The Uncomfortable Truth about Leadership Training

3_18_14 Uncomfortable Truth about Leadership Training

Let’s get it out right up front – organizations spend billions every year on leadership training yet see little, if any, change in actions or results.  The uncomfortable truth is that most leadership training is a waste of time and money.  To better understand this situation, we need to look at three critical questions. -Why does most training fail? -Why do companies continue to spend money for so little value? -What steps can you take to make sure that your investment isn’t wasted?   There are several reasons why training fails. Confuse skill and perspective problems – This factor may be the single most common cause for why training fails.  […]

The Most Important Leadership Skill

Most Important Leadership Skill

If you search the web, you will find countless articles that define the characteristics or skills of a great leader – integrity, vision, honesty, creativity, inspiration, accountability, delegation – the lists go on and on.  Yet rarely do I see the single skill that I believe is most important for successful leadership – the skill of listening authentically.   If it appears at all, “communications” is typically near the bottom of most lists.  And, even when a list includes “communications,” it may not include listening among the skills.  Finally, when people do mention listening, most of the discussion is about technique (like attentive listening skills) instead of purpose or goals. […]

How Do You Decide What To Spend Your Time On?

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It’s one of the most common challenges we work with leaders on. What should I be spending my time on? What are the most important activities for me? And, your default impulse on these questions may very well be wrong. If you don’t intentionally choose what to focus on, you will continually be reactive and likely not addressing the most important demands of your role. Leaders often choose their focus based on the following criteria:   What I have always focused on We know from decades of research on management “derailment” that, as a manager moves up in the organization, strengths can become weaknesses. People who are really good at […]

Building Strategic IT Business Partners

2_27_14 Strategic IT Business Partner

Let’s start by defining the label.  You aren’t a strategic partner simply because your job title aligns you to an IT business client.  And, you aren’t a strategic partner if you see your role as identifying and addressing the stated needs of that client.  Strategic partners must bring more to the role than addressing stated needs.  A strategic IT business partner will routinely deliver the following results. Identify latent needs, and describe how IT can help clients achieve their goals in unexpected ways. Surface and resolve conflicts about goals, and build consensus on goals across clients. Define a specific, causal connection between IT projects and expected business results. Define and […]

Lean Into Your Mistakes

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Every human being (including every leader) is a work in progress, on a developmental journey, moving away from the person they have been, and moving towards the person they are becoming. Whether you’re engaged in a formal coaching process or not, you are likely to have development goals as part of your annual objectives, intended to advance you on this journey. Even if you don’t have formal development goals, you’re probably aware of ways in which you can be more effective as a leader.   For example, you may want to… do a better job of including others and building consensus on decisions be more thoughtful and rigorous about plans […]

The Value of Uncertainty

2_6_14 The Value of Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a permanent part of the leadership landscape – Andy Stanley   “Often wrong, but never uncertain.”  I’m always troubled when I hear that phrase about another person.  The world I see around me is never that certain, it’s never black and white.  In every situation, there are different viewpoints, and different paths you can take.  People who shun uncertainty, who never question their own approach, typically create more problems than they solve.   Some people try to manage uncertainty with simple, direct action.  The classic example is Alexander and the Gordian Knot.  This legend has Alexander faced with the problem of untying a knot that has no beginning.  […]

Your 2014 Leadership Development Goals – Get Them Off The Page And Into Reality

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It’s that time of year – you’re setting your goals for 2014, including your own development goals. Yet, perhaps your files are cluttered with the evidence of past development resolutions that didn’t fully materialize. How can you approach your development goals differently this year, so that you actually reach your vision for yourself? Here are some guidelines.   Get real about what’s an attainable goal. It’s useful to understand what can and can’t be changed in your leadership style. What you can develop is usually related to your perspective – learning to see and value things differently, which then opens up new options for behavior. For example, you can become […]

Why Tech Projects Fail, and How to Prevent It

1_13_14 Why Tech Projects Fail

The most effective IT leaders I know always seem to have the same three priorities for their work – create measureable business value, make and keep commitments to their clients, and deliver high quality solutions built for sustainable success.  These leaders are true “partners” – seeking to understand the client’s purpose and goals, proactively proposing ideas, and resolving conflicts that might prevent project success.  Despite these leaders’ values and actions, despite their efforts to lead successful projects, the dirty secret of technology implementation is that too many projects blow budgets, miss deadlines, or deliver products that don’t work as promised – or at least not until the next release.   […]

Productive Nonconformity

1_7_14 Productive Nonconformity

“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.” – Emerson   When people think about nonconformity, they often think about superficial things – language, grooming, clothing, and even tools or toys.  But that is not the nonconformity that concerns me here.  The most powerful, useful, yet dangerous nonconformity is to speak out when all the forces around you compel you to silence.   Perhaps the best-known case concerning the need for nonconformity is the debacle that was Enron – 4000 jobs destroyed, $74 billion in lost shareholder value, billions more in losses by creditors, and the dissolution of Arthur Andersen represent only a portion of the final toll.  Based […]

What is Bad Management?

12_20_13 What is Bad Management

“Lots of folks confuse bad management with destiny” – Kin Hubbard   Kin Hubbard was a 19th century American journalist and humorist, declared by no less than Will Rogers as “America’s greatest humorist.”  Obviously he was going for the laugh with this quote, but there is a seed of truth here, and his quote led me to wonder – just what is “bad” management and how can you avoid it?   The effects of bad management are obvious to everyone – wealth destroyed, jobs and pensions destroyed, and entire communities or even whole economies disrupted.  One of my clients is going through a major contraction, with all the predictable negative […]