Positive Leadership has also been recognised as a Top 50 Leadership Expert to Follow on Twitter.

Follow us on Twitter @posleadership


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Positive Leadership Strategy For Growth Programme

Positive Leadership is committed to helping its clients accelerate the delivery of their key business goals.

A key way in which we help transfer experience, knowledge and connections to our clients is through the Positive Leadership Strategy For Growth Programme.

This programme offers clients a breakthrough opportunity to enhance the impact of leadership on company results. The programme is delivered by the Positive Leadership principals and their associates and involves exposure to and engagement with highly successful business people, entrepreneurs and elite athletes. The innovative coaching and mentoring approach and practical strategy execution support which we offer provides inspiration, knowledge and skills tailored to your specific business.

A critical element of the success of this programme comes from its concentration on aligning leadership strategy with business strategy and its focus on assisting clients in the execution of their strategic goals, particularly in situations of pressure.

For further information on this programme please contact graham.watson@positiveleadership.co.uk


How Not to Lead in a Crisis

Toyota's ever-widening problems are a tragic case study in how not to lead in crisis.

Under the media spotlight, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, grandson of the founder, went into hiding and sent American CEO Jim Lentz to make apologies. Meanwhile, he let serious product quality issues spiral out of control by understating safety risks and product problems. This left the media, politicians, and consumers to dictate the conversation, while Toyota fumbled the responses.

Disingenuous quasi-apologies and disjointed plans for resolution have been Toyota's substitute for crisis response. As accounts pour in about declining quality, the company parades out relatively unknown mid-level managers to quell the firestorm.

It won't work. "You live by the sword; you die by the sword." Toyota's weapon of choice has always been quality, a competitive advantage that prompted many Americans to stop buying GM and Ford brands. Toyota can only regain its footing by transforming itself from top to bottom to deliver the highest quality automobiles.

When terrorists laced Tylenol capsules with cyanide in the mid-1980s, Johnson & Johnson CEO Jim Burke understood his company credo challenged him to put the needs of customers first. Although J&J was not responsible for these problems, Burke nevertheless recalled every Tylenol product from the market.

This is not a crisis of faulty brakes and accelerators, but a leadership crisis. During Chrysler's 1980s crisis, CEO Lee Iacocca took charge, restoring consumer trust and prosperity. When General Motors emerged from bankruptcy last summer, Chairman Ed Whitacre became the trustworthy, determined face of the company's comeback.

Toyota needs a credible leader with a strong, cohesive plan. Mr. Toyoda seems to be anything but. His uninspired words of optimism from Davos recently only unnerved customers and U.S. regulators. Meanwhile, Ford and GM are working hard to regain the market share they lost at Toyota's expense.

How can Akio Toyoda get Toyota back on track? 

Here are some recommendations from Harvard Professor Bill George, based on his recent book, Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis (J-B Warren Bennis Series):

'1: Face reality, starting with yourself. Faced with multiple reports of accidents from sticking accelerators, Toyota blamed the problems on stuck floor mats and panicky drivers. Instead, Toyota should acknowledge that its vaunted quality system failed. CEO Toyoda should take personal responsibility by saying that he pushed too hard for growth and neglected quality. By admitting his errors, he gives every Toyota employee permission to acknowledge mistakes and to get on with correcting them, instead of denying reality.

2: Don't be Atlas; get the world off your shoulders. Toyoda cannot expect to solve problems of this magnitude himself. Instead, he needs a crisis team reporting directly to him, working 24/7 to get problems fixed—permanently. He also needs outside counsel, as he appears to be listening only to insiders who are defensive about criticism. He should add the world's top quality experts to his fix-it team and listen carefully to their advice.

3: Dig deep for the root cause. When Toyota's problems first surfaced, the company blamed a symptom—loose floor mats—and exonerated the accelerators. Instead, management should have required its best engineers to get to the root cause of this problem and every other quality problem being reported. This is basic engineering and quality discipline.

4: Get ready for the long haul. These problems won't just fade away. In fact, they are likely to get worse before getting better. Just as the seeds were sown over the past ten years by placing growth ahead of customer concerns and quality, digging deep into problems will likely uncover more quality concerns that will take years to resolve. Toyota must invest heavily in corrective actions while its sales shrink and profits implode, requiring major cash resources until its reputation can be restored.

5: Never waste a good crisis. For all the pain Toyota is experiencing, this crisis provides a unique opportunity to make fundamental changes required to restore Toyota quality. The crisis is melting away the denial and resistance that existed in recent years. Employees are ready for new direction, and they are willing to make radical changes to renew the company. With Toyoda's leadership, Toyota automobiles can be restored to the world's highest quality.

6: You're in the spotlight: follow True North. In a crisis, people insist on hearing from the leader. Akio Toyoda can't send out public relations specialists or his American executives to explain what happened. Having lost sight of his company's True North—its values and principles—Toyoda must come out of hiding, take personal responsibility, and subject himself to intense questioning by regulators and the media. Then he should make a personal commitment to every Toyota customer to repair the damage, including buying back defective cars.

7: Go on offense; focus on winning now. Coming out of this crisis, the market will never look the same. GM and Ford are rapidly regaining market share, while the confidence of Toyota's loyal customers is badly shaken. Toyota cannot wait until all its quality problems are resolved. It must play defense and offense simultaneously. To win, Toyota has to offer advanced features and superior quality, better value for consumers, greater safety, and improved fuel efficiency.'

This is a challenging menu, and this crisis is the true test of Akio Toyoda's leadership. Is Toyota up to these challenges? Recent evidence would seem to suggest that albeit belatedly, Toyota is indeed getting back on track.


Presence v Charisma in a Leader

Where the charismatic leader attracts attention to himself or herself, the leader with presence stays focused on the moment, and on what needs to be done. Presence isn't about the person but about being present for the problem that needs to be solved.

The leader with presence is like the actor. His immersion in the urgency of what is brings others in; it compels them into sharing his agenda. There's none of the manipulation involved in charisma, for what matters is the situation and the leader's ability to become infused with it, to own it, to make it a matter of utmost concern. 

Where charisma ends in adulation, presence leads to action. The lesson is that when we become besotted with charismatic people, we should beware. Far better to look in a leader for those Mandela-like qualities of presence, to believe that the person you're beholding is there to get something done because it's more important than he is. 


What's the Talk Like Where You Work?

What's the talk like where you work? Do people put each other up or do they run each other down?

You know, the way we talk to ourselves and to each other has a powerful effect on what we are able to accomplish.

In organisations where the talk is negative, where people gossip about each other and take every opportunity to complain and moan about problems, and where people take a perverse kind of pride in shooting down each other's ideas, productivity suffers enormously. But productivity isn't the only thing that suffers. It feels just plain awful to work in an environment like this, doesn't it? And it takes a tremendous toll on your energy and even on your health in the long run.

But in highly successful organisations, it's a different story. If you walk around these companies, you will see innovation, risk-taking, and creativity everywhere you look. You will see people who feel personally accountable for the success of their colleagues as well as their own success.

You will see people who feel like they are on the same team working toward a common goal, and you'll hear it in the way they talk to each other. Players on a winning team help each other, respect each other, and build each other up. And, their talk focuses not on problems, but on solutions. 

What's the talk like where you work? If it's often negative, what could you do to change it?