If you are working on launching or accelerating a push for more gender balance in your company, you need to focus on the opportunity – not the problem – to engage others. Approach the conversation by first laying out a set of future objectives, targets, and milestones. Then describe how gender balance is a key lever to help you reach those goals.
It helps to consider a two key questions:
1) Are you using language that accuses or language that invites people to build skills and enhance leadership impact?
2) Are you engaging with managers on things they understand are central to both their individual success and the company’s goals? Or are your efforts being perceived as politically correct, tick-the-box exercises?
Remember: the final goal isn’t just about balance. It’s having more engaged employees and more connected customers.
by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox
Curated by Trevor Lee
A thought piece for the digital age by Dr. Gary Hamel *
The need to empower natural leaders isn’t an HR pipedream, it’s a competitive imperative. But before you can empower them, you have to find them.
In most companies, the formal hierarchy is a matter of public record—it’s easy to discover who’s in charge of what. By contrast, natural leaders don’t appear on any organization chart. To hunt them down, you need to know . . .
Whose advice is sought most often on any particular topic?
Who responds most promptly to requests from peers?
Whose responses are judged most helpful?
Who is most likely to reach across organizational boundaries to aid a colleague?
Whose opinions are most valued, internally and externally?
Who gets the most kudos from customers?
Who’s the most densely connected to other employees?
Who’s generating the most buzz outside the company?
Who consistently demonstrates real thought leadership?
Who seems truly critical to key decisions?
A lot of the data you need to answer these questions is lurking in the weeds of your company’s email system, or can be found on the Web. Nevertheless, it will take some creative effort and software tweaks to ferret it out.
A few suggestions . . .
Establish a directory of key words corresponding to critical skills and competencies within your company, and then see who generates or receives the most emails on any particular topic.
Add a small box at the end of every incoming email that lets the recipient grade the sender’s response: was it timely, was it helpful?
Analyze internal email flows to see which folks are most likely to respond positively to emails from colleagues in other divisions—who’s collaborating across unit boundaries?
Create a system for ranking the frequency and value of each employee’s contributions to internal wikis or communities of practice.
Encourage employees to write internal blogs, and to rank posts and comments.
Using key words, analyze company emails to see who’s had the most to say about important corporate decisions, and to see how widely those views have been disseminated and discussed.
Identify emails relating to key projects and then identify the individuals who were the most critical “nodes” in the project team—the folks who seemed to be in the middle of every email exchange.
Review incoming emails from customers to determine who’s getting the most requests for help, who’s been most responsive and who’s receiving the most praise. Or, give customers the ability to immediately score the email responses they get from company personnel.
Use news tracking to find out which employees are getting quoted most often online, and who’s showing up most often in the press.
There are other types of data that might also be useful—but you get the idea.
Sure, there are some practical challenges in collecting and analyzing this sorts of data. But ultimately, it should be possible for a company to create a multivariate leadership score for every employee.
Obviously, the old top-down hierarchy isn’t going to disappear any time soon. What would happen, though, if every employee had the chance to compete for leadership “points,” whether or not they had a management job? What would happen if everyone’s leadership score showed up in their online profile—so everyone knew how their colleagues ranked on expertise, helpfulness, collaboration and thought leadership? What would happen if anyone could attach a public comment to a colleague’s leadership score? What about including highly rated “natural” leaders in every important decision meeting? And finally, what would happen if leadership points were considered in compensation and promotion decisions? I’m not sure, but I bet it would do more good than harm.
One thing’s certain, though: we can’t invent Management 2.0 without inventing some new ways for people to accumulate and exercise authority. In the tempestuous seas of today’s creative economy, top-down leadership structures are fast becoming a liability. We need is a new currency of power—one based not on titles, but on every individual’s capacity to lead, every day. We need fewer zero-sum battles for plum positions, in which Machiavellian maneuvering wins the day, and more positive-sum competition to increase one’s personal leadership score—by delivering real value to colleagues and customers. We need a system that forces titled leaders to justify their positional power by competing in an open market for leadership esteem. And finally, we need organizations that aren’t built around a single, dominant hierarchy, but are comprised of many soft hierarchies, each corresponding to a critical skill or issue.
A few years back, two of my colleagues at the London Business School posed a cheeky question in the title of their leadership book: “Why,” they wondered, “should anyone be led by you?” If you reflect on this question every morning, your leadership score is bound to go up.
* Dr. Gary P. Hamel is an American management expert. He is a founder of Strategos, an international management consulting firm based in Chicago.
Curated by Trevor Lee
People need organismic integration !!
It’s the process through which people develop as they engage in their world (organizationally and personally). But when we apply undue pressure to enact organizational change, and fail to garnish their input, do you know what generally happens? ——————————— Rebellion.
High-performing organizational leaders link people in a way that fosters inclusion. Nobody wants the “fifth wheel” label, and perceptive, dream-weaver leaders intuitively grasp this.
Meaningful change occurs when people accept themselves, take interest in why they do what they do, and then decide that they’re ready to do it differently.
Inundated with land mines, the organizational field requires agile players. We need to equip them by linking their minds in the fashion that garnishes a network of idea factories that carpet the organization’s floor. In the words of Steve Jobs,
Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.
Perhaps it’s befitting to share a story that sums up the essence of what kind of leadership the new economy we are in requires.
On September 23rd, 2005, Warren and Pam Adams lost their home when Hurricane Rita slammed ashore in Gilchrist, Texas, with 130 mile per hour winds and a storm surge of seventeen feet. They loved the region and rebuilt on the exact spot, just a few hundred yards from the ocean.
Three years later, history repeated itself.
On September 13th, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall in the same location, buffeting the Gilchrist, Texas, coastline with 110 mile per hour winds and an eighteen-foot storm surge.
This hurricane, with its massive wind field, would go down in the history books as the third most costly storm to strike the U.S. mainland. Here’s the interesting part: it destroyed every coastal dwelling near where it made landfall. Except one. The house that the Adams rebuilt.
The structure survived, perfectly intact, because they built it on fourteen-foot pylons. News media outlets dubbed it, “The Last House Standing.”
This story illustrates a poignant certainty. Build your organization on the shifting sand of rhetoric and it won’t survive the onslaught of social, economic, and political waves that crash against its jetty. The latest technology, a rich legacy, and a pile of cash aren’t enough to hold back the raging surf. Rather, dynamic and dream-weaver leaders are the pylons that’ll keep it intact.
But here’s the takeaway. There’s a tectonic shift afoot within social and economic frameworks around the globe. Barriers that stood cemented in place for centuries are crashing down, becoming relics of a time since past.
Therefore, let’s sandblast bravado off the walls of organizations and replace it with—collaboration.
Becoming a vanguard organization means tapping into the deep reservoir of the human mind to promote the exchange of information and experience.
Most people do their best work when they know their manager trusts them. If they worry that you think they’re lazy, incapable of directing their behavior, or lack integrity, they’re unlikely to take feedback or coaching from you.
So go out of your way to gain your employees’ trust by demonstrating positive assumptions about them.
Give challenging assignments, with the clear and confident belief that your expectations will be met.
And don’t hide information, or assume people will mishandle it. Instead, promote transparency.
Try adding a “through the grapevine” agenda item to meetings as a fun, informal way for people to share company information they’ve heard, so you can either confirm or debunk the rumor. When managers demonstrate positive assumptions, employees respond in kind.
A guest post co-authored by Alan Matcham and Tim Coburn who are partners at Accelerance.co. Developing leaders who drive business performance using advanced and engaging learning principles.
The holy grail of most organisations offering executive education interventions is knowing and justifying if they really work. Reflecting on what traditionally happens this paper sets out to propose a more imaginative and relevant way of tracking the success (or not) of executive education interventions. We suggest the focus needs to be more on what is learnt not how people feel and more in tune with the means of design not just the ends.
A recent McKinsey report; “Why Leadership Development Programmes Fail”, highlighted the following research findings:
- US companies spend almost $14 billion annually on leadership development.
- Customised leadership development offerings from top business schools can reach $150,000 a person.
- 500 executives ranked their top three human-capital priorities; leadership development was included as both a current and a future priority.
- Only 7 percent of senior managers polled by a UK business school think that their companies develop global leaders effectively
- Around 30 percent of US companies admit they lack enough leaders with the right capabilities.
Professor Jeff Pfeffer of Stanford University in his article; “Getting beyond the BS of leadership literature”, states the US spend could actually be as much as $50bn. He goes on to say that;”Leaders aren’t doing a good job for themselves or their workplaces, and things don’t seem to be improving.”
From this evidence, a conscientious Leadership Development professional may be perfectly entitled to conclude that investing in Leadership Development Programmes and interventions is an expensive waste of time and money with questionable returns.
The counter argument is that whilst the cost of Executive Education may appear high, the cost of Executive ignorance is significantly higher. That doesn’t however negate the need for the pursuit of more helpful, relevant and accurate measures of success.
In his article; “The Corporate Leadership Landscape”, Tim Coburn highlights the complex contextual environment today’s Executives have to operate in. There is no doubt they live in a world where the shelf life of knowledge is getting shorter and shorter and the need to learn continuously is a must, not a nice to have. If Executives are to remain valuable and valued resourceful humans, they need to focus on the complex not the repetitive, the unknown not the known, and increasingly on the future not today because “today” is being standardised, outsourced, automated and digitised.
|From the evidence, a conscientious Leadership Development professional may be perfectly entitled to conclude that investing in Leadership Development Programmes and interventions is an expensive waste of time and money with questionable returns.
Whichever report you choose to read there is little doubt that Executive Development is crucially important. The growing dilemma facing all those responsible for Executive Development is how do we know if our investment will provide the value and returns we seek? The answer of course is that there is no simple answer! Having said that we would like to show that there are many surrogates which can help point the way and, when taken in the round, provide strong evidence for progress.
The Purpose of Executive Education
Given the challenges faced by the leaders of today’s companies, we believe the sole purpose of executive education should be to enable executives to learn and learn how to learn, and in doing so apply that to improving themselves and their organisations.
For individual leaders, the ability to learn has already been identified as the strongest factor in determining their potential to succeed. And for organisations, the ability to adapt and change has become so obviously critical to their survival.
The Traditional Approach
The most widely used method of measuring the effectiveness of Executive Education Programmes, is the classic “Happy Sheet”, or delegate feedback form. These are designed to gather feedback on the quality of content, speakers, learning experiences, the venue and administrative support. Using a combination of closed (rating scale) and open questions, delegates are asked to evaluate and report on their experience.
The fundamental design flaw and perhaps unintended consequence of this sort of measurement mechanism is that it invariably forces Executives to make one dimensional judgements of; good/bad, yes/no, like/don’t like and not make more valuable self-reflections on their own learning experience and feelings.
If the purpose of executive education is to create people with the ability to learn how to learn then reinforcing such a judgemental approach is damaging and counterproductive to that aim.
The evaluation of a delegates learning experience is crucial but in doing so, we should be asking questions with a known correlation to an improvement of thinking and behaviour in job performance, like some of those identified by ABDI’s research:
Were the personal and collective objectives achieved? (effectiveness)
Was the content relevant to your role? (relevance)
Do you have an implementable action plan to apply your new insights? (action plan)
Were you challenged and supported in relation to your individual and collective assumptions? (insights)
Would you recommend this programme to colleagues? (willingness to recommend)
As useful as these questions are however, we believe they only go part of the way in addressing the real purpose of executive education.
A Different Perspective
Given the emphasis on learning – as well as the emphasis on improving performance – knowing if Executive Education Programmes work becomes a function of both means and ends. By means we refer to the underpinning pedagogical and design principles and processes of any intervention. The way a programme is designed will dictate whether ‘learning to learn’ and ‘improving yourself and your organisation’ actually happens.
The design principles we believe in ensure we address the purpose of executive education as we see it. In doing so, they also provide an alternative set of measurement criteria that can be used for evaluating impact. These principles include:
The importance of working on real issues – identifying real business challenges allows teams to anchor their learning in “doing” and to produce outputs that may be adopted in the business. The goal is to apply new insights and learning in the creation and delivery of well structured projects with clear measures of success that will change the business.
Measure: The number and quality of projects worked on. Also did the programme help to address and resolve real business issues effectively with imaginative solutions based on new insights?
Co creation and the involvement of senior leaders/sponsors in the design and delivery – this facilitates a significant degree of ownership and intimacy with the programme and its delegates allowing line manager and sponsors to see change in behaviour and thinking over time.
Measure: Were senior leaders engaged and involved in shaping the programme? How were their needs and perspectives considered? How were senior leaders and sponsors supporting delegates before, during and after the intervention? What changes did sponsors see in delegates?
Live testing and experimentation – the translation of insight and ideas into action under experimental conditions is not only a way of understanding if new ideas will work but also another reference point for “ends” and the number of ideas generated, experiments undertaken and new ideas implemented.
Measure: Did the programme include live testing and experimentation? How many experiments, new ideas or new ways of working were tested as a result of the programme?
Emotional engagement and reflection – Effective learning is a function of the level of both intellectual as well as emotional engagement. Facilitating interventions such as learning sets allows the delegates to connect at both an intellectual and deeply emotional level. Peer to peer interaction identifies reference points of change from the moment the learning sets start to the moment they finish. Providing ample time for reflection also allows delegates to record their thoughts, feelings, impressions and emotions before a programme starts and again at the end. This can be captured using interview techniques or video recordings.
Measure: Did the programme allow the development of learning relationships that enabled the development of thoughts and feelings as part of the learning journey? Were qualitative observations captured before, during and after the intervention to assess “shift”?
Asking and enquiring, not telling – programmes designed to actively engage delegates in the learning process and not transmit knowledge have the opportunity to both see engagement in action and also measure levels of engagement throughout the intervention.
Measure: Did the programme encourage and enable inquiry-led learning driven by participant curiosity? How did that process work (for the delegates) and how did the quality of questioning change individually and collectively over the life of the intervention and beyond? How did the proportion of time shift over the life of the intervention from “transmit” to “converse”?
Creating “thirsty learners” – programmes that help delegates learn how to learn have a greater probability of getting feedback from line managers and colleagues in both a formal or informal context. Delegates who are comfortable actively seeking feedback as part of a learning process receive more insight in regard to their own performance.
Measure: Did the programme enable the improvement of your ability to learn that you will be able to transfer and apply in your job? What was the level of active feedback seeking during and post the intervention?
Moving away from your comfort zone – delegates invariably learn more from what is unusual or unorthodox to them compared to staying with the familiar. This can be both an extremely rewarding but also very uncomfortable experience (hence the view we hold of avoiding questions which reference a good/bad experience). Learning through discovery and exploring new perspectives is one of the most powerful ways of helping leaders reframe their views.
Measure: identifying the specific insights that came from any discovery experience. How many new insights were generated? How relevant might they be to helping move forward your personal and business challenges?
The list of design principles referenced is by no means exhaustive and is only a sample of those we use to construct and deliver our work. When executive education is designed with principles like these, traditional “happy sheet” questions become less helpful when seeking to find out if a programme has achieved its real purpose. Given the importance of Executive Development to the future of every business it’s important we move away from simplistic and often misleading measurement methods and adopt a more holistic view of what can be measured based on more enlightened design principles and practices.
About the authors:
Alan Matcham – Alan’s passion is to make work fit for people and people fit for work. His experience is focused on Leadership and Management transformation and working to release the untapped potential in all employees.
Tim Coburn – Tim has a special interest in the learning process particularly the way leaders use language, conversation and stories to engage and motivate teams to improve corporate performance. His career has included global culture change roles with the BBC, Motorola, Rolls-Royce and Serco PLC.
Curated by Trevor Lee
International Resourcing Director
To build a great business, companies need a purpose — one that transcends the traditional bottom line. People want to be passionate about their work, and they want to be surrounded by others who feel the same. But how can managers actually foster passion?
Here are five ways:
- Let people show their emotions. If you ask your people to check their emotions at the door, you can’t tap into their passion.
- Hire passionate people. One way to get passionate people into your organization is to incentivize current employees to refer people they want to work with.
- Fan the flames. Find plenty of ways to celebrate joint accomplishments.
- Don’t stifle your rock stars. Give your people the autonomy to do the work that interests them most.
- Share context. Connect job functions to the organization’s broader mission, and remind people why they do what they do.
Shared by Trevor Lee