Robyn Bolton shares one simple rule that can help build a culture of innovation and a solid team.
I do. We do. You do.
My Mom taught pre-school. It wasn’t a job; it was her calling. Kids gravitated to her like she was the Pied Piper, and she greeted them with unequaled patience, acceptance, and love. Years later, her students would talk about how she changed their lives when they were only four years old. And she did it by following one simple rule.
I do. We do. You do.
Whatever she was teaching, whether it was sitting still at a table and eating a snack or writing the alphabet, she always did it first so the kids would know that it’s possible and not be afraid to try.
Then, they would do the activity together. Side-by-side, they would eat a snack or draw letters, the kids occasionally glancing to the side to mimic her and my Mom gently coaching and encouraging.
Finally, she would step back, never disappearing completely, always within sight, but no longer right there. By doing this, she created the space for them to be independent and to build confidence.
It is easy to say that she was teaching.
It is more accurate to say that she was leading.
It is precisely what executives need to do if they want to build a culture and capability of innovation within their teams and businesses.
It is not enough to encourage your team to take risks. YOU need to take risks. Ask a question in a meeting. Say, “I don’t know.” Challenge the status quo. Be the first to do something different or uncertain, so your people know that it’s possible and aren’t afraid to try.
Key points include:
- Fostering confidence
- Avoiding judgment
- Stepping back
Read the full article, Follow This 1 Simple Rule to Build a Culture and Capability of Innovation, on Milezero.io.
Often the best-laid strategies of consultants come to a grinding halt at the people level. Amanda Setili shares a post that offers a few practical steps you can take to encourage others to take action.
The biggest obstacle to your progress is often something you can’t see, hear or even name. It is not something tangible and obvious. The biggest obstacle is… a quiet unwillingness—perhaps even reluctance—to do the things that you need someone to do.
You ask Engineering to create a better system for collecting payments from customers, and nine months in a row they have told you to wait “just one more month.”
The Sales team tells you (a Product Manager) that they will start selling your product at meetings with prospective clients, but week after week they come back from sales calls and say they ran out of time before bringing it up.
The reasons why this happens vary widely, but the essence of getting someone to do what you want basically comes down to three things:
1.) Do they have the ability to do what you want?
You can’t expect a media buyer to audit financial results, and you can’t merely ask someone to double their performance. Pure and simple, the other person may lack the capability to do as you wish, and there are times when this could be too embarrassing to admit.
The first step is always to do a reality check to determine if someone has the skill, experience and knowledge to do what you wish.
If you determine they lack the skill, you have several options. You might, for example, help the person learn a new skill or you could turn to a different person or group.
Key points include:
- Belief in assessment
- Cost value
- Reasonable risk
Read the full article, When Others Won’t Do… What You Need Them To Do, on LinkedIn.
As advances in technology improve processes and operations, business leaders must still deal with the prevalent issue of human behavior, especially when it is problematic and recurring. Mark Ledden shares four key steps that can change the negative habits towards the positive.
While Kenning coaches do sometimes help our clients learn how to invent and adopt entirely new behavior patterns, we often are asked to help our clients bring behaviors they already exhibit in one context to a different context. As Ishan (name changed), an SVP I recently worked with, put it, “My boss, the CIO, tells me I need to be more assertive in steering committee meetings. I feel like I am actually pretty good at being engaged and even challenging with my peers and my teams, but I know what she is talking about. When I am dealing with our CEO and Board, I feel reluctant to jump in.”
When I asked what seemed like a pretty straightforward question, “So, why don’t you act the way you do with your peers with the executive team?,” Ishan’s answer was at once surprising and predictable: “I guess I don’t want to look foolish or embarrass myself. Speaking up feels risky.”
Rationally, Ishan already knew perfectly well that it was probably much more risky for him to maintain this two-mode split than to bring more of his “working with peers” style to senior team meetings, but he was legitimately unsure why doing so seemed so hard, or at least so unsafe. Clearly there was a sense-making challenge in play that would need to be addressed for him to achieve lasting, self-generative growth as a leader. At the same time, though, while a strictly behavioral approach might not be sufficient, Ishan did have a reasonably large and straightforward opportunity to simply act more like he already did in some places.
The fundamental process for bringing a part of yourself that you show in one context into another entails the same basic four-step process we recommend for trying on new behaviors to break unhelpful habits:
Key points include:
- Identifying triggers prospectively
- Noticing habitual behavior
- Having a clearly articulated alternative in your mind
Read the full article, Grip trip: Four steps for changing problematic behaviors, on KenningAssociates.com.
Jesse Jacoby shares key steps for leaders to help their team accept and manage change.
In your role as a leader, you will likely encounter resistance to change at some point from one or more of your own team members. Resistance may come from a variety of sources:
An individual with a difficult personality
Someone anxious about impending change
A person who disagrees with your vision
Resistance is usually demonstrated in one of four ways, each with the potential to create roadblocks for you:
Lack of Communication – Leaving you out of the loop in terms of key information or not discussing issues openly
Lack of Support – Foot-dragging on key initiatives you try to implement
Counterproductive Criticism – Being overly critical of you and your ideas
Passive Aggressive Behavior – Agreeing to do something, but then not doing anything
Overt & Covert Resistance Action Steps
Resistance may be expressed directly (overt) or indirectly (covert). Overt resisters may be quite open with you or others about their discontent. Covert resisters, on the other hand, may behave in a passive-aggressive manner, agreeing with you verbally but participating half-heartedly or ineffectively with no real commitment. Although overt and covert resistance each present unique challenges, the best way to tackle either is to be prepared to encounter them. Be curious about their causes and direct in identifying them to the resister.
Here are a few practical steps you can take as a leader to address change resistance within your team:
Be alert to signs of resistance, and meet with the resister if it begins to create problems. Use active listening to gather information and gain an understanding of the employee’s perspective. Listening and showing that you understand a point of view do not mean you agree with a given behavior. Act as a “mirror” to the person, and point out your observations.
Without criticizing, identify the roadblocks you have observed.
Seek the individual’s perceptions of the situation.
Invite the resister to share any concerns. What would he or she like to see done differently?
Share your perspective and provide the individual with descriptive feedback about the impact of the behavior on the team and on you.
Define the positive behaviors you want to see, and be clear about your expectations.
Let the individual know that you want him/her to be part of the team and that you will value his/her contributions.
Key points include:
- Signs of resistance
- Defining positive behaviors
- Understanding Resistance & Planning Your Response
Read the full article, How Leaders Can Manage Team Member Change Resistance, on EmergentConsultants.com.
How do you inspire creative thinking in your team without engaging the muse or adopting questionable practices? Stephen Wunker provides six practical steps that won’t break the law but will help break through constraints of the mind.
How do I get my team to show creative thinking?” Under normal circumstances, many executives we work with routinely face this challenge. But with the pandemic transforming the way we do business, bold thinking has turned into a necessity.
Several obstacles block innovative thinking, especially at established firms with a deeply engrained corporate work practices. People have busy schedules, work in siloed teams, and have trouble breaking away from longstanding assumptions about their market. They might lack the confidence that they can be creative and are worried their ideas will reflect poorly on them. They may be coming up with the same old answers because they keep asking the same old questions, not reframing their challenges or bringing new information to the table. And with COVID-19 thrown into the mix, engaging colleagues in a remote brainstorming session has become all the more challenging.
So what can executives do to encourage creative thinking? In our work, we’ve identified six best practices that companies can adopt to unlock bold ideas internally.
1 – Put your team in the right mindset ahead of time
Creative thinking doesn’t simply happen on the spot – you have to set the stage first. Before holding your workshop, make sure you communicate the urgency of the situation and the need for innovative ideas. Ideally, share around some data on your business’s performance, market trends, and upcoming threats to support your ask.
When it comes to prework, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, make sure your team is aligned on what problem they are solving for – by holding a question-storming session before the main workshop, for instance. Then, make any prework as easy as possible for your colleagues by providing templates and clear guidelines on what’s in scope and what isn’t. This will help them save time and structure their submissions in a consistent, focused way.
Key points include:
- Identify focal areas
- Look beyond borders
- Identify and address assumptions and biases
Read the full article, 6 Ways To Inspire Creative Thinking In Your Team, on NewMarketsAdvisors.com.
Rob Ristagno shares a podcast with a transcript that illustrates the important role company culture plays in the growth of the company.
David Kinsley didn’t anticipate taking over the family business. In his teenage years, he dreamed about becoming a Wall Street power broker, vacationing in St. Barths, and living a life filled with the finer things.
But when a chronic illness upended his first two years of college, his life changed course. He finally found relief and recovery in Eastern traditions. That led to a spiritual awakening that guided him back to the organization his father had founded.
He joined The Kinsley Group full-time in 1994 and became President 12 years ago. He’s led the organization through 12 straight years of growth and continues to find new, synergistically linked ways to expand the energy solutions company.
However, when asked about the key to the company’s success, he doesn’t point to a business development initiative or specific product. Instead, he says it’s The Kinsley Group’s team of compassionate, emotionally intelligent individuals.
Every employee goes to work each day striving to fulfill the company’s vision statement: To solve the energy infrastructure and environmental issues of the country. This lofty goal, to improve sustainability and provide top-tier service, is what David identifies as their secret sauce.
David says that his vision statement for The Kinsley Group was inspired by Bill Gates’ mission for Microsoft. In the 1970s, the thought of having an at-home computer would have been completely alien, yet Bill Gates proclaimed that his goal was to make that very thing happen. He dreamed bigger than anyone would have thought possible, and today that dream is a reality.
Similarly, David aims to solve big climate problems with innovative energy solutions. The Kinsley Group does this by designing bespoke offerings to tackle major environmental issues. He offers the example of a partnership with a Vermont dairy farm, Cabot Creamery, and Middlebury College.
Key points include:
- Culture, discipline, and accountability
- Team leadership and transparency
- Customer relationships
Read the full article, How Company Culture Influences Organic Growth, on SterlingWoods.com.
Robyn Bolton recently had an article published in Forbes that is designed to help business leaders and managers get the best results from proactive employees.
One of the first pieces of professional advice many people receive from their managers is, “Bring me solutions, not problems.”
From my perspective, this is good coaching because it teaches people to be problem-solvers, to think critically about the problems they see and to take ownership for solving them.
But if you have ever followed that advice and brought your manager a solution instead of a problem, you might have been left feeling your manager wanted neither the problem nor the solution. The reason? In my experience, most solutions are met with silence. The manager might nod, thank the person for bringing the problem to their attention and suggesting a solution, and carry on as if nothing happened.
This reaction is likely not because the solution isn’t appreciated but because no one ever gave the manager advice on what to do when someone does bring a solution instead of a problem. In these instances, I recommend asking the following five questions when someone brings you an idea:
Key points include:
- Identifying the problem
- Investigation of the solution
- The passion driver
Read the full article, Five Questions To Ask When An Employee Brings You An Idea, on Forbes.
In this article, Amanda Setili explains why conflicting opinions are a necessary part of growth.
Back when I was applying for admission to Harvard Business School, one of the essays I had to complete was “when did you confront an ethical dilemma and how did you handle it?”
I remember being stuck on this question for quite a while, because as a young engineer, it seemed to me that every question had a correct answer. There are no ethical dilemmas, because once you find the right answer, everything is clear… or so I mistakenly thought.
Fortunately, I somehow managed to answer that essay question and get admitted. HBS quickly corrected my lack of understanding. Day after day, I sat in a classroom with 90 people who were all smart, and yet had completely different solutions to any given problem. Time after time, I thought: Wow. I would never have thought of what s/he just said.
The world, I learned, has many shades of gray.
These days, I worry whether too many businesses—and professionals—close themselves off from this sort of valuable learning. How many times in recent years have you sat in a room with other talented folks who think utterly differently than you do? How many times have you been encouraged to disagree and debate with your peers? My guess: not often.
Key points include:
- Challenging consensus
- Challenging bias
- The value of different opinions
Read the full post, The Case for More Disagreements, on LinkedIn.
In this article, Amanda Setili explains why it’s necessary to dig below the surface of agreement to avoid the issue of last-minute naysayers.
Imagine a high-level team whose members represent different stakeholders. It might include representatives from a wide range of disciplines, divisions, companies or even communities. At first, they are all enthusiastically working together to define a common path forward.
As “consensus” nears, some members quietly begin to lose their enthusiasm. They start to wonder whether the direction in which the team is headed is even close to their original expectations. Will the path ahead be worth the time and effort? Is this still a good idea?
Such doubts often linger in the background. They may surface occasionally as polite, perhaps understated questions. But if you are leading the team and the “consensus” view is close to your own, it’s easy to miss entirely growing undercurrents of doubt.
This is a pivotal moment. If you push ahead without searching for silent naysayers, you may greatly misjudge your team’s potential. Instead of having a fully committed team that can draw on the resources of numerous groups, what you actually have is a small number of backers and a lot of doubters.
Key points include:
- Avoiding dissolution
- Consensus testing
- Setting an initial trial
Read the full post, How the Top Secret Concerns of Its Members Can Sink a Team, on LinkedIn.
Amanda Setili draws attention to the problems that arise when there is not a process in place to understand evolving customer needs and develop new offerings to meet those needs.
Have you ever been on a team that has spent weeks trying to solve a problem, and then one day it dawns on you that you are each trying to solve a different problem?
To illustrate, imagine a company whose leadership is frustrated by their lack of growth, so they assemble a team to come up with a solution. The Operations VP says the problem is, “We don’t hear about any new innovation until it’s already pretty much coming at us.” Sales says, “Our products are too expensive.” Marketing complains, “We’re undifferentiated in the marketplace.” And the CEO muses out loud, “The real problem is that our revenues are flat when our competitors are all growing at 7 to 10% each year.”
Those are all symptoms. None are the actual problem, which might be something along the lines of: they lack a process for understanding evolving customer needs and developing new offerings to meet those needs.
In the example I cited above, the team could have discovered this problem by going through a series of “why” questions something like this:
Key points include:
- Flat sales
- Product line-up
Read the full article, Before Your Team Tries to Solve a Problem, Make Sure You Agree on What It Is, on LinkedIn.
From Johannes Hoech’s company blog, an article that shares the facts and stats on how the pandemic has affected B2B marketing teams and what they can do about it.
For B2B marketers in 2021, a new mandate has become clear: Evolve or perish. As marketing leaders steer their ships through the turbulence of COVID-19, they’re encountering the sobering reality that there will be no return to business as usual, even after they get to calmer waters. Marketing teams may make it to the other side of this thing, but the old ways of B2B marketing aren’t coming with them – and emerging evidence shows that many teams are ill-equipped to adapt to the new environment they’re entering.
The good news: It’s perfectly possible not just to survive, but to thrive in this new environment. But it will require teams to take a step back, re-align the resources still available to them, up-level their digital skills, and make a detailed, if not quantified, growth plan.
Why has this happened, and what, exactly, has changed?
Success in the new era of B2B marketing will require teams to reckon with four major, simultaneous, and interrelated, challenges:
Higher demand generation goals
As companies retrofit their operations for the post-COVID business landscape, they’re asking a lot more of marketing. Nearly 60% of surveyed marketers report seeing their teams’ lead gen goals jump since March of last year when U.S. lockdowns began.
Not only are marketers being asked to do more – but they’re also more strapped than ever for the resources with which to do it. In addition to higher lead gen goals, most marketers are also seeing shrinking team budgets. Notably, this pressure is not being distributed equally across organizations – while marketers are tightening their belts, sales teams are reporting budget increases as often as budget cuts.
Key points include:
- Confronting the challenges
- Maintaining situational awareness
Read the full article, The Perfect Storm Facing Post-Pandemic B2B Marketing Teams, on marquetu.com.
In this article, Tineke A. Keesmaat shares the results from a series of roundtable discussions on reimagining organizations post COVID-19.
“TILTCO held a series of roundtable discussions in January and February 2021. Attended by business leaders, consultants, academics and experts, the discussions gathered insights and practical ideas to help leaders reimagine their organizations as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has turbo charged the move to new ways of working. Hybrid work environments – that is, where there is a mix of in person and remote work happening – were once a theoretical idea that has become a reality. Now, leaders are asking how they can unlock the full potential of the model.
Our third TILTCO Roundtable focused on building a strong organizational culture in hybrid. Participants offered three key takeaways that are explored below. First, it’s a unique time to re-imagine – with purpose – what type of organization you want to create for your team. Second, leaders need to resist the temptation to simply “virtualize” structures and ways of working from their legacy organization. And, finally, leaders need to start by asking if they are personally ready to make hybrid work.”
Key points include:
- Recreating the organization
- Day-to-day team practices
- Virtualizing in-office structures
Read the full article, Hybrid: A Leader’s Opportunity to Re-imagine Culture, on LinkedIn.
Jeffery Perry identifies the importance of authenticity in leadership and how to achieve it.
Do you? In the age of “keeping it real,” people in leadership roles are encouraged to project their authentic selves as a prerequisite for top performance and to inspire others. It is almost impossible for leaders to be effective without being true to themselves. This requires looking in a mirror, unapologetically embracing who they are and projecting to the world. However, not all authenticity is helpful in leading others. In addition to a mirror, leaders must also look through a window to understand how their authenticity impacts the people they lead. In essence, striking this balance is selfless authentic leadership.
Words matter. It does not take long for people to know when leaders talk in ways that are forced, insincere, or programmed. Effective leaders recognize that being impactful requires finding their unique voices when verbally communicating to the people they lead. For example, some leaders naturally love sports and communicate with a lot of sports analogies. The good news is that the imagery is often vivid, colorful, and can be a rallying cry for the organization. However, sports may not connect well with people the organization who are not sports fans and they may miss the intended communications.
Key points include:
- Leading others
- Creating space
Read the full post, Selfless Authentic Leadership Requires Window and Mirror, on LeadMandates.com.
If you have experienced great ideas die in the making and want to avoid this in the future, read on. Robyn Bolton offers a few expert tips on how to combat the problem of the ‘derailers’ in your midst.
Innovating – doing something different that creates value – is hard.
Innovating within a large organization can feel impossible.
In my work with corporate innovators, we always start with great optimism that this time will be different, this time innovation will stick and become the engine that drives lasting growth.
Within weeks, sometimes days, however, we start to be “loved to death,” a practice that takes one of two forms:
The Protector who says, “That’s not how we do things and, if you insist on doing things that way, you’ll get shut down. Instead, do things this way”
The Enthusiast who exclaims, “This is amazing! I would love to be involved. And you should share what you’re doing with this person, and definitely tap into this other person’s experience, and I know this third person will want to be involved, and you definitely must talk to….”
Neither mean harm. In fact, they’re trying to help, but if intrapreneurs aren’t careful, The Protector will edit their work into something that is neither different nor value creating, and The Enthusiast will suffocate them with meetings.
4 More Innovation Derailers
Being “loved to death,” is just one of ways I’ve seen corporate innovation efforts get derailed. Here are the others:
Performances for senior executives. Yes, it’s important to meet regularly with senior leaders to keep them apprised of progress, learnings, results, and next steps. But there’s a fine line between updating executives because they’re investors and conference room performances to show off shiny objects and excite executives. It takes time for innovation teams to prepare for meetings (one team I worked with spent over 100 hours preparing for a meeting) which is time they aren’t spending working, learning, and making progress.
Key points include:
- Evolve what you measure when
- Use transparency to build support and let experience drive progress
- Base incentives on the core business and innovation objectives.
Read the full article, 5 Innovation Derailers (And What To Do Instead), on Milezero.io.
David Edelman explains how the foundations of Theater provide powerful tools for leaders to connect, motivate, and deliver during times of constant dramatic change.
When a theater is empty, the tradition is to keep a lone bulb lit on the stage — a ghost light — really for safety, but superstitiously to keep away the bad spirits lurking in the building. Sadly, most theaters right now are lit merely by their ghost bulb, but in the absence of action on stage, I prefer to think of those bulbs as beacons to the rest of us about all that Theater provides, even when performances are temporarily suspended.
We are in a time when the “audiences,” or customers and stakeholders, of businesses are going through constant, dramatic change, and teamwork needs to dynamically adjust, every single day, to the new realities we face. In such a climate, the foundations of Theater provide powerful tools for leaders needing to connect, motivate, and deliver under the spotlight as never before.
In the past, I have talked about the importance of thinking about great business leaders embracing a view more akin to a jazz combo leader than a classical music conductor, inspired by a seminal article by John Clarkeson, the late former CEO of the Boston Consulting Group. Set the structure, assemble great talent, keep the core rhythm going, listen constantly to each other, but let each other innovate in new directions, which if successful, the team will sense and follow. This view is a clear contrast to formally planned, rigorous planning, and leadership through the force of hierarchy.
Key points include:
- Igniting passion
- Investigating the context
- Invite a relationship through a fitting demand
Read the full article, Guided by the “Ghost” Light: Tapping into Theater’s Lessons during its Absence, on LinkedIn.
Peter Costa shares a lesson from history to illustrate why leadership without management renders a leader ineffective and possibly dangerous.
What do you think of when you see the word “management”?
Probably nothing good. Management seems to have become a dirty word, the antithesis of what a real leader is supposed to be.
I believe it’s time to rethink that view. To be a truly effective leader, you need to develop a full suite of both leadership AND management skills.
Leadership is the act of setting a vision and then bringing people along with you to achieve it. It encapsulates empathy, courage, humility and integrity. Management is about planning, directing, organizing, and monitoring to ensure things go well. It requires competence, diligence, and discipline.
Leadership and management are what a good leader DOES. One without the other is ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. A quick history lesson can illustrate this point.*
It’s almost Memorial Day in the US. For those that may not be familiar with it, this holiday began as a way to remember the service members killed in the US Civil War (1861-65), the bloodiest and most transformational war in this nation’s history. And while we probably spend too much time scouring history’s battlefields trying to understand what makes a great leader, there are some broad parallels between their period and ours that merit a deeper look.
Key areas explored include:
- The leadership of General George McClellan
- The danger of arrogance
- The successful leadership of Ulysses S. Grant
Read the full article, Leadership and Management – you need them both, on LinkedIn.
In this article, Robyn M. Bolton provides a few practical steps that can be taken to help build and improve innovation in the workplace.
According to a 2018 survey by NPR and The Marist Poll, the most common New Year’s resolution is to exercise more. Not surprisingly, losing weight and eating a more healthy diet ranked third and further, respectively (“stop smoking” was #2, in case you’re curious).
Hitting the gym to drop weight and build muscle is a great habit to build, but don’t forget about the regular work needed to build other muscles.
Specifically, your innovation muscles.
Innovation mindsets, skills, and behaviors can be learned but if you don’t continuously use them, like muscles, they can weaken and atrophy. That’s why it’s important to create opportunities to flex them.
One of the tools I use with clients who are committed to building innovation as a capability, rather than scheduling it as an event, is QMWD – the Quarterly-Monthly-Weekly-Daily practices required to build and sustain innovation as a habit.
Leave the office and talk to at least 3 of your customers
It’s tempting to rely on survey results, research reports, and listening in on customer service calls as a means to understand what your customers truly think and feel. But there’s incredible (and unintended) bias in those results.
Take, for example, this story from former P&G CEO AG Lafley.
Key insights include:
- Why consumers can’t tell you what they want
- Sharing mistakes with your team
- Making small, but conscious, changes
Read the full article, 5 ways to Build Your Innovation Muscles in the New Year, on MileZero.io.
Discover thirteen ways to improve leadership on the shop floor in this older, but always relevant, post from John Sturdivant.
Frontline operations leaders have a tough job, and I’ve seen huge ranges in styles and effectiveness. The best leaders are caring, but know when to be tough. They have their priorities straight, and say no to everything else. They have invested time and effort into building an infrastructure for team performance. And most importantly, they have mutual trust with their team. Below are some of the tactical ways these great leaders get outstanding results from their teams.
1) They make their expectations clear and concrete
What do they do? the team behind a great leader always knows the precise metrics and standards that are important to the leader and the business, so they aren’t surprised when they exceed or fall behind those expectations.
Why do they do this? Because people have to know what they are striving before, and they have to know the expectations put upon them for any accountability culture to take hold. Surprises are for birthdays, not setting the direction and ambition for your team.
Key points include:
- Team engagement
- Time management
- Performance and improvement
Read the full article, 13 Things Great Frontline Leaders Do, on LinkedIn.
Joana Domingues explains how a strong tactic of team leadership may be to admit when you need help.
Every time I do it, it’s magical. And yet, I refrain. After all, I’ve spent a life showing myself strong and helpful, capable of dealing with anything you throw at me, and with composure and a smile (without asking for help). Isn’t that the definition of “very professional”? Well… it surely has its merits, and I’ve found it’s also a recipe for my exhaustion. My “invincibility armour” creates separation, does not let help in. At the same time, it may also limit the capacity of others to ask for help, afraid of displaying their own vulnerabilities and needs.
Interestingly, when I do recognize “I’m tired”, or “I have too much on my plate”, help seems to magically unfold my way, new possibilities and choices emerge. I feel lighter, more supported, in this together. It’s a muscle I am learning to strengthen – and for me it might be a lifelong journey.
I see my “strong-alone-exhausted” pattern in many of the executives and teams we are coaching. Often overwhelmed with work, focused on delivering the load ‘on their own plate’, they don’t stop to acknowledge their own weaknesses and limits, to share what is hard, where they could use some help.
Key points identified in this article include:
- How vulnerability builds trust and cooperation
- Executive patterns
- Checking impulses
Read the full article, How showing vulnerability helps build a stronger team: exactly when it’s harder, on LinkedIn.
Zaheera Soomar shares a comprehensive and well-researched paper that highlights a framework organisations with remote and virtual teams can use as a guideline to build and maintain trust.
Trust is an important concept in assessing and measuring business behaviour from an organisational performance and culture lens, and has become a source of competitive advantage for organisations especially within the knowledge economy. Studies show that organizations with a high level of trust have increased employee morale, more productive workers, and lower staff turnover. Most organisations factor and measure trust as part of keeping a pulse on their organisational culture and design their initiatives around building and maintaining trust. While it is not impossible to build trust virtually, it certainly is harder and requires a different set of considerations. There has been a big shift by organizations catering for more remote and flexible work conditions over the past decade with the “virtual team” becoming the norm. The recent impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced most, if not all, organizations to move in that direction faster than planned. With this movement to more remote working conditions, that are likely to have longer-term impacts, companies will be faced with challenges that virtual teams typically face in establishing and maintaining trust.
Three key areas covered are:
Read the full paper, A framework for building and maintain trust in remote and virtual teams, on F1000Research.com
Toopan Bagchi identifies the importance of building segmented brand management teams to maximize marketing capabilities and effectiveness.
In a continuously disrupted landscape, many retailers are realizing the potential for private brands to not only improve margins, but to also attract customers, build baskets and drive loyalty. However, given retail’s traditional reliance on CPG companies to develop and cultivate brands, capabilities around true brand management are often limited.
Retailers leaning in on private brands would be wise to establish and elevate brand management capabilities to improve the likelihood of success of any private brand strategy by establishing a clear and coherent brand architecture, identifying white space opportunities, developing brand platforms, creating and launching product, and sustaining brand health over time. Retailers such as Target are recognizing this and establishing brand management teams to oversee the portfolio of private brands, define strategies and lead execution.
Information in this article includes:
- Picking the team
- Setting up brand architecture
- Launching brands
Read the full article, Keys to building a private brand management team, on the Storebrands website.
Paul Millerd takes a look at business growth data from the 1970’s onward to build a vision of future organizations and explain how the changing business landscape will impact the work environment.
I have studied organizations, people and motivation and am fascinated by the changes that have unfolded in my relatively short career. I’ll defer to Neils Bohr to qualify this entire piece:
‘Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future’ — Neils Bohr
Since I can’t predict the future, I promise this will contain ideas that are not fully baked. I hope you can help me improve them.
Most people agree that that change is happening and that the pace of change is accelerating. However, if you look around, our modern organizations are not much different than they were 20 years ago. When I talk to people and HR leaders about their organizations they share with me the feeling that something is not right and that organizations need to evolve.
I’ll get to my vision of that future, but first wanted to call out three trends that I believe are driving this uncertainty.
Points discussed in this article include:
- Process excellence
- Purpose-driven cultures
- Adaptive technology
- Agile teams
Read the full article, The Future of Work: What Winning Organizations Will Look Like in 2025, on the Boundless website.
Aneta Key shares a short message that shines a light into the importance of leaders spending valuable time on scenario planning, and how following military training can guide business strategies.
It is important for leadership teams to regularly work through scenarios across time horizons.
Strategic decision-making is at the core of leadership and is what Aneta Key facilitates among clients. It is also one of the core areas explored in the GrowthKey leadership development programs.
This question is a sneak peek from an upcoming episode of the Simplicity for Success podcast in which host Peter Eckart and Aneta are talking about Strategic decision-making under risk and uncertainty.
Points discussed include:
- Thinking across multiple timelines
- The fog of war
- The death of the best plans
Read the article,The Value of Strategic Planning: Military Analogy, and watch the video on the Aedea Partners’ website.
Jared Simmons provides a concise post that identifies the three most common factors that impede progress.
Whether you are chasing profit or purpose, a team’s ability to make progress is critical to achieving its objectives. There are many obstacles that keep a team from operating at its full potential, but the three most common (and solvable) ones are ambiguity, apathy, and amateurism. The challenge is recognizing them in action.
Discover how the following three A’s impact your team:
Read the full post on the, Making progress: The three silent killers, on the Outlast website.
Azim Nagree provides three factors that can help determine whether you need a single, mixed-function team or two separate teams when it comes to account management and customer success.
‘What’s the difference between Account Management and Customer Success? And more importantly, when do I need separate AM and CS teams?’
I’ve been asked this question multiple times in the last few months so it’s clear that many people are grappling with this problem. The short answer – it depends. Specifically, it depends upon your product, your P&L and your customers.
What’s the difference?
Most people know that Accounts Managers are different to Customer Success Managers. But what precisely is the difference? It lies in the relationship they have with the customer.
The three factors discussed are:
- Product complexity
- Profit and loss
- Customer feedback
Read the full article, Account Management? Or Customer Success? Or Both? on the Nagree Consulting website.
Carlos Castelan shares how to improve the customer experience and team collaboration.
In today’s world where change is one of the only constants, we often hear of companies undergoing a transformation to reinvent themselves and revitalize their customer offerings. This is a natural function of the organizational life cycle where companies grow and organize in a variety of ways along the way, including around services or products. However, in focusing on efficiency and processes to enable scale, organizations lose some measure of tight collaboration and team agility that comes from regular innovation. So, how can companies avoid having to regularly undergo transformations? One way successful businesses do this is through the identification of gaps in team collaboration through a Customer Correction tool that allows teams to find opportunities and cooperate to improve where disconnects may be occurring and resolve issues before they impact customers.
Points covered include:
- How to facilitate team conversation
- How to get ahead of functional issues
Read the full article, Leveraging Your Company’s Greatest Asset to Improve the Customer Experience, on the Navio Group website.
Kaihan Krippendorff takes a left turn off a straight road to discover the benefits of not planning as a fundamental benefit to innovation.
Twenty years ago, long before we had children, my wife and I decided to spend Valentine’s Day weekend in Tuscany. We were living just a two-hour flight away in London at the time, so leaving on a Friday and returning on a Monday would still mean two days and three nights of rolling hills, wineries, and amazing cuisine.
We booked our flights and rented a car, but our search for a hotel revealed nothing really inspiring within our budget. We narrowed our choices down to a property a little larger than a bed-and-breakfast on the outskirts of Lucca. But we still felt it was a “plan B,” our fallback plan.
We had dreamed of a hotel that would be truly memorable, not necessarily luxurious, but that would give us an authentic and memorable experience of the Italian countryside. So we set out, without confirmed accommodations, in the hopes of stumbling upon our ‘plan A.’
In this article, Kaihan explains:
- The limitations of data to predict outcomes
- The benefits of flipping your mindset
- Engineering luck
- Discovering Plan A
Read the full article, For 2020, Consider the Wisdom of not Planning, on Kaihan’s blog.
With New Year in the rear view mirror, are you driving forward with your resolutions?
Robyn Bolton provides five ways to improve your resolve.
According to research by Strava, the social network for athletes, most people will have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions by Sunday, January 19.
While that’s probably good news for all the dedicated workout enthusiasts who will be glad to get their gyms back, given that the most common New Year’s resolution is to exercise more, it’s a bit discouraging for the rest of us.
But just because you’re about to stop hitting the gym to drop weight and build muscle (or whatever your resolutions are), it doesn’t mean that you can’t focus on improving other muscles. May I suggest, your innovation muscles?
Innovation mindsets, skills and behaviors can be learned, but if you don’t continuously use them, like muscles, they can weaken and atrophy. That’s why it’s important to create opportunities to flex them.
In this post, Robyn shares what you can do to build and sustain innovation:
Read the full article, 5 Resolutions to Make 2020 the Year that Innovation Actually Happens, on Medium.
Susan Drumm provides four steps to ensure you will get honest feedback from your team.
Do you think you can get your team to give you honest feedback? Like no-holds-barred honest?
Many of my clients tell me they struggle to get real feedback from their direct reports and I’m not surprised.
Does this story sound familiar? One of my senior clients recently received the results of his 360 report and was surprised to learn that his team felt they weren’t being mentored effectively by him.
None too pleased with this, he walked out into the office and proceeded to go desk to desk. “Was this comment from you? Do YOU think I’m a good mentor? Do you have a problem with the way I mentor?”
Points covered in the four steps include:
-Create a culture of feedback and honesty from the outset.
-Dig in when asking for feedback.
-Be honest and genuine when asking for feedback
-Once you get the feedback, do something with it.
Read the full article, How to Get Honest Feedback from Your Team, on the Meritage Leadership website.
An evergreen post from Gaelle Lamotte to kickoff 2020 and help you prepare for what lies ahead.
In a world of disruptive businesses, overwhelming information and relentless change, companies have to master the art of strategy execution to be agile enough to capitalize on growth opportunities. Excellence in execution is what makes the difference between good strategies and success in the marketplace for your customers, partners and employees, and ultimately investors and shareholders.
Points covered include:
-Understanding the organization’s capabilities
-Discipline in managing strategy
Read the full article, How do you prepare for what’s ahead?, on LinkedIn.
To inspire successful innovation, Kaihan Krippendorff explains why the composition of the founding team is crucial and why the first step should be to find a sherpa. He provides six questions to help you assess and secure a powerful advocate to lead the team.
That historic moment when the perfect team unifies beyond an opportunity, pregnant with possibility, is the essential scene of any great innovation legend: think Jobs and Wozniak when they created Apple, Gates and Allen with Microsoft, or Page and Brin with Google.
This is why so many books and professors and venture capitalists focus on the composition of the founding team – you want more than one person but fewer than seven, the right mix of personality types (Roger Hamilton offers a useful framework), and a balance of skills (the hacker, hustler, and hipster). But here is the problem. More than 70% of society’s most transformative innovations have come from employees, not entrepreneurs, and forming a team around an innovation idea as an employee is a fundamentally different challenge.
Read the full article, Your Innovation Needs a Sponsor… Here are 6 Signs You Have the Right One, on the Outthinker website.
Geoff Wilson explains what Andrew Luck’s recent retirement from football should teach executives about protecting top talent.
If you are an organizational leader who is leaning on a few star talents surrounded by a supporting cast of also-rans to ‘gut it out’ on a daily basis, you are playing a very dangerous game. Because when your top talent has had enough–when you have extracted enough of their soul by asking them to jump on yet another grenade dropped by a poor performing organization–it will be fully justified to go elsewhere.
And, if you aren’t doing this explicitly, it might be good to take a moment and reflect on whether you are doing this implicitly. Take a look at the team you lead and ask whether you are leaning a bit too heavily on a talented few. Take a look at the organization you lead and ask whether you are counting too much on a few talented teams to carry the rest of the organization.
Do this not because you have the time to do it. Nobody does. Do it because you can’t afford to grind your top talent down to a joyless nub.
Read the full article, What Andrew Luck just taught us about protecting top talent, on Wilson Growth Partners’ website.
Susan Drumm identifies how conflict can achieve greater results when it grows from cognitive diversity and provides a few factors that can help you build a cognitively diverse team.
When you imagine an incredibly effective, successful team meeting, what does it look like?
For some people, it looks like this: One person talking while everyone nods. Someone is taking notes while muttering, ‘Yes, I think so too!’ The leader wraps the meeting by asking, ‘So we’re all in agreement?’ And everyone cheers, ‘Yes!’
Now, I love a smoothly run meeting as much as the next person, but I also know you do not want a completely conflict-free team. It’s not good for your company (or your clients or margins) to be staffed exclusively by people who share the same worldview, the same personality type, or the same approach to business.
In fact, every company would benefit from hiring for cognitive diversity — even if it creates conflict.
Why? Because the conflict that arises from cognitive diversity is good conflict.
It’s conflict that results in better products, happier customers, more effective systems, and fewer missteps.
Points covered in this article include:
-What cognitive diversity is
-Types of conflict that arise from cognitive diversity
-How to make sure you have a cognitively diverse team
Read the full article, Why You Need Cognitive Diversity on Your Team – Even if it Leads to Conflict, on the Meritage website.