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‘Model It’ for Small Business Leadership September 24, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in Leadership.
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Someone recently asked me what I thought was the best quality of a leader.  Trick question?  No, but usually one that evokes a multitude of platitudes that we’ve all heard or seen before.  Then it occurred to me that they were asking for MY opinion on the subject of leadership.  I thought about it for a moment.  Then I quickly realized that there was one quality that over my life so far has proven to be the one thing that makes a leader that others respect and will follow.

Not rocket science here folks but plain common sense.  My answer: modeled actions.  I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that people will watch you more carefully than you  think.  Most people can spot someone who says one thing but their actions say another.  That’s what I call ‘hollow’ leadership.  Looks like a leader on the outside but empty on the inside.  If we don’t follow through with what we say or we aren’t willing to go the extra mile when someone on our team needs some help, we can’t expect people to do the same for us.

Although widely conferred, titles may convey leadership but is often a mask for leadership.  Instead, others will rise as the informal leaders because they model the behaviors  or as it’s commonly known, they ‘walk the talk’.

I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth if you demonstrate to me that you know the way.  It doesn’t matter if we have 2 or 200 employees.  They are watching us.  They can spot the flaws.  They can smell fake leadership.  They are measuring what we do against what we say.

They are using their common sense.

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Leading a global team April 7, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Management Principle, Team basics.
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Do you have to lead global teams? Many companies are expanding globally to take advantage of the basic economics of hiring workers. While some of us may not agree with that strategy, it is widely adopted. It is not the purpose of this entry to discuss the viability of international outsourcing. It is my purpose to give you some tips and techniques on how to be more effective in that environment.

 Some of the most common challenges facing managers and leaders in a global environment are:

  • Staying connected
  • Time differences
  • Alignment or mis-alignment of goals
  • Language
  • Culture differences
  • Expectations of senior management
  • Managing performance

 Not everyone can be successful as a global manager or leader.  Effective global leaders typically have:

  • A willingness to communicate, form relationships with others, and try new things
  • Good cross-cultural communication and language skills
  • Flexibility and open-mindedness about other cultures
  • The ability to determine if a global worker is performing up to expectations

 The principles that guide us in becoming an effective team leader with co-located teams also apply in the global arena. However, the effective global leader is aware of four factors that affect their performance in a global situation.

1.      Pay more attention to time. Things just take longer when you are acting globally. It is sometimes difficult to convince senior management of this concept, but it is true and the global leader must consider it. In addition, the effective global leader understands that not everyone lives in the same time zone.

2.      Have more patience. Since things take longer and people do things differently across the globe, the effective global leader has more patience. I once had a manager tell me, “I know I need to learn more patience. How long will this take?” Learn how to breathe deeply or learn the art of Zen or something to increase your patience. You will need it.

3.      Make effective use of technology. The purveyors of technology are rapidly working to close the global gap. Global leaders have telephone and visual technology available to access people in any part of the world. Learn the technology and use it to help you close the global gap!

4.      Adapt to different cultures. When everyone shares the same building, it is easy to interact culturally. Once you go more than 50 miles, nuances start to creep into the culture. Just imagine the cultural differences when the person is over 5000 miles away. It is the responsibility of the global leader to create a team culture. That culture must not violate any of the cultural taboos of the global community.

 Using these four factors as a foundation, I will be writing a series on leading global teams with emphasis on communicating, building rapport and getting results.  Stay tuned.

Principle of organizational memory January 13, 2009

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Decison making, Getting what you want, Grow your skills, Handling hot buttons, Management, Management Principle, Managing up.
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p5130012.jpg 

Does it irritate you when senior management reserves the best parking spots for themselves? How about when the executive have their own dining room, or when they travel, they travel first class. The Big Dogz do not like these irritants any more than you do — they ignore them for now. As the Big Dogz build their personal power and acquire more position power, they remember what it was like to be in the trenches. The Big Dogz apply the principle of organizational memory!

 

It is not effective to complain or fret about senior management actions or attitudes. These actions are not within your circle of control — you cannot change them. The Big Dogz capture the irritants in an ongoing file called “Things I will not do when I get to be a senior manager.” It is not the place of the Big Dogz to publicly criticize or critique senior management behavior. If you are asked for feedback or your offer of feedback is accepted, then you may give your observation. Otherwise, make an entry into your file. When you get to that level, review your file and make sure you are not doing those actions.

 

Many times, the average manager will automatically adopt the behaviors of their predecessors. Well, the VP of Development gets to park in this spot, so I may as well do it. I deserve it! I am flying on that business trip with two of my people. They are in coach and I am in first class. I deserve it! What these managers do not recognize is that the things that irritate them also irritate others. Why do something that irritates your followers and reduces your personal power? One of the first tasks you undertake when you are promoted is to evaluate what your predecessor did that irritated you. Then decide if you will continue or eliminate the practice. But first, you need to be promoted. You get promoted by managing power.

 

I have talked about how to get power in previous entries, but here is a quick review. First, you get personal power, and then because you are more effective than your peers are, you are promoted to a job that has position power. You use this position power to access more potential personal power. This new personal power gets you more position power – and it is a growing spiral.

 

Here are some examples of applying the principle of organizational memory:

 

  • Management planning meetings are held offsite at a nice place and include lunch or dinner. Key project planning meetings are held in the big conference room and everybody gets their own lunch. The Big Dogz will make sure that moving management meetings off site are really required. They will select key project planning meetings to be held offsite.

 

  • Senior management waits until the last minute to make change announcements, and then they expect a quick implementation. The Big Dogz know that sometimes this is unavoidable for solid business reasons. Most of the time it is not! When you get to be the senior manager, you will include as many people as early as possible in your decision-making.

 

 A classic example of organizational memory is the response of General Norman Schwarzkopf in the 60 Minutes interview during Desert Shield. He talked about how when he was a battalion commander in Vietnam, the generals were in the rear eating off white tablecloths and being served by soldiers. His response was “That’s not going to happen in my command. It better not happen!”

 

Not all us have the opportunity to have such clear irritants. For sure, you experience actions and attitudes that irritate you. I think this situation is quite widespread in the corporate world, but I need data to support that assumption. I have a request of you.

 

Please send me your observations about something senior management does that is irritating. In this economy, there is an abundance of examples. If you could state what they did and how you would do it differently, it would be useful for everyone.

 

When I get a large enough number of these responses, I will summarize and post them here. I will also send you an email alerting you to the posting so you can see how others are applying this principle along with a file containing the responses. I promise to scrub them so the source is not identified.  Having current real world examples can really reinforce this principle and give the Big Dogz suggestions on what to do in their organizations. Please take the time to be heard.

 

rbonder@gmail.com

Exercising control November 14, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Performance issues, Self reflection.
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p5130012.jpg  It is difficult to be in charge. There are responsibilities and pressures to control. The Big Dogz know that if we push the control lever too far we become Domineering and the result is reduced productivity, increased costs and more stress. On the other hand, if we do not control what is going on, we will often fail to accomplish our goals.

 

I propose we look at two ends of the control continuum — Domineering and Dominant.  These words mean different things to different people, so I want to make this distinction for this discussion:

 

Domineering means pushing your personal agenda and wanting to control every action of others.

 

Dominant means exercising influence or control, usually through leadership.

 

Domineering managers rarely succeed. Of course, there are exceptions to this statement, but in general, if you use a Domineering style, you will always achieve less. What are some of the signs that you may be a Domineering manager?

 

  1. You are working excessive hours.
  2. You personally do the most critical jobs.
  3. You have frequent stressful conflicts (outbursts) during the day.
  4. You use micro-management as a way to make sure things get done.
  5. Morale in your group is low.
  6. You believe your people are “not up to the challenge.”
  7. You have to make all the decisions.

 

You get the picture. There are many things going wrong. There are only a few people you can count on to help you achieve your goals.

 

Dominant managers rarely fail! Again, there are exceptions to this statement, but in general, if you use a Dominant style, you will always achieve more. Besides the opposite of the Domineering manager signs, what are some other signs you may be a Dominant manager?

 

  1. People give you feedback on your performance as the manager.
  2. Your people are getting awards, recognition and promotions.
  3. People in your department are proactive in solving problems.
  4. People make suggestions to you on how the department can be more efficient or effective.
  5. Your people know exactly what result you expect of them.
  6. People are exercising creativity in developing processes that are streamlined.
  7. There is a waiting list of people wanting to join your department.

 

You get the picture. There are many things going right. There are many people you can count on to help you achieve your goals.

 

The signs are clear. The choice is yours.

 

Sometimes we do not achieve the results we want and we find someone or something to excuse it away. The problem may be in your style. I have created an assessment to help you determine if you are more Domineering or more Dominant. Please download it and take it yourself, then get three people to validate your self-assessment.

 

When you have a validated assessment, use it to create an action plan on how you can be more effective as a manager. If you send me your action plan, I will include your actions into a future blog on how to become a more Dominant manager.

 

rbronder@gmail.com

 

domineering-vs-dominant-style-continuum-assessment

Leadership accountability July 8, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Management.
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p5130012.jpg Great leaders take responsibility and redirect praise. The Big Dogz know that your people will appreciate you giving credit to them for a job well done; and that you will accept accountability when results are less than expected. The Big Dogz follow this principle:

 

In public — always give credit and always take blame while holding people accountable privately.

 

For example, you may be asked in a meeting with your manager who is to blame for the project being behind schedule. The correct answer is always “Me!” As the leader of the project team, you are responsible for its successes and its failures. The project would be on schedule if you had done a more effective job of managing the project. I understand that individuals may lack the ability or willingness to complete a task. This is why you have the situational coaching model to help you make adjustments. Ineffective managers are quick to blame subordinates for failures when in fact the failure is almost always something that could have been fixed by more effective management. The Big Dogz always do after action analysis to figure out how they could have been more effective.

 

In those situations where one of your team members was not able or willing to complete their assigned task, you will use the performance feedback to help the team member to improve.

 

Another more enjoyable situation is when your manager praises you for your team’s high performance on a particular project. The Big Dogz respond by saying “Thank you”, and then proceed to articulate the specific contributions of the team members. Also, the Big Dogz return to the team and inform them about how pleased your manager was with their progress and that you specifically described their contributions. In special situations where a particular person has exceeded your expectations, you will want to use the performance feedback process to take advantage of the situation. Of course, this is an opportunity to reward both individuals and the team. The Big Dogz always take advantage of opportunity to celebrate!

 

The Big Dogz follow this principle of giving credit and taking blame. You can be more effective as a leader when you adopt this principle. Resist the tendency to place blame or to take credit. Over the next 30 days, look for opportunities to apply this principle.