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Monday, February 28, 2011

The Talent Masters: Overview

Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers by Bill Conaty and Ram Charan (Crown Business, 2010) reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., February 2011.

Overview: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." This quote by Derek Bok, American lawyer and educator, sums up what I would consider to be the bottom line of this book, Talent Masters. Bill Conaty, former senior VP for Human Resources at General Electric under legendary leader and leadership developer Jack Welsh, and Ram Charan, prolific writer, educator and coach to many leading companies, have teamed up to write this “Bible” on leadership talent development. Truly a tour de force, Talent Masters argues persuasively that the main job of a CEO, and key leaders for that matter, is to develop future talent—emerging leaders who will create corporate value and who will take the current executives’ places when the time comes. Intentional systems that move talent management from a support function to a core business element remain at the heart of their argument—where the system is the solution (almost sounds like a GE tag line). They make their case using mini-case studies from GE, Hindustan Unilever, Procter and Gamble, UniCredit, CDR, and TPG. They present readers four integrated sections: describing what a talent master does (succession planning and leadership development); the special expertise of such masters (growing the pipeline and building capacity through experiences); becoming a talent master (setting the right values and behaviors, as well as getting the right Talent Management process in place); and, offering a tool kit of things to get the ball rolling. This book should be on the discussion list of every YPO, Vistage, and Renaissance group of CEOs and leaders. Equally, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) should adopt it as its gold standard of leadership development.

Open Leadership: Post #11 - FINAL

The “Open” Transformation: The author quotes Deal and Kennedy (from their classic book Corporate Cultures)—“’[organizational culture is]…the way we get things done around here…a specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization,’” p. 243-44 in Open Leadership. Leaders drive the vision, set the tone and example, extend the old culture into the new, and develop systems and structures to sustain the transformation—from closed to open. To be sure, the institution reflects the “long shadow” (Emerson) of its leader. Li offers several good examples of leaders taking companies to open leadership. Two in particular are John Chambers at Cisco and Brian Dunn at Best Buy. This book is a read worth spending time with to transform any company from where it is now to a more open, transparent, and hopefully more profitable one in the future.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bill Conaty, former head of HR for GE, on the succession of Jack Welch t...

Open Leadership: Post #10 - Embracing Failure

Embracing Failure: Li points out the obvious—we all have a natural aversion to failure. Duh! Beyond that she notes that when you’re moving toward being more “open,” you’d better be ready to fail. If not, you’ll not be getting anything done. [My analogy: You can keep a new car from ever getting dings, if you never drive it.] She mentions the Google mantra that I LOVE: “Fail fast, fail smart!” That is, take chances, take risks, and when sometimes you fail, learn from it…and grow. [You will get dings when you drive the new car out of the garage, but you’ll also get to go places too!]

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Open Leadership: Post #9 - Growing Open Leaders

Growing and nurturing open leaders: We know that good leaders have certain universal traits like good listening habits. However, open leaders also need to have a special set of traits, even technical orientation, in order to be open to all important organizational stakeholders, both internal and external. Li does a nice job comparing traditional vs. open leadership traits on p. 213 (Figure 8.1, How Open Leadership Differs from Traditional Leadership).

Friday, February 25, 2011

Open Leadership: Post #8 - Orchestrating

Open Leadership: Redefining Relationships: What an open leader looks like: The author provides an interesting (and I think useful) paradigm to explain open leaders. On p. 175 she develops a graph that differentiates optimism and pessimism as well as collaboration and independence. Essentially the quadrants break down into Realist Optimist, Cautious Tester, Worried Skeptic, and Transparent Evangelist. Read this section carefully and see if it’s not also a good way to see leaders in general. Finally, to understand your own mindset, take the test (I doubt that it’s statistically validated, but it is interesting and informative) on p. 180 (Figure 7, Open Leadership Assessment).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Open Leadership: Post #7 - Orchestrating

Orchestrating an Open Strategy: To launch a social media plan, the author explains several steps in depth: conduct a sociologic review of customers and employees; identify workflow points and stakeholders, develop a structure; assign roles and responsibilities; and design a good training and incentive program [see p. 157 (Action Plan) and p. 158 (Figure 6.3, The Open Strategy Plan Checklist)].

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Open Leadership: Post #6 - Guidelines

Open Guidelines, Policies and Procedures—“Sandbox Covenants.” I love the sandbox rules (“covenants”). Even when kids are playing in the sandbox, they don’t get to throw sand at each other…there are rules. Li suggests that while we need to encourage openness, rules are still needed, especially for employees. She provides a great checklist on p. 112 (Social media guidelines checklist, Figure 5.1), suggesting transparency (always identifying who you are and for whom you work), responsibility (you’re personally and professionally responsible for what you say—so read employee agreements carefully), and confidentiality (some things are confidential and should not be shared with the public and have legal implications like insider information regarding earnings, etc).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Open Leadership: Post #5 - Measuring

How to measure the benefits: The author starts off by telling us that we place too much value on things we can measure and too little on things we can’t. Then she spends a lot of time showing charts about how much money social media can save your organization. But the best example she gives is that she spent $35 for survey monkey to gather data on and market her book and got 6,000 potential book buyers who responded. ANY publisher would die for such a list, especially at $35!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Open Leadership: Post # 4 - Crafting Your Strategy

Crafting Your Open Strategy
How to create your open strategy: The author supplies a four-step process for developing an internal and external openness strategy. First, Learn. companies (and organizations) need to learn from their principal stakeholders—customers, employees, suppliers, etc. Otherwise a company tries to execute on its strategy in the dark. Monitoring what people are saying about your company becomes vital in order to respond to any brewing crisis, before it gets to be one. Second, Dialog. The author talks about the variety of steps it takes to get someone intimately involved in the blog. One called “sharing” comes after people just watch a blog. When they comment, those remarks only represent 5-10% of the traffic, but they drive 50% of the traffic to the site! Third, Support. By monitoring social media, you might spot a dissatisfied customer who could infect a lot of people. By reaching out, you protect the company’s reputation by helping the customer before he or she becomes a thorn in your side. Finally, Innovation. Dell uses Ideastorm.com, and there are a number of other organizations that let you help solve their problems. It’s called crowdsourcing. It’s effective and keeps you in tune with customers—and makes them partners, not merely consumers.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Open Leadership: Post #3 - Upside

What is “open?” Li defines “Openness” through six elements of information sharing and four elements of decision making. Regarding information sharing, she mentions explaining—how leaders explain their decisions to key stakeholders; updating—how technology is used to keep stakeholders current, rather than spin the company line; conversing—how executives, employees and stakeholders must be free to communicate; open mic—how channels are available and open; crowdsourcing—how there’s a platform to take advantage of the power of the group. Li also mentions decision making based on a centralized, democratic, self managed, and distributed method.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Open Leadership: Post #2 - Upside (Customers)

The Upside of Giving Up Control
The impact of empowered customers on companies: In an era when an upset client—in the blink of an eye and the click of a video camera in a computer—can complain about awful customer service, upload it on YouTube and have that market-busting “ad” eat up market share, can any leader ignore social media without great risk? Charlene Li thinks not, and I agree. We live in a new culture of sharing (think Amazon customer reviews) where customers can say a lot to help or hurt our brand based on their direct experiences. And they have bandwidth available. I love a quote she has from two great leadership gurus, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner: “Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow” (p. 9, taken from The Leadership Challenge). In a very real sense, the intelligent leader moves from what I would call a Command & Control style to an Advise & Consent form of leadership. Li offers new rules of open leadership: 1) Respect that your customers and employees have power; 2) Share constantly to build trust; 3) Nurture curiosity and humility; 4) Hold openness accountable; and, 5) Forgive failure. Social media allows access and openness to customers, vendors and all stakeholders. Leaders need to be able to swim in those new “open” waters or risk the consequences.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Open Leadership: Post #1 - Overview

Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead by Charlene Lie (Jossey Bass, 2010), reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

Overview: When most of the current CEOs of large established companies were in college or getting their MBAs, social media had not been invented. Heck, in some cases, the Internet had not even been in play. Just as most of us could never imagine a business model that did not have the Internet as part of its DNA, surely in the near future (I’m talking later this week!), I predict it will be impossible for any viable business to not have social media at its core. And that’s the message Charlene Li makes in her book, Open Leadership, and so much more. She explains, using real world examples, how leaders have to give up control to be more open, while also being rigorous and intentional about guiding the process of engaging employees, customers, and various stakeholders in the dialog about the company in the marketplace. She explains how letting go of the reins, while still riding this social media horse with a guiding strategy, balances the risk and opportunity that this medium presents. Open Leadership was written for leaders who can think strategically and act tactically. It’s the sort of book that executive teams should read and discuss at a retreat—sooner rather than later.

In the forthcoming days, I’ll be reviewing Open Leadership in some depth.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Switch: Post # 11 Final Words

FINAL WORDS about Switch: This book might not solve the world’s financial problems or eradicate disease, BUT it’s darn important to any leader who’s thinking of making change. In fact, I’d go out on a limb to say it will become a classic text for any person or company that wants to make change actually happen. I will be suggesting this book to all my students at the university as well as to executive coaching clients who want to make significant change in their lives or businesses. Kudos to the Heath Bros!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Switch: # 10--Shape the Path and Rally the Herd

Shape the Path and Rally the Herd: Consensus or peer pressure has been around since the dawn of time. We all take cues from people around us—especially when things are unfamiliar. The authors note some very interesting studies to prove their point (see page 226 for the smoke incident). This peer pressure can be, like most things, both a positive and a negative. One way to use it for good is to compare sales levels of peers, show people where their friends are regarding commitment to a particular project. When people begin to question their “identity” regarding how they compare to their peers, watch how they change.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Switch: #9--Shape the Path and Build Habits

Shape the Path and Build Habits: Our Rider gets tired when there’s a lot of deciding and analyzing to do, so habits are like autopilot. The greater the degree to which we can count on habits or routines, the more the Rider is inclined to go that way. However, we have both good and bad habits. We like to eat more than we should but also enjoy working out. We’ve all used “action triggers” (so named by Peter Gollwitzer from NYU) in our lives. If you’ve ever tied your workout to a certain routine, you’ve used a trigger. In fact, by tying a decision to a routine—like stretching every time you get a cup of coffee—you’re preloading that decision. Checklists also help build routines that we might overlook because we’re overconfident and might miss something. Bottom line: Habits help the Rider guide the Elephant without too much effort.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Switch: #8--Shape the Path and Tweak the Environment

Shape the Path: Often we see people as lazy or disorganized, when in fact they may just be confused by the situation. The authors distinguish between this people vs. situation dilemma by referring to it as the “Path.” Thus, oftentimes the Elephant is merely confused by the situation, not incapable of making a decision. If you want proof, just think about how you look when you arrive at an airport you’re unfamiliar with. I wander around looking clueless until I ask someone for directions or see a clearly marked Path.

Shape the Path and Tweak the Environment: The “Fundamental Attribution Error” (labeled by Lee Ross from Stanford) “…lies in our inclination to attribute people’s behavior to the way they are rather than to the situation they are in” (p. 180). Amazon did this by creating the 1-Click method for ordering. By eliminating a complicated system, thus clearing the path, things improved. I now post examples of grade “A” papers on my webpage for students to “show them the path,” and the quality of their papers has improve immensely. If you’ve ever moved your alarm clock to the other side of the room so you couldn’t hit snooze; laid out your gym clothes the night before you get up; or created a routine to walk to work rather than ride—then you’ve “tweaked your environment” to force yourself to take a certain Path.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Switch #7--Motivate the Elephant and Grow your People

Motivate the Elephant and Grow your People: According to Stanford Professor James March, most of us make decisions based on consequences (what’s the impact on me) or on identity (what kind of person am I, thus what should I do). In a great example the authors show the value of having someone signing a petition and then weeks later advancing their commitment significantly (p. 158-160). Carol Dwek, also a professor at Stanford, has studied fixed vs. growth mindsets (see p. 163-68). In essence, fixed mindset people believe that they have a fixed amount of talent. Growth people see themselves as more plastic and able to develop. In a fascinating study, she proved that students taught the growth model (the brain is like a muscle to be conditioned) were immensely more successful as ranked by teachers in a double blind experiment. Bottom line: During times of change, teach people that the mind is not fixed, but rather like a muscle that can learn new things, grow and adapt—at any age.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Switch: #6--Motivate the Elephant and Shrink the Change

Motivate the Elephant and Shrink the Change: There’s an old saw—How do you eat an elephant? Answer—One bite at a time! Given the analogy of Riding the Elephant, this statement might seem a little odd. So, let me offer another by Lao Tzu (a Chinese philosopher). “The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.” This whole section of the book is about breaking down the Elephant’s journey into bite size chunks so the challenge is perceived as less daunting. By making it easier for the Elephant to feel like it’s moving in the right direction, you get it moving faster and sooner. Bottom line: reduce the barriers to the first step and watch the animal move.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Switch: #5--Motivate the Elephant and Find the Feelings

Motivate the Elephant: Emotion motivates or demotivates the Elephant. So, if you want to move the beast forward, you’d better figure out something that appeals to its emotion. Knowing something to be rationally true is insufficient to stir the Elephant and often only entrenches it.
a. Find the Feeling: If the Elephant is motivated, the question is, which emotion is the motivator—positive or negative? Answer: Depends. If you want immediate action, negative ones seem to work. Let’s face it, if you have a splinter in your finger, you’re pretty much motivated to get it removed. Fair enough. But what about longer term issues like raising profits, getting more clients or the like. When it comes to threats, like ‘do it or else,’ the negative emotions don’t work as well. Psychologists have shown that negative emotions (like anger, disgust, etc.) tend to narrow our focus and make us less likely to move the Elephant whereas positive emotions (love, joy, etc.) tend to widen our focus and move the Elephant almost effortlessly. Bottom line: honey works better than vinegar.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Switch: #4 Direct the Rider and Point to the Destination

Direct the Rider and Point to the Destination: People like goals. And the easier it is to “see” the goal, the quicker we get there. Knowing exactly where you’re headed gets you halfway there. So, clearly articulating the goal up front will help the Rider know where to point the Elephant. But unlike the old SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, timely), the authors suggest more gut-smacking goals that don’t look like accountants devised them. Rather, they should be goals that appeal both to the Rider and the Elephant simultaneously. Providing a destination that’s both rational and emotional moves both Rider and Elephant in the same direction with little friction between them. Bottom line: It’s easier to hit a bulls eye if you know where it is.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Notice: GMU Leadership Coaching Information Session Feb. 8

George Mason University’s Office of Continuing Professional Education is excited for the return of their highly praised Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance Certificate Program. Starting February 22, this non-credit cohort program is now accepting registrations. Interested in the program? Register for our upcoming information session.

Information Session

When: February 8, 2011

Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Where: Center for Innovative Technology

Herndon, VA

Room 408

RSVP: Please call Rosalynn at 703-993-2113


Fall 2010 Testimonials

"This is the best training I have ever attended! I got more than I expected and am confident that I am prepared to successfully venture into professional coaching." -John Pendola


"The team of instructors is by far the best I have experienced, and the mix and diversity of their own experience and styles further deepened the learning experience." -Maura Parda


"This program altered my life in many positive ways. The art of coaching is not just applicable in a business setting but it is profoundly helpful in life. I fully recommend this program to other students." -Jennifer Caires







Switch: #3 Direct the Rider and Script Critical Moves:

Direct the Rider and Script Critical Moves: Decision paralysis infects Riders at an alarming rate. Too many choices confuse the Rider and get him tugging the Elephant in too many directions at the same time. And in fact focusing on clearer, more defined directions, even in the short term, gets the ball rolling or the Elephant moving in a direction more quickly. Whether it’s multiple choices of gourmet jams in a store, multiple 401K plans to choose from, or too many choices at a speed-dating bar, it’s apparent that too many choices makes for less certainty, more ambiguity, and ultimately less action. “Choice no longer liberates, it debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannize” (p. 52). Simple rules like ‘change your oil every 3,000 miles’ or ‘get a dental exam every 6 months’ are the kinds of scripts that tend to move Riders forward. Consider what would happen if dental scripts looked like my cell phone contract… I’d have a complete set of dentures by now. The authors quote a study of how scripting only “We want you to play with your child for five minutes a day” changed child abusers into much better parents. Bottom line: Narrow the choices, script them, and watch the Rider do something (without resisting).

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