Archive for February 2018

The One Question Every Leader Should Ask

February 23, 2018

Dwight Eisenhower was recognized as one of the greatest leaders of his era.  Imagine having to deal with Patton, Stalin and Roosevelt, and with Marshall, Churchill, De Gaulle, and Montgomery.  Each had idiosyncrasies that would drive any leader nuts, but Ike got through it all and achieved victory.

Ike’s favorite leadership technique was to simply ask others: “What do you think?”  With that one question, Eisenhower was able to:

  • Learn what was going on;
  • Gain insights into other’s thinking processes;
  • Understand how well someone could articulate their thoughts;
  • Get different points of view;
  • Demonstrate an interest in the other person;
  • Engage the other person and develop their relationship.

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that produce the greatest results.  Those words “What do you think?” are a key to good leadership and give direct reports an opportunity to express their opinion.  Additionally, asking the question shows the leader is interested in the thoughts of the direct report, and demonstrates the leader has at least some confidence in the competence of the direct report’s thought processes.

Leaders who empower direct reports by asking them what they think have a more successful team.

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Embrace Mistakes For Enduring Success

February 16, 2018

In a recent interview two candidates were asked to describe a time they made a mistake; here are their responses:

Candidate #1 – “I thoroughly prepare and plan for situations.  I then meticulously and consciously execute the plans to eliminate mistakes; I rarely fail.  Measure twice, cut once is always my mantra.”

Candidate #2: – “Though I never enter a situation intending to fail, I do make mistakes.  For instance, last month I missed my sales goal because I overestimated how strong my relationship with a key buyer was.  I learned I needed to not take the orders for granted and to work hard at post-sale activities even when I think the sale is a done deal.”

Which candidate would make the best hire – one who over prepares and rarely makes mistakes or the one who is willing to make mistakes but learns from them?

Not only is it important to hire people who are willing to make mistakes, it’s important to foster an environment where making mistakes is embraced.  Jeff Stibel, a neuroscientist and Vice Chairman at Dun & Bradstreet, went as far as to create a “failure wall” when he was Chairman and CEO at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. where everyone in the company was encouraged to post their mistakes.  The wall, initiated with Stibel’s own failures, quickly filled up with many failures and the organization grew rapidly as employees embraced new and creative approaches knowing that failure was okay.

Leaders who empower their organization to make mistakes experience more long-term success.

Workplace Dating: “It’s Complicated”

February 13, 2018

With social issues mounting and media bringing them to the forefront, companies are getting very nervous about the likelihood of employees dating each other and that either ending well, or very, very poorly. The Hustle recently published the following article we thought was worth sharing.

“It’s complicated:” Google and Facebook are revamping company dating policies

Office romance is inevitable. Co-workers often spend more time with each other than they do their own friends or family, and studies have shown that 41% of workers have dated a colleague.

But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, companies are scrambling to figure out how they can keep their employees safe — and keep themselves clear of scandalous headlines.

According to the Wall Street Journal, both Facebook and Google are working on their own solutions, in the form of updated dating policies.

Policing the inevitable

Instead of outright prohibiting the act, or creating some hokey “love contract,” the tech giants have decided to put into writing some of the rules when it comes to asking out a co-worker.

The most straightforward of these rules: Employees only get ONE chance. If it’s a “no,” then that’s it, end of discussion. Move along, Casanova.

Not sure about reciprocation, or getting mixed vibes? According to Facebook’s global head of employment law, Heidi Swarts, “ambiguous” answers like “I’m busy” or “I can’t that night” also count as a “no.”

Facebook also explains their employees don’t have to report the date to HR if one is more senior than the other. BUT, if there’s a “clear conflict of interest” and the employees don’t report it, punishments will be doled out.

This seems pretty reasonable

As sexual scandals continue to be exposed across the business landscape, this precaution is building a set of standards to categorize the shades of grey that often come with any form of communication.

Some HR reps have played devil’s advocate, explaining that strict dating policies can often feel “too invasive” to potential employee prospects, and crimp recruitment efforts.

But the rules set in place by Facebook and Google seem to be based more in common sense than some big brother oligarchy — and they’re probably a good baseline for anyone to follow.

Great Teams Start With Great Hires

February 9, 2018

Right now there is a team working on the next iPhone.  There is a team working on preventing Alzheimer’s disease. There is a team working on a car that gets 100 miles per gallon. What teams are going to achieve their objective? What makes for a successful team?

Patrick Lencioni in “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” developed a model of high performing teams that includes five key characteristics: inter-team trust, healthy conflict, team member commitment, team member accountability, and team results orientation. But before someone can be a high performing team member, they need to have been hired into the organization.

In all likelihood, a new hire will be assigned to a team sometime in their career. Hiring managers should screen for teamwork skills along with other job requirements.

Here are some questions for hiring managers to ask candidates to understand how well they will perform in a team setting:

  • Describe an effective team in which you’ve participated.  What made it a good team? Describe a team that was less effective. What was the difference between the two?
  • Have you ever seen someone violate a trust relationship with another team member? What was the trust issue that was violated? What was the result? How could it have been avoided?
  • Give me an example of a group or team decision that was made and you felt that it was wrong or was something you disagreed with. How did you handle it? Were there others who agreed with you? What was the end result?

Empowered teams choose new hires who will make great team members and experience more success.

Fascinating Stuff About Millennials!

February 6, 2018

Management Research Group (MRG) has been administering Leadership Effectiveness Analyses for 34 years. They took LEA results from 25-35 year olds from 30 years ago and compared to LEA results from current 25-35 year olds and found virtually no differences in results.  

It is important to note that unlike most Lickert-based 360s which ask someone to score based on 1-10, always to never, etc., MRG uses a semi-ipsative tool which cannot be gamed, and eliminates most common rater biases.  The Leadership Effectiveness Analysis is a 360 degree feedback tool designed to evaluate how someone’s leadership practices are perceived by others.

 MRG LEA data

It seems our complaints are more about people in their 20’s and early 30’s and less about one generation or another.  I know, I know!  But “I was different when I was their age!”  I have no doubt!  But when you think about most of your peers — just imagine your last high school reunion — you were probably different from them, too.  That’s why you achieved what you did because you were different form the rest.  Our challenge is to continue to seek those diamonds in the rough, and not just settle for anything that briefly sparkles.  They are out there; sometimes we just need to refine our selection processes!

Use Assessments To Build Team Trust

February 2, 2018

In his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Patrick Lencioni suggests trust is the basic foundation for a high performing team.  Teams cannot engage in healthy conflict, commit to each other, hold each other accountable, or achieve sustainable results with an absence of trust.

So how does a team build trust?  According to Lencioni, “Some of the most effective and lasting tools for building trust on a team are profiles of team members’ behavioral preferences and personality styles.  These help break down barriers by allowing people to better understand and empathize with one another.”

The psychometric instrument the team uses is not as important as going through the exercise.  Whether you use Myers-Briggs, PI, DISC, or another assessment tool, the value to the team is in having each team member share their results, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and learn to leverage each team member’s strengths.  The shared vulnerability exhibited in the exercise creates a team bond and an inherent level of trust.

Empowered teams take an assessment then share and discuss each other’s results to experience high performing success.