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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is the Recession Over?

Born in Glasgow in 1964, Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Here are some of his current thoughts on economic recovery:


The Bottom Line Effectiveness of Leaders and the Importance of Inspiration

Continuing the theme why leadership effectiveness matters in terms of operational performance, US based research (Zenger, Folkman, Edinger) on the bottom line effectiveness of leaders has shown that poor leaders lose money; good leaders make profit and extraordinary leaders more than double profits in comparison to the rest.

In other words, good leaders create more economic value than poor leaders and extraordinary leaders create significantly more economic value than the rest.

In the case of the impact of leadership effectiveness on employee satisfaction and commitment, the bottom 10% of leaders were below the 25th percentile on employee satisfaction/commitment, as compared to employees being at the 75th percentile who had leaders at the 90th to 100th percentile.

Here’s another example from the research of the impact of leadership on operational performance: more than 50% of employees who are “thinking about quitting” their jobs report to leaders in the bottom 10% of the leadership pool versus just slightly more than 15% who “think about quitting” their positions who report to leaders in the top 10%. (It’s worth noting that about half of the people in an organisation who are thinking about quitting actually quit within a year!)

The research also found that there is one pivotal competency that is most powerful in distinguishing the top 10th percentile of leaders from the rest and that is the ability to inspire and motivate others to high performance.

Former All Black captain, Sean Fitzpatrick says that one of the most important things he learned during his time leading the Kiwis was the importance of being an inspirational player himself at all times. As he says about his role as captain;

'It’s not about management, doing things right; nor leadership, doing the right things. It’s about Inspiration;
  • Inspiration unleashes potential.
  • Inspiration is contagious.
  • Inspiration is about action. 
  • Inspiration leaves no one behind. 
  • Inspiration delivers real results.'


The Effectiveness of Leadership

According to researchers, Ulrich, Zenger and Smallwood, 'Effective Leadership = Attributes x Results'.

This equation suggests that leaders must strive for excellence in both terms; that is, they must demonstrate attributes and achieve results.

Each term of the equation multiplies the other; they are not cumulative.

Mentoring Programmes for Professional Service Firms

It seems almost everyone can use a little something extra to help them increase their effectiveness or give them a competitive edge. Those in professional service firms are no exception; however, they do face unique challenges. With so much emphasis on billable hours for accountants and lawyers, how can they find the time to devote to personal development? Could asking for help demonstrate needed initiative or threaten credibility? Despite these challenges, more professionals are seeking mentors.

Contrary to popular belief, mentoring programs are not solely for the young and new in their careers. Even more seasoned professionals find benefit by addressing issues related to personal development, business development, and life/work balance. Mentoring conversations are less about learning the ropes, and more about thinking strategically about goals.

Before you start your search for a mentor, decide what it is you would most want to accomplish through the process. It will help you make the best decision.

Where do you find good mentors? Here are a few places to look:

- Inside your firm. Fortunately, more organisations are identifying ways to help employees create and develop mutually rewarding mentoring relationships. Some offer formal mentoring programmes. Formal mentoring programmes should not be a simple matching game. While it might seem logical to pair a more experienced professional with an individual newer in his career, other issues should be considered first:
  • The needs and goals of individuals.
  • An individual’s commitment level to personal growth.
  • The potential mentor’s commitment level to the process.
  • The organisation’s top priorities.
If there’s no formal mentoring programme, simply ask someone whose work you admire if they would be willing to spend some time with you over the next few months to help you focus on some goals. You don’t even have to use the word “mentor” which can seem too daunting of a role for some.
- Outside your firm. There are some mentor programmes that exist apart from the organisation. They attract individuals from a variety of organisations. Participants in these programmes are assigned a mentor from outside the organisation. These programmes help you foster relations beyond your own internal network and across industries.

Not everyone should be in a mentoring programme. These programmes work best for those who are self-motivated and open to change. Mentoring programmes can be structured a variety of ways. Some include peer coaching or group coaching. Ideally a mentoring programme should be integrated with the strategic objectives of the firm. Determine the specific desired outcomes of the programme and measures of success.

You may also consider working with an external coach. An external coach provides a personalised approach to help you achieve specific goals. Explore the possibility of your organisation sponsoring a coaching engagement; otherwise, consider the process an investment in your own development.

Whether you’re working with a coach or a mentor, here are some tips on how to make the process most successful.

- Determine the outcomes both of you want to achieve first. For example, some may want to learn or hone a skill like presenting or strategic planning. Some may want to gain more knowledge about a particular career path. Some may want support dealing with a particular challenge or opportunity.

- Establish best ways to communicate. Will you meet in person, by phone or both? How frequently will you meet? Meetings need not be time consuming when you’re highly focused.

- Set a goal. Set a specific concrete goal to accomplish during a given time frame. Make sure it’s not too general such as, “I want to be a better leader.” Instead it might be something like, “I want to meet with each person in the practice group within 30 days to get feedback.” Initiate a particular meeting or project that helps you exercise the specific skill you want to develop. Being goal focused helps establish greater accountability for results.

- Debrief. Establish checkpoints along the way to assess how things are going for both of you. Determine what would make the relationship or process even better.

While mentoring relationships can be interesting and enjoyable, they should also be productive. These relationships should provide opportunities for both learning and action. The best relationships have the potential to create value for the employee, the mentor and the firm as a whole.

How to Develop the Leadership You Need

Every leader is aware of the value of a well-defined business strategy. Few, however, give thought to a leadership strategy.

A leadership strategy connects the business strategy with the capabilities that are required to succeed. Without proper leadership, even the best and boldest strategies die on the vine, their potential never realised. Without a solid leadership strategy, the most sophisticated talent management and development efforts will be weakened or, worse, become a drain on time and money.

Like business strategies, leadership strategies are based on a thorough analysis of the current situation and an informed view of the future. Leadership strategies make explicit the number of leaders that are needed, of what kind, where and with what skills. They go one step further to clarify how leaders need to behave — individually and collectively — to achieve success.

To understand and develop the leadership of an organisation, several factors should be addressed:

•The quantity of leaders needed, as indicated by current and projected formal leadership positions depicted on an organisation chart (i.e. number, level, location, function, business unit, reporting relationships).

•The qualities desired in selection — demographics, diversity, background, experience level.

•The skills and behaviour that are needed to implement the business strategy and create the desired culture (skills, competencies, knowledge base).

•The collective leadership capabilities of leaders acting together in groups and across boundaries to implement strategies, solve problems, respond to threats, adapt to change and support innovation.

•The desired leadership culture, including the leadership practices in use, such as collaboration across boundaries, engagement of employees, accepting responsibility for outcomes, creating opportunities for others to lead, developing other leaders and learning how to learn.

In much of the work on talent and leadership depth, the focus has been on only the first three of these ways of describing an organisation's leadership. By leaving out collective leadership and leadership culture, we have overlooked what makes leadership come alive in organisations and the factors that often determine whether strategies and plans will actually be achieved.

A good leadership strategy takes all of these factors into account.
Very few organisations have an explicit leadership strategy. Is it any wonder that without one, CEOs find that they don't have the leadership talent they require?

For more information, see - http://www.positiveleadership.co.uk/

The Benefits of Being a Mentor

To be successful in any field, aspiring leaders require role models and guidance. At some point during your career, you may have considered becoming a mentor but dismissed the idea, thinking it would not be worth the time and energy you put into it. It is time to rethink your decision. Being a mentor is more important than ever-and you will get more out of the relationship than you think.

What is a mentor?

A mentor affects the professional life of a protege by fostering insight, identifying needed knowledge, and expanding growth opportunities. This assistance supplements the coaching an individual already receives from his or her supervisor. Traditionally, the mentoring relationship consists of an experienced executive providing guidance and advice to an associate with less experience. The associate is looking to move up the career ladder, usually by learning from someone who is successful and well respected.

Why become a mentor?

Mentoring gives you the extraordinary opportunity to facilitate a protege's personal and professional growth by sharing knowledge you learned through years of experience. While the primary intent of your mentoring role is to challenge the protege to think in new and different ways, the protege is not the only one who gains from the arrangement. As a mentor, there are various ways you can benefit as well:
  • Enhance your skills. The experience you gain by mentoring someone can facilitate your own professional growth, making you more of an asset to your organisation. Mentoring allows you to strengthen your coaching and leadership skills by working with individuals from different backgrounds and with different personality types. Your ability to manage people different from you is a valuable skill, especially as the workplace continues to grow more diverse.

  • Develop and retain talent in your organisation. Your role as a mentor can contribute to the success of your entire organisation. By priming promising employees to become top-performing executives and by providing them with the challenges, support, and commitment needed to keep them in your organisation, your mentoring efforts effectively address issues of succession planning and retention.

  • Create a legacy. By becoming a mentor, you create a legacy that has a lasting impact on your protege. Not only will you gain the satisfaction of helping to develop future management talent, the knowledge you foster in your protege can inspire new ideas for generations to come. Furthermore, through mentoring, you can help carry on your organisation's legacy by passing on its values and mission to your protege.
Although mentoring can be a truly rewarding experience, becoming a mentor is a big decision and one that should not to be taken lightly. The benefits to you and your organisation, however, are well worth your effort.

The Benefits of Open Dialogue about Leadership

Organisations benefit from the opportunity to invite open conversation about leadership, across all levels. If you are not already having such conversations, then perhaps you might start by asking questions like these:

• What does your company value most about its leadership?

• What improvements would you like to see?

• What is your company’s philosophy about leadership?

• What would outstanding leadership enable your company to do better?

• What leadership skills are critical for success?

• What is the impact of your company’s leadership on your employees? Your organisation? Your market? The community?

As you address these kinds of questions, make a commitment to raise the bar on the level of leadership that exists in your organisation. Build your leadership pool, but don’t let potential leaders sit too long. They’re anxious to lead.