Tag Archives: development

Corporate Culture Mindset (Infographic)

Corporate Culture Mindset
Source: with thanks to mcnakblog.com

BIV Boardroom Strategy: Creativity: Are you building it or crushing it?

When it comes to creativity, fear of criticism, judgment, of taking risks and putting your reputation on the line is a huge obstacle.

We’re born creative and continually experience the excitement of that creativity as we grow. Over time, our environment and experiences can cause us to fall into thinking patterns that get in the way of our creativity.

Your job as a leader is to help shift thinking and remove these obstacles:

Play is frivolous. We’re told that children play and adults are meant to be serious. This creates the self-limiting belief that if something starts to feel too much like fun then it can’t possibly be productive work. Start by changing your thought patterns around creativity. The more you let go of the existing beliefs and thoughts that limit you in thinking of new possibilities, the more you can explore creativity. Find small ways to be creative everyday while encouraging the same in others. If you’re interested in watching a truly outstanding creative process in action, search “IDEO Shopping Cart” on youtube.com and watch their process. (Thanks to Cactus Club CEO Richard Jaffray for recommending this video.)

Creativity comes from creative people. When people think that creativity is the job of marketing or PR, they disable their own creativity. Once they understand that creativity is a choice for all of us, not part of a select few people’s job descriptions, the realms of possibility open up substantially. As a leader, consider where you might be categorizing others as “creative” or “not creative.” Work on altering that thought pattern to embrace the idea that we all have that capacity by asking people for ideas on projects when you normally wouldn’t seek their input.

Deciding before you start. If you think you know the answer before you start the creative process, then you may be limiting yourself to a smaller set of possibilities. Instead, view your idea as only one possible solution and look at it from new perspectives. Curiosity creates leverage in brainstorming so ask a lot of questions, considering as many different view points as you can.

Believing there is a “right” answer. When we focus our problem solving on trying to find the “right” answer there’s a tendency to have a narrow focus. This prevents us from exploring the problem or opportunity in favour of trying to “fix it” as soon as possible. Try “reverse brainstorming,” where you reverse the problem or challenge by brainstorming answers to the question “How could we possibly cause this problem.” Once you have a number of ideas to solve the reverse problem, reverse them into solutions for the original problem or challenge.

Stinking thinking. The easiest way to kill a brainstorming session is with killer statements: “We’ve tried that before,” “That won’t work in this market,” “We don’t have the resources/budget” (this one’s my personal favourite). Next time you’re in a brainstorming session with your team, take a positive approach by first getting all the ideas out on the table before debating or discussing any of them.

Fear of failure. When it comes to creativity, fear of criticism, judgment, of taking risks and putting your reputation on the line is a huge obstacle. After all, your ideas may be a complete flop, so it just feels safer to stick to the status quo. As a leader, it’s your job to create the space for people to take the risk. Consider failure as feedback; focus on and celebrate learning, how to move forward, and what to do differently next time.

BIV Boardroom Strategy – Creativity are you building it or crushing it – Sept 2012

Business in Vancouver, Ask the Expert: How do I turn my managers into leaders?

The key to helping turn managers into leaders is to ensure the process you use is simple and easy to implement; you can always layer on complexity later. Here’s a five-step approach for starting down the path of developing your managers into leaders:

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Leading up

One of the challenges of being a good leader is understanding how to lead up and provide appropriate feedback to your leader while at the same time finding ways for your team to provide you feedback.

Here are three questions you can answer for your leader and ask of your direct reports:

  1. What am I doing too much off?
  2. What am I not doing enough of?
  3. What am I doing that is just right for you?

Whether in an annual review setting, quarterly check-ins, or more frequently, asking and answering these three simple questions is a quick and easy way to provide and receive feedback.

Ensuring success when transitioning into a new role

As a leader with ambition one thing you will being doing a lot of in your career is dealing with transition: being promoted into new roles with greater responsibility and similarly promoting star performers who report to you into new roles. When you consider that the average leader, rising through the ranks of a large company, will be in transition to a new role every four years and those who are marked as “high potentials” will be transitioning about every 2 1/2 years, it leads to a situation in which over half the organizations leaders being in transition at any one point.

So here’s my question for you: when’s the last time anyone received any guidance, coaching, training, or development around what success looks like through transition? The answer is very rare to never.

The best guide available on the market today to help you build a plan for success through transition is The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. In this blog post I’m going to highlight the fundamental concept for transition that is the foundation for success: understanding expectations upfront.

Time and time again, when researched, the number one reason that people leave their roles for another division or company is that they have had a fundamental breakdown in their relationship with their boss. Since most transitions to new roles involve a change of boss as well, or at minimum at shift in the way you interact, it’s critical to setup a series of conversations upfront to align your expectations and your bosses expectations.

Here are the five conversations:

  1. Situational diagnosis: this conversation is about the overall current situation and how you and your boss view the opportunity and challenges as they stand today. Is this an overall to a division, a start-up, a shift in focus, or simply maintaining the success the division has experienced so far?
  2. Expectations: what does success look like from your bosses perspective? What time frame, metrics, and subjective means are you being judged by? This may require some negotiation to ensure you are aligned on the definition of success.
  3. Communication Style: How, what, when, and where are the two of you going to communicate to ensure that your interactions are efficient, timely, and effective?
  4. Resources: What funding, personnel, and overall support (communication, political, structural, etc.) do you need?
  5. Personal Development: How will this role contribute to your personal development? What areas does your boss feel need the most shoring up or improvement? Which strengths is your boss relying on you to demonstrate in this role?

I’ve spoken above in the context of the new leader asking his/her boss these questions and yet at the same time, as the boss, you are responsible for supporting your team to success so each of these conversations is equally helpful to you.

The first three months of any new role are critical to your long term success. By negotiating with your boss through the questions above you increase you chance for success considerably.

Good, bad, or ugly, I’m interested to hear your stories about transition. What’s worked well, what do you wish you would have done differently, and what did you learn? Click the comment button above below the title of the article.

Coaching Direct Reports

Coaching is a great way to support Direct Reports in terms of continuous learning and give a “lift” to their leadership.  It includes providing feedback on behaviours, content or process; and is done in a way that the person receiving it feels respected and has an understanding of a different way to do things, right out of the gate.

Here are five tips:

  1. Model it first – Think of an employee who is watching a video of your behaviour.  What they see, is what is now acceptable and normal.  If you’re going to coach it in others, model it first yourself. We call this the ViRTUS Video Test.
  2. Watch your delivery – Remember back to when you were provided with effective coaching about a particularly difficult topic.  It’s much easier to take in the feedback, when the person delivering is non-judgmental.
  3. Ask powerful questions – Questions open up new possibilities for how we think of the world.  Ask open-ended questions so the person discovers the answer on their own.
  4. Coach in private, as soon as possible – Provide coaching in a way that considers the receiver.  Effective coaching is done in a place or at a time that is comfortable for the person being coached, and as soon as possible after the actual situation.
  5. Build it into your culture – Provide coaching often – this way it’s a normal occurrence, and a part of your culture, and is welcomed rather than feared.  In addition, make it two-way so that mutual learning is the norm.

This guest post was written by Tana Heminsley, ViRTUS Mentor and Executive Coach.

From Manager to Leadership: building your Leadership Roadmap

Here’s a question I get asked fairly often: how can I move from being a manager to truly becoming a leader? It turns out that the answer is “it’s a journey; one you can start right now.”

The journey becomes more focused as a result of having a roadmap to follow to help you understand if you’re on track and making progress. The roadmap starts with a destination in mind and that destination is not obvious “title-based approach.”

Here’s a step by step process for helping you create your own leadership roadmap:

Step 1 – One perspective on the difference between managers and leaders is that managers manage tasks and projects while leaders inspire, guide, mentor, and coach their teams. The reality is the key difference is actually in the eyes of the followers. It turns out the perception of followers plays a big role in developing as a leader: if followers aren’t willing to be led then you will have no one to lead. This understanding is the first step.

Step 2 – Once you understand the role perception management plays in leadership it’s time to consider what leadership outcome you are striving to achieve. Your Leadership Vision is the “what and where” of your leadership journey: where do you want to end up and what will you do when you get there? As Cheshire Cat said to Alice, “if you don’t know where you’re going then any road will take you there!” This vision can be a role or position within a company or organization or it can be what you will be able to accomplish as a result of your leadership journey.

Step 3 – Now that you have your Vision, your what and where, it’s time to consider the how: your Leadership Core Purpose. Your core purpose is the underlying values, attitudes, and beliefs that drive your behaviours and actions towards my leadership vision. One question to help you determine is, “if we asked your followers how they would describe your strengths as a leader, what would they say?”

Step 4 – Now that you are clear on your destination and know how you are going to get there we need to understand where you are today. Draw a line down the center of a page and on the left side write a list of your leadership strengths both behavioural and skill/role related. On the right side of the page write a list of the areas you need to get stronger at that are consistent with your vision and core purpose.

Step 5 – Next to each area that requires improvement and each strength that needs to be maximized write a direction action you can take is year to move your closer towards your leadership vision. These actions can vary from reading, to taking courses, attending webinars, joining peer-groups, getting coaching, finding a mentor, finding opportunities to take on leadership roles outside of work (in my experience chairing a volunteer board is an amazing way to grow your leadership abilities), etc.

Step 6 – Now that you have actions setup it’s time to put some accountability into place. Create due dates and first steps for each of the actions. Then select an Accountability Buddy who can support you on your Leadership Roadmap, hold you accountable, and provide feedback and shared experiences when you feel stuck or at a crossroads.

Step 7 – Each quarter setup a review, evaluate, and revise session for yourself to see what progress you’ve made, what’s working, what’s not working, what’s missing, and what you can celebrate.

After reading this you may be thinking that the journey of a leader is more than an outer, visible journey, it’s a blend of the outer and an inner journey. If you have read the autobiographies of great leaders you already know how much of their focus is becoming a great leader was on self-reflection and discovery. This is the inner journey that is woven like a ribbon through the Leadership Roadmap. Think of it as your own personal iceberg: so much of the real weight is hidden below the surface and forms the true stability and power behind the iceberg.

I’m interested to hear about your personal journey as a leader. Please add a comment to this blog post so we turn this monologue into a dialogue.