Innovative Leadership Assessment

A leader is a person that inspires you to take a journey to a destination you would not go to by yourself. The traditional manager who maintains status quo leaving what he found will not be effective in today’s environment. Today’s business challenges revolve around change, innovation, passion and creativity. I developed the “Innovative Leadership Self-Assessment” as a self-evaluation tool for those wanting to know what competencies lead to business success now and in the future.

As times change, leadership skills must also change. What was successful in the past is still relevant, but may not be everything needed for the future. Use this assessment to rate yourself. You can also give it to others and have them provide you an honest appraisal.

Scoring directions below.

  • Process Management-Designs and manages processes that are efficient and effective. These processes support the delivery of either the organization’s service or the manufacture of the organization’s products. Processes move horizontally across organizational boundaries. Score yourself higher if you have identified your critical processes.
  • Customer Driven-One of the highest leadership priorities is the ability to focus on the needs and expectations of customers. Do you build and maintain relationships with customers? Do you have metrics in place to measure customer satisfaction and customer loyalty? (Customers can also be employees) Add points if you know the needs, expectations and desires of your customers. Deduct points if there are only certain select parts of the organization having this information.
  • Information Management-The innovative enterprise thrives on information. There are multiple avenues and many means of expressing the goals, plans, and status of the organization to all people working within the enterprise. The enterprise shares success stories, ideas with everyone. How many available means are available to improve communication? For example, meetings, LANs, bulletin boards, E-mail etc. Score yourself lower if there is no organized system in place to spread information.
  • Change Management-A leader of the organization is knowledgeable of and manages change appropriately. Dovetails ongoing programs and management philosophies into the strategic or business planning. Deduct more points if your last change action created anger, resentment and frustration.
  • Innovation-Makes focused efforts to initiate new ideas and suggestions. The leader is constantly looking at other industries and trends to see beyond the horizon for new ways to do things. The organization does not maintain status quo. Add one point if people from your organization have taken site visits or benchmarked other organizations during the past six months.
  • Continuous Improvement-Continuously improving everything the enterprise does. Processes and procedures are constantly being improved. Score yourself higher if you have a continuous improvement program. Deduct one point if it is only a “suggestion box.”
  • Obstacle Removal-The innovative leader spends time pinpointing and removing barriers and obstacles obstructing work flow. Employees feel free to go to anyone in the organization for advice and assistance. Deduct points if you have not had an employee survey or sensing session during the past year.
  • Charts the Course-Provides a clear direction toward the future. Are you enthusiastic and inspiring others to take a journey to a particular destination? If there is no clear direction or inspiring vision, mark yourself low. Give yourself points if people are involved in the goal setting process.
  • Provides Motivation-You have a system of reward and recognition. Team based rewards lead to higher morale. Employees feel that they are contributing to the vitality of the enterprise. Give yourself two points if you have provided recognition to a worker or team during the past five days. Reduce points if you only recognize length of service.
  • Trust Builder-This leader allows people to learn from their mistakes and allows risk taking. The leader who tolerates risk taking scores higher in innovation. Bad signs–more than two signatures on any form, too many auditors and inspectors and time clocks.
  • Provides Purpose-Purpose gives people a reason why they should work for this organization. People relate best to the enterprise when they understand how their actions relate to the big picture. The person who understands how their actions affect the organization is more empowered to take action.

Saving Pvt. Ryan Leadership Lessons for Both War and Peace

The movie Saving Pvt. Ryan hits you with shocking realism.  From the beginning to the end, you feel as if you are there. 

The knots twist in your stomach waiting for the landing craft gate to drop. Cold water fills your boots as you slog your way up the beaches of Normandy and across the bombed out cities in France. You can feel the grit under your fingernails and the dryness of fear in your mouth.  As you hear the bullets whiz by your head and you think to yourself,  “Will I freeze up or will I do what I am supposed to?” 

In the seconds before the charge, the eyes of the soldiers turn and gaze upon the person who is their leader.  They think to themselves, “Is this person worthy?” Trust, confidence and leadership must be present before the first battle begins.

Today’s workplace sometimes resembles more of a combat situation than anything else.  Are your people following you or have they deserted and heading in the opposite direction?  People today want leadership, they are not happy being managed. 

This movie clearly showed what it means to be a leader.  It was a fascinating work of art—sometimes horrific, but entirely accurate.  The genesis of my fascination was I could see myself.  I spent many years as an officer in the Army.  I never faced combat, but have been in enough demanding situations to understand the bonding soldiers feel when faced with life and death situations.  I gained the satisfaction of knowing, when called, my soldiers would give their all for each other and their country.  As an officer in the Army, I learned several lessons.

A job title doesn’t make a person a leader.  Leaders must first travel down the gauntlet with those they lead BEFORE they are accepted as the leader.  Joel Barker, the paradigm expert, has the best definition of leadership.  He says, “Leadership is about taking people to a destination they wouldn’t go to by themselves.”  To reach that “destination,” a leader must endure a “baptism by fire.” He or she must PROVE themselves first.  Until you prove yourself as a leader you will not have the respect and trust from those you are suppose to lead. 

The title “leader” is not something you call yourself.  Like a crown, those you lead place it upon your head.

The supreme test of leadership is the ability to lead people in combat.  There is nothing scarier than facing the possibility of death in war.  No matter the situation–war or peace, authentic leadership and a clear sense of purpose are the key ingredients making the difference. 

Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) was faced with the almost impossible mission to lead a squad of soldiers to find and bring Pvt. Ryan back home.  The most fascinating aspect of this movie was the portrayal of leadership and the magnetism between the soldiers, the mission, and their Captain.  It was the Captain that formed the glue that held that unit together.  Looking at the movie you can see three important shifts or transitions in Capt. Miller’s leadership style.  I call these three shifts the “Faces of Leadership.” 

Face of Fear-The lowest level or form of leadership is by fear.  On Omaha Beach, orders were direct and to the point.  Life or death-do what you are told because there is little time to think.  Anyone who has been in combat or in a trauma situation understands that people don’t always act rationally in a crisis.  Even the Captain slipped into a momentary “thousand yard stare” when the ravages of combat became overwhelming.  Actions become instinct driven–survival.  Leaders have to think, must push themselves forward and give orders for the group.  What is good for the group must outweigh what is good for the individual.

Face of Respect-I enjoyed watching how the soldiers bantered back and forth about what was the Captain’s career before the war.  He had a charismatic affect on his men based on trust and respect.  He only revealed enough about himself to maintain professional objectivity.  He couldn’t afford to do anything that would compromise the mission.  His troops even started a lottery for the person who could guess what the Captain did for a living before the war.

Early in my career, I faced a similar dilemma.  I worried about being liked by my soldiers. Should I be feared or should I be respected?  I resolved this dilemma though trial and error.  Leadership is a developmental process.  There are few, if any, born leaders. Leadership is both a science and an art form and the good leaders learn from their mistakes.  The Faces of Fear and Respect can only take you so far which leads us to the next level. 

Face of Purpose- The highest level of leadership is that of providing purpose.  True leadership progresses from fear, to respect and finally to that of purpose.  During one scene in the movie, you could feel this important transition. As the squad fought deeper into enemy territory, Captain Miller’s men find themselves beginning to doubt their leader and their orders.  They demanded, “Why is one man worth risking eight…why is the life of this private worth more than ours?” 

But first, another firefight took the life of another comrade.  The scene unfolds on the hill of the enemy radar station. The trigger finger of the First Sergeant held life and death in balance as he pointed his pistol at the American soldier who prepared to desert the unit. Life and death hung in the balance for what seemed forever until the Captain spoke. 

He told them the secret, what he did before the war.  He was a school teacher.  Silence. . .you could feel the explosive pressure evaporate.  You could almost hear the soldiers say to themselves, “Damn, if he is a school teacher, what am I complaining about!”  It was at this moment, the final shift occurred.  The men no longer needed or depended on the Captain.  There was complete alignment between what they had to do and how it could make a difference to their world. 

Every Army unit has a flag called a guidon.  Each unit guidon has its own unique design and color.  The guidon stands apart from other military units.  The challenge facing all leaders today is to create their own “guidon” based on the Face of Purpose. 

For most people today, just having a “job” does not cut it.  A job is an obligation with a paycheck attached to it. Creating purpose at work is much different; it requires leadership.  People will not give their all until they see the connection between what they do and how they see it making a difference in the world.  A connection between what people value and what they are doing must exist.  It is the psychological connection between my soul, my heart and what I do.

Leadership Provides Purpose, Direction & Takes Action

Sad to say, but I hear this comment far too often. Sounds like this person is working for a person who needs a few lessons on leadership. True leadership is about taking people to a place they wouldn’?t go to by themselves. Good leaders don’t merely supervise; they create a
sense of purpose and direction for those they lead. After holding leadership positions and teaching leadership classes for 24 years, I am beginning to believe that some people have a natural ability to lead, have a passion, a burning desire to make a difference. Those are the
people I want to work for.

A strong company is one that has leaders spread all across the company, not just at the top. The business world today needs both good leaders and good managers. However, because of the rapid change occurring in industry today, a company needs far more leaders, not more
managers.

Time after time again, businesses put the wrong person in charge. Unintentionally they reward a ?don?t rock the boat? mentality. Conformity and status quo are the first steps leading down the staircase of a business disaster. This is partly the reason Sears, Zayres, IBM and Howard
Johnson?s et al. got in trouble. A major part of being a good leader is making people uncomfortable, uncomfortable with conformity that is.

All of us in leadership positions need to evaluate our actions. Are you providing a positive example for others to follow? Are you leading or managing? Are you effective at what you do? Maybe its time for a self-assessment? Zig Ziglar says, ?”A check-up from the neck-up.”? Look at these leadership self-assessments to give you an idea of where you stand and where your managers stand as effective leaders.

http://www.chartcourse.com/ttiassessmts

Leadership Action Steps:

  • Give your ego a break and ask your people, ?What I should stop doing? ?What I should keep
  • doing?? and what do I need to start doing?? Ask them frequently, “What can I do to make
  • your job better, easier or more productive?” Then do it.
  • Good is no longer good enough. Be always on the look out to improve, change and renew
  • everything the business does.
  • Give people direction and purpose. Be able to tell people how their job individually impacts
  • on the overall company mission.
  • Make it part of the company culture to put managers and staff in the field to work with frontline
  • workers multiple days/hours all year long.
  • Reduce unnecessary regulations and policies. Place a container or paint a mailbox red and
  • centrally place it for people to deposit all dumb rules and regulations needing revision or
  • elimination. Form a team to evaluate each nomination. Celebrate with a bonfire burning the
  • policies and procedures no longer needed.
  • If you haven?t already, start a system of education and training for everyone in the business.
  • A leader is a teacher. As a leader, you should be teaching some of your own classes.
  • Be willing to admit your mistakes.
  • Be quick to deal with individuals who are poisoning the attitudes and performance of others.
  • Allow your workers the ability to reward each other?s performance. Peer pressure is a terrific
  • tool to create the behavior you need for success.
  • Conduct frequent, informal recognition/award celebrations for workers.
  • Give employees permission to disagree with management.
  • Instead of only having the “Best Employee of the Month/Year” etc?recognize individuals for
  • different reasons.
  • Periodically challenge your people with BHAG?s. (Big Harry Audacious Goals) Generate
  • some friendly competition between departments.
  • Have your team establish guiding principles to help them take initiative and stay on course.
  • Take your people off-site and visit other business establishments to get new ideas.
  • Then reward them for implementing those ideas. Have contests for the best idea of the
  • month.
  • Don’?t be afraid to have your staff evaluate your performance. Use a 360-degree evaluation
  • instrument to get feedback. If you don?t have one, call us.

Leadership Mentoring Programs at Work

How do you retain and prepare your best talent to lead? Leadership mentoring programs are one of the most effective tools in achieving business results. The authors of the book, War on Talent reported, “Of those who have had a highly helpful mentoring experience, 95 percent indicated it motivated them to do their very best, 88 percent said it made them less likely to leave their company, and 97 percent said it contributed to their success at the company.”

Many organizations have discovered providing a mentor for high performing employees not only helps them settle into their job and company environment, but also contributes to a lower employee turnover rate and greater job satisfaction.

A mentor, basically, is someone who serves as a counselor or guide. Being asked to serve as a mentor is an honor. It indicates the company has faith in the person’s abilities and trusts him or her to have a positive impact on the situation. The use of a mentor may be an informal, short-term situation or a more formal, long-term assignment.

In an informal mentoring program, the mentor usually helps the mentee for a limited period of time. Advice from the mentor may include the most basic of information about everyday routines including tips about “do’s and don’ts” not found in the employee manual to helping the employee learn job responsibilities and prepare them for future roles in the organization. A mentor who is available to answer questions and provide leadership development also saves time for the supervisor or manager. In addition, mentees often feel more comfortable asking questions of their mentor than their supervisor.

In a program of this type, mentors often are volunteers. Forcing someone who does not want to serve as a mentor to do so can quickly create problems. Obviously, someone with a negative attitude, who might encourage a new employee to gripe and complain, should not serve as a mentor.

A more formal version corporate mentoring program occurs when an organization appoints a senior manager with extensive knowledge and experience to serve as a mentor to a professional the company feels has excellent potential for growth. The mentor’s role usually lasts for an extended period of time.

Effective mentoring programs must have senior level support from the beginning, otherwise it will fail to get the attention and support it needs to become part of the organization’s culture. Experience shows the most effective mentoring programs are run by senior level executives, not just the human resources department.

Whether informal or formal, both parties need to understand the parameters. These may be more important in a long-term, formal mentoring situation, but can also influence the success of short-term, informal mentoring.

  • Select the right mentor. Not everyone makes a good mentor. A mentor is someone who is respected, successful and understands the culture of the organization. They must be willing to make a commitment of their time and knowledge.
  • Ensure proper pairing and create an emotional bond. It is helpful to conduct a behavioral assessment on both the mentee and mentor. This insures proper matching and helps both parties understand each other’s communication styles, strengths and limitations.
  • Establish goals and a purpose. The mentor needs to outline these areas at the beginning. The goals should be in alignment with the strategic plan. Just as important, the protégé should outline their objectives as well.
  • The mentor’s role is to coach and advise the mentee. The mentor does not interfere with the supervisor or manager’s decisions. The new employee, while expected to seek the mentor’s advice particularly on critical issues, is not bound to accept that advice.
  • Confidentiality is important. Both parties need to feel confident that discussions remain between them–not immediately relayed to a supervisor or manager.
  • Decide in advance how you will communicate. Will you have regularly scheduled meetings? Will discussion be face-to-face, over the telephone or even via e-mail? Both parties need to make their preferences known at the beginning and reach an acceptable compromise if they are different.
  • Discuss time limits. If the mentoring period has a time limit the mentor should state that at the beginning.
  • Discuss time commitments. Again, this may be more critical for long-term, formal mentoring. The mentor must expect to give the employee adequate time, but the newcomer should not expect excessive amounts. Setting a schedule at the beginning (example: meet once a week the first month, then once a month after that) avoids irritating misunderstandings later.
  • Build openness and respect. Both the mentor and the person being mentored need to be open and honest, yet respect the other. A mentor who withholds important information or comments does not contribute to the other person’s success. However, such feedback should be delivered with tact and courtesy–and (even if somewhat hurtful) received with an open mind.
  • Establish a professional relationship. The relationship between the mentor and his or her protégé is a professional one, not a personal one. This is particularly important for the mentee to understand.

Leaders Energize and Engage the Workforce

A. W. “Bill” Dahlberg, the former CEO of Southern Company believes in having fun. At company gatherings, he has impersonated soul singer James Brown….dressed as General George Patton… and arrived decked out as a fortune teller complete with crystal ball.

Employees at PeopleSoft, Inc. remember the day that CEO David Duffield danced the Macarena in front of 500 happy co-workers.

Over at Odetics, Inc., they’re still talking about the time the chief technology officer took over duty on the cafeteria cash register on St. Patrick’s Day…dressed as a leprechaun!

And then there’s John Briggs, director of production at Yahoo! In early 1997, Briggs promised salespeople that he would have the Web directory’s logo tattooed on his posterior when the stock passed $50 a share. To show he had kept his promise, he modeled the new tattoo in front of everyone in the company.

Finally, there’s something called “Bowling with Turkeys.” Hotel tradition calls for employees at the Hyatt Regency (Lexington, Kentucky) to wrap a 12-pound frozen turkey with electrical tape, then roll it 50 feet down the loading dock and try to turn over as many wine bottle “bowling pins” as possible. Winners get a pumpkin pie.

After a professional lifetime identifying what it takes to create transform ordinary organizations into extraordinary organizations, I know work can be awfully boring—unless someone at the top shakes everything up!

The leaders and organizations I just mentioned know it is important to engage, energize and involve people about their work. You need to lighten up and have some fun every now and then.

It isn’t hard to dress up as a leprechaun, sponsor a company contest, ask people for their ideas and maybe even throw a party. And the payoff for an energized work environment is enormous: improved retention and productivity and reduced turnover.

We can’t merely employ someone’s hands and tell them to leave their hearts, minds and spirits at home. Today’s workers are looking for many things in an employment relationship. They want a meaningful partnership with their workplaces. Workplaces that provide meaning and purpose and are fun, engaging, and energizing will enjoy greater retention, higher productivity and lower turnover.

Remember Abraham Maslow? His well-known hierarchy of needs theory said all people strive for self-actualization, which is the need for innovation and creativity. When people can reach this higher level on the job they gain greater personal fulfillment, which improves job satisfaction. Yes, you still have to pay well, but an organization can create an energized, “higher calling” environment will have higher retention and greater productivity.

Jobs and work environments using high-involvement activities provide people with autonomy, learning opportunities, meaning, purpose, and a way to grow and get ahead—not to mention a host of benefits to the company as well. High-involvement activities include, but are not limited to, the use of self-managing teams, information sharing, shared goal setting, suggestion programs, brainstorming sessions, Kaizen, idea campaigns and motivational meetings.

A survey conducted by Development Dimensions International (DDI), asked 232 organizations around the world including 81 from Hong Kong, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia to answer the question, “Do high-performance practices improve business performance and which practices have the greatest impact?”

The findings from the survey showed significant improvements in all areas.

Most noteworthy were the improvements in the areas of customer service and quality of the products and services. Furthermore, I would be so bold as to estimate that the biggest changes were not measured directly, but more implicitly. Although the survey did not measure the improvement of attitudes, retention rates, and feelings of the workforce, I’m sure they improved as well. As Abraham Maslow indicated in his theory of motivation, the more ability and freedom people have to use their thinking ability the more satisfaction they receive on the job, and the higher they move up the pyramid of needs. People do not respond favorably to overly restrictive work environments. High-involvement activities help people reach higher levels. These places engage and energize their workforce.

HOW TO RESOLVE WORKPLACE CONFLICT

Conflict in the workplace is a painful reality and a key reason for poor productivity and frustration.  Do you have people in your workplace that cause problems for everyone else?  Do they create additional work for others?  One point is clear–conflict does not magically go away and only gets worse when ignored.

Certain types of workplace conflict are readily identified.  Other forms of conflict may not be so easily detected.  Small, irritating events such as negative attitudes occur repeatedly over time and can cause people to strike out at each other.  In many cases, conflict occurs at the senior level of the organization.  In these situations some kind of intervention is needed.

What type of workplace conflict requires intervention?   Anything that disrupts the office, impacts on productivity or poses a threat to other employees needs addressing.  The degree to which you tolerate a situation before intervention may vary.   A manager may not feel it necessary to intervene when a minor exchange of words occurs between employees–unless such an incident becomes a daily occurrence and expands beyond the employees initially involved.  However, a situation where one employee threatens another requires immediate action.  When handling conflict, some basic guidelines apply.

  • Understand the situation.  Few situations are exactly as they seem or as presented to you by others. Before you try to settle the conflict insure you have investigated both sides of the issue.
  • Acknowledge the problem.  I remember an exchange between two board members.  One member was frustrated with the direction the organization was taking.  He told the other, “Just don’t worry about it.  It isn’t that important.”  Keep in mind what appears to be a small issue to you can be a major issue with another.  Acknowledging the frustration and concerns is an important step in resolving the conflict.
  • Be patient and take your time. The old adage, “Haste makes waste,” has more truth in it than we sometimes realize.  Take time to evaluate all information.  A too-quick decision does more harm than good when it turns out to be the wrong decision and further alienating the individual involved.
  • Avoid using coercion and intimidation.  Emotional outbursts or coercing people may stop the problem temporarily, but do not fool yourself into thinking it is a long-term solution.  Odds are the problem will resurface.  At that point not only will you have the initial problem to deal with, but also the angry feelings that have festered below the surface during the interim.
  • Focus on the problem, not the individual.  Most people have known at least one “problematic individual” during their work experience.  Avoid your own pre-conceived attitudes about individuals.  Person X may not be the most congenial individual on your staff.  This does not mean they do not have a legitimate problem or issue.  Focus on identifying and resolving the conflict.  If, after careful and thorough analysis, you determine the individual is the problem, then focus on the individual at that point.
  • Establish guidelines. Before conducting a formal meeting between individuals, get both parties to agree to a few meeting guidelines.  Ask them to express themselves calmly—as unemotionally as possible. Have them agree to attempt to understand each other’s perspective.  Tell them if they violate the guidelines the meeting will come to an end.
  • Keep the communication open.  The ultimate goal in conflict resolution is for both parties to resolve the issue between themselves. Allow both parties to express their viewpoint, but also share your perspective.  Attempt to facilitate the meeting and help them pinpoint the real issue causing conflict.
  • Act decisively.  Once you have taken time to gather information, talked to all the parties involved, and reviewed all the circumstances, make your decision and act.  Don’t leave the issue in limbo.  Taking too long to make a decision could damage your credibility and their perception of you.  They may view you as either too weak, too uncaring, or both, to handle the problem.   Not everyone will agree with your decision, but at least they will know where you stand.
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Explore our Resolving Conflicts training course.

Greg Smith’s cutting-edge keynotes, consulting, and training programs have helped businesses improve communication, reduce turnover, increase sales, hire better people and deliver better customer service.  As President and founder of Chart Your Course International he has implemented professional development programs for thousands of organizations globally.  He has authored nine informative books including 401 Proven Ways to Retain Your Best Employees.