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Leaders of on-purpose organizations are trying hard to diagnose their own problems. They may get to symptoms but it will be way off from the mark in terms of what's the cause of their miseries or wasting the opportunities they should be claiming. In short, value left on the table.
It's like trying to be a doctor and treating your own illness. Or doing your own surgery for which you're not trained or even qualified to do. They want to get the cheapest doctor or specialist. They think they can do it themselves. They look for commodities as against the right resource for the right kind of value-increasing proposition facing them.
This is not a question of money or the question of time or competency of staff, Board, or executive to undertake. This is about the political will and the right measure for risks.
This represents the overabundance of caution based on a fear-based leadership.
Are you leading based on fear by being afraid to expose your own truths to yourself? Change readiness is the attitude, motivation, and drive to change. It starts with you, now, and not tomorrow.
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I asked this question because many organizational executives are comfortably in a fear mode in these difficult times.
What's the next disruption that will derail, disrupt, disembowel your organization's market positioning? or for that matter, your reason for being? what is the most existential threat likely to happen in the next five years?
If it's the fear of the uncertain/unknown that drives your executives to grind down everyday, you better back up and check that the fear is a positive fear that you can control and manage.
If it's the fear of being left out/missing out in the trend-train, check the rational behind the impulse, and fall back to where you are actually generating sustainable outcomes.
If it's survival and modest growth, plan to pivot when you can transition comfortably in the next 3 years, until such a time when you have the golden opportunity to create this new future.
If it's growing and reclaiming lost ground, there is no better time, than now. Get consensus and act on what you have existing at the moment.
"What's driving you forward?" is a better question than "What drives your executives sleepless at night?"
You need to capitalize on the dynamics of forward-motion than the idealized notions of lessons learned. And I hope you're not running around a carousel.
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I heard from an executive recently that they are crawling into the changes. This is reference to the transformation they're undergoing in the whole organization.
To justify being slow and sure, that word seems like a good description. But because they have been into the process for more than 5 years, I beg to disagree.
May I submit to you all that if you're crawling into the changes, you might as well shoot yourself in the foot. Being too slow is inimical to the progress you're trying to create, let alone, complete. There are forces that will resist and blocks these changes. Before you know it, you missed lots of opportunities to showcase the results of those changes.
The pace of change is as important as the vision for the change. Maybe your process needs a revisit. Maybe you don't have the resources or insist that what you have is enough. Maybe your stakeholders do not have a buy-in to the specifics-how their jobs and current positions will be affected. Maybe the readiness for change isn't there yet or not cultivated at all. Or maybe executives believe that to be slow guarantees success!
Crawling sounds like a defeat to me. If you feel like the changes are way too slow, you have missed an important element-the people! The people will make and break your transition. If you can, work backwards, put more time and process to getting them onboard so you can speed through and not crawl into the enemy's lair!
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A lot of executives and managers in on-purpose organizations are too much of a care-taker to become real leaders in their organizations and networks. As Drucker said, too much fire-fighting and problem-solving will elide your impact as a leader to become more strategic and effective.
This care-taking habit stems from their personal and organizational ideation that to be a great leader is to be all at all costs. When pressure mounts. the care-taking role is inadequate, at best palliative. Great leaders are able to bring out diverse skills, competencies, and responses that correspond best to diverse situations.
How do you transfer all your talents, skills, and empathy from a care-taking role to successfully leading your team?
1. Delegate and empower your team to make effective judgement calls and be accountable for them.
2. Say no to being the fount of all knowledge pertaining to your organization and its day-to-day functioning. Share all the information and go home on time.
3. Elevate to leading by demonstrating effective management techniques and influencing and building a good company culture. Stay off from the mundane and other practical issues that's not worthy of your executive time nor energy.
You will never be regarded as a leader if you will remain in a care-taking capacity with all your steam lost in the labyrinth of everyday issues. Being a leader, is leading now and taking charge with the future with strategic thinking and managing. Don't be the superhero that's not needed at all!
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The great Peter Drucker once said, " you have to feed on opportunities and starve problem-solving."
That is one great advice not heeded by a lot of organizations who is suffering from the monstrosity of the tyranny of everyday issues. They are mired and controlled by any movement that calls for their immediate and urgent attention. They found delight in solving any type of problem but did not develop, exercise, and maximize the opportunities around them, including the opportunities created by the so-called problems such as complaints, misinformation, bad publicity, ill-trained staff, overzealous volunteers, etc. The list can go on and on.
Are you bent down and worried on how to solve the next problem of your organization or are you satisfying the organization's search for opportunities? Are you defending yesterday's decisions in the altar of tomorrow's prospects? Are you spending more time fighting out fires or are you going out there and getting some long-term results?
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If organizations make decisions on the basis of what others will do, say, react (violently) against them for making those decisions, these leaders should be vacate their positions.
For one thing, their decisions should be based on facts and observable evidence. Their decisions should be guided by a rationale and logical criteria or a set of guidelines that the organizations should abide by as part of their mandate, terms of reference and business strategy.
To discuss the risks involved in decision-making, it is all about probability and impact. The probability that their constituency will be irate and will tear their door and /or the decision will cause havoc in the community should be taken in proportion. Who are these people, how serious will the impact of this decision be?
To hide under the guise that people will see this as partiality, special treatment, or favoritism is nonsense. Open your meetings, create guidelines, stick to your mandate, and weigh risks objectively, not as something to be afraid of rather than to determine if its actually an issue.
If you see ghosts everywhere, you might not want to get out of house or your room. It's the same thing as those leaders who cant and wont make a positive decision because they see things that do no exist.
Fear-based decision-making is the worst of all. The default is always a No.
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This is an unfair world.
A deserving student who had no pedigree or family wealth to back him/her out cannot dream of an Ivy League education or more less get it in these times. But when wealth/power overrule merit, then this country (or any country) for that matter is on its way to ruins. With the recent scandal on school admission bribery in the US, eight universities are being investigated by the US Education Department.
When wealth, abuse of power, lack of accountability corrupt institutions such as colleges and universities, it showed two things:
That people in power and authority that are supposed to be bastions of integrity, ethics, and high moral leadership can give in to the temptations of the job. This begs the questions about the effectiveness (ineffectiveness) of the people that should be guarding the process, ensuring clear lines of reporting and accountability, supervision, and guidance. Who are they and what were they doing when these things have been going on for years?!
When institutions are weak, corruption can take its place without detection. It is allowed to be brought in by people who doesn't care about rules and equity for all. The moment greed and personal self-indulgence and selfishness rule in any place, there is no more meritocracy and respect for individual achievement through hard work and ethical performance/it is all about who can buy its own way to success and stay unscathed when the hands of justice will swing again.
It's an unfair world but this has to stop now.
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Value-based governance and leadership is the newest breakthrough these days.
The underlying belief that the values of the staff and stakeholders match the values of the company and therefore, it is the best test for the cultural fit and the drive behind excellent performance within organizations.
Values-based has gotten to be practiced in extreme. CEOs telling human resources to pick certain types of people who are more compassionate but do not have the skills set for the job means that cultural fit trumps other considerations when hiring.
Cultural fit although very important in the success of the employee and the company together cannot be the end-all and be-all of effective hiring, retention, and training process. The competencies for the job is critical for that person to succeed or feel fulfilled. Certain types of employment and occupations call for a balanced combination of skills, competencies, and values appropriate. Those social types without the structure of the job will not be capable as the fish in the aquarium.
But values are intangible? How to govern through value-based leadership? Values are demonstrated through beliefs, beliefs are manifested through attitudes, and attitudes form part of overall behavior. We can influence the values of a person to a certain extent, but it is mostly an individual choice and a product of their context. We cannot shove it on their lungs to become a worker that values integrity, compassion, and excellence if they don’t have it in their DNAs. The right ‘fit’ as they say.
Training and development programs in companies do not tackle the belief systems of individual workers and their teams but are typically looking for short-term remediation in performance, addressing behavioral issues that arise, and keeping it topical and on-point as part of the Return on Investment on Performance.
The following questions should be asked when you are working on value-based governance/management?
1. How does your value-based leadership impact behaviors that are helpful for the organization?
2. How does your value-based leadership measure behavioral performance that are good and not good for the organization?
3. How does your value-based leadership reward great performance over bad performance?
The starting point is to check on behaviors that manifest those traits that demonstrate great performance over mediocre ones because the latter are latent and can be observed with the naked eye. The best training and development programs are those that address behavioral problems with adequate, effective, and compelling rewards and non-rewards systems that align with company culture and ethos.
Only when great behaviors are consistently reinforced and aligned, then beliefs and values will align to behaviors.
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Are you planning to improve your organization this year? or are you gearing up to do the same-old, same-old?
A lot of organizations these days tend to do the latter. They think that by cruising along and being more busy (than means doubling up on the amount of programs and activities), they are being strategic and effective. Effectiveness here means in my vocabulary the ability to achieve the outcomes and results they wish to seek through their efforts.
Businesses, nonprofits, and governments cruising along and wishfully thinking that they can copy past success by doing the same thing are totally misled. If there is no effort to improve and surpass past year's performance, status can keeps mean sweeping the problem under the rug delaying the resolution of some of the issues pestering the organization that will actually help the organization move forward.
Are you stalling to discuss the next direction of your organization for fear of catching more problems than anticipated? What about the changing environment where complacency doesn't do you any good?
Get out of your comfort bubble and tackle the obstacles in building a new and secure strategic direction before an overwhelming situation compels it at your own expense
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These and some other important questions will be discussed in my Strategy Development Workshop in Red Deer, Alberta this week.
80% of plans do not get implemented because of many reasons. Here I enumerate the top 5 obstacles to effective implementation.
•Management needs to ‘own’ the plan
A lot of organizations invest in planning but forget that the strategy is implementation. Management needs to own the plan, create contingencies when there is a major shift in external environment making the plans unworkable, and instill performance measurement at all points of the implementation. Management should consult the stakeholders concerned but the end of the day, it rests on management that knows the business from inside-out and are not afraid to take responsibility for its success or failures.
•Confused planning with strategy
When management started planning, they confuse it with strategy. Planning is done at the lower end of the organization, while setting strategy is primarily a management function. It cannot be delegated to staff or mere customers dictating how the company should be run. A decisive, informed, and well-represented management team should undertake their biggest function- which is to set the general strategic direction of the company. This biggest function is what creates the impetus for the company in the next 3-5 years aligning all resources, assets, culture, and processes to meet the goals, and forsaking other fruitless pursuits.
•INERTIA, ATROPHY, & FALL-BACK ON PAST PERFORMANCE
Organizations who are undergoing maturity or who are the in peak of their organizational or product success would have the mentality that they are invincible and unassailable. When in fact, past performance does not lead to future success. The market volatility and disruptive nature of businesses and megabrands call for adaptability and nimbleness that can prevent massive investment on futile and unproductive projects. Inertia is what prevents innovation from happening. When there is ego or greed or plain stupid management that does not listen to customers, clients, or stakeholders, it is on its way to its own demise. Take the case of Sears.
When companies become too comfortable with their success or good fortunes and don't have the predilection to move to the next level or raise the bar notch higher, the writing on the wall will be there pretty soon. If they are not afflicted enough to move to plan and manage risks, competitors that have faster sprint and stronger kick will rush in and eat their market share. Competition is not just the next vendor like your business, it is also the changing trends, mores, norms, and behaviors of society that may have a profound impact in your business.
(more on this, next time!)