The Importance of Management & Leadership Development

The Management & Leadership Development Imperative

Why Management & Leadership Development is a priority and its benefits.

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Leadership Development 2

One of the top issues for CEOs is business growth; however the ability of the business to achieve this growth is being stymied by the lack of suitably skilled staff – in short, effective leadership.

Strong leadership and management is a key factor in fostering innovation, unlocking the potential of the workforce and ensuring organizations have the right strategies to drive productivity and growth.  However, this potential is not being achieved due to managerial shortcomings and a lack of strategic thinking. Effective management is the exception rather than the rule.

So how do we address this?

Overcoming these weaknesses and improving our leadership and management capability is fundamental to creating a culture where more businesses have the ambition, confidence, resilience and skills to respond to the current economic challenges and compete successfully both nationally and globally.

By providing more comprehensive management training and development for budding leaders, companies can gain the edge over competitor firms.

Managerial Performance

A recent report in the UK stated that UK businesses are losing over £19 billion per year due to poor management.  In fact, almost half of say their line manager is effective, with 43% of UK managers rating their own line manager as ineffective – and only one in five are qualified.  However, management problems are not restricted to the lower or mid-levels, with the reporting highlighting incompetence of bad management of company directors as being responsible for 56% of corporate failures.

How much is this costing your business, and what are your risks with those at the top?

One of the root causes of management and leadership weaknesses is due to poor training and development, and this is a global and systemic problem.  For example, first line managers are primarily selected because of their technical capability rather than their potential to move into more senior positions, despite technical proficiency being far less significant when considering subsequent promotion. They frequently do not receive any specific management training and are not only ill-equipped to take on this role, but their immediate line managers often lack the knowledge and skills to support them.

So What Do We Do

The situation can be improved. Companies need to invest in leadership development for their managers, by doing this they can be prepared for the non-technical aspects of their job, which become increasingly important as they advance.

To build a robust and sustainable high performance business you have to take a more strategic view of management development.  To do this effectively you need to have:

  • Commitment to Management and Leadership Development (MLD) – driven by the CEO and senior management ;
  • HR practices that reinforce MLD – such as performance management, leadership succession planning and competency frameworks;
  • Alignment between business strategy and HR strategy – managers’ skills are clearly developed to drive business results.

Benefits of Management & Leadership Development

Good leadership and management can have a truly significant impact on organizational performance, both in the immediate and longer term.  Research has shown:

  • Best-practice management development can result in a 23% increase in organizational performance.
  • Effective management can significantly improve levels of employee engagement
  • A single point improvement in management practices (rated on a five-point scale) is associated with the same increase in output as a 25% increase in the labour force or a 65% increase in invested capital.

Management & Leadership Development is essential to long-term business success and, as such, provides a high return on investment (RoI) in both the short-term and the long-term, with the value created being realized and compounding year after year.

Growth & Profit Solutions partners with businesses to enable their key people to develop their commercial, management and leadership capabilities by working with them on addressing key challenges and opportunities on the job.  This allows experiential learning which is retained, obviates the need for key people to be absent whilst attending training courses, and is developed around the individual’s and the business’ needs. This helps to drive outcomes, retain critical talent whilst building a talent pipeline, and develops the in-house capabilities of the business allowing it to grow effectively and on a sustainable basis.

The question is not can you afford to invest in Management & Leadership Development, but can you afford not to?  If you have already started, then keep going; if you haven’t started, then start today – but don’t wait till tomorrow, by the time it becomes a “squeaky wheel” and has your attention it will be too late!

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The “Salutary Science of Hierarchiology”

Managing the “Peter Principle” – Developing Key Leadership & Management Skills

by  Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

What are the risks of poor leaders, what are the key skills and capabilities a good leader needs to have, and how can you do this?

Introduction

Effective leadership requires a blend of skills – commercial, relational, managerial and cognitive.  However, many organisations suffer from having leaders who lack these skills in full or part.  Often such leaders are victims of the “Peter Principle”.  It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise, which also introduced the “salutary science of hierarchiology.”

In summary, the Peter Principle assumes that people are promoted because they are competent, and that the tasks higher up in the hierarchy require skills or talents they do not possess. It concludes that due to this, a competent employee will eventually be promoted to, and remain at, a position at which he or she is incompetent.

An alternative version of this is the “Dilbert Principle”, a 1990s satirical observation by Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams which, by contrast, assumes that hierarchy just serves as a means for removing the incompetent to “higher” positions where they will be unable to cause damage to the workflow, assuming that the upper echelons of an organization have little relevance to its actual production, and that the majority of real, productive work in a company is done by people lower in the power ladder.  This is beautifully illustrated here and below.

The Dilbert Principle - Leadership

What We Need From Leaders

Whichever principle you subscribe to there is an underlying theme – leaders who lack the necessary skills, experience and insights can cause considerable damage to the business. This can happen even if the leader is acting in what he or she believes is the business’ best interests.

Leaders need to be able to listen and respond, be flexible, adaptive, and be able to develop innovative solutions whilst handling multiple and conflicting priorities.  The speed and complexity of business is becoming faster as is the rate of change in the business environment.  This means that important and significant decisions have to be made quickly, often with incomplete information, which can carry significant risks.  Leaders need to be able to handle this and more, they cannot rely on the skills that got them to their current position to keep them there – they need to grow themselves and develop new skills and capabilities on a continual basis.

From this it is clear that leaders and managers need a broad general management development that focuses on commercial, relational, managerial and cognitive capabilities. We need to ask some tough questions about how our organization is training its leaders and managers to develop these vital elements. Those responsible for commissioning, designing and/or delivering leadership and management training must ensure that programs move beyond task-related knowledge and skills and emphasize a fuller range of general management competencies that are needed to manage increasingly complex markets and business relationships.

Critical Leadership & Managerial Skills & Capabilities

We have identified four categories of skills and capabilities that leaders and managers need in this new environment: Commercial, Relational, Managerial, and Cognitive.  These comprise of 10 specific yet integrated skill sets that exist.  These are listed and detailed below:

Summary of Business Development Skills & Capabilities

Commercial Skills & Capabilities Financial Insight
Business Acumen
Customer Insight
Relational Skills & Capabilities Managing Relationships
Inspiring Trust
Managerial Skills & Capabilities People Management Skills
Openness to Change & Adaptability
Influencing Skills
Cognitive Skills & Capabilities Innovative Problem-Solving
Ability to Identify Opportunities

Commercial Skills & Capabilities

Financial Insight

This includes understanding the implications of the proposed work for the company – revenue, margins, profitability, cash flows and risks associated with the work and the associated opportunity costs.  It also includes the ability to forecast and analyse client work, budgeting and prioritizing the work accordingly. The leader needs to be able to identify, uncover and anticipate the financial aspects of current and proposed work in terms of being able to assess the costs associated with the status quo, the benefits and associated value of the work, and its impact and implications on the achieving key financial metrics and objectives.

Business Acumen

This is the ability to understand the implications of the technical/specialist work and how it applies to the client’s business at both the level of the work being done, and how it impacts other areas of the business and the business as a whole.  This includes being able to translate technical outcomes and benefits to those of the business, and to align them with the business’ objectives and goals and those of the economic buyer(s) within the client (the individual(s) who have the authority and budget for the work and who have a vested interest and responsibility for the outcomes of the work).

Customer Insight

The ability to understand the client and to adopt their perspective, ensuring that current and proposed work is aligned with the clients’ needs and requirements.  This includes having a good understanding of the client’s company, industry, competition and key trends.  This allows the company to orientate its positioning and work around the client, and ensure that the outcomes are aligned with the client’s needs.  This ensures the company is not focused what it does, but it focused on the outcomes the client needs (these are often not what the client wants).

Relational Skills & Capabilities

Managing Relationships

In complex business situations there is a need to be able to manage multi-level, multi-functional relationships to uncover, identify, develop and manage business opportunities.  Externally, the company needs to identify and address the economic buyer, key decision-makers and influencers and to understand their respective roles, interactions and what they need to progress the relationship, and how to build it according to their personal preferences. There is a need to ensure that the right people with the right technical and commercial skills are matched appropriately with their peers in the client’s organisation to ensure a proper communication flow, and for the company to integrate itself into the client organisation at multiple levels.  Furthermore, how to manage and influence stakeholders is key.

Inspiring Trust

Trust is the essential component to being able to uncover and win opportunities with clients, as well as maintaining and developing key stakeholder relationships.  This takes time and effort, and requires creating rapport, understanding and establishing common areas of interest where the individuals in the company can demonstrate and prove themselves as helpful, relevant and of use.

Managerial Skills & Capabilities

People Management Skills

Much of business-to-business selling is done via teams and cross-functionality.  There is a need to manage the demands on the company in internally managing the resources and people required in winning client business, and the ability to handle people and deal with conflict in doing so. Business is based on relationships, and the ability to both manage the people and the associated relationships is important.

Openness to Change & Adaptability

Businesses are subject to change at an accelerating rate.  This requires the company to be able to adapt and meet these changes to survive and thrive, and to maintain focus and direction as priorities change and create conflicts.  Leaders and managers need to anticipate and to facilitate this. Similarly, the company also has to manage the effect of changes within the client’s organisation (e.g. new key people joining, existing contacts leaving etc) and in its markets and industry (e.g. deferment of projects with a fall in market demand).  This requires leaders to be able to take a holistic view of the company’s opportunities and understanding how and when to address changes or anticipated changes.

Influencing Skills

Complex sales in the business-to-business environment frequently involve working with personnel from the client and third parties over whom the company has no formal authority or control.  The ability to influence and negotiate with such people, as well as with people within the company, is key to dealing with changes and driving successful client outcomes.

Cognitive Skills & Capabilities

Innovative Problem-Solving

More work is won by companies who think in terms of developing a solution to an emerging client problem.  Being able to uncover and anticipate problems, whilst creating an innovative solution which creates real value for the client, whilst avoiding the risks of the status quo, differentiates the company and drives business opportunities.  Being able to put structure to this approach, without compromising the level of innovation, and to leverage this throughout the company’s different departments and other clients provides growth opportunities.  Leaders need to create, build and sustain the environment to foster and develop this.

Ability to Identify Opportunities

With rapid change occurring so there are a plethora of opportunities that can be identified and exploited.  Many more can be identified working in conjunction with the clients.  Being able to identify, capture and prioritize these opportunities in conjunction with innovative problem-solving and excellence in managing relationships and people will strengthen the business.  Leaders need to identify such opportunities, prioritize them and resource them properly to ensure there is the optimal opportunity for success.

Next Steps

Applying the business development diagnostic across the four areas of Commercial, Relational, Managerial, and Cognitive is the start of the process which comprises of three steps.  These include:

1. Understand Your Organisation’s Business Development Skills & Capabilities

Understanding the importance and interdependencies of these 4 areas, and how your organisation’s leaders and managers overall rate in each of the 10 skills and competencies, is the first step to understand what foundation you have to build from and to allow you to address the gaps.

2.  Focus on Developing & Implementing the Required Skills

Once we have determined this we need to prioritise how we leverage and develop this skill base, and to determine which priorities to address first in achieving our business goals and desired outcomes. On-going assistance with actual business development opportunities helps to drive this, and improve both the skill level and understanding.

3. Maintain, Review and Improve

Creating an on-going process of continuous improvement in the area of business development, and extending the skills throughout the organisation helps to deliver better and more sustainable results.  Enabling those who have developed their leadership and management skills to achieve mastery is done by having them coach and mentor others in this area.  This helps to create a common approach to business development, establishes best practices across the organisation, and shared insights and experience.

What has been your experience of this? What issues have you had, and how have you resolved them?  How would you like to raise the performance of your managers and leaders?  Share your ideas, insights and experience here – someone, somewhere has resolved the problems you face, just as you have resolved ones that others face.

Share the knowledge, share the wealth!

To find out how Growth & Profit Solutions can help you in developing your leaders and their critical leadership and managerial skills please contact us as below.

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5 Steps for Managing Delegated Work

The skill in delegating work comes after you have delegated it

Now you have delegated work you need to make sure it gets done. Just because you have delegated the work does not mean it will automatically get done how or when you want to.

 

Follow these five steps to help you manage your delegated work more effectively:

  1. Assign the task to one person.Don’t assign the task to multiple people, just one person who will be responsible. Get them to confirm that they understand the assignment and have accepted responsibility for it.  A good way of doing this is to ask them to share with you what they understand the assignment is, and to ask them, explicitly, if they will be responsible for this. Until this is done, the hand-off is not complete.
  2. Articulate a specific outcome. In other words, what exactly are you expecting the other person to deliver to you or for you? I always start the assignment with a verb (e.g., “Call,” “Notify,” “Write,” “Order,” etc.) and finish it with an objective “deliverable” (such as a report, email list, agenda, meeting etcetera). You have to be able to tell whether the task was completed as assigned.
  3. Include your delivery timetable. Some projects have hard fast deadlines. For example, I might tell someone I need a task done by “the close of business on Friday.” Others are not as time sensitive. I might say I need a task done, “anytime in the next two weeks.” Regardless, you have to express your expectations and be clear.
  4. Make yourself available for consultation. You want to be a resource, but you don’t want to micro-manage the other person. The best way to do this is to stay focused on the outcome rather than the process. I personally don’t care how the other person gets the job done (assuming it is ethical); I only care about the end-result.
  5. Track the delegated task on a to-do list. This is crucial. Not everyone you delegate to will have a good task management system in place. Perhaps those directly under your supervision will—because you trained them—but what about the others?

Doing this will save you time, effort and make you more effective when delegating.

 

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

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

Why Motivation Alone Is Not Enough & What Else You Need

The Motivation Trap

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Why motivation alone is not enough, you need more…

Imagine what would happen if your favorite football team took the field and the ONLY training they received in the last 8 months had been sitting in a room. Within the room, they’d be listening to legends of the game motivate them on what it takes to win and being shown presentations of what past champions have done by way of plays / strategies?

No practice drills, No fitness sessions, No practice games, No one-to-one coaching, No individual goals being set, No reviews of previous games and No new techniques.

Impossible task to win isn’t it. Logically it just doesn’t make sense to receive valuable motivation to change without then putting it in the right context and following it up with the hard work required to put strategies and actions in place to achieve the desired outcome.

However this is what countless businesses, teams and individuals do each day when it comes to their professional development and approach to change at present. And then they wonder why they are not getting the success they are looking for, and they continue in the same way yet expecting a different result.  As Einstein described it, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results”.

To understand why this occurs in professional development you need to look at human behavior.

At the end of the day it is much easier when it comes to professional development to be entertained by a motivational speaker (with many sitting at the back of the room responding to emails and chatting on social media these days!) than sitting down and slogging away developing clever strategies/actions in order to adapt your business. While there are terrific benefits for your professional development by listening to great speakers who provide the motivation to change and thought leadership to be innovative; the problem arises when the balance is 80% motivation and 20% strategy/action.

Many business advisors when providing advice to clients give in to this dynamic and only provide their clients what they ‘want’ – the quick fixes and magic bullet solutions. However clients need to be challenged as to what they really ‘need’ to achieve their desired objectives, and good business advisors will do this and challenge their client to ensure the thinking is robust, objective and underlying the real needs of the client.  As such the business advisor provides a balanced package where they become part consultant, part facilitator, part psychologist and part motivator as they customize their approach to deliver the outcomes their client desires.

The statistics are well known that 70% of change initiatives fail. There are countless business models on change and a myriad of great books about change such as Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. Each model, book or guru essentially brings achieving successful change back to three core factors being:

  1. The right motivation / desire to do something different
  2. The clarity to your vision / direction in order to head down the right path
  3. The robustness to your strategies / actions to ensure your team can implement effectively while in the right environment for change.

At GPS we state that if you scored yourself out of 10 for each of these three factors (where 1 is very low and 10 is very high), multiplied them together and then looked at it as a percentage you need a score of at least 64% (so 640 out of 1000) to successfully make the change occur. We call this your ‘change potential’.

Reflecting back to our football analogy, imagine in that example your team scored a 10 for motivation, a 2 for vision and a 1 for strategy. Their score would be 20 out of 1000 or 2% change potential. Nothing would change.

Having balance in professional development across all three areas is critical for success. Motivation alone while easiest to obtain, won’t get you far.

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

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When Saying Nothing Gets You More!

Using silence to find out more

Silence is a powerful way by which you can elicit more information from people you are talking with – especially when talking with customers or interviewees.

silence-is-golden-2

A Golden Silence is when you pause, deliberately, so that you can listen without thinking of what you are going to say next. There are two forms of Golden Silence:

Golden Silence I – you simply pause for approximately three to four seconds after you ask a question,

and

Golden Silence II – you simply pause for approximately three to four seconds after the person responds.

Golden Silence I – this gives the other person, your customer or interviewee, a moment to think about what has been asked and how to respond.  This is likely to provide more solid information.

Golden Silence II – this gives you a better chance to understand what has been said, furthermore during the second pause the customer or interviewee will often reflect further and provide additional information.

Be careful how you use Golden Silence so it does not seem manipulative or intrusive.  The Golden Silence technique is mean to expand, not limit, the possibilities of Superb Communication.  As such, by paying close attention to how the customer reacts, it vastly improves your chances of reaching a better result.

Benefits of Golden Silence

  • The number of  interactions increase
  • The length of responses increases
  • The reliability of the information you get increases
  • Your level of comprehension increases
  • The opportunity for misinterpretation is reduced
  • The number of relevant unsolicited responses increases
  • The number of customers’ questions increase
  • Dialogue shifts to the customer’s real wants and needs, and away from those of the seller
  • It gives you more time to think

Techniques to Avoid

  • Using the phrase – ‘think about it’ – it is vague and can come across as a subtle put-down
  • Mimicry
  • Using ‘Yes…but…’ – this occurs when the dialogue is stalled
  • Rhetorical questions – they add nothing to the dialogue and can be manipulative.
  • Asking ‘Why?’ immediately after they reply – this can put people on the defensive.

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

Customers – Market Reach or Market Gravity?

The Only 2 Ways to Reach Your Customers

by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

There are two ways to market to and gain customers, and two ways only.

Either you reach out to them, or they are attracted to you. One way you try to “push” them to come to you, the other way you attract them to you and your offerings and they “pull” themselves in. These two ways are at opposite ends of the spectrum

So what does this mean for you?

Market Reach Out

Many businesses try to acquire new business and new clients by going out and trying to find them – especially newer businesses and those who are in commodity markets. Typically this includes advertising, promotional activities and a lot of “telling” – proudly telling your prospective customers what you do.

This method involves a lot of effort and a relatively low return. You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince, and often the princes that you do find are only there for the short-term before they hop off to your competitors. This is a costly and risky exercise where your resources, time and investment are used inefficiently and effectively,

As time goes on, you build up history and credibility, and you get smarter and more focused on what you do for your clients rather than what you do for yourself. You also begin to market yourselves using more targeted, interactive approaches that are relevant, of interest and of value to your customers – here you are listening to your customers. Ways to create gravity include, but are not limited to, testimonials, press coverage, articles in trade journals and magazines, speaking, referrals etcetera.

Market Gravity

As the awareness of your work, your reputation and your relevance to your prospective client increases so the dynamic begins to change. Rather than you having to seek out clients they begin to come to you. Your cost of acquisition of clients is lower, they are less price-sensitive as they see the value you can help them realise, and you get a better quality of client with whom you can develop long-term opportunities.

As such, your revenue and profit opportunities improve and you can become more selective both in terms of with whom you work and what kind of work you do. You are more strongly differentiated from your competitors, and prospects want you. Your business growth begins to accelerate with less effort.

How are you attracting your clients? Are you reaching out and trying to pull them in, or are you creating the ‘gravity’ so that they come to you? If you don’t build your own ‘market gravity’ no-one else will – so start work on it today!

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

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Creating ‘Head Edge’ for Competitive Advantage

The power of visualization and mental rehearsal is often not appreciated by leaders and managers, yet it has been proven in research time after time.

Let me share one study done with the United States Olympic ski team. The team was divided into two groups equally matched for ski-racing ability. One group received imagery training, visualizing how they would win their races; the other served as a control group. The coach quickly realized that the skiers practicing imagery were improving more rapidly than those in the control group. He called off the experiment and insisted that all his skiers be given the opportunity to train using imagery.

Like anything, visualization requires regular practice; this can be done anywhere, at any time, even when you are tired. When visualizing and mentally rehearsing, make your images as vivid and as clear as you can. Don’t just visualize the end result, but visualize every step you will take along the way and how you will feel. Incorporate every sense into building that picture of the future. See yourself overcoming mistakes, and imagine yourself doing things well. You will find, and feel, yourself achieving greater confidence, clarity and agility.

Top sports psychologist, Gary Mack, used to carry out an experiment on the power of the mind and visualization when he coached professional sports teams on the power of the mind. He would get all the athletes to stand up and then ask them a simple but important question: ‘Who believes that their performance on the sporting field is affected by how they think, by at least 50 per cent?’ He found that at least half the room agreed. He then asked a very powerful question: ‘If most of you believe that your state of mind changes your final performance so greatly, why aren’t you spending ten, twenty, thirty or even fifty per cent of your training time on thinking in the right way?’ The room would go quiet as the athletes realised that they were not devoting nearly enough time to mental training for peak performance.

It is no different for business leaders and managers. We get so caught up in what we do, the physical training and the present, that we do not look at how we do what we do, the mental training and the future. We often act, but without any clear direction in mind. We are trying to move straight from the ‘Now’ to the ‘How’ without considering the ‘Where’. This is a reflex action. What we want is reflective action, to think about what we are going to do and where it will take us. Working on your “head edge” and making dedicated time to reflect will help you do this.

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