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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

HM Revenue & Customs criticised by MPs

The Treasury Select Committee has concluded "performance at HMRC remains mixed with considerable room for improvement." It added: that Britain's tax authority faced "considerable challenges" to make these improvements.... MPs said they were "deeply concerned about employee engagement at HMRC and its effect on performance."... The [Select Committee] report noted that Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, had said that "HMRC faces a huge transformation challenge which will take both time and leadership attention, in particular to rebuild staff confidence in HMRC's leadership and inspire staff to be a part of HMRC's future."


How Not to Use a Coach!

Having a coach can put that mirror in front of you to help make that decision. It can also help to maintain motivation once a goal is achieved.

Having said that, coaches aren’t gods and they won’t always get things right — as Sven Kramer, the Dutch speed skater, discovered in the 10,000-metre event in Vancouver.

“I wanted to go on the outer lane,” he said. “Then [my coach] Gerard [Kemkers] shouted ‘inner lane’ and I thought to myself he’s probably right and went to the inner lane.”

Instead of winning another gold medal, however, Kramer was disqualified for skating in the wrong lane. He should have followed his own instincts, not his coach’s advice.

“I was on my way to making the right decision and just before the corner I changed my decision because of the advice from the coach,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it is my responsibility.”


The Essence of Leadership

When many people think of a leader, images of an army general charging up a hill with troops in tow come to mind. Or images of a CEO making a passionate speech extolling the virtues of a product or policy position are conjured. Of course those both represent a certain kind of leadership. But most real leadership happens in small chunks; small moments without the limelight, drama or intensity that these images represent. Leadership happens in small and large meetings, in one-on-one encounters, in group activities, cubicles and boardrooms, and by many varied people regardless of title or status.

While it is complex, leadership comes down to few simple things.

Modeling behaviour. Leaders have an opportunity to model appropriate behaviour everyday. An organisation’s culture may be stated in its brochure, but it is reflected in its actions. When people working in an organisation see how leaders act in various situations, they gain understanding and appreciation of the company, its values, and its leadership. Obviously, this behaviour can be positive and reinforce the organisational culture, or it can send mixed messages.

Understanding the situation. Shooting from the hip rarely works in most situations. As a leader, one must understand the situation clearly enough to be helpful. Many times, the process of understanding the issue uncovers the potential solutions without leadership driving the decision process. People generally know what to do in most situations and may only need to be encouraged to think the problem through by talking with those involved. A leader’s role is to use the understanding process to encourage dialogue and the thought process of all involved.

Using the appropriate style. All situations are different and therefore different leadership styles must be employed that fit each situation. For instance, in times of crisis, where time is of the essence, a directive style might be most appropriate. In another situation, a supportive or coaching style might work best. An effective leader develops the skills and know-how to use the appropriate style for the situation.

Being proactive. It is so much easier to see a situation or issue arise and do nothing, hoping that it will resolve itself. But leadership is not a spectator sport. Leadership happens in the moment, when one is paying attention and is present. Be proactive and follow your instinct. Being proactive doesn’t necessarily mean suggesting solutions. Many times it means getting those involved to to recognise the situation and talk it through. Remember, leadership doesn’t mean one has the answers, but it does mean that one has the ability to see the issues before they arise. That is a leadership moment! 


Leading With Values

Leading with values is important for the new generation of employees, for finding innovations in underserved markets, and for getting respect from the public and favourable treatment from government. Here are lessons for everyone:
1. Inspire employees to add their hearts to their heads.  People care more and work harder when values are tapped.
2. Add a third P to performance measurement: potential for impact. Measure how well you're doing not just by the past (better or worse than last year) or by peers (ahead or behind competition), but by potential. Which audiences, customers, clients, recipients are not being reached? What are the unsolved problems and unmet needs? Seeing untapped potential raises aspirations.
3. If purpose-inspired opportunities and commercial considerations seem to conflict, find another way.  As a result,  values will be enhanced, not diluted.
Of course, to lead by values requires having them in the first place. Perhaps that's why Lehman Brothers and the other financial failures fell — because they fell short.