number 4: Insufficient alignment, commitment and communication.
When the process is structured correctly, the leadership team has invested significant time creating the strategy together. A common result is that they come to believe that the strategic intent is clear to everyone across the organization. In most companies this is far from reality, and the strategy is left up to interpretation. This creates organizational misalignment, with group or divisional strategies not fitting comfortably within the whole. The strategy process should include ensuring that executive alignment and commitment is strong, but also that sufficient time and effort is spent on communicating the strategy throughout the entire organization to ensure there is understanding, buy-in, and integration across the company. Problems often surface when there is a lack of alignment and integration – strategically, operationally, and interpersonally.
As an organization continues to deliberate strategy as an abstract concept or simply a mandated process, the typical result is that strategic plans are not living documents and do not deliver the desired results. Any one of a million reasons can derail the strategic planning process. As this repeatedly occurs, the concept of strategic planning is eroded to such an extent that the exercise is taken up just as another routine, isolated from the business of the company. The strategy process should bring rigour and challenge to the leadership teams thinking – it should result in a strategic plan that is alive in everyone’s mind, engage community ownership, and provide a driving force that guides the company steadily toward competitive advantage.
Is your strategic planning process is on track? Here are some potential indicators:
- Are all of the organizational, divisional, team leaders engaged (at the appropriate levels)?
- Is there a clear understanding, and separation, of strategy and planning? Is strategic planning a dedicated, extended process?
- Is there a good balance and perspective between data collection and business insight?
- Do all the key players understand their place in the strategy and how it all fits together as a complete puzzle?
- Is every leader, at every level, committed to the strategy? Is it a cohesive group effort?
- Is there a strong communication component within the strategic plan?
- Is the strategic plan a living, breathing document that everyone is working toward achieving?
There is only one way to a great strategic plan – a dedicated, integrated strategic planning process that ensures a climate of trust and the innovative business ideas of leaders.
Please engage the discussion and let us know how you mind the strategic planning gaps in your organization. Please feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.comor by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week for the next installment of the Mind The Gap series.