Gaining Visibility with Senior Management

To be visible to the senior management and executives in your organization you need to be develop and share a profile of who you are, what you have to offer and how you could fit a more senior role.
There are many ways to do this, but the most effective way is to do so from the perspective of your senior managers and executives. To gain visibility, relevance and acceptability with them it is not about what they can do for you but what you can do for them.

Seven Ways to Gain Visibility

  1. Have relevant business conversations – if you want to have significant influence on business decision making and get included in shaping the future you need to be actively involved in the business conversations that are being held. Don’t just sit there and listen, making mental comments to yourself. Listen, and when you speak make sure your discussion and contribution is relevant and meaningful, don’t talk for the sake of talking.
    Six areas which are key when holding business discussions, and will help you focus your discussions include:
    •   Improving business capability
    •   Activities that build and maintain competitive advantage
    •   Things that are being done to improve business productivity
    •   How you are mitigating current and future risk
    •   How you are supporting earnings / funding and how it is tracking to   industry standards, and
    •   Proposed investments that support business sustainability.
  2. Demonstrate commercial awareness and care – business leaders want people who have business acumen and understand that a business has to remain profitable to be a going concern. Demonstrating commercial awareness and understanding of this, especially how revenues and costs can be improved, is of interest and relevance to senior leaders and will help you garner their respect.
  3. Working effectively – to stand out you need to not only be efficient in what you do (doing things right), but you need to be effective (doing the right things). Being efficient but ineffective is akin to working well on things that don’t add value – in other words you accelerate failure and problems. Becoming irrelevant has a lot to do with finding more effective ways to do inefficient things. So become relevant by doing the right things (being effective) efficiently.
  4. Demonstrate reliability – being reliable is about constantly performing at the right level and being able to do so when meeting unexpected challenges. To be reliable you need to do what you have said you will do, deliver on your promise, and to do so repeatedly. Doing this produces trust – and senior leaders need to trust you before they will give you opportunities to grow and succeed.
  5. Be resilient – in times of accelerating change your ability to manage and adapt in tough times and lead through uncharted waters is key. You need to be able to work through problems, keep your emotions and self in control, and deal with the situations you encounter. This includes staying calm, seeking support and advice, and leading others through difficult time so they can be more resilient themselves.
  6. Demonstrate good judgement – you need to be self-confident (but not arrogant), in touch with reality and understand your business well. In doing this you also need to understand the context of the situation you are dealing with; if you are not sure then get input from those who can provide ideas, insight and experience. Don’t let your ego take control. Leadership is a dish best served shared!
  7. Demonstrate collaboration and show peer respect – collaboration is key for leaders to be both individually and collectively successful. If you place yourself above others you will, eventually, lose credibility and relevance to them. Don’t become a ‘hostage of yourself’. Demonstrate that you can work with people around you.

How well do you do in these areas? Even more important, how well do others think you do? This is probably more important as it is their perception which is what matters. Don’t forget being a leader is not just what those above you think of you, but what your peers and reports think.

To find out more how you can do this and develop a structured programme to deliver measurable growth in leadership effectiveness, and in doing so raise organizational performance and create further career opportunities for yourself, contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC) at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au or call Andrew on +61 (0)401 842 673.

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)

 

 

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Attitude vs. Aptitude

Which is more important to you – having people with the right attitude or people with the right aptitude?

Most people say both. But when we look to retain and attract people we do so on the basis of  the skills they have – their aptitude. But when we fire people we do so, in about 90% of all cases, for their attitude.  Is it me or is there a discrepancy here?

So what are the differences between aptitudes and attitudes?

  • Aptitudes are our potential to learn skills which we develop and hone through time. What works, you continue using. What does not, you strive to change. However, aptitudes alone cannot take you all the way through the path to success.
  • Attitudes determine what and how much you can do. It is like an engine – it can either slow you down or accelerate you forward.

The fundamental difference here, for managers and leaders, is that you can train people for weaknesses in aptitude – but you cannot train people out of an attitude weakness.  Attitude is internal to the individual, you cannot motivate a person to change themselves – they have to motivate themselves to change.

As leaders we have to deal with people who exhibit different aptitudes and attitudes, these are shown in the Aptitude-Attitude matrix below. This  tool highlights what you need to do with different people depending on where they sit in the matrix and is useful when assessing your team or direct reports.

Attitude-Aptitude Matrix

If attitude is internal to an individual, how can you can motivate them  to change themselves.  There are three ways you ca influence them:

  1. Using carrots and sticks – this only creates compliance, as soon as the pressure to conform is reduced the individual will revert to their original attitudes and behaviours;
  2. Peer pressure – creating the necessary peer pressure to get the individual to change their attitude to that which is wanted; this is dependent, however, on the peer pressure being aligned with that of the business;
  3. Alignment with Self-Interests – by aligning the interests of the individual with those of the business, the individual willingly changes their attitudes and behavior to those required by the organization.  This is the only sustainable way of engaging people and getting them to change their attitude and behaviors.

So What to Do?

You can only effectively influence people’s aptitude, not their attitude.  As managers and leaders we can train people to help them improve; we can manage performance, but we cannot, nor should we, manage behavior.

To help people improve their skills requires understanding their current skills and capabilities, what is needed for them to perform well, the current gap between the two and what the priorities are.

To improve people’s attitudes needs the individual to change.  We can help provide a suitably motivating environment to encourage people to change, but we cannot make them change.

Summary

Help people develop their skills, help them to change themselves.  But do not allow those with the wrong attitudes stay where they are, especially if they refuse to change.  In these cases you have three options – Train, Transfer or Terminate.

  • Train them in how they can change themselves;
  • Transfer them to another position where their attitudes and behavior may be a better fit; or
  • Terminate them – you are probably doing them a kindness, as well as yourself, by taking them out of a position where they are unhappy and giving them the opportunity to find somewhere else that suits them better.

Be clear on what attitudes and aptitudes you want in your business, and what you want your employees to exemplify in what they do and how they do it.  Mark up where you see your staff on the matrix and identify if they need to improve their attitude or their aptitude, the priorities, and focus on them.  Remember, it is your employees’ attitudes that are a predictor of their success – not their aptitude – and their success is a predictor of yours.

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)

 

 

What Do You Think?

by Andrew Cooke, Blue Sky GPS

In an interview with the New York Times, Bill Marriott, chairman of the Marriott Hotel Group, shared this useful piece of advice.  He explained that as a young officer in the US Navy he was responsible for the stewards who served in the officers’ wardroom.  New to his role, and being in a military organization he told them what to do.  They ignored him.  He ordered them.  They ignored him still.  He came to realize that, even though he was in the military he could not command people to follow him as a leader, they had to want to follow him. For them to follow him he had to engage them.

So what was the lesson from this?  It was four simple words – “What do you think?”

As a leader, by asking this, you are getting your ego out of the way.  Leaders cannot and do not have all the answers, nor do they know everything.  By asking people for their ideas, their input and their insights several things will happen: firstly, your people will see that you care about them and are interested in their opinion; secondly, you will learn something you did not know before; thirdly, you can make better and more informed decisions which your people can buy-in to as they have participated in the process  By engaging with others they can engage with you, but it starts with you reaching out first.

What do you think?

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)

 

How to Challenge Your Team & Take It to the Next Level

Challenge Your TeamI am passionate about helping executives and leaders become more successful and, in doing so, help others become more successful in turn.  As an accredited Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach (MGSCC) I would like to share with you a simple process which can deliver real tangible improvement in leadership effectiveness and organizational performance. I have also included a short video by Marshall Goldsmith that shares this process with you.

Let me share a story with you on how to Team Build Without Time Wasting.

A team was being coached as a group,. When asked to rate themselves they scored themselves, on average, as a 6.1. Each team member was asked to reflect on a challenge that he/she was currently having and  to share with the group. There were about 10 people and 6 focused on changing what they could not change. It was an epidemic! The team prioritized this behavior – to focus on what they could change and not what they could not -as the one to focus on in their team change efforts. Over the next six months, the group took part in the Team Building without Time Wasting process and I it is now a highly functional team, with members rating the team an 8.6!

Video:Team Build Without Time Wasting.

In the video above Marshall Goldsmith provides a brief overview of how this process works, and how you can use it for your own benefit.

Following are the steps the team took to change this endemic challenge of focusing on what they could not change. Note step 7. All of the steps are critical in the process, and step 7 is the one that will take your team to the next level – it is Follow-Up – and it will ensure that the change sticks!

  1. Ask all members of the team to confidentially record their individual answers to two questions:
    1. “On a 1 to 10 scale (with 10 being ideal), how well are we doing in terms of working together as a team?” and
    2. On a 1 to 10 scale, how well do we need to be doing in terms of working together as a team?”
  2. Have a team member calculate the results. Discuss the results with the team. If the team members believe that the gap between current effectiveness and needed effectiveness indicates the need for team building, proceed to the next step in the process.
  3. Ask the team members, “If every team member could change two key behaviors that would help us close the gap between where we are and where we want to be, which two behaviors we all should try to change?” Have each team member record his or her selected behaviors on flip charts.
  1. Help team members prioritize all the behaviors on the charts (many will be the same or similar) and (using consensus) determine the most important behavior to change (for all team members).
  2. Have each team member hold a one-on-one dialogue with all other team members. During the dialogues each member will request that his or her colleague suggest two areas for personal behavioural change (other than the one already agreed on above) that will help the team close the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
  3. Let each team member review his or her list of suggested behavioural changes and choose the one that seems to be the most important. Have all team members then announce their one key behavior for personal change to the team.
  4. Encourage all team members to ask for brief (five-minute), monthly three question “suggestions for the future” from all other team members to help increase their effectiveness in demonstrating 1) the one key behavior common to all team members, 2) the one key personal behavior generated from team member input, and 3) overall effective behavior as a team member.
  5. Conduct a mini-survey, follow-up process in approximately six months. From the mini-survey each team member will receive confidential feedback from all other team members on his or her perceived change in effectiveness. This survey will include the one common behavioural item, the one personal behavioural item, and the overall team member item. A final question can gauge the level of follow-up – so that team members can see the connection between their level of follow-up and their increased effectiveness.

This process works because it is highly focused, includes disciplined feedback and follow-up, doesn’t waste time, and causes participants to focus on self-improvement.

Let me close with a challenge to you (the reader) as a team leader. Try it! The “downside” is very low. The process takes little time and the first mini-survey will quickly show whether progress is being made. The “upside” can be very high. As effective teamwork becomes more and more important, the brief amount of time that you invest in this process may produce a great return for your team and an even greater return for your organization.

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found at Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)