Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘expectations

Plans Must Be Rooted in Past Performance

with 7 comments

Performance planning is not developed in a void, nor is it based upon unsubstantiated estimates of budgets, performance and plans. Effective leadership demands plans be based upon past performance and results. By successfully implementing such plans, leaders can stimulate their subordinates to exceed normal performance expectations.

It is surprising how many managers develop annual plans and budgets without accounting for previous years’ performance and the realistic capabilities of their operational unit. Plans that lack these important elements are typically ineffective as roadmaps for achieving high output from an organizational unit.

Related: Six Key Benefits of Performance Management

Effective leaders understand that in order to move their unit forward, they must look at what has worked in the past and then build upon those successes. They also take proactive measures to eliminate any apparent failures and weaknesses.

This process is important for leaders to understand if they wish to motivate their subordinates to reach higher levels of achievement. Plans are not a worthless set of documents to be viewed only once or twice a year: they outline significant milestones and detail what the unit needs to do to effectively operate throughout the year. Leaders understand that performance plans lay out the path for attaining their goals and objectives.

The importance of proper planning cannot be emphasized enough: if it is to be effective and realistic, it must be focused upon prior performance of the leader’s organizational unit. Therefore, a formal review must be conducted in the following three critical areas:

Operational Performance

A formal review in this area is normally conducted on two levels simultaneously: operational and leadership. The operational review compares the organizational unit’s performance with the stated goals and objectives passed down by senior management. The leadership review compares the organizational unit’s performance with the leader’s expectations. While both levels review the same information, the leadership review is conducted from the leader’s perspective of how he or she can motivate the unit to exceed expectations.

The process of a formal review begins with a superficial selection of areas that need further examination. Particular attention needs to be paid to what did and did not work during the past year. This is where leaders can begin to develop strategies to build upon their unit’s successes and eliminate or correct any failures/weaknesses.

Leaders next need to rate the actual performance of all aspects of their organizational unit, including personnel, tasks, assignments, roles, resources and so forth. At this point, any required changes and adjustments should be noted for inclusion in future performance plans.

A final review of operational performance needs to explore the impact and affect of new trends, changes in economic conditions, and uncontrollable events on the operational unit. A thorough examination should note exactly what occurred, how it impacted the leader’s unit and how the unit responded. Any lessons learned from these experiences should also be included in future plans.

Related: Measure What Needs to Be Measured

Resource Utilization

A formal resource utilization review should be conducted to determine if the leader and the organizational unit maximized their use of available resources. Typically, this review determines if the unit effectually used personnel, machinery, equipment, time, schedules and financial resources.

Leaders need to analyze the operational or production capacity of their organizational unit. This can be conducted from several perspectives, such as production, operations or administration, depending upon the responsibilities of the unit. A resource utilization review pinpoints any bottlenecks or problems that occurred in these areas.

Next, leaders must determine the causes of bottlenecks and problems, which can include inadequate scheduling or insufficient human or financial resources. The findings should be detailed and included in future planning activities.

Related: Five Critical Steps to Maximize Performance

Financial Performance

The last step in this review analyzes the unit’s financial performance. First, leaders determine how well their organizational unit worked within its budget. They will often discover problem areas that can be more deeply examined during the performance planning process.

An additional review should be conducted to look at the profitability of the organizational unit, including potential ways for it to cut costs and improve productivity. These findings should also be detailed and noted for further examination as well as inclusion in future performance plans.

If you are seeking proven expertise and best practices in performance planning to train or educate your employees to solve problems and improve their performance in this area, refer to Planning to Maximize Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series. Click here to learn more.

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreward Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Catalog | 800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Four Concepts Define Key Leadership Responsibilities

with 3 comments

Managers learn the rules that define their basic responsibilities by responding to this question: “What’s wrong, and what specific steps do I need to take to fix it?” So, when senior management passes down mandates, timelines and goals, the manager’s job is to work within the prescribed corporate framework to produce results.

Leaders, on the other hand, self-direct, craft a vision, make plans, achieve goals, build cohesiveness and inspire others while holding themselves personally accountable for their area of the company. The question they respond to is: “What’s possible here, and who cares?”

Related: The Roadmap to Effective Leadership

A leader’s responsibilities are defined by a set of concepts and qualities that motivate people to “get on board” with his or her vision. In fact, there are four basic concepts that help leaders develop the creative energy needed to focus on everyone’s efforts, which guides all employees beyond routine thinking and performance.

Unlike a conventional manager, a leader’s responsibilities are not defined by one question. Generally, a leader’s central responsibility is to move his or her unit from a “mission impossible” to a “mission outcome” stance. This shift requires leaders to embrace multiple areas of skill and direction. To constantly move forward, they focus on specific concepts to help define their key leadership responsibilities.

Management and leadership responsibilities often overlap, but leadership is defined in a completely different context. Leaders’ responsibilities lie in four key areas: self-direction, goal achievement, flexibility and inspiring greatness in others. Leaders recognize that these responsibilities are taken care of through the four actions outlined below.

Related: Do You Have Faith in Your People?

Gain the Cooperation of Others

Establishing a cooperative spirit is the primary responsibility of leadership. This spirit drives an organization and its people to higher levels of productivity and accomplishment. For leaders to be effective they must build a cooperative effort by relying on the following techniques:

  • Leaders understand basic human needs and desires and nudge people in the right direction. They know how motivation works to everyone’s benefit.
  • They make emotional connections. An effective leader connects with people under their direction to build an interdependence that fosters more long-term gain than individual efforts would.
  • They acknowledge the need for followers.
  • Leaders understand their people. They take time to converse and ask questions that bring information, concerns, ideas and perspectives to the forefront. Then, they act positively upon them.

Related: The Importance of Intellectual Honesty

Listen and Learn Well

  • Leaders never forget where they have been, and use their experiences to shape where they are going, and why. They place learning and listening at the top of the list in terms of building skills and ability. Learning from past errors in judgment prevents their repetition.
  • They listen to everyone and everything. Leaders have their ears and eyes on every person, process and situation. They listen for ideas, impending concerns, problems, successes and unhappiness in their employees. They absorb everything and act on the knowledge gained to prevent major problems from occurring.
  • Leaders seize all opportunities to make people feel successful, competent and comfortable in the work environment. Excellent leaders are not reactive, but proactive by nature.

Related: Your Commitment to Others Defines You as a Leader

Put the Needs of Others First

  • Effective leaders separate themselves from the rest of the pack through self-sacrifice and by setting their egos aside. Good leaders are never afraid to work alongside their people to finish a project or resolve a situation.
  • Leaders are flexible, slowing down or speeding up while assessing their employees’ productivity and efforts.
  • Leaders understand that keeping tasks simple and obvious makes for a committed workforce. Employees desire to know precisely what is expected of them and how to complete their assigned tasks. A leader focuses on ways to make their assignments and projects more direct and clearly defined.

Related: Do You Have the Talent to Execute Get Things Done?

Performing Consistently

  • By understanding that people are different, leaders solidify mutual respect and communication, and maintain openness and fairness with every employee.
  • Leaders build cohesiveness through cooperative efforts by holding employees and themselves accountable. They know this is necessary to achieve their goals and ideals.
  • Effective leaders realize that their actions and words must not send mixed messages. Leaders should stay the course, even under duress or in the midst of adversity. They must remain genuine and use discretion in all judgments they make. Excellent leaders will reinforce their motivation, inspiration and expectations to maintain a strong leadership position.

If you are seeking proven expertise and best practices on leadership roles and responsibilities to train or educate your employees to solve problems and improve their performance in this area, refer to Leadership Roles & Responsibilities: Pinpoint Leadership Skills Development Training Series. Click here to learn more.
________________________________________________________________________

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreward Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Conflict Turns Decision-Making Upside Down

with 3 comments

Conflict and problems do not typically occur in a vacuum. The roots of existing conflict reside within each organization and its individual members. These potential conflicts can undermine the manager’s ability to lead the group he or she directs and to make sound decisions that result in a positive outcome.

Managers are confronted with a dilemma when it comes to conflict resolution. If they are unable to find the most workable fit between the problems that result in conflict and the group they direct, their ability to lead their employees will be diminished.

Many of the factors that contribute to conflict and undermine a manager’s ability to lead can be treated independently. Conflict resolution is complex, and managers must identify contributing factors and modify their approach accordingly in order to arrive at the best solution. This takes time, attention to detail, and a careful assessment of the most critical elements and surrounding circumstances within each specific conflict situation.

Not all managers are in situations where their people possess sophisticated interpersonal skills and have an open mind toward the resolution of conflict. In fact, many manage and direct groups whose makeup creates additional conflict rather than proactive solutions to already existing situations. This places managers at a disadvantage and creates situations where their ability to lead is undermined.

Managers should be cognizant of the following workplace factors and circumstances that can lead to diminishing management capabilities.

Required Knowledge and Analytical Skills

Conflict takes many forms, from simple arguments between employees over minor issues to more sophisticated discussions and negotiations regarding issues of unit efficiency and productivity. Yet no matter the type of conflict, without required group knowledge and analytical skills to assess the problem and arrive at an objective assessment, problems will occur. Groups will assume a predominantly smoothing and avoiding approach to maintain the status quo or a bargaining and forcing mode that is destructive to the cohesiveness of the group and the organization. Both modes consistently applied in all circumstances will erode the manager’s ability to lead and direct their organization.

If managers observe some of their people lacking the requisite skills and knowledge to effectively deal with conflict within the group, they must determine whether they have the capacity, and if so, take the necessary actions to ensure this aptitude is acquired. In this fashion, managers can transform potentially dangerous situations into ones that enhance their ability to lead.

Workloads

Groups can have the required knowledge and analytical skills to effectively handle internal conflict, but be so overburdened with other tasks and responsibilities that their ability to work through it is still greatly diminished. The constraints of other higher priority assignments lessen both the desire and ability of members to manage their conflicts. As such clashes are viewed as an unnecessary interruption in more important work, they defer resolution to the manager.

High levels of stress generally characterize overloaded groups. High stress leads to a shallow and incomplete diagnosis—as well as a preference for solutions that are simple and inflexible rather than creative and effective.

Expectations

Each individual member of a group has an established idea regarding the degree to which they will become involved in conflict resolution. While approaches vary according to participants’ makeup and personality styles, the predominant mode of conflict resolution is smoothing and avoiding, where peace and the status quo are maintained. In other situations, depending upon company norms, some groups feel very strongly about their right to be involved in a decision.

Research has shown that many of the tensions that develop between managers and employees stem from differing assumptions regarding the appropriate degree of group participation in certain types of decisions.

Managers must account for members’ individual personality styles and expectations since reactions and expectations will vary from group to group.

Conflict Resolution Norms

Group conflict resolution can be especially difficult when individual members have different and/or conflicting goals and needs. The most critical aspect of a group’s problem solving ability is its capacity to handle internal conflict.

Managers must ensure that the groups they direct have developed positive and healthy norms. Only when this is achieved is an appropriate forum created in which to work out problems and resolve conflict. Without these resolution norms, serious and heated group controversy will be divisive and result in ineffective and potentially harmful solutions.

Excerpt: Conflict Resolution: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011)

If you would like to learn more about techniques to effectively manage conflict in the workplace, refer to Conflict Resolution: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series . This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz All Rights Reserved

How Well Do You Set the Tone?

with 8 comments

Herb Kelleher

“You have to treat your employees like customers… When you treat them right, then they will treat your outside customers right.”

Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines)

Individual employees bring their own strengths and weaknesses to a company. It is the responsibility of managers and supervisors to recognize how to capitalize the potential of each employee, so to maximize results and outcomes. Some companies hire employees to fill a position without understanding the actual and often hidden talents and possibilities they bring to their employers. Others make it a point to manage their individuals as the assets they actually are. The great leaders understood how to utilize and harness the strength of the people they employed.

The great leaders understood it was not sufficiently important to select the right people and place them in the right jobs. They continually challenged these individuals to expand their talent and capabilities. One of the legacies of Henry Kaiser (Kaiser) is a spinoff of his engineering department – Kaiser Engineers. On their corporate website, they stated, “We learned that you can’t get fine talent into your organization by simply offering high salaries. You, and the men who work with you, have to build yourselves up to the capacity to tackle bigger and bigger jobs.” [1] This reflects Kaiser’s philosophy and the ability of his company to tackle such as the construction of the Hoover Dam.

Rudolph Giuliani (New York City) reinforced the concept of challenging employees, when he expressed, “Allowing employees to encounter challenges on a regular basis accomplishes two important goals. First it provides experience… Employees who are exposed to challenges and allowed to use their heads to respond to them become better at it. Some managers choose to shelter their staff from all aspects of decision-making… wonder why their employees make so many ‘bad decisions’ or don’t respond to situations the way the boss would. Second, regular challenge invigorates the staff… One quality every performer shared was a sense that their job was more than a simple transaction of time for money. Managers ask a lot from their employees. They want and should expect their staff to feel they’re part of something bigger than themselves, something worthwhile, maybe even important.” [2]

Admiral Hyman Rickover (U.S. Navy) asserted, “As subordinates develop, work should be constantly added so that no one can finish his job. This serves as a prod and a challenge. It brings out their capabilities and frees the manager to assume added responsibilities. As members of the organization become capable of assuming new and more difficult duties, they develop pride in doing the job well. This attitude soon permeates the entire organization. One must permit his people the freedom to seek added work and greater responsibility. In my organization, there are no formal job descriptions or organization charts. Responsibilities are defined in a general way, so that people are not circumscribed. All are permitted to do as they think best and to go to anyone and anywhere for help. Each person then is limited only by his own ability.” [3]

Rickover was renown for his high expectations. “The lure of the new nuclear technology and its strategic importance appealed to many young naval officers. But winning a spot in Rickover’s Navy was not easy: prospective submariners often had to sit before the old curmudgeon on an unbalanced chair whose front legs had been sawed off by several inches. The admiral’s mean streak was legendary. He had no tolerance for defects in men or their work, and he sacked many an officer for being ‘stupid.’ Others, like a young ensign named Jimmy Carter, went on to better things.” [4]

The great leaders set the tone for their companies, and it often reflected their own personal expectations. “‘When I was at Intel, one of the most important values was discipline,’ says venture capitalist John Doerr, who worked for the firm for six years in the 1970s. ‘Andy Grove had no tolerance for people who were late or meetings that ran on without a purpose. It wasn’t that he was a hard ass; it’s just the nature of their business. There’s no room for error.’” [5]

[1] About Kaiser Engineers. History (home.earthlink.net)

[2] Giuliani Rudolph, Leadership (Hyperion, New York, 2002) p. 118

[3] Admiral Rickover H.C., Doing a Job (management philosophy speech at Columbia University School of Engineering, 1981; CoEvolution Quarterly, 1982)

[4] Van Voorst Bruce and Duffy Michael, Hyman George Rickover: 1900-1986: They Broke the Mold (Time Magazine, July 21, 1986)

[5] Eisenberg Daniel and Cooper Ramo Joshua, Andrew Grove: A Survivor’s Tale (Time Magazine, December 29, 1997)

Excerpt from Great! What Makes Leaders Great, What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, 2011)

If you would like to learn more about how the great American leaders harnessed the power and potential of their employees, through their own inspiring words and stories, refer to Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. It illustrates how great leaders built great companies, and how you can apply the strategies, concepts and techniques that they pioneered to improve your own leadership skills. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

June 7, 2011 at 11:22 am

%d bloggers like this: