Below are 33 opportunities for you to be inspired, change direction, or reflect on words of wisdom. One of the reasons I love quotes is that the right words, at the right time, can provide the right inspiration for something new.
“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Christopher Columbus
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald
Running a successful corporate program will call on almost every leadership principle you can imagine. From defining the problem to measuring success, leaders emerge through the process. In fact, I personally promoted a leader based on the leadership traits I witnessed during such a change project.
Satish Subramanian is a Principal at M Squared Consulting, a SolomonEdwards company. He has over 25 years of experience in technology consulting and advises companies on business transformation. His new book, Transforming Business with Program Management provides the necessary steps to ensure solid program management. I recently asked him about his work.
“Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.” -C. Fitchner
“Success starts upfront” is all about problem definition. I have seen this numerous times in organizations. One of the most egregious examples was when it was clear the group was working on two very different problems. Neither side even realized it until months into it. Why is defining the problem so important? Would you share an example from your work?
The problem definition step is a critical one in the early stages of the business transformation journey. This step ensures the problem is well understood and agreed upon by stakeholders prior to expending significant organizational resources for a long period to solve it. It positions the transformational change program for success, facilitates the delivery of agreed strategic objectives, and realizes the transformational vision.
One example is that of a well-known biotech company that outsourced its finance, accounting, and payroll functions to an off-shore location as part of a strategic initiative to reduce cost. In hindsight, the organization realized it should have redesigned the business processes to overcome significant process gaps and then consider outsourcing. The inadequate upfront definition of the problem resulted in the goal of cost reduction not getting met in the designated time frames.
“No matter how good the team, if we’re not solving the right problem, the project fails.” –Woody Williams
Program management is the alignment and integration of multiple dimensions (strategy, people, process, technology, structure, and measurement) to execute organization transformation strategies, deliver the transformed future state, and achieve the desired business outcomes.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” -Larry Elder
Would you share the program management life cycle phases?
Program management life cycle is the four-phase approach to drive a business transformation program from start to finish. This life cycle enables and sustains business transformation by articulating vision, developing an integrated transformation program plan, driving the plan, removing execution barriers, delivering planned business outcomes, and realizing business benefits. The illustration highlights the four phases and the eight processes that constitute the program management life cycle.
The four phases are:
Phase One – Set the stage
Phase Two – Decide what to do
Phase Three – Make it happen
Phase Four – Make it stick
Copyright 2015 by Satish P Subramanian; Used by Permission
All of us have some negative qualities, make mistakes, and mess up. After all, “We’re only human.”
But bad managers seem to collect these traits faster than a hoarder fills a house. If you are working for someone and find yourself nodding vigorously as you read this list, you officially have a bad boss.
What traits would you add to the list?
Everything is about him. Not the organizational goals, but his bonus. Not about the team, but about his individual performance. “How I look” is more important than anything else.
“Leaders enjoy giving credit to others.” -Skip Prichard
You work all night to get it done. Instead of praising you, you find your name removed and her name prominently at the top. She basks in the light of your success and barely acknowledges your contribution.
“Leaders create results by letting others shine.” -Skip Prichard
Threats and intimidation mark the way he manages. You are not asked; you are bullied.
What seems obvious to everyone else, she misses. Her effect on people is something that she completely misses. She never comes back and apologizes or corrects a misunderstanding because she is just not aware of her impact.
Sure, everyone needs to manage up. But, he does it exclusively. His boss loves him. Everyone else sees that he sucks up so much that he has little time for anything else.
You are frequently wrong, but she never is. She can never admit a mistake because it would threaten her self-esteem.
“Freely admitting mistakes is a sign of leadership.” -Skip Prichard
This is a guest post by friend and mentor Bruce Rhoades, who retired after having run several companies. He often helps me with strategy. I am delighted that he is a regular contributor.
New Leader Challenges—A Review
Since this is the second post about tips for new leaders, let’s review the challenges. Achieving a new leadership position is both rewarding and challenging. It acknowledges that you are someone who can make a difference, lead others and get things done. On the other hand, it is perhaps another step toward more responsibility and provides greater visibility of your actions and style.
Whether you are new to a department, new to a company or just received a promotion, the challenges are very similar. It is important to establish your style, values and culture effectively and quickly. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. So what are some techniques to quickly establish your leadership style and lead effectively?
“Never underestimate the effect of taking action on small things.” -Bruce Rhoades
Much of my career has been serving in interim executive positions or as interim CEO for various companies, where I often entered the organization as the “new guy” in charge. Here are the fundamental areas that I have found helpful for your initial focus to be an effective leader:
From a foundation of reliable information, relationships at all levels and open communication, here are some tips to establish a culture of decisiveness, empowerment, action and accountability.
First Impressions—A Reminder
Whether you are in a new leadership role as executive, department manager, product manager, or team leader, people will watch closely to understand your style. A few of the things people will evaluate include:
How do you think about customers; how do you treat them?
How do you gather information?
What are your values?
As the organization’s employees and customers observe these traits, it is important to remember: They will listen to what you say, but it is what you do that counts the most to establish culture.
So, where do you start? I suggest you initially focus on these characteristics as the most important:
Gather reliable information
Delegate and empower others when possible
Here are some tips on how to set the tone for decisiveness, empowerment, action and accountability.
Decisions, Delegation and Empowerment
The job of a leader is to make decisions happen—not necessarily make all the decisions, but to ensure they happen. In fact, it is better for the strength of the organization if the leader does NOT make most of the decisions. When others are involved, empowered and delegated the task of making decisions, everyone learns, people are more engaged and the organization begins to have a culture of deciding instead of just identifying problems to discuss endlessly.
One of the best times to establish a decision culture is when you are a new leader. First, you certainly do not know all the answers, and you need input from others. Second, people will be open to helping you. Here are some tips:
Look for Small Things: In various interactions within the organization, be alert for small items that are frustrations, inefficiencies or items holding people back. Ask “Who needs to be involved in changing the item?” Then delegate and empower the two or three people named to make the decision and take action. If the people involved cannot agree, then they can come back for guidance, but if they do agree, then it is done. Many times, there are small decisions that do not need senior management involvement. After all, those involved know more about it anyway. Delegating small decisions will set the tone for the organization, encourage others to decide and help establish an empowerment culture. Never underestimate the effect of taking action on small things.
“Delegating small things creates a decision and empowerment culture.” -Bruce Rhoades
Take Immediate Action on the Obvious: When you are the new leader, after many discussions you will find that there are some very well-known and recurring issues that have been around a long time. Many times everyone agrees about what needs to be done—so do it! If possible, delegate the responsibility. If delegation is not appropriate, then gather input from many, test your decision with them and decide. These items can be large or small, but deciding quickly will establish your style and send a message to the organization that decisions are encouraged.