Without Change Management, is there any Effective Six Sigma?

From the 1990s through the early 2000s, Six Sigma was all the rage. While Six Sigma is still popular, the new guy in town is Change Management, and every girl wants to date him. Ultimately, whether your focus is more on Six Sigma or more on Change Management, your goal is to improve your organization.

What if I told you that Six Sigma and Change Management should be inseparable tools in your business repertoire? Well, I am telling you just that. Deciding to separate Change from Six Sigma is choosing between Improvement and Efficiency. Why would a leader or organization improve without caring about efficiency and who increases effectiveness and efficiency without improving? While Six Sigma focuses heavily on the processes and efficiency related to your organization, this is incomplete without the vital focus on the people as evidenced in Change Management and vice versa.

Change Management isneeded whether through continuous gradual improvement, a project or transformation. Since change is inevitable, there should always be an organizational approach regarding how Change is to be addressed when it is needed, initiated or unexpectedly received.

In any comprehensive Six Sigma course, participants will receive some elements of Change Management, though it may not be introduced as such. For example, Communication Plans, Project Plans and Risk Plans are all classic tools taught in Six Sigma. Such tools are a part of Change Management and Project Management curricula as well. Working in the intersection of these various methodologies, you see quickly the overlap that inevitably takes place among all of them.

Any Six Sigma effort means change for your organization, therefore, in any Six Sigma effort it is important to manage the change with intention and rigor.  At Nextgen People we use the Prosci Change Management tools that adhere to the ADKAR methodology. ADKAR standing for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Action and Reinforcement. In any Six Sigma Project, it is essential that you apply all steps of ADKAR or else your Six Sigma Project will not sustain success.  There is no exception to this rule that comes to mind.

1. In any Six Sigma project, you want to ensure that stakeholders are Aware of what is about to change and improve. This awareness extends to not just the what, but the why, what is the benefit to what is taking place. Of course, stakeholder should understand what is to be differently expected from them.

2. Desire is phase that allows the Six Sigma project to receive needed support to make the effort happen. After awareness been given and people understand the WIFM (what’s in it for me), then the right desire can be cultivated to attain championship for the effort.

3. Knowledge is required for anyone to do their job effectively. When Six Sigma efforts are administered, it requires the increase of knowledge on behalf of some stakeholders for them to operate in a new process and/or even make the new process happen.

4. Action is the doing that is the essence of any project, whether a general project or Six Sigma methodology is being used.

5. Finally, Reinforcement of the what is implemented, the change is what ensures that the team, the employees are going to continue the momentum and institutionalize the improvements made.

While this language is tied to Change Management, these are all fundamental elements that we require in any Six Sigma project that we administer. The appropriate question isn’t whether Six Sigma and Change Management should be combined, but how can they effectively be combined for your initiative.  Of course, the rigor of Change Management is going to vary, must as the rigor of Six Sigma varies depending on the complexity and what is desired to be achieved for the effort.

As we know there are many benefits to Change Management, these benefits are equally desired for Six Sigma efforts. In such efforts, we still want to see:

·         Better communication, thus better implementation

·         Great Executive and Leader Sponsorship and Support

·         Decreased Stakeholder and Employee communication

·         Increased productivity during the implementation

·         Greater relationships during the project and after

·         The improvement is more likely to be sustained and institutionalized post go- live.

Ultimately, there is no reason to choose between Change Management & Six Sigma, because they support each other in a way that is most beneficial for your organization.

Contributed by Dr. Lepora Menefee, Managing Director of Nextgen People www.nextgenpeople.com  lepora@nextgenpeople.com

 

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7 Benefits of a Global/ World as One Approach

Many people are terrified of globalization, also what I call “The World as One.” They fear losing jobs or losing their identity and importance to someone else.

The challenge with such theories is that they are all based upon fear. Theories based solely upon fear are always limited in scope and lack the insight of the big picture.

There are seven major benefits of the World as One Approach.

1.      We get to learn from others. Any person who is smart, realizes that they don’t know everything and that there always lies an opportunity to learn something from someone else. Accepting the World as one, we can learn from others on various realms. Sure, we can learn fun things like I enjoy, cooking international meals, listening to music from other countries, even picking up their dances.

However, there are far more tangible benefits as well. We benefit from technological advances that can help us to be more effective and efficient in what we want to do. Health breakthroughs do not just happen in one country of the world, but throughout the globe, there are different health breakthroughs taking place in various countries. Some are developing immunizations for particular diseases, others, the cure for AIDS, others are making great advances in cornea transplants to cure blindness. Without a globally focused mindset, we are unable to benefit from such advance of other countries.

2.      We get to give to others. There is a tremendous blessing in giving and contributing to the world’s development. If giving doesn’t get you excited, then celebrate the fact that we get to sell to others. We are not just importers of the world. However, U.S. citizens have tremendous gifts as well. Like other citizens of the world, U.S. citizens celebrate the opportunity to sell our products and services to other countries, just as they do the same. However, a closed- door approach, limits our ability to sell or give our gifts to the world.

3.      Similar to being able to sell and give, we get increased job opportunities. Yes, I know people fear losing their jobs… However, U.S. citizens are open to far more job opportunities with the U.S. having a global/ The World as One mindset. There are beautiful places to live and work across the globe. You can live remotely and work with a company overseas or even live abroad for a few years. Having  fantastic global relationships, allows such job opportunities, literally, at our fingertips.

4.      We get the benefit of supplementing scarce competencies and hands. The reality in the U.S. is that there is a real war on talent. Part of this is due to a decreased interest in certain jobs (e.g., farm fruit picking) and part is due to an educational system that has not produced enough Math and Science giants to fill our hospitals, university systems, and research institutions. We have had the advantage of benefiting from many great foreign minds that have helped us to keep and grow such important institutions of our nation.

5.      A “World as One” AKA global mindset encourages us to be more competitive in our educational system. It is no secret that while we,  the US, still tote ourselves as one of the richest leading industrial nations, our education system lags behind some “third world” countries in Math and Science. The last time that I checked we were #27 in Math globally. When we truly care about what people are doing in other nations academically, we cannot help but feel pressure to improve our educational system for our children and our nation to thrive maybe even survive.

6.      Another reason why the World as One mindset makes sense is that it is a state of reciprocity, where everyone has the opportunity to give and receive. Whether it is in natural resources, labor, technology, spirituality and agriculture, there are gifts that we all have to share with the world. A global mindset helps everyone. For my personal moral reason, I know that Christ loves strangers and expects Christians to do the same. I am definitely no better than He so I accept the challenge to embrace and even understand those different than me.

7.      Lastly, the final reason to adopt a “World as One” AKA global mindset is because globalization is inevitable.  Some may say “get over it,” some may say keep on moving. Your grandmom may have said, keep on living and you’ll see. I say get with it and learn to adapt and master the benefits that come with globalization. Ultimately, it is here to stay, to increase and expand. Why? Because not only have people been traveling overseas for thousands of years, exchanging customs, practices and migrating, but it has never, to my knowledge, ever been this easy to connect globally. Within two minutes I can speak to, chat with, e-mail or Skype someone in China, Ghana or Thailand.  The measures to slow down globalization for rationales of job anxieties, physical safety anxieties or mere stranger phobias are distractions that may hurt some temporarily, but will not have a lasting win.

 

7 Practices for Leaders to Achieve the Most out of their day

I periodically review my daily routine (as much routine that I can afford) and examine how I can be more efficient given the current goals and demands in front of me. Sometimes I realize ways that I can tweak what I do to be more effective. Other times, I realize that I may have abandoned best practices (e.g., scheduled time to check e-mails)to go back to easier habits. Nonetheless, I realize certain practices will help anyone to focus effectively and save valuable time and energy. Certain practices include:

1.    Taking a moment to ease into the day by centering. When we take time to center ourselves through meditation, prayer, being still, it gives us time to find peace in the moment, recalibrate our spiritual selves and attempt to align our spiritual selves in a positive way with what we will do for the day.

2.    Carving out 30 minutesEVERY DAY TO review the current day achievements, identify what was expected to get done but hasn’t and plan effectively for the next day. Steven Covey calls this time “Sharpening the Saw.” That is to take some time strategize your life, versus just doing in automatic mode.

3.    This 30 minutes will allow time to prioritize and focus on what is most important for the next day, Steven Covey calls these areas of important focus, “Big Rock.” Sure, we all have about 20 things that we need to get done in a day. However, there are 1-3, that are going to make the difference in our lives, whether they get completed or not.  Identify what those big rocks are going to be for you the next day. What is going to wake you up? This helps you to easily organize your time appropriately and invigorate you with focused energy.

4.    Limiting e-mail checks to 3x a day. I know that we all are busy and it may not be possible to only check your e-mail once a day. However, if it is possible at all, limit your e-mail checking from 1-3x daily. I am currently aiming to check my e-mails at 6am, 1130am and 4pm eastern (in case you e-mail me from another time zone J.  This allows me focus my time deeply on important efforts/ big rocks instead of juggling my energy and attention back and forth like a yo- yo. When you are aimed at creating innovative work, it is important to focus and go deep into your work without tedious distractions.

5.    Outsource your appointment setting. If you have a personal assistant, great. If not use an online calendar, like calendly to save time planning meetings.

6.    Make sure that you get some “release” time in the day. For me, this is a physical workout. I take an outside run, do the elliptical machine in the gym or dance. Everyday, we all face tensions, whether we realize them or not. We need to make an effort to release these tensions in the appropriate way for ourselves. For me, its important to sweat out the negative toxins that come from a traffic jam, negative person, busy schedule or other source.

7.    Let go of what others can do close to, just as well or better than you. There are specific gifts and roles that God has given you. If you value your unique gifts then give away as much of other tasks that could be someone else’s gift. Allow them to grow as you grow. This applies to leaders and direct reports or entrepreneurs. Focus on your best gifts to make them brighter and let go of the rest.

I hope these seven practices are helpful. If so, please share them with others.

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7 Steps of Succession Planning for Effective Leaders

Succession Planning has never been as important to company leaders as it is today. In a positive economy and a forecast of a significant skill labor shortage within five years and most companies already starting to face labor retention challenges, it is pertinent for companies to plan strategically for the replacement of current leaders.
  • Identify the most critical roles: An important first step of planning for succession in your company is to identify the most critical roles within your organization. Typically organizations will start with the C-Suite and work down the organization as soon as possible in order to plan succession. However, it is also important to ensure that critical roles that are not necessarily at the top of the organization are immediately covered in the event that the role becomes vacant.
  • Clearly identify skills related to the critical roles. Once you have identified the most critical roles to your organization, conduct a skill inventory relating to the critical roles. Ensure that you understand the skills required in order for an employee to fulfill the duties competently.
  • Identify employees who have such skills or appropriate potential and develop a Talent Pool. Once you are confident regarding the critical roles in your organization and have identified required skills to work in the roles effectively it is time to identify and record the employees within the organization who have such skills or potential to have such skills in the future.
  • Track the Progress of Identified Hi- Potential Employees in the Talent Pool. After the eligible employees within the organization have been identified, it is important to track the progress of, and develop such employees appropriately. Some employees who are eligible today may not necessarily be eligible a year from now if the role requirements change or the person’s progress takes a different direction. Additionally, it is essential that your organization invests in the development of the successor employees to ensure their readiness in the needed time of replacement.
  • Be generous with sharing responsibility : As leaders, we must effectively delegate not only to lessen our load, but to give our employees practice in completing more advanced work. Such opportunities stretch employees to grow as much as lifting heavier weights stretch your muscles to be stronger. Stretch assignments allow employees to develop for future positions prior to being placed in them.
  • Develop Leaders: As mentioned, providing stretch assignments is definitely a way to develop leaders. However, a strategic and careful approach should be used to design a solid plan to develop potential employees comprehensively for the specific assignments.
  • Hire for Potential: Hire for Potential. While it is important to first identify internal employees for potential successors, ensure that when you strategically hire employees who have potential to fulfill needed roles in the future. This step is greatly facilitated when you already have healthy career paths developed within your organization. Nonetheless, this step will save you time and costs in future hiring while increasing the possibility of retention within your organization.
  • While it is important to first identify internal employees for potential successors, ensure that when you strategically hire employees who have potential to fulfill needed roles in the future. This step is greatly facilitated when you already have healthy career paths developed within your organization. Nonetheless, this step will save you time and costs in future hiring while increasing the possibility of retention within your organization. Succession Planning can be a very simple or sophisticated process. However, it’s definitely an essential process for any organization that plans to survive in a growingly people competitive market. Be sure to make succession planning a priority for your organization’s current success and future survival.
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7 Ways to Build and Maintain Successful Relationships with External and Internal Customers

Customers are more present than we realize in our organizations and externally. I see a potential customer as anyone, from whom we can benefit helping. A customer is by choice. We choose to serve them. Though it often feels like a near deadly force to serve some customers, there is always a choice to be made regarding who we choose as customers and the priority that we give them in our efforts.
1. Actively Choose Your Customers. Anything that we do in work or personal life is a choice. Some choices are active and others are passive. There is significant power that accompanies an active choice. Active choice brings the opportunity to intentionally design our efforts with a specific direction. As human beings, we are limited in what we can do and how much we can accomplish. Therefore, it is important to specifically select your customers. The expectation is that you serve customers effectively. In order to provide effective service to external and internal customers, first identify and choose your appropriate customers. Your customers should be stakeholders who are direct and indirect recipients of your work/ service. As we will discuss in later steps, your customers should be aligned with regarding what successful customer service looks like.
2. Identify and Define Successful Customer Service. Once you have identified your pertinent customers, ensure that you have specific goals regarding successful client/ customer service levels. In more formal relationships, a Service Level Agreement (SLA), is particularly helpful to clarify and manage expectations. However, in any customer/ client relationship, you want to be aligned with your customer regarding their expectations. Whether expectations refer to rate of speed, accuracy, quality and/ or quantity, the more aligned you are with the expectations of your customer, the easier the relationship will be to maintain. In some instances, the level of service that you are able to provide will inform the customers that you choose, otherwise the customers will make the decision to choose or not choose you for services/ products.
3. Measure Your Effectiveness Consistently. Your definition of successful customer service is only as effective as your accurate measurement of such success. As you regularly measure your performance against customer service expectations, you are able to proactively address areas that risk not meeting levels and/ or address issues with customers before they raise them with you.
4. Communicate Openly and Regularly. The more often you communicate with your customers, the more opportunities that you have to receive feedback regarding your service and to build and maintain a solid relationship. Regular dialogue between you and the customer will build a relationship that is genuine and authentic. 5. Empower Your Team. Ensure that your team members are empowered to make quick and fast decisions to provide excellent service to your customers. If team members have to wait to collaborate with you regarding petty decisions, it is likely to place a burden on the level of efficiency in the operation.
6. Reward Greatness. Ensure that you swiftly and appropriately reward your teams for excellent service to your customers. Always create win- win outcomes for all parties involved when possible.
7. Continuously Improve. Immediate good service is important; in order to thrive long term, it is essential to focus on how your service can grow continuously. As the needs of your customers/ clients change, your service should adapt as well. It is even more helpful to forecast their needs before they exist to ensure a seamless relationship.

7 ways that HR can finally get equal credibility at the C-Suite Table

HR has experienced one of the most transformative journeys of any occupational field. A field that has been traditionally transactional and administrative based has the most important job today of planning and implementing People strategy at work. Even though this newly emerging brand and demand is on the rise, many HR teams continue to struggle to rise to the occasion. The discussion of how HR can get respect in the C-Suite still exists, when the conversation should be migrating to how can HR set the C-Suite table. There are seven important steps that any HR organization must take in order to gain equal credibility at the C-Suite level.
Support and Inform the Business Strategy: The work that is completed within the HR operations should be directly aligned with the strategy and vision of the CEO and organizational goals. Any executional work that is not directly supporting the overall business strategy is not only a waste of time, but can do harm. The harm exists in the loss of business credibility, productivity hours and wasted dollars. Very importantly, though not as often mentioned, HR should inform business strategy. We always say that people are the most important asset, however, what does that mean manifested? It means that all important activities rely people to get them done. Whenever an organization changes direction whether it is direction in culture, acquisition/ merger, product specialization, the organization should first ensure that the people component already existing is going to take the organization to that goal. If the correct people are not there and in the appropriate roles, then all other desires is a moot point. Develop Meaningful Business Cases: In almost any other field, a viable business case must be developed, presented and approved prior to the investment of significant dollars. There are critical HR investments needed today in most organizations in order for them to even remain stable a decade from now, Strategic Workforce Planning, Employee Engagement, Succession Planning to name a few. HR, just like any other field should be able to express the need for investment in the same $ language used in the rest of the organization. When the appropriate $ language is not used, HR is shortchanged and very important and critical Human Capital investments are not made.
In accord, Develop Relevant HR and Operational Metrics: Metrics is a way for HR to display our successes and value added contributions, address our areas of opportunities and to communicate in the same language as the rest of the company. Almost any goal can be deemed successful or unsuccessful if there is no accompanying objective measure for it. Keep it Simple for the Business. Our revenue generating partners within the organization are very focused on specific $ goals and HR typically is not one of them. The simpler that we can make our messaging and operations- tied directly to their goals and not only our ivory tower fantasies, the more likely, they are going to partner with us and implement what we propose.
Go- native. Going native was a terminology that we used in graduate school when someone would research an area so immensely that their thought process would become one with the subjects being researched within that area. In terms of HR within the corporate structure, going native is a great thing. Get your people immersed into the business field so that they are on the same team. Encourage them to spend time in the meetings, the field and even operate outside of the HR hat in order to fully appreciate the role. Cross- pollination. Don’t be afraid to cross- pollinate within HR. HR should be the most qualified at assessing potential employees for skillsets that are transferrable. However, we are very discriminative when it comes from hiring outside of HR. Being an industry that has been traditionally at a disadvantage when it comes to speaking the same language of the business, we can significantly benefit from diverse business skillsets within our teams.
Exercise our Confidence and Voice. HR is no long the secretary of the organization. We are not only hear to take notes and push papers. Be confident in your Human Capital expertise and generously share your HR strategy in order to ensure that your organization takes the best informed and most comprehensive strategic directions.
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7 Steps that Leaders should take to be successful in Mergers and Acquisition Integration

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In spite of repeated M&A failures due to people element challenges of an integration, we often ignore the most powerful and impactful element of successful integration: people. People are the organization. Let’s discuss 7 steps that any leader should ensure are taken in any M&A effort.
1. First things first. It is important to recognize what is going to bring the biggest ROI in the integration or what is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Low hanging fruit can reap millions while other undesirable elements with little impact can remain unchanged for now. Identify those areas that are the weakest, misaligned efforts that can be dangerous; these elements foreseen or not should be addressed immediately with a plan of action with timing complementing the level of risk.
2. Stabilize the structure: Naturally any M&A is going to birth a two headed monster. Duplication is everywhere and can be especially dangerous at the top where decision- making is at a clash, creating a negative domino effect throughout the rest of your organization. Be sure to analyze the organizational structure early on, keeping what is the greatest strength in the structure, taking this opportunity to streamline and creating a structure that works for the new organization versus the two old ones. Be clear regarding where authority should appropriately sit, how power should be distributed and what relationships should be direct and indirect according to delivering business results most effectively.
3. Stabilize the leadership and the people. As the good Proverbs say “Without a Vision the people will perish.” Well, with two visions, the people will be confused. Ensuring that there is consistent leadership coupled with consistent direction and messaging is key to a healthy start of your newly merged organization. Choosing the best leadership for the new structure is going to ensure that the best people for other roles are in place and overall your human capital is the best for performance in the new organization.n
4. Culture is often the most ignored element of the M&A naturally because it’s the most ignored in organizations. Though I must say that this trend tends to be changing. Leaders are realizing the power in intentional culture and how it impacts the bottom line and long term performance. Your organization will have a culture. It will be a culture intentionally created by leadership or a culture that will be spontaneously derived from multiple directions, desired or not. Be intentional regarding what you desire the culture to be and cultivate that.
5. Measure what you now want to see. Measure the newly desired performance obviously. However, be sure to also measure the growth of the culture, in which you are choosing to invest. As you measure, it will be easier to identify what and who is having a positive impact on the realization of your vision.
6. Reward and reinforce what is working for the new culture and company. Identify those champions on ALL levels who are impactful in a positive way on performing well according to the new standards of the organization and who are supporting the successful synergies of the integration.
7. Continue to monitor performance, employee adjustment and adapt to changing needs. Ensure that you continue to be flexible, because your exploration and discovery will not necessarily end with the end of the formal integration of your organization.!

How to know when it is time as a Leader to re-invent your Brand?

We know as a business, the rule is to eventually re-invent or die. That rule has grown increasingly true as the speed of change has grown and continues to grow exponentially faster. Re-invention is not meant in the purest sense of throwing everything out (We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water so to speak). However, it does mean bringing a new advantage to your offerings to your brand for your customer and/or stakeholders. It means reviewing what you provide and ensuring that it is as fresh or as aligned with the customer’s modern day needs as possible.
When you look at some of the greatest companies like General Electric, they consistently pressured themselves to re-invent their level of performance and re-invent the offerings that they were able to provide to customers. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the greatest leaders of all times, re-invented himself by extending his fight for freedom and justice beyond blacks in the U.S. to those globally around the world.
As we look at what story is most interesting to many in the U.S. today, we wonder what potential leader will be the next President of The United States (POTUS). If you’re like me it is hard to guess at this point. However, looking specifically at Donald Trump on the Republican end, he has been a popular leader. Many support him because they align with his policy and others because he provides a seemingly raw shock value. Some find it attractive and see it as re-inventive in comparison to traditional politics. However, as his momentum began to plateau, we see Trump searching for a potential way to re-invent his brand, to sell a new flexible, non- negative side, to which we have not been exposed to up to this point.
There are many reasons why re-invention is so attractive to us. We want to continue to get better and receive better, we bore easily and many of us like new experiences.
Going back to the primary question at hand, when is it time for leaders to reinvent their brands? When the vision that they have set is no longer being achieved or progressing with the current strategy. When they know that they can accomplish more with a different strategy than originally thought possible. Of course, forecasting trends can anticipate a decline before one arises. Direction can be monitored to see when progress is plateauing or headed in a non- desired direction. Ultimately, leaders need to be more flexible than ever in their quest to maintain pace, reach goals and compete to higher levels of performance.

Does Authenticity Really Work for Leaders?

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Over the past decade, there has been growing fervor for authenticity everywhere, including the workplace. Benefits of being an authentic leader are many Leaders who share their authentic selves waste less time putting on facades, selecting convoluted words or playing games regarding what they mean, hoping that others will guess.
Authentic leaders are easier to brand because easily stand out and are remembered for who they are versus attempting to blend in with other leaders of the day. They celebrate their signature personalities realizing that it’s not meant for every place, but it’s worth keeping genuine for that right fit audience.
It’s also easier for people to connect to authentic leaders. There are fewer layers to push through when you can go directly to the heart of the person. Authentic leaders allow us to go directly to their hearts and see what’s inside.
Enough of all of the positive stuff regarding authentic leaders, the uglier side of the truth here is that authenticity is not always celebrated, particularly in the Western Hemisphere. Negative depictions of authenticity have been termed “shooting from the hip, lacking self- control, Low Emotional Intelligence and unsophisticated among other things. Even in the Democratic Election, we see the taboo that authenticity had created around candidate Bernie Sanders. The biggest criticism in the Democratic Party of Mr. Sanders is that he’s not electable. Many have deemed him not electable because he is not perceived as sophisticated enough, not as refined. As a society, we often perceive the leader who tells the most truths as unsophisticated and unable to manipulate, not entertaining that the authenticity might actually be a choice versus a handicap limited to babes.
Getting back to the question at hand, does authenticity really work for leaders? Authenticity not only works, but it is a requirement for leaders with tenures of longevity. Sure a leader can be coached to have the right gravitas, say the right thing at the right time in order to get from point A to B. However, the leader who is going to be able to build a sustainable team is the one with whom the team can connect. That connection has to be made with a real leader, a real person. It goes without saying that the authenticity of the leader has to have some amiable characteristics in order to maintain successful longevity. The argument regarding which is more appealing a genuine jerk or fake nice one is not covered so much here. However, we do know that the surface is slippery. We can grab the surface, but it’s hard to hold on to it, without the substance. Therefore, authenticity should be seen like the foundation, the pass/ fail of leadership. While other elements are important, without authenticity, a leader will not be able to sustain his/ her career. It will be fleeting just like the façade carried.

7 Factors challenging leaders' ability to balance strategy and execution

Of course major CEOs of Fortune 500 companies don’t wrestle as much with how much to plan and strategize versus executing. However, when leaders sit in roles such as the Director, Vice President and sometimes even Senior Vice President, the appropriate balance between strategy and execution can become a little murky.
One might speculate that the mass exodus of administrative assistants during challenging economic times of the eighties, 2008 and beyond has led to leaders among everyone else doing far more. Therefore, leaders’ tendency to be far more tactical in traditionally strategic roles has become precedence. Other leaders became successful by their excellent execution style so why would they abandon something that has made them so successful? The assumption often is what would get them there is what has already gotten them here. As we know from experience and Marshall Goldsmith, this is often not true.
The appropriate balance between strategy and execution, of course, depends on various factors.
How many resources do you have? If you have a significant number of deliverables often on your desk with little staff, the temptation or necessity may be to focus on tactical matters. In that event, the title doesn’t necessarily match the available job slotted. What is the quality of the resources that you have? Is the talent on your team competent in the work needed to be accomplished? Some leaders are inundated with tactical responsibilities because they work with staff members who are not competent in the space. Steps
Are you a micromanager? Some leaders not only want something always done right, but always done their way. Micromanagers not only limit the growth of their staff, but they limit their own capacity to grow, be strategic and create beyond the tactical to dos.
Is strategy rewarded? In some organizations, creativity is not appreciated and even shunned as too risky. Such environments discourage leaders from being strategic to think beyond what the organization is currently doing since greater rewards are reaped by simply doing what has always been done well.
Do you know how to delegate? Leaders who are not comfortable with passing on duties or do not know how to appropriately divide responsibilities among themselves and their direct reports have a tendency to be more tactical and just do the task when they don’t know how to prepare someone else to do it. Are you a spotlight hoarder? Some leaders hoard duties because they want to hoard the spotlight, they don’t want to risk their direct reports outshining them. Such leaders are most dangerous for organizations.
Are you a leader who is strategic? Some leaders are misplaced. While they have been promoted based upon effective execution in their prior role, they are a misfit, not strategic enough in their current role.
These are some reasons why leaders struggle between strategy and execution. Of course the reasons will indicate the appropriate action to follow. Firstly, leaders should understand their styles of leadership as well as the strengths and challenges that come with such styles.

Leader drives Culture or else Culture drive the Leader

Culture is the most powerful, yet underestimated element of any organization. Thankfully, today, culture is getting more attention in organizations due to the realization that people want more from work, more from companies, from which they buy beyond a paycheck or product.
Contrary to popular belief, culture is not this ambiguous, non- defined form without shape or tangible meaning. In fact, all elements of an organization impact culture and receive impact directly from the culture. Culture can be intentional or unintentional, however, its development is inevitable. The leader(s) own the responsibility of an organization’s culture regardless of their roles in shaping in it. It can feed long-term positive performance or threaten it.
An effective leader understands the need to focus on intentional positive culture development. Rigor is required in order to shape culture that is beneficial for the organization’s long term performance. Identifying the present culture is the first step of identifying the direction of an organization’s culture. This allows you as a leader, the ability to then accurately measure the gap between where your organization is and the cultural vision, where you are trying to go. Significant work and investment (time, political, etc.) is often required to change the culture of an organization. Maintaining positive cultural elements is equally important, but still requires a level of measurement and rigor in order to understand what is directly contributing to the positive culture.
The power of culture and how it guides the relationships of an organization internally and externally is monumental. The truest principles of an organization are manifested through its culture, priorities and practices. Therefore, the culture of on organization should be regularly assessed, measured and cultivated.

What is Your Leader Development Communication Style?

I developed this Leader Development Communication Archetype Model five years ago while preparing a Succession Planning presentation for a National Human Resources Conference. I so happened to come across the presentation on my computer, realizing that Leader Development and Succession Planning are still as much challenges for most organizations as it was five years ago.
In the model, I share four archetypes of Leader Development Styles: Steel, Wood, Earth, Water and Fire.

  • 1. The STEEL leader says, “My job is secure.” If you are a STEEL leader, nothing gets through you. You hoard all of the information and vehicles to get anything done. You pull the ultimate trigger on everything.
  • 2. The WOOD leader says, “You only need to know but so much...” If you are a WOOD leader, things and information permeate rarely… and only when pulled and prodded out from your direct reports. You are a tough gatekeeper.
  • 3. The EARTH leader says, “I’ll give it to you, but only if you absolutely need it to finish this project at hand…” As an EARTH leader, things permeate... You give, but only as absolutely needed to get the currently assigned task completed.
  • 4. The WATER leader says, “What would you like to know?” If you are a WATER leader, knowledge flows generously, but without intention and strategy. There is no planning involved. Guidance given to the direct report lacks any of the wisdom or discretion of the manager.
  • 5. If you are a FIRE leader, you lead and share information with intention and understanding of where your direct report are and can go.
  • a. You are a mentor.
  • b. You professionally develop your staff strategically.
  • c. You pour out of yourself to others around you- above, below and laterally.
  • d. You encourage the same behavior for your staff.
  • .
  • Exponential growth is recognized among your team throughout the entire organization.
  • Learning is contagious.
  • You create stars who are tomorrow’s leaders of your organization.

Strategic Planning for the New Millenium

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I’m telling my age by saying that I remember the days when corporations would develop five to 10-year strategic plans and the CEOs would stand up like gods and say, “It was written, now let there be light.” Those were days… LOL! We are living in times where only a few staples stay true and unpredictably so. In today’s world, CEOs still want to acquire, organically grow and continuously increase their EBITDA. However, two elements ring more important than ever before and should be incorporated in any attempt to develop a real strategic plan, whether for one year, two years or even five years if you dare to dream. Those two elements include:

  • 1. An Intentional Culture
  • 2. A Flexible Propensity toward Change
Whereas culture was a fluffy, amorphous pie in the sky soft skill ten years ago, CEOs are now realizing that Culture is not only operationalizable, the whole personality of the organization, but also determines the limits to the success of the entity. Whereas in the past, many CEOs opted to focus on building the financial elements of the empire and leaving culture to the HR folk, successful leaders are choosing to intentionally shape a culture that is “built to last.”
Change has always been inevitable; however, it has never been so fast. Change is coming from all directions. Change is no longer a decision simply made by the Senior Leadership Team to place upon the organization. Environmental, political, societal and thus market changes are thrusting upon organizations to act fast, catch quickly, learn to juggle or lose your balance and fall. In an ever-increasing time of fast changes, organizations that do not build their adaptability skill will not thrive.
Keeping these in mind continue to develop that beautifully developed strategic plan focused on acquiring the world, or maybe a competitor or two. Develop that strategy to outsource a third of your operation to the Asia Pacific and/ or build out that Cloud- based system that will unite all information throughout your enterprise. However, whatever you do, ensure that your company has the culture to support and sustain your dreams and the muscle to adapt to the changes that you envision and those inevitably to come that you would never foresee.