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.
Never make a formal offer until every aspect of that offer has been tested and agreed on beforehand. Easy to remember, but hard to fix if you forget. Once you’ve formally extended an offer, you’ve seriously limited your options. The applicant becomes the buyer, the company the seller. Open communication stops dead. Candidates stop thinking about why they want the job and start worrying about why they DON’T want it.
An offer extended while there’s still doubt often gets an “I have to think about it” response. Thinking about an offer is fine – but once you’ve extended it your own flexibility is weakened. It’s much better to have an applicant think about all aspects of an offer BEFORE you formally put it together.
Here’s another important point: Before you extend a formal offer, you get unbiased information. After, that same attempt to determine a candidate’s interest can come across as harassment, pushiness or over-selling. Contentious salary negotiations become awkward and stressful, because neither party wants to lose face. Deals often fall apart at this point for relatively unimportant reasons.
Start by testing a candidate’s general interest in the position. Ask, “Assuming an attractive offer, do the job and the challenge appeal to you?” This question lets you draw a line between the job and the offer, and gives both parties the chance to address concerns about the job itself. You’ll eliminate a lot of bad fits this way!
Then you can ask, “What would you think if we could put together a package in the range of £_____ to £_____?” You’ll need to go back and forth with the candidate to test the range, but this gets both parties talking in an open manner.
Don’t let the candidate forget about the competition – real or imaginary. Say something like, “Although we’re still seeing other candidates, I believe you’d make a great addition to our team. What do you think about something like £_____?” The threat of competition allows you to be a bit stronger during the negotiating phase, and tends to make the candidate more realistic.
A candidate’s hesitation on any item at this stage means there are probably other issues to be considered. Continue probing. Many objections have to do with lack of information: don’t move forward until you have addressed these concerns to everyone’s satisfaction. Now is the time to make trade-offs and be creative. If you can’t meet a particular need, offer an alternative – a signing bonus instead of a too-high salary, for example. Find out now if this could turn out to be a deal-breaker.
Work on all these points until you come to an agreement – or at least an understanding. You’ll both discover that this give-and-take process is much easier WITHOUT a formal offer on the table. And when all the objections have been addressed in a mutually satisfactory fashion, THEN you’re ready to get to the final offer.
Partner in Accelerance – Leadership for Business Performance
Bridging the knowing-doing gap
Knowing is not the problem
Organisations are full of intellectually bright executives who have no trouble articulating a good game. Consequentially they produce an endless array of professional looking, well intentioned strategic plans, presentations, action lists, commitment statements and meeting minutes. The problem is that most, if not all, of these well intentioned initiatives fail to deliver on the majority of what they set out to achieve. This is known as; “The Knowing-Doing Gap.” The difference between what you know needs doing and what actually gets done.
Jeff Pfeffer the renowned Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Stanford Graduate School of Business and co-author of “The Knowing – Doing Gap” states it very clearly, “If you know by doing, there is no gap between what you know and what you do.”
Working with Executives over many years I have found there to be two constants in any effective learning or transformational experience. The first is the power of discovery and the second is the power of doing. Combined, these approaches have a significant impact in translating new insights into positive action. They are also inextricably linked because to discover you need to do and to do you need to discover.
This has huge implications for anyone involved in Executive Development. Designing interventions that make executives intellectually richer with more content, more concepts, more models, more theories and more plans runs the risk of fuelling the knowing-doing gap. On the other hand if you design interventions that are grounded in real business issues and learning by doing then the change that is sought will more likely be achieved.
Discovery & Doing
At its heart discovery is learning from the unorthodox and the unusual and appreciating there is learning in everything. It is about taking time to “walk in other worlds”, to get your hands dirty, to ask great questions, to let go, to see, to feel and to experience new, different and challenging perspectives and ways of doing things. In doing so the aim is to bring new and fresh insights to address an increasing array of highly complex and adaptive business challenges related to change, innovation, creativity, agility, collaboration and transformation
Organisations seeking to create a cadre of executives who will lead change, build a more innovative culture or transform their organisation in some fundamental way will not do so by seeking inspiration or insight from people in the same industry, with the same world view or with the same basic DNA. That approach inevitably leads to sameness not difference.
“I go to a meeting with a group of managers who attended the programme. Met them earlier where they fired questions at me. Thought initially this programme was a bit weird.
What do visits to Salvation Army, eating in the dark with blind people and talking to researchers from Shell have to do with leading better in the bank? I was mistaken.
Entering and discovering a completely different world and to hear how motivated others are, how they take responsibility and innovate is an inspiration to think about your own role.
During the meeting today, I hear how participants take initiatives to break through their own ways of doing and realise concrete improvements. What triggers me most is that they do not talk about what others should do better, but what they themselves can do differently and better.”
Chairman of a major European Bank – 2012
How and what to discover?
If you believe, as I do, that the ultimate aim of executive education is to help people think things through for themselves and their unique context then discovery should be at the core of any learning strategy. The role of the expert facilitator or programme director is to create the context within which discovery learning is optimised. This is achieved by encouraging a set of skills and behaviours which:
Develop the ability to ask great questions
Engage all the senses
Learn how to learn and find learning in everything.
Observe the world through different lenses
Experience and feel new or different emotions
Try new things through experimentation and testing
In my experience the most effective discovery experiences have tended to follow certain basic steps which are outlined below. Each step requires significant attention but perhaps none more than the actual execution of the experience itself. It is crucial that all participants play an active role and are fully engaged.
Over the years I have led many discovery experiences. Below are a few examples of what is possible and the learning that is available. All are based on genuine examples where the discovery experience has been tailored to specific learning objectives to help resolve specific business challenges.
The Discovery experience
The Business Challenge or Issue
Junior school in rural China
Challenging the traditional system of learning
Salvation Army in Holland
A cause worth serving, humility and compassion
Blind Community in Hong Kong
Overcoming adversity and working with all your senses
Collaboration, resilience and communication.
Creating and reciting poetry in Singapore
Everyone has capability and talent. Building leadership confidence
Effective communication and meaning making.
Playing Jazz and Blues in Chicago
Creativity and team work as well as fun
Interdependencies and team work. Joy in work.
Prisoner reform group in Holland
Changing deep seated behaviours and potential in everyone
Behavioural change and business transformation.
Monastery and meditation in Europe
How to reflect and be in the moment. Self awareness
Finding time to think and reflect rather than just do.
High end restaurant in Vietnam
Discipline, clarity of role, all one team and client insight.
Children’s charity for those out of mainstream education in UK
Engagement, trust, compassion and meaning
Personal and team transformation
Knowing is not enough and knowing more is not enough, the translation into doing is everything if meaningful change is to be achieved. Doing and knowing should not be mutually exclusive and the most effective executive programmes understand this and design in these critical attributes.
About the author:
Alan Matcham (firstname.lastname@example.org): Is an internationally experienced executive development programme director, facilitator and educator. A passion for making work fit for people and people fit for work. His expertise is focused on Leadership and Management transformation, working to release the untapped potential in all employees. He has a record of enabling public and private sector organisations rise to the complex challenges of the 21st century.
Executive Search 2.0 is transparent by design and speedy of execution with 100% customer centricity.
Free whitepaper download: http://bit.ly/2hRdT4N
I recall the very first conversation I had with Patrick Mataix when I asked him how he entered the world of executive search. I quickly realized I had encountered ‘a meeting of minds’ moment based on an ethical dimension seldom encountered in my traditional world. Here was someone with whom I passionately wished to work.
It was soon established that CEO Worldwide was born out of Patrick’s frustration with the headhunters and consultants he encountered as co-founder and COO of Vistaprint (NASDAQ: CMPR).
Exasperation at their inadequate answers and relaxed approach to deadlines – as much as their lacklustre candidates.
He went on to say that it seemed the recruiters were almost mocking all the time and energy he was investing in developing the business internationally: raising funds, opening subsidiaries, acquiring and restructuring businesses.
He was permanently looking urgently for managers in France, UK, Germany, the US…
All of his problems boiled down to quickly finding the right person, in the right culture, with the right profile, at a reasonable cost; to either help him do things faster and more efficiently, or run a portion of other fast growing business.
While meeting C-level executives, he could clearly see that he was not the only one wasting time and money in endless, costly and infuriating processes, that were highly inadequate for the pace of their international development.
IT WAS TIME FOR A CHANGE
He founded CEO Worldwide in 2001, because as an entrepreneur, he recognized that cross-border executive recruiters could not keep putting themselves before clients and commanding ridiculous fees for the privilege. It was not sustainable then and certainly isn’t now as ‘digital’ enables productivity gains – particularly in terms of financial savings and time-line – to directly flow to the client effectively handing back control. The client is front and center of the CEO Worldwide service culture.
Since then CEO Worldwide have placed 1000s of candidates who have truly revitalized businesses in multiple sectors across the world.
Our purpose continues to be to offer the C-suite a way of hiring ‘…the best certified executive talent on the planet.‘ at speed, without any up-front financial commitment and for a flat fee unrelated to the agreed remuneration and specific for each region. We do this by constantly adding pre-selected top performers meeting or exceeding our clients’ requirements. For those that are INVITED to the CEO Worldwide community we seek – free of charge – to accord them unrivaled opportunity to showcase their skills both by written word and via a dedicated YouTube platform.
Every company gets rejected by job candidates, and you’re missing a big opportunity if you don’t ask these people why they did it. The next time you get a “No, thank you” call or email, explain that there are no hard feelings and dig deeper for more information. Focus on questions like:
What did you see as the positive aspects of the role?
What were your concerns about the role?
What were the most important factors in the decision you made?
What feedback or suggestions do you have about your interviews, interviewers, and the interview process itself?
Can you provide feedback or suggestions for the hiring manager, human resources, or the organization overall?
These conversations might be awkward, but if you don’t solicit feedback from people you’ve interviewed, they may give that feedback publicly via social media. It may not be good!
To build a team of creative thinkers, you need to hire people who are open to new experiences and have resilience, emotional stability, flexibility, and empathy.
During interviews with potential hires, ask questions that test for these traits. For example, you might ask the candidate to come up with multiple solutions to a problem, and then see if they are able to draw connections between those solutions to find a novel approach.
If you want to test a candidate’s ability for empathy, ask them to create a persona for a new product, or have them tell a story about a day in the life of a potential customer to see whether they can take on someone else’s perspective.
These exercises give you valuable clues as to how well the applicant can connect with others both emotionally and intellectually.
In the ideal meeting, all attendees participate, contributing diverse points of view and ideas. But few meetings live up to that.
Multiple studies have shown that women are interrupted in meetings far more often, and their ideas are taken less seriously. To make sure you’re getting the most from all participants, take unconscious bias seriously. Foster a culture in which both men and women are encouraged to “call it out” when they see someone being inadvertently silenced in a discussion.
Enlist progressive men to lead by example, and hold them accountable for allowing their female counterparts to contribute. You can balance the playing field with ground rules such as “no talking over each other,” or by going around the table when you’re seeking input on a critical decision.
Most important, take the worst offenders aside and point out their behavior — they may be unaware of it.