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Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR


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Improving your effectiveness in todays complex world.

It takes courage to be a leader in today’s workplace. Leaders live in an ever-changing world made more complex by the quantity data, social media, consumerism, workforce diversity and enhanced technology.

Gone are the days when the leader was an all-knowing manager with unwavering confidence, a resolute sense of direction and a keen ability to determine the right solutions.

These huge shifts have created a more complex workplace for leaders than in the past. This complexity poses land mines for leaders, particularly because:

  • Root causes to problems might be unknown or not easily discernible
  • A single solution might not exist
  • No one person has the solution to the problem

In these circumstances, leaders are far less effective when they address symptoms of the

problem, assert only their opinion or point of view, fail to capture multiple perspectives to solve the problem or focus on only one solution.

Leading successfully through the never-ending maze of complexity requires a bold, new approach to identify, implement and sustain effective solutions:

  • Begin with listening, versus acting. Identify compelling questions that spark dialogue among diverse stakeholders who are closest to the problem or situation. For example: What key events led up to this situation? What does the data suggest? What are the problems, barriers and/or challenges that the team is experiencing? How do these challenges affect the team’s or organization’s ability to produce intended outcomes?
  • Demonstrate curiosity.  Explore themes and patterns that begin to emerge from dialogue with stakeholders. For example, what factors seem to contribute most to the situation: failed processes, inadequate technology, human error, etc.? Are there critical intersections in the work process where problems seem to form, grow, and mature? From these themes, seek ideas from stakeholders on interventions that could resolve the situation, whether in whole or in part.
  • Take a paced, thoughtful approach toward the solution. Even if a clear solution hasn’t emerged, consider tests of change to study the effects of different interventions. Ensure that each test of change has an objective and baseline data. Once the test has been shown, determine whether the objective was met and if improvement was both measured and experienced.
  • Champion learning. From the tests of change, determine what was learned and which solutions should be implemented on a fuller scale to address the situation.

To evolve their leadership approach in complex situations, leaders can advance their self-awareness by asking;

  • How do I foster a safe environment where diverse, honest perspectives and recommendations can be shared?
  • Do I tend to listen and learn, or tell and act?
  • How do I encourage opposing views and creative deviance from the norm?
  • How will I make the time to experiment, potentially fail, and extract lessons learned when pursuing the right solution to a complex situation?
  • How can I cultivate a work environment where solutions emerge and failure is a natural occurrence on the road to success?

 


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Emotional Awareness

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and diffuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.  If you have a high emotional intelligence you are able to recognize your own emotional state and the emotional states of others and engage with people in a way that draws them to you.

Learn to recognize & accept your emotions

Emotions play an important role in the way we communicate at work and at home. It’s the way you feel, more than the way you think, that motivates you to communicate or to make decisions. The way you react to emotionally driven, nonverbal cues affects both how you understand other people and how they understand you. If you are out of touch with your feelings, and don’t understand how you feel or why you feel that way, you’ll have a hard time communicating your feelings and needs to others. This can result in frustration, misunderstandings, and conflict. When you don’t address what’s really bothering you, you often become embroiled in petty squabbles instead—arguing with your spouse about how the towels should be hung, for example, or with a coworker about whose turn it is to restock the copier paper.

Emotional awareness provides you the tools for understanding both yourself and other people, and the real messages they are communicating to you. Although knowing your own feelings may seem simple, many people ignore or try to sedate strong emotions like anger, sadness, and fear. But your ability to communicate depends on being connected to these feelings. If you’re afraid of strong emotions or if you insist on communicating only on a rational level or only via e-mail, it will impair your ability to fully understand others, creatively problem solve, resolve conflicts, or build an affectionate connection with someone.

How emotional awareness can improve effective communication

Emotional awareness—consciousness of your moment-to-moment emotional experience—and the ability to manage all of your feelings appropriately is the basis for effective communication.

It’s hard work and practice, but emotional awareness will help you:

  • Understand and empathize with what is really troubling other people.
  • Understand yourself, including what’s really troubling you and what you really want.
  • Stay motivated to understand and empathize with the person you’re interacting with, even if you don’t like them or their      message.
  • Communicate clearly and effectively, even when delivering negative messages.
  • Build strong, trusting, and rewarding relationships, think creatively, solve problems, and resolve conflicts.

 


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Can Corporate Culture be Changed?

Organizations seek out my assistance in helping them make their organizations better. “Better” might mean more effective leadership, higher performance, improved employee retention, effective compensation plans, improving team performance or simply creating a more cooperative, positive work environment.

After a thorough assessment of a client’s current operation and needs assessment, I am in a better position to present solutions that will address their gaps. Some of those solutions involve  policy changes, process changes, some involve personal coaching, and some involve proactive culture refinement — culture change.

When considering culture change, many senior leaders believe that corporate culture cannot be changed. I’m not surprised at this belief.  In my experience most senior leaders, throughout their entire careers have not lived through successful culture change. Even fewer have led successful culture change.

But here’s the question: Can you change how an organization performs?  Absolutely! By changing how individuals perform, leaders can change how the organization performs.

Leaders can change the way individuals perform by:

  • Setting clear performance goals.
  • Directing, supporting, coaching and delegating where needed.
  • Measuring progress and accomplishment.
  • Celebrating progress and accomplishment.

These activities, done consistently with a service approach often lead to increased employee performance which almost always affects service quality and commitment which leads to happier customers and growing profits. This is the service profit chain at work.

Changing your organization’s culture is no different from changing how your organization performs. It requires intentional definition of, communication of and accountability for your company’s:

  • Purpose: The reason you are in business.
  • Deliverables: Your committment to high-quality products and services.
  • Culture: Values you stand for and live by daily with stakeholders, peers and customers.

Corporate culture is the most important driver of what happens in organizations, and senior leaders are the most important driver of their organization’s corporate culture.

To change an organization’s culture, leaders must change how they spend their time and what they communicate and reinforce on a daily basis. They have to change what they pay attention to.  Their focus shifts from great performance to great performance WITH great citizenship.