Tag Archives: talent management

Elements of Leadership – Part 3: The First Step Every Great Leader Must Take

Are great leaders born or made?

Take a minute to consider the leaders who have touched your life. Perhaps at a former or current workplace, a non-profit you care about, or a community organization?

Think of people you trust and respect.

Who are they? What do you know about them? Do you know their story, how they came to be the leaders they are today? How they came to earn your respect?

If you do know their story, chances are they’ve had their share of adversity and have had to make important choices along the way. They have persevered and become successful—in the broadest sense of the word—because of a strong belief in what they were doing. And despite of what others may have seen as personal obstacles or shortcomings.

Great leaders have the ability to see what is possible, often when others don’t. They acknowledge and are able to utilize their individual traits, abilities, skills and interests to make progress toward a vision of what they believe can and should be.

Then they make one first simple step. They do something, small. They choose to act, to set things in motion. Not out of ease or convenience, but out of a sense of purpose. Or need.

Whether clearly defined or subtly innate, there is a direct connection between this urge to act and their personal and deeply held values and convictions. They are aware that there are some things in life that give them energy, and others that consume it. They are aware that it costs them more energy to hold back than to be deliberate and to act.

They choose to spend this energy wisely, in a way that is purposeful and beneficial to themselves and others, that provides life and joy instead of having to be contained and carefully managed. Blaming others for injustice, problems and obstacles and contributing to maintaining a status quo is simply not an option. It costs too much.

Great leadership is rarely based solely on a rational decision. It starts with a simple step and builds momentum and strength. It results in meaningful change. Not because of the results in and by themselves, but because the achievements are inherently linked to their origins and rationale.

Great leadership can only be as long as there is self-awareness and self-development.

It begins with acquiring an understanding of your values, convictions and sense of purpose. It includes an understanding of where you have been, in order for you to be deliberate about the direction you are heading. It requires courage and determination that can only be derived from the realization that you can lead and achieve because of who you are, here and now, and an appreciation and acknowledgement of the qualities and strengths that you already inhabit. Not what you aspire to be based on the perception of others.

Embrace who you are, your strengths and values. Comparing yourself to others may be an interesting exercise, but will ultimately only be a distraction. Be proud of who you are, your background, your story and qualities. Yet be deliberate in how you use, develop and direct them.

You already have everything you need to be a great leader. Yet you have to understand and appreciate what is important to you. And decide to make the first step.

Because great leaders are born, every day. And then they are made, again and again.

 

Elements of Leadership – Part 1: Good leadership, common sense and purple cows

An organization requires good leaders to grow, develop and be successful. But what is the definition of a “good leader”?

Answering this question has developed into a multi-billion dollar industry, brandishing competing definitions, concepts and formulas. At some point in time, we have probably all purchased a self-help book or bought into a concept that purportedly had “all the answers.” They all come with some good perspectives and help us reconsider our existing approaches to leadership. Which is great, and always a well-worth exercise. But I think it’s safe to say that any book, concept, or article that argues to have all the answers never does.

Try to google “leadership fads” and you will end up with a long line of articles, including this one written by Steve Tobak @Inc. I found the article quite entertaining and interesting. In it, Tobak reviews some of the recent “fads” and argues that good leadership is the result of a combination of using common sense while embracing individual strengths that may provide a level of competitive advantage. This pragmatic and utilitarian approach definitely has a nice feel to it, although it doesn’t provide an answer to the question of what really defines “good leadership.”

If we all focus on our own individual strengths as leaders, combined with our individual interpretation of what constitutes “common sense” – wouldn’t we run the risk of turning into “purple cows” as described by Seth Godin in his book by the same name? Would we end up in a race where the end goal would always be to be a “remarkable” purple cow amidst all the regular brown ones? In a tough and challenging marketplace, where corporate ownership, brands, priorities and strategies have to be as effective and cost-efficient as they are flexible and in adaptable, won’t leaders and organizational leadership get caught up in the never-ending race toward one-up competitiveness?

I think they already have.

Over the last several years, faith in leadership appears to have slowly eroded in many organizations, both public and private. In important aspects, the financial crisis may have contributed to this, although the big financial institutions’ fall from grace may also be interpreted as a symptom of a broader problem of a growing leadership deficit in private enterprise. The more recent “fiscal cliff crisis” certainly provided a level of justification to the growing number of people who lack faith in our political leaders and the overall political process. In organizations across the nation, employee satisfaction and engagement is at a historical low. Numerous studies have found that more and more people are looking for alternate employment, or that they are unhappy with their current employers. The leadership deficit is growing by the minute.

So what do we do about it?

I believe that we have to make a concerted effort to turning things around, starting by taking a fresh look at our goals and priorities when it comes to the role and what we expect of our leaders in private enterprise, government, and non-profit organizations.

Because we need good leaders, better leaders. I believe anyone will agree. I would also argue that we need for people, for everyone, to have faith in their leaders. Yet for either of these to be realistic, we need our leaders to have faith in themselves and their ability and effectiveness in leading others.  Without first establishing a foundation of competence and confidence, within our group of leaders and beyond, nothing else that we do will matter.

Do you agree?

If you do, the first priority should be to find new and better ways and tools to develop and guide our leaders. Our goal should be to develop good leaders who have the skills, knowledge and abilities required to have sufficient confidence in their own abilities, who fully understand and accept the importance and value of their role and responsibilities, and who are effective in building the authority needed to leading and developing individuals, teams and organizations to enable them to accomplish extraordinary things.

Because this is what leadership is all about! It’s what makes leadership fun and so worth it.

We will return to this topic in the weeks to come, discussing what the essence and practical implications of good leadership really is. Please feel free provide your thoughts, comments, and suggestions. I welcome thoughts of disagreement even more than those who agree.

What is your organization doing to develop better leaders? What is your plan for developing your own leadership skills?

2013 is here. Now. It’s your turn to lead.

2013 is upon us. A new year with new promise. How did you do with New Year’s resolutions in the past? Were you able to make real changes? Or did things return to normal too quickly?

Some among us spent a lot of time talking about how the world would end. It didn’t. We’re still here. Congratulations!

Now it’s time for action. No more excuses.

It’s time to fulfil your promise. It’s time to reignite your passion and your purpose.

It’s your turn to lead.

You have it in you to make extraordinary things happen. In your life, in your family, in your work.

It starts with clarifying your core values.

Align those values with your actions and the values of those around you. Small steps, every day.

We call this to Model the Way.

Next step: When are you at your best, both as a leader and as a person?

Most people describe their personal-best experiences as times when they imagined an exciting, highly attractive future for themselves, their families or organizations. They believe in their dreams and visions of what could be. They are able to live what they believe.

Do you remember the feeling? It’s like a drug. And still it’s real. And powerful.

Some people are able to maintain this optimism and state of mind on a continuous basis. Like the people who walk in the door and instantly make an impression of credibility and respect.

That is you.

You can Inspire a Shared Vision.

This is just the beginning of The Leadership Challenge. Small, deliberate steps with big real-world consequences.

2013 is upon us. A new year with new promise. It’s you turn to lead. The Future is Ours.

Thank you, Kayla, for inspiring this post.

Building a successful leadership pipeline – 7 things I learned the hard way

In 2010, I was hired by a European multinational company. My initial task: to engineer a program to develop their top 100 leaders and give rise to a more pronounced performance culture within the company.

It was a personal and professional challenge, and I grabbed it enthusiastically.

The company was growing and expanding both organically and through M&As, and the European economy was still doing fairly well. We had firm support from the board and senior leadership team. The leadership development program quickly took form, building on a framework of existing initiatives and programs and using both internal and external resources.

I was expecting that it could become difficult to implement a truly universal leadership program for the entire company, which employed staff and leaders in about a dozen European countries. Operating a program for leaders from such diverse countries, with different histories, cultures and languages – I knew there would be things that I would have to figure out under ways. And I was prepared for having to adapt parts of the program as it progressed and as we learned more about the effectiveness of the individual learning segments.

I was not prepared for having to completely rethink important elements that I, until then, had held to be more or less universally true and effective.

In retrospect, this was of course a good thing to have happen. I learned quite a bit over the following months. And I was reminded of several things that I already knew about leadership development, but that I at the time had come to neglect:

  1. It’s vital to have good support and buy-in from senior management, but it’s not enough.  In order to create a successful program, it is equally or more important to get the support and buy-in from local leaders at an early stage.
  2. A top-down concept and approach can work well, but can never be unilateral. An ideal leadership development program can (and arguably should) be centrally run and funded, but needs to be locally owned and operated in key aspects to be fully effective.
  3. It’s important to have accurate maps of the landscape before launching the program. It’s great to have a well-designed, well-funded and logistically sound program, but you will likely fail if you don’t include the understanding and perspectives of people on the ground regarding the learning topic. Take the time to observe and learn from the people who actually do the job and who know your processes, products, people and customers. In the case of leadership development, make sure you have a firm understanding of what leaders on the ground understand with key terms such as “leader”, “leadership”, “delegation” and “accountability”, and of what a leader “can and cannot do” as part of their corporate role and function.
  4. Make sure that all important stakeholders have the same understanding of program goals, benchmarks and timelines. You will need this whether the program is successful or not, and you will likely not be able to renegotiate this once the program is operational.
  5. Make sure you have a firm value base for the program, its benchmarks and operational goals. The likelihood of success (and program sustainability) increases significantly if your program is firmly grounded in a highly visible and operationally meaningful mission, vision, and set corporate values. This will answer the important questions that will be voiced from all levels and parts of the organization as the program unfolds – notably why, how, when and who. You need to be able to answer these question well and with legitimate conviction.
  6. It’s personal. Make it part of your schedule to visit and network with your stakeholders and constituents locally and centrally throughout the organization. Spend as much time as you can doing this, and it will always be worth it. But you should always do more. It is not the program in and by itself, but the relationships you build that will determine whether the program will be effective and successful.

Recent key indicators show the economy starting to exhibit new signs of life. That’s good news. The bad news is research shows many organizations in the US and across the globe cite bolstering leadership bench strength as a major workforce challenge.  As business begins to accelerate and companies rapidly expand their product and service strategies into neighboring countries and emerging economies, they often falter when it comes to constructing a solid leadership pipeline.

At Corporate Elements, we have considerable experience developing internal and external leadership development programs – locally, regionally, and globally. We partner with you and your organization to strengthen your existing leadership pipeline.

The Leadership Challenge® is our flagship leadership development program. It is based on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® discovered through intensive research into the leadership competencies essential to getting extraordinary things done in organizations.

Contact us at (218) 329-0836 or by email at ole@corporateelements.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

Senior Leadership and the Catalyst Effect

Your effectiveness as a leader and executive is inextricably tied to your ability to lead and motivate your team. You know it, and your organization knows it. The responsibility for growing and developing the organization ultimately rests with one person – you.

Are you proactive in developing your own interpersonal and leadership skills?  Do you have a strategy for managing your own professional focus and development?

An executive coach can provide the catalyst you need to sharpen your skills, maintain a healthy life balance and good boundaries, and stay focused and on top of your game. Retaining and executive coach represent an investment in yourself, your team, and the sustainability of your organization.

The virtues of executive leadership are different than those of supervision and management. In the words of Jack Welch:

Being a leader changes everything. Before you are a leader, success is all about you. It’s about your performance, your contributions. It’s about getting called upon and having the right answers. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. Your success as a leader comes not from what you do but from the reflected glory of the people you lead.

Those who ascend to the level of senior manager or executive do so on the basis of work they have conducted beforehand. Yet, the moment you set foot in your new office, that in itself is no longer sufficient.

As an executive you have to be skilled and knowledgeable on the operational aspects of running an organization. You also have to be visionary and provide the strategic leadership the organization needs to grow and develop. And you have to be able to maintain healthy relations with board members, members of the leadership team, and externally to shareholders and other important stakeholders. This takes significant time, skill, and energy.

As you advance to the senior or executive level, developmental feedback becomes increasingly important. Yet, in most cases, effective and objective feedback also becomes more infrequent and more unreliable. As a result, you run the risk  of slowing down or regressing in critical interpersonal and leadership skills. This can lead to serious difficulties and risk, for you and the organization as a whole.

Executive and leadership coaching is an effective tool to manage this risk. An experienced coach can provide the perspective and support you need to further develop your skills, balance priorities and achieve fast and measurable improvements.

Most leaders and executives benefit greatly from receiving direct and relevant feedback in a confidential and professional setting. By providing feedback and guidance in real time, executive coaching develops leaders in the context of their current jobs, without removing them from their day-to-day responsibilities.

Great leaders know that their personal and professional effectiveness and satisfaction help them to maintain their “edge” and be more successful. And great leaders know that they must continually develop themselves if they wish to effectively lead, develop their teams and grow their business.

Independent studies, including those done by the renowned International Coaching Federation, have consistently shown the average return on investment for coaching to exceed 500%. Coaching is an investment – not only in yourself, but also in your employees and the future of your organization.

Corporate Elements is a leading provider of executive coaching, leadership development and talent management solutions. We use our experience from working with organizations, leaders and executives in Scandinavia, Northern- and Central Europe, and the USA to act as a catalyst and deliver effective and practical business solutions that work for you and your organization. We offer confidential, convenient and cost-effective ways to accelerate success, giving you and your organization a major competitive edge.

For more information on our coaching services, or to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact us!

The Power of Integrated Talent Management and Assessment Solutions

HRIS and Talent Management systems are powerful and effective tools for any business. We all know that we cannot possibly hope to manage that which we do not track and measure.

For measure we must. Not just the input and output of daily production and operations, but the most costly and valuable resource of all – our employees and human capital.

We don’t always like the idea of measuring people. Intuitively, it makes us fear losing some of that which makes us human.

But HRIS and talent management systems are here to stay. And for good reasons. Over the last few years, the development in this area has been remarkable. Increased vendor competition and technological advances have drastically improved functionality and user interface. We can now do much more, much easier and with less time and labor.

We have also witnessed a seemingly never ending wave of mergers, acquisitions and strategic partnerships within the industry.

It therefore did not come as a surprise when Halogen Software yesterday (October 29, 2012) announced a new partnership. The partner, however, is worth noticing: SHL.

Who?

SHL may not be a well-known company to many in the HR circles in the US. It may be better known in other parts of the world, especially in Europe.

SHL brandishes itself as “the leader in talent measurement solutions, driving better business results for clients through superior people intelligence and decisions – from hiring and recruiting, to employee development and succession planning.”

In other words, SHL is a global psychometric assessment provider.

Every year, SHL delivers more than 25 million selection and development assessments in more than 30 different languages. SHL provides solutions in 150 countries and maintains a local presence in more than 50 countries.

With the new partnership, Halogen and SHL promises enhanced value to Halogen customers across several key areas of talent management, including talent acquisition, leadership development, career development and succession planning.

There is no doubt that Halogen customers will be able to make better talent decisions and possibly gain a competitive advantage with the new functionality provided by the integrated assessments. Particularly within the area of selection and hiring, but also when it comes to performance management, talent assessment, succession planning, competence and leadership development.

Here’s an example: According to the Human Capital Institute (HCI), the cost of hiring the wrong person for a position has been estimated to be 1.5 to 3.5 times the incumbent’s salary. The underlying science of SHL’s assessments combined with a robust talent acquisition process can significantly reduce the risk of incurring these costs. If you were able to avoid one or two bad hires a year, the cost savings would be significant.

The use of objective assessments can also be extremely valuable when tied to your company’s core competencies, performance standards, or KPIs linked to your corporate values.

You may already use assessments for identification of high potentials, executive coaching and development, learning and development programs, management assessment processes, or the performance evaluation process.

However, if you have yet to integrate assessments into your HRIS or talent management system or processes, you’re not alone. Many companies are in the same situation, often because of lack of resources or internal expertise. If that is the case, I recommend doing one of the following:

  • Reach out to HR colleagues and ask them what they do and what is working for them.
  • Contact your existing HRIS or Talent Management software providers to check if they recommend or have a partnership with specific assessment providers or solutions
  • Contact Corporate Elements or another trusted talent management consulting organization.

It is worth exploring. Assessments can add additional value to your existing HRIS and Talent Management systems and processes, and there is a proven return on investment. Assessments can also be an effective tool to reduce liability by adding objective criteria to your recruitment and development initiatives. And, whether you deploy assessments as an integrated feature in your HRIS or as a separate solution, it will prove to be a valuable and effective tool in the management of your most valuable resource.

 

About Ole Rygg, MA, PHR, CTC:

Ole is an independent talent management consultant, executive coach and strategic business partner who has been  providing consulting and training services to businesses, non-profits, and government organizations since 2002. He is the president and founder of Corporate Elements (http://corporateelements.com), a leading provider of executive coaching, talent management, organizational development and productivity improvement products and services. Corporate Elements partners with you to provide the manpower, experience and cutting-edge expertise you need to reach new goals and operate to the full potential of your business.

You may contact Ole via email at ole@corporateelements.com or by phone at (218) 329-0836.