To treat others the way they want to be treated, we need to understand them. What techniques do you recommend to have someone listen and really understand someone in order to make secret one work?
I would recommend using three different techniques: asking, observing and assessing.
Ask- Meet one-on-one with each team member to ask him or her about their values, motivations, and learning styles. Don’t come right out and ask, “What motivates you?” The answer you get won’t be very helpful since, chances are, your team member will just tell you what they think you’ll want to hear. You want to ask behavioral interviewing type questions like:
Think back to a time when you were incredibly motivated at work. What happened right before to make you feel that way?
Think of a time when you had to learn something new, and it just “clicked” for you. What method of learning did you use?
Observe – Watch the individuals on your team during meetings, high-stress situations, and social situations and take note of their styles and reactions. Do they take the lead in meetings, or do they follow? Are they agreeable, or do they play devil’s advocate? Do they thrive under pressure, or wilt?
Assess – Conduct behavioral and personality assessments: There are many good behavioral and personality assessments on the market, such as Innermetrix®, Profiles International®, DiSC®, etc. These assessments are typically very accurate and may give you and your employees important insight on their styles, talents, values, and motivations.
“Giving ownership enables people to reach their true potential.”
When you read those two words, what comes to mind?
Words like: tough, decisive, driven, fearless, disciplined?
What can leaders learn from the SEALS?
Under incredible conditions, Navy SEALS prove their worth by getting the job done. When I meet a SEAL, I am intrigued because I know this is someone who is proven. Recently, when I had the opportunity to interview Brian “Iron Ed” Hiner, about his new book, First, Fast, Fearless: How to Lead Like a Navy SEAL, I knew I would walk away with many lessons I could apply in business and in life.
“When leadership is right, you really don’t see it any more.” -Ed Hiner
Becoming a NAVY SEAL means you have overcome all odds. What can corporate leaders learn from the selection process in terms of hiring and recruiting the very best team possible?
We have identified four major traits that we look for in a perspective SEAL candidate: physical courage, moral courage, problem solving, and what I call “teamability.” Physical courage is obvious, but moral courage does not rank far behind because we are an organization that relies heavily on trust and for our people to do the right thing for our country.
We also want SEALs to be problem solvers who thrive in what we call VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), an environment often referred to as the “fog of war.” In our Gallop polling, we discovered that chess players are almost four times more likely than non-chess players to successfully make it through Navy SEAL training; chess players are problem solvers, and the board is VUCA writ small.
The last trait that I call “teamability” is a person’s ability to lead and be led, who can move from team to team seamlessly.
The 4 Must-Have Traits of a SEAL
1: Physical courage.
2: Moral courage.
3: Problem solving.
The takeaway of this is that hiring and recruiting needs be very deliberate. Organizations that understand the critical traits they need in their employees, and actively recruit for these traits, will be more successful down the road. Obviously all organizations look for skills and experience, but oftentimes they overlook the fundamental traits they actually need to be the elite organization that they wish to be.
“Leadership is something you do with people, not to them.” -Ed Hiner
Could you cover teamability a little more and what that means? What methods do you employ to get people to put “mission before me.”
Teamability requires that leaders and team members put mission and team before their own personal interests. When people know that leaders are selflessly making decisions for the team to succeed, and protecting their people along the way, it sets the conditions for teamability. From the beginning of SEALs training we set conditions to reinforce this concept.
In some ways it’s like we turn the pyramid upside down and take care of the broader team mission first and work our way down to the individual. For example, after we finish a mission, we take care of the teams’ common gear first. Then we all split off to our smaller teams and take care of that gear and issues until we get to the individual. This applies to everyone on the team, rank doesn’t matter; the motto is mission before me. This applies everywhere in the SEAL Teams. During staff meetings SEAL Team issues get addressed first, then the smaller Task Unit issues and so forth. It’s a practiced ritual that develops teamability and mission focus. As for the leaders of team, the rank of importance is the Mission, the men and then me. When it’s time to shower and eat, leaders eat last.
When organizations depend on teamwork it’s critical for them to reward the teams that exhibit this trait. In the SEAL Teams your performance review is heavily skewed toward your teamability; we don’t just give it lip service. We reward the traits that we want, to be the elite organization that we need to be. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of just rewarding individual performance at the expense of critical traits that you need for overall mission success.
“Servant leadership means that the team is not about you.” -Ed Hiner
You say, “The biggest enemy of humility is our own ego, which is molded by our fears.” Talk about that interplay between fear and ego.
We are an organization of “Alpha males” and high performers, and it’s easy for individuals in any organization with high performers to fall in love with their own ideas and abilities. Elite teams perform at their best when their leaders are humble. It’s an outward indicator that the leader is willing not to fall in love with his or her own ideas but is instead willing to find the best direction for the mission and the team. When leaders are humble and act selflessly it builds trust, and trust is the invisible thread that holds all elite teams together. When this invisible thread is broken and leaders act in their own self-interest, and don’t engage the skills and talents of the team, results will suffer.
We all have fears, and those fears can contribute to shaping our personalities: fear of failure, not being intelligent, shame, etc. Humility is the antidote to those fears. Elite leaders are not worried about being right; they are focused on the cause-and-effect relationship to get results and accomplish the mission.
I’m not saying that people should completely get rid of their egos so that they dance naked in the halls; I’m saying divorce your ego, yet stay friends. Don’t let your ego run your life. As the saying goes, “Humble people don’t think less of themselves, they think of themselves less.”
Jeanne also answered my questions about how to establish a customer culture, social media strategy, leadership, earning the right to grow, and establishing a sense of urgency:
Establishing a Customer Centric Culture
“Culture is the action, not the words.” How do you connect corporate aspirations with employees’ actions?
For customer-driven work to be transformative and stick, it must be more than a customer manifesto. Commitment to customer-driven growth is proven with action and choices. To engender this culture, people need examples. They need proof.
“Culture is the action, not the words.” -Jeanne Bliss
Customer culture is talked about by many leaders but misunderstood by most organizations. “Commitment” to customers must be attached to deliberate operational behavior, such as, “We will go to market only after these 12 customer requirements are met” or “Every launch must meet these five conditions, which the field requires for success. We won’t launch without them, no exceptions.” People inside organizations need to see the commitment translated to actions that they will feel proud to follow and emulate.
Moving well past words, a deliberate and united set of leadership actions and behaviors practiced in unison is required.
One of the first activities we often undertake to unite leaders is to employ the journey framework to build an operational “code of conduct.”
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.
What NOT to do as a New Leader
Achieving a new leadership position is both rewarding and challenging. It is recognition 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 more visibility.
“Continual blaming only disempowers the organization.” -Bruce Rhoades
Whether you are a new executive, department manager, product manager, or team leader; when you are new to the role, people will watch closely to understand your style and how to work with you. Here are just a few of the things people will be evaluating:
However, as you begin to take action and set the desired cultural tone for the organization, it is easy to allow some behaviors to undermine your effectiveness as a leader. Here are a few things NOT to do as a new leader:
1. Do not Lead or Manage “around” other Leaders:
When involved in the various skip-level and other informal meetings, be careful not to usurp the authority of other leaders who may be responsible. If necessary, instead of acting at the time, simply make note of the situation, ask a few questions, then work through the appropriate leader to do what is necessary later.
2. Do Not Kill the Messenger:
Using the techniques I outlined in the previous post to get good information will sometimes surface bad news. Be cautious not to “kill the messenger” of the news, but listen and take the appropriate action in the proper forum. Strong, emotional reaction to a messenger of bad news kills open communication.
3. Do Not Be Totally Problem-Focused:
It is easy as a new leader to focus on solving problems. Be sure to balance problem solving with actions to capitalize on new opportunities and future strategies. Looking forward to possibilities allows the organization to solve current problems with a better context.
4. Do Not Start Too Many Large Initiatives at Once:
It is great to make decisions and take action, but be cautious to balance long-term, larger initiatives with the short-term actions. You will be more effective with organizational focus on a few long-term initiatives that are completed rather than on too many initiatives that drag on forever.
5. Do Not Permit Hidden Agendas:
When people have ulterior motives that are for personal gain or to hide negative consequences for actions and proposals, it undermines clear communication and trust in the organization. Always prompt people to explain their motives if you suspect hidden agendas. Asking questions is a good way to get to the actual agenda.
“Upward delegation undermines accountability and empowerment.” –Bruce Rhoades
A pocket veto is when someone appears to agree but actually does nothing, hoping that the subject will be forgotten. A pocket veto in business is a sign of passive-aggressive behavior. It not only undermines the effectiveness of the organization, but it also undercuts your leadership. Always confront this behavior with follow-up and reprimands. Pocket veto behavior is not like baseball – you do not get three strikes. Taking direct action with someone with this behavior will quickly set the tone for everyone that pocket vetoes are not a good idea.
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