It is no surprise that when we think of inspiring leaders, we identify people we want to emulate, model ourselves after and have the opportunity to work with. As a colleague once observed, leadership can be summarized very succinctly: “Leaders inspire”. And it is seldom because of ‘what’ they do, but rather ‘why’ they do it and ‘how’ they do it.
The pandemic experience, while incredibly challenging for leaders and teams, also provided important learnings. We came to recognize the greater impact and influence of such attributes as resilience, agility, humility, curiosity, self-care, compassion and caring and attention to growing self-awareness as central to the leader role in guiding teams and ensuring that organization priorities are realized. These are foundational and increasingly expected of the most effective leaders.
In January 2020, when we had only vague and incomplete information on a new strain of virus, The Economist published a column entitled A Manager’s Manifesto for 2020: Eight Resolutions to Adopt in the New Year. It highlighted many wise practices and behaviours we knew about but which the authors thought we might pay special attention to, e.g. “give out some praise”, the “buck stops with you”, “listen to your staff” and similar important reminders.
Do you remember the day you became a manager? You were told, “Congratulations, you’re a manager, you start next week! Let us know what you need, and your assistant will have your keys and access card waiting for you.” Did that amount of support turn you into a respected and effective manager overnight? Probably not. …
What if the entire population becomes vulnerable due a pandemic? COVID-19 took the world by surprise, then by storm, compelling us to adapt to new realities which considerably impact our individual, social and professional lives. The Canadian Federal Government, responsible for leading the pandemic crisis response, had to take effective and swift action in a rapidly shifting environment, driven by a new and mysterious threat. Implementing a multitude of effective responses across the country during COVID-19 posed a significant challenge for the Federal Government with regards to speed, agility and performance, and they proved up to the task, using an action learning, collaborative and iterative approach.
As a leadership coach, I regularly reflect on the approaches which support the essential relationship between the client and coach. Something that allows these approaches to work more effectively is an overarching mindset of humility, a mindset that applies to both the client as well as the coach. I do want to be clear that ‘humility’ for me does not imply weakness, nor is it the opposite of a tough-minded approach to supporting a client in his or her developmental goals. Rather, it implies a respectful environment that recognizes that the most appropriate coaching relationship is one in which client and coach work on strategies, plans and actions that will result in positive impact.
Change was in the wind. As is true for many industries, the insurance industry was facing significant change. Making the shift from a regulated to a deregulated industry seemed a daunting challenge for the 100 year old RockSolid Insurance Company. The question for the executive team was how to craft a strategy and initiate change in ways that would enable the company to compete successfully into the future.
You have your CHRP designation. Now as you begin to climb the ladder to success, what else must you learn to advance your career? One start is to develop the competencies you will need to become a true HR leader. But here the confusion begins. There are many different competencies and competency models proposed by various academics and associations. If you cannot determine with confidence which to trust, how can you decide where to invest your time, money and development efforts?
Coaching skills are enhanced and potentially of greater value to the client if informed by an actively curious mindset. In turn, a curious client can increase self-awareness, discover areas in which they can be even more effective and try new approaches and behaviours which will align intention more closely with desired outcomes. Conversations between two curious individuals, client and coach, can raise discussions to becoming part of an exciting and valuable ‘learning community’.
For some time I have been curious about ‘courage’ and its relationship to leadership. I am specifically interested in the part that courage plays in a leader’s decision to work with a coach, but also in the courage it takes for a coach to help their clients become as effective as possible in their leadership roles. Courage is not a new topic in serious conversations on leadership. It has been considered a significant attribute of the most effective leaders for many years.
Ever catch yourself thinking, “Why did I just say that?” or “I didn’t handle that discussion as well as I could have.” We are all human and can make poor decisions in the heat of the moment. Afterwards, we are often left wondering how managing our emotions could have made a difference in the situation. But for leaders, reacting emotionally can have a negative impact that ripples through the organization. We can all become more effective by understanding emotional intelligence and learning how to strengthen our own emotional intelligence.
“Leading from behind” is a natural approach in the outdoors. It is natural in organizations too. It may sound like a passive or ineffective way to approach the challenge of being an effective leader, but I found, both in the outdoors and in organizational leadership positions, that this is the most powerful way to guide a group.
This article will focus on the practice of social network mapping within organizations to deliberately leverage and engage intra-organizational sets of informal connections that are less “hard-wired” than formal organizational working relationships. In particular, the article will highlight the applications of the tool to identify hidden talent and leadership within the organization to support succession planning initiatives and diagnose internal communication and decision making blockages.
There is a new wave of environmental disasters that are just beginning to splash onto our daily news feeds. Workplace cultures are the next targets that will be publicly examined and debated in excruciating detail – just ask the CBC, Amazon, or the Lance Armstrong “company machine.” All the dirty laundry of inappropriate behaviours and unacceptable people practices are flooding out in the wash, and every detail is being hung out on the public line to view.
This article synthesizes my experiences in developing a Sustainable Leadership Development Framework. This framework moves through four stages that help build and ground the implementation of an organization’s leadership development strategy through a vision and strategic steps that result in lasting organizational culture shifts. Examples of wise practices will be given to highlight the key concepts of this framework so that you too can use these strategies to increase the potential of leadership sustainability in your organization.
Are you the leader of a change effort and stuck in the weeds? Have you read the latest Change Management book, but no one seems to be following you? Are you frustrated that your team or your organization seem to have forgotten that you shared your vision with them already? It could be that you have a sense of your vision but you haven’t defined it in detail. It could be that your vision doesn’t captivate your team. It could be that you are focusing your efforts on creating the perfect plan.
Today many vice presidents and other senior executives in human resources (HR) have earned a seat at the executive table by showing their organization’s senior teams that HR operations contribute at least as much as Sales, Marketing, Operations, Finance, IT or any other department. The key to this is continuous learning. Jack Welch, former 20-year CEO of world class GE, now an itinerant management guru, is often quoted: “An organization’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.” Executives who aspire to lead organizations have to spearhead that learning first by learning steadily themselves and that is nowhere truer than for HR.
A number of years ago, I proposed the idea to the organization I worked for that we should consider having an internal coach. There were a number of reasons why I thought this would be a good idea, not only for the organization, but also the individuals, and taxpayers (as we were public sector), and finally for me. From an organizational standpoint, we had been using external coaches for a few years and in some cases had realized some value. The problem with external coaching was that it is: a) Expensive b) Harder to access, and c) External coaches in many cases did not understand our business.
In my consulting work over the last 25 years, I've seen a significant shift in the role of coaching in the workplace. During this time, coaching could not remain static. It had to evolve to accommodate the many changes and disruptions we have seen in the business world, such as new technologies, the globalization of markets and competition, the rapidly increasing pace of change, and new demands on employees to work faster, smarter and be more productive more efficient and effective.
Projects are often the means by which much change is instituted within organizations. As such, the literature and concern with project management are also increasing. There does not seem to be the attention in the literature that specifically looks at the impact when a change in project leadership occurs during the life-cycle of a project.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the World Business Forum in New York City. I was impressed with the outstanding speakers who addressed many of the key themes that we discuss in our programs; creating great leaders, managing change, and how to have the right people in the right roles in your organization.
Organizational change is a constant factor in the business world and plays a significant role for organizational leadership. On a daily basis, organizations are challenged to improve their business performance and take on new and exciting projects, often as a result of a change in strategy or as a way to increase business effectiveness.