Five Leadership Hacks

You know that with better leadership skills, your team could start performing at a whole new level.  Here are five ways to boost your team’s leadership skills today.

  1. Develop your leadership.

As a leader your job is to develop those around you.  Mary mentored and fostered new leaders in our organization on a regular basis.  Dozens of people she mentored went on to become leaders in our organization.  She was valuable because she created other leaders.  Be valuable too.

How do you develop your leaders?  Has your team had formal leadership training?  Our unique approach instills the five traits of exemplary leaders.  Make sure each of your leaders has the skills they need to lead.

  1. Know your people better.

Remember when the standard to meet with direct reports for formal performance reviews was once a year?  No more.  Now the guidance is at least once a month.  This does three things.  One, it builds a sound relationship with your team member.  Leadership is about relationship.  Two, it is a valuable chance for you to get regular, valuable feedback on your organization.  Finally, it gives them a regular update on their performance.  Tackle performance problems early.  Encourage high performers at every chance.  Here’s a good format for the 1 on 1:

  • What is going well?
  • What have you learned?
  • What will you change?
  • What are your next steps?
  1. Vision/Mission – again and again.

The best leaders never forget why they exist.  People hunger for meaning and purpose and a consistent reminder to your team vision and mission will remind them that what they do is significant.  Start every meeting answering the “why.”  Why are we meeting?  How does this meeting tie into our larger purpose?  Do this and they will be more inspired and fulfilled.  “Our meeting today is for (purpose)… which enables us to (mission/vision).”  Simon Sinek said it well, “Great leaders are able to inspire people to act; they give them a sense of purpose or belonging …”  Remind your team of the “why” – and inspire.

  1. Set clear expectations and follow-up.

Is your team working toward some measurable vital result?  We may have told them (or think we did). What is their understanding and what metrics are they working toward every day?  What gets measured gets improved (Drucker).  Is it sales, profit per transaction, repeat customers?  Ensure that your team has what they need and knock down any obstacles.  Are you serving them so that they can meet the expectations?

  1. Recognize results and desired behaviors.

Be the kind of leader who never stops finding the good in people and telling them.  It builds loyalty and fosters high performance.  We asked them to achieve it. Celebrate it.  Recognize everyday behaviors that will lead to results.  For example, long hours to meet a deadline, creative new approaches, serving the customer well, etc.  When was the last time you said it?  Do it today.

Do these five things regularly and watch your team take off!

FRANK DISCUSSION #1

“As a learning leader in your organization, which program outcome is more important to you: The learners remembering what they learned OR the learners applying what they learned?”

Gibson, Frank 2013 Staff page

Frank Gibson, AEC Program Manager

As you think about the question, take a few minutes to reflect on your career and the learning events you have led. What were your expectations of the learner and how did you assist them in applying what they learned? What kind of structure needed to be in place? What resources were needed (time, tools, etc.)? What worked? What didn’t work? What barriers interfered with the follow-up?

Reflecting on my career, I see my approach to learning has changed over time.  Early on, my approach was more informal, less-structured, and guided by very little in the way of lesson plans. It was a more intuitive and “Just-In-Time” approach to instruction. As I moved up the ladder, my approach evolved to that of a coach. I’d share a few of my experiences, question them, and then call them to action at the end….not telling them what to do per se, but rather aiming to trigger their thoughts about how they might do things differently. Now that I am in the business of education/training, everything about my approach is more formal, structured, planned, written and timed out, with reinforcement and coaching throughout and after the event.

When it comes to training others, first and foremost I focus on enabling the learner to apply what they learned as quickly as possible. With interpersonal skills, for example, I remember acting as a “champion” for 14 managers/ supervisors after the learning event to coach them on using the tools presented in the class to successfully apply what they learned.

In summary, both remembering and applying are important:  remembering the material is required to repeatedly apply what has been learned, and this enables mastery of the new skill or knowledge on the job.

You may want to do a self-assessment as a learning leader. In thinking about your most recent programming efforts, to what degree have you engaged participants in a timely follow-up/support/evaluation? Do you follow a Standard Operating Procedure to assess the degree to which your learners are remembering… and applying?

What are your thoughts?

Frank Gibson is a Program Manager with OSU’s Alber Enterprise Center.

Related Articles:

Understanding the Voice of the Customer in Education

Voice of the CustomerA critical component of Lean Six Sigma is understanding the Voice of the Customer. This concept is essential to identifying activities that are value-added and non-value added or wasteful.

In education it may be agreed that the student is the customer as they are the recipients of the outcomes of the institution. Some disagree with this concept thinking that we are unable to satisfy the customer. At one of my presentations someone in the audience indicated that satisfying the customer in education “the student” means giving them all “As” and that was impossible. Of course this is not correct – this is not what customer satisfaction is about.

Norma Simons, President of Performance Innovation LLC and AEC Solution Partner

Norma Simons, President of Performance Innovation LLC and AEC Solution Partner

In the education space the concept of the “Voice of the Customer” has a different meaning than it does in the broad world of consumerism. We tend to think that customer satisfaction rests only on the fact that there is a financial exchange between the customer and the person delivering the goods and that the customer finds value in the purchase.

We need to satisfy the needs of the customer – the student, but what does that mean? It means we need to deliver what is considered as a quality education -one that is delivered so that the student is functional in the wider society. If individuals are able to graduate but cannot either get a job or function at their required capacity, then regardless of what was learned and the grades earned then a quality education was not delivered.

Customer satisfaction therefore is not a passive interaction. For the student to be satisfied, it requires the student to collaborate with the instructor and several different individuals within the institution. The student’s success requires a partnership with the institution which should be promoted and nurtured.

Understanding the Voice of the Customer is a process, a mind-set, a shift in thinking, a culture that needs to be embraced by the entire institution.

Apart from the student, there are several customers who are vested in the education outcome:

  • The parents of the students who might bare some financial responsibility regarding payment of fees and physical and emotional support of the student
  • The loan institutions who might provide assistance to the students
  • All the areas of the institution (business office, book store, advisors, job placement office and other areas) which support or interact with the students directly or indirectly
  • The potential employers who expect a certain level of performance of the students after graduation
  • The institution itself who expects that the performance of students and their ability to be received in the wider society will build the reputation for the school

Well this is my opinion.

To read more on this topic, see the New York Times January 3, 2010 article below:

http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/are-they-students-or-customers/#edward

In this article “Are They Students or Customers” five professors from different business schools weigh in on the debate.

“Students are investing time and money with a purpose in mind. The school that does not serve that purpose will not survive.” Stephen Joel Trachtenberg is president emeritus and professor of public services at the George Washington University.

This blog is dedicated to the team at Alber Enterprise Center of The Ohio State University.

Norma Simons is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, president of Performance Innovation LLC, and an AEC Solution Partner.  Norma heads a team of qualified professionals in the areas of Lean and Six Sigma.  Her success is attributed to her unique integration of performance improvement systems such as Lean, Six Sigma, Design for Six Sigma, quality management systems, business operating systems, and balanced scorecards that have enabled the effective execution of organizational strategy and, ultimately, bottom-line results.

 

15 minutes could save your … strategic plan

W.I.G.We’ve all experienced it, or heard about it.  A team spends weeks or months developing a strategic plan, and nothing happens with it after the glossy document gets printed.  Why does this great new plan just sit on the shelf gathering dust?  Business scholars over the past two decades have been researching why plans fail to be implemented  1. The overarching theme of their conclusions: people resist change.  How do we address this challenge? Through a structured plan for execution.  Your team needs to commit to the plan, yet they are busy with their daily duties (the “whirlwind”) and they don’t take time to focus on the strategic plan.  An effective execution plan starts with committing to a series of 15-minute segments on planning and implementing the strategic plan.

Franklin Covey’s 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX)2 is one formula to follow. The four disciplines are:

Program Manager of The Ohio State University's Alber Enterprise Center

Program Director of The Ohio State University’s Alber Enterprise Center

1.   Select one or two “wildly important goals” (WIG) that drive your strategic plan and can be measured and tracked.
2.  Identify the activities that lead to achieving the WIG(s), ones that your team can influence.
3.  Create a compelling scoreboard: simple, visible to the team, shows the lead and lag measures, and tells immediately if you are winning.
4.  Establish a weekly cadence of accountability in which each team member commits to working on one or two of the lead activities as well as reports on the efforts toward the WIG.

This 4DX plan is easy to implement by committing to 15-minute segments for each discipline:

  1. 15 minutes to identify and establish your WIG from your strategic plan. If you need two WIGs, spend another 15 minutes on the second one.
  2. 15 minutes per WIG to list all of the leading activities required to meet your WIG.
  3. 15 minutes to determine how you will show (scoreboard) the team’s progress toward leading activities and WIG and where it will be displayed.
  4. 15 minutes per week – the same day/time each week – for the accountability meeting.

We facilitated a strategic plan for one of our clients a year ago. After following up with them to see their progress, they reported that the leadership team implemented a few goals but felt they needed our help to really drive the plan throughout their organization with all employees. They embraced 4DX and are starting to see results.

This works! Try it, and let me know how it works for you.

If you need help in setting up your 4DX plan, the Alber Enterprise Center can show you how. Call 740-725-6325.

Citations:

1:  Govindarajan, V., & Trimble, C. (2010). The other side of innovation: solving the execution challenge. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.
Gudmundsson, H., Ericsson, E., Tight, M., Lawler, M., Envall, P., Figueroa, M., et al. (2012). The role of decision support in the implementation of “sustainable transport” plans. European Planning Studies, 20(2), 171-191.
Hahn, W., & Powers, T. (2010). Strategic plan quality, implementation capability, and firm performance. Academy of Strategic Management Journal, 9(1), 63-81.
Kotter, J. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Larian, L., Day, M., Backhurst, M., Berke, P., Ericksen, N., Crawford, J., et al. (2004). What drives plan implementation? Plans, planning agencies and developers. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 47(4), 555-577.
2:  McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: achieving your wildly important goals. New York: Free Press.

The desire to become an exemplary leader

caregiver-qualifications

Leadership is everywhere.  Whether it’s a president leading a country, a coach leading players to a national championship, parents leading a family or a doctor leading a patient through a journey of an illness, we all lead at some point in our lives and at other times…we follow.  The question is, “What type of leader do you want to be?”  There are many models to choose from – transactional, transformational, classic leadership theory and ethical and critical leadership (to name a few)! However, my recommendations are two specific models that reflect the “best practices” in the way one chooses to lead.  One model is outlined in the The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner (1995) and the other is Robert K. Greenleaf’s servant leadership model.

Anne Johnson, Program Manager for Alber Enterprise Center

Anne Johnson, MS, Program Manager for Alber Enterprise Center

The Leadership Challenge is a clear, evidence-based path to achieving the extraordinary—for individuals, teams, organizations, and communities.  It turns the abstract concept of leadership into easy-to-grasp practices and behaviors that can be taught and learned by anyone willing to step up and accept the challenge to lead.

Kouzes and Posner’s model reflects the beliefs and teachings of Greenleaf’s servant leadership model. The basis for any model is the desire to lead, which needs to be rooted in a strong desire to serve.

According to the Greenleaf Institute on Servant Leadership, “servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.”  In Greenleaf’s The Servant as Leader essay, published in 1970, “The servant-leader is servant first…It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.  Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”

Kouzes and Posner give similar, but more contemporary ways to become an exemplary leader by outlining the five practices of exemplary leadership, which are:

In today’s world, there is a great need for ethical and compassionate leaders.  This type of leadership calls each of us to a higher purpose, moving beyond “me” or “us” and into the realm of serving for the greater good.  There are many ways one can serve others as a leader.  We can each model the way for those we are leading or mentoring.  We can inspire a shared vision by communicating in a collaborative and meaningful way how we, as a team, are going to achieve our goals.

Creating an environment where everyone checks their titles at the door, where open, honest dialogue can take place among leaders and followers without fear of retribution or retaliation, is a way to challenge the process.  Providing staff with the tools and resources needed to be successful enables them to act, perform, and do their jobs to the best of their abilities and beyond.  In addition, who among us doesn’t want someone to encourage us, lift us up, and help us to be the best version of ourselves?  Most individuals long for that, both personally and professionally. Leaders have the ability to make that impact in someone’s life and to serve them in a way that makes a difference.

Lao-tzu, philosopher and poet of ancient China, said it best:

“To lead people, walk beside them… As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate… When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’”

For more information about our Leadership development training/services or the Leadership Challenge, contact us at 740-725-6325.

Anne Johnson is a Program Manager for the Alber Enterprise Center, which is part of Ohio State University Extension and Ohio State at Marion campus, serving businesses throughout Ohio.  Her focus is on the long term support services and healthcare sectors.  In addition, Anne is a trained facilitator for The Leadership Challenge® (Kouzes and Posner).

Coaching made me a better boss

consulting-board roomWhen I was hired as program director for Alber Enterprise Center in December 2011, I thought I knew how to be a manager and leader.  After all, for two decades I studied the best authors – Drucker, Collins, Covey, Buckingham, Friedman, and dozens more.  I witnessed a myriad of management styles in private business and public education, and listened to their employees’ reactions, praise and complaints, then eventually began teaching leadership development courses.  I knew the importance of listening, giving feedback, team building, problem solving, performance management, and conflict resolution skills; especially their role in engaging employees and moving the organization forward.  Yes, I felt confident in my abilities to lead my own team.

Myra Wilson, MS, SPHR, Program Director, Alber Enterprise Center

Well, I learned there is a difference between knowing and doing!  My personal style of working entails rolling up my sleeves and digging in, taking full ownership of all the details while visioning the future.  My new team was great, helping me understand our center’s history with clients and excited about the opportunities to develop updated programs.  After three years, we were holding our own but I knew we had so much more potential to make an impact.  Sensing we had stalled, I found myself wondering about my abilities as a leader.  Then a phone call from a certified coach transformed our team into a high speed powerhouse that doubled the number of delivered programs in six short months.

He called me in hopes of becoming one of our center’s educational partners; a partner in delivery of leadership training and coaching.  I decided that the best way to assess his qualifications was to try him out on our team.  He facilitated our strategic plan and provided follow-up coaching to help us implement our goals.

What did the coach do for each of us? 

  • Confidentially identified behaviors each team member wished to strengthen
  • Assessed our current level of skill in each of those behavioral areas
  • Assembled a plan of action for improvement
  • Monitored our progress through feedback and other objective means

I learned two key lessons during my coaching sessions that have helped take our center to a new level of performance:

  • Let go of the details and delegate them to others – stay focused on the big picture instead of getting “tangled in the weeds”
  • Empower others to take ownership of their jobs by using the coaching techniques I learned – listening more and speaking less, asking questions rather than directing, rewarding positive behavior, and sharing successes as a team

This external (and objective) assessment not only made me a better leader and manager but has also elevated the performance of our organization and its members in the process.

To fulfill your coaching needs, contact us for more information.

Using the Blended Learning Approach in Lean Six Sigma

Blended Approach

Norma Simons, President of Performance Innovation LLC and AEC Solution Partner

Norma Simons, President of Performance Innovation LLC and AEC Solution Partner

Blended learning can be defined as a mix of e-learning, face-to-face classroom style instruction, coaching and live or recorded sessions designed to reach a large audience and a wide range of employees.

The approach to learning can be customized using more of each component and will depend on the objectives of the training session and the tools and skills that are needed for employees.

Benefits of the Blended Learning Approach in Lean Six Sigma:

  • Reduces Waste allowing students to learn modules for Lean Six Sigma ahead of time and allows classroom time to be focused primarily on project application.
  • Reduces Cost using the Blended learning model reduces face-to-face instruction time as well as travel costs and material costs.
  • Increases Capability of Students – because students are able to go through the online learning component, they are able to go at their own pace, using assessment methods to evaluate their understanding with an option to return to review and update information.
  • Provides Coaching this is done either in person or virtually and helps students to ensure that they are making progress and fulfilling the requirements at each tollgate.
  • Promotes Just-in-time Learning students are able to learn each tool at the time when they need to be applied, which avoids learning large volumes of material when they are not needed.

The approach to blended learning is innovative and varies depending on companies, students and objectives of the training session.  The traditional methods of learning focus on one-way communication and in some cases do not always allow the type of participation that would encourage effective learning. Blended learning on the other hand delivers a large volume of ideas in a short time, encourages class participants to experiment under the supervision of the instructor and provides the participants with greater skill and a higher level of confidence with the class material when they return to the work environment.

E-learning compliments classroom training rather than replace it.  The approach is innovative and varies depending on companies, students and objectives of the training session.

Lean Six Sigma covers a wider area of content and requires individuals to be ready to implement or apply concepts to company projects in a short time.  The approach to learning allows instructors to focus more on coaching or mentoring rather than lecturing on the basics.

As companies move to implement Lean Six Sigma, it is important that attention is given not only to Lean Six Sigma training to ensure that there is a common language that is clearly understood but also the process of implementation.