Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

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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superbossesThere are a few lucky people in the world today who have been managed and mentored by excellent bosses. These bosses motivate, coach, and inspire employees in consistent but unconventional ways. Sydney Finkelstein researched how these leaders operate and documented his finding in Superbosses, which outlines the differences between traditional managers and these unique leaders and highlights their best practices. The result is a playbook that others can use to enhance their own managerial and leadership skills.

Superbosses are a unique category of supervisor. They recruit, motivate, coach, and inspire employees in consistent but unconventional ways. Research conducted by Sydney Finkelstein highlights the following facts about superbosses:

  • Superbosses typically fall into one of three categories: Iconoclasts, Glorious Bastards, and Nurturers. Iconoclasts are fixated on their work, Glorious Bastards are focused on winning at all costs, and Nurturers guide their employees to reach their maximum potential.
  • Superbosses share five characteristics. They are highly confident, competitive, imaginative, authentic, and they possess high levels of integrity.
  • When hiring, superbosses follow their own rules. They look for people with unusual intelligence, creativity, and extreme flexibility. Superbosses tend to be opportunistic when it comes to hiring.
  • Superbosses become talent magnets. As star employees leave for other opportunities, there is a continual pipeline of new, promising talent waiting in the wings.
  • Superbosses expect world class performance from employees. They inspire performance and instill self-confidence in their protégés.
  • Superbosses are innovators and expect employees to be innovative also. They encourage risk taking and rule breaking, view failure as opportunities, and refuse to accept complacency.
  • Superbosses embrace the apprenticeship model. They offer mentoring to employees and take responsibility for their growth and development.
  • Superbosses are skilled delegators. They understand the details of their businesses. After delegating tasks, they leave employees alone if things are going well. If things go awry they step in and take action.

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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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InBecoming the Boss Becoming the Boss, Lindsey Pollak provides insight on leadership styles, communicating, and resolving people issues for those who aspire to become business leaders, especially individuals in the millennial generation. The book covers preparation, personal branding, essential leadership qualities, prioritizing, delegating, and career growth. It also discusses the value of having mentors and mentoring others.

According to Pollak:

  • Before leading others, leaders must learn to lead themselves. They can build the right mind-sets and attitudes by reading, networking, training, and practicing leadership in their everyday lives. They must then craft their own personal leadership brands that incorporate four essential elements: visibility, differentiation, consistency, and authenticity.
  • By attending to their online personas, leaders can work to eliminate negative information and build positive virtual brands. Social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be useful places to post professional biographies and links.
    The best leaders are good listeners. Listening helps leaders learn about their employees, communicate their expectations, and show others that they value outside input.
  • Leaders must communicate using the most effective and appropriate methods available. Conveying very sensitive information in person is usually the best choice. Emailing is appropriate for nearly all communications, but phone calls work best for urgent matters. Texting and instant messaging are quick and effective communication methods, but they should be reserved for casual interactions.
  • Leaders must delegate and prioritize tasks in order of their importance. They should give their full attention to each task rather than multitasking, and assign any work that does not require their personal attention to their employees.
  • Mentors help leaders achieve their career goals. There are five types of mentors: traditional, co-mentors, sponsors, peers, and parents.
  • Professional growth never ends. Leaders who decide to be great, stay humble, make committed decisions, and make their own rules are the most likely to reach their goals.

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EPExecutive Presence by Sylvia Ann Hewlett is a guide for leaders seeking to achieve the top level of success in their respective fields. While actual talent, training, and proven abilities are important factors in whether someone is successful or not, there are also some intangible qualities that all people who have achieved success have managed to perfect. These qualities are just as essential to master, yet many people are oblivious to their importance. Executive presence (EP) is the unknown quality that some people appear to have and others do not. Luckily, most of the elements of EP can be learned.

The three main pillars of executive presence are:

  1. Gravitas: All aspects of a person’s behavior. Leaders with strong gravitas exude confidence, decisiveness, integrity, emotional intelligence, reputation, and vision.
  2. Communication: How a person talks, including formal presentation skills. Top communication traits include superior speaking skills, the ability to command a room, forcefulness, the ability to read people, a sense of humor, and body language.
  3. Appearance: How a person looks. It is important for leaders to be well groomed, be physically fit, and wear simple, stylish clothing.

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