Archive for August 2013

Loyalty Liabilities

August 30, 2013

Every leader can tell you about the hard working, tireless group of employees that helped them start their business. The leader realizes they would not have experienced success without the contributions of these loyal workers.

Unfortunately as the business matures and changes, the people with whom you start your business are not necessarily those with whom you grow your business. The skills required to launch a start-up are different from those needed to grow. Even after the business has passed them by, most leaders are reluctant to displace the loyal group they started with.

A leader owes it to the organization and their loyal but underperforming employees to move along without them. This doesn’t mean their departure shouldn’t be treated more favorably than others, but they do need to be moved on.

Probably the best example of this was when Bill Gates realized Microsoft had outgrown him and he replaced himself as CEO with Steve Ballmer in 2000.

Empower yourself to challenge your loyalties and you’ll be a successful leader.

Surround Yourself With Great People

August 22, 2013

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” – Anonymous

In the over 10,000 executives we have assessed, we have seen a wide range of assessment results for leaders.  It is shocking how poorly many leaders score.  When we ask those leaders about their results, they are not surprised.  They confidently confirm our findings demonstrating humbleness and self-awareness.  However, without exception those successful leaders have intentionally surrounded themselves with people with better skills than they have.

Though it seems obvious leaders would select direct reports who are smarter than they are, it takes a great deal of humility and self-confidence for a leader to do so.  These leaders enjoy scoring without the ball, perfectly willing to let their competent team run up the score knowing at the end of the day they will be successful.

Empower yourself to hire better people than you and you’ll be more successful.

Celebrate Your Direct Report’s Accomplishments as Though They are Your Own

August 16, 2013

If you have children and have sat through one of their graduation ceremonies, you know the mixed feelings you experienced; a mix of joy, sadness, and pride – pride for the accomplishment of the graduate and pride for the contributions you’ve made to the graduate’s success.

You should feel the same pride for your direct report’s achievements.  If you continuously challenged your direct report to develop while providing resources and removing obstacles for their success, you should feel deep pleasure and satisfaction.  In fact, the resumes of leaders today will often include the development and accomplishments of their direct reports, as well as their own accomplishments.

Empower your direct reports to succeed and revel in their accomplishments.


Let Your Direct Reports Know You Care

August 9, 2013

It’s August, back-to-school specials are popping up at the stores, summer is winding down for school-aged children and families prepare for another transition into a new school year.  For some parents, it’s a relief to have kids return to school, for others there is a shared anxiety with children embarking on new schools, new classrooms, and new teachers.

Your one-on-ones provide a perfect venue to explore whether the family of your direct report is looking forward to the new school year or approaching it with apprehension.  Are there significant milestones forthcoming for any children  (first day of kindergarten, junior high transition, college visits for juniors, and schedule demands on seniors and parents)?

Exploring these upcoming events with employees allows you to know if a day or two off to prepare, or extra time off to deal with new demands on personal schedules might be in order.

Empowering your direct reports for success includes knowing when and how much to delegate given everything at stake.


Prepare For Interviews

August 2, 2013

All good processes begin with some pre-planning and never is that more true than in a selection process.  We suggest getting crystal clear about what you’re looking for in advance to prepare for your interviews.

The most important preparation is identifying the critical activities for that job and how they should be done — giving careful consideration to the traits that will increase the likelihood of an individual’s success in that job.  Here’s the key: you’re identifying the key traits for THAT JOB.

Without careful planning, we may fall into the “I’ll know it when I see it” trap looking for traits we generally admire in people even if they may be detrimental or counterintuitive for the job.  For example, selecting a candidate who is outgoing with an ease for chatting up any topic in the interview may make sense for a sales position, but may be indicative of lacking the focus, attention to detail, and thorough consideration for a quality assurance position.

Empower your interviewers by agreeing in advance on the accountabilities and traits critical to the job for which they are interviewing.  As interviewers, the likelihood of them selecting the best candidate for the position increases significantly as does their buy-in and support of the new employee once selected.