Posted tagged ‘Management’

Five Leadership Skills You Can’t Do Without

November 14, 2009
A glaring gap exists between the skills leaders have now and the ones they will need.
Leadership is like a muscle. The more intelligently you train, the stronger you get. Research at the Center for Creative Leadership reminds us why leaders everywhere, from Fortune 500s to the smallest of nonprofits, need to get to the gym right away.

Leaders today live in an age of remarkably complex challenges. They range from expanding into volatile international markets, to dealing with the fallout from natural disasters, to navigating their organizations through a broken global economy while preparing for future opportunities.
Complex challenges, our research has shown, don’t yield to quick fixes. They don’t respond to standard approaches or conventional knowledge. In fact, 92 percent of executives surveyed by CCL said the challenges their organizations face are more complex than they were just five years ago. On average, they take two years to solve.
Over 2,000 execs contacted
Our research also tells us this: you and your colleagues at every level of your organization do not have all the skills needed to lead effectively in the future. CCL surveyed more than 2,000 leaders from 15 companies in the U.S., India and Singapore. We asked these leaders to rate 20 leadership skills in terms of how important they are right now for success and how important they will be for success over the next five years.

The upshot: the four most important future skills – leading people, strategic planning, inspiring commitment and managing change – are weak points among today’s leaders. There exists, in other words, a glaring gap between the skills leaders have now and the ones they will need in just a few short years. At CCL, we call it the “leadership gap.”

In a world of increasingly complex challenges that demand leadership traits many of us do not yet fully have, there’s no time to waste in developing ourselves and the men and women in our organizations. Based on CCL’s research and practical experience over the past 40 years, we believe the leadership gap can be closed by focusing on these five areas:

Teamwork and collaboration

Managing change


Learning agility/growth mindset


Printed with permission of the Center for Creative Leadership




Some Things Don’t Change

September 8, 2009

Today’s businesses, communities and leaders are all about change. The business media, the popular press and even many recent issues of Leading Effectively have focused on the fast pace of change, the need to adapt and the challenges of leading in times of great uncertainty. All the talk about change might have you believe that leadership itself has completely transformed, too. David Campbell begs to differ.

Campbell, whose groundbreaking work on career development made him renowned in the field of industrial and organizational psychology, is a CCL Honorary Senior Fellow.

Reflecting on a long career working with leaders from around the world, Campbell shared 21 observations of leadership with readers of his publication. His comments include:

  1. Leadership can be taught, or at least learned. I am also fairly certain that it can be stomped on fatally.
  2. A definition of leadership that makes sense to me is, “Actions that focus resources to create desirable opportunities.” I have been using this definition for years, but no one else seems to be impressed by it.
  3. The world will inevitably focus on the frailty of the leader. If a leader scores a 9 on a 10-point scale, the 10 percent gap between reality and perfection will be what draws public attention — but, as the English say, better a diamond with a single flaw than a perfect pebble.
  4. Creative leadership is distasteful to most organizations; it almost always creates unwelcome turbulence. The status quo will usually reign or, perhaps, suffocate. Leaders who attempt to be creative either have to be brilliant or be completely in control. It helps if they are both.
  5. People in charge will hang on too long.
  6. Two basic dimensions of leadership — task orientation and relationship orientation — have constantly appeared and reappeared in the leadership research literature. Both people and productivity are important.
  7. Sooner or later, and it is often sooner, almost all organizations will demonstrate dysfunctionality. Even the simplest organizational tasks escalate in complexity over time, creating either bad feelings or poor performance. Simply assigning parking places or getting the coffee pot cleaned daily will eventually lead to friction.
  8. Poor leadership is far more visible from below than from above, which means that in most organizations, those responsible for evaluating leaders — usually their superiors — are poorly positioned to do so.

Printed with permission of Center for Creative Leadership. Adapted with permission from Leadership in Action, Volume 28, Issue 4, 2008; Copyright (c) 2008 Jossey-Bass Publishers/A Wiley Imprint

Does Your Boss Like to do Your Job?

August 29, 2009

By John Riley

 These days, it is not surprising to find someone who has a boss that does her job for her.  Most people would call that micro-managing  and attribute it to insecurity brought about by a fear of making a mistake or having one’s subordinate make a mistake during these uncertain times.  I think it’s more complex than that.


While insecurity is certainly one factor at play here, there is a professional element as well. I’m talking about the person who is a perfectionist and feels that their subordinates do not share the same attitude toward their work. As result, the fear comes from concern a subordinate might make a mistake and the lack of professionalism would reflect on the supervisor.

 Another possibility that fosters micro-managers is a greater feeling of power.  It probably stems from their feeling that what got them promoted was what they should do as a supervisor except to a greater degree.  That produces a doer rather than a manager and has its own set of problems.

 Unfortunately, whatever the reason, employees resent micro-managing bosses.  And why not?  It shows little respect for the subordinate, prevents their professional development and provides no chance for recognition.  Yet, management seems to tolerate such behavior because the work gets done.

 A common management  justification is, “we’ll deal with it after we get through this difficult period”, but that never seems to happen.   A micro-manager response is, “if I don’t control everything, something bad will happen because my people aren’t up to speed yet”.

 Most observers offer advice to the suffering employees when it is the supervisor that should be dealt with.  Specifically, management should add a remedial action item to the supervisor’s job goals after discussing it with him, the supervisor should be sent to a Manager training program, and he should be scheduled for a performance review in six months.  If, after these three steps, the supervisor’s behavior has not changed, management should find a non-managerial position for him.

 Does your boss like to do your job?   If so, leave a copy of this article near the copy machine.

Boss, Promote Me! I’m Ready.

August 25, 2009

By John Riley

 When an employee raises this issue in a performance review, it’s usually not a surprise because the boss  is thinking the same thing about her career. But, for both the timing isn’t right. Faced with an uncertain economy, executives at companies  large and small have reduced staff and heaped more responsibilities on surviving managers at all levels, frequently without compensating them financially or with a new title. In the process, managers seek to cope by working longer and harder.


 However, there is a better way.  Deliver a performance the executive management  can’t ignore.

When that happens, you will break out of the pack and be on the fast track to promotion.

 What I am suggesting is that you concentrate on mastering four skills: organization and planning, communications, managing people and problem solving.  Working within the company culture and on work teams are two high profile venues management uses to evaluate managers effectiveness. So that’s where you need to showcase your skills. While other skills are important too, they aren’t nearly as likely to get you promoted as mastering these four.

 Company culture is an amalgam of many things. Most often, it is strongly reflective of the CEO and his or her vision and values. Cultural habits and norms are powerful reinforcements of the status quo so it is vitally important that you aware of and understand the culture.  That’s because, at one time or another , you will want to execute an idea or project and find out some aspect or element of the culture has become a barrier to your success.  To be effective, you have to know how to change or get around that barrier.

 Working on teams, particularly as team lead, demands great people skills. And here I would suggest you insist on receiving some training before taking on a team lead position. Conflict resolution is one ingredient of that training that is essential.  As team lead, there will be negotiation and discussion upwards, sideways and downward in the organizational chain which will give you the opportunity to show how to get things done through others among other things.

 Organization and planning is ever present in any manager’s job.  One of the fundamental precepts managers need to keep in mind is, what got our company here today, isn’t what will get us where we want to be in the future.  You have to overcome the fact that It’s always more comfortable to do what you’ve been doing than to change.

 Managers spend over 70% of their time communicating.  Unfortunately, the message we usually  hear is completely different than the one that was sent.  According to recent studies, approximately 90% of our understanding of personal communication comes from non-verbal things  such as body language. However, the biggest problem in communicating  is poor listening skills; active listening is considered a learned behavior.

 Companies that have success year after year characteristically have core values that remain fixed. These values play a vital role in managing people so know them well.  Motivating employees helps maintain and exceed performance levels. Whether by incentive programs or introducing new and more difficult tasks, the manager’s role is to make it happen.

 Problem solving and making decisions is at the core of a manager’s responsibilities.  Prioritize your problems first. You don’t want to react to a problem, you want to understand it. Then, if it’s a complex problem, break it down into parts and begin to deal with it one part at a time.  There are excellent analytical tools to help and you should know what they are.  If it’s a decision your boss has to make, take it to him, but with your recommendations on what should be done.  

 There are a variety of ways to master the four skills, i.e. books, community college courses, company training programs, or watching how other managers have progressed up the promotion ladder. Whatever avenue you choose, start now and then you can tell your boss, “Promote Me! I’m ready.”