Tag Archives: Leadership

CUSTOMER FOCUS

HOW TO EXECUTE ON THE PROMISE OF CUSTOMER FOCUSĀ by Ranjay Gulati

To fight commoditization, companies in many industries are shifting their marketing focus from products to solutions — packages of previously stand-alone offerings. But this change requires significant structural change in order to release and leverage the knowledge and expertise that traditionally reside in silos. Four sets of activities are necessary to break through common organizational boundaries:

1. Coordination. These activities allow employees to concentrate more on the needs of their customers than of their silos. Coordination may involve the creation of new functional or geographic units, but a less disruptive approach is to layer boundary-spanning, customer-centric structures over existing ones.

2. Culture. Cultural elements like metrics and incentives play an important role in fostering a cooperative environment. For example, people should be evaluated and rewarded based on customer-focused behaviors. Service to the customer should be included among key organizational values.Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 7.08.34 pm

3. Capability. Coordinated, cooperative environments require both multi-domain skills (ability to work with multiple products and services) and boundary-spanning skills (ability to forge connections across internal boundaries). But because such generalist capabilities are not widely rewarded or developed, it takes a deliberate effort to create generalist training opportunities and attractive career paths.

4. Connection. The final component in the silo-busting effort is to forge new links externally. For instance, it may be possible to cut costs by outsourcing, or to create even higher-value solutions by working with a complementary partner.

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COLOR Q PERSONALITY SYSTEM

THE COLOR Q PERSONALITY SYSTEM: ITS FOUNDATION AND HISTORY

The idea of defining and describing personality types is as old as civilization itself. Famously, in 400 BCE, Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen believed humans were dominated by one of four “humors:”Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 00.57.18

1. Sanguine people were cheerful and confident

2. Melancholy people were pensive and gloomy

3. Phlegmatic people were calm and steady

4. Choleric people were mercurial and ill-tempered

The field burgeoned when Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung theorized that humans engaged with reality using predominantly four “functions,” which he identified as thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuition. In the 1940s, Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers, avid students of human behavior, used Jung’s theory of types to develop a personality assessment model; they believed that understanding the needs, behaviors, and motivations of workers would help wartime employers more effectively and successfully match people new to the workforce — primarily women — to jobs that would suit them best. Since then, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) assessment has become one of the most widely used and extensively tested personality assessment instruments available. Other type-based assessment models exist, with the best of them (notably the Keisey Temperament Sorter) based on or drawing heavily from both Jung’s work and the MBTI model. The Color Q personality assessment instrument also draws on the seminal work of Briggs and Myers.

Zichy’s Color Q personality assessment divides the population into four groups and assigns a color name to each of these dominant personality preferences:

*Greens — 17 percent of the population. “Creative” Greens are empathic, humanistic, and compassionate theorists with highly developed written and verbal communications skills. Happiest in egalitarian, idea-oriented, supportive environments, they embrace change and pursue it enthusiastically.

*Reds — 27 percent of the population. “Action-oriented” Reds resist rigidity, schedules, and hierarchies, preferring to act on instinct, follow their impulses, and rely on their ability to remain calm and capable in crises. Excellent negotiators and troubleshooters, they value flexibility, variety, and fun, collegial work environments.

*Blues — 10 percent of the population. “Visionary” Blues excel at dealing with complex, theoretical issues, developing new systems, and strategic thinking. Competitive, precise, and unfailingly logical, they value knowledge for its own sake. They prefer setting their own high standards and benchmarks to explaining or maintaining someone else’s procedures and systems.

*Golds — 46 percent of the population. “Grounded, realistic” Golds excel as administrators and protectors of systems, people, goods, services, and schedules. Detailed list-makers and organizers, they appreciate procedures, respect chains of command, happily rally the team and lead the effort, and gladly accept responsibility. They resist change and dislike abstractions, hypotheticals, and untested ideas.

Each of the four colors can be further refined by the addition of a “backup” personality style, a set of secondary characteristics: Greens can have Gold or Red backups; Reds can have Blue or Green backups; Blues can have Gold or Red backups; and Golds can have Blue or Green backups. In addition to falling into one of these eight subcategories, people will be further classified as either extroverts or introverts.

THINKING PROCESS

THE GATEKEEPER OF THINKING

People who think positively outperform better-trained, pessimistic workers by more than 50 percent. The prevailing thinking pattern of a team or an organization defines what it is and what it does. The boundaries that the leader sets determine the type of thinking that prevails.Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.54.41 pm

Naysayers can influence everyone around them in negative ways. Anticipating negative and positive outcomes causes distinct chemical reactions in the brain. The threatened brain freezes up and works at diminished capacity. Anticipation of good outcomes causes the brain to produce dopamine, which makes it more alert and interested. Leaders should model the philosophy that action produces positive results.

In contrast, those who are negative in their thinking have learned to be helpless. Rather than taking action to banish pain, they believe that no matter what they do, the pain will remain, so they do nothing. The brain learns to be passive and shuts down. This style of thinking has three stages, known as the three Ps:

1. Personal: People blame themselves, thinking they caused the problem because they were bad.

2. Pervasive: People generalize that the problem from a single situation applies to every situation, believing nothing can go well.

3. Permanent: People believe the problem can never change for the better. Nothing will be different, so why try?

One important role of leadership is eliminating negative thinking when it seeps into the organization. Find-a-way thinking separates people whose circumstances overcome them and people who overcome their circumstances. As long as leaders set strong boundaries that do not allow negative thinking, employees will find a way. The belief that success is within reach is one of the strongest predictors of goal achievement.

Feel Connected with teams

POWER THROUGH CONNECTION

Improving performance by learning new skills is not the only way to heighten production. Sometimes, improving performance depends upon changing the emotional atmosphere and improving employee relationships.

When people feel connected to others, they experience less negative stress. Relationships change brain chemistry, making people less vulnerable to negativity. To foster a feeling of connection in the workplace, leaders have to set aside the right kinds and amounts of time for interacting.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.54.58 pmMore meetings build connection and unity. They should involve talking about work, behaviors, roles, and responsibilities, so people can see the different ways their experiences connect with those of others.

Leaders should have several types of meetings with their teams:

*Daily check-in: 5-10 minutes.

*Weekly tactical: 45-90 minutes.

*Monthly strategic: 2-4 hours.

*Quarterly off-site review: 1 to 2 days.

The most important ingredient for successful meetings is having a predictable schedule and structure.

Another way leaders can set boundaries is by creating connections. Factors that neurologically build connection among coworkers include:

*A shared purpose that is clearly defined within the meeting.

*Awareness that allows everyone to operate from the same facts and realities.

*Nonverbal cues, such as turning off cell phones, that indicate a willingness to actively engage with others.

*Collaboration in an environment where people are physically and mentally present and engaged in problem solving.

*Coherent and relevant narratives that engage the brain more fully and illustrate people’s roles in the company story as it moves forward.

*Conflict resolution that confronts those interpersonal issues that hinder high performance.

*Emotional regulation that results from connecting with others for feedback and empathy.

*Emotional reflection that focuses on the present and leads to insight and openness within the group.

*Emotional repair that occurs in a group bound by mutual trust.

*Listening that is active and intentional so that each member of the group knows and understands the others.

Team Effectiveness

HOW MANAGEMENT TEAMS CAN HAVE A GOOD FIGHT

By Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Jean L. Kahwajy, and L.J. Bourgeois III

When performed constructively, conflict among team members helps teams make high-stakes decisions quickly and effectively. Through their research, the authors found that teams can successfully leverage constructive conflict and limit interpersonal conflict by:Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.55.15 am

1. Focusing on the facts. Teams must acquire a wealth of objective and up-to-date data about their businesses and competitors so that team members can have informed debates about critical issues.

2. Multiplying the alternatives. Having only two options can polarize a team and create destructive conflict. To avoid this and encourage a healthy debate, managers must offer four to five options for team members.

3. Creating common goals. Leaders must frame strategic choices as collaborative rather than competitive exercises so that members feel as though achieving the best solution is in everyone’s best interest.

4. Using humor. Teams with low levels of interpersonal conflict use humor to relieve tension and provide a collaborative spirit among members.

5. Balancing the power structure. Interpersonal conflict is low in “balanced power structures” where the CEO has the most power, but other management members have substantial power in their own areas of responsibility and can participate in strategic decisions.

6. Seeking consensus with qualification. Conflict is managed in the two-step process of “consensus with qualification.” First, executives discuss an issue and try to reach a consensus. If they cannot, the most relevant senior manager makes the decision with the input of the rest of the group in consideration.

VIRTUOSO TEAMS

VIRTUOSO TEAMS

By Bill Fischer and Andy Boynton

Although “virtuoso teams,” comprised of top experts in their fields, are best at managing high-stake situations, leaders often settle for ordinary project teams to avoid the egocentric nature that “virtuoso” members are notorious for. Consequently, they get ordinary results. To put together a high performing virtuoso team, managers must:

*Assemble the stars. Hire the people with the best skills who are willing to dive into risky challenges. Virtuoso teams blend their collaboration with a sense of competition.

*Build the ego of the group. Managers must help team members break through their egocentrism to become a powerful, unified team by cultivating a single-minded focus on a common goal.

*Make work a contact sport. Instead of allowing members to debate and discuss remotely, managers of virtuoso teams must facilitate face-to-face conversations in order to foster impassioned dialogues.p2

*Challenge the customer. Managers of virtuoso teams must foster the belief that customers want more, not less, and encourage members to deliver solutions consistent with this higher perception.

*Herd the cats. Virtuoso teams do not emphasize consensus and compromise, but use goals and strict deadlines to balance members’ needs for individual attention and intellectual freedom.

WHEN TEAMS CAN’T DECIDE

WHEN TEAMS CAN’T DECIDE

By Bob Frisch

The trouble with cross-functional team decision making is the process itself. To improve their teams’ decision-making processes, leaders must first acknowledge that decision making is problematic because each member has constituencies in the organization they are vying for. Leaders can improve the decision-making process by:

*Clearly articulating the outcome. When the outcome the team wants to collectively accomplish is unclear, individual members can choose options based on unspoken assumptions.

*Providing a range of options for achieving outcomes. Leaders must ensure that there is a broader range of options beyond “accept the proposed plan,” “reject the proposed plan,” and “defer the decision.”

*Testing fences and walls. When team members encounter a presumed boundary, they must take the time to determine if it is an immovable “wall” or a “fence” that can be moved.

*Surfacing preferences early. To focus a discussion, leaders must survey team members before meetings and identify their preferences.

*Stating each other’s pros and cons. Leaders should make sure both sides of every option are thoroughly voiced. This often requires assigning a devil’s advocate to make counterarguments and depersonalize the discussion.

*Devising new options that preserve the best features of existing ones. If a team has reached an impasse, it is often necessary for it to reframe its options in a way that preserves the original intent.

EI in groups

BUILDING THE EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE OF GROUPS

By Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff

Although group Emotional Intelligence (EI) can help skilled teams reach their highest potential, it is far more complex than individual EI and therefore more difficult to cultivate. To build group EI, a team must be aware of and constructively regulate the emotions of:Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 2.54.50 pm

*Individual team members. To understand the sources of individuals’ emotional behaviors, members can perform role-playing exercises and adopt the opinions and styles of others. To regulate individual emotional behavior, teams must learn how to constructively confront others.

*The whole group. Teams must use self-evaluation and feedback from others as norms that cultivate group self-awareness of their emotional states, strengths, and weaknesses. To regulate group-level emotion, teams must establish norms that create resources for working with emotions, foster an affirmative environment, and encourage proactive problem solving.

*Other key groups. Teams can cultivate awareness of the emotions of other key groups by having team members act as liaisons to important constituencies. To regulate the emotions of other key groups, it is necessary to develop cross-boundary relationships in which appreciation is shown.

COLLABORATIVE TEAMS

EIGHT WAYS TO BUILD COLLABORATIVE TEAMS

By Lynda Gratton and Tamara J. Erickson

The successful execution of a major initiative requires a complex team comprised of many educated specialists from diverse backgrounds. However, while the complexity of a team may be beneficial to an initiative, it can also make collaboration extremely challenging. To maximize the effectiveness of large, complex teams, the following eight practices are recommended:

1. Invest in building and maintaining social relationship practices. Executives can build and maintain social relationships throughout their organizations with “signature practices,” or highly visible investments that demonstrate commitment to collaboration.

2. Model collaborative behavior. Executive teams must support a culture of collaboration by making their own collaborative efforts visible to the rest of their organizations.Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 01.28.49

3. Create a “gift culture.” A “gift culture” is one where employees view interactions with leaders and colleagues as valuable and generous. This can be cultivated if executives embed mentoring and coaching into their routine behavior and throughout their companies.

4. Ensure the requisite skills. Collaboration improves when HR departments teach employees how to build relationships, communicate well, and resolve conflicts.

5. Support a strong sense of community. People are more likely to reach out to others and share knowledge when they feel a sense of community. HR can foster a community spirit by sponsoring events like networking groups or weekend gatherings.

6. Assign team leaders who are task- and relationship-oriented. The most successful team leaders are able to be task-oriented in the beginning stages of a project and shift to being relationship builders as conflict between members arises.

7. Build on heritage relationships. As people are reluctant to share knowledge with strangers, it is necessary to ensure team members know one another.

8. Ensure role clarity and task ambiguity. Cooperation increases when the roles of individual team members are clearly defined but the path to the achieving the team’s goal is left somewhat ambiguous. Task ambiguity promotes creative thinking and collaboration.

WHY TEAMS DON’T WORK

WHY TEAMS DON’T WORK

By Diane Coutu

Teams consistently underperform, despite the extra resources they have, because of problems with coordination, motivation, and competition. Team expert Professor J. Richard Hackman argues that while even the best leaders cannot guarantee that their teams will deliver results, they can increase the likelihood of their success by setting the following conditions:

*The team is “real.” Leaders must be ruthlessly clear about who is on the team and who is not. Sometimes this requires forcing ill-suited members off the team.

*The team has a compelling direction. Leaders must articulate a clear direction to ensure members do not pursue different agendas. Members must know and agree on the work they are collaborating on.

*The team has expert coaching. When it comes to group processes, teams need guidance from expert coaches who can:

*Run launch meetings to orient team members with the tasks at hand.

*Help teams conduct midpoint reviews to determine what is working and what is not.Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.55.15 am

*Regularly reflect on finished work to identify successes and shortcomings and how members can make the best use of their experiences the next time around.

*The team has a designated deviant. To avoid complacency, leaders must assign “deviants,” or naysayers who challenge their teams’ desire for homogeneity.