When is Loyalty a Disadvantage for Change Leaders?

When is Loyalty a Disadvantage for Change Leaders? 
by Edith Onderick-Harvey & James Harvey 

 

When it’s the wrong type of loyalty.

We’ve talked in the past about the importance of building trust in leading change efforts.  Change creates discomfort and disruption to the way people do things and how they interact with others – sometimes in profound ways.  In short, it puts a strain on relationships, and therefore, on loyalty. And what does a leader under pressure to manage a significant change often do, almost reflexively?  They try to leverage the loyalty of others.

There’s good news and bad news in this.   Here’s the good news.  The right kind of loyalty provides a solid foundation for the trust and leadership people are looking for from others during challenging situations.  It makes it easier for a leader to convey the value of the change and enlist others in making it happen.

The bad news?  It’s all too easy to misunderstand the nature of loyalty or to disregard the consequences of “fake loyalty.”  You risk building a house of cards that falls apart under the high stakes and duress that change often brings.

You want to build the kind of solid relationships that allow you and your management team to build long-term change agility into your organization’s DNA.  You want to avoid:

  • Blind loyalty.  This is based on the premise that an idea or argument is right simply because it comes from someone who is in a position of leadership or iinfluence. But great ideas come from robust conversation and differing perspectives.  Blind loyalty doesn’t question. And blind loyalists simply execute the plan.  Don’t count on them to take a lot of initiative to uncover or find solutions to problems that inevitably pop up.
  • Forced loyalty. If someone is demanding loyalty, it is given out of compliance and fear. Forced loyalty may look like engagement to an outsider but it’s not. Underneath the surface is resentment and anxiety.
  • Favor-seeking loyalty. This individual laughs at even your worst jokes and is often way too eager to support your ideas – even the ones you’re not too sure of yourself.  It isn’t about the team or the larger vision. It’s about being rewarded for being a favorite. This type of loyalty is toxic to the team. People recognize what’s happening.  It often creates distrust, jealousy and behaviors that undermine rather than elevate.
  • Conflict-avoidant loyalty. Some people go along to get along.  They always do what’s asked (i.e., they’re loyal) because even modest amounts of conflict make them very uncomfortable.
Loyalty naturally feels good.  Even “fake loyalty” does.  And in the short run, it can have its uses.  But in the long run, it erodes the very relationships you need in order to thrive in a changing environment.   At the very least you can end up surrounded by “yes men.”  There’s an old business adage: if two people always agree, one of you is unnecessary.

When you are a leader implementing change, ask yourself: how do I create buy-in and enhance loyalty? Have you and the organization helped people move through the change curve or have you tried to go from awareness to commitment in one giant step?  We work with leaders every day to create loyalty and move people through the change curve. Read about one of our client’s results.

Something New Has Arrived!

We’re pleased to announce that Factor In Talent is now 

  Just as we’ve helped clients evolve and even, transform their business we’re evolving, too.  Our new name represents our next chapter. 

 What’s in a name?

Why did we name it NextBridge?

We believe that growth is imperative, change is constant and talent executes strategy. Over the past 18 years, we’ve always focused on more than just the current challenge. In addition to today’s needs we help you to think and prepare for what’s next. Our partnerships with clients create bridges between ideas and performance; between strategy and results; between today and the future through pragmatic solutions, in real time.  We thought it was time that our name better reflect our values and the value we bring to our clients.

What can you expect from NextBridge Consulting?

What’s changing? What’s staying the same?

The value that we’ve always provided – strategic design, pragmatic planning and collaborative execution – is not changing.  We’re continuing to focus on our core consulting services for innovation sector clients experiencing rapid change.

What’s new besides our name?

  • We’re providing a more complete suite of services and next generation thinking on the strategies, processes and tools that have proven so successful for our clients over the past 18 years. Our solutions will continue to be tailored to our clients’ needs and will leverage proven tools and expertise. Find out more about our suite of services at www.NextBridgeConsulting.com
  • We are also re-emphasizing the deep change agility expertise we bring to our engagements.  People often talk about change management. We like to think of it differently. It’s not just about managing change but about creating a culture where thinking about how to initiate and implement successful change is second nature. It’s a difference between adapting to change and developing the skills to be great at using change as an asset, a way to excel, the way to stay ahead of the curve and perform well in the marketplace.
  • Finally, we’re introducing Jim Harvey, NextBridge’s partner for product and business development.  He brings deep professional and senior management experience across multiple industries, from tech-start ups to large global firms. He has been Senior Director of Learning and Development at PNC Bank and Head of Talent Development for a global business unit of BNYMellon.

Jim has extensive background as a talent development leader and innovator.  He’s developed multiple groundbreaking programs at all levels including high potential and executive development programs that utilized action learning, virtual learning communities and web-based approaches to development.  He has a passion for developing innovative products and services, where the focus is on integrating talent development into the actual work people do

Our website has been redesigned to reflect our new brand, latest thinking and updated offerings.  Check it out at www.NextBridgeConsulting.com.

We’ll be reaching out again soon to bring you updates how we can help you, on our thinking, our offerings and our own growth.  In the meantime, follow me on twitter @eonderickharvey or, if we’re not already, connect with me on LinkedIn.

We All Have Biases

biasThe events of the past few months have put bias or potential bias front and center in the American consciousness.  In its extreme, bias becomes an -ism.  Absolutism. Sexism. Racism. Agism. Name your -ism. These extremes can lead to discrimination, fear and, at times, tragedy.  We have seen this with our own eyes too many times.

Before we say, I’m not a biased person, stop.  The truth is we all have biases.  It’s part of being human.  They can be biases we are conscious of or biases that are subconscious.  We aren’t really aware of them until someone points it out.

For most of us, most of our biases never rise to a level of -ism.  Still, they impact our perceptions and decision-making.  You may have a bias for action.  What impact does that create?  You are probably great at getting things done. However, does that bias also cause you, at times, to not spend enough time planning and then you or someone else ends up having to do a lot of rework? Or maybe, you have a bias for only hiring people who have a certain degree from a certain school. That bias is probably the result of having very positive experiences with people you hired with that profile.  However, could it also be causing you to miss out on some other great hires? Do you have a bias for experience when listening to ideas or suggestions from others?  Rightly so, wisdom can come with experience. However, those who are new to the situation see it with fresh eyes and their insights can be just what you need to hear.

Bias in the extreme is an ugly part of our human existence.  However, its more benign forms impact us every day.

How Do I Get to the Next Level?

I woke up the other morning and the calendar said it was December.  December!
How can it already by the end of the year? This realization made me think about the goals I had set at the beginning of the year and where I stood against those goals. I asked myself, ‘How can I take my performance to the next level?” At this time of year, especially in companies that have end-year check-ins as part of their performance management process, you and your people may have this same question.

What do I need to do to get to the next level?

When our people ask this question, they are usually looking for us to help them navigate the performance of career development waters and give them the answer for where they should be taking their performance or career. When asked this question, use the GOAL Development Conversation Framework to guide the conversation.

First, determine the individual’s Goals. Review where the individual is in his or her current role. Are they ready for a move? What are the individual’s personal and career goals?

Second, gain the individual’s Observations on what he or she does well, areas of interest and development needs. Ask for examples.

Third, add your Assessment and the assessment of others, if you know them for a fact. If your team member is interested in moving to another role, what skills and competencies does someone need to be successful in that role? How does this person compare to that profile right now? What do they need to develop? How does it align (or not align) with their interests?

Finally, create a Learning plan. What more do you or your team member need to learn about the role in which he or she is interested? What skills or competencies do they need to develop? How do they need to better showcase strengths?

The Power of Thank You

gratitude

As we move toward Thanksgiving, my thoughts are turning to gratitude. I question whether we show enough of it in the workplace. We often think that because someone is ‘doing his job’ he doesn’t need or want to know that we appreciate the value he is providing, the results achieved, or the extra effort given. That’s not to say that we should be showing appreciation or praise for everything someone does. Work is not an 8 year old’s soccer team where “everyone is a winner.” However, a simple thank you can garner immense returns.

Think about the last time someone gave you a genuine thank you or compliment on your work when you were not expecting or asking for it. How did you feel? What did it do to your relationship with that person? If you had two competing demands from the person who said “thank you” and someone else, who were you more likely to move to the top of you list (assuming that all things are equal, like the other person is not your boss or the CEO or someone else who trumps everyone else)?

Effective leaders recognize the contributions others make. They recognize that others achieve the results for which the leader may receive credit. They know that without others they are unable to achieve many goals.

Let me publicly thank a few people who have supported my success this year:

* Thank you to my assistant Diane who has helped me make order out of chaos, helped me put process in place and given me the time to focus on those areas where I add value to my clients.
*Thank you to my husband and family who, even when I doubt myself, have no doubt in the value of the work that I do.
* Thank you to my clients who put the trust in me to help them achieve their goals and to move performance forward in their organizations.
* Thank you to all of you who have so generously let me know that you find value in the words I put on this page every week and that you appreciate finding it in your email.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What Was Your Most Authentic Moment Today?

authenticity sign

 

Two recent HBR articles provide two different views on what it means to be authentic. In “The Authenticity Paradox” Herminia Ibarra notes that too simplistic an interpretation of authenticity is a hindrance to effective leadership. In order to grow and develop as a leader, one has to try on behaviors and attitudes that may not come naturally and, therefore, feel less than authentic. “Discovering Your Authentic Leader” looks at the role of your life story, self-awareness, acting on your values and principles and balancing your internal and external motivators in authentic leadership.

My view of authenticity tends to be more aligned with the second article. Being authentic isn’t about saying and doing whatever you feel like because it feels right to you, which the first article suggests is the simple view of authenticity. It’s about bringing the uniqueness of yourself to situations, acknowledging the others in the situation and their uniqueness, and appropriately using your individual perspective, values, knowledge, abilities and skills in the moment. As I say in Getting Real, it means knowing who you are as a leader then taking actions and having the interactions that allow you to make a real impact. I see many people who leave their authentic self at the door because they believe they need to be someone else to be successful at work.

As you go through your day today, think about your most authentic moment. When were you bringing your particular uniqueness to a situation and what happened? How did it feel? Did you respect others’ uniqueness? What was the result? How can you make that happen more often?

Expectations-busters

leaderpilots

What kind of expectations do you set for your team? Most people I speak with believe they set clear, concise goals that help their people focus on what’s important. Once the goal communication is done, they believe everyone has their marching orders and will carry on until the goals are achieved.

Setting expectations is about more than just setting goals or objectives at a point in time. Your expectations of others are set and reinforced every day by your actions and reactions to situations that arise. When that reinforcement doesn’t happen, you have what I often call “expectations-busters.” Have you ever experienced one of the following expectation-busters?

Goals are set and within two to three months most of the goals are completely irrelevant or have been re-prioritized to the bottom of the list. Business priorities change. That’s a given. However, if rapid goal obsolescence is a regular occurrence in your organization, it sends the message that leadership really isn’t sure where things are going or can’t make up its mind. The result is an attitude of “I don’t really need to put a lot of effort into whatever the stated goals are because they’re just going to change anyway.”

Once a goal or expectation is set, it’s never discussed again. If you give someone a goal, but the two of you never discuss progress against the goal, that person will assume it’s not a very important goal. He’ll assume you are really interested in other things.

Goals or expectations are set but rewards and recognition are given for things completely unrelated to achieving them. Remember the adage “what gets measured, gets done”? Well, when an expectation is set, the person assumes it has some relevance to his performance and in turn his salary increase, promotion consideration, and general recognition. Nothing busts expectations like seeing people rewarded for things that have nothing to do with meeting expectations and achieving results.

There is no differentiation in recognition when expectations are achieved, exceeded or not achieved. This is a corollary to rewarding things that are unrelated to achieving goals and objectives. If people who meet expectations and those who exceed expectations and those who do not meet expectations are not recognized and rewarded in any distinctly different ways, a high performer will become disengaged quickly and you’ll see overall performance migrate to mediocrity.

Setting expectations is not a one-time event. The relevance of those expectations is established on a regular basis. How you integrate setting and reinforcing expectations into your leadership approach will mean the difference between achieving expectations and moving towards excellence versus simply being mediocre.

Which expectations-busters have you been guilty of committing?

How can you get rid of expectations-busters in your organization?

Creating a Leadership Philosophy

Leadership PhilosophyWe often talk about leadership styles and leadership behaviors but don’t often talk about our leadership philosophy. However, it is a critical part of understanding ourselves as a leader.  It is this underlying philosophy that has broad impact on our actions as leaders.  Leadership philosophy is a concept I’ve learned from my colleague Michael Maccoby.

We all have a life philosophy.  Our life philosophy is a way of putting our values together to guide how we behave.  We knowingly or unknowingly live our lives in accordance with this philosophy.  A leadership philosophy integrates our organizational purpose with the practical values and moral reasoning which you believe are essential to achieving that purpose.  It also includes how we define and measure results. Effective leaders are very aware of their leadership philosophy.  They not only communicate their philosophy, they can be trusted to act in accordance with that philosophy.

Think about your leadership philosophy.  What is it and what impact does it have on you, your team and your organization.  Ask the following questions:

1. What is the purpose of our organization?
2. What is my purpose as a leader?
3. Which organizational values support that purpose?
4. How do my personal values align with these organizational values?
5. What ethical and moral reasoning do I expect from myself and my people?  Do we work simply to avoid punishment and gain rewards? Do we operate in terms of what is good for my organization and myself without regard for my impact on others?  Do we function in a way that benefits or does not harm all those who may be impacted by our actions?
6. How do we define results?  Is this consistent with my leadership philosophy?

Once you’ve crafted your philosophy, validate that it is meaningful to you. Read it several times over the next two weeks.  Does it resonate with you?  If someone asked you, would you stand behind its representation of you to others?

 

Re-frame Your Feedback

I have a leadership challenge for you. You will need to execute this challenge at the most foundational level of the leadership experience — in the one-on-one relationships you have with individuals on your team or in the company. The challenge relates to feedback.

I’ve found over the years that giving feedback is often not the favorite part of the leadership conversation. I believe this is true because for many of us feedback means hearing something negative. We only think about giving feedback when it’s about what someone is not doing well or about a mistake that person made or about what that person needs to do to improve. For the next week, my challenge to you is to make

Feedback = Positive

One of the things research has proven over and over again. but hasn’t seemed to make it into leaders’ thinking is the power of positive feedback. Several years ago The Corporate Leadership Council did research on the impact of one-hundred-plus performance management practices on bottom-line results and employee satisfaction. Positive feedback was one of seven practices that had significant impact on both results and satisfaction, and the impact was far greater than feedback that was focused on the negative. The ratio of positive feedback and developmental feedback that seems to have the biggest impact is about 4:1 (i.e., 4 positive, 1 negative).

So, your challenge is to catch people doing something right this week. Focus on a couple of team members and try to get close to the 4:1 ratio.

When you provide your positive feedback, remember a couple of guidelines:

  • The feedback should be specific and situational. Tell them the specific situation you are talking about.
  • It should focus on behavior. What did they do or say that created a positive result?
  • It should describe the impact of their behavior. What was the positive impact they created? How did it affect you or the team or the company or the customer.
  • Avoid vague feedback like “great job” or “way to go.” One of the reasons to give positive feedback is to help someone replicate the behavior and results in the future. If he’s not sure what you’re talking about, it’s harder for him to make it happen again.

Leading Change

change-constant
Over the past several years, this saying and many others about change have become trite. “Change is everywhere and to be successful you must embrace it.” “Change is the new normal.” “Champions eat change for breakfast.” You’ve heard it all before.

What is somewhat new about change is the sheer pace of it. With the advent of breakneck technology advances, change is not only constant but accelerating. Every few months a new social media outlet comes along that can help you reach your customers while you’re still trying to figure out Twitter. In other cases, some businesses are wondering if they should create an app for their services. Messages travel throughout your company, not to mention the world, in nanoseconds. Besides keeping up with all the technology, there are still the normal business changes like new product introductions, reorganizations, and new workflows. What do you have to know and how should you take a leadership position around change in today’s workplace?

  • Answer the big question, “Why?”: People yearn for context. They want to understand why things happen and how they fit into that equation. As things move ever more quickly, we often forget to answer this simple question of why (is this important, is this necessary, does this impact my business, etc.) in our haste to just get things done.
  • Listen to the reactions. Sometimes we think that in order to lead change, we need to be the cheerleader, playing down the realities that change is hard and there will be bumps along the way. We become better leaders when we take the time to listen and to respond in a realistic way to the reactions people have to what’s going on around them, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. In some situations it’s okay to say, “Yes, this stinks and at times it is going to be difficult. When we get through this, here is how we will be in a better place…” In other situations it’s okay to say, “No, that isn’t as good an option as it looks on the surface, and here’s why…”
  • Understand that some people will be more ready to change than you. When it comes to introducing technological change, there are people in your organization who will be asking why the company isn’t moving more quickly, or they may not ask, but their actions show they want to move faster. We have a whole generation who have grown up with Instant Messaging (IM), texting, Facebook, and other forms of social media. They’re comfortable with the fast pace of change technology has taught them. Harness their enthusiasm to learn all they can about the benefits and the drawbacks of various technologies. Engage them in understanding how a change could be used in your business or, just as importantly, why your business isn’t ready for whatever the change is.
  • Be a storyteller. Think back to your childhood. I could mention something about a story you haven’t heard in thirty years and you could probably tell most, if not all, of the story to me. If I asked you to explain freshman algebra concepts to me, that would probably be more of a challenge (at least it would be for me). We are wired to remember stories. They help us relate to concepts and ideas by putting ourselves in situations and thus remember information better. Tell your people stories about the successes of previous changes where first there were doubts. Tell stories about how a team worked together to make something happen. Tell stories that help people paint a picture, create a vision, and understand how to move forward to accomplish change.
  • Use social media. More and more organizations are using social media as way for people within the company to communicate with each other. Use social media yourself to ask questions, share updates, talk about successes, and ask for ideas. Encourage your team to use it as a way to have a productive conversation about the changes that are occurring . Soon you’ll see leaders emerge on your team, taking the reins of championing change. Again, if you need help in this area, there are people in your organization who are social media savvy.