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Mike Hassel: Larry, reminds me that it takes courage to go outside your comfort zone...funny part is as you do this you grow.Great work Larry.
Mike Hassel: Larry, Great job! It feels so great when someone lets you know that you truly helped them. Gives you the self-confidence as a leader!
Mike Hassel: Larry, Keep them coming! Another great post. http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikehassel
Mike Hassel: Great Job Larry!----- mdhassel@msn.comhtt://www.linkedin.com/in/mikehassel
Mike Hassel: Larry, Outstanding! The Blame Game is a waste of time and a sign of insecurity in a leader. When things go well leaders must give credit to their team and when things go not so well leaders must take responsibility and then act.http://www.twitter.com/mdhasselhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/mikehassel
Mike Hassel: Larry...another great job! You described empathy and respect perfectly through your real life experience. http://www.linkedin.com/in/mikehasselhttp://twitter.com/mdhassel
Mike Hassel: Passionate Leadership...Larry, Neal is great at what he does. You are right...passion cannot be learned or created...so it is critical to know what you passions are, and look for the work that aligns with our passions!
Mike: Larry...Leadership by faith...I have been there myself, a team under performing, but trusting in their abilities and focusing on being a better leader, we created great results.
Mike Hassel: Larry...you are so right on with this! Another barrier / situation we must learn to deal with in order to practice active listening is when someone interrupts you while you are engaged in work or another activity. Two strategies I use are: First ask if we can schedule another time to discuss the subject so that I can give you my full attention, or if I am able at the moment, mentally tell myself to disengage and remind myself of the five elements you mention. You have to make the decision or
Mike Hassel: Great to see you are blogging again. You have shared the honest truth here and the real daily work of leaders and managers!
Larry Firth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIVCjLALwQk

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Sunday, August 8th 2010

5:53 PM

Leadership Styles Part 4– The Democratic Leader

This is the fourth installment of a series of blogs that discuss Leadership styles. In the book “Primal Leadership,” Daniel Goleman, who popularized the notion of “Emotional Intelligence,” describes six different styles of leadership. The most effective leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that meets the needs of the moment. They can all become part of the leader’s repertoire.

The fourth Leadership style is Democratic. When we are talking about democratic leadership, we're really not referring to a democratic leader that holds political office such as a senator.  We're talking about a leadership style that exhibits the characteristics of being democratic.  That being said, the democratic style is one where we see everyone getting an equal vote - both the leader and the followers. When the workplace is ready for democratic leaders, the style produces a work environment that employees can feel good about.  Workers feel that their opinion counts and because of that feeling they are more committed to achieving the goals and objectives of the group.

This style draws on people’s knowledge and skills, and creates a group commitment to the resulting goals. the primary behavior of a Democratic leader is to forge consensus through collaboration and thus he is able to affect his influence within the organization. In addition to collaborative skills, a Democratic leader is someone who is a superb listener, and works well with a team environment or culture. Typically the democratic leader: Develops plans to help employees evaluate their own performance, allows employees to establish goals, encourages employees to grow on the job and be promoted , and recognizes and encourages achievement.

The key to this style is communication - seeking the opinions of others and letting your opinion be known. Mr. Goleman warns that this consensus-building approach can be disastrous in times of crisis, when urgent events demand quick decisions, he and others also recognized that not every style is effective in every work environment - that's what situational leadership is all about - finding the right style to apply to the situation at hand.  So then the logical question is:  When is the democratic leadership style effective at work? 

Most of us would like to think that the democratic style could be effectively applied to any group of employees.  However, when we start to scratch beneath the surface, the pros and cons of democratic leadership becomes apparent: Since employees or followers have an equal say in the decision-making process, they are more committed to the desired outcome.  The collaborative environment created by this style often results in more thorough solutions to problems.

This creates an ideal environment for collaborative problem solving in addition to decision making.  The democratic leadership style is most effective when the leader wants to keep employees informed about matters that affect them, the leader wants employees to share in decision-making and problem-solving duties, or the leader wants to provide opportunities for employees to develop a high sense of personal growth and job satisfaction, or there is a large or complex problem that requires lots of input to solve, or changes must be made or problems solved that affect employees or groups of employees, or you simply want to encourage team building and participation.

However, this democratic process has its drawbacks. The democratic leader depends on the knowledge of his followers or employees.  If the workforce is inexperienced, this style is not very effective.  You simply need a fair amount of experience to make good decisions. The other drawback of the democratic style is the time it takes for all this collaborative effort.  When you ask people for their opinions it takes time for them to explain what they think and for others to understand what they are saying.  If the business need is urgent, the democratic leadership style would not be appropriate. Democratic leadership should not be used when: There is not enough time to get everyone’s input, or it’s easier and more cost-effective for the manager to make the decision, or the business can’t afford mistakes.

So to summarize, this is a style that values people input and gains commitment through participation. It works best when the direction the organization should take is unclear, and the leader needs to tap the collective wisdom of the group. It is most appropriate to use to gain buy-in or build consensus, or as a means to gain valuable input from employees who might otherwise be reluctant to voice their opinions. The pros and cons of this style are pretty much in alignment - strength also becomes weakness.  You get more input, but it takes time.  People can share their knowledge, but they have to understand the process first.  So the democratic leadership style is most effective when you have a workplace that has experienced employees and you can afford to spend the time necessary to develop a thorough solution.

As with all the styles Goleman discusses, Democratic Leadership is one tool in your leadership arsenal, to be used when the situation and opportunity require. Leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and the organization you are leading. Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits. Rather, they should be adapted to the particular demands of the situation, the particular requirements of the people involved and the particular challenges facing the organization.

Larry Firth

LGF Consulting LLC

4 Comment(s) / Post Comment

Sunday, July 11th 2010

4:36 PM

Leadership Styles Part 3 – The Affiliative Leader

This is the third installment of a series of blogs that discuss Leadership styles. In the book “Primal Leadership,” Daniel Goleman, who popularized the notion of “Emotional Intelligence,” describes six different styles of leadership. The most effective leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that meets the needs of the moment. They can all become part of the leader’s repertoire.

The third Leadership style is Affiliative. This style emphasizes the importance of team work, and creates harmony in a group by connecting people to each other. Mr. Goleman argues this approach is particularly valuable “when trying to heighten team harmony, increase morale, improve communication or repair broken trust in an organization.”

The affiliative leadership style is most effective when morale due to stress and teambuilding is needed.  For example, when a department reorganizes itself and followers have a difficult time understanding how they fix together in the new organization. The affiliative leader is concerned about the person rather than the job. The primary focus is very much about creating harmony in the team so that they all like one another.

If this sounds to you like Affiliative leadership can have a ring of “kumbaya” softness to it and you are conjuring up a image of a leader asking people to hold hands and talk about their feelings – you wouldn’t be alone, as such it gets some bad press. This is a style that some people struggle with, as it can be perceived as a weakness, but it’s not. When it’s used in the right way, by taking an interest in your staff and their pastoral needs, it is very important and can create a powerful bonding experience for your team..

With that said , this style is best used in small doses. Most of the time this style should be a bit player rather than the star turn, but there are situations in which it may usefully play a larger part. For example, if you are leading a team of professionals who are all experts in their field you may need to spend more time making sure that they all get along and are happy than in ensuring that they do their jobs. Think of leadership challenges where the phrase “herding cats” comes to mind – perhaps when trying to get a group of creatives or engineers to overcome individualistic leanings long enough to perform as a group. Anyone who has started a meeting with a few moments of chitchat or asked their colleagues how their weekend went has is using the affiliative leadership style.

However since affiliative leadership places the emphasis on group praise, if used to excess it can allow poor performance to go uncorrected. Team members may perceive that mediocrity is tolerated The effect of affiliative leadership if overused is demotivation, underperformance and the possible disappearance of high performers frustrated by a lack of recognition for their efforts and a lack of performance management for the team’s slackers.

As with all the styles Goleman discusses, Affiliative Leadership is one tool in your leadership arsenal, to be used when the situation and opportunity require. Leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and the organization you are leading. Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits. Rather, they should be adapted to the particular demands of the situation, the particular requirements of the people involved and the particular challenges facing the organization.

 

Larry Firth

LGF Consulting LLC

5 Comment(s) / Post Comment

Friday, June 4th 2010

6:32 PM

Leadership Styles Part 2 – The Coaching Leader

This is the second part of a series of blogs that discuss Leadership styles. In the book “Primal Leadership,” Daniel Goleman, who popularized the notion of “Emotional Intelligence,” describes six different styles of leadership. The most effective leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that meets the needs of the moment. They can all become part of the leader’s repertoire.

The second Leadership Style is coaching, this one-on-one style focuses on developing individuals, showing them how to improve their performance, and helping to connect their goals to the goals of the organization. The Coaching leader clearly defines roles and tasks, but seeks the input and suggestions from the followers.  Decisions are still made by the leader, but communication style is more two-way.

The coaching leadership style is most appropriated when followers are more responsible, experienced and agreeable.  The coaching leader directs and guides including providing encouragement and inspiration to help motivate the followers. An example of the coaching leader is a head coach of a sports team.

So how do you increase your skills as a leader coach? First, you look at who you are as a leader. Coaching happens from the inside out. You have to be aware of who you are, how you are perceived, what your own strengths and weaknesses are, and learn and develop yourself before you can begin to help others do the same. You must be a model of what you want to see in others. If you haven’t had feedback on your own leadership within the last two years, that’s the place to begin. Use that feedback to create your own development plan to take advantage of your strengths and work on any weaknesses.

Once you have a personal development plan, you are in a position to begin working with your team members to develop similar plans with them. Coaching is very much like strategic planning – you can think of it as preparing a personal strategic plan for each individual that is nested within the strategic plan for your unit or organization. It should cover where you are, where you’re headed, and how you are going to get there. Once the plan is created, the coaching supports, challenges, and motivates reaching the specified goals. This sounds rather simple and it is – the trick is to actually follow through in the midst of the day to day chaos that characterizes most leaders’ work lives. It’s easy in theory but requires discipline, accountability, focus, and persistence to get results. It must become who you are as a leader, how you behave as a leader, or it will be another “to do” on your long list that never quite gets the attention it deserves.

 

Here are three techniques you can begin today to be a better coach. Try them and monitor the reactions to see if there is a difference in others as a result of a difference in you.

 

1. LISTEN - In your next one-on-one conversations, try really listening with your whole concentration on what is being said. What is the story being told? What is the underlying message? Mirror back what is being said to be sure you understand. Remove distractions. Don’t jump in to solve the problem. Make eye contact and notice body language.

 

2. SILENCE - We are usually in such a hurry that we see silence as a waste of valuable time. As a result, we often move too quickly to a conclusion. We are impatient for a solution. Rather than filling the silence, let it be. Try leaving pauses before responding. Use this silent time to really think about what you want to say, rather than formulating your answers and questions while the person is still speaking.

 

3. UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD - This term was coined by Carl Rogers author of “Becoming a Person”. It means approaching each interaction from an appreciative point of view. We have often made up our minds about a person or an issue before the conversation starts. Try letting go of assumptions. and just hold the person in positive regard. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything they say, but it does mean that you value them as a human being and value their opinions even though they differ from yours. 

 

These coaching techniques are more challenging than they sound; however employing these strategies can help you develop your coaching leadership style. This style is most appropriate with employees who show initiative and want more professional development.  But it can backfire if it’s perceived as “micromanaging” an employee, and undermines his or her self-confidence.

Leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and the organization you are leading. Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits. Rather, they should be adapted to the particular demands of the situation, the particular requirements of the people involved and the particular challenges facing the organization.

 

Larry Firth

LGF Consulting

3 Comment(s) / Post Comment

Wednesday, May 26th 2010

5:15 PM

Leadership Styles Part 1 – The Visionary Leader

Having finished an 11 part blog series detailing Leadership Character (based on the Turnkett Leadership Character Model), I thought I would start a new series of blogs that discuss Leadership styles. In the book “Primal Leadership,” Daniel Goleman, who popularized the notion of “Emotional Intelligence,” describes six different styles of leadership. The most effective leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that meets the needs of the moment. They can all become part of the leader’s repertoire.

The first Leadership Style is Visionary, “according to Goleman and his coauthors “Visionary leaders articulate where a group is going, but not how it will get there – setting people free to innovate, experiment, take calculated risks,” A visionary leader perceives challenges and growth opportunities before they happen, positioning people to produce extraordinary results that make real contributions to the growth of the organization.

There are several strategies a leader can employ to help develop a visionary style:

1)       Focuses on the Ultimate Ends of the Organization – Visionary leaders must focus on the ultimate ends of the organization and avoid the tendency to micro-manage.  The mission, vision, goals, and strategies contained in the strategic plan should be the focus of the leader’s reflection and decision-making.
 

2)      Create a Long-range Plan for the Development of Future Leadership - In contrast to the typical short-term recruitment process that focuses on filling current vacancies with the best qualifies candidate,  a visionary leader needs a long-range plan for developing future leaders for critical positions that may or may not be currently open.  This means focusing on what roles will be critical leadership roles over the next five years?  What is the plan to scout board leadership talent for the future?  How will we go about fostering and developing future leaders from within the organization?

3)      Develop a Shared Vision of the Organization's Future – Visionary leaders need to ask themselves and other members of the leadership team “If we could create the organization of our dreams that will have the impact we most desire, what would that look like?"  This is the first step in creating the vision statement , in a mission statement an organization states what the do, in a vision statement an organization states what it wants to be at some point in the strategic horizon (5 to 10 years).

4)      Keep up with the Rapid Pace of ChangeVisionary leaders need to think about these key questions: What external changes and trends will have the greatest impact over the next three to five years on the organization and the people it serves?  How can the organization effectively respond to these changes and trends? How are similar organizations responding to these changes and trends?

5)      Stay in Touch with the Changing Needs of Your Customers – Visionary leaders need to constantly consider; what do our customers think of the organization (i.e., what is their perception or image of the organization?), what are the most important future needs and service expectations of the organization on the part of our customers?  For new needs and service expectations of the organization likely to emerge among customers, what other organizations are positioned to meet these customer needs?

Employing these strategies can help you develop your visionary leadership style. This style is most appropriate when an organization needs a new direction. Its goal is to move people towards a new set of shared dreams. Leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and the organization you are leading. Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits. Rather, they should be adapted to the particular demands of the situation, the particular requirements of the people involved and the particular challenges facing the organization.

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Thursday, May 13th 2010

10:43 AM

Leadership Character Part 11 – Focus On The Whole

This is the eleventh and final installment of a series of blogs discussing the Turknett Leadership Character ModelTM. .  This model is represented graphically by the figure of a scale, with the base of the scale representing the primary leadership character quality of Integrity. The scale itself contains a right half (Responsibility) and a left half (Respect) that represent character traits; and on each of these sides are 4 small weights (each of which represents qualities of the character trait on that side of the scale). Combined together (the base, the two sides of the scale and the 4 weights on each scale), the model is in balance; as would be the character of a leader who demonstrates all of the traits and qualities represented by the scale.

Having completed the qualities (or weights) that make up the Respect side of the scale (Empathy, Lack of Blame, Humility, Emotional Mastery), we now looking at the qualities that make up the Responsibility side of the scale; we already examined Accountability , Self-Confidence and Courage.  The final Respect leadership quality we will examine is Focus On The Whole, or big picture. Leaders who focus on the big picture think in terms of what's good for the entire organization, not in terms of what's good for their own team or department. They have an understanding of and enthusiasm for the business as well as an understanding of their industry. They consider the implications of entire projects and commit to outcomes that work best for their customers rather than just focusing on their piece of the project.

One of the most enjoyable, personally satisfying yet difficult projects I had to work on was  a project to review, identify, select and negotiate long term exclusive manufacturing agreements to move production from two owned North American manufacturing facilities to low cost manufacturing options in China. It was an exciting and challenging project as for me it was new and uncharted territory. I got the opportunity to travel and visit with numerous manufacturing facilities in China, on my own with a severely limited Chinese vocabulary and in most cases meeting with individuals that I knew nothing about personally or professionally.

But the real challenge for me was the fact that I came into this company as a “manufacturing” guy, I worked as Materials Manager in both of the factories that I was now challenged to “outsource”. The people who hired me, people I worked with side by side for years would have their jobs and careers put at risk as a result of this project that I was tasked with. It was a test of my leadership skills to balance the feelings of guilt associated with that knowledge, with the excitement of a new personal challenge. Incorporating the leadership quality of focusing on the big picture definitely enabled me to be successful. Ultimately I realized that the company was threatened by competition and market conditions that mandated the move to lower cost production. As painfully as it was to know that many of my friends could and would be adversely affected by that change, the reality was that the entire company would be threatened by NOT making that move

I worked with senior management and Chairman of the Board to define the profile and type of partner that the company desired. I utilized my vast network of contacts in Asia to develop a list of prospective partners. I then personally traveled throughout China to meet each potential partner. I narrowed the list down to three targets and meet with the COB and CEO to choose a final partner. I then worked with Legal Council to develop and draft an exclusive manufacturing agreement, and negotiated all terms with the partner. Post signing I worked with product development and engineering team members to facilitate the transition of proprietary technology, and begin full scale production.

The entire process resulting in transitioning all production to China and $6 million in production costs were saved annually by using my foreign relations expertise to forge and manage international partnerships. And yes, eventually the entire factory I started in was shut down and many of my colleagues and friends lost their jobs.

A person who demonstrates the core quality of focus on the whole:

  • Realizes he or she represents the company to its customers.
  • Understands how work in individual areas affects the entire project and the whole organization.
  • Gathers information from all stakeholders when making decisions.
  • Shares information throughout the company and understands the value of a knowledgeable workforce.

 

Developing and refining the core quality of focusing on the whole allows you to enhance your perception as Responsible leader. So there you have the entire Turknett Leadership Character model. Built upon a foundation of Integrity, a leader needs to balance the qualities of Respect and Responsibility. Responsibility is borne out of demonstrating the traits of Accountability, Self-Confidence, Courage and Focusing on The Whole; while Respect is borne out of demonstrating the traits of Empathy, Lack of Blame, Humility, and Emotional Mastery. I honestly believe if an individual models their behaviors with this in mind that the process of developing yourself into a leader will seem to flow naturally.

 

Larry Firth

Sr. Principal Consultant

LGF Consulting LLC

2 Comment(s) / Post Comment

Wednesday, May 5th 2010

2:50 PM

Leadership Character Part 10 – Courage

This is the tenth installment of a series of blogs discussing the Turknett Leadership Character ModelTM. .  This model is represented graphically by the figure of a scale, with the base of the scale representing the primary leadership character quality of Integrity. The scale itself contains a right half (Responsibility) and a left half (Respect) that represent character traits; and on each of these sides are 4 small weights (each of which represents qualities of the character trait on that side of the scale). Combined together (the base, the two sides of the scale and the 4 weights on each scale), the model is in balance; as would be the character of a leader who demonstrates all of the traits and qualities represented by the scale.

Having completed the qualities (or weights) that make up the Respect side of the scale (Empathy, Lack of Blame, Humility, Emotional Mastery), we now looking at the qualities that make up the Responsibility side of the scale; we already examined Accountability and Self-Confidence.  Next we will look at leadership quality of Courage. Leaders with courage assert themselves and take risks. They ask forgiveness rather than permission and try even though they might fail. These leaders risk conflict to air their ideas but balance that with respect, which makes constructive conflict possible.

Unfortunately, most people don't consider courage to be a primary work value. They mistakenly believe that courage is relevant only during particularly perilous times or that only executives can demonstrate courage leadership. In reality, courage is crucial in a wide range of work situations, and anyone in a company can demonstrate courage leadership; speaking up at a company meeting, confronting gossip, making the transition to a new position. Opportunities for courage leadership occur at work nearly every day, and are often the defining moments of a person's career. Whether your position is entry-level or executives how you confront work issues and how you manage your professional development speak volumes about your courage quotient and set a leadership example for other people.

The French word courage means "heart and spirit." Great leaders throughout history have acted from their hearts, but the definition of courage has been narrowed to simple heroics. Courage, however, means a lot more, and it is key for each one of us. According to Aristotle, courage is the first human virtue because it makes all of the other virtues possible. There are many ways in which courage can be applied at work; revealing vulnerability, voicing an unpopular opinion, making sacrifices for long-term goals.

Courageous leaders recognize defining moments and apply courage consciously by affirming their strengths constantly, by hurdling obstacles and taking risks. Give yourself permission to choose to be different so you can creatively navigate your way around, through, or over any obstacles in your path. Speak up. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, listen to your intuition and tell those involved why you believe the situation isn't right. Exercise your voice of courage when someone puts you down or when water cooler gossip gets out of hand.

A person with the core quality of courage:

  • Champions new or unpopular ideas.
  • Talks to others, not about them, when there is a problem.
  • Accepts feedback and truly hears what others say.
  • Takes the ball and runs with it, even when there are obstacles

 

Developing and refining the core quality of courage allows you to enhance your perception as Responsible leader. Next week I will continue to cover the final core Leadership qualities that comprises the Responsibility side of the scale.

 

Larry Firth

Sr. Principal Consultant

LGF Consulting LLC

2 Comment(s) / Post Comment

Monday, April 26th 2010

8:30 PM

Leadership Character Part 9 – Self-Confidence

This is the ninth installment of a series of blogs discussing the Turknett Leadership Character ModelTM. .  This model is represented graphically by the figure of a scale, with the base of the scale representing the primary leadership character quality of Integrity. The scale itself contains a right half (Responsibility) and a left half (Respect) that represent character traits; and on each of these sides are 4 small weights (each of which represents qualities of the character trait on that side of the scale). Combined together (the base, the two sides of the scale and the 4 weights on each scale), the model is in balance; as would be the character of a leader who demonstrates all of the traits and qualities represented by the scale.

Having completed the qualities (or weights) that make up the Respect side of the scale (Empathy, Lack of Blame, Humility, Emotional Mastery), we now looking at the qualities that make up the Responsibility side of the scale; last week we examined Accountability.  Next we will look at Self-Confidence; which allows people to feel that they are equal to others, even when others are in positions of much greater formal power. Self-confident leaders recognize the value of building that same self-confidence in others throughout their organizations and aren't threatened by confident followers.

One of my greatest accomplishments as a leader was dealing with a personnel development issue that allowed me to help instill a sense of self-respect and self confindence in one of team members, that in turn helped them develop into a leader. When I first started a new position with a manufacturing company I had on my factory Production Control team a planner who was somewhat withdrawn and non communicative in one on one and team meetings. During my first few weeks on several occasions I questioned or challenged her planning decisions and was impressed with her logic and responses. However she also tended to conduct her social life at work and her reputation was more about that than the quality of her work.

Eventually the line separating
her personnel life and the workplace was crossed such that I had to have a closed door meeting with her in my office.  I spelled out the fact that while I thought she was quite proficient at her job and an excellent planner, that her reputation throughout the company was more related to her personal life and conduct. I stressed that it was important to conduct herself in a professional manner in the workplace to display a sense of respect and self confidence if she wanted to gain the respect of her peers and co-workers. In the meantime she would be required to keep her personal relationships out of the workplace and from affecting productivity and her peers.

She continued to work either directly or indirectly for me over the next 12 years, she changed her attitude and conduct and as a result of this newly displayed self confidence, she was repeatedly promoted to the point where she is currently the Inventory and Planning Manager for an entire division (a $120 million dollar business unit). About 5 years after our conversation I received a Christmas card from her wherein she thanked me saying “you believed in me and gave me something not even my own parents did…..you gave me the confidence and  ability to respect myself”.

 

 

A person with the core quality of self-confidence:

  • Has a self-assured bearing.
  • Exhibits flexibility and a willingness to change.
  • Gives credit to others easily.
  • Tells the truth without fear.

 Developing and refining the core quality of Self-confidence allows you to enhance your perception as Responsible leader. Next week I will continue to cover the other two core Leadership qualities that comprise the Responsibility side of the scale.

 

Larry Firth

Sr. Principal Consultant

LGF Consulting LLC

2 Comment(s) / Post Comment

Monday, April 12th 2010

2:24 PM

Leadership Character Part 8 – Accountability

This is the eighth installment of a series of blogs discussing the Turknett Leadership Character ModelTM. .  This model is represented graphically by the figure of a scale, with the base of the scale representing the primary leadership character quality of Integrity. The scale itself contains a right half (Responsibility) and a left half (Respect) that represent character traits; and on each of these sides are 4 small weights (each of which represents qualities of the character trait on that side of the scale). Combined together (the base, the two sides of the scale and the 4 weights on each scale), the model is in balance; as would be the character of a leader who demonstrates all the of the traits and qualities represented by the scale.

Having completed the qualities (or weights) that make up the Respect side of the scale (Empathy, Lack of Blame, Humility, Emotional Mastery), we now move on to the qualities that make up the Responsibility side of the scale.  The first of these is Accountability; Leaders who are accountable do what needs to be done, no matter where in the organization they have to go. They never say, “It's not my job.”.

It isn’t always easy to get people to buy into their part in accountability. In more traditional workplaces departments have sometimes become functional silos and the ability to really cross departmental boundaries to hold both the cross-functional department and your department accountable to each other can be a challenge.  Displaying the character trait of accountability is one of the things that helped me to advance in my career. When I was working for a sporting goods company, the sales, marketing, customer service and finished goods planning teams were located in Northern California, while the factory, engineering, and manufacturing support personnel were located in Southern California across the street from corporate headquarters. The new CEO determined that the entire organization needed to be centrally located to enhance communication, understanding and cooperation in the organization.  Thus the Northern California based teams moved south into offices in the Corporate building in Southern California, across the street from the factory.

I joined the factory team about the same time as this transition occurred, so I didn’t carry any of the historical baggage of the silos that had existed based on geographic location. All I knew was that the information generated by and decisions made by the marketing, product development and finished goods planning teams on the other side of the street directly impacted my job of managing production in the factory.

It was interesting to see the lasting effects of that long time corporate culture after the move, despite now literally being across the street from each other, the two silos of business may as well have still been 500 miles apart, NOBODY crossed the street to communicate, learn or understand the other side. Since I didn’t have the burden of historical baggage I had no problem crossing the street, and did so regularly in fact, helping the marketing/produce development teams learn, understand and properly use information from the ERP system which was new to them, but had been in place in the factory for some time.

Eventually my efforts caught the eye of the corporate VP of Operations, who realized that this type of cross-functional bridge building was exactly what was needed to improve service levels and reduce inventories. He targeted me to move across the street to a Director level position overseeing both Manufactured Inventory Planning and Sourcing and Procurement. This allowed me to enhance my relationships with senior management on the corporate side while becoming a conduit for factory personnel to understand the other side of the business. Two years later when VP of Operations left the company for an opportunity with a PE firm, the CEO selected me to fill his shoes expanding my responsibilities to include Customer Service and Distribution.

I didn’t cross the artificial boundary of the that street in the hopes promoting my career in the organization, I did so in the hopes of improving my efforts and the efforts of my team, which in turn would benefit the company and its bottom line (In the interest of full disclosure my motivation was not entirely altruistic, the company had a bonus incentive program that was EBITDA based, so anything I did to improve the profitability of the company would benefit me personally from a financial standpoint). A byproduct of that was an expanded role in the organization that enhanced my career and development as a leader.

A person with the core quality of accountability:

  • Takes the initiative to get things done.
  • Is not afraid to hold others accountable.
  • Crosses departmental boundaries to help with important projects.
  • Takes personal responsibility for organizational success.

Developing and refining the core quality of Accountability allows you to enhance your perception as Responsible leader. Next week I will continue to cover the other three core Leadership qualities that comprise the Responsibility side of the scale.

 

Larry Firth

Sr. Principal Consultant

LGF Consulting LLC

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Wednesday, April 7th 2010

11:37 AM

Leadership Character Part 7 – Emotional Mastery

This is the seventh installment of a series of blogs discussing the Turknett Leadership Character ModelTM. .  This model is represented graphically by the figure of a scale, with the base of the scale representing the primary leadership character quality of Integrity. The scale itself contains a right half (Responsibility) and a left half (Respect) that represent character traits; and on each of these sides are 4 small weights (each of which represents qualities of the character trait on that side) combined together (the base, the two sides of the scale and the 4 weights on each scale), the model is in balance as would be the character of a leader who demonstrates all these of the traits and qualities represented by the scale.

Continuing with the qualities (or weights) that make up the Respect side of the scale, in addition to Empathy , Lack of Blame, and Humility (discussed last week), there is Emotional Mastery.  Leaders who have developed emotional mastery recognize that it is not the facts and events that upset a person but the view he takes of them. Controlling anger may be the most important aspect of emotional mastery for those in leadership positions.

I can think of two embarrassing times during my leadership career when my failure to master my emotions and specifically my anger, got the best of me and damaged the perceptions of me as a leader. The first occurred in the shipping and receiving department of factory that I oversaw. Parts were sent out regularly for outside processing and needed to be counted and verified by the shipping department. After several weeks of missing parts at OP vendors, I instituted a process requiring all outbound shipments to be weigh counted and verified and logged in with manufacturing department count, shipping count and vendor counts. During the first week a discrepancy came up with a count and I checked the log only to find that this shipment wasn’t logged in according to procedure. I reminded the area Supervisor that is was critical to maintain the log. Next week same situation, same result shipment wasn’t properly logged, and your truly lost control of my emotions and in a strongly worded exchange advised the area supervisor that if he and his team couldn’t follow the count and log procedures that we had agreed upon “I would find someone who could”.

The second incident took place in a large Distribution Center that I oversaw, it was yearend and all hands were on deck to try and hit shipment targets. I may have been the VP of Operations but on this day I was just another packer on the line. As I frantically dealt with pallets of products I noticed that a stack of empty pallets was blocking access to some of the packed pallets in my lane. A material handler with a pallet jack came by and I asked him to move the stack of empty pallets, his response to me “That’s not my job” and continued on. At that moment once again I let my emotions get the better of me, and I reacted not as the leader of the facility visiting from corporate headquarters by as a co-worker frustrated with response.  I tracked him down, grabbed the pallet jack from him as I mumbled “I do it myself then, you lazy %^&*!$#”.

These types of outbursts of anger can quickly destroy a sense of organizational equity and partnership, which in turn leads to a loss of respect for the leader. Both these incidents, as embarrassing as they are to recount here, helped me to realize the importance of emotional mastery in terms of gaining the respect that is critical for any leadership position. In both cases I was forced to humble myself later when I talked to the parties involved and in calm manner explained my frustration, which in no way excused my loss of emotion or threatening or berating language I used, and apologized for my outbursts.

All of us need to learn and grow from our mistakes, and in my case I certainly did from these incidents. I like to think that these mistakes have made me a better master of my emotions, which in turn make me more approachable and accessible as a leader.

A person with the core quality of emotional mastery:

  • Says what he or she thinks but never berates others.
  • Stays calm even in crisis situations.
  • Doesn't let anxiety interfere with public speaking or other critical tasks.
  • Reflects before reacting and consciously chooses an appropriate response.

Developing and refining the four core qualities of Empathy, Lack of Blame, Humility, and Emotional Mastery comprise the Respect side of the scale. I will begin t cover the four core Leadership qualities that comprise the Responsibility side of the scale in next week’s blog.

 

Larry Firth

Sr. Principal Consultant

LGF Consulting LLC

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Tuesday, March 30th 2010

9:56 PM

Leadership Character – Part 6 Humility

This is the sixth installment of a series of blogs discussing the Turknett Leadership Character ModelTM. .  This model is represented graphically by the figure of a scale, with the base of the scale representing the primary leadership character quality of Integrity. The scale itself contains a right half (Responsibility) and a left half (Respect) that represent character traits; and on each of these sides are 4 small weights (each of which represents qualities of the character trait on that side) combined together (the base, the two sides of the scale and the 4 weights on each scale), the model is in balance as would be the character of a leader who demonstrates all these of the traits and qualities represented by the scale.

Continuing with the qualities (or weights) that make up the Respect side of the scale, in addition to Empathy and Lack of Blame (discussed last week), there is Humility. Leaders with humility shun pompous and arrogant behavior. They realize that we are all fallible – a combination of strengths and weaknesses.

Fundamentally I think this core quality of Respect is one of the hardest to develop for leaders and managers. When leading a team a certain amount of strength and decisiveness is required, yet if you look up humility in your Thesaurus you will find words like “meekness” “unassuming” “mildness” passive” and “submission” etc; hardly words that inspire visions of leadership.  The key to remember is that people who demonstrate humility don't think less of themselves; they just think more of others.

This past week I attended the memorial service for the son of a friend of mine. Only 22 years old Oliver Stokes was tragically killed in a traffic accident when a 17 year old girl, who apparently was texting while driving, ran a red light killing Ollie and the driver of the car Ollie was riding in.  I met Ollie only once several years ago during his father’s 40th birthday party (Ollie was around 12 at the time). I knew him only through stories his father told me and the pictures a proud father displays on his desk.

I did learn quite a bit more about Ollie during the memorial; that he had just finished his AA degree and was admitted to CSUN to begin work on a degree in psychology ; that he aspired to go into counseling to help other people; that a least 20 people stood up and said “Ollie was my best friend” (and I thought to myself how is that possible, when most of us are lucky to count on the fingers of one hand the people we consider to be “best friends”?).  Ollie’s uncle related a story about traveling with Ollie on a long drive, as Ollie received a call from a friend, Ollie listened for a half hour as the person on the other end of the phone related some problem or conflict or trouble to Ollie. Finally Ollie responded to the caller with a response that to me embodies what the quality of leadership with humility is all about, he said “Blowing out someone else’s candle, doesn’t make your own candle burn any brighter”.

A person who demonstrates the core quality of humility:

  • Listens to others with an open mind.
  • Doesn't brag or name-drop.
  • Clearly sees and admits his or her limitations and failings.
  • Shows vulnerability without fear.

I am not ashamed to say that I was moved to tears as I listened to that story, realizing that a 22 year old young man seemed to have a better grasp on this important leadership quality of humility than I do, maybe it has something to with age and the gradual creeping of cynicism as we grow older and loss of innocence that is the blessing of youth, but that’s no excuse for anyone not leading a life full of openness compassion and humility the way that Ollie clearly did, and clearly explains why almost everyone he knew considered him their best friend.

 Displaying Respect, in addition to developing and refining the core qualities of Empathy, Lack of Blame and Humility, requires the quality of Emotional Mastery. I will cover that Leadership characteristic in next week’s blog.

Note: For further information on Oliver Stokes and to contribute to the Oliver Stokes Memorial Scholarship Fund please visit http://www.oliverstokes.com

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Larry Firth

LGF Consulting LLC

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