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.

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.

Never Reorganise Again!

Hmmm… Reorganisations, we all bear the scars… I remember my first experience of ‘reorganisation’. It seemed an ordinary day until word got round that people were being called in and made redundant. We waited all morning for the tell-tale single ring on our phone which could mean the end of our time at the company. I survived, and so got to see the months of disruption with staggered departures, reallocation of work, leaving parties and collective resentment. The relationship between us and the company changed that day. It was never quite the same again. Since that time I’ve had far too much experience of imposing reorganisations. There were always good reasons. We always agonised about how to minimise the impact – on the company and on individuals. Every one significantly dented the performance of the organisation in the short term and damaged the relationship with its people for much longer. Very few made a positive difference to performance. Even the cost savings were elusive – with people being moved rather
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Stories and Case Studies, 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.

Teambuilding – the enemy of team development

I had a frustrating, but familiar, experience recently. The head of training of a large international client called me. She was planning an off-site day for the leadership team and wanted some help to design and facilitate it. As usual, I asked her a number of questions about their context, people and the purpose of the event. Alarm bells started ringing as her answers revealed that the objectives of the day were far from clear. The only thing she was clear about was some items from the HR agenda – and she had little idea what business benefits the CEO wanted to achieve. She did, however, have a number of clear requirements about the design. It was to be a single day and she wanted ‘creative outdoor exercises’ to be central to the approach.  She explained that team members had been disengaged at past such meetings so they wanted to ‘liven it up’ to keep people’s interest! She didn’t know why they might have been bored at previous past events…
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Categories: Changing Your Team, Learning Conversations, Relationship Conversations, and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Is leadership fun for you?

One of the responses I received to last month’s edition was an email from a former colleague. He asked me about what role I thought ‘fun’ had to play in leadership and leadership teams. It got me thinking… The word ‘fun’ is difficult for many leaders as it can be seen as implying frivolity which doesn’t sit well with the gravity of responsibility in leadership roles. Let’s, then, talk about how rewarding the experience of leadership is – and the role it plays both in delivering results and also in enabling each leader to give of their best.   Leaders’ experience today Few leaders I meet are enjoying their jobs. Most are working too hard, frustrated at the pace of progress and worn down by the daily grind of eking out even small incremental gains in a hostile business environment – from what feels like an unresponsive organisation. Worse still, the impression I get from many leaders is that this is what they expect. They feel that this is what
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Categories: Making the Value Case.