Improving Your Personal Effectiveness

3 Ways to Improve How You Work

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

improve2

We are often so busy doing the work that we forget to take a step back and give ourselves the time to focus and re-energize ourselves.  Here are 3 tips for improving your personal effectiveness, no matter what you do.

1. Boost your personal efficiency
When looking at profit improvement potential (or waste) in a business it is often said it is easy to identify 30% of your current overheads as ‘waste’. The same can be said if you audited yourself for your levels of efficiency. 30% of what you do on a day-to-day basis is waste. Outside the box ways to boost your efficiency are required. Some key tips are:

  • Hire a Virtual Assistant to prevent you performing tasks you don’t have to
  • Stop doing many of the things that are not in the 20% of things you do which create 80% of the benefit
  • Build processes and document all aspects of your business you currently do ‘naturally’ so you can delegate more of what you do
  • Use the latest technology platforms such as Ipads, Livescribe pens and various apps to better collect your notes, ideas, strategies and increase your speed in finding them at a later date

2. Protect your energy levels
Think of the networks of people in business and personally you associate with on a regular basis.  Are these people providing you a boost in your energy levels when you connect with them or are they taking away your valuable energy levels (acting as what we call ‘Energy Vampires’)?  If you have the balance wrong and have a large portion acting as ‘Energy Vampires’ it can have a detrimental effect on your ability to implement change and deliver the outcomes you are seeking.  Perform a quick audit on your circle of business and personal contacts; what do you have to change?

3. What is your ‘theme’ for the next 12 months?
Having a theme for your plans for the next 12 months can help focus more acutely your team, customers and importantly yourself on what’s important when driving strategies / actions. Themes could include: “Innovation”, “Growth”, “Efficiency”, “Profit”, “Downsize”, “Consolidate” or “Improve Life Balance”.

What has worked or not worked for you? Share your knowledge, share the wealth!

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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Using the Leadership Grid to be an Adaptive Leader

The Trials of Leadership Styles

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Adapting your leadership style for effective results – balancing task- and people-oriented leadership.

Leadership Styles

When organizing a company meeting what do you, or the individual you have delegated to, do first?  Do you develop the timeline and associated task, or do you consider who would prefer to do what and then try to develop an approach and schedule around their needs?  And how do you respond if you fall behind schedule – do you focus on the tasks or the people?

How you answer the above can reveal your preferred personal leadership style, these can be:

  • Task-oriented – you focus on getting things done, you are more production or task-focused;
  • People-oriented – you want to people to be happy, you are more people-focused;
  • A blend of both.

Neither preference is right or wrong, just as no one type of leadership style is best for all situations. However, it’s useful to understand what your natural leadership tendencies are, so that you can then begin working on developing skills that you or your reports may be missing.

Understanding the Leadership Grid

The Leadership Grid is based on two behavioural dimensions:

  • Concern for People – this is the degree to which a leader considers the needs of team members, their interests, and areas of personal development when deciding how best to accomplish a task.
  • Concern for Production – this is the degree to which a leader emphasizes concrete objectives, organizational efficiency and high productivity when deciding how best to accomplish a task.

In the Leadership Grip below there are five leadership styles.

  Leadership Grid 2a

The Leadership Grid highlights how placing too much emphasis in one area at the expense of the other leads to low overall productivity.  However, when both people and production concerns are high, employee engagement and productivity increases accordingly.

The Five Leadership Styles

Impoverished Leadership – Low Production/Low People (A)

This leader is mostly ineffective. He/she has neither a high regard for creating systems for getting the job done, nor for creating a work environment that is satisfying and motivating. Often typified by a delegate-and-disappear management style, the leader of manger shows a low concern for both people and production. He (or she) avoids getting into trouble. His main concern is not to be held responsible for any mistakes. Managers use this style to preserve job and job seniority, protecting themselves by avoiding getting into trouble. The result is a place of disorganization, dissatisfaction and disharmony.

Produce or Perish Leadership – High Production/Low People (B)

Also known as authoritarian or compliance leaders, people in this category believe that employees are simply a means to an end. Employee needs are always secondary to the need for efficient and productive workplaces. There is little or no allowance for cooperation or collaboration. This type of leader is very autocratic, has strict work rules, policies, and procedures, and views punishment as the most effective means to motivate employees.  Although results may be achieved in the short-term it is not sustainable in the long-term as employees become disengaged and employee turnover increases.

Middle-of-the-Road Leadership – Medium Production/Medium People (C)

This style seems to be a balance of the two competing concerns. It may at first appear to be an ideal compromise. Therein lies the problem: when you compromise, you necessarily give away a bit of each concern so that neither production nor people needs are fully met. Leaders who use this style settle for average performance and often believe that this is the most anyone can expect.

Country Club Leadership – High People/Low Production (D)

This style of leader is most concerned about the needs and feelings of members of his/her team. These people operate under the assumption that as long as team members are happy and secure then they will work hard. The leader or manager is almost incapable of employing the more punitive, coercive and legitimate powers fearing that using such powers could jeopardize relationships with the other team members. The organization will end up with a friendly atmosphere, but not necessarily very productive due to a lack of direction and control.

Team Leadership – High Production/High People (E)

This is the pinnacle of leadership style. These leaders stress production needs and the needs of the people equally highly. The premise here is that employees are involved in understanding organizational purpose and determining production needs. When employees are committed to, and have a stake in the organization’s success, their needs and production needs coincide. This creates a team environment based on trust and respect, which leads to high satisfaction and motivation and, as a result, high production.

Applying the Leadership Grid

1.      Identify the Current Leadership Style

What is your current leadership style?  Review past and current situations where you have been the leader.  For each situation mark your position on the matrix.  What themes or trends can you identify?  Why have you put yourself there?  What was the outcome for using that style? Use the template below to assess yourself.

2.      Identify areas of improvement and develop your leadership skills?

Are you more task-focused or people-focused?  How effective are the leadership styles you are using?  Are you in the middle-of-the-road?  If so, do you need to operate outside your comfort zone?  Are you too task-focused?  If so, what people skills do you need to develop?  Are you too people-focused?  If so, what do you need to do develop task-related skills?

Leadership Grid

3.      Monitor, Review and Solicit Feedback

Get others to assist you in this and to share their perspective and reasoning in a constructive manner.  This is an on-going process, not a one-off event.

Summary

Being aware of the various approaches is the first step in understanding and improving how well you or your reports perform as a leader or manager. It can also help you to anticipate how you lead can impact the level of employee engagement either positively or negatively.

At different times and for different situations you will find that you will adapt your leadership style – there is no one style that can be universally applied to produce the results and the people that you want to develop and achieve.  However, the Leadership Grid provides you with a tool by which to assess the alternative styles that are available to you.

Don’t treat the Leadership Grid as the “ultimate truth” – it is only there to provide input for you to consider when trying to determine and understand what is the most effective leadership style for you to use given your situation, the context of the situation (including its seriousness, urgency and whether it will become more acute if left unaddressed), your current skills and capabilities, your experience and your people.

Finally, don’t forget to use this tool with your own reports – a great leader develops his or her people.

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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

The One Thing You Need to be Successful

And the answer is……

So you want to be successful? But is that enough to be so? We all know that just because you want something does not make it so. Success requires one thing and one thing only – action!

To be successful needs a massive amount of effort on a consistent and ongoing basis – if you are only prepared to work from 9-5 then be prepared to be disappointed with what you achieve, you will fall short of your expectations. This is especially true when you start out when you need overcome a considerable amount of inertia and create momentum.  I am not saying here that you need to be a workaholic doing 16-hour days continuously, but you will have to be prepared to work harder than others so you can be more successful than they are. And you need to work smart in doing so.

Even if you have put in the time and effort necessary to be successful it does not mean that you will be.  Your success is relative to that which other people achieve. This does not make it a zero-sum game, quite the contrary; other people’s success can create the conditions and opportunities for you to be successful. Think of Facebook or Google; neither could have been successful if it had not been for those who had created the Internet. Success is not a fixed pie, where someone else’s success means your opportunity for success is diminished; rather it is a growing pie where success begets more success.

To be successful requires you to take action, and to do so on a scale that is greater than others – not just an incremental effort over and above that of your competitors. If you do this, and you are successful, then is it enough? In short, no. To be successful requires a massive effort, and to continue to be more successful requires even greater effort.

So what do you need to do to be successful and to continue to be successful? The answer is in the question – it is you.  It is you who needs to take action consistently; it is you who needs to be continually self-motivated; it is you who needs to see the setbacks, problems, and difficulties as opportunities to grow and achieve even more; it is you who has to be always hungry and looking to improve what you do and how you do it; it is you who takes responsibility for the results you achieve (or don’t) and looks to improve.

To be successful is a choice. What will you choose?

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here. 

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Don’t Be the Expert!

What to do when your team is better than you! 

Leaders often have individuals working with them who know more than the leader does. This is part of being a leader when you have responsibility for areas outside your specialty or expertise where your reports know more than you do.  They will ask questions that you cannot answer and may not even understand.

So what do you do?

Firstly, you don’t want to become an expert in all these areas – in doing that you are looking to improve your weaknesses rather than leveraging your strengths.  You are also undermining your own position, that as a leader without expertise.

You want to focus on building and leveraging the relationships you have with your team, it is not about being an expert in the facts. Spend time with your people, get to know them, and understand what motivates them and how to work with them effectively.

Secondly, as a leader, you provide value not by doing the work of an expert, but by enabling things to happen. Your role is to get the roadblocks out of their way so they can be successful. In doing this you also need to take a more strategic overview and approach, rather than being tactical and hands-on.

Here you are a leader – leading people and change, sharing and inspiring confidence even when you don’t have the answers or know the answers. Your role as a leader is to bring out the best in others, even when they know more than you.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

The Benefits of Building Connection

How creating a “connection culture” can drive business results & the bottom-line

We are all living and working in an increasingly volatile environment where accelerating change is the norm. This, with the fact that most people like to live and work within their comfort zone, can cause problems for leaders and their businesses as people strive to cope with change whilst keeping some semblance of control.

As result of the rapid change people experience they often feel disconnected and disengaged in what they do. Unfortunately, since 2000 nearly 75 percent of people working in the United States have been disengaged with their jobs (Gallup 2013b). As leaders, to deal with this, we have to create an environment of connection where people can feel reconnected and they can choose to connect and engage themselves with those people around them, and in what they do.

Connection in the workplace is an emotional bond. It is based on shared identity, empathy and understanding that moves primarily self-centered individuals towards becoming group-centred members. As the connection is an emotional bond it is intangible, but we can sense it in our relationships.  When it is present, we feel the energy, empathy, and affirmation, and are more open; when it is absent, we experience neutral or even negative feelings.

When people look for connection, and they always do, they do so in a variety of ways including how they connect to other people (relational); to their work (task mastery); and to a sense of purpose (existential). These can be summarized below:

6 Connection Needs of People

Connection Needs Needs Type Description
  • Respect
Relational Needs Being around people who recognize us and who are courteous and considerate.
  • Recognition
Relational Needs Where we are recognized by other people for what we do, achieve and contribute; and the strengths and skills we use in doing so.
  • Belonging
Relational Needs Being part of a group or team helps us to be more resilient and better able to cope with unexpected or adverse events.
  • Autonomy
Task Mastery Needs The freedom to do your work in your own way, to be free of being told what and how to do the work.
  • Personal Growth
Task Mastery Needs Where you have the necessary level of skills to deal with the challenges we face and to achieve a state of ‘flow’ where you are fully involved and immersed in an energized way, in the process of the activity of the work,
  • Meaning
Existential Needs When you are engaged in work that is important to you in some way, you are energized and put additional effort into it. You feel a sense of significance from doing this work.

The Benefits of Connection

Benefits accrue to both the individual as well as the business. Research has found that businesses which create a strong connection culture, by fostering an environment where each of the six connection needs can be met, realize significant benefits over their competitors. Compared to business units with engagement and connection scores in the bottom 25 percent, the top 25 percent’s median averages were:

  • 21 percent higher in productivity
  • 22 percent higher in profitability
  • 41 percent lower in quality defects
  • 37 percent lower in absenteeism
  • 10 percent higher in customer metrics (Gallup 2013)

Employees who feel engaged and connected are

  • 20 percent more productive than the average employee
  • 87 percent less likely to leave the organization (Corporate Leadership Council 2004)

Connected employees are not only happier but are high performers. Again research has shown that:

1. Employees who feel connected perform at the top of their game.

2. Employees who feel connected give their best effort and persevere.

3. Employees who feel connected align their behavior with organizational goals, so their business has more people pulling in the same direction

4. Employees who feel connected help improve the quality of decisions as they are prepared to speak up and share information.

5. Employees who feel connected actively contribute to innovation as they actively look for ways to improve the organization.  As a result, new products, services, processes, and businesses will arise

So the question is not can you afford to create and sustain a culture of connection, but rather can you afford not to. Your people drive your competitive advantage, so help them to help themselves to do so.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here.

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

The Salesman Who Lost the Million-Dollar Deal

How failure can make you more successful…

We all make mistakes, but do we learn from them?

As children we are often taught not to make mistakes, and that it is important to be right. This is reinforced as we become adults and so we learn to equate mistakes with failure.  And when we do this we limit ourselves and our potential to grow.

I view failure as an opportunity to learn and improve, and from this to grow and develop myself further. If I am not making mistakes then I am not pushing my boundaries or myself, and I condemning myself to be average as I cannot grow. The important thing about mistakes is not just to learn, but to implement that learning so you don’t make the same mistake twice.

I would like to share a story with you about Thomas Watson Sr., the man who founded IBM and oversaw its massive growth from 1914 to 1956. The story goes like this….

“”IBM had survived The Great Depression. Gambling on a post war boom, Watson Sr. had maintained IBM’s employment levels by increasing inventories when there was little demand. Excess machinery and parts crowded basements and filled every nook-and-cranny of Endicott’s warehouses.

Some on the board of directors, because of this, were lobbying to remove Watson as IBM’s President.

He needed these inventories sold.

A very large government bid, approaching a million dollars, was on the table. The IBM Corporation—no, Thomas J. Watson Sr.—needed every deal. Unfortunately, the salesman failed. IBM lost the bid. That day, the sales rep showed up at Mr. Watson’s office. He sat down and rested an envelope with his resignation on the CEO’s desk. Without looking, Mr. Watson knew what it was. He was expecting it.

He asked, “What happened?”

The sales rep outlined every step of the deal. He highlighted where mistakes had been made and what he could have done differently. Finally he said, “Thank you, Mr. Watson, for giving me a chance to explain. I know we needed this deal. I know what it meant to us.” He rose to leave.

Tom Watson met him at the door, looked him in the eye and handed the envelope back to him saying, “Why would I accept this when I have just invested one million dollars in your education?”

It is that last line – “I have just invested a million dollars in your education” – that brings it home to me.  There are two important learnings here:

  1. The failure you experience and the mistakes you make are opportunities for you to grow.
  2. The failure others experience and the mistakes others make are opportunities for them to grow.

Are you tolerant of and welcome mistakes in yourself? And in others?  Currently do you look to learn from your mistakes and failures? And do you help others to learn from their mistakes and failures?

We are living and working in a changing world, and we are finding that what got us here will not get us there. As well as this we are also discovering that what we have always done will no longer get us what we always got.  Failures and mistakes do not stem just from doing something new or different, but they can stem from doing that which we have done before and which has previously brought us success.  The latter source of failure and mistakes is more insidious and harder to sport, ironically because it is so familiar.

So create an environment where failure and mistakes are seen as an opportunity to learn and grow – individually, as a team, and as an organization. Identify the learnings, share them with others, and determine what you need to implement to prevent the failure or mistake from recurring by raising the bar for both what you do and how you do it.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here. (needs link)

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Two Questions to Attain and Maintain Focus

Two Questions To Attain and Maintain Focus

Achieving and maintaining focus is a key skill in modern business.

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

In a time-poor environment in which more demands are being made of us it is more and more important that we focus on what we do.  This is especially true as the business environment becomes increasingly volatile, uncertain and complex resulting in managers having to make decisions more quickly, with less information and greater risk.focus

Focusing allows you to concentrate your efforts, time and resources on what needs to be at the center of your attention and your activity.  To do this you need to be able to ensure that you have prioritized what needs to be done and to avoid unnecessary procrastination.

There are two questions to ask yourself when you are about to start a piece of work or, as occurs more and more frequently, people interrupt you with a request for your assistance.

  • Is this piece of work important to me?
  • Is this piece of work urgent for me?

If the answer to both is then you might accept it – or guide it to the right person if it is not you.  If the answer to either question is “No”, then you don’t need to focus on it now. You can either refuse it, accept it conditionally (you might do it later or delegate it to someone else, for example), or if you are not sure then you can ask for more information (often a good idea if it is your boss who is interrupting you!).

This is a simple technique by which to maintain focus on what is important and what is urgent, and by which you can consider tasks which you are only important or urgent, and to reject those that are neither important or urgent.  Try it out for yourself, and find out how much time you free for yourself and how much easier it is to do the work that matters!

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.