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EinsteinEinstein put it bluntly when he said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”   The harsh reality is that leadership programs and experiences that delivered today’s leaders will not continue to deliver the next generation of skilled leadership.

Changing business landscapes are requiring new leadership skills.  Subsequently, the gaps between current leadership skills and the new required skills are driving businesses to rethink their leadership development to keep pace.

Key to success will be the alignment between the goals of business, its leadership development programs and the resulting impact on customers.

Businesses are under pressure to ensure leadership is aligned with changing business strategies.  Every day, our clients share with us the problems they face in developing new skills of future leaders in response to the ever-changing external marketplace.  These problems include:

  • A continued struggle to find the leadership skills they need externally despite recent upswing in the stock market and economy.
  • Constantly evolving is the definition of what success looks like for each businesses.
  • Businesses are being forced to develop more leaders from within to manage gaps between future business goals and the skills that will be required to achieve them.

Top talent must be identified, developed and retained. With key skill shortages in the marketplace, many businesses will not be able to buy their way out of their leadership shortages. They will need to build from within. Three key priorities will help businesses succeed today and in the future:Bright ideas

  1. Alignment of business goals with the strategies required to achieve real results.
  2. Identifying the gaps between leadership skills necessary to drive the strategy and what leadership skills are currently available to the business.
  3. Identify those in your organization with the potential to take on a stronger leadership role and dedicate to developing their skills in new, more usable ways.

Recently, Aberdeen Group released a research report on Accelerating Leadership Development. Their research cited the need to find more creative, lower-cost means of developing leaders and called on businesses to rethink their leadership development to keep pace.  “Successful organizations know that the key to ensuring a steady stream of leadership talent is to provide differentiated opportunities to individuals who demonstrate the greatest potential for future organizational impact.” 

Critical thinking is an essential leadership skill but it doesn’t stop there.  The ability to apply critical thinking is equally important.  The harsh reality is that leadership programs and experiences that delivered today’s leaders will not continue to deliver the next generation of skilled leadership. 

The big question is what will you do about it?

 

Read more: Helping your managers use their critical thinking skills.

 

2013 ©Nikki Ellison

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor and master-certified executive coach.  She co-founded ELEVATE Results and the Franchise Success Institute with Andrew Neitlich, owner of the global Center for Executive Coaching.  Their renowned leadership skill development program, ELEVATE Your Leaders, was recently launched as licensed program and will soon be operating in 16 states in the U.S. along with locations in Canada and Southeast Asia by the end of 2013. Her firm, Ellison Partners, is Omaha’s only provider of the ELEVATE Your Leaders program.

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Congratulations to our Spring 2012-2013 leadership program graduates!  They are:

  • www.ellisonpartners.comCarmen Sirizzotti, Director of Strategic Staffing and Compensation at University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Cathy Spicka, Vice President of Accounting at DEI Communities
  • Crystal Thompson, Production Planning Manager Epsen Hillmer Graphics
  • Kari Heunink, Compliance/SBA Officer, Washington County Bank
  • Mike Arkfeld, Vice President of Operations at Titan Medical Group

We are proud of your leadership, your hard work and most of all we are proud of the business results you have achieved.  Read More!

Contact us today for a no-obligation, no pressure conversation about your leadership development needs and whether our program is right for you.  402.884.7300.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, master-certified executive coach, and founder of Ellison Partners.  Through effective leadership coaching, proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments, Ellison Partners helps individuals and business leaders achieve results.

2013 ©Nikki Ellison

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light bulb team

Creating a Team Building Culture

Last time, we reviewed the four things  you must do to create a

Team Building Culture and they are:

  1. Assess the individual employee
  2. Assess the leader
  3. Assess the team
  4. Create a culture that values engagement

Now that you understand the individuals on the team and their leaders,  combine what you’ve learned and develop an understanding of how the team members will interact with each another.  This is when you bring them all together to assess the team dynamics.  A team workshop will help everyone see a big-picture perspective. Each employee brings unique skills, behaviors and interests to the work environment.  This process will allow everyone to understand how those qualities interact.

You will no doubt find that you’ll need to make adjustments. Clarity is easily achieved by having the results and data.  Adjustments to the current work environment become obvious and much simpler to make.  The way your team works together directly impacts on productivity and now that you have clear understanding of where strengths and weaknesses vary, managers can make intelligent adjustments to maximize efficiency.

Once a team is correctly assessed and adjusted, job satisfaction improves significantly!  This happens because with the right job fit and a well aligned team, employees feel fulfilled in their roles.  When all roles are understood and appreciated, employees feel engaged and work to their full potential.  Happy employees also encourage their peers and coworkers to achieve maximum productivity.  Better fit and better alignment creates higher engagement, better productivity and increased profits.  It is that connected!

Next time we will bring it all together when the culture of having strong teams really becomes a part of the fabric of your company’s DNA.  No longer a “flavor-of-the-month” management topic, an organization that genuinely values engagement will begin to see the fruits of their efforts through stronger branding, enhanced company identity, better retention and a leg up on the competition when recruiting.

In our final discussion, we will explore the attitudes that will keep this culture at the heart of an organization.

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light bulb team

We have been ticking down the list of the four things you must do to create a

Team Building Culture and they are:

  1. Assess the individual employee
  2. Assess the leader
  3. Assess the team
  4. Create a culture that values engagement

Today, we’ll take a look at our leaders.  Too often, folks are promoted to a position because they have proved themselves to be very good at the job they did.  There is a huge difference between being a great “Do-er” and an engaging “Lead-er”.  Since these skills often do not go hand-in-hand, appropriate assessments will tell you about the job fit of your leaders.

If employees are the foundation of a business, leaders are the essential framework as we begin building a business to a higher level.  The ability to engage others is the most essential part of every leader’s job profile and leadership skill set. The daily actions of senior leadership, managers and supervisors are the key drivers of engagement.

Appropriate assessments will tell you about the job fit of your existing leaders. This will allow you to identify top-performing and lesser-performing leaders.  The results will reveal a predictive performance pattern.  With this, you can compare the results to these benchmarks and accurately determine if your leaders are in the right jobs.  You can then decide if the gaps are because of a selection issue or if coaching and development can provide the solution.

Always begin by identifying the leadership skills that are most effective in engaging employees.When you increase the effectiveness of your leaders’ ability to engage and motivate their team, job satisfaction, productivity and better profits increase along with it. You will need feedback about each leader from his boss, peers and direct reports to accomplish this. When you have this information, you can successfully align leader’s behaviors and skills with the expectations of the organization and his boss.   Now, by the use of on-the-job coaching and performance feedback, you can begin to close the gaps in the desired skills and behaviors.

Next time, we’ll put together all the pieces of the team!

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Image

Creating a Team Building Culture

 

Last time, we discussed “what not to do” when your mission is creating a culture that puts a high value on strong teams.  We identified the four things you must do to create a

Team Building Culture and they are:

  1. Assess the individual employee
  2. Assess the leader
  3. Assess the team
  4. Create a culture that values engagement

We begin with employees, because they are the foundation of your strong teams.  First, make sure they are in the right jobs. The average employee wants more than just a paycheck from his employer, many want training and stimulation so they can develop and promote. You can provide this opportunity using predictive performance or job matching technology. This way, you can strategically invest in your people, fully developing them for the jobs they are in, and you can tailor specific training for career advancement.

Identify your target employees, those who fit well in their current job, are fully engaged in their current role, and whose performance exceeds expectations. This is the kind of employee who achieves goals and has the ability to elevate the performance of other employees, teams, departments, and divisions. The right assessments will tell you about employees’ cognitive skills, job-related behaviors and occupational interests. You’ll need the right data for identifying your stand-out, target employees and those employees who are doing a good job but may not yet have emerged as your rising stars.

Challenge your employees! Managers may be four times more engaged than frontline employees because they have additional responsibilities. Give your employees stretch goals and let them learn from their mistakes. This will enhance the level of employee engagement.  Get their feedback as you challenge them because what you learn from them can be extremely important in helping implement solutions. Try this approach: Encourage the employee to identify: What can be improved?  What do we need here?  What can be adjusted? What should we start or stop doing?

The actions of senior leadership, managers and supervisors are the key drivers of your employee engagement. This is critical because it needs to be a vital part of every leader’s job profile and leadership skill set.  Next time, we’ll learn the value of assessing your leaders to reveal how adept they are at engaging those on their teams.  We will show you how!

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Key IdeaPosted on March 8, 2013

Synergy, now there’s a buzz word if there ever was one.  So what does it mean?  “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Everyone’s heard that expression. OK, but what does that really mean? Simply this, an effective team can accomplish more together than the individual members can accomplish on their own. Building a high-performing team culture requires more than just throwing a group of outstanding folks into a room and telling them they can’t come out until they have a solution. Maintaining a team culture that’s highly productive requires planning, communication and decision-making. Assess individual strengths and weaknesses, build support, establish the conditions for effectiveness, agree on your goals—and you’re on the road to building a championship team.

If instead, you lead with your emotions, shy away from hard decisions, cross your fingers and hope that the process will “work itself out”, or if you build a team made up of your personal favorites, then don’t be surprised if your outstanding individuals fail to become your dream team. We see it in sports all the time and it happens in businesses too, maybe even more often. Based on our experience with many of America’s Most Productive Companies, we’ve identified four things you must do create an effective Team Building Culture which will sustain your high-performing teams. In order to create a team-building culture you must do the following:

  1. Assess the individual employee
  2. Assess the leader
  3. Assess the team
  4. Create a culture that values engagement

Next time, we’ll explore ways that you can do just that and you might be surprised at the results and delighted to see what it does to the effectiveness of your team.

Betty Streff is a Human Capital Expert and Leadership Coach with Ellison Partners.  She facilitates the LEAP™ leadership acceleration program and helps ensure leaders have the employee data necessary to effectively and profitably manage their workforce.

©Ellison Partners 2013.

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You might not be familiar with Capt. Edward A. Murphy but I would bet you know his moniker: Murphy’s Laws.    Murphy’s Law (“If anything can go wrong, it will.”) was born at Edwards Airforce base in 1949.  Capt. Murphy, an engineer, was actually credited with an old saying that had been around for years.  It was a term he used in describing one of his men who had wired a transducer wrong.   A project manager had been keeping a list of things Capt. Murphy said.  Today we know that list as Murphy’s Laws.

I think people, for the most part, work hard to do a good job in part because getting noticed for good work gets us promoted often to a management position.     It’s in that moment we are excited, happy and full of desire to do a good job once again.  After all, we now have a bigger job, more pay, more responsibility. Wait. What? More Responsibility? What does that mean?  Have you ever found yourself promoted to management and after the excitement wanes you wonder ‘now what’?  You surely don’t want you manager to be like Capt. Murphy, overlooking your work, and lament “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Here are 10 things you can do today to ensure your name isn’t linked with Murphy’s Laws:

1.  Accept that you still have much to learn.  It’s ok not to feel fully confident in your new leadership role.  You’ll have time to continue learning if you do just that.  Be prepared to learn from others – including your own team.

2. Communicate clearly.  Of all the issues that keep my company in business it’s ‘lack of communication’ that I hear the most.   Harboring information is a surefire way to trouble.  Open lines of communication with your team; share goals, priorities, and deadlines; provide clear direction; welcome questions and ask for feedback from others.  Effective communication will be essential in establishing your credibility as a leader and gaining the support of your team.

3.  Set a good example.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking now that you are management it’s your teams job to rise above while you sit with your feet on your desk.  Demand the same level of professionalism and dedication from yourself that you do from your team.  Be upbeat, friendly and willing to do as you say.

4.  Encourage feedback.  When I’ve share this tip I often hear “What if I am not prepared to do whatever they suggest?”.  The tip is Encourage Feedback  not Do Everything Suggested.  Employees don’t always share what’s on their mind.  Prompt them for feedback, canvass for opinions, listen to concerns and ask for ideas.  Maintaining an open door policy requires more than physically leaving your office door open a crack.  You must solicit input, help your employee feel heard, sort through what you hear and use the feedback that can improve things for your company and it’s customers.

5. Offer recognition.  Praise doesn’t have to be formal.  A well-placed Thank You goes a long way in encouraging future contributions and effort.  Make recognition part of your day-to-day communication with your team.  Recognizing them in front of their peer and others builds up your teams confidence.

6. Be decisive.  A quality leader knows how to sift and sort through information to arrive at a decision point.  Sometimes this is done quickly; other times a quality leader might delay a decision. At whatever point you have enough information to make a solid decision, do so and stick with it.  This doesn’t mean don’t alter your path if a decision truly needs revising but for the most part made quality decisions then stick with the decisions you make.  Don’t be wishy-washy.  You only have to  look at public opinion on government U-turns to see how easily confidence in a leader can be weakened or lost altogether.

7.  Help your team see the “big picture”.   Do you know where you and your job fits into your company’s larger goals?  Do you know where your team’s jobs fit?  If not, find out then be sure to communicate it.  This helps demonstrate that every task they complete can have an impact on the company’s success, reputation and bottom line.  Everyone needs to know they belong.  Help your team see and feel why they and their jobs are important.

8.  Create an environment of constant learning and development – and include yourself in this process.  Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s once said “If you’re green, you’re growing.  If you’re ripe, you rot.”  Whether or not you are a fan of McDonald’s or not, the point should be well heeded.  Encourage your team to explore new methods for reaching their goals and company goals.  Allow them to make and learn from mistakes; be sure to reward new and innovative ideas.

9.  Provide professional guidance.   A good manager and leader will also be a good mentor.  Make yourself available to your team and show interest in their careers.  Don’t overlook the power of positive reinforcement.  Continue to develop your skills, especially those focused on results. A focus on execution and achieving actual business results will put you far ahead of those quoting strategy and theory any day.  Require, for any training you consider for yourself or your team, that the trainer show proof their program works.  Don’t settle for creative marketing.  Insist your training dollars are spent on that which can prove the connection to helping you achieve measurable business results.

10.  Be patient with yourself.  As it goes ‘Rome wasn’t built-in a day’.  Recognize strong managerial and leadership skills take time – especially as you adjust to your new position.  Don’t expect to effectively learn significant leadership skills in a week-long seminar. Seek guidance to learn as you go, giving yourself time to try out new skills, and adapt what you learn to your own style of leadership.  Seek guidance formally through coaching and informally through peers.  In doing so you will enhance your leadership abilities and make strides toward becoming a great manager and respected leader.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments Ellison Partners helps businesses achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2012.

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