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What to ask the person in the mirror

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What to ask the person in the mirror

  1. 1. -Robert Steven Kaplan What to ask the person in the Mirror? Summarized by Rahul Sahai
  2. 2. • Without exception, successful leaders go through significant periods of confusion, discouragement and times when they are unsure of themselves- feeling as if they should be somewhere else, doing something else. • Key difference between those who reach their potential and those who don’t is how they deal with these periods of confusion and uncertainty. • The trick lies not in avoiding such periods but instead in knowing how to step back, diagnose, regroup and move forward. Great Leadership “Great Leadership is not about having all the answers- it is more often, about having the courage to ask the critical questions”
  3. 3. Executive Summary Vision & Priorities Focus Areas • Establishing a vision is the foundation of your enterprise/ career. The vision must be translated into key priorities that are well understood. • Managing Time: Do you know how you spend your time? Does it match your vision and priorities? • Giving and Getting Feedback: Effective coaching is a critical tool for achieving your priorities. While most leaders understand this, they don’t coach their subordinates to ensure outstanding performance. • Succession Planning & Delegation: Do you have a nucleolus of talent that you are focused on developing? Are you deploying, coaching and adding to that talent base in a manner that builds your enterprise? Are your consciously delegating tasks to these professionals? • Evaluation & Alignment: Does the design of your enterprise and your approach to leading fit the needs of the business? • Leader as a Role Model: Are you fully aware of the messages you and your direct reports are sending with your behaviors? • Reaching your Potential: Do you know your own strengths, weaknesses and passions? Do you foster a learning environment in which your subordinates can reach their potential? Do you encourage candid debate?
  4. 4. • Taking the time to carefully develop you vision- an aspiration- is critical to creating the foundation of your enterprise. • A vision is a clear articulation of what you would like your enterprise to be if you succeed. When you look back 5 years from now, what would you like to be able to say that you have accomplished? • The Prism: A clear vision makes trade-off decisions much clearer. It conveys your reason for being? It shapes and influences every key decision that you will make. It outlines what you will do and what you wont do. It is the essential prism through which significant decisions should be made. • Key Priorities: Once a vision is established, you need a specific road map. A vision must be accompanied by a manageable number of top priorities that, if adhered to, will enable you to achieve your aspirations- “What are the critical tasks we must do superbly to achieve our vision?” • Can you list 5 priorities critical for your job? • One size does not fit all: Every function, business unit, and a geographic region has its own unique characteristics. While a company should have a core vision and shared key priorities, each unit should adapt the vision and priorities to fit its particular role in the companies success. • Once you have developed a vision along with priorities you must communicate and over communicate these messages. • In times of severe change/ turmoil, multiply the frequency of your communication. Vision & Priorities “If you know where you are going, it is a lot easier to get there” The Vision Prism helps answer questions like: • Are we in the business to serve clients with a particular set of high value added products, or is our primary goal to generate profits- even if that outcome is not in the best interest of our customers? • Do we still believe in innovation or do quarterly profits pressures mean we suspend those efforts? • Has the pressure to generate profits overridden a previously broadly understood vision about values and serving our customers and communities?
  5. 5. • For you to be an effective leader, your vision and key priorities must directly shape how you allocate your time. • This starts with devising ways to measure how you are actually spending your time. Once you have done this, the next step is to compare how you are actually allocating your efforts. • Exercise: For 2 weeks, use a spreadsheet to document how you spend every hour of your “on the job” time. Break it into categories that are relevant to your daily work life. • Also, categorize these activities in 1’s, 2’s and 3’s. 1- Critical Tasks, 2- Important but not Critical, 3- Unimportant tasks • Don’t double count hours, assign them into one category or the other. Most People realize that they are spending a great deal of time on non critical aspects of their job. • Analyze why some of your time was spent poorly. • Match the category of time and amount of time spent to your priorities. Create an action plan to deal with the mismatches. • How you spend your time speaks volumes about what you believe in and what you want the organization to do. • Are there activities that you really enjoy doing but no longer fit into current needs of the organization? Are you “protecting” that activity because you enjoy it? Managing Time Category Actual Time Spent Strategic Planning ? Marketing ? Client Contact ? Analysis ? Recruitment ? Urgent but not important Urgent & Important Not Urgent & Not Important Not Urgent but Important “Look at your calendar, ask yourself- Why is this here? Do I need to do this? Where in this schedule will I carve out time to focus on my big priorities”
  6. 6. • One of the critical roles of a leader is “attracting, retaining, and developing talented people- and appropriately deploying them in important positions”. • If you are going to achieve your vision and execute major priorities at a high level of excellence, you need to have developed the talent necessary to get the job done. • If you haven’t identified potential successors for key jobs- including your job- it is very likely that you are also not delegating sufficiently and are probably a significant bottleneck for key decisions. • Outstanding people tend to abandon a work environment in which they believe they are not being groomed for greater responsibility though a well planned series of key job assignments and effective coaching. • All too often corporate leaders take a different path and fall into the trap of assembling a team of cronies. They may make a show of talking about succession planning and talent development. They may even implement some sort of succession process, but on a consistent basis, they promote key lieutenants who are loyal to them personally, with whom they have worked previously, and who share viewpoints very similar to their own. • Such leaders give off a powerful “do not enter” vibe to highly talented subordinates and colleagues who are not part of their clique. Succession Planning & Delegation “Owning the challenge of Developing successors in your organization” “Is there someone here who can take my place? If the answer is no, the next question is, Should I Hire someone from outside, in order to recruit the caliber of talent that could eventually take my job”
  7. 7. • Coaching and evaluation frequently gets confused. Many executives use the year end evaluation process to “coach” their subordinates. • Feedback is one of the most powerful management levers for execution of identified priorities. • Coaching is the process of identifying two or three specific strengths and weaknesses in the recipient; and then identifying exercises, action steps and follow up activities that will help recipient address the weaknesses and build on the strengths. The weaknesses should be specific and actionable. • Mentoring is different from coaching. Mentoring if done well, takes time. Coaching if done well takes even more time, more work, first hand observations and more insights. • Coaching is central to your job as a leader. Many organizations fail to retain key talent because leader fall short in their role as a coach. • Receiving Feedback- Its lonely at the top: Its difficult to get top down feedback at senior levels, mainly because your superiors get so little exposure to you. On the other hand, unless you are truly isolated, a number of your key subordinates get the opportunity to see you in action on a regular basis. If they are a diverse group, they are likely to have a wide range of opinions regarding your weaknesses. Most likely, they also have ideas about the kind of remedial actions that you should take to address those weaknesses. • You are not doing this to be popular, you are doing this because it gives you an early warning system for improving your performance. Giving & Getting Feedback “Effective leaders coach their people and actively seek coaching themselves”
  8. 8. How to create a succession planning culture? Create a Depth Chart •Leaders list key jobs that report to them •For each position, create a corresponding list of those people who can credibly do the job •Have an up to date biographical information, an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, development needs and a Summary of career aspirations. •A typical outcome of such a review is the creation of a developmental plans well as other steps. Devise a Career Development Plan •You should come up with a career development plan for each potential successor to a key job in the organization. •This plan should detail who will own this persons career by serving as his or her coach, as well as list of potential job assignments that would help develop this individual This could be a combination of a new business unit, functional and geographical assignments. •Keep this up to date. Review and follow up •Hold succession planning meeting with your key business unit leaders on a semi annual/ annual basis. •Follow up to ensure that coaching responsibilities are being fulfilled well in advance of the year end review. •Make sure that developing key talent is an evaluation element in the year end reviews. Be a Role Model for Talent development •Think about making your commitment visible. •Make sure you are serving as a role model for this activity. •Some significant portion of your time should be spent on identifying talent, coaching key people and crafting thoughtful job assignments for such talent. • Leaders cast a shadow. You might not see it but your people do. Many leaders just cant refrain from butting in and asserting themselves in the organization. Many a time they don’t let enormously competent people do their jobs. If you started your firm and are a patriarch or a matriarch, be aware that you may need to take key steps to shorten that shadow. • This involves recognizing that your subordinates may not do tasks as well as you or the same way you would- but that doesn’t mean they wont do them effectively. Allowing them to do so will train them, build your bench, and free you to focus on those tasks that the organization desperately needs you to attend to. How long is your shadow?
  9. 9. • Many successful businesses go through stretches of time during which they are achieving their most important objectives and everything seems to be in sync. When all the elements come together in this manner, it’s great fun and deeply satisfying. And then… something changes. It always does. • Sooner or later something happens that changes this special equilibrium. • Typically, businesses are in alignment in some regards and out of alignment in others. Key parts of the business are almost always in transition from one state to other (alignment to misalignment and vice versa). • Leaders know this intellectually. From an emotional standpoint however, it can be very challenging for a leader to recognize that key roles, designs and systems need to be changed. • So what now?: First you need to ask the question and do the analysis of whether you are in fact out of alignment. If the answer is yes, you can assess the urgency of the situation, figure out what changes might need to be made, and determine the degree of difficulty in the tactics for making those changes. • You should make every effort to separate your consideration of what from the how. After doing this analysis you will be in a better position to assess which changes would be nice to do but would not be critical to the business, versus those actions that are essential to your continued prosperity and competitive positioning. At this point of time you will want to develop a detailed plan of action for how to implement the most critical changes. • Be proactive. Evaluation & Alignment “The courage to assess your enterprise with a clean sheet of paper” Exercise: Take a group of potential successors. Give them the following assignment: “If we had to start this business from scratch today, how would we do it?” More specifically, the questions they should pursue might include these: • Are these the markets we would serve? Are these the products and services we would offer? Are these the people we would hire? • Would we be organized are we are today or some other way? • Is this how we would assess and pay our people? If not, how would we do it differently? • What are the key tasks we would need to be great at? Are they different from what we do currently? • Is our current culture the one we would foster? If not, how would we change it? • Would the composition of our leadership need to change? How would the talents and leadership styles of our current leaders need to change?
  10. 10. • Do you live by a set of rules different from those that you ask your people to live by? If so, why? What gives you the idea that you need and deserve “special handling” • Success, in senior management positions, requires you to have an understanding of who you are, an appreciation of the power of the role you are in, a careful plan for delegating key responsibilities and empowering others, and a conscious approach to the messages you want to be sending with your behavior. • Have you though through these questions? • The role model analysis is not just about your behavior. It also relates to the behavior of those you promote. Are these the types of role models you want your employees to emulate? • What creates pressure for you?: Think about what creates pressure for you. Pressure and stress are deeply person specific. The issues that stress you out may not bother someone else at all, and vice versa. • For example: some hot buttons can include people quitting unexpectedly, lax attitudes, and finger pointing. On the other hand, you may not be particularly bothered by losing some business, admitting mistakes or taking responsibility when things go wrong. What is on your list of stressors? The leader as a Role Model “Do you Walk the Talk?” As a leader, you are accountable for both your own behavior and that of your employees. As a result, it is wise to discuss the issue of behavior under pressure with your people.
  11. 11. • Do you understand your strengths and weaknesses? Could you write them down on a piece of paper? Would your colleagues agree with these lists? Do you take steps to work in your weaknesses, and take advantage of your unique strengths. • Learning about your strengths and weaknesses is a never ending process. It needs to be updated for each successive job you take. • As a leader, you also need to be aware of what you enjoy. In particular, which tasks do you really enjoy and which you would prefer not to do yourself. What you delegate, how you structure your job, whether or not you are in the right job- all of this should flow from and be influenced by a realistic understanding of your likes and dislikes. • The question then becomes, how do your passions coincide with the needs of the business? Have you reconciled your passions with these business needs? • Leadership Style: To be effective, you need to develop a leadership style that fits who you are. Your leadership style is the manner in which you do your job. There are a number of questions you should ask yourself to tease out fundamental elements of your style. Do you like to joke around, or are you by nature a more serious person? Would you prefer to meet with people one on one or in groups? Do you prefer being blunt and direct or would you rather be less confrontational? Are you highly analytical or do you learn more by talking to people or is it a combination of the two? What is your theory on human motivation- club over head to perform or do you believe that given enough direction and coaching, people are highly motivated to excel, and you need to ensure proper incentives are given. • The answers to such questions have a powerful influence on how you behave every day and how you approach your job. • Have you thought sufficiently about this? Could you write down the fundamentals of your leadership style? Reaching your Potential “When you are through learning, you’re through!” “The essence of leadership- A leader works hard to figure out what he or she believes, and then has the courage to act on it”
  12. 12. Thank You

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