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We have all been touched in some way by the economic downturn in our region, professionally and personally. Many have felt the cold hand of fate grabbing at our dreams and plans for our future/ business and personal goals. Companies that stayed open dealt with the uncertain business landscape in a variety of ways. Some CEO’s laid off long term employees to avoid the negative spiraling bottom line results. Other CEO’s modified positions, changed responsibilities and tried to right size the operation the best they knew how. And, there were those CEO’s who closed their doors completely; the burden was just too large to manage. Those days were very dark, doubtful and relentless. I am sure many leaders sat at their desks alone and wondered, “Did I make the right decision? Could I have done something different? Would the business outcome be different? What if…., Where do I turn? Who can I talk to?”
Today, hope for our business future is taking shape again. We are seeing a resurgence of focused energy and innovation from our leaders. It finally feels like a spring day—the sun is out and the birds are singing. People are smiling again. However, the economic downturn has left a deep scar that may never fully become invisible. I like to call this period of new growth a Period of Reengineering.
CEO’s have a fresh start, a new look at their organization and workforce. They can once again begin to build a thriving and prosperous business and create a positive and engaging employee culture. Vistage International can become that voice, that resource for executives and business owners who supports and guides them through extremely uncertain business decisions. The time is now to reach out, seek guidance and support from a confidential, peer advisory group of CEO’s.
Vistage International brings together successful CEO’s, executives and business owners into private advisory groups. Each group is purpose-built to help members help each other improve the performance and outcomes of their business and personal lives. Vistage International works with each CEO to be a better leader who can make better decisions and get better results. In fact, they have helped over 75,000 members since 1957 when they began. And the support does not look at one dimension of a CEO’s life; the business. Discussions also center on a person’s health and personal life—it is strongly believed that the “whole person” adds to the strategic direction of a company. If issues are present in any of the three categories listed above, they are freely discussed inside the confidence of a member meeting.
Although peer advisory groups are a great help towards success, leadership and management trainings and assessments should not be ignored. These tools allow those in management to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, ultimately allowing them to build upon their skills.
For more information regarding Vistage International and e-VentExe, please call Amelya Stevenson, M.A., SPHR-CA Vistage Chair and owner of e-VentExe, a full service Human Resource Consulting Firm at 916.458.5820.
Founded in 2000 by Amelya and Craig Stevenson, e-VentExe provides businesses with strategic and compliance human resources tips and techniques, organizational effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) and overall strategic and healthy cultural influences in the workplace. We also make HR administration easy for small businesses with our eBasicHR and Compliance package. At e-VentExe, we keep the “Human” in Human Resources. Let us show our dedication to you! For more information, please visit us at www.e-ventexe.com,“LIKE” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!
Our guest blogger is Tina R. Shaw. Tina is a Coach and Consultant specializing in leadership development, supporting change, and facilitating learning. Contact Tina at email@example.com.
Most of us have heard of the Peter Principle, but in case you haven’t, it is commonly phrased as “Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.” Why does this happen? Consider the super-star sales person, Mary. She’s consistently a top producer, does everything expected of her, and is seen as a rising star. So of course she earns a promotion to Sales Manager! A few months later the shine on Mary’s star is tarnishing. What went wrong?
Like many people who are promoted, the skills and behaviors that made Mary successful in her former role are not the same skills and behaviors necessary for success in her new role. Not only is it important to develop new competencies to succeed in the new role, it is equally important to understand which competencies should be de-emphasized. For example, as a super-star salesperson personal expertise and efforts are a significant factor in success. As a sales manager, success comes from getting results through the efforts and expertise of others. In Mary’s new role leadership becomes more important than individual contribution. Because Mary’s success came from her personal efforts it may be difficult for her to let go of doing things herself to focus instead on supporting her team to produce results.
In the book, “The Leadership Pipeline” by Ram Charan, Steve Drotter and Jim Noel, the authors outline the skill requirements, time applications and work values necessary for different levels of leadership. Moving from individual contributor to manager of people takes more than learning some new skills, it also requires adjusting values and where you focus your time. Each level of leadership requires different adjustments in these three areas. Leaders in transition can get into trouble when they fail to make the necessary adjustments in what they value, what they do, and where they focus their time.
Knowing you need to make some changes, and even learning what changes you need to make is the easy part – you can get training, read a book, get advice from a mentor or search the Internet. Actually making changes is much, much harder because most of us tend to default to what has been successful for us in the past. It takes repeated practice to make new skills and behaviors part of our default mode.
How many of us have taken a class or read a book on leadership and committed to implementing something we learned, but never practiced enough to make it stick? Probably most of us, including me. It’s not about ability, capacity or hitting the limits of our potential. All of these things expand as we gain experience, learn and grow as individuals. More likely it is because no one is checking in on us to see how we are applying what we learned. We get so absorbed in the day-to-day of our work and lives that we don’t remember to practice what we learned, and eventually we forget altogether. What we need is an accountability partner. Someone who will challenge us, support us, provide feedback, and ask us the right questions to ensure we are doing what we said we would do.
Working with a coach is a wonderful way to get the support and accountability you need. How can a coach help? A coach is trained to listen, ask powerful questions, and reflect back to create awareness to help the client take action to get where they want to go. Working with a coach provides a regular check-in that allows you to measure your progress, get past obstacles, and celebrate successes!
When I started my business I naturally choose to focus on what I love. My passion is leadership development and transferring learning into business results. I partner with clients to develop leaders, accelerate learning, and support change. If you would like to learn more about developing leaders, I invite you to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.linkedin.com/in/tinarshaw.
Communication is vital for everyday interactions—words are exchanged between others and body language and hand movements are in motion. However, what if a form of communication means respecting silence? Barbara Rogoff, author of The Cultural Nature of Human Development, focuses on three distinct cultures that either value silence (Japanese and Inuit) or questioning and participation (United States) in the classroom. Both approaches influence the outcome of one’s leadership, beginning in the classroom and later taking shape at the workplace. At a young age, we heighten our communication skills at school: we engage in group projects, we make friends in and outside of our selected classes, teachers encourage us to critically think and make our own decisions. When we examine communication in a cultural standpoint, we take into account what deems as significant to other cultures. Growing up in the United States, I’ve been taught to question everything and sometimes do feel awkward in times of silence.
An interesting connection to make between American culture and its uncomfortable feelings towards silence may be due to our individualistic ways: in order to succeed in life, we must ask questions in order to promote learning and knowledge, which therefore, puts us one step above the rest. Furthermore, western schooling appreciates participation and asking questions because it shows we are actively engaged in the subject and want to learn. We enjoy asking questions for the purpose of teaching others because it, subconsciously or not, puts us in a leadership position. We feel confident and have a sense of belonging—other aspects we as Americans hope to strive. This is the norm for our culture; we love competition and being the best at everything. Our school systems have taught us we need to surpass and excel our peers in mostly anything to succeed—whether it’s in academics, sports, music, arts, etc. Because we are ingrained in this cultural belief, how we learn in the classroom correlates with how we are as leaders in the workplace. Teachers use a more authoritarian style when teaching: they are at the front of the classroom, instructing the students; they make the decisions as to what to teach and what to do, but still encourage their students to think analytically. There is a definite hierarchy structure—the teacher being the most powerful and placed front and center in a classroom. We can see this hierarchy structure in companies: the CEO and executive management being place on top of the organizational chart and controlling the overall outcome of the business. Their employees look up to them to make decisions and them, being leaders encourage their employees to ask questions.
In retrospect, the Inuit community believes children gain wisdom and experience through observation; as they grow older, questions simply become a mundane habit. Like the Inuit community, the Japanese culture also finds speaking and asking questions to be a sign of immaturity. The Japanese community highly values listening and feels children grow from actively listening to others, rather than blatantly stating their opinions; they value silence because it allows them to respond with more thoughtful and meaningful answers. Japanese teachers take a more permissive approach when teaching—the students are the teachers, and the teacher sits silently observing the class. This form of teaching promotes a sense of inferiority and equality between students and teacher. This allows for the students to feel more comfortable and enables them to actually want to participate, perhaps insinuating a collaborative leadership style in the workplace. In respect to both forms of communication, one approach is not better than the other in regards to leadership outcome—appreciation and mutual acceptance for what is outside of one’s norm needs to be taken into account. With that said, which style promotes engagement in learning in your eyes— taking control and asking questions or observing and listening?