Tag Archives: Leadership

Leaders must be able to give feedback

You cannot guide and improve the performance of others unless you have the ability to give effective feedback. As a senior leader’s ability to perform is based on the performance of others, giving feedback is a key determinant of a leaders ability to succeed.

It is amazing then that so many senior leaders are poor at giving feedback. Many will work around poor performers putting feedback in the too hard basket. Others take a one-size fits all approach to every scenario “I give it to them between the eyes every time to make sure they understand where they are failing.”

There are four rules to giving feedback

1. Do it. Do not put it off; do not leave it. If someone is unaware about the detrimental impact of their performance or behaviour they need to know about it and they need to understand the ramifications. The longer you leave it the harder it gets for both parties.

2. Be crystal clear. Ambiguity destroys the impact of feedback. Either the feedback will have no effect or it will have the wrong effect.

3. Tailor your delivery. As an absolute last resort it may be appropriate to “give it to them between the yes,” however this is incredibly rare. Positioning feedback in a way that the recipient will be pleased, even relieved to have had the conversation will get better results.

4. Agree a way forward. Always give the recipient a way forward, or work with them to agree a way forward. Let them know what your role will be in both helping and monitoring them.

Remember, by giving someone feedback you are doing them a favour. Give feedback in a way that will help others to be grateful for your effort; maybe one day your favour will be returned.

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Australia’s Political Leaders, where are they?

The latest Newspoll (conducted for The Australian newspaper) clearly shows that Tony Abbott and his alternative, Bill Shorten, have both lost popularity with the Australian public. The recently released Reader’s Digest Australia annual Trusted People survey of 2014 listed door-to-door salespeople, politicians, insurance salespeople, sex workers and call centre staff as the least trusted professions in that order. At least Tony and Bill can take some comfort from the fact their unpopularity isn’t just about them, its about their profession as well.

When evaluating CEO’s and their senior management team I review ability from four perspectives, strategic, collaborative, inspirational and achievement.

When considering Tony and Bill’s strategic ability is it in the context of what is best for Australia or how they stay in/get in power? All we seem to hear from an opposition party (the current opposition and their predecessors) is negative, for example both have played the broken promises line very consistently. This constant sniping is at best tactical and is certainly not strategic. What is our big picture vision, what are we trying to be? Can either Bill or Tony answer this?

Collaborative ability is hard to assess without seeing how Tony and Bill work with others, internally and eternally to their own party’s.

Inspirational ability. A leader will not inspire you unless you trust them, why would anyone want to follow someone they don’t trust. The results of the Reader’s Digest Australia annual Trusted People survey would suggest both leaders and their colleagues are short of the mark in this aspect of leadership.

Achievement ability. This is strategy implementation. This is not about agreeing with the action, for example raising the retirement age to 70 is an action regardless if it is a good strategy or not. It would be an interesting case study to list the major actions either party has taken in the last three years. Further more it would be worthwhile noting which of these actions have impacted marginal seats.

Australia is crying out for political leaders who have a big picture view for Australia and not just their own power; leaders who work well with our neighbors while ensuring alignment with our own needs, leaders who have the strength of character to stand by their beliefs and deserve our respect if not always our agreement and leaders who strive for action that is driven by a overarching direction and not the ballot box.

Simon Tedstone

Director, Leading Change Consulting

http://www.linkedin.com/in/simontedstone

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Talent Management – the fun side

Talent Management is very serious stuff; when managers and HR discuss talent they always have their extra serious faces on. They are, after all, considering the future of both individuals and the organisation as a whole, so it is worth taking seriously. They pour over work based information and high potential assessment reports (way too many of which are on-line self assessments, but that’s a story for another time) and try to draw conclusions about who is and is not talent.

There is a fun, fascinating and incredibly rewarding side to talent management, it is the reason I work in talent management. Talent management is all about unlocking the potential of people and as a result their organisation. Only a very small minority of employees have nothing more to offer. The trick to the best talent management is how to work with employees to find out what their talent is and how best to grow and leverage it. Talent management is about “win win” relationships between employers and employees.

Talent Management is viewed too simply; it is not about who is good, i.e. high potential and who is not. Neither is it about simply viewing talent against role seniority.

Talent management is about employees understanding their preferences and motivations (something on line self assessments are excellent for) as well as their strengths and weaknesses (no one is perfect). This information is then used to inform the relationship between employer and employee so both can progress in a mutually beneficial direction. This may mean, for example, they consider moving sideways rather than up or becoming a technical expert rather than a general manager. At times, it may also mean employees realise it is time to move on to a new organisation. Some may consider this a risk but it is far better for an employer and employee relationship to end through talent management than performance management.

Talent management is fun, interesting and exciting because it is about unlocking potential and creating a mutually beneficial relationship for all.

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Do senior leaders collaborate?

Yesterday I had the misfortune of seeing 10 minutes of question time in Federal Parliament. This, very definitely, is not something I normally do. One side puts a perspective forward amid much over yelling from the other side, the speaker tries, with little success, to ensure the message is heard and then the questions, or should I say accusations start. So these are our most senior leaders at work, depressing I thought. The objective was to compete rather than collaborate.

Is this the same with senior leaders in the business world? At least in parliament everyone is open about being on different sides. In business what percentage of a senior leaders time is spent protecting their own brand, undermining the brand of others and then actually working on the needs of the business?

It is a fine line between being politically savvy in order to achieve business needs versus being politically savvy just to achieve ones own needs. Again the answer lies in the motivation of our leaders. Do they want to climb the ladder simply to be powerful or do they want to get to the top so they are in the best position to make a positive difference?

Both in business and in politics too often we fail to consider the motivations of our leaders. No one wants to be led, especially in challenging times, by someone who puts themselves, and their survival/success first. Yes you need driven people who are motivated by success to drive performance. However if a leader puts their own needs and aspirations ahead of the company, sooner or later, they are going to make a decision that has significant ramifications for the company and the more senior the leader the more catastrophic those ramifications can be. In my experience those leaders who put themselves above the company also have a knack of moving onto to their next role before things go bang.

Therefore find out what motivates your up and coming leaders and weed out those who put themselves before the company. No single leader has all the answers, make sure your senior leaders operate as the sum of their intellectual parts and don’t behave like a bunch of politicians.

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Narcissism and confidence, it can be a fine line

The more narcissistic a CEO the more likely it is their organisation’s share price will lag behind their competitors.  This was the finding of the Macquarie School of Management after reviewing 18 months performance through to March 2013 (reported in last weeks Australian Financial Review).

These finding surprised some who feel that, particularly in more challenging environments, a leader who has a strong ego is essential to success.  When the interviewer Andrew Denton asked the former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke “How important is it to have a healthy ego? Hawke responded “Well look if you haven’t got confidence in yourself how in the hell can you expect other people to have confidence in you?”  Hawke makes a very good point but the key to understanding this is when does confidence become arrogance and then narcissism.  The answer lies in the leaders motivation, is it all for themselves or is it for overall success?

Narcissistic leaders have a common focus with leaders who are at the other end of the scale, i.e. those who are afraid.  The number one priority for both is a concern for how they will be perceived by others (see table below).  It is this personal priority that will derail their impact on organisational performance.  They will do things for the wrong reasons and they will not be trusted by others; two key issues that will hamstring their ability to add value.  While it is easy to weed out leaders who are afraid it is more challenging to identify the narcissists, particularly in business scenarios that require strong and confident leadership.

Frame of Mind

Afraid

Confident

Narcissistic

Main area of concern

Themselves

The organisation and others

Themselves

Score

1

5

10

A confident leader will not be afraid of taking a stance for the wider good, they will seek the input of others, they will be happy to explain themselves and when they do get it wrong, they will have the confidence to admit so.  The old adage that a good leader will talk about themselves when addressing poor performance and the collective when referring to successes is always a good indicator.

By Simon Tedstone

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