How hard is it to get 100% of even the smallest group of people to agree on anything, never mind a whole company? We’ve all struggled with that dynamic. But when it comes to culture change, Konica Minolta CEO Shoei Yamana believes the number is a lot smaller:
“Across a big company it is impossible to get 100 per cent of people to change. But you only need 20 per cent of the people. If I can do that, I am 100 per cent confident I can change the whole company.”
Last week, the Financial Times asked me to share my perspective on culture change. Their How to Lead feature was a profile of how Yamana is moving Konica Minolta past 140 years of success into a new business model. I shared my perspective in their companion piece Ask the Outsider. While his journey is focused on leading a traditional, 45,000 person, Japanese company through a major shift, his insights can help anyone who is trying to change mindsets in their team, department or company.
What do you think? Is 20% buy-in the tipping point for change?
At NextBridge, we advise leaders and leadership teams on successfully changing their organizations and cultures.
What conversation would you like to have? Call me at 978-475-8424. I’d love to hear what you have to say.
The Power of Conversation
Powerfully effective leadership requires a great deal of skill – or should I say skills. What do change agility, delegation, performance management, and motivation all have in common? Conversation. Not just talking to or at someone or some group, but talking WITH them.
At the root of almost all leadership successes and failures are conversations that did or did not go well. Leadership conversations can run the gamut from basic to complicated and they are ubiquitous. A rather basic conversation can change a performance issue. A conversation can create the win-win of an effectively delegated task or project. Conversations do the heavy lifting of leading change. Conversations are used to explain a strategy and enlist an executive team to execute it. Conversations articulate the vision in a meaningful, real way and provide those irresistible invitations to come along over a period of time.
As business becomes ever more complex and changing, there is less room for misunderstanding, mistrust, and disengagement. And yet, we increasingly rely on email and texting to communicate – tools that often contribute to more misunderstanding and can create mistrust.
We all know that some conversations are great and others are not. What are the characteristics of a powerful leadership conversation? Here are our top 5:
As a leader, do you spend more time crafting emails and presentations than working on the conversations you have every day? What opportunities are you missing?
Mastering the art and science of conversation will improve or help you better leverage virtually every skill you need if you want to excel as a leader in our rapidly changing world.
At NextBridge, we place a premium on great conversations as we help our clients navigate organizational change and leadership development.
What conversation would you like to have? Call me at 978-475-8424. I’d love to hear what you have to say.
We 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?
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.
A radical group of leaders created a new country in the late eighteenth century – the United States of America. When you look at the leadership characteristics of this group, with the likes of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, the lessons we can learn from them are as relevant today as they were three centuries ago.
Leaders have a strong moral compass and stand up for their beliefs, sometimes against immense odds. By signing the Declaration of Independence, the members of the Continental Congress were committing treason which is a pretty serious statement about their beliefs. At the core, their decision to sign the Declaration and commit treason was based on their personal moral grounding about the rights of government and the rights of the people. They used that moral compass and their integrity to guide them against the superpower of the day.
In their book, Moral Intelligence, Doug Lennick and Fred Kiel, state, “The most successful leaders in any company are likely to be trustworthy individuals who have a strong set of moral beliefs and the ability to put them into action. Further, even in a world that occasionally rewards bad behavior, the fastest way to build a successful business is to hire those people with the highest moral and ethical skills you can find.”1 If you look back over the past several years, in the wake of high-profile business scandals like Enron, the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, and the behavior of some Wall Street firms leading up to and during the 2008 economic crisis, some would assert that too many business leaders lack a moral compass. The importance of a strong moral compass is as important today, if not more so, as it was 240 years ago.
Leaders listen. The conversations and debates that led to the Declaration were often heated. Different delegates held very different views about independence and about each other. Each one’s views were heard and debated. Unity is possible only if each person feels he is heard and his ideas are given a fair shake. Each person in that room was at times a leader and at other times a follower. Yet, at every turn, each was grounded by his personal moral compass.
Leaders stand as one. After the debates and conversations, compromise was reached, and once each signed his name, the group stood as one behind the words on the page. Benjamin Franklin marked the occasion with the words, “We must all hang together or assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” Their belief in the concept of independence superseded potential personal injury or gain.
A third of all CEO’s surveyed by The Conference Board say the most pressing issue they have is attracting, developing and retaining the right talent. Two of the biggest factors in engagement and retention are trust in senior leadership and the relationship people have with their managers. With 75% of employees in a recent Gallup Organization survey reporting that they are unengaged or actively disengaged at work, leadership is not successfully addressing this issue.
Leadership excellence has a multiplier effect on organizations. Investing in developing leaders, increasing the leadership multiplier effect, is a short-term and long-term strategy that allows your organization to adapt and thrive in various economic circumstances by attracting, retaining and engaging your human capital.
What is the Leadership Multiplier Effect?
Resources spent on leadership development have a cascading effect throughout the organization. The effective leader creates exponential value for the organization through his or her influence on the strategy, people and processes in the organization. One leader’s effective decisions and actions has a ripple effect that can impact dozens or hundreds of employees, positively changing business performance for the entire department or business unit. Likewise, the impact of poor leadership decisions and actions can lead to the decreased ability to attract, develop and retain the right talent.
In addition, effective senior leaders model behaviors and skills for other leaders in the organization. They set the tone for the leadership practices that define the organization and its culture. They demonstrate the business skills that address business issues and create innovation. They define and operationalize high performance through their interactions with each other and the entire organization.
As others mature in their leadership roles, their effectiveness is increased for having been effectively developed and for the role-models presented by senior leadership. A cascade is created. With more effective leadership focused on the right things at all levels in the organization, factors impacting business performance improve. Groups led by effective leaders are more engaged resulting in higher productivity rates, increased willingness to give extra effort, and greater acceptance of change. In other words, effective leadership creates an environment that attracts and retains high quality talent.
Ensuring the effectiveness of your leaders is critical whether your business is expanding or contracting. When your business is expanding, bringing on new people, introducing new products, serving new customers, leaders need to integrate and assimilate the growth. They need to plan strategically for growth, effectively develop their teams, establish business practices and maintain the engagement people feel in those initial few months on the job.
When business is contracting, leaders need to manage the change brought on by staff reductions, reduced revenue streams and increased cost constraints. They need to maintain the remaining staff’s focus and morale. Need to maintain customer service levels, identify how to do more with less.
Optimizing the Leadership Multiplier Effect
For the leadership multiplier effect have its maximum impact, leaders must be developed effectively. Effective development includes:
1. Identifying the core of effective leadership. What makes leaders effective? One way to start thinking about leadership effectiveness is to identify what results you want the leader to achieve and use this to identify behaviors that are effective in achieving those results.
2. Communicating what is expected of a leader. This communication is not always in words. It’s important to understand that how you select, how you assign resources, what people are held accountable for and how you recognize and reward say a great deal about your expectations of leaders.
3. Assessing your leaders against your model of effectiveness. If some are less effective than you need, identify a strategy for addressing it. It may be development, assignment changes, or an exit strategy. No matter what strategy seems most appropriate, it should start with a frank conversation with the leader.
4. Identifying potential leaders within your organization and outside your organization. Do you have the bench strength you need? Also remember that leaders aren’t just those with formal titles but also those in roles that are pivotal to business success.
5. Developing leadership effectively. Formal learning experiences, business-driven assignments and projects, coaching, mentoring and other leadership development experiences need to align with the business strategy and the expectations you’ve communicated about leadership within your organization. Utilize a suite of development activities that build leaders throughout their careers. Developing leaders is process not an event. You must take a planned approach to leadership development, not one that only addresses obvious flash points that may be ignoring underlying causes.
By taking advantage of the Leadership Multiplier Effect, you will optimize talent and create competitive advantage.
It finally happened…Getting Real is available as an e-book.
About Edith Onderick-Harvey
Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. She is the author of the Amazon bests seller Getting Real: Strategies for Leadership in Today’s Innovation-Hungry, Multi-Tasking, Time-Strapped World of Work. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times, CNN.com, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.
The 2016 Primary Elections are well under way. We’ve been inundated with speeches, sound bites, photo ops, small town conversations and big city rallies. Every four years, candidates encourage us to make a change. Unfortunately, many of them go about it the wrong way. If I were advising these candidates, here is the first thing I would tell them. Quit talking about how you are going to stop what the other candidate is doing. Stop telling us how we’re going in the wrong direction. Instead, tell us where you want to help us go. To steal a line from a 1990’s campaign, it’s the vision, stupid.
Whether you’re a politician, executive, nonprofit leader or a leader by action and not title, Rule #1 for leading change is to create a compelling vision. For people to want to make change, they need to fight the brain’s natural inclination to recoil from change. If you want people to accept your challenge, you need to not just talk to their heads. You need to speak to their hearts.
Visions inspire and engage people to take a journey with you to a place that invites them to be something greater than themselves. It’s about taking action, not having a reaction. It engages them to achieve something they cannot do alone but can achieve when they act in concert with you and others. It talks to those things that they value. It is vivid, aspirational and a stretch.
If you’d like a tip sheet on creating a compelling vision for change, email me and type ‘change vision tips’ in the subject line.
Over the past year, I’ve been working with an amazing business coach who has been helping me take my thinking to the next level. One of the biggest take-aways for me has been thinking about the balance of push and pull energy.
Push energy is what you do when you are advocating, telling, putting your opinion or expertise out there first. Pull energy is about asking, inquiring, allowing the other person to bring what they need to into the conversation.
Often, the leaders I work with struggle with this balance. Too often, they rely on push energy — focusing on telling others what needs to be done, building and selling a business case, pushing to get a change accepted. Don’t get me wrong. These are things that all need to be done and should be a part of what leaders do. It’s what people look for at certain times from their leaders. But, when we rely too heavily on the push, we are often met with indifference, resistance and compliance rather than engagement, enthusiasm and interest. When we rely too heavily on pull, people can sometimes feel like they don’t get our input or perspective. They are sometimes thinking, ‘just tell me what you want!’
Over the next several days, notice how often you are relying on your push energy to get things done and how often you are using pull energy. Take notice of the balance. If the balance is too much in one direction or the other, how can you shift your behavior to reset the balance?
NextBridge partners with you to create and execute pragmatic, sustainable business solutions focused on building your organization and culture, developing talent and navigating change.
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