Category Archives: Leadership Development

Postings and discussions about leadership development

Seven Characteristics of Highly Effective International HR Professionals

Author:
Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

Working as an international HR professional is a challenge in so many ways. How can you best prepare for success in your role? Here are some tips which I refer to (with apologies to the late Dr. Steven Covey) as the “Seven Characteristics of Highly Effective International HR Professionals.” Continue reading

The Way to Identify your Future Leaders – Part 2

Authors:
Han van der Pool – Van der Pool Consultancy
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

Leadership has an effect on the bottom line – not directly, but by shaping the culture within which an organization operates, its climate and through its influence on employee engagement.  Identifying and developing leadership is a business critical process. Leadership depends on the type of personality, personal preferences, skills and relevant experiences.

Burning questions for Talent Development are:

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The Way To Identify Your Future Leaders (Part 1)


Authors:
Han van der Pool – Van der Pool Consultancy
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

It is not that easy to identify and groom future leaders.  Companies make use of various techniques to spot talent, and often manage their inventory of high potentials – those with the best chance of being a future leader.  In this post, we describe some of the best techniques which are used by companies to manage their talent pool of future leaders.

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E-Learning in Africa (and the rest of the world!) Part 2


Authors:
Han van der Pool – TNT N.V.
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

Introduction
In part one of this two-part post, we discussed e-learning in Africa, and especially the hurdles of implementation.  In this second part, we will delve more into practical advice for successful implementations in Africa, or anywhere else in the world!

In a broad sense, e-learning can be defined as “any form of learning that makes use of a network for distribution, interaction and facilitation.” There are plenty of demonstrable success stories and breathtaking ROIs.  However, the other side of the coin is that in many cases, web-based investments turn out to be fiascoes and only lead to a waste of time.

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Creating High Performance Teams

Authors:
Lex Lindeman – HR Boosters
Dr. Paul Rono – Kenyatta University (Nairobi, Kenya)

Lex Lindeman

Paul Rono

What is a Team?
A team is a group of people who work together to accomplish something beyond their individual self interests.  Not all groups are teams.  What distinguishes teams from other similar sounding groups is that a team is not a collection of people simply following orders.

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Transitioning Compensation from Classroom to Reality


Author:

Chuck Csizmar -
CMC Compensation Group

I once supervised a Compensation Analyst who had learned her craft through professional seminars and workshops.  One result of that education was her favored response when faced with a challenge at work:  “the greatest minds in Compensation say that . . . ”   It took patience to educate this budding practitioner about the difference between classroom / textbook answers and workplace reality.

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E-Learning in Africa? – Part 1


Authors:
Han van der Pool – TNT N.V.
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

A growing number of African Countries are now connected to high-speed internet connections, and with increasing competition in the global economy, organizations are forced to look for more efficient and effective ways to create, spread and to apply functional and managerial knowledge.

E-learning and knowledge management have become key words in organizational learning processes in the Africa as well.  Many organizations invest in managing the knowledge within the organization and e-Learning, as a supporting tool, is used more and more.

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How Top Companies Manage Talent Development

 


Authors:

Han van der Pool – TNT N.V.
Lex Lindeman – HRBoosters

Globalization, demographic developments, the credit crisis and global warming have all created the need for a shift in strategic management. Organizations are now faced with the need for continuous adaptation to changes in the markets and the world in general.  Leadership is the most important condition for success in organizations.  Organizations which treat development of executives and managers as an integrated part of company strategy have a distinct advantage over those that do not manage leadership development actively.

Together with Dave Ulrich of the RBL Group, Hewitt Associates examined how successful companies structure their management development practices and identify and develop their current and potential future managers and leaders. This research is carried out once every two years, and the outcome and the rankings were published in Fortune Magazine in November, 2009.

A closer look at the research shows a nice overview of the practice of leadership development and the importance which global companies attach to it. The inventory of the programs and instruments used by an array of companies operating globally was compared with the financial results of those companies, and gives some insight into the most effective approaches. The “Top Companies for Leaders” are the most advanced in talent management and leadership development, and have a real leadership culture, according to the researchers.

Over five hundred companies have taken part in this research. Every company completed an exhaustive questionnaire, which was analyzed and compared to other companies by the researchers. Afterwards, a selected group of companies was more closely studied through interviews with HR professionals and top managers.  To see profiles of the Top Ten, click here.

Main Conclusions
The research shows clearly that successful companies continue to invest in leadership development despite the economic situation and the enormous strategic issues which companies face. Here is an overview of the most important elements which make a difference at “Top Companies for Leaders.”

  • Strategy - There is a clear link between the strategy of the company and the strategy of leadership development. Successful organizations closely examine which talent programs are needed and which interventions are necessary to realize their company strategy.
  • Involvement - The responsibility of talent development lies at the top of the organization, and top management is also actively involved in the development of future management. The top managers themselves are frequently active as mentors, coaches or trainers, and frequently share their experiences and insights. Often the CEO plays a prominent, active role in training or action learning, i.e., using high potentials coupled with experienced leaders on essential questions. Also, CEO’s are involved in the programs by means of internal communication.
  • Talent Pipeline – Talent development is considered as a “mission-critical” company process. The best performing companies see the filling of the talent pipeline organization-wide as a necessity. They use sharp definitions of talent (high potentials), measurable criteria and a rigorous process for to determine who belongs in the talent pool and who does not. The outcomes of this are measured with KPIs.
  • Ongoing Processes – The Top Companies for Leaders have incorporated management development in their business cycles. The companies think about ongoing, recurring development processes instead of one-time initiatives. Talent management has a high priority in these organizations. Much attention is given to identifying high potentials, determination of specific career paths for these high potentials, coaching and their active contribution to training and development programs. High potentials are assisted in their development by means of training, e-learning, coaching and job rotation, as well as action learning. Thanks to this approach, leadership and company development evolve continuously together.
  • Behavior – In these Top Companies, leaders are significantly more aware of which behavior is expected of them. This also becomes apparent in all aspects of the organization: performance management (leaders are rewarded for the degree desired behaviors are demonstrated), promotion decisions (people are only promoted when the desired behaviors are shown), recruitment and selection (leadership behavior is an essential selection criterion) and communication from the top of the organization.
  • Critical Objective - High potential talent is considered as a strategic advantage and the development of this talent is and the development of a robust talent pipeline is considered a critical objective for the organization’s top management.
  • Leadership Programs – Only leadership programs with high added value for talent development are organized.  Programs whose content is linked with organizational needs are chosen.  The leadership programs are fully integrated with other human resources processes, such as performance management, promotion policy, training and development, reward, succession and career planning,and are coordinated from one central point in HR.
  • Implementation – Leadership is a mindset.  It is included in the day-to-day of the business.  The Top Companies distinguish themselves by making talent management a regular part of operational management. All the leaders of the company are responsible for managing talent within the organization. Also, they are responsible for continuing the implementation of talent management in the organization. This infrastructure is embedded in the daily leadership culture and managers develop the necessary competencies to be able execute talent management effectively.

Author’s Observations
Based on the findings of the Hewitt/RBL Study, we at Human Resources Boosters have developed a model to achieve excellence in integrated talent management. This model comes in three phases:

  1. Structure - Companies should introduce functional profiles, competency models, describe paths for growth, implement a yearly performance management cycle with clear achievable targets and incentive structures, career- and succession planning and the maintenance of this system (talent management infrastructure).
  2. Process - Companies should embed talent management in the organization. The total infrastructure should be part of the day-to-day leadership culture. Managers should develop coaching and training skills and experience to be able to execute talent management effectively.
  3. Selective Development - Successful organizations closely examine which talent programs they need and which interventions are necessary to realize the company strategy. Examples of selective development are tailor made leadership programs, management development initiatives like inter-company exchange of talent, market and product oriented development, etc.

Conclusion
Hewitt showed with this research that companies, even in time of great uncertainty, are able to counter market and economical challenges by maintaining or even increasing efforts in talent management. Most of the companies even invested anti-cyclic, i.e.,  when markets were relatively calm companies invested more time and resources in people development. This also anticipates better times.

When talent development is really embedded in the organization and seen as an ongoing rhythm, the total processes in an organization will not only run more smoothly, but also more effectively, generating shareholder and stakeholder value. To become a top listed company may be a bridge too far for some organizations.  However, with relatively simple actions, some investments, and strong convictions that people development should be part of your routine activities, your company will develop in a sustainable way.

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Delegation: Leadership Development in Africa – Part 2

Lex Lindeman

Dr. Paul Rono

Authors:
Lex Lindeman – HR Boosters
Dr. Paul Rono – Kenyatta University (Nairobi)


In our previous post Leadership Development in Africa – Part 1, we explored the characteristics of effective leaders and the way to develop them.  One of the important competencies of effective African leaders is delegation.  In many African public and private companies, management asks us to focus on delgation during workshops we conduct for their staff.  It seems to them that African managers, especially, need to learn to delegate more than they do already.

Delegation

The main purpose of delegation is to make organizations possible.  Just as no one person in an organization or enterprise can perform all tasks necessary for the accomplishment of group purpose; so is it impossible, as an organization grows, for one person to exercise all the authority for making decisions.

If managers delegate poorly it will cause demotivation, frustration, slow decision making and the manager will have no time for his or her subordinates. Good delegation will save time, ensure a better distribution of workload, and ultimately lead to better decisions.  And, effective delegation will help to develop, empower and motivate subordinates.

Why Managers Don’t Delegate

Some managers think that no one else can do the job the way they want it done, how they want it done and when they want it done.  They think it’s easier and more efficient to do it on their own, and they believe that they can do it better than their employees.  These assumptions are incorrect!

Managers are not sure how to do delegate correctly.  Here are some of the excuses I’ve heard over the years:

  • “My team members lack the experience.”
  • “It takes more time to explain than to do the job myself.”
  • “A mistake by a team member could be costly for my project.”
  • “My position enables me to get quicker action.”
  • “There are some things that I shouldn’t delegate to anyone.”
  • “My team members are specialists and they lack the overall knowledge that many of my decisions require.”

I came across this small quote in New African, June 2009 by Akua Djanie:

“I don’t know what it is about Africans, but we are afraid of, and shy away from, the idea of delegating someone to take our place when we are unavailable, is it because we think the person we delegate to will do a better job than us? Is it because we want to be seen as the one in charge; the one that can make or break the company, the project or the team? It is unbelievable, but from our post offices, to our small-scale businesses, and to the multinationals, it seems that everyone in Africa is scared to delegate.

Delegation shows the effectiveness of teamwork, because no matter how wonderful someone is at their job, no person is an island. And no project or company can function with only an individual. What delegation shows is that even if a particular person is unavailable, the project, team or company can still proceed because that person has put mechanisms in place to ensure the smooth running of operations. So rather than see delegation as a threat to their positions, Africans should embrace delegation as a strength. It simply does not make sense for everything to come to a standstill because one person is not available or one person is trying to do everything by him- or herself.”

But delegation is not only an issue in Africa; in institutions in the rest of the world, managers struggle with the same issues.

The Organization

Every position in a formal organization has a specified set of tasks or “position responsibilities, authorities and accountability.” Tasks should be delegated (assigned) to the lowest level in the organization at which there is sufficient competence and information for effective task performance.

The three concepts of responsibility, authority, and accountability are the major variables in the theory of delegation:

  • Authority: Superiors delegate authority – permission and encouragement to take action – but they do not delegate responsibility, which they share with their subordinates. Thus responsibility, as accepted by the one to take action exists and is shared from the point of acceptance upward, level by level, to the top of the organization.
  • Responsibility: Responsibility is an obligation owed and cannot, therefore, be delegated. No superior can escape, through delegation, responsibility for the activities of subordinates, for it is he who has delegated authority and assigned duties. Likewise, the responsibility of the subordinate to his superior for performance is absolute; once he has accepted an assignment and the power to carry it out, no superior can escape responsibility for the organization activities of his subordinates.
  • Accountability: Since authority is the discretionary right to carry out assignments and responsibility is the obligation to accomplish them, it follows, therefore, that authority should correspond to accountability. From this logical analysis emerges the principle that the accountability for actions cannot be greater than that implied by authority delegated, nor should it be less.

Advantages of Delegation
Delegation is a powerful management tool.  Some advantages of delegation include:

  • Efficiency: The more a superior is able to delegate, the more time he has for thinking, planning, etc.
  • Better Decisions: The person who is close to the scene of action should be better able to make decisions than a distant superior.
  • Initiative: Delegation encourages initiative on the part of subordinates so that the organization can use their skills more fully. Initiative in turn improves morale, because people take increased interest in their work if they are given an opportunity to use their own judgment.
  • Timeliness: Delegation improves timing of decisions, because it minimizes the necessity for sending recommendations up the chain of command to decision makers several levels above the point where the recommendations were initiated.
  • Speed: A do-it or-else order eliminates the time-consuming dillydallying of feedback. But speed may cost accuracy and morale.

Barriers to Delegate

Many managers will find a ‘good’ reason not to delegate; here are some pretexts which can be found in any work environment:

  • The need to be needed: A superior who has an intense desire to make or keep subordinates dependent will find it difficult to give sincere recognition for job achievement by them.
  • Fear of losing control: When superiors delegate, they run a risk of the subordinates not doing the job well, and losing control of the performance for which he is accountable.
  • Fear of surrendering authority: Whenever you delegate, you surrender some element of authority (but not of responsibility!) This is inevitable. By effective delegation, however, you get the benefits of adequate time to do YOUR job really well.
  • Perfectionism: Just as you have to develop staff to do jobs quickly without your involvement, you will have to let people make mistakes, and help them to correct them. Most people will, with time, learn to do jobs properly.
  • The Desire for Reward: Many managers enjoy the rewards and self-fulfillment associated with achievement of doing work.  Delegating to subordinates necessarily means that the subordinates will get the reward.
  • Fear of Competition: Other managers are afraid that if they assign work, and their subordinates develop, they will someday outperform them, overtake the manager in the hierarchy of the company.
  • It’s a Effort: Delegation takes time. In the early stages, managers need to invest time in training their people to take over tasks. When coaching and checking are taken into account, it may even initially take longer to achieve the desired outputs. In time however, with the right people, your coaching investment will pay back handsomely.

It is common for people who are newly promoted to managerial positions to have difficulties delegating. Often they were promoted because they were good at what they were doing. This brings the temptation to continue trying to do their previous job, rather than acting as a manager, and focus on developing their new subordinates.

How to Overcome Weak Delegation

Here are ten tips for you to help you to delegate more easily:

  1. Define assignments in the light of expected results.
  2. Select the right person to which to delegate.
  3. Open up the lines of communication with your subordinates for consultation and counseling.
  4. Establish proper controls for proper use of authority.
  5. Reward effective delegation and successful assumption of authority.
  6. Be willing to give other people’s ideas a chance (never say: “Yes but….” This means NO!)
  7. Be willing to release the right to make decisions (we call this empowerment).
  8. Allow others to perform even though they make mistakes.
  9. Trust your delegated junior. Delegation implies a trustful attitude between the two.
  10. Establish and use broad controls. Responsibility is not delegated, hence the need for you to establish a means of feedback to assure yourself that the authority delegated is being used in support of the organizational objectives.

Conclusion: Weak Delegation in Africa?

As I said earlier, delegation is a global problem. But a very positive aspect is that Africans are very keen to learn and to try things out. This attitude toward change allows Africans to learn to adopt delegation faster and easier. Studies in Africa show that Africans are ready to accept delegation of duties more easily than in the western world. Many managers in Africa learn easily to delegate and delegation is readily accepted, respected and honored. Demonstrate how how important the jobs, the expectations, the goals and tasks are, and the African is keen to accept.

Mike Boon (2007) stated that accountability is one of the key area that must be stressed when delegating tasks to an African manager:

“Through this accountability, they become leaders and others will follow them.” When a manager or leader encourages accountability through delegation, the result will be growth and progression.”

More About the Authors

More About Lex:

More About Paul:
Dr. Rono is a lecturer at Kenyatta University in Nairobi.  He is an authority on leadership development, and has published various articles related to leadership development in Africa with a progressive yet adoptable and realistic view.  Watch for his new website coming soon!

The Gift of Time

Imported Photos 00033Author:
Yendor Felgate – Emergence Consulting

I am continually reminded in my coaching that folk remain under pressure as we enter the new year. Rather than refreshing over the holiday period, many of us have brought our work, life and family challenges straight into the new year.

We probably don’t sufficiently acknowledge in difficult times that it requires huge amounts of additional energy and effort to produce the same results. This means that if we do not change the way we work and live, time will vanish even faster and we will not achieve as much.

In an effort to work smarter and enjoy the journey more in our never ending search for better results, I offer two approaches that have benefited me personally.  The first refers to the gift of time and the other is about living in the moment.

“Stop, Start, Go” Test

I often ask people what they can stop doing.  This tends to be an uncomfortable question.  Few of us seemingly want to stop being ridiculously busy.  It is almost as if being busy is the same as being valuable.  Being busy in this sense is both addictive and a habit.  As with all addictions, it is seductive and comes at a price.

The test is an easy one.

  • List all your activities for the last week.
  • Identify those activities that directly relate to your purpose or objectives.
  • The rest you can stop.

The difficulty is implementing this. The world will simply not understand at first what you are doing. However, keep going, they will catch on.

This is a tremendous team building opportunity.  Not surprisingly, people respond better to this than the traditional approach of being told to do more, or being harangued about needing to improve.  It does, though, require a willingness to simplify.

Simplicity is about having clarity on what is really important, rather than dumbing down.

Stop

The next hurdle is being told that there is nothing that can be stopped.  Let’s test this.  We ran the stop, start, go test on executive meetings at a banking client.  By simply doing away with unnecessary meetings and reducing meeting times, we gave back 20% of executives’ time.  How valuable would this be to you and your organisation?

Some other thoughts on stopping:

  • Stop emailing instead of doing real work
  • Stop doing things in triplicate
  • Stop being accessible 24/7
  • Stop asking your team leader to sign or see everything
  • Stop rework
  • Stop second guessing others
  • Stop worrying about things you have no control over

Start

Start saying “NO” to things that are not important.  The discomfort arises when we ask people when last they said ‘no’ to anything.

The conversation often starts with I cannot stop anything (you already know the answer to this) and ends with I cannot remember when last I said ‘no’.  Start saying “YES” to important things, but just be clear on what this is.

There is of course an art to saying “NO” and includes things like:

  • Not taking other people’s monkeys
  • You cannot live other people’s lives for them
  • Empowering others to make their own decisions
  • Sharing knowledge and information for others to implement

If people understand that you are trying to help them to help themselves, saying “NO” is easy.  Just remember, ‘no’ means ‘no’.

Go

The point is not to fill the time you have freed up with more work.  The “GO” aspect is about getting and keeping your balance.  You get the balance that you deserve.  In other words, if you allow work to intrude, you end up working.  The “GO” adage is go live your life.

This is almost impossible unless you live in the moment.

Living in the Moment

Living in the moment is a coaching term that refers to acknowledging and being present – the here and now.  When I ask this question, I am often told that “of course I am here and focused”, “just let me check my email”.

I think being able to parallel process is a wonderful gift, but the larger skill is ensuring people receive your full attention.  If you are not sure what this means, then watch children at play.

By being in the moment, you make better decisions, people respond better and you are more alive to possibility, than by keeping half your mind on the next meeting, and the next…….

I look forward to hearing your stop, start, go stories, so please share them with us.  Here is to the possibility of living in the moment this year!

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