Monday, 30 January 2012

Is leadership different now to 50 years ago?

I came across the transcript of a talk given by Field Marshall William Slim about his experiences of leadership at The Seventh Elbourne Memorial Lecture in 1962, and wondered if the essence of leadership had changed much in the past 50 years.

For those of you who have not heard of him, Field Marshall Slim was born in 1891, fought in both the First and Second world wars, and was wounded in action several times. During World War II he led the 14th Army, the so-called "forgotten army" in the Burma campaign.

What Slim spoke about at the memorial lecture made interesting reading. He believed leadership to be a combination of Courage, Willpower, Judgment, Flexibility, Knowledge, Integrity.

First courage because it is the virtue in a person. Without courage there are no virtues. Faith, hope, charity, and the rest do not become virtues until it takes courage to exercise them. For example, a leader has to have courage to make the right decisions and stand by them.

Next, willpower – the determination to see something through.

Then judgment, a cool balancing of the pro’s and con’s, which is essential because the greater a person’s courage, the stronger their determination and the greater the disaster if they choose the wrong course.

With a changing world, flexibility of the mind is essential. So ‘I’ve done it this way for the past 10 years and been successful’ is not a good reason as it may once have been for traditional approaches.

Knowledge is also vital as he or she must keep a jump or two ahead, not just of competitors but also followers, otherwise they have no justification for trying to lead them. Leaders therefore must never stop learning.

Finally, leaders must have integrity, and integrity in a leader is more than honesty, it also means a having a genuine love your people.

What he said struck a cord with me and my own experiences of leading teams, and so I decided to delve a bit deeper by looking at more recent leadership. I opened my copy of James Kouzes and Barry Posner book, The Leadership Challenge, to see what they had to say about leadership.

Interestingly in the section about what followers most admired in their superiors, Kouzes and Posner identified that the characteristics were 1) integrity (is truthful, has conviction), 2) competence (capable, productive, efficient), 3) forward looking and 4) Inspiring.

So the qualities Field Marshall Slim espoused 50 years ago are in my view very similar to those identified by Kouzes and Posner, and are therefore still relevant today. For example, both describe the importance of honesty and integrity, knowledge and competence.

The main difference I feel between what Fiield Marshall Slim’s view of leadership was and leadership today is that we want our leaders to be forward looking and provide direction. However, perhaps this was not much of an issue for him, because what he was trying to achieve was probably very clear to his troops anyway.

Friday, 27 January 2012

12 Behaviours of Leaders Who Inspire Trust

I would like to share with you 12 common behaviours of trusted leaders around the world which build and maintain trust. When you adopt these ways of behaving, it's like making deposits into a "trust account" of another party.

1. Listen first
2. Talk straight
3. Demonstrate respect
4. Create transparency
5. Right any wrongs
6. Show loyalty
7. Deliver results
8. Improve
9. Confront reality
10. Clarify expectation
11. Practice accountability
12. Keep commitments

Remember that these 12 behaviours always need to be balanced by each other (e.g., Talk straight needs to be balanced by Demonstrate respect) and that any behaviour pushed to the extreme can actually then become a weakness.

The job of a leader is to go first, and to extend trust first. This should not be a blind trust without expectations and accountability, but rather a "smart trust" with clear expectations and strong accountability built into the process. The best leaders always lead out with a decided propensity to trust, as opposed to a propensity not to trust. As Craig Weatherup, former CEO of PepsiCo said, "Trust cannot become a performance multiplier unless the leader is prepared to go first."

The best leaders recognize that trust impacts us 24/7, and 365 days a year. It underpins and affects the quality of every relationship, every communication, every work project, every business venture, every effort in which we are engaged. It changes the quality of every present moment and alters the direction and outcome of every future moment of our lives -- both personally and professionally. Will you inspire someone’s trust in you today?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Giving Better Presentations

by Mark Evenden @ Developing People

Presentations are often quoted as being one of the most feared things that a manager has to do. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Yes, the first time that you give one you will be very nervous, and in my experience, although the nerves will never go away completely, the more practice you have the more confident you will become. The following are 10 tips that have helped me over the years to deliver more effective presentations.

1. Research your audience. What is it they need to know? What do they know already? Make sure that you match your content to them and structure your presentation clearly by starting with the introduction, followed by the main content (facts, arguments, supporting data), and finally conclusions and a summary.

2. Think about how you will be perceived by your audience. Giving a presentation is like giving a performance, and so dress appropriately for the occasion so that you present the desired image to your audience.

3. Your body language is important. You will be more believable if your body language is congruent with what you say. So practice in front of a mirror, use a video or get feedback from a trusted friend/colleague. Try not to be seated when giving a presentation - your body movements will be restricted, your voice will not be as powerful and overall the presentation will have less impact. In general, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, use open gestures and keep your hands below shoulder level – and of course smile!

4. Speak with conviction. Believe in what you are saying. It will help if you write you presentation yourself. Stand up and speak slowly, clearly and loudly. Pretend you are speaking to the person at the back of the room. Never ask if anyone cannot hear you - I once heard someone reply to the question, ‘Can you hear me at the back?’ – ‘Yes but I don’t mind swapping with someone who can’t!’

5. Don’t read from notes. While it is quite acceptable to refer to your notes from time to time, do not read from them for extended periods. If you miss something, do not worry as your audience will not know. If it is important then come back to it, if not simply move on.

6. Maintain eye contact with the audience. Eye contact is important because it gives the impression that you are talking to people and not at them. Make direct eye contact with a number of people in the audience and every now and then glance at the whole audience. In this way the audience will feel involved.

7. Respond to your audience. Watch your audience, how are they responding to what you say? Are they interested or have they become bored? Change your strategy if you need to. Speak more quickly (or slowly!), vary your tone, and be prepared to add additional material to regain their attention. The key to this is being prepared, so that you know what can be left out or added if needed.

8. Make sure that any audio and/or visual aids you use ‘add’ to your presentation and are not the reason for it. Avoid gaudy colours, too much animation, unnecessary sound effects and those dreaded bullet points. No one wants to sit through 100 PowerPoint slides! Check that all audio visual aids work in plenty of time before the presentation, and have a backup plan in case anything fails.

9. If you are giving hand outs tell your audience ahead of time so that they don’t waste time writing unnecessary notes. If you wish to give them out at the start be prepared for the audience to flick through them while you are talking.

10. Finish on time. Time your presentation to perfection by practicing it and knowing what you can add in or leave out. It is important that you know when to stop talking! To end your presentation, summarize your main points and leave your listeners with a positive impression and a sense of completion.

You don’t have to go on a management training course to improve your presentation skills. By following my simple hints and tips set out above, combined with plenty of practice you will soon be able to deliver the perfect presentation! Good luck!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Management Training - How to Make It Stick!

How often have you been on a Management Training course and failed to implement what you were taught?

Many organisations struggle with the same issue – there is no point spending time and money on Management Training and Development if the participants don’t put into practice what was learned.

But how can you encourage your managers to ACT?

The key to ensuring Management Training is successful is quite simply to:

1. Make it relevant and useful.
2. Provide appropriate sponsorship, follow up and support.

Make it relevant
It is vital to make the Management Training relevant to the participants by ensuring that they can apply what they have learned immediately when they return to work.

For example, you may send someone on an advanced Excel course so that they can learn how to build complex spreadsheets. However, when they return if they don’t have an opportunity to apply their learning immediately, they will soon forget it. Habits are only formed by people continually practicing what they learn.

The second element to ensuring success of a Management Training programme is sponsorship. To gain commitment from managers to use their learning, it is essential that Senior Managers sponsor the Management Training effectively. For example, senior managers should:

• Demonstrate public commitment to Management Training and the benefits it will deliver to the organisation.
• Regularly review with participants how they have applied their learning.
• Sanction any inappropriate behaviour from the participants (e.g. participants not turning up to training sessions).
• Regularly sell the benefits of training and development.
• Target and hold their managers accountable for delivering improved performance.
• Accept the significance of their role in the success of any Management Training.

By ensuring that Management Training programmes are sponsored appropriately by Senior Management and the content is relevant and useful to the participants, will ensure that the participants THINK and ACT differently as a result of their learning.