Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"How to harness unusual leadership traits"/ "Restlessly and relentlessly reinventing yourself"

Jun. 10, 2017 "How to harness unusual leadership traits": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:

Are you a rebel? An explorer? A knight?

Those are some of the unusual leadership traits outlined in a recent blog by consultant Lolly Daskal.

Beware: Each comes with a shadow side – she calls it a leadership gap – that is also a part of you.

“Unless you can learn to integrate and leverage every part of who you are -- especially your gaps -- these hidden impediments will get the best of you, and your business and leadership will be impaired,” she writes.

Here’s the rundown, both good and bad:
  • Be a rebel: Daskal advises you to encourage your inner rebel. A rebel is confident thanks to his or her capabilities and competencies. “But when times are challenged or stressful or disagreeable, a leadership gap can emerge and leave even the most confident rebel feeling like an imposter,” she adds.
  • “This self-doubt can cause havoc within an organization, and it won’t allow you to lead effectively. You can leverage any self-doubt you feel by concentrating on your capabilities and competence, and focusing on the positive things you have accomplished.” 
  • Be an explorer: It’s important to find new, uncharted waters for your business. Intuition fuels this exploration, and it’s helpful to be able to let things go in order to make room for new things.
  • The danger is becoming a manipulative exploiter out of a desire to control and micromanage. “To win out, you must invite your intuition to take you to the next level, and learn to leverage the moments when you want to take control,” she says.
  • Be a truth-teller: Effective leaders speak with candour and honesty, in good times and bad. The gap she identifies here is when deceit creeps in through half-truths and withheld information. That leads to suspicion and doubt, so try to stick with truth.
  • Be a hero: You need to be brave and courageous when others are timid and fearful. The reverse is when you know about problems and fail to try to fix them, becoming a bystander. “Be the hero of your business and take the courageous actions that are necessary for success,” she urges. 
  • Be an inventor: Leadership involves an inventor’s mindset, seeking improvement and, indeed, excellence. The potential gap is the temptation to cut corners, opting for faster and cheaper, hoping no one will notice. But she insists excellence, integrity and invention are priceless assets that pay great returns far into the future.
  • Be a navigator: Your role requires steering and guiding others through the shoals ahead. As you prove adept, people will trust you. “But some leaders feel the need to fix every challenge and every crisis, and this gap can cause them to come across as arrogant.
  • They tell people what to do instead of guiding them -- they bark out commands instead of utilizing others’ talents and strengths. The best leaders coach and guide their people instead of trying to fix them, which results in disempowerment and resentment. To gain trust and respect, be a navigator instead of a fixer,” she writes. 
  • Be a knight: Loyalty was part of the Code of Chivalry for King Arthur’s knights. It’s important in organizations, as well. The gap to guard against is becoming a self-serving mercenary who appropriates the efforts of others, loyalty being only to oneself.
  • “A self-serving leader, however, is not truly a leader,” she warns.
So be a rebel, explorer, truth teller, hero, inventor, navigator and knight – all noble virtues. But stay mindful in each case of the shadow side.

Middle management: What’s going wrong: Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:

Middle management is a step to senior management. But these days, the pressures on middle management results in bad habits for the individuals and the organization, before and after they are promoted.

So argues executive coach Dana Theus, who says organizations are opting for a “school-of-hard-knocks” approach with middle managers.

“In my experience, many companies view middle management as the crucible for leadership development. Promising young people are given greater and greater responsibility until they break, fall victim to the Peter Principle [in which they get pushed up to their level of incompetence] or emerge from the flames whole enough to be considered for promotion into the executive ranks,” she writes on SmartBrief.com.

She doesn’t think that’s mean-spirited or always bad. But to survive, many young leaders learn to suppress their instinct about the need to take time to deal with stress. They also favour developing their technical skills instead of people skills and prefer to work with people like them, since it’s less stressful.

The result: The people they lead start to share that low regard for personal stress management, emotional intelligence and team diversity. And when the survivors hit the top ranks, they believe that for the business to succeed, the culture must reflect those negative approaches.

Before you know it, the corporate culture simply perpetuates these values no matter how many thoughtful articles try to convince them that these are the very things that drive down their employee engagement (and drive up their employee turnover costs),” she says.

She is also concerned with another aspect of middle management. While companies allow top leaders time and money to deal with their poor leadership and stress-coping habits, middle managers are less likely to get that opportunity.

The feeling is that top execs need to improve their leadership presence, but that’s less necessary for middle managers.

“While coaching and other in-depth forms of leadership development are certainly an investment, the dearth of middle management level coaching programs puzzles me. It’s almost as though middle managers are leadership development stepchildren, their importance to the company’s culture and employee satisfaction chronically underappreciated and underfunded,” she says.

That comes despite the fact her clients in the middle seem to soak up the benefits of coaching at this malleable point of their careers more fully than senior managers. So rather than defaulting to the school of hard knocks, she suggests working on leadership development with middle managers.

Four reasons to provide feedback

Here are eight reasons to provide your subordinates with feedback, courtesy of consultant Kevin Eikenberry.

These four won’t help you be successful:
  • It is part of my job.
  • I’m doing performance reviews.
  • I need documentation for their file.
  • I am expected to give feedback.
While these four will make you a winner:
  • People need to know how they are doing.
  • I want my team members to succeed.
  • When people know where they stand, they know how to keep growing.
  • People need (and deserve) feedback.
Quick hits
  • To add value to others, one must first value others, says noted life coach John Maxwell.
  • When your resume is emailed to a prospective employer as an attachment, the recruiter will probably only see the top half, at most. That’s the part to lavish special attention on to persuade them to dig deeper, says resume writing specialist Andrew Fennell.
  • While overseas travel promotes mental flexibility in executives, leading to greater creativity, new research suggests the exposure to different cultures and outlooks can lead to moral laxity. One study of MBA students found that the number of countries participants had lived in -- as opposed to the amount of time they had lived abroad -- predicted their willingness to use immoral negotiation tactics.
  • From famed analyst Mark Meeker’s 2017 Internet trends: Global smartphone growth is slowing, with shipments increasing only three per cent, and voice is beginning to replace typing in online queries, with 20 per cent of mobile queries made by voice in 2016.
  • Four questions leadership development consultant John Spence suggests asking yourself before you speak:
  • Do I really want to say anything right now?
  • Is what I am going to say adding any significant value to the conversation?
  • Is what I want to say helpful, or am I just talking to talk about me?
  • Do they want my advice or simply for me to listen to them?
  • https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/management/seven-leadership-traits-you-have-probably-never-considered/article35247470/
"Restlessly and relentlessly reinventing yourself": Today I found this article by Gary Whitelaw in the Globe and Mail:

Gary Whitelaw is CEO of Bentall Kennedy, one of North America’s leading commercial real estate advisers.

Our firm has a history dating back more than 100 years and, not surprisingly, we have been through our share of change. The most recent was our acquisition by Sun Life Financial in 2015, adding to its growing asset-management operation, Sun Life Investment Management.

I’m often asked how that change worked out, given that we had had a very successful ownership structure for the previous 15 years, with two large pension funds as majority owners and a minority stake owned by management.

The short answer is that the change has been terrific for both sides, but not without a lot of hard work and planning. And that began even before our decision to seek a change.

Our previous ownership structure had served us well for many years. But the market was changing and moving much more global. It was becoming more important than ever to create long-term alignment with our clients.

We had great depth and experience in commercial real estate and the right culture for success, but we needed a broader range of strategies to better serve our clients and move to the next level as an investment manager.

We went through a very select process and Sun Life Financial clearly emerged as our team’s preferred partner. And two years later, our instincts have proven correct, with both of our organizations starting to reap the rewards we had hoped.

Sun Life has invested and committed more than $300-million to our new and existing client strategies, in both Canada and the United States. We’ve launched new products that wouldn’t have been possible without the partnership – and we’ve promoted staff from both organizations to positions within the combined team.

We’ve blended our leadership teams at different levels and we’re actively working with Sun Life Investment Management’s other affiliated companies. And more symbolically, our Toronto-based teams now sit across from one another, having moved into a shared space at our new Canadian headquarters at 1 York Street in downtown Toronto.

As business leaders know, not every merger or acquisition works, so why has this one? Looking back, I think there were a few things that were essential to our success in moving to this new ownership model.

Build change into your organization’s DNA

Years before the Sun Life Financial deal, we began sharing a doctrine within our organization: to embrace change and not fear it, because, more and more, change – and one’s ability to adapt to it – was becoming a driving force in the economy and a key factor for business success.

At our employee forums, in our ongoing communications, we talked about the importance of continual change and, in particular, always looking forward; acknowledging our history, but not getting trapped by it; and embracing the concept of restlessly and relentlessly reinventing ourselves, because the business world is littered with the shells of organizations that didn’t.

We started as a construction company in Vancouver in 1911, so this may have been an easier “sell” to our organization, as we’d experienced changes that had enabled us to grow and thrive for more than 100 years.

But it made the transition that much easier. When we announced the acquisition by Sun Life Financial, it wasn’t seen as “the one” change, but simply as “the next” change. There was no crisis or failure – just our organization’s continuous evolution, and I think we did a good job of laying that foundation.

Look for a culture fit

I can’t stress this enough: culture trumps business strategy every time. If there isn’t a strong cultural fit, the chances of achieving a successful acquisition/merger are remote.

We had a key advantage because we knew Sun Life Financial very well – they’d been one of our largest property-management clients for 11 years, and we understood their values and their way of working.

Like us, they’re exceptional fiduciaries and understand the importance of putting the interests of clients first. They also understand the importance of providing their employees with growth and career-advancement opportunities – a core business belief for us.

Sun Life Financial also embraces the concept that we had made central to our operations – sustainable investing. They’ve been an investor in real estate equity and debt for more than 100 years in Canada and 40 years in the United States, so they have deep experience in the asset class.

And they understand the forces that affect our business – namely that as a long-term asset class, sustainability is essential. This goes far beyond environmental issues, which are critical, to issues of social engagement and sound governance. We don’t ride short-term momentum swings – we’re looking for investments that have lasting value. From our experience working with them, we knew that Sun Life Financial shared that vision absolutely.

Take the time to prepare thoroughly

When we were considering the ownership structure change in 2015, we had no fixed timeline for a decision and had many possible alternatives. So, we took the time we needed to evaluate our options and prepare for change. As with most things in life, if you don’t thoroughly prepare, you won’t get the outcome you want.

We had the benefit of an excellent, respected and independent board at Bentall Kennedy, and they forced us to thoroughly think through our objectives, our evaluation criteria and what success would look like down the road. They were heavily involved through the whole process and gave us sound advice.

The time we took to assess the qualitative criteria that went beyond the price of the deal turned out to be a critical component of its success.

The road ahead

From the very start, we had interest, engagement and support from the top levels of Sun Life Financial, and that demonstrated to us that we weren’t just a passing interest, but were a strategic investment that would have an enduring role within their business.

That commitment has never wavered. As a result of this commitment, strong cultural fit and expanded global resources, we are able to deliver increased alignment and a broader range of investment strategies to our clients. For our employees, this all translates into an exciting next stage in Bentall Kennedy’s growth and continuing evolution.

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