Friday, 29 November 2013

Leaders Driving Culture Change

Two of my clients have engaged me in consulting on Culture Change in their organisations by requesting a re-invention/re-freshing of the organisation culture in line with their growth strategies.

Culture is “the way we do things around here”. To change culture requires new habits. We all know what that is like and how tough it is as individuals to change our habits so to collectively change to new habits requires tremendous effort.

In both projects we are using John Kotter’s well know 8 step change model.

To drive this change requires leadership presence and passion. My nine year old daughter recently said : “Dad even when you are at home you are not here”. This was obviously a wake-up call for me.

I can see how important it is for leaders to be present with staff and their organisation in driving change and results.

It has been amazing to see one of the leaders with so much passion and enthusiasm to engage their staff in embracing the change. The challenge as always is to keep that passion and drive throughout. In both cases the clients have committed 18 months to the process which is admirable as they want to (as Kotter says) make the changes stick (Step Eight).

Each Kotter stage requires a different kind of energy. The analysis stage created a sense of enquiry and making sense of the world. The (Crafting of the) Vision stage demanded creativity and en-dreaming of the future. The enabling action stage is tough as it means now the rubber hits the road and the real hard graft starts. Communicating for buy-in means the leader needs to find different fuel to keep communicating with the same passion that they had initially and reflecting the same belief they had upfront.

All in all leadership requires drive, tenacity and determination to succeed even when others are flagging but to ensure that the coalitions stay with them running at the same or similar pace and with the same stamina otherwise the leader will burn out together with the initiatives.

Gavin Coetzee is a successful Leadership and Change Consultant from CapeTown.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Staff Retention and the Enneagram

A few of my Entrepreneurial  MD clients are really struggling with the fact they are losing several key staff at present. A few of them are also about to recruit new key staff. My first reaction was “why are they taking it so personally and reacting so strongly?” Now it is both a function of:
  •           Where the business is at and
  •           Their personalities

I tell clients that recruiting is one of, if not the most important HR task there is. You don’t just let anybody through the front door of your home.  Before you recruit you need to be very clear on your recruitment and selection process ensuring that it has rigour and thought.

We can spend a lot of time managing poor quality recruits and trying to get them on track when the initial process wasn’t sufficiently sound. So rather do it right up front.

My view is that we need to keep engaging with staff on what makes them stay. If we consider the impacts of Generational theory which posits that people born in different decades were affected by parents in different eras and want different things e.g. people born from 1989 to 2000 have the Defining and guiding values:
* Optimism * Confidence * High self-esteem * Media & entertainment overloaded * Street smart * Diversity * Conservative * Networkers * Civic duty * Ethical consumption * Achievement * Morality * Naiveté * Change * Techno-savvy * Global citizens, with a multi-everything view

So keep asking your employees what they want and how they want it to manage employee retention.

The Enneagram Personality Profile
The other insight for this blog is that I am finding the use of the Enneagram Personality Profile to be very powerful.

Leaders working with the Enneagram are finding its accuracy astounding and finding insights and nuggets that take them to a place where they can improve their ability to work under pressure and in conflict and improve their relationships significantly. Because the Enneagram has 9 different personality types and that the profile gives you a percentage on each it allows the leader to see the bigger picture of the link between the parts of their personalities. Leaders are asking their Exco to complete the profile so that as a team they can see their strengths and gaps.

Under pressure (stress) and in conflict (Harmonic Triad) leaders determine three things:
  •           Their ability to be “competent” i.e. the ability to keep at it and keep  working or just do what they do despite the stress.
  •           Positive Outlook – their ability to remain upbeat and optimistic
  •           Their ability to speak their mind and take action while others may be  freezing or fleeing the scene.

In terms of how they perform in their business and personal relationships (Hornevian Triad) they discover:
  •           Their ability to assert their thoughts and feelings;
  •           The degree to which they withdraw when required and
  •           The degree to which they comply (duty and responsibility) or not.

If you have not seen it yet in another place on this site please check out this link It shows how the Enneagram is being used by Susan Olesek to help rehabilitate prison convicts and regain their personal power.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Illusion of Importance

Some of my Entrepreneurial CEO clients seem to be challenged in the arena of focus, stimulation and that constant need to know they are doing things right and evolving.

Fortunately they are humble enough to ask for feedback and to respond to it. They are constantly seeking and expanding and setting new goals and embarking on new challenges.

These folk are high energy, restless, questioning and taking action.

One of my clients is harnessing the power of purpose in his quest to go beyond the MD/CEO realm. His purpose is meaningful and spiritual and it drives him and pushes him to influence and inspire so many others. He is relentless with it and it rubs off wherever he goes.

Another is running the NY Marathon and three of them are taking their business to a new continent and getting involved in global matters for their companies.

They say if we are not growing we are accelerating our spiritual death.

I do feel however that there is a balance and when we feed that will to expand constantly we could also be feeding something else which doesn’t allow us to be fully present in the Now. Eckhart Tolle wrote a brilliant book called the Power of Now (followed by A new Earth) and he said that if we are happy right now then we can string happy moments together continuously. He went on to say: “we are neither our feelings nor our thoughts” – they are only transitory.

A client once said that things don’t come across his desk in threes anymore but in nines and I suspect that he was also responsible for attracting many of those two.

Stephen Covey in “First things first” spoke about Quadrant three being the quadrant of illusion….items that are urgent (but not important) and have the illusion of being important and we feel we have to attend to them straight away …like  a new e-mail arriving or a phone ringing….yet it could just be another distraction.

Our busyness makes us feel valued and important but are we being effective? We need to:
      Decide What the four or five most important items are that line up with our vision and purpose. Some companies are in trouble because they have lost the “why” for what they do.      
  •         Be disciplined about sticking to that agenda and those items chosen. My school headmaster spoke recently about two most important values of passion and discipline (I am better at the former).
  •       Complete items and then pause or stop to reflect
  •         Achieve the measures that you have set and feel that sense of accomplishment before moving onto the next agenda
  •        When you do allow yourself to be distracted along the way to have fun, do it consciously as it may be quality time to recharge.

Leadership Lessons - #1

As an executive coach I find the following to be some of the Leadership challenges of my clients and what is needed in their weekly and monthly tasks in leading others.

The first is the age old one of having the time or put differently prioritising. “No time” is an excuse. It’s about what you choose to do because it’s important to do (Covey’s quadrant two) e.g. spending quality time mentoring team members to unstuck them or simply provide much needed moral support. You get people who ask for help and those who don’t…do you know which is which?
Linked to this one is a sub-plot called boundaries and asserting. Putting down boundaries and saying “no”. You don’t have to attend every meeting that you are invited to and you don’t have to stay for the full period of time. Listen, contribute and leave if appropriate. Setting boundaries is a common flaw that us as leaders can benefit hugely from in many ways e.g. avoiding nepotism, favouritism, allowing fringe benefits etc which all will just get a leader into hot water irrespective of the initial sentiment of wanting to help and rationalising that its part of the big picture..

The second is related to communication. Spending time with peers (where you are not the MD) to build the relationship and to get them to hear you and acknowledge your ideas so that you can influence them. They sometimes don’t hear you in Board meetings so finding one on one space can be beneficial. Leaders want to influence to make a difference and to get ahead.

Thirdly it’s about understanding your team members and what makes them tick and what motivates or turns them on. Again it’s about spending time and engaging on what their motivators are. Relationships are the bedrock. Unless you have spent time building the relationship; when conflict occurs you have a platform to lean on. Trust will be there and you can say it like it is without needing to sugar coat or tread on eggshells. This also makes business life more efficient as it takes less time.

In my next blog I will share further leadership lessons via leaders who have real challenges of leading people and their organisations in uncertain times with people who have very different needs and aspirations and a market that is seeking true value from its suppliers.