The Executive Mentor Blog
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Organizations, like people, can get set in their ways. But relying on established ways of working and solving problems not only stifles innovation but can lead to a lack of perspective and moments of delusion – and ultimately the downward slide of the company Continue reading
The secret of effective feedback is making it feel like the message is coming from an ally, not an adversary. Unfortunately, in my many years as an executive mentor to senior teams, I find that most managers’ anxiety and discomfort about delivering a difficult message inadvertently makes it come off as antagonistic, rather than supportive – a stressful and difficult experience. Continue reading
Conflict that is not properly resolved in the early stages will usually simmer away until it explodes into a serious situation. It can be a primary cause of poor employee engagement, employee fraud, IP theft and result in valuable team members to leaving your organization!
Effective leadership, like a good marriage, hinges on how you deal with the tough stuff. But addressing and resolving conflicts requires enormous mental and emotional strength, which is why many of us try to avoid it. When confronted with a problem or dispute, we either move away (flee the scene, rely on others for resolution), move against (quietly using positional power to quell opposing arguments) or move toward (make nice, give in). This is natural. We instinctively want to avoid the risk of loss and social embarrassment, to stick with our points of view, to preserve relationships and the status quo.
But all three strategies are wrong-headed. When you fail to engage with a conflict, you can’t gather the input you need to find a workable solution. And it hurts your image as a leader. Take Sarah, the head of IT at a global technology company. Her job was to develop new engagement technologies in her organization, but instead of embracing critical feedback on her ideas, she ignored it. When people challenged her, she would simply reiterate her points, smile, nod and move onto something else as though the issue had been resolved, leaving everyone frustrated. Team members and colleagues began to see her as a conflict avoider, and she lost their trust.
So how does someone like Sarah learn to embrace, rather than avoid, disagreement? Continue reading
We face a looming crisis! Employee trust in management and commitment to corporations have been in decline for decades. Yet we know that trust and commitment are essential for high individual and corporate performance and they have a huge impact on your bottom line. Only a minority of companies have managed to buck this decline and have built companies worthy of the human spirit. How do they do it? Continue reading
Every seasoned investor knows that detailed financial projections for a new company are an act of imagination. But most business plans still pour far too much ink on these numbers – and far too little on the information that really matters.
A great business plan is one that focuses on a series of questions. These questions relate to the four factors critical to the success of every new venture: the people, the opportunity, the context and the possibilities for both risk and reward.
The questions about people revolve around three issues: What do they know? Whom do they know? How well are they known? As for opportunity, the plan should focus on two questions: Is the market for the venture’s product or service large or rapidly growing (or preferably both)? Is the industry structurally attractive? Continue reading
Too often, managers get so consumed with their day-to-day tasks, that they don’t spend the time to build up the foundations of good leadership. Without these foundations, it is very difficult to effectively lead an organisation or team.
“When are we supposed to do all that?” That’s the question I constantly hear from new managers, only weeks or months into their new positions, when I describe the three key activities they should be focusing on to be successful as leaders: building trust, building a team, and building a broader network. To their dismay, most of them have found they rarely end a day in their new positions having done what they planned to do. They spend most of their time solving unexpected problems and making sure their groups do their work on time, on budget, and up to standard. They feel desperately out of control because what’s urgent – the daily work – always seems to highjack what’s important – their ongoing work as managers and leaders.
So they push back because they think we’ve just made their to-do list even longer. And these key elements (I call them the “Three Imperatives of Leading and Managing”) are not quick and easy wins – they are substantial and fundamental to one’s ability to function effectively as a leader. Here’s why: Continue reading
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Wrote Chinese General Sun Tzu in his book ‘The Art of War’. For Sun Tzu, knowing yourself and your own capabilities was as important as knowing your enemy.
2,500 years later, with the battlefield the marketplace and the enemy the competition, self-awareness remains as important as it was in the time of Sun Tzu.
A plethora of people, courses and self-help guides profess to lead you by the hand to the promised land of business success. The problem is that things are always messier than the how-to’s make them out to be. This is why it is often better to consider less the specifics and more the principles and qualities that bring success.
In our experience, there is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager and leader. That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can do to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making. Continue reading
A misunderstanding of what leadership really is costs Melbourne companies dearly!
Probably the reason so many well managed Melbourne companies end up on the scrapheap is a misunderstanding of what leadership really is. And this misunderstanding seems to be commonplace throughout corporate Australia.
Many conversations I have had with clients and professional friends regarding – say world events, including the Australian political landscape quickly veer, as these things often do, into a discussion about how individuals can keep large, complex, unwieldy organizations operating reliably and efficiently.
That’s not leadership, I explain. That’s management — and the two are radically different.
In more than four decades of studying businesses and consulting to organizations on how to implement new strategies, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people use the words “leadership” and “management” synonymously, and it drives me crazy every time.
The discussions remind me once again that the confusion around these two terms is massive, and that misunderstanding gets in the way of any reasonable discussion about how to build a company, position it for success and win in the twenty-first century. The mistakes people make on the issue are threefold: Continue reading
11 Essential Qualities for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners to Survive and Thrive in Today’s Business Jungle!
The pace of change in business is faster than it has ever been in history – and as globalization and electronic commerce wreak change on local businesses, enterprise and career survival is becoming a national obsession.
Many businesses will not survive, so organisations want the best and are ruthlessly dismissing those who do not meet the grade. An ability to adapt to change, to empower staff and to be flexible and global in outlook are a few of the attributes required of the new millennium manager.
Here are 11 Essential qualities you need, to survive and thrive in the business jungle: Continue reading
Emotional intelligence is a major factor that will determine your success, or failure – In your business, in your career, even in your personal relationships. But it’s something nobody really likes to accept, or address – and those who need to work on it most, are usually the last to know!
In my many years as an executive mentor, I have never had someone raise his hand and declare that he needs to work on his emotional intelligence. Yet I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard from people that the one thing their colleague needs to work on is emotional intelligence. This is the problem: those who most need to develop it are the ones who least realize it. The data showing that emotional intelligence is a key differentiator between star performers and the rest of the pack is irrefutable. Nevertheless, there are some who never embrace the skill for themselves — or who wait until it’s too late. Continue reading
It’s unfortunately quite a common scenario – Two brothers sharing ownership in a third-generation Melbourne business had a bitter falling out over an unlikely issue: a sailboat. The older sibling accused the younger of dipping into the till to support his racing habit. The younger brother struck back by issuing an ultimatum: buy out my share of the company, or sell me yours. An ugly fight ensued, negatively impacting the business, the family, the employees and the customers.
The rift between these two men never healed. Both men went to their graves without speaking another word to one another; their children grew up as strangers instead of cousins.
It’s one of life’s sad ironies that folks who love one another can end up having far more acrimonious business relations than people who are unrelated.
And yet in my experience, conflict actually occurs less frequently in family businesses than non-family businesses. It’s just that when it does break out, the fighting tends to be more intense. Continue reading
As the new year starts, we naturally reflect on our lives and our careers and even make a promise to ourselves that we’ll do something better this year, but where do we begin?
Remember that age-old definition of insanity attributed to Einstein? – “Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result” – Well perhaps it’s not really insanity, because that’s exactly what the majority of people are going to do this year.
So to achieve different results this year, we’re going to have to take a different approach. We have to start with the end in mind. Figure out where you want your career to go – then find a job that’ll take you there?
That’s no easy task in a fiercely competitive market. How do you clearly and convincingly define what you’ve got to offer to an organization?
And how do you dig up realistic opportunities that match your skills and passions? Continue reading
Given the troubling state of employee engagement with less than one-third of Australians engaged in their jobs in any given year., it makes sense that most managers are not creating environments in which employees feel motivated or even comfortable.
These people sleepwalk through their workday without regard for their performance or their organization’s performance. As a result, vital economic influencers such as growth and innovation are at risk. It gets worse… Continue reading
The further up the organizational pyramid you climb, the scarcer opportunities for promotion become. When you’re at this level, you can’t leave career advancement to chance – you need to know the factors that govern advancement to senior levels and more… Continue reading
Understanding the 3 Key Ingredients of Critical Conversations Will Change the Way You Use Mobile Devices
As technology makes communication easier, more and more managers and leaders are getting themselves into trouble sending and posting inappropriate messages electronically. Even critical conversations are beginning to find their way into emails and texts, with disastrous results!
A research study shows the majority of Australians are going through the motions or worse at work, with a whopping 82 per cent saying they’re not fully engaged in their current role.
The study was Australia-wide and did not identify any city being better or worse than others, so we can safely presume 82% of Melbourne employees are partially or completely disengaged and not as productive as they could be… But it gets worse… Continue reading
Knowing what your company stands for is more important than you probably ever imagined!
It always amazes me the number of company directors in Melbourne who have no idea what their company stands for and don’t even think it is important. Walk into almost any Melbourne office and you’ll see disengaged employees – physically at work, but mentally somewhere else – somewhere that’s meaningful for them. If Melbourne business leaders could just grasp the importance of this one essential ingredient for success, the business climate here would be very different.
Therefore an Introduction to what your Organisation stands for
Today’s key challenge as I see it throughout the national leadership and business community – is to show effective leadership behaviours to instil values in organisations with large national and/or global teams – in this case based on a major Melbourne based global market leader.
This should happen in my view from the ‘top down’ and owned from the ‘bottom up’. Continue reading
There are things that we as leaders and senior executives want to happen in the work place, but we are disappointed, at times annoyed and even angry when it doesn’t. Why does this happen, and what do we do about it?
We probably have three choices – do nothing and hope things get better; become dictatorial, authoritarian and demand what we want; or believe in our managers and expect them to deliver what we want. Continue reading
We’re all familiar with the promise of remote – global – operations. It’s not just about accessing big new markets — the bigger payoff, most people agree, comes from expanding the firm’s talent pool and bringing together a diversity of perspectives that will combine to make the firm more productive and innovative.
Well, that’s the idea, but as many people who’ve actually worked on a global team know, the reality often feels very different. The team from head office feels like it’s carrying the folks working remotely, while the latter feel they’re ignored and undervalued. Continue reading