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Archive for the ‘Management’

Your Stance on Innovation Depends on Where You Sit

September 15, 2014 By: azjogger Category: Management, Operations

By Jonathan Vehar. Center for Creative Leadership

Do leaders in different levels of the organization have to lead differently? Of course they do.  A line supervisor has very different leadership challenges than the CEO.  That’s where CCL’s leadership roadmap is useful in helping leaders figure out how they can grow and develop as their careers advance.

Similarly, leaders who are looking to drive innovation have different challenges.  Innovation leadership is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  Our colleague Dan Buchner, Director of CCL’s Innovation Labs, led some important work to help distinguish the differences among the leader levels.  Knowing this is useful in helping leaders focus.  Given that schedules are too full already, it’s useful to know what to do, and this helps shape what not to do as well.

Here then is a run-down of the roles and responsibilities by leader level specific to innovation:

Leading self — CREATING: At the level where one doesn’t have direct reports, but serves as a role-model or perhaps leader of project teams, the responsibilities around innovation fall mainly into the realm of knowing how to generate creative solutions and a keen ability to participate on an innovation team made up of diverse participants.  Core to this is the ability to find sources of inspiration for new approaches, whether that means looking at other industries, engaging customers and stakeholders, or exploring patent databases for similar challenges that have been solved by others.

Leading others – FACILITATING: Team leaders or line supervisors need to have other skills as well.  They must know how to lead the group innovation process (i.e. Design Thinking, Creative Problem Solving, TRIZ, etc.), which requires special facilitation skills in addition to those necessary for being an effective team leader/project manager.  And for innovation to take root and spread through the organization, it requires an ability to obtain resources from outside their unit.

Leading managers – ADVOCATING/BRIDGING: When one leads people who are leading others, one key value they bring to the challenge of innovation is supporting and protecting the innovation team from superiors/other parts of the organization.  Great leaders create a protective umbrella over their people to ensure that the discomfort, risk, and potential disruption of the business don’t cause others to try to shut down the innovation efforts.  Also required is to ensure that there is due diligence in building a case for grass-roots innovations and bridging groups that are working on similar challenges to ensure constructive cooperation.

Leading functions – DIRECTING/PROTECTING: Leaders of a function or significant silo (or what one participant recently called a “cylinder of excellence”) need to provide clear direction for the scope of the innovation efforts and also need to manage conflicting demands for resources.  They also need to initiate strategic and structural changes to accommodate promising innovations and establish an innovation strategy that bridges the silos.  As if that’s not enough, they are critical to modeling behavior and driving communication that sets the tone in the organization that determines the support of innovation.  They’re also critical in the management of innovation pipeline and balancing the portfolio “bets” that help determine the future direction of the organization’s innovation.

Leading the organization – MANDATING/FOSTERING: Finally, we have the top of the organization.  These are the people who have the critical job of setting an innovation strategy for the organization to ensure that the organization has clear direction on where the organization is to go.  More than that, they are the keystone for fostering a culture of innovation, a big part of which is modeling behaviors to ensure that the walk matches the talk, which sometimes means showing support for different/new/disruptive ideas.  Like other top leadership responsibilities, it’s imperative that they communicate the vision of innovation over and over and over and over and over and over again.  Perhaps the hardest job is finding ways to hear/see “unfiltered” concepts since the further one goes up the hierarchy, the less connected to “what’s really true” the leader becomes.

So, where are you in the leadership pipeline? And what do you need to do to keep the innovation pipeline full?  We’re also interested in what other key tasks you see in the levels of leadership.  Let us know!

Leading a Multicultural Team

September 15, 2014 By: azjogger Category: Management, Marketing & Sales

CBR003314By Marwa Hijazi

Managing a multicultural team can be a rewarding experience, giving leaders the opportunity to work closely with employees from diverse backgrounds and offering the chance for personal and professional growth. However, operating a team with genuinely different people also comes with a number of challenges that must be overcome to create a productive work environment.

Leaders must be knowledgeable and open minded of different cultures to gain a better understanding of employees and find a way to help them work together as a team.

Breaking Down Cultural Barriers

It’s easy for misunderstandings to occur on a diverse team simply due to cultural differences. When people have different values and are accustomed to certain behaviors, it can take some work to get everyone on the same page.

Some cultures have a more direct style of addressing problems, while others prefer to focus on the relationship and take a more subtle approach. For example, the Dutch have a reputation for being very straightforward, while the Japanese are typically more reserved and formal.  Team members from these cultures may have to make an effort to adapt to each other’s style and expectations.

Time is another major issue that often causes rifts in multicultural teams. While Americans plan their day according to the clock, other cultures are often much more relaxed. Employees from such backgrounds may believe it’s perfectly acceptable to let a meeting run over the scheduled time period or show up late if they were in the middle of an important conversation ─ which is bound to upset those who prefer to stick to a strict timetable.

The phrase “time is money” translates well for most cultures, since money is a universal priority in the business world. If everyone on the team respects each other’s time as they would respect each other’s money, that can go a long way.

Forming a United Workplace Culture

Multicultural teams are often composed of employees who would rarely interact with one another otherwise. While their individual cultures should be celebrated, it’s important to shape a cohesive and constructive atmosphere for everyone involved.

Management should talk to employees ─ creating focus groups if necessary ─ to learn more about similar problems faced by workers. If there isn’t one obvious solution to these issues, it’s a great idea to ask for input on the best way to manage them, so everyone feels like they’re being heard.

Understanding Cultural Differences

Business practices, customs, and acceptable topics of conversation vary greatly from one country to the next. So while the behavior of an employee may appear inappropriate in America, it could very well be the conventional way of doing business in their native country.

Gaining a solid understanding of the key issues associated with a multicultural team will allow management to be much more effective. While certain employees may initially be viewed as difficult, lazy, or rude, digging deeper to explore their cultural norms can offer valuable insights that help all members of the team understand each other better.

Have you had an experience as an employee or employer – or even as a customer – where cultural differences affected a situation negatively?  Consider how making a careful and informed effort to overcome them might have mitigated the problem.


Top Leaders Train, Reflect, Boost Performance

February 21, 2014 By: azjogger Category: Management, Training

From Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), Leading Effectively

A year and a half ago, Jean Bustard was at a crossroads. A founder and president of ADA-ES, a growing environmental technologies company, she was part of the senior team looking at acquisitions, creating new structures and leading change.

“I realized I was not as effective as I used to be. It was frustrating to me — and to others,” she says. “Was I capable of growing with the company? Or should we find someone else?”

Bustard turned to CCL, attending the Leadership at the Peak (LAP) program for top-level leaders.

I didn’t want feedback sugar coated

“I wanted to go where I could take a hard look at myself, where the feedback wasn’t sugar coated,” she says. “I needed to see what I was doing and what I could change to be more effective.”

Lorenz Gross also attended LAP at a pivotal point in his career. Gross is an international attorney and in-house EMEA corporate counsel with automotive and high-tech supplier Delphi. Last July, he was considering a career move.

“Increasingly, my interests leaned toward the business side, more than a pure legal track,” he says. “Corporate attorneys are, although part of the business, always somewhat on the periphery. I was looking at a possible job change that would put me closer to the heart of the business.”

“Leaders at the top of organizations, like Jean and Lorenz, have such a huge capacity to influence and impact the rest of the organization,” says CCL’s Rich Tallman. “Leadership at the Peak gives them a chance to examine what’s working and what isn’t, and to refocus their leadership efforts to meet their challenges.”

“Do I have what it takes to get to the next level?”

“On a personal level, LAP gives participants a venue to reflect on where they’ve been and what they want to do next,” Tallman adds. “They have permission to think about their careers and personal life and ask, do I have what it takes to get to the next level? And do I want to do what it takes?”

The in-depth and personalized assessments, reflection and coaching — as well as feedback and input from their peers — sets LAP apart from other executive education courses or workshops.

Bustard and Gross experienced clear and powerful feedback about their leadership effectiveness, as well as support and guidance for taking it all in. Along with their fellow executive leaders, they addressed communication and influence skills, the need to sustain health and energy for the work of leadership, and specific action plans for their pressing challenges.

“I certainly learned a lot about myself — how I behave, react and do things — and the impact I have on others,” Gross acknowledges. “And I realized that my career so far has been well-aligned with my interests. The time to reflect on that was very satisfying and valuable.”

“There is a big difference between my intent and my impact!”

Bustard, too, became more mindful of the impact she has on others: “I learned there can be a big difference between my intent and my impact — that was a blind spot for me. Now I pay attention to how people are receiving what I am saying and doing.”

“Another big lesson was to understand that I don’t need to be the only problem-solver,” she added. “My role is to get the rest of the company to be problem-solvers.”

Both Gross and Bustard stayed with their organizations, both have taken on new roles and/or responsibilities, and both credit LAP with providing the clarity and insight to move ahead as leaders.

As for advice to other senior leaders?

“Take time to reflect, know your value, when to step up and when to step back to let others add value,” says Gross. “And be authentic.”

Bustard suggests her peers should be more excited to try new things to improve as leaders. Drawing on her experience as a triathlete, she says:

“You’ve got to try it”

“I train to be better. I will do anything to make this 56-year-old person faster! Why wouldn’t I try to improve on the job, as a leader, where I spend most of the hours in a day?

“If I tell my runner friends, I got these new shoes and dropped 30 seconds off my time, they would be headed straight to the running store. That’s how it should be with work, too. I should say, I went to this course, I’m more effective now, here’s why — you’ve got to try it. We should talk about what we are doing to be better — and it should be exciting.”

Leadership at the Peak is for leaders of the enterprise. It is designed exclusively for C-level and senior executives in the top three tiers of the organization. To ensure participants have the optimum background to benefit from the program, admission is by application only. Sessions are offered in Colorado Springs, CO, as well as in Switzerland and Singapore.

Manager of Managers: 6 Factors for Success

September 20, 2013 By: azjogger Category: Management, Training

From: Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), Leading Effectively

Effective leadership can look different depending on where you sit in the organization. For managers of other managers — typically mid- to senior-level leaders — the view can be murky.

Functional or divisional managers, plant managers, GMs and managers with many other manager titles operate somewhere in the middle zone of organizations. They are charged with meeting the demands of top leadership and knowing the realities of frontline management. Managers of managers move up, down and across the organization as they bridge organizational strategy with everyday work.


What does it take to effectively lead in these roles?

One of CCL’s core programs — the Leadership Development Program (LDP)® — gets at the heart of the matter. LDP participants strengthen and refine their leadership fundamentals in the context of their more complex and demanding roles. They also focus on competencies that have not been essential in previous roles.

If you’re a manager of managers, or otherwise leading in the middle zone of the organization, pay particular attention to these six factors:

  1. Self-awareness underpins effective leadership at all levels. For managers of managers, gaining an accurate picture of who you are and how you lead allows you to adjust and learn. Seeking feedback from a range of constituents is an important part of handling the push-and-pull of competing demands and people. Be especially open to the idea that strengths which have worked well in the past may not get you where you need to go next.
  2. Learning agility allows you to process information and take wise action in rapidly changing conditions. Effective leaders seek out opportunities to learn and are able to learn quickly.
  3. Communication remains essential, with the recognition that you have multiple audiences as a middle-zone manager. Communicating and collaborating with peers — other functional or departmental managers over whom you have no direct authority — becomes increasingly important.
  4. Influence is about gaining cooperation to get things done and is closely tied to effective communication. The ability to influence allows you to move beyond mere compliance and, instead, gain genuine agreement, buy-in and collaboration.
  5. Resiliency helps you handle the stress, uncertainty and setbacks that are part of your job. These realities are not going away. The ability to stay focused on what matters most in the midst of pressure is a both a life skill and a leadership skill. Being resilient benefits your own mental and physical health while allowing you to be more effective in your management roles.
  6. Thinking and acting systemically requires you to act not only as an individual manager but also to lead in the midst of a system. Each of us tends to get engrossed in our own work and our own perspective. It’s important to step outside of that, look at the larger system, and ask, what is going on beyond my own level? Why is it playing out the way it is? What could I do differently?

As a manager of managers, you are pulled between priorities and people. However, it is also an exciting place to be in an organization. You are in the right place to work on interesting projects, solve problems and build relationships with a range of people. By clarifying your role, challenges and leadership skills, you and your organization will reap the benefits of your time leading in the middle zone.

Adapting to Change: it’s About the Transition

September 20, 2013 By: azjogger Category: Human Resources, Management, Training

From: Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), Leading Effectively   

You know change is hard. But did you know that the ability to adapt to change is the No. 1 success factor for leaders?

CCL research has found that successful executives in North America and Europe:

  • Adapt to the changing external pressures facing the organization
  • Adjust their management style to changing situations
  • Accept changes as positive
  • Revise plans as necessary
  • Consider other people’s concerns during change

But what do you need to do to adapt and respond well to change?

A new CCL guidebook, Adapting to Organizational Change, distills the knowledge and best practices that will help you flex and adjust during changing times.

The first thing you need to do to manage change and be adaptable is understand there is a difference between change and transition.

Change is defined as the situations and occurrences that impact organizations and individuals, such as a new boss, a move to another location or a shift in policy. Change creates the need to move from the way it used to be to the way it is now.

Transition is the internal psychological process of adapting to a new situation. Transition can happen quickly or slowly. It is the process of moving successfully from the old to the new.

Another key strategy is to identify how the changes affect your feelings and thoughts. For many leaders, change challenges their experience with being right or in control. Feelings of anger, fear, powerlessness or frustration, as well as being stressed and exhausted, are common. But if left unresolved, negative feelings and thoughts become more intense, which can lead otherwise successful people to derail.

A final strategy for navigating transition is to guide oneself through three stages. William Bridges, a leader in the field of change management, says transition involves:

An Ending. Let go of the past; honor and grieve the ending but accept it. To fully experience change as an ending, try some or all of these strategies:

  • Learn all you can about the nature of the change without first judging it.
  • Take stock of who is losing what.
  • Define the precise details of what is over and what is not.
  • Admit to yourself and others that the change has occurred.
  • Actively seek information from all relevant sources about the change.
  • Let others know the facts and feelings that you have about the change.
  • Mark the ending in a meaningful way.
  • Take note of what has been lost and what has been gained.

The Neutral Zone. This may be the most uncomfortable transition stage. This is the time of confusion, of living with a clear ending but having no clear beginning. It is also the time for clarity to develop and point you to a new beginning. Tips for this stage:

  • Realize that uncertainty is an integral stage between an ending and a new beginning. Don’t expect to know everything or to be perfect.
  • Set short-term goals to move through uncertainty and advance toward a new beginning. Take stock of what you need to accomplish those goals and identify opportunities that will help you move forward.
  • Look backward to the ending and acknowledge what you had. Look forward to the beginning and the possibilities it could create.
  • Connect to your values. When you feel uncertain and confused, your personal values provide direction.

New beginning. Utilize the clarity that developed in the neutral zone and accept the challenge of working in a changed environment. When moving through the new beginning, experience it as a fresh start. To do so:

  • Imagine what the new beginning looks and feels like. Symbolize the new beginning in words, images and thoughts.
  • Give everyone a part in the new beginning; find a place for all relevant parties to the change.
  • Create strategies for tackling new problems and meeting new challenges.
  • Re-emphasize the reason for the change and recognize that reason as why you are beginning anew.
  • Find ways to mark your success.

People experience organizational change in many different ways and the process of transition will vary. As a leader, you must deal with your own personal uncertainty and resistance to change. Recognize that your process of going through endings, neutral zones and new beginnings will affect your work and the people around you. With greater awareness of the human side of transition, you will be more adaptable — and able to help others adapt to change as well.

A Broad Perspective: A Must-Have for Promotion

August 17, 2013 By: azjogger Category: Human Resources, Management, Training

From Center on Creative Leadership, “Leading Effectively” August 2013

The more responsibility you have and the higher up you go in your organization, the more important it is to see beyond your own functional area.

CCL has found that a broad organizational perspective is one of the most important factors in the advancement of executives. Looked at another way, having a narrow functional orientation can lead to derailment. A promotion might take you beyond your level of competence — you may be pushed out, demoted or fired.

If you are too narrow in your perspective, you can expand it, according to CCL’s Ellen Van Velsor, author of the new CCL guidebook, Broadening Your Organizational Perspective.

First, determine what is getting in your way. It may be, in part, organizational forces. But it may be your own behaviors that are holding you back. Do you tend to:

Over-rely on strengths? Too much success in one area can lead you to over-rely on what has been working for you so far. Any strength can become a weakness, leaving you with a gap or limitation when it comes to the next job opportunity.

Ignore a flaw? You probably know your weak spots, or you’ve been given feedback about something to improve. Ignoring this insight is a missed opportunity — one that can potentially derail your career.

Avoid untested areas? If you shy away from a function or area, the lack of knowledge and experience may become an obvious gap. Don’t think, “I’ve made it this far” and assume it won’t matter down the road.

Focus on one type of work? Deep expertise is not a replacement for a variety of experiences. A track record of working in different areas or on different types of work demonstrates the versatility needed to move up in an organization.

Underlying these four patterns is the inability to learn, to take a risk and to be challenged by something new. So, go after a variety of challenging experiences — but be sure you will learn from them.

To boost your ability to learn from experiences, rather than just run through the paces, pay attention to three factors:

Willingness to learn. Understand that new experiences may provoke fear or anxiety. Your performance may suffer in the short term. What is your motivation and commitment to engaging in and learning from a new experience? How will you handle the emotions that come along with it?

Ability to learn. When going through a new experience you will want to determine what is important for you to learn. This requires vulnerability. Are you able to seek and use feedback? Do you learn from mistakes? Are you open to criticism without being defensive?

Learning versatility. You also need to understand how you learn — what’s your learning style. Once you’ve identified the tactics you prefer and use most often, you can try new learning tactics to make sure you learn the most from your experiences.

With a solid understanding and commitment to learning, you can find and create experiences to broaden your organizational view. As a result you will strengthen your overall leadership abilities, enhance your opportunities for advancement and improve your ability to adapt to an uncertain and turbulent world of work.

Developing Leaders Within an Organization

May 08, 2013 By: azjogger Category: Human Resources, Management, Training

By Andrea Zintz

The idea of having a succession plan is often associated with company  ownership, but it really applies throughout any organization. When leaders move  on-retiring, getting promoted or choosing to take their talents elsewhere-it can  leave a significant void that can be problematic right away and for the long  term.

Developing leaders from within is one of the best things you can do to  ensure you don’t end up with a leadership deficiency.

A number of best practices exist with regard to internal leadership  development, and they all have one thing in common: buy-in from the top is a  critical component for success. In addition to saying the right things regarding  the importance of “bench strength” and education/training, top leaders must  continually espouse developing leaders as something that’s a highly regarded  company value.


With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at three best practices that can  be used to develop leaders within an organization:

Have a formal executive development program in place. This can be  outsourced or run internally, and ideally it will be tiered, offering different  tracks for senior managers, mid-level managers, supervisors, and even those who  aspire to join the management ranks. With advances in online learning, leaders  can tap into programs from wherever they’re located.

It’s best to supplement  classroom training-which alone can end up being rather weak-with on-the-job  experience in the form of stretch assignments and team projects that accelerate  the learning process. However, collaboration and on-the-job reinforcement must  remain a necessary component.

Employees need to be able to put concepts and  ideas they’ve been learning to work, and they’ll benefit from receiving coaching  and feedback along the way.

Encourage leaders to teach. Education comes in many forms; it can be as  simple as having a discussion at a staff meeting about the work implications of  an assigned article or case study. When leaders take the time to share their  knowledge, what results can be quite powerful. Serving as a mentor or coach can  ramp things up even more, since that provides line-of-sight support and a place  to go with questions, and it may result in career-building opportunities for the  person being taken under a leader’s wing.

Pay attention to the makeup of your leadership team. The need for diversity  aside, it’s important to create an environment of inclusion, so people feel  listened to, and believe they have a path to leadership. Ask whether you’ve  inadvertently excluded women, people of color or those with varied cultural  backgrounds-and what valuable points of view you are thus missing.

I’ve heard an  analogy that diversity is being invited to the party, while inclusion is being  asked to dance when you’re there. When people are challenged to stretch beyond  what they know, that builds leaders.

When upper management supports these best practices, and makes sure that  developing leaders from within is part of the company’s organizational values,  the results will be far- reaching. Employees will understand where the company  is trying to go and how they can play a role in getting it there, and those who  seek to move into leadership roles will have the resources and  well-defined pathways to make that happen.

Andrea Zintz, President, Strategic Leadership Resources We are trusted  advisors on shaping the future through leadership development. Our business is developing current and  future leaders and leadership teams to build the capability for fulfilling the  strategic vision of their enterprise

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7681562

Changing Culture: 4 Phases, Not Four Steps

April 16, 2013 By: azjogger Category: Human Resources, Management, Operations

From: Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), Learning Effectively

Changing culture is about changing minds.

Executives, leadership teams and entire organizations need more mature minds to deal with the increased complexity, uncertainty and inter-connectedness of our world.

 CCL’s approach to changing culture is focused on growing bigger minds and fostering the thinking that allows for creative action in the face of complexity. Based on five principles, we use four broad, overlapping, reinforcing phases:

Discovery learningdetermining willingness. What is the feasibility of entering the culture-change process? This is a mutual learning phase between CCL (as facilitators) and the client (as change agents and organizational leadership). It begins with an assessment of the current level of leadership culture and a look at the capability required by the business strategy.

Players’ Readinessdeveloping understanding. What are the long-term implications of integrating a new culture into the organization’s work? What is senior leadership’s ability to engage in the change process? It requires a commitment to participate in public learning — practices that many conservative institutions will decline.

Game Board Planningframing the change process. What does culture change look like? How does interdependent leadership play out in business and leadership strategies, the learning process and organizational work targets? What are the beliefs and behaviors required? As senior leaders’ understanding of the change process grows, they are better able to frame the change challenge and engage other leaders.

Playing the Gamebuilding capability. Once senior leadership has internalized the change work and discerned the way forward, they begin to move the new culture forward into the broader the organization. The same beliefs and practices that moved the leadership culture at the top are taught, practiced and required elsewhere in the organization.

The four phases are not a list of simple steps to take, cautions CCL’s John McGuire.

“Many of the traditional serial, step-by-step change management methodologies regard human beings as things to be managed,” McGuire says. “But we’re not things. We’re complex beings with minds and imaginations and beliefs. We have to engage and participate in order to learn and change.”

“We know this work is not for everyone,” McGuire continues. “But if senior leadership is fully engaged, they become adept at their own collaborative learning. Then the senior team is able to immerse larger numbers of leaders from across the organization and develops toward a critical mass for enterprise-wide change. Our goal is to eventually involve everyone in the organization in a learning process that creates trust, ownership and increasing forms of interdependence.”

3 Types of Leadership Culture

Organizations that grow from dependent to independent to interdependent leadership cultures become increasingly capable of creative action in the face of complexity.

  • Dependent: A form of leadership culture or mindset based in conformance or tradition.
  • Independent: A form of leadership culture or mindset based in heroic individual achievement.
  • Interdependent: A form of leadership culture or mindset based in the collaboration of otherwise independent leaders and groups.

Leadership: Don’t Ignore the Young Ones

April 07, 2013 By: azjogger Category: Human Resources, Management, Training

From: Center for Creative Leadership, Leading Effectively Feb. 2013

It’s never too early to learn leadership, according to a CCL survey.

Fully 90 percent of respondents believe leadership development should start before age 18 — and certainly should be part of early-career learning.

The study, and CCL’s work with youth and young professionals, gives insight into what leadership skills matter most and how businesses can invest in next-generation leaders.

What should youth leadership development be developing?

Our survey — along with growing interest in CCL’s leadership initiatives for K-12 and university groups — clearly signals the need for leadership development to be a part of every student’s educational experience. If so, what should be the focus of youth leadership efforts?

One way to look at it is to consider what leadership skills young people need to enter the workforce. Here’s what we found from our survey.

The five most important competencies for young people entering the workforce today are:

  1. Self-motivation/Discipline
  2. Effective Communication
  3. Learning Agility
  4. Self-awareness
  5. Adaptability/Versatility

In comparison, the five most important competencies for young people entering the workforce 20 years ago were:

  1. Technical Mastery
  2. Self-motivation/Discipline
  3. Confidence
  4. Effective Communication
  5. Resourcefulness

Looking ahead, in 10 years the most important competencies will be:

  1. Adaptability/Versatility
  2. Effective Communication
  3. Learning Agility
  4. Multi-cultural Awareness
  5. Self-motivation/Discipline
  6. Collaboration

Notice that effective communication and self-motivation/discipline appear on all three lists — these may be core and enduring competencies that could receive more developmental focus during the high school and college years. Learning agility, too, is a “master” competency or core skill that fuels other skills and allows us to learn from experience.

Two competencies that appear on this future skills list — multi-cultural awareness and collaboration — are driven by the increasing interconnectivity and interdependence of our work and lives. Fortunately, these skills can easily be developed through project-based learning in high school and college, as well as through early leader development experiences on the job.

What can businesses do to develop next-generation leaders?

  • Seek new and creative ways to partner with educational institutions — universities and K-12 — to better prepare young leaders. Southern Methodist University’s Lyle School of Engineering is incorporating leadership content into the curriculum for all 999 engineering students. CCL has also begun a multi-faceted leadership development program involving students, faculty, staff, board members and parents for Ravenscroft, a K-12 private school in Raleigh, NC.
  • Provide support to existing youth leadership programs run by nonprofits and schools. Good programs exist but reach far too few students and are usually under-resourced. For example, CCL and the Greensboro, NC YMCA created an innovative program with 28 modules involving leadership and mentoring for African-American and Latino youth during their high school years. The work is now fully run by the Greensboro Y, but other youth organizations could benefit from program enhancements, financial support and mentoring support for programs like this.
  • Establish two-way, cross-generational leadership and mentoring programs. Pair a young person, either just in the workforce or soon to enter the workforce, with an older, experienced employee for co-mentoring. The youth have much to offer in mentoring their more experienced and/or longer-tenured bosses and coworkers — typically they are comfortable with technology and the pace of change, have good multicultural awareness and adaptability, are willing to learn and eager to make a difference. The more experienced leaders can offer insight on career direction, ideas for greater effectiveness, feedback and opportunities for development.
  • Provide leadership opportunities. Be sure your early-career employees have mentors and bosses who know how to develop others and will give them opportunities to practice their skills in a real leadership context. Intentional, planned job rotations, developmental assignments and involvement with a variety of projects and on cross-functional teams or task forces are effective strategies. Coaching and leader development programs are also good ways to build the self-awareness so critical for leadership.
  • Encourage employees to “own” their leadership role and development. Help people (at all levels in the organization) see themselves as the person in charge of their job, in coordination with others on the team and in alignment with the organization’s goals. Remind them that it is important to seek frequent feedback on  performance, get coaching (formally or informally) on areas where skills need to develop, and do all they can to learn outside of their current skill set and knowledge base. Let them know they can develop off-the-job, too — being on a local Board, directing a community project or creating something new on their own.

Office Politics: Neutral, Not Negative

March 26, 2013 By: azjogger Category: Management, Operations

From Center for Creative Leadership, Leading Effectively

Do you think of yourself as “politically savvy” at work? If not, CCL’s Jean Leslie and Bill Gentry can help you out.

Politically savvy people have better career prospects, are seen as more promotable and are less likely to have derailed careers. People who bumble through the political realities — or avoid or ignore them — are missing opportunities, connections and resources.

Politics is neither good nor bad 

According to Leslie and Gentry, the first step in overcoming your political weaknesses is to accept politics as a natural, neutral part of work life. Politics is neither good nor bad.

“Navigating politics doesn’t come easily for most of us, so we have a negative reaction to it,” says Leslie. “But you can be politically savvy without playing games or taking advantage of other people. Political savvy isn’t about being false and inauthentic. Instead, it involves the sincere use of your skills, behaviors and qualities in order to be more effective.”

Focus on Behaviors

A key CCL study found that a select set of leadership behaviors vary according to level of political skill.

“These findings suggest that if you strengthen these behaviors, you’ll strengthen your political skills in the process,” says Gentry.

  • Building collaborative relationships. Developing and maintaining effective working relationships is related to two measures of political skill: interpersonal influence (a convincing personal style) and thinking before you speak (ability to size up situations well before speaking). Those who are highly skilled in interpersonal influence are capable of adapting their behavior according to their audience, which appears to translate into especially strong relationships with bosses.
  • Composure. Are you calm in a crisis? Do you recover quickly from mistakes? Composure has to do with controlling impulses during difficult times and being responsible for what you say. Composure ratings seem closely linked to measures of how well an individual thinks before speaking.
  • Putting people at ease. This gets at the heart of what it takes to make others relaxed and comfortable in your presence. People who are warm and have a good sense of humor are often able to make others feel at ease. Bosses saw the ability to put people at ease as related to interpersonal influence. The ability to adapt according to contextual conditions is related to how comfortable others are in your presence.
  • Career management. How well do you manage your own career? Those adept at career management develop, maintain and use professional relationships for mentoring, coaching and feedback. Bosses related career management to two important political skills: networking ability (adept at developing and using diverse networks) and thinking before you speak. In other words, managers who are seen as being good at managing their careers are likely to have strong networking skills and are able to think about the potential impact of their words on others.

A Word to the Women

Office politics can be especially difficult for women.

“Many women are uncomfortable with the idea that political savvy may be an important component of leadership,” Leslie explains. “Because of this perspective, they find it difficult to incorporate political behaviors into their repertoire.

But, if you accept that organizational politics is a neutral, natural part of the workplace, you can build your capacity to lead, influence and persuade others in a sincere, authentic manner — advice that applies to politics-wary men, as well.