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Monday, May 31, 2010

Fierce Practice #3

Fierce Practice #3: From Holding People Accountable to Modeling Accountability and Holding People Able.

Again the opening quote used by Scott is priceless and as entertaining as her writing style: “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I AM the Pope” (Pope John XXIII). Scott talks about leaders influencing one conversation at time. “You are the culture. I am the culture. And each of us shapes that culture each time we walk into a room, pick up the phone, send an e-mail,” says Scott. If you want to spot the “tells,” look at people playing not to lose instead of playing to win; a lack of productivity; bitterness toward coworkers; and so much more. Leaders who hold themselves accountable spread the accountability contagion through their organizations. Soon others around you who are “able” become infected with accountability. As with everything, you get what you give. Note that on pages 138-141 Scott nicely reviews her now famous Mineral Rights conversations to discuss difficult issues. Highly recommend reading this section closely.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fierce Practice #2: From Hiring for Smarts to Hiring for Smart + Heart.

Fierce Practice #2: From Hiring for Smarts to Hiring for Smart + Heart.

A great Albert Einstein quote begins and frames this chapter: “We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot lead; it can only serve.” I feel that people are tribal animals. As such, we want to spend our days, weeks, months, and years working with not only smart people but also people we can have a relationship with. Scott calls that Smart + Heart—and I love it because it’s easy to remember, if not hard as hell to do. For many years, we have revered smart people; however, smart without heart is far less admirable or functional. There’s plenty of research around this one. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s studies have proved that we behave first emotionally and then rationally. Daniel Goleman’s work, as well as research by the folks from Gallup, have demonstrated how vital a good “heart” is for leaders. Competence is great but as Teddy Roosevelt said “Nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care.”

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fierce Leadership Introduction (Post #2)

Fierce Practice #1: From 360-Degree Anonymous Feedback to 365 Face-to-Face Feedback.

We all want feedback. How often did you not get a job based on the interview, and never got real feedback that would have helped going forward in your career? The tyranny of 360s—the real “tell” according to Scott –is that they’re anonymous. If you value transparency in a company—which most will claim—how does anonymity fit into that type of culture? It doesn’t. It’s a mixed message at best. In most organizations, we fail to have the “real” hard but useful conversation with the person that matters the most. Instead, we complain to our friends and family, who can do nothing to change the situation. Scott’s advice is to exchange feedback daily (good and bad), do it face to face, do it soon after an incident (good or bad), and always “own” your comments…forget anonymous. She has a great methodology, which I’ve used with coaching clients, for developing a 60-second-opening statement for fierce conversations (see p. 48).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fierce Leadership Introduction (Post #1)

This week I'll review Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the worst “Best” Practices of Business Today by Susan Scott (Broadway Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group: 2009)

My personal admission: I’m in love with Susan Scott—leadership love, that is. I have long been a huge fan of Susan Scott, who also wrote Fierce Conversations, which has been reviewed on this site previously. Scott’s basic philosophy is to speak the truth to people in a sincere and direct conversation, face to face. Her new book, Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst “Best” Practices of Business Today, extends her reach more deeply into companies and organizations. For example, she thinks the anonymity of 360s should be replaced with a 365-day-a-year feedback mechanism—which would make 360s unnecessary and obsolete. One technique to figure out if long term “best practices” are even still relevant is what she calls “squid eye” but what I would call “poker eye.” Any skilled poker player knows how to look for “tells” or subtle behavioral changes in his/her opponents, giving a clue to what cards they are holding. In other words, the nonverbal behavior tells the real truth, as opposed to the oral bluff of, “I raise you fifty.” This week, I’ll review Scott’s new book based on her 6 Fierce Practices. Buy copies of this book, use it as an excellent “corporate read,” and discuss it in depth at every employee meeting—it just might change your culture from good to great.

Monday, May 24, 2010

May HBR: Pricing Effectively (Last Post in this May HBR Series)

“How to Stop Customers from Fixating on Price” by Marco Bertini and Luc Wathieu. As the market gets more competitive, competition forces commoditization of products and services. This causes price-fixated clients who are less receptive to innovation or marketing. Ironically, to get them off the Price Fixation (my words)—you get introduce 4 price-focused levers that call attention to how your offering is different and worthy of a premium price. Here are the four in brief:
1. Use price structure to clarify your advantage. Example: Rather than tout the complex engineering that went into new tires, Goodyear started to sell tires based on mileage consumers could expect.
2. Willfully overprice to stimulate curiosity. Example: Think Apple, which prices at a premium, thus attracting consumers to wonder—What’s going on? They stop and focus on features, often loss in commoditization.
3. Partition prices to highlight overlooked benefits. Example: Think about your cable bill…broken into components. Gets you to pay attention to often overlooked services.
4. Equalize price points to crystallize personal relevance. Example: Think Apple again, when Steve Jobs priced all I-Tunes at 99 cents.

Read all the full articles in the May 2010 issue. Well worth your time.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May HBR: Mentoring Millennials

“Mentoring Millennials” (by Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd). Here’s an attention getter for you: “The makeup of the global workforce is undergoing a seismic shift: In four (4) years Millennials—the people born between 1977 and 1997—will account for nearly half the employees in the world.” For Millenials, work is a key integrated component in their lives, so they look for personally meaningful and fulfilling employment. They want to meet people, learn skills and have a greater sense of purpose to their work. For example, from their boss they want help navigating their careers, straight feedback, a mentor, and more. From their company they want to develop future skills, to be allowed to blend work-life balance, customized benefits, and more.

Some techniques used to socialize Millenials are “reverse mentoring” where Millenials mentor more senior execs on things like social networking (to help them better connect to each other); group mentoring, where mentors, using social networking software connect with several mentees at a time; and microfeedback, where using anonymous feedback software, mentees can seek and get Twitter sized feedback advice (140 characters) to focus responders and get immediate feedback. This article is a must for anyone who’s managing Millenials—and that’s everyone in the next 4 years!

Friday, May 21, 2010

May HBR: The Leaders We Need Now

“The Leaders We Need Now” (by Tamara Erickson) discusses how companies must develop Gen X leaders (born between 1961 and 1981) to replace the Boomers—when the finally decide to leave the workforce! You may recall that earlier this year, I reviewed Erickson’s newest book, What’s Next, GenX? (Harvard Press, 2010). So, I won’t repeat the guts of that, but want to point out two issues relevant to GenXers. First, they believe that Boomers will NEVER retire and will hold on forever. Second, Xers believe they’re being overlooked (sometimes skipped in favor of GenYs, Millennials. Xers feel like the Rodney Dangerfields of leadership—they get overlooked in corporate America. However, with the impending mass exodus of Boomers (over 90% of the world’s top 200 firms are run by Boomers, in their 60s, or by those even older) and the competencies that Xers bring to the table, it makes a lot of sense for companies to not only cultivate but also prepare Xers to take over the corporate reins.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May HBR: Keeping Top Talent

“How to Keep Your Top Talent” (by Martin and Conrad Scmidt). This article starts off with some sobering stats about “high potential” employees:

--Nearly 40% of internal job moves involving high potentials end in failure;
--1 in 3 high-potentials admits to not putting all her/his effort into the job;
--1 in 4 believes s/he will be working for another employer in a year; and,
--1 in 5 believer his/her personal aspirations are quite different from what the organization has planned for him/her.

So what to do? The authors have identified 10 Critical Components of a Talent-Development Program. Here are just a few: 1) Explicitly test candidates in three dimensions: ability, engagement, and aspirations; 2) Forget rote functional rotations; place young (high-potential) leaders in intense assignments with precisely described development challenges; and, 3) Create individual development plans: link personal objectives to the company’s plans for growth, rather than to generic competency models. Read the rest to avoid losing your best and brightest to the competition.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sustainability the Next Big Corporate Megatrend

“The Sustainability Imperative,” (by David Lubin and Daniel Esty) in the Harvard Business Review (May 2010). I think this big-idea article has immediate and direct strategic relevance to any business looking for success in the future. The authors argue persuasively that like the rise of the quality movement in the 1970s and 80s and the IT movement/boom in the 1990s, sustainability is the next business megatrend—a transformative change in the corporate competitive landscape whose course can be predicted—based on the previous megatrends like Quality and IT. By studying how firms won in prior megatrend booms, executives can craft strategies to gain distinct advantage in this one. Here’s a snapshot of the flavor of what the authors say: “Business history is marked by periods of relative stability punctuated by fundamental shifts in the competitive landscape that create inescapable threats and game-changing opportunities. Sustainability is an emerging business megatrend, like electrification and mass production, that will profoundly affect companies’ competitiveness and survival.”

WHOOAHHH! Virginia Tech Commencement

My commencement speech at VA Tech’s National Capital ceremony was fun. Over 600 people, including the president and provost of VA Tech, yelling out the Marine Corps cheer—WHOOAHHH!—was a hoot! I talked about leadership and trust. Great time and caught up with a number of VA Tech professors and colleagues I worked with over the years while on UVA’s faculty at the Tech/UVA Center in Falls Churc

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Commencement Speaker at Virginia Tech Ceremonies in National Capital Region


I am both leased and humbled to be the commencement speaker at the 2010 Virginia Tech National Capital Region commencement ceremonies tomorrow, Sunday, May 16, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Fairview Park Marriott Hotel in Falls Church. Will talk about what it means to be a trusted leader based on my new book: The Trusted Leader.

Monday, May 10, 2010

PEAK: The Customer Pyramid

Relationship Truth 2: The Customer Pyramid

1. Unrecognized Needs are met (Transformational)—Creates Evangelism
2. Desires are met (Success)—Creates Commitment
3. Expectations are met (Survival)—Creates Satisfaction

Sunday, May 9, 2010

PEAK: The Employee Pyramid

The Employee Pyramid (Conley calls each of his three pyramids Relationship Truths—in light of the three levels of survival, success, and transformation.)

Relationship Truth #1: The Employee Pyramid

1.Finding “Meaning” at work (Transformation)—Creates Inspiration (highest point of the pyramid)
2.Getting “Recognition” at work (Success)—Creates Loyalty
3.Obtaining “Money” at work (Survival)—Creates Base Motivation (Base of the pyramid)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

PEAK and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.


Maslow was the father of human potential theory. He believed that man was a striving animal, who had needs to be satisfied, and when satisfied at one level of needs, who seeks to attain the next level on the hierarchy of needs. So if #5 is at the base and #1 is at the height (peak) of Maslow’s hierarchy, the pyramid often used to depict the hierarchy, it looks like this:
1. Self Actualization—The “peak” experience (in the “zone”) when all other needs (#5-2) are finally met.
2. Esteem—The feeling of deep self worth.
3. Social Belonging—Being accepted as part of a group or organization.
4. Safety—Free to roam about without fear of danger or threat.
5. Physiological Needs—water, food, air, and that which sustains life.

Conley refashions Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to what he calls the “Transformational Pyramid” and holds that people and organizations that have only accounted for levels #4 (Safety) and #5 (Physiological) create a level of development that he calls “Survival.”

Organizations that take it up a couple of notches to the #3 level (Social Belonging) and #2 (Esteem) create a level of corporate development he calls “Success.”

And finally, those few that make it to the highest level #5 (Self Actualization) attain what Conley calls the “Transformation.” This final level or zone of rarified air should be the aspiration of all companies, despite the fact that many companies may start and operate at the survival level.

Conley uses his Transformational Pyramid to analyze the basic motivations of a company’s important stakeholders: Employees, customers, and investors.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow


This week, I will be reviewing Chip Conley’s book, Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Jossey-Bass, 2007).

Entrepreneur and founder of the Joie de Vivre hotel company in San Francisco, Chip Conley has developed innovative waya to use an old theory to talk about a new approach to motivation. And he’s not the only one doing so these days. Take, for instance, the writing of Dan Pink whose latest book, DRIVE, has previously been reviewed on this blog.

Conley applies Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and expands it to cover three critical audiences that relate to a business: Employees, Customers, and Investors. You remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from that mandatory sociology class in your sophomore year of college, don’t you? If not we’ll review it and several new triangles to which Conley applies Maslow to. Obviously, to understand Conley’s revealing and inspirational theory, you’ll need to read this book from cover to cover. It’s well worth taking your time to read this one.

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