Sunday, October 26, 2014

Help Your Team Spend Time on the Right Things


What is the most common resource that’s always in short supply? The answer, of course, is time. This applies not only to your time, but to your team’s. It’s the one organizational resource that is neither expandable nor renewable. Therefore, making sure that time is spent in ways that will have the biggest impact is a critical determinant of organizational success.

Unfortunately, many managers don’t think about time as a finite resource in the same way that they consider the limitations of headcount and budget. Therefore they don’t hesitate to give their teams more assignments without taking any away. The consequence of this is that their people work longer hours – and it’s often not clear what’s actually important and what can wait. This cascades through the ranks so that almost everyone feels overstressed and overworked. As one senior executive sadly said to me, “There is no time in the year anymore when things quiet down.”

But steps can be taken by managers to overcome this dynamic and better leverage organizational time. The first is to sharpen their vision of what their unit needs to do better in the next year or two, so that the priorities are clear. The second step is to free up time to move towards that vision by consolidating, eliminating, or streamlining current activities. The third step is to reallocate the newly liberated capacity to short-term experiments that will help them learn how to get to the vision quicker and with greater impact.


Why Humble, Empathic Business Leaders Are More Successful

Huffington Post

It's increasingly evident that business leaders who are capable of experiencing and demonstrating empathy, compassion, and humility have greater success. Research as well as direct business experience confirms this. One recent example is a study of 1500 leaders and their employees. It found that humble leaders who have increased self-awareness and insight experience greater commitment and performance from their employees.

According to the research findings, "Leaders with a strong self-insight demonstrate a good understanding of their own needs, emotions, abilities and behavior. On top of that, they are proactive in the face of challenges." The study found that when employees experience this type of leadership, it has a positive effect, and that's especially true when the leader is humble.

More broadly, research in recent years indicates that the capacity for compassion and empathy are innate, and it can be strengthened through conscious effort and focus.


50 Rules to Lead the Field

Robin Sharma

These will remind you that leadership is less about a title and more about a decision… …to work with wonder, achieve with awe, go the extra mile in all you do, innovate like Beethoven composed music, radiate optimism like Mr. Mandela led and pretty much lift up everyone you meet by the gift of your masterful example. Our world demands that of you and I, yes? I guess what I’m suggesting with love and respect is really this… …leadership’s not just for CEOs and Presidents…we ALL can lead. Because leadership’s mostly a mindset and a way of doing things… Taxi drivers can lead and street sweepers can lead and teachers can lead as can managers, artists and salespeople…

#1. To lead is to serve.

#2. At the heart of mastery lives consistency.

#3. Take care of the relationship and the money will take care of itself.

#4. The seduction of safety is always more dangerous than the illusion of uncertainty.

#5. To double your income triple your investment in your professional education and your personal development.

#6. The swiftest way to grow your company is to grow your people.

#7. If you’re not leaving a trail of leaders behind you you’re not leading–you’re following.

#8. An addiction to distraction is the end of creative production.

#48. Say please and thank you.

#49. Practice gratitude daily. To lead is to see the blessings each day brings. You’ll also release dopamine–the neurotransmitter of motivation–which will kickstart your performance. The value of being grateful reminds me of the Persian proverb: “I cursed the fact that I had no shoes….until I saw the man who had no feet.”

#50. Do your part. Be the leader you wish the people around you would be. As Mother Teresa said: “If each of us would sweep our own doorstep, the whole world would be clean.”


How to be More Interesting at Work

The Influence Blog

…it is very much to your advantage if other people find you interesting. There are many ways to achieve this, and here I want to share some positive ways to become more interesting and engaging. Make sure and read to the end, because there are also a few warnings that I need to share with you before you go too far.

1.     Express your opinions vigorously.

2.     Have opinions that are radical.

3.     Tune into what those around you find interesting, or even fascinating.

4.     Get really curious about the things others find interesting.

5.     Don’t settle for mundane facts, go for the obscure.

6.     Be more enthusiastic about these things.

1.     7. Become less predictable.


How to Energize your Organization

Leadership Freak

Energy:  Successful leaders energize. Happiness is energy.

Success always includes making someone feel happy. How do teams find energy?

Happiness feels like:

1.     Control: Belief that choices are available and personal decisions impact direction and destination. Feeling powerful is acting upon rather than being acted upon.

2.     Progress: Next steps are available, clear, and actionable.

3.     Connectedness: Relationships that feel trustworthy, supportive, energizing, and challenging.

4.     Purpose: Engagement with something that matters.

Successful leaders create frameworks where people feel in control, take next steps, build connections, and do what matters.


How Medium Is Building a New Kind of Company with No Managers


“No one ever challenged that there was a better way to do things, everything is so tied to who reports to whom,” he says. “But I’m too much of an engineer at heart. I started looking at management like a big A/B test, with a goal of making more data and results-driven decisions.” In his pursuit of new experiments to run, he stumbled on the book “Your Brain at Work,” which espouses what’s come to be known as the SCARF approach. 

SCARF stands for status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness. “Basically, when a person is honest with themselves, they’re most motivated by one of those qualities,” Stirman explains. “As a manager, you can figure out which one motivates which employee, and reward them accordingly. A lot of managers will look at their team and think, ‘We should do a round of compensation increases because everyone’s been working so hard,’ but this isn’t the best incentive for everyone.”

Here are some of the key tenets that Medium embraces:

·         No people managers. Maximum autonomy.

·         Organic expansion. When a job gets too big, hire another person.

·         Tension resolution. Identify issues people are facing, write them down, and resolve them systematically.

·         Make everything explicit — from vacation policies to decision makers in each area.

·         Distribute decision-making power and discourage consensus seeking.

·         Eliminate all the extraneous factors that worry people so they can focus on work.


Replace Criticism with Critique

Epiphany at Work - Part One  Epiphany at Work - Part Two

Every leader faces the dilemma of how to motivate others to do their best, while correcting them when they don’t.  Just this week the news coverage of the Ebola health crisis gave us the sensationalized story of this duality. We read stories of politicians who publicly praise their staff, and then deliver scathing scolding in private meetings and leaked memos. Such stories resonant with us because they mirror what happens in our workplaces. Staff who experience this oscillating between the “carrot and the stick” quickly become cynical and mistrustful.

The leaders I coach are keen to find a new and productive way. Most, like you, are time-crunched.  In the midst of their crazy days, they end up barking orders and fixing errors simply to dodge bullets. They wonder how to improve the quality of the work without destroying morale. And how to do that quickly.

One of the fastest ways to change our behaviour is to reframe the way in which we view the world. A different lens can open up our options. In the case of giving corrective feedback, I suggest you reframe your criticism as critique. This is not merely semantics. Let’s look at the difference.

Both criticism and critique require critical thinking.


The Age of Awareness


There are over 10 different forms of coaching, each with countless associated techniques Funny self-awareness imageand exercises. There are over 500 different forms of psychotherapy, most with similar degrees of efficacy. There are over 20 forms of meditation and paths to the spiritual. Available self-improvement and self-love techniques are too numerous to list here. The supply of these services in the market has skyrocketed, which is a likely indicator that high demand from us, consumers, is also present. But what is driving the high demand for these services? What are we collectively seeking as a society, as individuals? What do we long for or hunger for? I may be able to provide a tentative answer to this question only because the longing is also present in me. And, at this level of depth, you and I are not so different.

The answer to the question, I believe, is self-awareness. We long to know ourselves more deeply. But why? Well, there is reason to believe that we are beginning to recognize our deep need for it.


The Power of Social Media in Leadership

Leadership Done Right

Whatever you do online will almost always get back to your employer, your loved ones, and everyone else you think you can hide it from.  You can’t afford to do something online, or in any other aspect of your life, without thinking through the results of your actions.  If you do, it may not lead to your downfall as quickly as the harasser, but it will lead to your downfall.


21st Century Leaders List

Serve to Lead

Who are the 21st century leaders? Where can we find them?

The premise–stated or unstated–is that there’s a leadership gap today.

Who can argue against the spectacular failures of leadership in large institutions? They range from the White House and Congress (whether in the hands of the Democrats or Republicans); to Wall Street and back around to Main Street; in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors (including religious institutions); around the world.

It’s easy–perhaps too easy–to find reason for disappointment.  And yet… there is also reason for optimism. It’s often said that these are among the worst of times for leadership… it’s also, arguably, the best of times.

This list is updated quarterly. Please send your suggestions of other inspiring 21st century leaders.


Business analytics in the age of Big Data

London Business School

ig Data is here to stay. It’s not a temporary hype, but a fundamental technological change to the business landscape, just as when computers first arrived in the office. Referring to the abundance of cheap and easily accessible information to support decision-making, Big Data is at the core of daily operations of companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. Others are eager to follow suit.

Using data to support decision-making is not new, and falls under the umbrella of business analytics. The difference now is that one can collect much more information about any element relevant to the decision-making, thanks to the ever-decreasing costs of data collection, storage and processing. For example, an online retailer today can collect a diverse range of information such as customer demographics (gender, location, age), weather, real-time inventory information from RFID (radio frequency identification) chips, and even blog post and video reviews of products. The size of the recorded dataset thus grows quickly as you record more of such relevant features repeatedly over time, sometimes as often as once every few seconds.

Traditional business analytics can be classified as descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics. Descriptive analytics takes available data to describe what is happening. An important aspect of doing descriptive analytics well is in the presentation of information. Google Trends is an excellent example of visualising search term popularity by region and by time. Predictive analytics consists of using past data to forecast the future, and is routinely used in all aspects of a business. Prescriptive analytics, on the other hand, uses past data and a decision (optimisation) model to reach actionable recommendations. Whereas descriptive and predictive analytics require the presence of a human manager to interpret the results, prescriptive analytics allows for automated decision-making, as long as the decision model is decided upon a priori.


Pointers to the future

The Economist

PROGNOSTICATORS have a bad record when it comes to new technologies. Safety razors were supposed to produce a clean-shaven future. Cars were expected to take off and fly. Automation was meant to deliver a life of leisure. Yet beards flourish, cars remain earthbound and work yaps at our heels.

The internet is no exception. Anyone looking for mis-prognostications about it will find an embarrassment of riches. The internet was supposed to destroy big companies; now big companies rule the internet. It was supposed to give everyone a cloak of anonymity: “On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog.” Now Google and its like are surveillance machines that know not only that you’re a dog but whether you have fleas and which brand of meaty chunks you prefer. We can now add two more entries to the list of unreliable forecasts about the internet: that it would make location irrelevant and eliminate middlemen.

The internet is now starting to transform education and health care. Given the technology’s capacity to cut costs and increase access, it would be wrong to give in to incumbents in those businesses who are dead set against reform. But it would also be unwise to trust in digital revolutionaries who insist those incumbents will inevitably be swept away by a wave of startups. There is a world of difference between disruption and destruction.


One in Three Jobs Will Be Taken by Software or Robots by 2025


By 2025, software, robots, or other “smart machines” will have replaced as many as one in three existing jobs, Gartner predicts. Gartner research director Peter Sondergaard says smart machines represent an emerging "super class" of technologies that can perform a wide variety of work, from physical tasks to intellectual work, and will include drones and robots performing work such as pipeline maintenance and crop dusting to computers and software grading essays and multiple choice tests. "Knowledge work will be automated," Sondergaard says. "New digital businesses require less labor; machines will be make sense of data faster than humans can." He predicts financial analysis, medical diagnostics, and a wide variety of data analysis jobs will be automated away in the near future. Nuverra Environmental Solutions CIO Lawrence Strohmaier says these jobs will not be destroyed so much as they will be replaced by different jobs. "The shift is from doing to implementing, so the doers go away but someone still has to implement," Strohmaier says. Both he and Gartner analyst David Aron say the rise of smart machines will be accompanied by an increase in the number of IT workers to operate and maintain them.