How to Manage Internal & External Changes

High-Potential Leaders & Building Partnerships

by Andrew CookeGrowth & Profit Solutions 

High-performing leaders need to know how to partner, both internally and externally, to manage the on-going changes in the business environment.

A survey, asking high-potential leaders describe today’s ideal leader, produced an unequivocal result – an ideal leader is a person who builds internal and external partnerships.

Internal partnerships include direct reports, co-workers, and managers.  External partnerships include customers, suppliers, and competitors.

Inside the Organisation

1. Partnering with Direct Reports.Leaders Need to Partner

Organizations no longer provide employees with job security.  As job security has diminished so has employee loyalty.  High-performers see themselves as “free agents”, able and willing to move to those who will cater to their needs for personal growth and development.  Leaders here need to develop a “win-win” relationship with these high-performers and to be their partner rather than their boss.

This is especially true when managing knowledge workers, where managers know less of what is being done than their reports.  If you don’t partner these people then you won’t have them.

2. Partnering with co-workers.

Successful leaders will share people, capital, and ideas to break down boundaries:

  • Share people –  so that the leader can develop the expertise and breadth needed to manage;
  • Share capital – so that mature business can transfer funds to high-growth business; and
  • Share ideas – so that people can learn from both successes and mistakes.

These are difficult to do, especially when areas may have to suffer a short-term loss to allow the organization to benefit in the longer- term.  It requires leaders to collaborate and be skilled in negotiating and to create “win-win” relationships.

3. Partnering with managers.

The changing role of leadership will mean that the relationship between managers and direct reports will have to change in both directions. Leaders will need to be partners leading in a network, not managers leading in a hierarchy.  Leaders need to collaborate as a team and combine the leader’s knowledge of unit operations with the manager’s understanding of larger needs. Such a relationship requires taking responsibility, sharing information, and striving to see both the micro and macro perspective. When direct reports know more than their managers, they have to learn how to “influence up.”

Outside the Organisation

1. Partnering with customers.

Customers are now buying solutions and systems for delivery that are customized to meet their needs to meet their needs. Many customers now want “network solutions,” not just hardware and software.

Leaders from supply organizations will need to become more like partners and less like salespeople. This trend toward building long-term customer relationships, not just achieving short-term sales, means that suppliers need to develop a much deeper understanding of the customer’s total business. They will need to make many small sacrifices to achieve a large gain. In short, they will need to act like partners.

2. Partnering with suppliers.

As the shift toward integrated solutions advances, leaders will have to change their relationship with suppliers. Many leaders now realise that their success is directly related to their supplier’s success. As such they now make a commitment to their suppliers as part of their joint focus on serving the end user of the product or service.

3. Partnering with competitors.

The most radical change in the role of leader as partner has come in partnering with competitors. Most high-potential leaders see competitors as potential customers, suppliers, and partners. When today’s competitors may become tomorrow’s customers, the definition of “winning” changes.

Summary

These six trends toward more partnering are mutually reinforcing. As people feel less job security, they begin to see suppliers, customers and competitors as potential employers. Leaders need to learn about these organisations, create “win-win” relationships and build long-term relationships,

What are you doing to do build partnerships in your strategy, direction and actions?

John Donne put it very eloquently:

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main”.

Are you looking to work alone, or do you see yourself as part of a greater whole and a greater opportunity?

Thanks to Marshall Goldsmith whose work provided the basis for much of this article.

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

So, What Do YOU Think?

How to get your people to engage with you.

In a recent 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?

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

The 4 Foundations for High-Performance

The Four Components of Human Performance

There are four key components that need to be in place for people to perform, and for organisations to prosper.  What are they and what can we do to ensure they are in place? 

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions Human Performance

Performance is about people, and people can be fickle.  Organisations are under pressure to do more with less; organisations are becoming flatter which, in turn, is extending the scope and responsibility of managers and leaders, increasing the number of reports and reducing the time that manager and leaders can spend with them.

So what do we need to do to ensure that we have the right building blocks in place so that people can perform effectively and efficiently?

Andrew’s Four Building Blocks

There are four building blocks which form the foundation for performance.

4 Components of Human Performance

1.  Desire to Work – people need to want to work.  It is not about just satisfying their monetary or security needs.  People want the opportunity to apply their skills and talents, to gain gratification from doing so, and to receive recognition for doing so.

2. Adequate Skills– if people have the desire but lack the necessary skills they will be unable to perform, they will be frustrated, and the organisation will be negatively impacted.  Certain skills are essential for success.  Employees may already have these skills; they may need to be trained in them, or to develop these skills experientially on the job.  At the same time, especially with “knowledge workers”, the necessary skills and expertise may erode or even become obsolete (how many rotary telephone repair people do you know?  Or typewrite repair experts?)

3. Right Attitude – if you hire nothing else, hire enthusiasm.  Hire energy, hire excitement, and hire passion.  These are not teachable.  You can teach people your content and the skills required. The adage, “hire for attitude, train for aptitude”, has never been truer.

4.  Right Behaviours– if people lack the right behaviours, even though they have the desire to work and the necessary skills, you will find poor performance. How many times have you gone out for a meal, which was excellent, but marred by slovenly, slow or disinterested service?  How are you clients experiencing your people? Behaviours have to match the job results expected.

Look at your organisation and ask yourself how are you doing in each of these areas?  Are you recruiting people with these four components from which you can build a foundation from which to build high-performance? Are there are weaknesses or gaps in your business, divisions or departments? Are these gaps areas which you can influence or are they areas which are in the domain of the employee?

All four components are required for human performance and measurement, but only some of them can be built by the employer, although all of them can be nurtured by the employer.

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

5 Tips in Changing Your Mindset About Profit

 

Future Profit

A recently published book, Understanding Michael Porter: The essential guide to competition and strategy (Magretta, 2012), compiles and applies the work of management guru, Michael Porter.   Full of useful insights, here are five pearls of wisdom that can, if applied, create a more robust, more profitable and sustainable business.

Tip 1: “Strategy explains how an organization, faced with competition, will achieve superior performance. The definition is deceptively simple”

Performance is not about your competition, it is about achieving superior performance, every day, regardless of what is happening with your competitors or markets.

Tip 2: “Competitive advantage is not about beating rivals; it’s about creating unique value for customers. If you have a competitive advantage, it will show up on your P & L”

To create unique value is not about you beating your competitors, it is about you delivering (through superior performance) the unique value by focusing on your customers’ needs.

Tip 3: “Strategic competition means choosing a path different from that of others”

If you accept that the competitive goal is superior performance, then it makes sense to achieve that performance using methods different to the competitors. You have to be able to differentiate yourself not only in the customer’s eyes, but in how you achieve that differentiation – in how you deliver value to the customer.

Tip 4: “The value proposition is the element of strategy that looks outward at customers, at the demand side of the business. The value chain focuses internally on operations. Strategy is fundamentally integrative, bringing the demand and supply sides together”

Strategy is about achieving a position.  Here it is to achieve superior performance whilst delivering superior value to the customer.  You need to be able to focus on how you will drive that superior performance, and what this means in terms of superior customer value.  In this you need to continuously improve the efficiency of your internal operations.

Tip 5: “There is no honor in size or growth if those are profitless. Competition is about profit, not market share”

This tip serves as a reminder that we need to be the most profitable, not the biggest in top-line revenue or head-count.

Consider these five tips in context of your own organization. What should you do to meet the requirements of all five? Is your current strategy going to work for you in the coming next few years?

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

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The 5 Challenges Leaders Face

What are the top 5 challenges for leaders globally, and how can you deal with them?

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Leaders are under increasing pressure having to deal with more, with less, whilst having to handle the 5 challenges of the modern business world.

This article looks at each of the five major challenges in turn and identifies the key strategies that leaders need to develop to meet these challenges and, in doing so, become great leaders in turn and to develop leaders within the business at all levels.

Andrew’s 5 Challenges for Leaders

1. Dealing with the New Business Reality

2. Paradoxes Moving from “Either/Or” to “And”

3.Restore Confidence & Trust

4. To Collaborate & Empower

5. Building Individual & Organizational Resilience

Challenge 1: Dealing with the New Business Reality

The world for leaders is changing, and the rate at which this is occurring is increasing exponentially whilst its effects are being seen, and compounded, in 4 different areas:

  1. Volatilitythe increasing rate, amount, and magnitude of change
  2. Uncertainty – the amount of unpredictability inherent in issues and events
  3. Complexitythe increasing amount of dependency and interac­tive effects between multiple factors and driver.
  4. Ambiguity the degree to which information, situa­tions, and events can be interpreted in multiple ways.

For further information on this see How to Manage Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity – Part 1

To deal with these factors, leaders need to develop on an integrated basis, the following:

  1. Vision – having a clear picture of the purpose of your business and where you are going.
  2. Understanding – the leader takes the time to stop, look and listen to what is happen, this is beyond their functional expertise and beyond just their business.
  3. Clarity – the leader needs to spend the time and effort in deliberately working to make sense of the chaos that exists.
  4. Agility – the ability to communicate openly across the organization and to move quickly to apply solutions, the rapid prototyping of ideas & actions to develop solutions.

For further information on this see How to Manage Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity – Part 2.

Challenge 2: Paradoxes Moving from “Either/Or” to “And”

Leaders are having to make decisions and deal with increasingly juxtaposed areas: for example, do we mass produce or customise our offerings, do we focus on the short-term or the long-term etcetera. Usually this has been treated as an either/or choice or, at best,  achieving a blend between the two and effecting a compromise.  Either of these two ways are often sub-optimal and limit the future opportunities.

FROM

5 challenges for leaders - pic01 Leaders need to manage these paradoxical situations and to meet both sets of demands simultaneously to survive and thrive.  Leaders need to achieve a balance between multiple sets of demands, requiring them to be able to quickly weigh and evaluate the situation and to obtain multiple perspectives from others to incorporate in the development and execution of the appropriate strategy.

TO 5 challenges for leaders - pic02

Challenge 3: Restore Confidence & Trust

Research from Sirota has shown a steady decline over the last 5-6 years in the level of people’s confidence in their business, their leaders, and the future.

This is reflected in the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, with nearly two-thirds of people 5 challenges for leaders - pic03only believing what is said by companies having heard it three to five times.  This reflects both the high level of skepticism and the fact that messages need repeating to get through the ‘noise’ of the environment.

Leaders need to restore confidence and trust in themselves, the business and the future.  This needs to extend to include the external stakeholders, not just the only internal stakeholders (e.g. employees).  In doing this leader need to provide clear direction, clear and consistently understood the message, and that everyone is aligned with this by ensuring the core values are commonly understood and applied throughout the business.  This needs to ensure that the systems & processes and reward systems actively support this.

Challenge 4: To Collaborate & Empower

To lead in an increasingly challenging environment requires leaders, counter-intuitively, to loosen controls to gain more control.  Being able to adapt and anticipate to the new business reality requires leaders to review and refine their goals, and to create an inspiring vision which is clearly articulated and understood to all levels of the business empower-network-leverageinternally, and to external stakeholders.  In doing these leaders need to be open to new ideas and perspectives, and to extend their networks of relationships. They also need to ensure that the business has the right core values and that these are actively supported and built into how business is done.  This creates a strong, pervading culture that aligns people and what they do.

To drive better communication and coordination between departments, and to reduce internal turf-fights and conflicting objectives, the vision needs to be shared and cascaded appropriately at each level.  Furthermore, in doing this, leaders across the business and at all levels need to be empowered with the responsibility and authority to achieve their goals, to be equipped with the necessary skills and capabilities to carry them out, and enable them to perform by providing the necessary support to actively developing both their skills and potential as leaders and those of their reports.

Challenge 5: Building Individual & Organisational Resilience

In dealing with new business reality leaders need to help their people and their organization to build resilience and agility.  This includes the ability to move quickly, decisively. effectively and proactively whilst capitalizing on existing strengths, developing new strengths and identifying current strengths which may become weaknesses or liabilities as the business and market environments change,

resilience pictureThe importance of developing people resilience, including engaging people emotionally whilst growing and developing them, and providing them with a sense of purpose and belonging, is reflected in the findings of the 2012 American Psychological Association Workplace Survey reported.  In this, it reported that 41% (over two out of every five employees) of employed adults feel stressed out during the workday.

The top 5 sources of stress were identified as:

  1. Low salaries
  2. Lack of opportunity or growth or advancement
  3. Too heavy of a workload
  4. Long hours
  5. Uncertain or undefined job expectations

Furthermore, less than half of employees reported:

  • Being satisfied with the growth and development opportunities offered by their employer (46%)
  • Being satisfied with the employee recognition practices of their employer (48%).
  • Feeling they are receiving adequate monetary compensation (48%).

The importance of having employees who feel valued is also important:

  • Employed adults who report feeling valued by their employer are significantly more likely to report they are motivated to do their very best for their employer (93% vs. 33%).
  • They are also more likely to report they would recommend their workplace to others (85% vs. 19%).
  • On the other hand, those who do not feel valued are significantly more likely to report that they intend to seek employment outside of their company next year (50% vs. 21%).

Summary

In dealing with these five challenges leaders need to have an integrated and disciplined approach.  At its essence is the ability to empower, enable and equip people and leaders at all levels in the organization.  Critical to doing this is building the necessary skills and capabilities into their day to day work.

To develop the necessary individual, team and organizational agility and flexibility leaders need to develop and embed the skills into how they work, allowing experiential learning to occur as they learn and apply the new skills in addressing and gaining traction with key challenges and opportunities.  Providing the on-going support to help the teams and individuals is essential to this, and by enabling people to teach what they have learned to their peers, team members and reports they can gain mastery and continue to deliver sustainable results.  This produces not only in-house skills and capabilities but creates leadership bench strength and an on-going leadership pipeline on which the organization can draw to meet current and future needs.

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

Answer At Your Own Risk!

How executive coaching can help you in your business

Leaders and managers often need to give feedback to their teams and staff. Usually it is in the form of advice rather than feedback. Why is this? Advice can be packaged more easily, especially when you are dealing with a sensitive situation and/or individual, rather than feedback which is often perceived as being more critical in its nature. So how can we improve.

The Pixar Story

Virtually everyone knows Pixar , the animation studio that made Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars, A Bug’s Life, and which grossed more than $6 billion, and has won 24 Academy Awards. Here is the question for you – how many flops has Pixar produced? The answer is none!

One reason for it is that within Pixar they give brutally honest feedback.

Brutally honest feedback

At Pixar, when a director hits a snag on a film, they immediately call in the “brain trust.” This is a group of brilliant senior filmmakers who come in, look at the film in progress and give brutally honest feedback for about two hours.

Normally this is an uncomfortable process and, at best, only partially effective. But it works for two reasons:

  1. No authority – the “brains trust” has no authority over the person to whom they are giving feedback. It is up to the recipient of the feedback to do something or not. As such they are not under any obligation to take the feedback, and because of that they often do.
  2. No advice – people do not tell others what to do, they don’t offer advice; they offer experience. As such the recipient can learn from others, and can choose what to do or not.

As such, the less authority and power you have the greater the influence you can bring to bear. And the lower the requirement to act on the experience shared, the more likely people are to do so. This creates the opportunity for learning, development and innovation. Counter-intuitive? Yes, but it works. Share your experience – but remember we don’t have to learn from it, but then we probably will!

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

4 Ways to Manage for Long-Term Results (& Its Not About Profit!)

Managing for profit can be detrimental to your business in the longer-term.  Discover the 4 guidelines to help your business thrive, not just survive.

We are in uncomfortable times.  Europe is facing a myriad of difficulties, China’s growth is looking to slow-down (albeit continuing), competition is more intense and customers are more demanding and better-informed. Yet amongst these difficulties there are companies who are not just surviving but thriving.

How are they managing to do this and what can we learn and apply from them?  Here are four guidelines for thriving, not surviving.

1. Manage for Value, Not For Profit.

You can’t manage profit – profit is an outcome of your revenues and costs.  You can manage your revenues and your costs, but you cannot directly manage your profit..

Successful companies look at managing value – they ascertain whether what they do creates and provides value both to them and their customers, or not.  You need to create value for both parties in order to be able to capture value for yourself.  Too many companies look at their relationship with their customers as a zero-sum game or as a win-lose opportunity i.e. we are dealing with a pie of a set size, so if I want a larger slice of the pie then the other has to have less and vice-versa.  This is a weak mind-set which immediately puts you in conflict with your customer.

Rather, look at your customer relationships as a win-win opportunity – the opportunity to create and grow value with each other.  This mindset allows the size of the pie to be increased, allowing you to capture more value, even if the split remains the same.  This enables you to collaborate with your customers and create long-term opportunities and relationships, rather than short-term gains at the cost of your customer relationships.

As such value is a driver of profit – the greater the value, the greater the opportunity to drive profitable outcomes.

2. Manage for the Long-Term

Too many businesses are driven by short-term considerations and take actions which, although they may provide relief in the short-term, destroy value in the long-term.  For example, investment in R&D may be cut now to save money and improve short-term profit – but it destroys value in the mid-to long-term as those assets which can create future value in the years to come are weakened, undermined or even destroyed.

3. Manage the Development of Your People

Every company claims that “people are our most important asset,” but few mean it. Frequently business’ investment in leadership development is cut during hard times – at exactly the time when it is needed most to enable and empower high-potential managers to lead the business to success and through these hard times.

In a recent survey of leadership globally, it was found that many of those countries with strong supplies of leaders today are facing a shortfall in the future – this includes countries such as the UK, Australia and Canada.  As such, business leadership is an important issue not only now but in the future (for further information see the blog “The Ticking Talent Timebomb”).

4. Manage your Focus – Be Customer-Centric 

Business needs to understand their customers in terms of what they need, what the business can offer, and how this translates into value for both parties.  As such you need to be able to properly address and craft your offerings to meet their needs.

Furthermore, you need to know not only what business you are in – but what business you are not in.  I have seen many companies grow and expand their offerings beyond what is their core business in response to meet their customers’ demands.  However, this has come at a cost.  As a result, management focus and attention is dispersed, scarce resources are allocated ineffectively and inefficiently, the business lacks the necessary skills to operate in these new areas, costs increase and margins reduce, and the business grows in an unstructured and  ad hoc manner which is difficult or impossible to consolidate.  All of which increases the level and range of risks to which the business is exposed, often beyond the gain that they might realise from this unstructured growth.

Summary

Don’t focus on profit – focus on value and you will achieve profit.  However, this requires discipline, courage and the willingness to invest in the long-term and in developing your people to ensure that you deliver what the customer needs and values.

What are you doing to grow your ability to create, share and realise value?  What has been stopping you and how have you overcome these barriers?

Share your thoughts and comments here.

Share the knowledge, share the wealth!

 

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