Archive for the ‘Leadership and Management’ Category

How to Lead a Quest.jpgToday’s business environment is highly dynamic, making anticipating the future more complicated than ever. Market shifts can catch organizations off guard and lead to lasting problems. In How to Lead a Quest, Dr. Jason Fox suggests that pioneering leadership can help leaders effectively address issues in today’s market. The key to this approach is exploring several potential scenarios that a company may face and developing strategies to support each one. The result is a more flexible and dynamic leadership methodology.

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is sustaining growth. In How to Lead a Quest, Dr. Jason Fox offers a new approach to growth that he calls pioneering leadership:

  • Pioneering leadership relies on exploration outside the scope of an organization’s default ways of thinking and operating. This requires four leadership superpowers: imagination, curiosity, doubt, and wonder. This form of exploration can also be referred to as Quest-Augmented Strategy.
  • To prepare an organization for the future, its leaders must build a quiverof options. The best way to decide if an option is viable is to form hypotheses and conduct experiments.
  • Experiments may end in failure, but some forms of failure are better than others. Failures that should be avoided include corruption, deviance, apathy, pessimism, and willful ignorance. Failures that suggest change is needed include distraction, inadequate processes, and lack of ability. Failures to be celebrated include quitting after careful consideration and lack of perfection.

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The Human WayAfter many years of study, reflection, and practical experience as a manager, Kelly Odell identified 10 essential elements of successful leadership. These factors transcend varying organizational cultures and differences in individual personalities. In The Human Way, Odell presents his 10 commandments to transform managers into leaders. They present a values-based approach to leadership that is independent of specific activities, behaviors, and skills. Successful leaders are not perfect and do not always make the right decisions; rather, they understand and accept their own humanity, which allows them to achieve success.

There are 10 critical elements to successful leadership. Leaders should:

1. Be humble. To lead is also to serve.

2. Dare to delegate. A manager’s job is to lead, not have all the answers.

3. Maintain their freedom. A leader should always be able to afford to tell his or her employer to get lost.

4. Take risks. Losing a job is not the worst thing that can happen to a leader. In some cases, it may be the best thing.

5. Deliver actual results. Leaders should not worry about office politics. In the long run, results are what counts.

6. Be inspired and inspire others. Leaders need to be passionate about their jobs and evoke that same passion in others.

7. Base decisions on facts. Intuition is better than no information, but facts are best.

8. Say what they think. Leaders should create a workplace culture that encourages open communication.

9. Support their staff. Employees work for a manager of their own free will.

10. Go from manager to leader. Organizations appoint managers; employees decide whether their managers are also their leaders.

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The Serving LeaderThe Serving Leader by Kenneth R. Jennings and John Stahl-Wert showcases the powerful yet paradoxical method of achieving greatness by serving others. They intertwine tales of an estranged son and his dying father within the lessons to provide insight into the five actions anyone can take to transform his or her organization or community. Serving Leadership has power and value in many different types of environments, including industries, nonprofits, schools, homes, and churches. The best Serving Leaders turn everything the world knows about traditional leadership upside down and achieve amazing results by doing so.

Serving Leaders must follow five specific and powerful actions if they want to totally transform their businesses, communities, or teams. While these five actions seem paradoxical, they have been proven to yield extraordinary outcomes:

  1. Run to great purpose. Every person, team, organization, or community needs a purpose to help fuel their work. Serving Leaders are people in pursuit of a great purpose. They articulate this purpose in a way that is so compelling that people are willing to run toward it. The leaders set the pace, and this spirit gets transferred to the people they serve.
  2. Upend the pyramid. In a traditional leadership environment, the leader is at the top of the pyramid looking down on all his or her workers, team members, and community citizens. But in a Serving Leadership environment, the pyramid is flipped upside down. In this scenario, the leaders put other people first. They give credit to others before themselves. In doing this, the people they build up will do the same for those they work with. The cycle continues.
  3. Raise the bar. While on the surface Serving Leadership seems soft, it is the opposite. In Serving Leadership environments, standards are very high. No one can join the team unless they meet very rigid criteria. Once they are there, high expectations for performance are placed on them. Mistakes may happen and can be forgiven, but training and corrections are immediately put into place. Those who cannot perform even after extensive coaching are let go.
  4. Blaze the trail. There are often very tough barriers for people to get through on the road to success. Serving Leaders move those barriers and eliminate obstacles to make success easier for those they are leading.
  5. Build on strength. While it may be common for people to think they need to work on their weaknesses, in a Serving Leadership environment, people focus on their strengths. They know their weaknesses but instead of trying to fix them, they find other people who are strong in that area and bring them onto the team.

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20-minute-manager-running-virtual-meetingsFor managers and leaders, running effective virtual meetings–from conference calls to WebEx meetings–can come with an array of obstacles. Silences, interruptions, technical issues, and cultural differences can all add a degree of difficulty to hosting any kind of virtual meeting. 20 Minute Manager: Running Virtual Meetings from Harvard Business Review Press gives leaders the tools to choose the right channel for virtual meetings to take place, to prepare the materials necessary to keep participants meaningfully engaged, and to hold meeting members accountable for the meeting content, even from a distance.

Leading virtual meetings requires preparation, energy, focus, and discipline. A meeting leader can feel confident in executing the best virtual meeting possible by using the following guidelines presented by Harvard Business Review Press:

  • When planning a virtual meeting, it is important to decide whether or not the meeting is even necessary. The meeting leader must consider what is trying to be achieved, who the essential contributors to the meeting are, and whether everyone is ready to meet.
  • Successful virtual meetings are dependent on the technological tools used. If the right technology platform is not used to host the meeting, team members will be unwilling or unable to participate. A tech czar should be appointed to deal with any technology-related issues during the meeting so the leader can keep the meeting on track.
  • Prior to the meeting, information concerning the meeting process, protocols, etiquette, and roles for each participant should be clarified.
  • The leader must conduct the meeting in a smooth and controlled manner. The leader should be sure to log in early, test all technology, and facilitate the conversation with a calm and disciplined demeanor. Follow-up measures should be taken to avoid miscommunication.

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120660747Business leaders often become “human doings” rather than “human beings,” ignoring the inner landscapes that inform their decisions. In 4D Leadership, Dr. Alan Watkins presents the Enlightened Leadership Model, a framework that takes four dimensions of leadership into consideration: being, short-term doing, long-term doing, and relating. Multidimensional leaders who excel in all four areas are not just better at business–they are happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.

The author believes that:

  • Business leaders face increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (also known as VUCA). As job descriptions change and organizational pressures mount, executives face burnout and fall out of touch with their inner lives.
  • Effective leaders excel in four dimensions: personal performance, commercial performance, market leadership, and people leadership. Too often, executives are evaluated only on their external actions and not on the foundational skills that they should cultivate.
  • Turning down the pressure can actually turn up performance in executives. Today’s corporate environment often relies on a pressure-cooker atmosphere at the expense of the mental and physical health of workers. This means that workers waste precious time and energy trying to meet unrealistic expectations instead of cultivating productive business relationships.
  • Leaders’ internal worlds are just as important, if not more so, than external actions. Sophisticated internal landscapes underlie all great leadership decisions. However, the interior is often ignored by both leaders and organizations.
  • Relationships are the most underrated facet of business leadership. Leaders should try to develop second-person perspectives instead of first-person outlooks.

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Digital to the CoreDigital technology is upending entire industries within a very short time, and there is considerably more change to come. In Digital to the Core, Mark Raskino and Graham Waller of Gartner, Inc. demonstrate how leaders today must bring digital to the center of everything they do. The authors examine how digital business will cause greater disruptions and demand more significant business changes than the Internet technology of the past did. Taking digital to the core requires “remastery” of one’s industry, enterprise, and self, and it promises to be the only way leaders can help their organizations both survive and thrive.

Too few companies have acknowledged how radically digital and information technology will disrupt and transform their industries. At each level of business–industry, enterprise, and leader–the following three digital disruptive forces require change and adaptation:

  1. Resolution revolution: Precision in understanding data and in controlling objects, services, and outcomes is increasing exponentially. The ability of sensors, 3D printing, cloud computing, and remotely controlled objects to deliver greater detail and accuracy improves every year and creates a myriad of new business opportunities and challenges.
  2. Compound uncertainty: Digital change upends the mind-sets, organizational structures, and practices that business leaders were once successful with. Uncertainty is compounded by being spread across three key areas: technology, culture, and regulation. Success requires finding a triple tipping point where the three areas are ready to adapt or be revolutionized.
  3. Boundary blurring: The intersection of the physical and digital worlds blurs many boundaries. A company’s core product, its value proposition, its designated industry, its division of responsibility among departments, and more all become blurred by digital business. Digital is no longer a support function controlled by an IT department; it must permeate the whole enterprise.

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What Great Service Leaders Know & DoIn What Great Service Leaders Know & Do, James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser Jr., and Leonard A. Schlesinger leverage their extensive research and personal experience at the forefront of the service industry to pinpoint what makes standout service firms like Southwest Airlines and IKEA so successful. The book takes an analytical approach but keeps the human element at its core, recognizing that success in service begins and ends with front-line employees.

According to the authors:

  • The goal of any business is to provide the highest value at the lowest cost. Service companies need to remember to deliver value to not only their customers but also their employees and their investors in order to remain profitable.
  • Companies need to have a clear understanding of their target markets. Just as they must know who they are selling to, service leaders need to understand who they are notselling to. All marketing strategies and subsequent support systems should be developed with the target market in mind.
  • Most businesses rated as the “best places to work” also rate highest in customer satisfaction. Customer engagement is dependent on employee engagement.
  • Employees are more important to service companies than to any other kind of business. Employees must be hired carefully based on their attitudes, trained effectively to become knowledgeable in their roles, and provided with a support system that keeps them engaged.
  • Technology makes up a powerful and effective component of a support system, but care must be given to prevent employees from relying on it to do their jobs for them. Technology should make employees more efficient and effective. The level of appropriate technology is highly dependent on the type of service business in question.
  • Customer ownership is about making customers feel as though they have a stake in the company. Customers feel a sense of pride in participating with companies, and studies have shown that the loyal minority of repeat customers are worth far more than first-time customers.

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