Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Leadership Behaviour? I don’t think so!!

by Mark Evenden at Developing People

A recent experience made me reflect on the impact that a leader’s behaviour can have on others. Like millions of others in the past week, I found myself stranded in a foreign country trying to get home, but unable to because all flights had been cancelled due to the volcanic explosion in Iceland.

I arrived at the airport to be informed that all flights to the UK had been cancelled, and I should report to the airline’s ticketing office for further information. I joined a queue of dejected travellers waiting to hear our fate.

We were clearly all very frustrated with the situation, as there seemed little hope that alternative arrangements could be quickly made. However, the gentleman in front of me decided to vent his own frustrations on the poor airline customer service representative. He clearly wanted her to know that he was a very “senior manager” with XYZ organisation, and should be treated as such. He was very curt and aggressive towards the airline representative, who to her credit remained calm throughout his tirade.

I wondered to myself if this “senior manager” really knew anything about leadership, whether he behaved in this way towards his staff, and whether he understood the impact that his behaviour might have on others?

While we all have a right to be angry, it should be directed at the right person for the right reason, at the right time and not simply as a vehicle for releasing our own pressures and frustrations. Consider a situation when this “senior manager” behaved in a similar way to a member of his staff. How would they react? What level of commitment would they give when a problem arose but it was “clocking off” time? How motivated would they be in the future to go the “extra mile”? How engaged will they be in delivering the organisations vision?

At the end of the day, people work for people, not for organisations, and the level of motivation, commitment and engagement that anyone gets from their staff is directly related to how they behave towards them. So before you “have a go” at a member of staff, are you angry with the right person for the right reason, or simply doing it to vent your own frustrations?

Leadership Succession – Developing your High Potentials

By Mark Evenden at Developing People

You may have identified a number of people as high potentials in your organisation, but how do you develop them to ensure that they reach their full potential? It is certainly not appropriate in today’s organisational climate to simply leave them to it. Organisations need to continually change and develop and their high potentials will need to change, develop and ‘move with the times’ as well.

So what should your company do? The following is a guide to help you to develop your high potentials.

1. Make the development of your high potentials an issue for the Board. As the part of the strategy of the business, they needs be a clear plan to define the types of skills, behaviours and experiences its leaders will need in the future.

2. Be clear with your high potentials what it is they need to learn and don’t simply assume that they should work on their weaknesses. What is it that will add the greatest value to their performance and ultimately the organisation’s performance? Many leaders succeed because they maximise the impact of their inherent strengths.

3. Provide ‘on the job’ opportunities for your talent to flourish. Search for business improvement projects that need a leader, opportunities to undertake new roles or gain international experience. Experience shows that people will raise their performance to what is being requested of them. Take them outside of their comfort zone to find out what they are ‘really made of’.

4. Provide a range of options to support them to develop. This might be attending a leadership development programme or being given leadership coaching support. Coaching is a very powerful way to enable high potentials to develop quickly.

5. Provide networks both internally and externally. High potentials can benefit from shadowing leaders in their own or other organisations and learning from them how they use their skills and behaviours to inspire their staff.

Ultimately the long term success of your business resides with your high potentials. Surely, the development of these people is far too an important business issue to be left chance?

Friday, 9 April 2010

Leadership Succession – Identifying Your Potential

by Mark Evenden at Developing People

Do you know who has the capability to lead your organisation in the future? Do know if you have the people with the capability and potential you need to succeed?

Leadership succession plays a vital role in ensuring that an organisation can fulfill its long term aims and objectives. But how does an organisation go about identifying people with potential?
The first step in the process has to be preparing a ‘specification’ of characteristic of someone with high potential. In other words a description of the skills, capabilities and experiences that the business needs from its key people in the future. These may include:

• Intellectual and critical thinking ability.
• Specific behavioral traits.
• Technical skills and knowledge.
• Experience and types of role.
• Personal impact and credibility.

While evidence to measure/assess some of the above can be collected from how a candidate has performed in their previous roles, the only way to eliminate the prejudices and inconsistencies of different managers viewpoints it to undertake an independent assessment of each person. In this way decisions about who has/does not have the potential to fulfill a key role can be taken in a consistent manner across the organisation.

An independent assessment process will enable further evidence to be collected to help managers make decisions about an individual’s motivations, capabilities and potential.
Typically such a process will consist of collecting evidence in a number of ways, for example:

1. From the candidates themselves by completing questionnaires and profiles.
2. From feedback from people who know the work of the candidates.
3. From a formal assessment centre.

The first two invariably consist of using tools such as: 360 degree Leadership feedback questionnaires, career values questionnaires and other specific psychometric profiling instruments (e.g. Myers Briggs, TMS, 16PF, or OPQ 32).

A formal assessment centre will typically involve a day during which the candidates with potential are observed undertaking a number of challenging individual and team tasks. These tasks may include:

• ‘Intelligence’ tests for example critical thinking, verbal and numerical reasoning.
• Business case studies.
• Leadership and team activities
• Structured interviews.

The information from the whole process is subsequently reviewed and each candidate’s results prepared and benchmarked against other internal or external high performing managers. Once this is complete, the results should be reviewed and validated by using a panel of senior managers who will also make the final decisions about who will and who will not be earmarked for future roles.

Finally, care needs to be taken about how feedback is given to the candidates. It is important that the detailed outcomes from the whole assessment process are provided and it is not just perceived as a pass/fail result.

For further leadership development advice, contact Developing People Ltd

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Leadership Succession

By Mark Evenden at Developing People

Do you know who will be leading your business in the future? Do you have the people with the capability and potential you need? Or will you leave you leadership succession to chance?

Leadership succession is significant issue for many businesses, as too many do not have a systematic approach to succession planning and effectively leave it to chance. Succession planning is not just a business risk issue. In their research paper ‘Will Succession Planning Increase Shareholder Wealth?’ Shen, Cannella, and Albert, found that there is also evidence that that investors, employees and customers respond positively to companies who invest in planned succession management

Essentially the purpose of succession planning is to ensure that there is a ‘pipeline’ of people with the talent and capability to fulfil key roles and deliver the strategies of the business. Key roles are any role that drives a disproportionate share of the organisation’s performance. While traditionally, these roles are defined in terms of leadership roles, in reality these also include other roles such as technical, product or business development.
Succession planning is not a complex process. It starts with the organisation identifying what’s needed to deliver the strategy. For example:

• What are the ‘key’ roles needed to deliver the organisation’s strategic objectives?
• What capabilities do we need?
• Who might leave or retire?
• What gaps exist?

Once these questions have been answered the organisation can set about preparing specifications for roles and finding suitable people. Finding the right people means measuring and assessing a number of things, such as:

• Current levels of competence and performance.
• Technical skills - does the role require high, medium or low technical skill.
• Experience – for example industry and international experience.
• Cultural fit - personal style.
• Personal motivation.
• Potential.

Evidence to assess the above criteria can be collected from how a candidate has performed in their current/previous roles as well as through independent assessment. The advantage of using an independent assessment process is that decisions about who has/does not have the potential to fulfill a key role can be taken in a consistent manner across the business.

Once the business knows and understands the people it has and their own personal motivations, it can prepare a succession plan However, succession planning does not exist in isolation. For example, any gaps that exist may generate a requirement for recruitment. In addition, the performance of the successors will need to be regularly reviewed as well as appropriate development support provided such as leadership development or coaching to enable successors to reach their potential.

Ultimately, a highly tuned succession planning process cuts the risk to the future success of the business, succession is far too important an issue to leave it to chance.