No time to read? Here’s the answer!

No time, there’s just not enough time…   Over 6000 people now have a copy of JUMP!  It’s sobering, though, to know that many of you simply won’t have found the time to read it – and may not even have found the handy Executive Summary on Page 11. If your Leadership Team isn’t working as well as it could, your time challenges will be even worse. Dysfunction and inefficiency in the team makes work and slows progress. So what do you do if you need to improve your team but haven’t managed to read the book?   If that sounds familiar – this is just for you We’ve put together a short video guide to all the key ideas in the book. It’s less than eight minutes long and it will give you a high-level summary, not only of the key theories but also of how you can get started with your own team. Click on the image below to see the video (and don’t forget to turn on your sound). More
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Delivery Conversations, Learning Conversations, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Brokering peace in a bag of ferrets

Why is there so much destructive behaviour in this team?   One of my HR clients memorably described her role in her team as being like ‘brokering peace in a bag of ferrets’. Although the description was extreme, it’s certainly evocative of the tension, arguments and unmanageability of many of the Leadership Teams I come across. Indeed, our research suggests that a huge majority of those in leadership teams think their team doesn’t function effectively. And, if you ask those outside the team how well they think their top team functions, the answers are considerably less favourable! These tensions aren’t always on display, but they are always there. A strong CEO can often keep them in check in the boardroom at least. Even in those cases, the problems will, however, leak out to conversations at the water cooler or behind the closed doors of individual’s offices. Worse still, frustrations can be shared with members of their own team – setting a bad example and producing similar tensions between functions further
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Learning Conversations, Relationship Conversations, Stories and Case Studies, Tools and Techniques, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

From ‘meh’ to mission

Teenagers in the boardroom? A few years ago my daughters reached their mid-teens.  Amongst many challenging things I had to learn was a new vocabulary.  It’s tricky, you see, to communicate when it’s too much effort to use more than one syllable! One of the most used expressions was ‘meh’.  After considerable deduction, I decided that the closest translation was a shrug of the shoulders.  It means something like ‘so what’ or ‘I don’t care’ and dismisses anything that’s not of immediate and personal relevance to the teenager in question. To my surprise, I’ve gone on to find this sentiment in abundance in the boardroom.  I haven’t yet heard the word used, but most discussions in most top teams provoke exactly the same disinterested, disengaged and dismissive responses from a proportion of the team. Do they really not care? Board members wouldn’t work as hard as they do without an inner fire. Every leader I’ve ever met is there because they passionately believe things can be better, and because they
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Categories: Ambition Conversations, Learning Conversations, Stories and Case Studies, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

The debilitating effects of ‘update-itis’

It’s the scourge of most boardrooms. A virulent and disabling disease that paralyses real progress in organisations. The symptoms are all too familiar. The team gets together for its regular meeting. Hearts are already heavy from seeing the agenda – which is a terrifyingly long list of updates from departments and projects. Each presents the prospect of a long, rambling and often purposeless input from a member of the team – during which most of the rest of the team will switch off. There’s also a clear heirarchy. Finance always comes first and takes longer than it should. Everyone then takes their turn until, if the team gets that far down the agenda, HR get a few minutes to try to get the attention and support of a, by now exhausted, team. It’s a weary and discouraged team who leave the room. The meeting has been a long list of mostly problems and bad news. Some actions have been noted but may issues remain unaddressed. Inevitably, the agenda wasn’t completed.
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Categories: Priority Conversations.

Are You Turning Down A Bonus?

When did you last see a project promising a 50% uplift in results?   I’m guessing it wasn’t recently. If you ever have. Imagine the focus, energy and action that would flow immediately into making that project happen. Even before any results flowed it would be a fantastically exciting and motivating prospect. If you’re the Director proposing it, that would be even better still. If you’re in HR, and seen as marginal to the top team, it would be even more amazing. Every Leadership Team has this opportunity. It’s a big assertion but when we asked leaders and members of teams about the cost of dysfunction in the top team, that was exactly what they told us. Could do (much) better: every Leadership Team underdelivers. The biggest surprise in our research was the discovery that all Leadership Teams, almost without exception, thought they could and should do far better. Even those who classed their current teams as performing well said they felt the organisation could perform 45 per cent better
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Learning Conversations, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Keeping your clevers happy

The importance, and challenge, of leading your ‘clevers’ In the last issue we explored the folly of much of the current thinking on individual leadership. We also explored the importance of ‘clevers’, the high value people with expertise, on whom most organisations are now highly dependent. These people are difficult to lead. They are often:  Unimpressed by hierarchy (they value cleverness more than position) Organisationally savvy (and don’t want to be led) Resistant to feedback (and won’t thank you for doing the right things, either) Hard to replace (and they know it) Bored easily (and ask difficult questions) They expect instant access (to you and to other clever people) How then do you command loyalty in your clevers — and how do you get the best out of them?  The boardroom as your classroom Identifying your clevers isn’t difficult. My guess is that names and faces came quickly to mind even as you were reading the descriptions above. The first place to look is round the boardroom table. Just take a
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Categories: Ambition Conversations, Changing Your Team, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Do you have the ear lobes for leadership?

The problem with clever people I was lucky enough to see Rob Goffee speak recently. Rob is a professor at London Business School and became famous with the publication of his HBR article, and subsequent book, Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? He says that thinking about leadership has completely missed the point. I think he’s right. He points out that, in today’s knowledge economy, organisations depend on clever people with expertise (he calls them ‘clevers’) who are often: Unimpressed by hierarchy (they value cleverness more than position) Organisationally savvy (and don’t want to be led) Resistant to feedback (and won’t thank you for doing the right things, either) Hard to replace (and they know it) Bored easily (and ask difficult questions) They expect instant access (to you and to other clever people) In this world, the work of leadership changes. In the old world, leadership was focussed on making individuals more valuable to organisations through concepts like productivity, motivation and engagement. In the new world leaders are faced with the task
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Categories: Learning Conversations, Relationship Conversations, Tools and Techniques, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Pain Island to Pleasure Island

When doing my best wasn’t good enough I’ve been working with clients as an external consultant for 10 years. I’ve been helping people in a variety of other internal (and non-professional) capacities for much longer. One of the challenges of doing this is knowing how to respond when a client calls and is sure about what they need. ‘I need an awayday — can you give me a price?’ As I ask questions, it usually becomes clear quite quickly that what they are asking for is not going to solve their problem — or deliver the results that they are seeking. I always used to do my best. I’d ask them lots of questions to help clarify the issues. I’d explain how what they were proposing could be modified to give them better outcomes. More often than not, though, we’d arrive at a few modifications to what they first proposed. I’d put the phone down and know that the agreed solution fell short of what they really needed. What clients know — and
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Look Behind You!

How can facing out into the organisation be a mistake for HR?    Happy New Year! I hope 2016 brings you success, enjoyment and learning in all that you do. “Look behind you!” I know pantomime season is all but over, but HR professionals would do well to heed the classic refrain. While you’re working incredibly hard to make your people initiatives work, you’ll know that you’re battling all sorts of problems and opposition to their success. Ironically though, the biggest barrier to success is much closer to home than you might think. There’s a paradox for anyone in an HR role. The harder you try to make your HR projects deliver, the less attention you’re likely to be paying to the single biggest determinant of their success of failure. For people interventions to make the change that’s needed, you need the active (and aligned) support of the most senior leaders in the organisation. In short, an ineffective top team is the key barrier to delivering a meaningful people agenda, so
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Delivery Conversations, Learning Conversations, Making the Value Case, Relationship Conversations, Stories and Case Studies, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Doctor, heal thyself!

HR are the experts in developing teams, right? The role of HR is to get the most out of the human capital in any organisation. One of the many ways they do this is to help create high performing teams across the organisation. Developing these other teams is hard enough, but the really important team, the one that sets the tone and plays the biggest part in delivering success, is the one that sits around the board table. The first job of HR then is to unlock the human potential in the top team. Leadership Teams are different. Whilst some of the research and tools on teams generally does have some value in top teams, they are different to other teams in the organisation in a number of critical ways. To successfully unlock the potential of a Leadership Team, you first have to understand these differences. There are three main types of team in any organisation: Functional teams These work within a single discipline, often running a department. Because each
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Making the Value Case, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.