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Why Some Executive Demonstrate Bad Behavior

Brian Evje had a recent piece in Inc. Magazine titled, “Why Executives Are So Bad At The Behavioral Side of Management”.

After a 40-year career, I certainly do not believe that all execs are bad at the ‘soft’ skill issues (which we all know are really the hard issues to address).

Mr. Evje states that “In reality, there is nothing ‘soft’ about the skills need to relate to people well enough to lead them.  True leadership involves both hard skills and harder skills”.  I love this quote.

He summarizes that there are ultimately 3 things leaders have to do to be more effective:

1) Admit that inter-personal skills are important.  He even posits that we must be able to lead ourselves.  I call this self-management.  Being able to bring the required perspective to every situation and to do this ‘in the moment’ requires presence, discipline, thoughtfulness and a feeling of being grounded.  Humans don’t gain this ability without getting exercise, getting out in nature, taking think time, and having a variety of reserves of time in place every day..

2) Rethink your definitions of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills.  He’s got great questions to ask yourself.  See the full article here:  http://www.businessinsider.com/successful-leadership-skills-2012-11

3) Get some help.  As a Leadership Strategist for almost 18 years, I, of course, love this idea.  Just like in sports, we don’t know what we don’t know about our levels of effectiveness. An outsider can help you raise your awareness and ultimately, make different choices.

When I re-tweeted this article yesterday, one of my Facebook friends added a comment that most execs put their self-interest over the interest of their employees, companies, communities.  Again, I don’t agree with the broad generalization.  I have seen more execs do this than I’d like to admit. However, the key here is to only hire values-based people and people who share your values.  If you value transparency, figure out what questions to ask in the interview to assess the applicant’s perspective on transparency.  If you value integrity, ask them to share an experience when they’ve been asked to compromise their integrity.  The interview might  be very short based on their response to this question.

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Execution is Not Easy! If it was, everyone would be doing it…even the US Air Force

How can really bright people screw up to the tune of $1 billion?

Our colleagues in the US Air Force were successful in just that.

They selected a software vendor in 2006 to “configure, deploy and conduct training and change management activities” related to a $628 million contract for an off-the-shelf enterprise-wide software system.  Randall Stross, a Silicon Valley author and professor at San Jose State University, captures the details in Sunday’s New York Times.  He quotes an Air Force executive,  laying the groundwork for this debacle by 2010, “We’ve never tried to change all the processes, tools and languages of all 250,000 people in our business at once, and that’s essentially what we are about to do.”

Mr. Stross attributes the failure to endless meetings, complex bureaucratic requirements and the constant need to fight wars.  My assessment of the situation is much simpler.

My experience working with leadership teams for over 30 years tells me that the team’s Vision and planning process was flawed.

This is what happens when the collective attitudes and beliefs are not addressed as part of the vision process.  This is what happens when the vision cannot be articulated or is not embraced by every member of the team.  These are the obstacles to almost every planning process.  When the planning process is flawed, no amount of expertise in execution can bring an initiative to a productive close.

If you would like to align your team around a vision for a $1 billion initiative or something smaller in scope for 2013, get our free report at www.teamalignmentstrategies.com

Here’s the full article in the Sunday business section of the  New York Times: http://nyti.ms/YOI6CF  It’s worth a read.

Get the Right People in the Right Roles Can be Messy!

How do we get the right people in the right roles?

In addition to gaining a full understanding of people’s strengths, we need to have clarity about each other’s vulnerabilities.  I believe our vulnerabilities, or growth opportunities, fall into several categories:

* Risks when we simply get the volume turned up too high on our strengths

* Unmet needs that can unconsciously drive us to make poor choices and decisions that have negative consequences, and of course,

* our egos.

How do we then get the right people in the right roles doing the right work using the right strengths and managing their growth opportunities or vulnerabilities?

First, you need to know the strengths of your people.  We use a proprietary tool developed by Lynn Taylor of Taylor Protocols to identify strengths and vulnerabilities of individuals.  This affirming profile helps people see themselves in a new light.  More importantly, it helps the rest of the team and their manager have a much more realistic perspective on the individual.

Thomas Leonard, founder of Coach U and one of the founders of the profession of coaching, articulated that we all have needs.  When these needs are left to fester they can become significant obstacles to effectiveness.  For almost 20-years I had a need to ‘get credit’.  That need drove me to be irrational at times. I would volunteer for every difficult assignment.  I would raise my hand to serve on every task force or committee.  When I started my training at Coach U and saw this need, my life and career transformed.  With awareness  and self-management, I was no longer ‘driven’ to get that need met.

What’s your unmet need?  Do you have a need to be the smartest person in the room? Do you have the need to be liked? Do you have the need to be validated? Do you have the need for external recognition?  Do you have the need to be heard? Do you have the need to be part of ‘the team’?

Every human being has these needs.  The question is are they driving us in an invisible and unproductive way?

Can we gain this awareness about ourselves or will we remain driven by these underlying growth opportunities?  Can we then self-manage in a way that gets these needs met or at least keeps them in check?

Once you know who you are dealing with you on your team and the various aspects of each team member, it’s easy to ensure their roles play to their strengths.

The next step is to ensure that everyone demonstrates both the personal and professional maturity to develop themselves, self-manage and embrace these growth opportunities.

For our free report, Make More Money While Working Less click here: teamalignmentstrategies.com