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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 3 October 2013


"But 100 people with 1% of the solution? That'll get it done."

You will regularly hear bosses of all sorts talk about how busy they are, focused on making money.  The role of their employees is to help them make money, pure and simple.

I once tracked the money a consultancy operating with hourly rates lost over just one week because those highly-paid employees were left standing around, waiting as the boss was late for meetings or took external calls, interrupting those meetings.  The total ended up being around $10,000.

Then there's HR.  It's surprising how many big organizations don't even have HR departments - people who will understand what terms like "presenteeism" mean.  Fortunately, best practices are starting to surface.

None too soon.  So many of the big problems we face are structural in nature; costly, morale-sucking and frustration-building gaps, duplication and overlaps exist that can be entirely avoided, if we just do communication and human literacy better.

It begins by focusing not on what you can acquire, but what you should leave behind.

Obsolescence should be the primary motivator of every leader; build self-sustaining organizations that can thrive regardless of which individuals come or go.  Build systems capable of adaption to changes in the environment. 

Creating a whole that's more than the sum of its partsthat's leadership.

Developing Front-Line Leaders Starts At The Top

John Baldoni, Contributor
I write about the impact leaders have on those they lead.
Weak leadership on the front lines is one big reason that organizations struggle.
According to a new study of 300 HR managers by Development DimensionsInternational (DDI) together with and the Institute for Human resources, weak leadership can be costly. For example, of those surveyed:
  •  69% say it caused lower rates of engagement;
  • 65% say it caused a loss of productivity; and
    Weak and Powerless
    Weak and Powerless (Photo credit: TMAB2003)
  •  59% say it resulted in higher turnover “of themselves or team members.”
Looking deeper into the findings, 56% of respondents “rated the lack of interpersonal skills as the number one reason for leadership failure.” Deficiencies in “listening, empathizing and involvement” erode a leader’s ability to connect to the very people he or she is expected to manage and lead.
The other key reason for leadership failure is “lack of strategic skills.” According to DDI’s Richard Wellins, Ph.D., the fault also likes with the organization because it is not helping its leaders acquire these skills.
Not surprisingly, one in four surveyed claimed that poor leadership resulted in lower profitability. As Wellins put it, “These findings paint a dismal picture for the pipeline of future leadership talent that organizations need to survive and thrive.” Worse, as Wellins notes, when high performers see weak leaders in position of power they become disillusioned.
In short, when you have weak leaders on the front lines the entire organization is in peril. The high failure rate of new leaders is concerning,” says Wellins “Many times failure is due to lack of motivation or personality that no amount of training will change.” Organizations “need to more diligent about whom they promote into positions of decision-making… because cost of failure is very high.
To correct such leadership deficiencies, it falls to organizations to make investments in leadership development but do it ways that are individually focused as well as focused on the needs of the organization. Organizations that I have studied offer a combination of internal programs that offer participants access to senior leaders as well as the opportunity to acquire new skills via action learning or job rotation.
“In terms of development,” says Wellins, “it is usually not the content or actual classroom training that is wrong. As the study points out the best training are learning journeys of multiple events that tie together over time.” Additionally “management support is also crucial.”
As Wellins notes, “the best thing senior leaders can do is serve as role model of good leadership skills.” Toward that end leaders must set the right example. They must show through their actions what it means to set clear expectations, follow through on commitments, put people in positions to succeed, and most importantly – hold themselves accountable for their actions.
Lack of accountability, or a perceived double-standard, where those at the top get a free pass while those in the middle or lower ranks get the boot when things go poorly erodes trust in leaders. Those leaders put themselves on the line are those that others want to follow.
As senior leaders consider their legacy they need to focus not simply how they are improving the bottom line but what they are doing to develop next generation leaders who will take the organization to the next level of growth and productivity. They can do this via mentoring, of course but also affording opportunities for emerging leaders to experiment and learn.
Leadership development is not a one-way street; high-potential managers need to commit to the process, that is, they need to consider job relocations (including overseas placements) in order to acquire the skills and experience necessary to manage within a global environment.
Leadership development becomes the responsibility of everyone in management to bring out the best in their people.

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