Anecdotally- February 2009
Date Published: 17-Feb-09
Listen to Stories to Remember Your Stories
February 2009 | Published by Anecdote - Putting Stories to Work.
Stories are a great way to demonstrate capability. Stories help communicate value when you can't measure it. Stories help people connect with each other. Sharing stories can make it easier to spark a crucial conversation. So help create an environment where people regularly listen to and tell stories within the workplace. Share this newsletter with your leaders so that they can help create a great place to work!
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by Ram Charan
If you ever debated or doubted whether leadership skills are innate or learned, the answer according to Ram Charan is they can be mastered through practice. No leader is born perfect with all the information and skills required to lead and be successful. This book traverses the journey of several leaders, businesses and business environments and maps patterns of leadership behaviours that work. The challenges, failures and success stories come from Dell, GE, Ford, GM, HP, Home Depot, Walmart, Sears, Verizon, IBM and so on.
It is refreshingly different from the run-of-the-mill leadership series books. It recognises the human element of business and strongly and repeatedly makes the point that it takes psychological courage to lead well. Ram Charan is quick to remind us that how change is perceived is very much a function of an individual's psychological construct. And the many examples in the book show that money-making requires a great set of people, the ability to see patterns of change, the tenacity to change, constant communication and coaching, collaborative behaviours, setting priorities and achievable goals, and the ability to listen to advocates of change. I've dug out some of the good practices that the author shares around each skill.
The eight skills that leaders need to master are
The author makes no bones about stressing that the social system at many organizations is out of sync with what they want to accomplish. He holds firm belief that the fundamentals of money-making rest in the hands of the attitudes and behaviours of the people in control and how they can get their teams to work together effectively. There are two aspects at play here: operating mechanisms (practices or processes) that can bring people to work together despite the silos created by structures and psychological strength (crucial conversations, listening, tenacity).
In essence this book is about leadership and the importance (and difficulty) of creating collaborative working environments. It is well worth a read in these times of change and tough decision-making. The examples act as a good trigger to reflect and review your leadership experiences and work out what skills you need to develop further and windows of opportunity that might exist that you hadn't thought of.
Reviewed by: Chandni Kapur
Shawn will be in London running two workshops on June 24 and 25: Business Narrative Techniques and Storytelling for Business Leaders. Here is the link to the full descriptions of the workshops. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a registration form.» Back to top
We run a lot of management development programs in both the public and private sectors. The companies we work with recognise that the single biggest impact upon staff engagement and organisational performance is the capability of their managers.
A big learning for me...many managers think they are a heck of a lot better than they are when it comes to building engagement and driving performance. They understand 'management' at an intellectual level but don't know how to translate that into effective interactions with their staff. They can easily pass any 'Management 101' exam but manage to demotivate and disempower their staff on a daily basis. And yes, this could well apply to you!
One of the biggest challenges faced in these programs is to get the participating managers to accept that they themselves might need to change. To help tackle this, the program uses lots of anecdotes collected from within the organisation. The anecdotes make sure that it isn't a case study; something that can be studied dispassionately but that doesn't connect emotionally because a case study isn't about me or my organisation.
We ask participants to identify any anecdotes where 'they have done this themselves, or something like it'. The results over the past half-dozen programs are summarised below (note that each program uses an equal number of positive and negative anecdotes).
This summary indicates that, according to the participating managers, they create four positive interactions for every negative interaction.
We then show them a visualisation like the example below which reflects the total number of anecdotes collected. Each anecdote is coded as positive/negative and by general topic. They are created using Wordle, a free online tool. Wordle produces these visualisations based on word frequency.
The visualisation indicates about four negative interactions for each positive one which is the opposite of what participating managers indicated based on their behaviour. Once participants recognise this enormous blind spot they become highly motivated to do something about it. And that is what the rest of the program concentrates on.
As we have blogged previously, people don't leave organisations they leave managers. So if you have retention problems, lots of internal staff rotations or flagging performance, tackling manager capability is a good place to start. Drop Mark an email if you want to know more about our management development programs.» Back to top
Create a few 'no email' rules for yourself
Many of us have days when we're snowed under emails and processing them eats up a major chunk of our working day. It's not only less productive but can also be a less effective form of communication, and there are times when emails can be completely avoided. It's just a matter of identifying such instances and developing some useful practices that can replace email communication. Here are a couple of approaches (perhaps you could call them 'policies') that people have adopted in an attempt to affect the culture of their companies positively. Another opportunity to build trust!
Arthur Shelley introduced me to a excellent technique last week called reverse brainstorming. It's a group process for helping the participants generate ideas to improve a situation by looking at the flip side (how to make things worse). It's a bit like a premortem but as you will see less analytical and more physically active.
Here's how it works.
It's a fun and highly productive exercise.» Back to top
Upcoming Events that we'll be presenting at
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Seven personal skills for effective collaboration
Shawn blogged this in September 2008.
It's easy to talk about what collaboration is or is not or the types of collaboration.What's difficult is to change your practices (read behaviours) to improve your chances of an effective collaboration. Here are seven personal skills that we all need to master to give collaboration a chance.
What are some of the fundamental characteristics of a great collaboration? And how does my list of seven stack up against your experience?