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!

7 Ways to Align Strategies Within your Organization

vision_and_alignment-325090-editedDo you run your company, or business unit, like items on a checklist?

This could mean that the organization is not aligned and that you are generating waste.

“Great Performance is 1% Vision 99% Alignment” Jim Collins, author of Good to Great

Every organization or institution, for profit or non-profit, is required to achieve results.  The method of getting those results can be structured, or unstructured.

In most cases organizations may have a vision, yet manage by using a strong silo structure.  Every department has its goals and do the best to achieve the stated objective but activities may conflict with the work of other departments.

There is a certain level of waste as groups within organizations work against each other.

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

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

Can you achieve results?  Most definitely!!  Most companies and institutions achieve success for years with this model.

However, the problem becomes difficult when changes have to be made over a short period of time.  Such changes may include:

  • Radical changes in the economy
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Quick changes in existing customer requirements
  • New markets with new demands
  • The company hires new employees
  • Radical changes in the use of technology, etc.

Question: So how can you ensure that you change and still achieve organizational alignment?

Answer: Develop a Structured Business Operating System.

How can this be achieved?

  1. Vision Mission Values–Begin with a clear understanding of the vision, mission and values.  If they do not exist, then the management team should spend time to document them in a way that is clear and concise.
  2. Strategic Objectives–Document the strategic objectives of the organization as a whole.  Once this is done then this should be in a strategy map (a one page document summarizing the strategic objectives) so that it can be clearly communicated throughout the organization.
  3. Performance Measures (KPIs)– Based on the vision and strategic objectives top management should identify the top 10 key performance indicators (KPIs) that should be used to track performance.
  4. Standard Documentation–Each measurement should be placed on a run chart that shows performance over time.  A Pareto chart can be used to document the top areas that impact performance.  Problem solving teams should then identify the root cause of the performance and solutions that need to be in place for improvement.
  5. Deployment–The key performance measures identified by top management must be deployed in all areas of the organization.  This allows all employees to keep track of activities in each area and to be a part of problem solving activities.
  6. Review–The entire organization needs to have a systematic review process that focuses on key performance measures created in each area.  During the review process, teams evaluate the performance metric and the results of problem solving activity.
  7. Visual Management–The visual management system contains information on the key performance drivers in each area, and results of problem solving activity.  The system serves to communicate the progress of the company as it relates to key areas.

Every organization performs all these and more – so this is not new.  However it is the use of a structured process that will ensure that the organization can achieved expected results in a short time as well as promoting employee engagement.

At a recent luncheon for The Ohio State University Alber Enterprise Center (AEC), I was asked to deliver the following presentation.  Flip through the SlideShare “Aligning Strategies with Operations” to get a few ideas on how to achieve alignment.  

For more information about aligning your processes, contact us at 740-725-6325. 

Norma Simons is 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.

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.

Three techniques in boosting your organization’s capacity

Continuous Process Improvement Graphic

Environmental and Quality Management Systems Consulting-Continuous Improvement Process (ISO-14001-2004 EMS & ISO 9001-2008 QMS)

When starting a continuous improvement (CI) project, the simplest and the most important thing to do is to communicate to your organization and clients that you want to continually improve the services provided.  State this intention through strategy reviews and team briefings.  This is the most effective way to get the CI culture moving.

Environmental & Quality Management Systems Consultant for Certified Environmental, Inc and JAS & Associates of Ohio, LLC

Larry W. Sheppard, Environmental & Quality Management Systems Consultant for The Ohio State University’s Alber Enterprise Center, Certified Environmental, Inc. and JAS & Associates of Ohio, LLC

To help us improve faster than the competition we should aim to empower the team to make improvement directly.  This has the advantage of boosting your improvement capacity; it also allows for far more hidden improvement opportunities to be realized.  Some organizations may tend to channel improvement activity through dedicated improvement teams or individuals.  This approach can be limited due to the lack of improvement capacity.  All team members can be encouraged to engage in improvement activity, maximizing the volume of change and improvement that can be achieved.  To achieve total team empowerment, a robust but simple change process should be introduced that allows all team members to make changes.

The focus should be on allowing all team members to make controlled changes by following a well-designed change process.  Improvement culture can be measured by the number of improvements identified and actioned by the organization.  It’s good practice to routinely report on CI progress back to the team and clients; this can underpin the organization’s commitment to continual improvement activity.

There are obvious commercial advantages that can be gained from a healthy and robust CI culture. However, it should also be pointed out that an empowered team will tend to be more productive due to the direct input from the owners into the business’s success.  Team moral can be greatly improved by encouraging their involvement.  Managed correctly, this team member responsibility can further improve an organization’s responsiveness and change of pace.  CI organizations are nice places to be, where team members are more likely to use their full potential.

There are many tools and techniques that can be used to help boost your team’s improvement capacity. Usually these require some training to be effective.  But it should be pointed out that specialized tools are not necessarily required to enable a successful CI culture.

3 Steps in Revamping Your Business Culture:

  • Kaizen:  Kaizen, or Continuous Improvement Teams can be encouraged to evolve to tackle specific improvement opportunities.  Groups can be trained to be more effective, but teams can also evolve organically without specific training.
  • Lean:  This training will help your team to become faster and reduce costs.  Lean training allows staff to identify and reduce wasted effort.  Usually deployed within an organization or group, this is the perfect training to support an established CI culture.
  • Six Sigma:  Six Sigma is best used to improve the standard of products and services by reducing output variation.  Six Sigma should only be used following good Lean and 5S development.

CI can be developed into any organization relatively easily and with little cost.  

Good management and leadership is the key to success.  By following the three simple steps above an improvement culture can flourish in your business.

Most CI projects require little or no cost.  An accumulation of several small improvements are sometime better than one large improvement.

Larry W. Sheppard is an Environmental & Quality Management Systems Consultant for The Ohio State University’s Alber Enterprise Center, JAS & Associates of Ohio, LLC, and Certified Environmental, Inc. His expertise is in implementing Environmental and Quality Management Systems for companies, preparing companies for their ISO Standards third party certification, providing Internal Auditor training and much more.

Visit our Contact Us Page or call 740-725-6325 to find out how our team can assist you or your organization in reaching your optimal success.

Climbing the Success Ladder with You and Your Organization

Success LadderThere comes a time in life where taking the stairs is the only option to reach your destined path.  The quickest way or “elevator” in this case is inoperable.  If you were asked:  Do you want success? Instantly, your reply will be…I want success!  However, how willing are you to climb up the success ladder without assistance?  Success may be unattainable without enlisting the help of a team, planning, executing goals, and developing resources to obtain it.

HERE’S WHERE WE CAN HELP.

Unlike some consultants who may not necessarily take the time to customize a thorough plan for you or your organization, we take your hand as you climb your success ladder.

At Alber Enterprise Center, we assess your organization’s strengths and shortcomings then work with you to customize just the right solution to fit your business and budget.  We cater to all organizations and industries (i.e. for profit, non-profit, education, government, health, manufacturing, workforce development, and much more).

Examples of our consulting services:

  • Organization development
  • Strategic Planning
  • Performance improvement
  • Process improvement
  • Quality management
  • Environmental compliance
  • Industrial safety and hygiene

We alleviate individual and organizational barriers that are keeping you from obtaining your return on investment and climbing your success ladder.  Founded in 1996, our Center is located on the beautiful campus of The Ohio State University at Marion.  Our savvy consultants are dedicated in working with you to create customized plans for you and assist you every step of the way.

Now, then, YOU WANT SUCCESS….WE HAVE SOLUTIONS!

For more information about our consulting services, visit alber.osu.edu.