STRATEGY & Setting priorities is not the same as setting strategy via #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. Church leaders have improved greatly in establishing Biblical values and mission statements. But strategy, real strategy which is actionable plans, is less clear to most congregants. http://www.LEADERSHIP.church has for 30+ years been helping churches create doable and successful plans for church health and growth. And, this includes bottom-up input from frontline leaders. Read this Harvard Business Review article to learn why.

Many Strategies Fail Because They’re Not Actually Strategies

One major reason for the lack of action is that “new strategies” are often not strategies at all. A real strategy involves a clear set of choices that define what the firm is going to do and what it’s not going to do. Many strategies fail to get implemented, despite the ample efforts of hard-working people, because they do not represent a set of clear choices.

Many so-called strategies are in fact goals…

Others may represent a couple of the firm’s priorities and choices, but they do not form a coherent strategy when considered in conjunction. …

It’s not just a top-down process. Another reason many implementation efforts fail is that executives see it as a pure top-down, two-step process: “The strategy is made; now we implement it.” That’s unlikely to work. A successful strategy execution process is seldom a one-way trickle-down cascade of decisions…

Stanford professor Robert Burgelman said, “Successful firms are characterized by maintaining bottom-up internal experimentation and selection processes while simultaneously maintaining top-driven strategic intent.” This is quite a mouthful, but what Burgelman meant is that you indeed need a clear, top-down strategic direction (such as Hornby’s set of choices). But this will only be effective if, at the same time, you enable your employees to create bottom-up initiatives that fall within the boundaries set by that strategic intent.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2017/11/many-strategies-fail-because-theyre-not-actually-strategies?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=hbr

PLANNING & How to Get People to Accept a Tough Decision. #HarvardBusinessReview

by David Maxfield, HBR, 4/19/18.

Every leader has to make tough decisions that have consequences for their organizations, their reputation, and their career. The first step to making these decisions is understanding what makes them so hard. Alexander George, who studied presidential decision-making, pointed to two features:

  • Uncertainty: Presidents never have the time or resources to fully understand all of the implications their decisions will have.
  • “Value Complexity”: This is George’s term to explain that even the “best” decisions will harm some people and undermine values leaders would prefer to support.

The decisions that senior leaders, middle managers, frontline employees, and parents have to make often have the same features. Uncertainty and value complexity cause us to dither, delay, and defer, when we need to act.

What steps can leaders take to deal with these factors when making decisions?

Overcoming Uncertainty

Our initial reactions to uncertainty often get us deeper into trouble. Watch out for the following four pitfalls.

  • Avoidance. It often feels like problems sneak up on us when, in reality, we’ve failed to recognize the emerging issue. Instead of dealing with problems when they begin to simmer, we avoid them — and even dismiss them — until they are at a full boil. For example, perhaps your plants have been running at near capacity for a while and there have been occasional hiccups in your supply chain. Instead of addressing these issues, you accept them as normal. Then, “suddenly,” you’re unable to fill orders.
  • Fixation. When a problem presents itself, adrenaline floods our body and we often fixate on the immediate threat. In this fight or flight mode, we’re not able to think strategically. But focusing exclusively on the obvious short-term threat often means you miss the broader context and longer-term ramifications.
  • Over-simplification. The fight-or-flight instinct also causes us to oversimplify the situation. We divide the world into “friends” and “foes” and see our options as “win” or “lose” or “option A” or “option B.” Making a successful decision often requires transcending simplifications and discovering new ways to solve the problem.
  • Isolation. At first, we may think that, if we contain the problem, it’ll be easier to solve. For example, it may feel safer to hide the problem from your boss, peers, and customers while you figure out what to do. But as a result, you may wait too long before sounding the alarm. And, by then, you’re in too deep.

To avoid these pitfalls — or to get out of them once you’ve fallen into them — it’s best to take incremental steps forward without committing to a decision too quickly. Below are five things you can do to reduce uncertainty as you evaluate your options.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2018/04/how-to-get-people-to-accept-a-tough-decision?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=hbr

FEEDBACK & Are You Sugarcoating Your Feedback Without Realizing It? Research Says Do These 4 Things Instead.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I tell my church growth and health clients that I will be brutally honest with them and they must be prepared for direct and non-sugarcoated feedback. If they’re not willing to receive such feedback, then I can’t take them as a client. That is because I’ve learned over the years that without clear and honest feedback clients will misinterpret the severity of the situation. Below is research that explains the illusion of transparency bias.

Are You Sugarcoating Your Feedback Without Realizing It?

by Michael Schaerer and Roderick Swaab, Harvard Business Review, 10/8/19.

… Managers tend to inflate the feedback they give to their direct reports, particularly when giving bad news. And by presenting subpar performance more positively than they should, managers make it impossible for employees to learn, damaging their careers and, often, the company.

Previous research into this kind of feedback inflation has centered on the idea that managers deliberately sugarcoat tough messages for fear of retaliation, or to protect their employees from feeling bad about themselves. But our research shows that many managers deliver inflated feedback unintentionally, and in fact think they’ve been much more clear than is the case. These findings point to some simple ways to improve how managers impart criticism.

We believe that managers’ assumption that their direct reports understand what they mean is due to a common cognitive bias called the illusion of transparency, in which people are so focused on their own intense feelings and intentions that they overestimate the extent to which their inner worlds come across to others. As a result their words may be too vague to convey their true intent. The illusion of transparency is one of the most commoncauses of misunderstandings when we communicate with others…

What to Do About It

While it can be helpful to become aware of unintentional behaviors, overcoming them is notoriously difficult. Our research points to several ways to combat the illusion of transparency.

First, increase the frequency of feedback. As a manager, you can augment your annual appraisals with continuous reminders, ongoing training, and structured weekly or monthly “pulse checks” to break the discomfort that may be preventing you from communicating more clearly. Research has found that giving feedback more frequently makes feedback more accurate. This repetition will also help reinforce your message.

Firms should also promote a culture that encourages employees to request more candid feedback from their managers prior to appraisals. Failing that, firms can institute a formal process obligating them to do so.

… Ultimately, clarity and specificity of language are managers’ best tools. Use clear language and avoid phrases that could obscure your meaning. One phrase to avoid, for example, is “a real possibility,” which people interpret as conveying a likelihood of anywhere from 20%–80%. Also, ask your employee to paraphrase what you’ve told them to make sure they fully understand your message. Managers also need to actively encourage employees to tell them how they see their own performance. As a manager, ask open-ended questions like, “What am I not seeing here? What may I be overlooking?”

Employees themselves can dispel many incorrect assumptions by asking questions, or by requesting that managers use precise, explicit terms when delivering feedback. If your manager doesn’t ask you to rearticulate what they’ve told you, try using statements that begin, “So if I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying…”

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2019/10/are-you-sugarcoating-your-feedback-without-realizing-it?

CONFLICT AVOIDANCE & Why It Is Under-Management (the Flip Side of Micromanagement) and a Problem Too.

by Victor Lipman, Harvard Business Review, 11/8/18.

Micromanagement gets most of the attention, but under-management may be just as big a problem.

This is the term I’ve given to a constellation of behaviors that I’ve seen occurring together often during my 24 years in management: weak performance management, a tendency to avoid conflicts with employees, and generally lackluster accountability. As the name suggests, there’s just not quite enough management being done—and results often suffer as a result. But under-management can often fly under the radar because the managers who have these tendencies aren’t necessarily incompetent; on the contrary, they often know their business well, are good collaborators, and are well-liked.

Don’t be a conflict-avoider. Let’s start with the handling of conflict. Early in my management career I was fortunate to have a mentor who took me aside and told me straight-out that if I was going to succeed in management, I needed to become more effective in my handling of conflict. I still remember his exact words. He praised my abilities (my knowledge of our business and my work ethic), but added, “Frankly, I don’t know if you want to handle conflict. I don’t know if you have the stomach for it.” I realized that if I was going to be successful in management, this was a problem area and I was going to have to work on it. So I did — diligently. I became highly conscious of conflict and not ducking it. Truth be told I still don’t like dealing with conflict (most people don’t), but I recognized it was a vital part of the management role and over time I became more comfortable with it and competent at it.

View goal-setting as mission-critical. If you’re not delivering the results you need to, which is the risk at the heart of under-management, first make sure the goals your employees need to achieve are well-conceived and clear. Most managers don’t spend nearly enough time on goal setting; too often we approach it as a nettlesome bureaucratic exercise (why is Human Resources torturing me this way, making me fill out these endless forms?). But thoughtful goals that are agreed to by employees can be a manager’s best friend because you can manage to them: they become a roadmap to guide your work with your team all year…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2018/11/under-management-is-the-flip-side-of-micromanagement-and-its-a-problem-too

PREACHING & Research confirms we usually talk too long. What does this means for sermon length?

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In almost 30 years of consulting hundreds of churches, the one weakness that recurs most often is that the sermon is slightly too long (I’ve estimated by about 20%). Subsequently, in my own life I’ve kept my sermons shorter than people anticipate (and usually people seem to appreciate this – but this of course could be because of the speaker 😉

Therefore I found it interesting that a Harvard study found that most people spend too long in a conversation. Here is some key takeaways from the article.

“Want to be a master conversationalist? Harvard Research says you have to fix this first”

by Wanda Thibodeaux, Harvard Business Review 12/5/18.

In a study by Adam Mastroianni and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, 133 participants were paired up and given a simple job–just talk to each other for any amount of time up to 45 minutes. They could decide for themselves when to stop, and when the conversations were over, the researchers hit them with a few questions.

The results showed that just 15 percent of people in the study left the conversation when they actually wanted to. About half of the participants wanted the conversation to end sooner, and about half wanted it to keep going longer. On average, the desired length of the conversation differed from what actually happened by 46 percent. Lastly, when participants had to guess whether their partner wanted to leave, they were right only 63 percent of the time. They thought it was only six minutes from when they wanted to leave to when their partner wanted to call it quits, when in reality it was 13 minutes.

The conclusion from the study was that, even while we might have a grasp of how much conversation we want, we’re not very good at all about judging how much others want. We also tend not to know that we’re off the mark.

So what does all this mean for you as a communicator?

Simply put, you probably don’t really know when to stop talking, and your conversation partner probably doesn’t, either. … This, of course, means you have to understand what some of those cues even are. Signals that a person might want to politely head for the door are:

  • fidgeting…
  • acting distracted (e.g., looking at their watch, checking their phone)…
  • lack of eye contact.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/wanda-thibodeaux/want-to-be-a-master-conversationalist-harvard-research-says-you-have-to-fix-this-first.html

AGILE AT SCALE & Its 3 Laws Explained + 10 Agile Axioms That Make Leaders Anxious (and they should!)

by Steve Denning, Forbes Magazine, 6/17/18. 

If at first an idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it. —Albert Einstein

In June 2018,  a time when “Agile at Scale” is emblazoned on the front cover of Harvard Business Review (read the original “Agile at Scale” HBR article here), the management journal with quasi-papal status, the era when managers could confidently ridicule agile management practices is fading fast. Instead, most managers have themselves grasped the need to be agile: a recent Deloitte survey of more than 10,000 business and HR leaders across 140 countries revealed that nearly all surveyed respondents (94%) report that “agility and collaboration” are critical to their organization’s success. Yet only 6% say that they are “highly agile today.” So, what’s the problem? Why the 88% gap between aspiration and actuality.

…The three Laws of Agile are simple—first, an obsession with continuously adding more value for customers; second, small teams working on small tasks in short iterative work cycles delivering value to customers; and third, coordinating work in a fluid, interactive network.

…The Laws of Agile are simple but their implementation is often difficult. That’s in part because they are at odds with some of the basic assumptions and attitudes that have prevailed in managing large organizations for at least a century. For example, Agile makes more money by not focusing on making money. In Agile, control is enhanced by letting go of control. Agile leaders act more like gardeners than commanders. And that’s just the beginning.

For the traditional manager, counter-intuitive ideas like these abound. This is not the way people say big firms are run. This is not by and large what business schools teach…

First Law Of Agile: The Law Of The Customer

  1. Firms Make More Money By Not Focusing On Making Money

For several millennia, the notion that businesses exist to make money was seen as one of the immutable truths of the universe. Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, wrote in his article in the New York Times on September 13, 1970 that any business executives who pursued a goal other than making money for their firm were “unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.” Today, many public companies embrace maximizing shareholder value as their main goal, even though Jack Welch and many others have called it “the dumbest idea in the world.”

A growing number of companies have chosen a different goal. They have accepted Peter Drucker’s 1954 dictum that “there is only one valid purpose of a firm: to create a customer.” When delighting their customers through continuous innovation becomes the bottom line, making money is the result, not the goal, of the firm’s activities.

The interesting thing is that when firms operate this way, they make a lot more money than companies that focus directly on making money, including the five largest and fastest growing firms on the planet (by market cap): Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, now worth over $2 trillion. It involves a shift from a focus on inanimate things (money, products outputs) to a focus on people (human outcomes, experiences, impact)

Yet let’s face it: setting aside what many still see as an immutable truths of the universe doesn’t come easily.

  1. There Are No Internal Customers

It’s common in many big bureaucracies to talk of internal customers. One unit services another unit and regards the other unit as its internal customer, who in due course becomes a producer for the ultimate customer or end-user. …

In Agile management, there is no such thing as an “internal customer.” The only purpose of work is the ultimate customer or end-user. Under the Law of the Customer, the original producers not only meet the needs the internal customers: they are given a clear line of sight as to what value is being provided for the ultimate customer. Satisfying so-called internal customers is merely feeding the bureaucratic beast. It is a pretend-version of Agile.

  1. There Are No B2B Organizations

The situation is the same when a firm is providing products or services to another firm which acts as an intermediary for ultimate end user. The customers are the end-users who ultimately experience the products and services. Merely satisfying the needs of the intermediary is not enough for sustainability…

Similarly, Microsoft for many years saw the customers of its Windows program as the big retailers like Dell and HP. More recently, they have come to realize that their customer is really the end-user, not these intermediaries: there is now an immense effort to reach out to, undestand and interact with these millions of end-users.

  1. Making Better Products May Not Make More Money

Making products better, faster cheaper, more convenient or more personalized is a good thing. But in a marketplace where competitors are often quick to match improvements to existing products and services and where power in the marketplace has decisively shifted to customers, it can be difficult for firms to monetize those improvements. Amid intense competition, customers with choices and access to reliable information are frequently able to demand that quality improvements be forthcoming at no cost, or even lower cost.

Making better products through operational Agility is an increasingly-necessary foundation for the survival of a firm. But it’s not enough for the firm to thrive. To make a lot of money, the company has to go further. It has to delight non-customers—those who are not already customers. That’s because there are usually vastly more non-customers than customers. They are non-customers for a reason: their needs are not being met. If the company can find a way to meet their needs, then a whole vast new ocean of potential customers opens up, in which there is usually very little competition. If the firm can appeal to both customers and non-customers, it can make a great deal of money. “Instead of being slightly better than everybody else in a crowded and established field, it’s often more valuable to create a new market and totally dominate it,” writes David Brooks in the New York Times. “The profit margins are much bigger, and the value to society is often bigger, too.”

The Second Law Of Agile: The Law Of The Small Teams

   5.  Forget Economies of Scale: Your Market Is One Person

The 20th Century firm tended to be focused on generic products to achieve economies of scale. By contrast, Agile is about generating instant, intimate, frictionless incremental value at scale. That’s the new performance requirement. When firms do this, as shown by the experience of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google they make a great deal of money.

Thus Agile organizations focus on providing intimate value, with an effective “market of one”, i.e. a level of customization and customer service at which a customer feels that he or she is an exclusive or preferred customer of the firm. For example, search engines are used by billions of people every day across the globe. However, each user gets customized search results based on their locations and refer to places nearby, weather forecast, or traffic condition…

  1. Don’t Scale Up: Descale Complexity Down

A key Agile theme concerns descaling work, i.e. a presumption that in a volatile, complex, uncertain and ambiguous world, big difficult problems need to be disaggregated into small batches and performed by small cross-functional autonomous teams, working iteratively in short cycles in a state of flow, with fast feedback from customers and end-users…

Instead of constructing a big complex organization to handle complexity, the organization disaggregates the problem into tiny pieces so that it can be put together in minuscule increments and adjusted in the light of new, and rapidly changing, information about both the technology and the customer…

  1. Control Is Enhanced By Letting Go Of Control.

In Agile management, there’s a presumption that in a volatile, rapidly changing world, big difficult problems should—to the extent possible—be disaggregated into small batches and performed by small self-organizing teams. The thought of self-organizing teams tends to make managers worry about losing control. What they need to understand is that they are giving up the illusion of control, rather than actual control. In a complex, rapidly changing environment, explicit efforts to impose control and predictability are doomed. Detailed reports may create the semblance of control, but the reality is often very different from what is in those reports.

The solution to reconciling disciplined execution and innovation lies in giving greater freedom to those people doing the work to exercise their talents and creativity, but doing so within short cycles so that those doing the work can themselves see whether they are making progress or not.

  1. Agile Is A Mindset, Not A Process

Traditional managers typically approach Agile saying, “Show me the process so that I can implement it.” The problem is that Agile is a mindset, not a process. If it is approached as a process with the old mindset, nothing good happens.

But surely, people ask, there must be some model that we can follow. There is much allure for instance in the Spotify model as presented in the charming videos prepared by Henrik Nyberg. So there is a cry: “Let’s implement the Spotify model!”  There’s just one problem: as former Spotify coach, Joakim Sundén, often explains, not even Spotify implements the Spotify model. For one thing, the videos are several years old. Second, Spotify continues to rapidly evolve and improve its model. In a pair of visits in 2016, we noticed significant differences even within a period of several months.

  1. Talent Drives Strategy, Not Vice Versa

“The central premise of a talent-driven company is that talent drives strategy, as opposed to strategy being dictated to talent.,” says the book, Talent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First (HBRP, 2018) by Dominic Barton, the global managing partner of McKinsey & Company, and his colleagues Dennis Carey and Ram Charan, “The wrong talent inevitably produces the wrong strategy, and fails to deliver. Numbers like sales and earnings are the result of placing the right people in the right jobs where their talents flourish and they can create value that ultimately shows up in the numbers.”

The Third Law Of Agile: The Law Of The Network

    9. The Top-Down Organizational Pyramid Is Finished

Success in today’s marketplace requires nimbleness, flexibility, adaptability and agility—everything that the 20th Century corporation was not. These firms were built for strength, with high walls and moats for the defense of the status quo. Their very raison d’être was to prevent change.

Turning a top-down pyramid into a flexible network is tricky. At the heart of 20th Century management thinking is the notion of a corporation as an efficient steady-state machine aimed at exploiting its existing business model. “Traditional, MBA-style thinking,” as Google executives, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, write in their book, How Google Works, “dictates that you build up a sustainable competitive advantage over rivals and then close the fortress and defend it with boiling oil and flaming arrows.”

By contrast, when the whole organization truly embraces Agile, the organization is an organic living network of high-performance teams. In these organizations, managers recognize that competence resides throughout the organization and that innovation can come from anywhere. The whole organization, including the top, is obsessed with delivering more value to customers. Agile teams take initiative on their own and interact with other Agile teams to solve common problems. In effect, the whole organization shares a common mindset in which organization is viewed and operated as a network of high-performance teams.

  1. Lead Like A Gardener, Not A Commander

In Team of Teams, by General Stanley McChrystal and his colleagues (2015, Penguin Publishing Group), McChrystal explains had to unlearn what it means to be a leader. A great deal of what he thought he knew about how the world worked and his role as a commander had to be discarded.

I began to view effective leadership in the new environment as more akin to gardening than chess,” he writes. “The move-by-move control that seemed natural to military operations proved less effective than nurturing the organization— its structure, processes, and culture— to enable the subordinate components to function with ‘smart autonomy.’ It wasn’t total autonomy, because the efforts of every part of the team were tightly linked to a common concept for the fight, but it allowed those forces to be enabled with a constant flow of ‘shared consciousness’ from across the force, and it freed them to execute actions in pursuit of the overall strategy as best they saw fit. Within our Task Force, as in a garden, the outcome was less dependent on the initial planting than on consistent maintenance. Watering, weeding, and protecting plants from rabbits and disease are essential for success. The gardener cannot actually ‘grow’ tomatoes, squash, or beans— she can only foster an environment in which the plants do so.”

Read more at … https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2018/06/17/ten-agile-axioms-that-make-managers-anxious/#51ae8abc4619

And read also:

HBR Embraces Agile At Scale

Explaining Agile

Why Agile Is Eating The World

#Dmin

DELEGATION & How to Politely Turn Down Your Boss’s Request for Additional Work

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Read more at … https://www.hbrascend.in/topics/politely-turn-bosss-request-additional-work/

PREACHING & The Surprising Power of Asking Questions #OrganicChurchBook #HarvardBusinessReview

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: When researching my Abingdon Press book, “Inside the organic church,” I found growing young churches often have sermons in which the audience is asked to respond to the preacher with live questions. Traditionalists usually found this worrisome, because they feared losing control of the learning experience. But research cited in this Harvard Business Review article demonstrates that asking questions deepens learning.  Not surprisingly, I practice questioning of my listeners in my courses, seminars and even sermons.

by Alison Wood Brooks and Leslie K. John, Harvard Business Review, May-June 2018.

“Be a good listener,” Dale Carnegie advised in his 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. “Ask questions the other person will enjoy answering.” More than 80 years later, most people still fail to heed Carnegie’s sage advice. When one of us (Alison) began studying conversations at Harvard Business School several years ago, she quickly arrived at a foundational insight: People don’t ask enough questions. In fact, among the most common complaints people make after having a conversation, such as an interview, a first date, or a work meeting, is “I wish [s/he] had asked me more questions” and “I can’t believe [s/he] didn’t ask me any questions.”

…Dating back to the 1970s, research suggests that people have conversations to accomplish some combination of two major goals: information exchange (learning) and impression management (liking). Recent research shows that asking questions achieves both.

… Not all questions are created equal. Alison’s research, using human coding and machine learning, revealed four types of questions: introductory questions (“How are you?”), mirror questions (“I’m fine. How are you?”), full-switch questions (ones that change the topic entirely), and follow-up questions (ones that solicit more information). Although each type is abundant in natural conversation, follow-up questions seem to have special power. They signal to your conversation partner that you are listening, care, and want to know more. People interacting with a partner who asks lots of follow-up questions tend to feel respected and heard.

An unexpected benefit of follow-up questions is that they don’t require much thought or preparation—indeed, they seem to come naturally to interlocutors. In Alison’s studies, the people who were told to ask more questions used more follow-up questions than any other type without being instructed to do so.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2018/05/the-surprising-power-of-questions

TRANSITIONS & What to do when people beat a path to a new pastor’s door w/ new ideas

by Ron Carucci, Harvard Business Review, 8/8/17.

A 10-year longitudinal study on executive transitions that my organization conducted found that more than 50% of executives who inherit a mess fail within their first 18 months on the job… there are six things the most effective leaders do to avoid failing in a new role…

Know the fine line between self-promotion and real help. Fearing for their very survival, people in a damaged organization will campaign at great lengths to prove their worth. My client had people beating paths to her door with ideas that had languished unheard. They were eager to offer their support, and even more eager to be seen as key players in the future she was constructing. In one debrief, she vented to me, “On one hand, some of the elements of their ideas are really good. On the other hand, they are so invested in convincing me how indispensable they are that they’ve lost objectivity about what is and isn’t feasible.” She felt obligated to hear their ideas but reluctant to offer critique, for fear of appearing not open to any ideas but her own. She knew she couldn’t symbolically accept ideas just to look like she’d listened, nor could she be the only one whose substantive ideas prevailed. She created a process of full transparency that allowed ideas to be judged on the merits of their potential impact, not on who brought them. Together, the team created a set of criteria that future solutions needed to meet, and all ideas were presented to the entire team, not just her. Further, she made it safe for each presenter to disclose any personal agenda about why they wanted their ideas adopted and what fears they had about their ideas not prevailing. She asked them to “honestly assess your idea as if you had no fears about job security.” Not only did this accelerate trust among them, it also allowed the best ideas to prevail…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2017/08/leading-effectively-when-you-inherit-a-mess

TRANSITIONS & Research finds 50%+ of leaders who inherit a mess fail w/in first 18 mo & 6 things NOT to do

by Ron Carucci, Harvard Business Review, 8/8/17.

A 10-year longitudinal study on executive transitions that my organization conducted found that more than 50% of executives who inherit a mess fail within their first 18 months on the job… there are six things the most effective leaders do to avoid failing in a new role.

Resist the temptation to emotionally distance yourself… Four weeks after my client’s arrival, I noticed a distinctive pattern in her language. When referring to the significant challenges of her new organization, she consistently spoke in third-person references — they, them, those people.

Never blame your predecessor. .. In one meeting, my client’s frustration got the best of her, and while looking over the past quarter’s budget, she blurted out, “What on earth was he thinking?” Well, since “he” isn’t there anymore, everyone else in the room was implicated by proxy.

Minimize references to past successes. …often beginning sentences with, “Well, when I was at XYZ company…” people simply shut down. I told her that those attempts to bolster her credibility were actually backfiring and that she needed to let the merits of her thinking stand on their own, without referencing where the ideas came from.

Know the fine line between self-promotion and real help. Fearing for their very survival, people in a damaged organization will campaign at great lengths to prove their worth. My client had people beating paths to her door with ideas that had languished unheard. They were eager to offer their support, and even more eager to be seen as key players in the future she was constructing. In one debrief, she vented to me, “On one hand, some of the elements of their ideas are really good. On the other hand, they are so invested in convincing me how indispensable they are that they’ve lost objectivity about what is and isn’t feasible.” She felt obligated to hear their ideas but reluctant to offer critique, for fear of appearing not open to any ideas but her own. She knew she couldn’t symbolically accept ideas just to look like she’d listened, nor could she be the only one whose substantive ideas prevailed. She created a process of full transparency that allowed ideas to be judged on the merits of their potential impact, not on who brought them. Together, the team created a set of criteria that future solutions needed to meet, and all ideas were presented to the entire team, not just her. Further, she made it safe for each presenter to disclose any personal agenda about why they wanted their ideas adopted and what fears they had about their ideas not prevailing. She asked them to “honestly assess your idea as if you had no fears about job security.” Not only did this accelerate trust among them, it also allowed the best ideas to prevail…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2017/08/leading-effectively-when-you-inherit-a-mess

TEAMWORK & Team Leaders Should Play Favorites (but Only in Moderation)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’ve been an out-group member of a leadership team as well as an in-group member, and I can confirm what we all know: the latter is preferable. But why does this happen? It has to do with experiences that are embedded in our brains. The experiences foster “LMX” for “leader-member exchange” which can be stronger with certain people than others. But it will be helpful at times and hurtful at other times. Read this Harvard Business Review article to beginning learning the difference.

by Bradley Kirkman, Hui Wang, Ning Li and Yang Sui, Harvard Business Review, 4/10/17.

…But whether leaders think it or not, one of the most consistent findings in our (and others’) research is that almost all leaders do treat members differently — mostly without knowing they’re doing it. This works a lot like subconscious biases that, when revealed to people, almost always result in feelings of surprise and embarrassment. Leaders can’t help having implicit ideas and preferences for what they want their team members to do and to be like. And those preconceived notions lead to what researchers have called “differentiation” in the level of relationship quality leaders have with members, with relationship quality often referred to as “leader-member exchange,” or LMX for short.

When a leader and a follower share a high level of LMX, that follower typically exhibits the types of positive outcomes all leaders want to see, such as high performance, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior, or going above and beyond one’s typical job responsibilities. Those with high LMX are also more committed to their companies, more satisfied with their leaders, and less likely to quit their jobs. So if high LMX generates all of these positive outcomes, why don’t leaders build high LMX levels with all of their followers? We have already mentioned the effects of implicit leader preferences — a lot of differential treatment occurs naturally and without a great deal of conscious thought. Beyond the subconscious explanation, however, is one that is more practical: leaders today simply don’t have the time necessary to build high-quality relationships with everyone in their team. This is even more complicated in lean organizations, in which many leaders have responsibility for large teams (and often several teams at once).

Fortunately, research suggests that playing favorites can be healthy for motivating high performance in teams and individual members alike. In fact, the effects of LMX differentiation — or the extent to which leaders form relationships of different quality with members in the same team — can be positive for both team and individual outcomes, depending on whether certain conditions are present. For example, our colleagues Berrin Erdogan and Talya Bauer at Portland State University found that LMX differentiation has no effects or positive effects on individual team members as long as those team members perceive that their leaders have created a team climate characterized by fairness. That is, there are no effects or positive effects when leaders provide resources to team members using fair and unbiased decision-making procedures. Specifically, Erdogan and Bauer found that more LMX differentiation was associated with increased helping behaviors among team members when members believed they were working in a fair team climate. Similarly, Bob Liden of the University of Illinois at Chicago and his colleagues found that LMX differentiation was associated with higher team performance but only when there was a high level of coordination, communication, and integration within the teams (known as team interdependence).

Read more at … https://www.hbrascend.in/topics/team-leaders-should-play-favorites-but-only-in-moderation/

NARRATIVE & Followers Don’t See Their Leaders as Real People, But a Story Can Help

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Research cited in this article indicates that people create idealized mental picture of leaders. The authors discuss ways that authentic narratives can keep leaders from being hampered by exaggerated expectations.

By Nathan T. Washburn and Benjamin Galvin, Harvard Business Review, 1/23/17.

They may be flesh and blood to the senior team and the assistants in the C-suite, but to people in outer orbits, from operational departments to business units, they are imaginary constructs. Employees create pictures of what leaders seem to be, based on the bosses’ accumulated emails, tweets, speeches, and videos, plus whatever tidbits are picked up here and there.

Companies assume, or merely hope, that people will somehow derive inspiration from these mental images of the leader. But employees are judgy; a perceived shortcoming in a leader can easily undermine the image. But the mental process of building an imaginary picture is complicated, and certain weaknesses can be interpreted as strengths, lending the image an aura of authenticity. Understanding this process can be advantageous for leaders who hope to motivate and inspire.

Our extensive research suggests there are four rules governing how people create and respond to the imaginary leaders that live in their minds.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2017/01/followers-dont-see-their-leaders-as-real-people

SENIOR WORKERS & work activities will become increasingly “age agnostic” & age stereotypes will look increasingly outdated

“Our Assumptions About Old and Young Workers Are Wrong”

by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Harvard Business Review, 11/14/16.

… To understand how people are responding to this transformation in their working lives, we developed a survey completed by more than 10,000 people from across the world aged 24 to 80.

We found far fewer differences between the age groups than we might have imagined. In fact, many of the traits and desires commonly attributed to younger people are shared by the whole workforce. Why might this be the case?

…For our recent book The 100 Year Life we calculated how long people will work. Whilst we cannot be precise, it is clear that in order to finance retirement many people currently in their fifties will work into their seventies; whilst those in their twenties could well be working into their eighties. That means that inevitably people of very different ages are increasingly working together.

This long working life, coupled with profound technological changes, dismantles the traditional three-stage life of full-time education, full-time work, and full-time retirement. In its place is coming – for all employees regardless of their age – a multi-stage life that blends education, exploration, and learning, as well as corporate jobs, freelance gigs, and time spent out of the workforce. Inevitably the variety of these stages and their possible sequencing will result in both greater variety within age cohorts, whilst also providing opportunities for different ages to engage in similar activities. In other words, work activities will become increasingly “age agnostic” and these age stereotypes will look increasingly outdated.

…The people in our study overturned these stereotypes:

  • It is not just the young who are investing in new skills…Certainly a higher proportion of those aged 18-30 (91%) and 31-45 (72%) felt they were investing in new skills but after the age of 45 almost 60% of all ages said they were actively investing…
  • It is not just the young who are positive and excited by their workWhat was striking was that whatever their age, those feeling positive about their work was a constant at just over 50%. Just as striking is the proportion of people of all ages who don’t feel positive about their work…
  • Older people are working harder to keep fit. We know that vitality is central to a long productive life and it is easy to imagine that it’s only the young who really care about their fitness. Yet we discovered that it is the older who are working hardest to try to keep fit. About half of those under 45 actively try to keep fit, rising continuously across the ages with a peak of 71% for those aged over 70.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/11/our-assumptions-about-old-and-young-workers-are-wrong

LEADERSHIP SKILLS & How the Best CEOs Differ from Average Ones

by Dean Stamoulis, Harvard Business Review, 11/15/16.

…We chose an in-depth approach, creating detailed psychometric profiles of 200 global CEOs, using the results of three well-established psychometric instruments: the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF), which provides an overall measure of adult personality, including interpersonal skills, emotional factors, resiliency, and communication style; the Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ-32), which measures management and leadership style and behavior, including how people try to influence others, their approaches to innovative thinking, and self-motivation; and the Hogan Development Survey, which measures areas for development or potential derailing factors in managers and executives, including their decision-making style and independence of thinking…

As for the stereotypes, while we confirmed that CEOs in general are more likely to be risk takers than other executives, we did not find that they are consistently extroverted or self-promoting.
In addition, six other traits differentiate the typical.

CEO from other executives on a statistically significant basis:

  • drive and resilience
  • original thinking
  • the ability to visualize the future
  • team building
  • being an active communicator
  • the ability to catalyze others to action…

When we compared the results of the best-performing CEOs to those of their less successful peers, we found that best-in-class CEOs stand out in three ways:

1) They show a greater sense of purpose and mission, and demonstrate passion and urgency…

2) They value substance and going straight to the core of the issue. They have an ability to rise above the details and understand the larger picture and context. They have a keen sense of priorities as they think and act. We summarize this as an ability to “separate the signal from the noise…”

3) They have a greater focus on the organization, outcomes and results, and others than on themselves. They “know what they don’t know” and have an ability to be open-minded, seek additional information, and actively learn. This notion of a relatively modest CEO is counterintuitive for many. At the same time, there has been a good deal of writing about the usefulness of humility in CEOs. Our finding is data-based evidence that the Level 5 CEOs described in Jim Collins’s book Good to Great — leaders who are “a study in duality: modest and willful, shy and fearless” — can be related to desirable organizational results. Warren Buffett is a wonderful example of how this set of traits can play out in a leader: Despite overseeing what could be considered one of the most successful companies ever founded, Buffett estimates that he spends 80% of his day learning in an effort to understand businesses, markets, and opportunities…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/11/how-the-best-ceos-differ-from-average-ones

LEADERS & The Difference Between Good Leaders and Great Ones #OrganixBook

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This article from Harvard Business Review illustrates what I try to communicate to my students. And that is, that “great” leadership which revolves around forceful leading in times of danger or calamity is very different from “good” leadership which often is more collaborative and utilized in times of relative harmony. I outline the differences in the book ORGANIX. Read this article to understand more of the nuanced differences.

The Difference Between Good Leaders and Great Ones

by James R. Bailey, Harvard Business Review, 9/23/16.

…That anyone can develop as a leader is not in question. What I dispute is the stubborn resolve that great and good are points along the same stream. That just isn’t so. Great leadership and good leadership have distinctly different characteristics and paths. Leadership is not one-dimensional. It can be great and good, or one but not the other, or neither.

Uses of “great” usually begin with descriptions of being unusually intense or powerful, either “to great effect” or “a great effort.” In that sense, great is a force. True, great also means “excellent,” but that is not its primary meaning. As for “good,” we usually reference morality, virtue, and ethics — “a good person” or “a good decision.” Good can refer to the quality of something — contrasted against the commonly understood opposite, bad — but in this context good refers to the direction in which behavior is compelled.

Great leadership is powerful, dominating, often overwhelming. It can sweep people along through sheer animation. Great leadership excites, energizes, and stimulates. It’s a rousing call, shocking complacency and inertia into action. It’s one of the most potent pulls in human history, and as such accounts for much of humanity’s progress, as well as its suffering. While it ignites collective action and stirs passion, its direction depends largely on those that wield its power. Great has no inherent moral compass, and thus its unpredictable potency can just as easily be put toward pugilistic and peaceful purposes.

To speak of good leadership is to speak of protecting and advancing widely accepted principles through means to ends. It denotes doing the “right” thing. There may be legitimate differences in interpretation of what’s right and wrong, but long-standing ethics, mores, and customs of conduct that have allowed individuals and collectives to survive and thrive are remarkably similar across culture and time. Good heeds the best interests and welfare of others.

Good leadership is not as arresting as great leadership. When good rules the day, it’s not so noticeable, as things are transpiring as they should. Great is dramatic, whereas good is the blended background, a values-based screen upon which great deeds unfold. This accounts for why the force of great often overshadows the direction of good.

The tug between great and good leadership is one of perpetual and dynamic coexistence. There is great — a force that is often inexplicable, occasionally irrational, and, importantly, intermittently ungovernable. Then there is good — a direction that is north-star true, providing the point of values of mutual benefit. The former moves, the latter aspires. The figure below illustrates the relationship.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/09/the-difference-between-good-leaders-and-great-ones

TRANSFORMATION & This Chart Reminds Us That People Value an Organization That Helps Change Lives

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: This pyramidal chart demonstrates that one of the highest needs for people today is to change their life for the better. This is exactly what Christ offers and the Church participates in this better than it entertains. I have argued tirelessly for a need-based church in lieu of an entertainment-based ecclesiology. So read this Harvard Business Review article for additional validation.

The Elements of Value

by Eric AlmquistJohn SeniorNicolas Bloch, Harvard Business Review, 9/16.

The amount and nature of value in a particular product or service always lie in the eye of the beholder, of course. Yet universal building blocks of value do exist, creating opportunities for companies to improve their performance in current markets or break into new ones. A rigorous model of consumer value allows a company to come up with new combinations of value that its products and services could deliver. The right combinations, our analysis shows, pay off in stronger customer loyalty, greater consumer willingness to try a particular brand, and sustained revenue growth.

We have identified 30 “elements of value”—fundamental attributes in their most essential and discrete forms. These elements fall into four categories: functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact. Some elements are more inwardly focused, primarily addressing consumers’ personal needs. For example, the life-changing element motivation is at the core of Fitbit’s exercise-tracking products. Others are outwardly focused, helping customers interact in or navigate the external world. The functional element organizes is central to The Container Store and Intuit’s TurboTax, because both help consumers deal with complexities in their world.

R1609C_ALMQUIST_VALUEPYRAMID

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/09/the-elements-of-value

EQ & How Emotional Intelligence Is Defined & How It Became a Key Leadership Skill

by Andrea Ovans, Harvard Business Review, 4/28/15.

…The term was coined in 1990 in a research paper by two psychology professors, John D. Mayer of UNH and Peter Salovey of Yale. Some years later, Mayer defined it in HBR this way:

From a scientific (rather than a popular) standpoint, emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions. It doesn’t necessarily include the qualities (like optimism, initiative, and self-confidence) that some popular definitions ascribe to it.

It took almost a decade after the term was coined for Rutgers psychologist Daniel Goleman to establish the importance of emotional intelligence to business leadership. In 1998, in what has become one of HBR’s most enduring articles, “What Makes a Leader,” he states unequivocally:

The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: they all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. My research, along with other recent studies, clearly shows that emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive, analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.

The article then goes on to introduce five components of emotional intelligence that allow individuals to recognize, connect with, and learn from their own and other people’s mental states:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation (defined as “a passion for work that goes beyond money and status”)
  • Empathy for others
  • Social skills, such as proficiency in managing relationships and building networks

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2015/04/how-emotional-intelligence-became-a-key-leadership-skill

HIERARCHIES & Why It Increases the Risk of Calamitous Decisions

by Gary Hamel, Harvard Business Review, 12/11.

… the typical management hierarchy increases the risk of large, calamitous decisions.

  • As decisions get bigger, the ranks of those able to challenge the decision maker get smaller.
    • Hubris, myopia, and naïveté can lead to bad judgment at any level,
    • but the danger is greatest when the decision maker’s power is, for all purposes, uncontestable.
  • Give someone monarchlike authority, and sooner or later there will be a royal screwup.

A related problem is that the most powerful managers are the ones furthest from frontline realities. All too often, decisions made on an Olympian peak prove to be unworkable on the ground.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2011/12/first-lets-fire-all-the-managers

COLLABORATIVE LEADERSHIP & Why A Flat Organization is Better Than a Hierarchy for the Small & Midsized Org.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Most nonprofits and churches, with under 50 full time employees, work better as a “flat organization.” Read this comparison between the creativity and speed created in the flat organization vs. the typical hierarchal model. Moving to a hierarchical model when a church or nonprofit is small is one of the main factors that holds back their creativity and growth (ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church, chpt. “N: Networked“).

Research: Narcissists Don’t Like Flat Organizations

by Emily Zitek and Alex Jordan, Harvard Business Review, 7/27/16.

Flat organizations are having a moment. Research has shown that reducing hierarchy can lead to more satisfied employees and speedier decision making, and some companies have concluded that flatter structures would work better. Zappos, for example, became a “holocracy” in order to empower employees to act like entrepreneurs. Similarly, Treehouse eliminated managers after noticing that “people had really great ideas but were powerless to implement them.”

But hierarchy does have its merits. It helps people learn relationships in the organization and satisfies a psychological need for order. Moreover, hierarchies perform well when the product requires coordination

We wanted to know how hierarchy might influence the type of talent organizations can attract and retain. Our forthcoming paper in Social Psychological and Personality Science shows hierarchies and flat organizations attract different kinds of workers. We conducted a series of studies to understand how narcissism—a personality trait involving exaggerated self-worth, a sense of entitlement, and a desire for authority—relates to people’s organizational preference.

In our research, people’s level of narcissism was measured by their agreement or disagreement with a series of statements such as “I will be a success” and “I think I am a special person.” Participants then answered questions about how much they would want to work in a hierarchical organization.

Our research shows that people with narcissistic traits had a stronger desire to work in a hierarchical organization, compared to less narcissistic people. Why? They believed they would perform well and thus rise to the top. However, after learning about a hierarchical organization in which none of the high ranking people would be leaving the organization anytime soon, narcissists actually wanted to work there less than non-narcissistic participants did.

Thus, narcissists like hierarchical organizations because they think they will rise to high ranks and reap status and power. Narcissists are less interested in hierarchies where there is little opportunity for upward mobility. The same goes for flatter organizations, where there are fewer high ranks to attain…

Is it good or bad to have narcissistic employees?

That depends on your company. When negotiating with a client, do you just want to make the most money, or do you also care about maintaining a good relationship? Narcissists win more in negotiations, but they are also disliked by the other party. Do you value creativity? If so, it might be good to have some narcissists (not too few and not too many) because groups generate more creative ideas this way. Are you working in an industry where seeking risk is rewarded, or one where risk aversion is more valuable? Studies of CEOs have demonstrated that more narcissistic leaders show a greater bias toward action and more aggressive pursuit of potential rewards, and they pay less attention to mitigating risk.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/07/research-narcissists-dont-like-flat-organizations

EMPLOYEES & Invest in Them to Enhance Their Productivity

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy, Harvard Business Review, 10/07.

…To effectively reenergize their workforces, organizations need to shift their emphasis from getting more out of people to investing more in them, so they are motivated—and able—to bring more of themselves to work every day. To recharge themselves, individuals need to recognize the costs of energy-depleting behaviors and then take responsibility for changing them, regardless of the circumstances they’re facing.

…People tap into the energy of the human spirit when their everyday work and activities are consistent with what they value most and with what gives them a sense of meaning and purpose. If the work they’re doing really matters to them, they typically feel more positive energy, focus better, and demonstrate greater perseverance. Regrettably, the high demands and fast pace of corporate life don’t leave much time to pay attention to these issues, and many people don’t even recognize meaning and purpose as potential sources of energy. Indeed, if we tried to begin our program by focusing on the human spirit, it would likely have minimal impact. Only when participants have experienced the value of the rituals they establish in the other dimensions do they start to see that being attentive to their own deeper needs dramatically influences their effectiveness and satisfaction at work.

… To access the energy of the human spirit, people need to clarify priorities and establish accompanying rituals in three categories: doing what they do best and enjoy most at work; consciously allocating time and energy to the areas of their lives—work, family, health, service to others—they deem most important; and living their core values in their daily behaviors.

To help program participants discover their areas of strength, we ask them to recall at least two work experiences in the past several months during which they found themselves in their “sweet spot”—feeling effective, effortlessly absorbed, inspired, and fulfilled. Then we have them deconstruct those experiences to understand precisely what energized them so positively and what specific talents they were drawing on. If leading strategy feels like a sweet spot, for example, is it being in charge that’s most invigorating or participating in a creative endeavor? Or is it using a skill that comes to you easily and so feels good to exercise? Finally, we have people establish a ritual that will encourage them to do more of exactly that kind of activity at work…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2007/10/manage-your-energy-not-your-time