Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Top 5 Signs You’re Already Losing the Talent War

I just returned from attending and speaking at the HR Management Institute’s conference entitled, “Enhancing HR as a Strategic and Transformative Business Partner in Times of Volatility and Change”.  It was a compelling event in which our team had the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the most progressive HR executives I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with throughout my career.  Upon my return home, I read an article about Yahoo’s CEO making the decision to end telecommuting at their company.  The irony of this decision hit me immediately.  One of the few companies to survive the dot com crash over a decade ago, a company that is entirely built around the value proposition of internet connectivity, is retreating to an Industrial Age, brick and mortar mentality.  Just as the rest of the business world is poised to leverage new thinking and new technologies that will catapult the foundations of internet connectivity to transparent engagement and rapid innovation.

These two recent experiences compelled me to share my insights on the early warning signs that you may already be losing the talent war (and by the way, 2.9 million workers voluntarily left their employer in January, the highest level since June, 2008).

1. You’re resisting flexibility in the workplace ~ I haven’t worked out of a traditional office setting since 2000.  I’ve worked with teams of dispersed associates scattered around the country, and now around the world, and we’ve created remarkable value.  Knowledge workers warming a seat in a cubicle does not ensure productivity or innovation.  At a time when, according to the CEB Executive Guidance ~ 2013 report, CEOs are looking for an additional 20% increase in productivity, forcing knowledge workers to waste time commuting to an expensive piece of real estate doesn’t make sense.  The American Consumer Institute reports that over 350 billion days per year are spent community.  The lost work time and transportation expense represents roughly 7.2% of our gross domestic product.

Even worse, the not-so-subtle message Yahoo is telling its employees is, “We don’t trust you and feel compelled to babysit you to ensure you’re getting your work done.”  Gen Y workers are interactive, online, mobile workers.  For them, the lines between work and life are blurred.  Take that flexibility away from them and you wont have to worry about engaging them; they’ll be working for your competitor.

2. You’re still exclusively entrusting psychologists to train your next generation of leaders ~ McKinsey & Co.® published a study in July, 2011 that identified only 1% of “C” level and one step down executives scored excellent in eight core leadership competencies.  Ninety percent scored below average.  The Corporate Executive Board’s Executive Guidance ~ 2013 report identified the top ten, key competencies shared by more than 23,000 current high performers in today’s fast paced, ambiguous business environment.  Of these ten competencies, only three were identified and measured by the McKinsey study. A study published a mere eighteen months ago.

According to a study conducted by Doris Gomez of Regent University, and published in 2007 in the International Journal of Leadership Studies, corporations are spending in excess of $45 billion a year on leadership training.  That’s a breathtaking investment level for the reported outcomes and painfully obvious disconnect revealed by the McKinsey and CEB studies.

I don’t mean to take the organizational psychologists to task.  I’m sure they have good intentions and work hard at their profession.  They simply are not solely equipped to train the leaders we need today and for tomorrow.  Psychologists have long dominated leadership training efforts and leadership development firms.  If they have been so successful, why do we see such a disconnect?  The fact is, leaders develop leaders, not academics that have been comfortably observing on the sidelines, with no skin in the game, while the rest of us are engaged in the day-to-day trenches, actually leading fellow human beings.  Academics enrich the discourse through their research and scientific method, but this needs to be mindfully blended with real world, leadership experience.

3. You’re still focused on yesterday’s leadership model ~ Transactional leadership is about as relevant today as a rotary dial phone.  Command-and-control leadership tactics are the fastest way to disconnect Gen Y and Gen X workers and create cross generational and cultural rifts in the workplace.  Why?  Because transactional leaders focus exclusively on leveraging extrinsic goals and values.  What motivated and engaged a homogenous workforce once dominated by white, male Baby Boomers rings hollow in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workplace.

To engage today’s remarkably rich and diverse environment, one must include intrinsic goals and values in their approach to leadership.  Authentic relationships, opportunities for personal and professional growth (Gen Y and Gen X don’t differentiate between the two), and purposefulness, of feeling a part of something meaningful and larger than ourselves, transcends multi-cultural orientations and multi-generational perspectives.  It speaks to how we’re neurologically wired for survival.  It speaks to that which makes us human beings.

4. You’re still focused on training hard skills and not developing the soft skills of your talent ~ Training is fine for health and safety, but it does nothing to move the needle of effective leadership, employee engagement and innovative collaboration.  It is rote and boring (a Harvard study demonstrated that traditional lectures improve conceptual learning by only 14%).  Companies must embrace more compelling opportunities that include experiential learning and environments that support the development of emotional intelligence competencies (research shows that 80% of success in life can be attributed to one’s emotional intelligence, with the remaining 20% based in cognitive abilities).

For years we’ve been told to leave our emotions at home when coming to work.  The fact is, this disengages us from our authentic selves and creative abilities.  Emotions are a part of our primary survival mechanism.  Emotions inform us, guide us, and connect us on a neurological and biochemical level.  This also harkens back to the problem of having psychologists running leadership development.  The mainstream academic field of psychology dismissed emotions as messy side effects until the 1980s.  Shocking, right?  It shocked me when I discovered, while reading Richard Davidson’s book, “The Emotional Life Of Your Brain”, that up until about thirty years ago, mainstream psychologists were entirely enamored with behaviorism.  Progressive researchers like Dr. Davidson struggled to even get approval from their institutions, never mind the funding, to conduct psychological studies that looked into the relationship between the brain and emotions!  Thankfully they prevailed, and the field of Affective Neuroscience was born.

5. You’re still conducting traditional diversity and inclusion training as a compliance-driven have-to-do ~ As an esteemed colleague of mine says, “We have diversity, what we don’t have is inclusion.”  Many organizations still conduct D&I training at the same level of enthusiasm and strategic importance as they conduct health and safety training.  Employees are sent an email, told when and where to show up, and they check off the box for another year.  The demands and pace of business are such that we had better be fully engaging our entire workforce.  And if we’re to capture that 20% improvement in productivity CEOs are looking for, I don’t think we can consciously or unconsciously relegate a single employee to the sidelines.

We need all of our associates to feel authentically cared for and genuinely included in the central conversation of the business.  If we don’t, one of our competitors certainly will.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

3 Comments

Filed under Diversity & Inclusion, Experiential Learning, Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture

If Warren Buffett Gave You An Investment Tip, Would You Listen?

Tip of the IcebergOkay, so I just asked the most rhetorical question in the world, I know.  In a December interview that appeared in the UK newspaper, The Telegraph, (and oddly enough didn’t seem to get much press here in the U.S.) the Oracle of Omaha shared his optimism regarding the long-term prosperity of the U.S. economy.  The source of his optimism?  Women, and more to the point, the fact that our country is just now starting to embrace the full potential of more than half of our population.  Mr. Buffet makes some salient points and I highly recommend reading the short interview!

With Mr. Buffett’s insights in mind, let’s take a quick look around at the current landscape.  In January, 2.16 million people voluntarily quit their jobs (this is independent of retirements). This is the largest number since 2008.  We all know who the most mobile people are, too; the most talented.  You know that so-called Talent War we’ve been reading about for the past two years?  I think we just heard the proverbial shot heard around the world!

Here’s another interesting tidbit…a recent, major study demonstrated that companies with the most diverse leadership teams deliver a return on equity 53% higher than the least diverse companies. This is in addition to delivering a 14% advantage in EBIT as well.
Gallup, for nearly a decade, has reported that only 3 out of 10 employees are thoroughly engaged. And according to 2012 research from the Corporate Executive Board, CEOs recognize the need to draw an additional 20% of productivity from their existing human capital in order to meet current performance goals.  Historical, annual gains in productivity, since the early 1990s, has averaged a little more than 3% per year.

The fact is, there’s a hidden workforce and enormous, untapped talent pool lying just beneath the surface in many organizations.

If we’re to trust in Mr. Buffett’s insights (and who wouldn’t?), and acknowledge the current landscape supported by the research, shouldn’t we, as leaders, thoroughly consider one of the best investments we can make in our organizational fitness at this time? Investments in talent that will add dimension to our leadership acumen, strategic insights, and cultural inclusion?

If we’re to quickly capture a 20% increase in productivity of our current human capital we need to embrace and act upon one of the most exciting investment tips I’ve heard in years.  There’s still a bounty of low lying fruit right within our midsts!

© 2013, Terry Murray.

1 Comment

February 15, 2013 · 12:43 pm

Terry Murray to Speak About Affective Leadership Development at HR Management Institute Conference

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Terry Murray Warriors in Transition HawaiiFeb. 12, 2013 – Terry Murray, founder and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation, LLC™, has been invited to present at the HR Management Institute’s upcoming conference entitled, “Enhancing HR as a Strategic and Transformative Business Partner in Times of Volatility and Change”.  The conference will be held at the Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando, FL from February 24th to 26th, 2013.Mr. Murray will be presenting, “Leadership 2020 – Developmental Strategies for Delivering Competitive Advantage in the New Economy”, an integrative, research-based approach for sparking engagement, collaboration and innovative thinking for today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce.  The approach leverages recent findings from the scientific disciplines of affective neuroscience, social neuroscience, performance psychology, emotional intelligence, adult learning styles, creativity research, and applied behavioral economics.

“Our approach to developing inspirational leaders, what we call Affective Leadership, is a scientifically-substantiated methodology that leverages the neural mechanisms of human emotion to connect, engage and inspire today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce,” commented Terry.  “The intention is not to manipulate emotions, but to develop keen insights into how our presence, congruity, authenticity, transparency and communicative style affects those we lead and seek to positively influence.”

Through the application of collaborative, experiential learning, in combination with Performance Transformation’s proprietary Accretive Coaching Process℠, leaders and high potentials are provided the opportunity to experiment and discover these lessons for themselves and immediately begin to apply them within the context of the business.

While the approach incorporates insights from more than 200 peer-reviewed research studies, it is far from an academic treatise.  Affective Leadership, and the firm’s developmental process is grounded in more than twenty years of real-world, executive leadership success.

“Simply put, Affective Leadership is the leadership of engagement,” added Terry. “Going as far back as the 1990s, I had the chance to lead multi-national business units for a global corporation.  I was twenty years younger than my Managing Directors in Europe and Latin America.  I had to learn how to lead multi-cultural, multi-generational workforces.  I didn’t have a choice as I had been tapped to turn around an emotionally and cognitively disengaged workforce overseas.  Our approach reflects those lessons and the rapidly emerging research supports our philosophy.”

“A quick canvasing of the contemporary business literature clearly demonstrates the importance of leveraging intrinsic values to engage and inspire today’s knowledge workers.  Personal development, authentic relationships, being of service to others, and a sense of purposefulness cuts across the broad spectrum of perspectives that are conditioned into us through culture and generational experiences.  This is especially important for creating a culture that attracts and helps retain the best and brightest workers from Gen-X and Gen-Y and for connecting these generations with the knowledge and wisdom our rapidly retiring Baby Boomers are taking with them.”

Performance Transformation exemplifies these intrinsic values through their community service programs.  Warriors in Transition, which has been introduced in six states since 2009, received a formal commendation from General David Petraeus in 2010.  The firm has also invested in developing programs for the Autism Spectrum Disorder community, and most recently, a leadership and life skills program for at-risk girls.

“Part of what we teach is congruency…the motivational power that can be unleashed by walking your talk.  In order for us to impart these lessons with integrity, we must embody them in our actions,” said Terry.

© 2013, Performance Transformation, LLC™.

 

Leave a comment

February 12, 2013 · 3:20 pm

The Dimensions of the Next Productivity Breakthrough

We’re on the threshold of a very exciting time to be in leadership.  Having survived the shocks of the Great Recession, business leaders are recognizing the traditional approaches to increasing productivity, engagement, collaboration and innovation have run their course.  Fresh thinking is needed to spark the next wave of prosperity.  Interestingly, insights from the broad and burgeoning field of neuroscience are validating the approach and philosophy we’ve been pursuing for five years.

Sophisticated neural imaging is providing hard evidence of what’s occurring in our brains under a variety of controlled inputs.  Our brains have plasticity, which is a relatively new understanding of what was once thought to be a staid organ once the developmental process was complete.  Our brains are constantly changing based upon our experiences and the neural input we choose to, or unconsciously, consume.  By developing intentional, neural development strategies, we can change the way we interpret and respond to the world around us.  To quote Dr. Richard Davidson, Affective Neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin, commenting on the brain’s experience-dependent neural plasticity, “Neural plasticity refers to the idea that the brain can change in response to experience and in response to training.  The brain is literally built to change in response to experience.”

Dr. Davidson’s work goes on to identify that the practice of compassion activates the part of the brain that processes our perspective of people, events and the world around us.  Cultivating compassion also activates the part of our brain, the insula, that is in two way communication with our organs and body, and gamma waves expand that are associated with the creation of new neural connections.  New neural connections, initiated by novel experiences, are the foundational spark of creative thinking and innovative problem solving.

How does this relate to productivity in the workplace?  Let’s look at what CEOs and senior HR executives have recently acknowledged and are currently seeking to cultivate in their organizations:

1.) CEOs have identified inspirational leadership, customer obsession, and leadership teaming as the most important traits they are seeking in their leaders.

2.) CEOs surveyed in 2012 see human capital (71%), customer relationships (66%), and innovation (52%) as key sources of sustained, economic value creation.  They are also recognizing the need for more openness, transparency and collaboration.

3.) According to IBM’s 2012 research, CEOs are most focused on three organizational attributes; ethics & values (65%), collaborative environments (63%), and purpose & mission (58%).  CEOs in growth-market industries are 79% more likely than their mature market peers to make significant changes to their organizational values over the next three to five years.

4.) According to a SHRM 2012 survey, the three biggest challenges HR executives anticipate over the next ten years are:  Retaining and rewarding the best employees (59%), developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52%), and creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees to their organization (36%).

5.) CEOs have acknowledged they will require an improvement in productivity of 20% from their current human assets in order to maintain competitive advantage moving forward.

If we reference the recent research from the Corporate Executive Board’s Executive Guidance – 2013, we can see today’s high performers and high potentials are already demonstrating many of the so-called, soft skills necessary to succeed in highly volatile, ambiguous times.  Skills that are grounded in Emotional Intelligence competencies (in particular and from the report, self and social awareness) and a passion for the customer and business that are a result of full engagement (both cognitive and emotional).  Skills that demonstrate nimble, neural plasticity.  Skills that can be taught to others.

Since 2008, we’ve intentionally chosen to work extensively with at-risk populations in our society and have come away with some powerful experiential lessons.  Segments of our society that present significant challenges in their engagement levels, awareness, sense of purpose, and ability to function as productive members of society.  Veterans and their families struggling with PTSD.  Teens incarcerated in juvenile detention.  Women coming out of county jail.  At-risk girls living in poverty and surrounded by crime.  Diverse populations that cling to the fringes, almost entirely excluded from participating in, and contributing to, our collective prosperity.  Populations that are dealing with challenges that are significantly greater and more deeply engrained than what we typically see with our business clients.   We’re happy to report we’ve witnessed remarkable results!

Here’s an example of a recent program for young, at-risk girls in our community:

So, as a business leader, where do you begin?  We suggest looking to the types of values your organization is leveraging for engagement.  Are they purely extrinsic (compensation, power, prestige) or a balance including intrinsic values (authentic relationships, personal development, purposefulness…feeling a part of something important and larger than one’s self interests)?

Extrinsic values, while highly effective during the Industrial Age, when the workplace was culturally homogenous, no longer resonate in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce.  Intrinsic values transcend the differences stemming from generational perspectives and cultural orientations.

These values resonate through the emotions of compassion, empathy and caring for one another.  These were, and still are, the survival skills that enabled human beings to survive, evolve and flourish.  Research from the neurosciences supports this insight.  It is only through the intentional creation of a culture that propagates these emotions and strikes a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic goals and values, that the targeted 20% improvement in productivity can emerge.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

References.

1.) “Leading Through Connections – Insights From the Global Chief Executive Officer Study.” IBM® Institute For Business Value,  May, 2012.

2.) ibid.

3.) ibid.

4.) “Challenges Facing HR Over The Next 10 Years”, Society for HR Management, November, 2012.  http://www.slideshare.net/shrm/shrm-futurehr2022final.

5.) “Breakthrough Performance in the New Work Environment – Identifying and Enabling the New High Performer”, Executive Guidance for 2013, CEB, December, 2012. http://www.executiveboard.com/exbd/executive-guidance/index.page.

Leave a comment

Filed under Diversity & Inclusion, Experiential Learning, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Team Building

From Knowledge Management to Content Collaboration – Unleashing Value Creation in the 21st Century

I’d like to share some exciting research and insights from several business thought leaders that have come to light over the past seven months that point to the remarkable business opportunities that are right before us!

In the November, 2012 edition of the McKinsey Quarterly®, research published in the article, “Capturing Business Value With Social Technologies” provides us with a glimpse into the breathtaking potential of creating real business value through the targeted application of social connectivity platforms.  Obviously, we’re not talking about Facebook here, but emerging media designed specifically for business.  What the authors of the article have discovered is too important to paraphrase, so I’ll quote them directly:

“An in-­depth  analysis  of  four  industry  sectors  that  represent  almost 20  percent  of  global  industry  sales  suggests  that  social  platforms can  unlock  $900  billion  to  $1.3  trillion  in  value  in  those  sectors   alone.  Two-­thirds  of  this  value  creation  opportunity  lies  in  improving  communication  and  collaboration  within  and  across  enterprises.”

As promising as this sounds, technology, in and of itself, is not the entirety of the answer.  Capturing this promise will require a shift in leadership perspective.  One that ferries organizations, and most importantly, organizational culture from an orientation forged during the Industrial Age to one that truly fits what author and thought leader Don Tapscott calls The Age of Networked Intelligence.

In an interview (also from the McKinsey Quarterly) that was published last month entitled, “Making Internal Collaboration Work”, Don Tapscott shared his views on the subject.  First, he states that Knowledge Management has failed.  According to Mr. Tapscott, attempting to containerize knowledge in repositories is futile.  Why?  Because knowledge is not a static entity, nor a finite asset.  Tapscott also points to the false assumption that a company’s knowledge assets exists within the walls of the company.  In the interview, he states that the most important knowledge exists outside of the boundaries of the organization and the way to tap into it is through open collaboration.

Tapscott goes on to identify the problem with email, humorously pointing out that, like Mark Twain once said about the weather, “Everybody’s complaining about it, but no ones doing anything about it!”  (In actuality, we are…and I’ll share more below.) Email sequesters valuable information and knowledge resources.  Not only does email make access to knowledge difficult, it’s a time and productivity sink.  Referring again to research from the November McKinsey article, the researchers discovered that the typical interaction worker (i.e. knowledge worker) spends 28% of each day reading, writing and responding to emails.  This figure represents 13 hours a week or the equivalent of more than 80 days a year working on emails!  All to further lock away valuable, company knowledge into an unsearchable, uncatorgorized tomb.  The authors go on to identify that the productivity of interaction workers could be improved by 20% to 25% by migrating away from email and onto collaborative, open media platforms.  This is the exact productivity improvement CEOs have identified as necessary to maintain competitive advantage in today’s economic climate (as reported in the Corporate Executive Board 2013 Executive Guidance report).

Knowledge sharing on email, once initially exchanged, falls into a virtual safe deposit box that requires two keys to open; knowing exactly what it is that you’re looking to retrieve and remembering who that email was sent or received from.  The first iteration of Knowledge Management attempted to pull the knowledge out of the safe deposit boxes, but still left it in the vault.

Let’s take a look at this opportunity through another lens, one that will help us focus on how we get from where we are to where we need to be.  In order to incorporate and successfully orchestrate emerging social technologies for value creation we will need to prime the knowledge pump.  Here’s where traditional corporate training, another artifact from the Industrial Age, falls short.  In a white paper written by thought leader Jay Cross for Citrix® entitled, “Why Corporate Training is Broken and How to Fix It”, the author points to the challenges traditional training represent in a collaborative, networked world.  In his paper, Mr. Cross identifies the fact that 3 out of 4 Chief Learning Officers are dissatisfied with their corporate training programs and lack of results.  He points out as Industrial Age hierarchies begin the slow migration to collaborative networks, corporate training must follow suit.

Here’s a great example.  I got into a debate the other day on a LinkedIn discussion group focused on team building.  Having suffered through seemingly endless, nonsensical team building programs during my corporate days, be it ropes courses, game playing, or building toy boats in a resort swimming pool, I hold some strong opinions as to the vacuous nature of such investments.  As an executive, I sought a truly meaningful, efficacious and aligned approach to building cohesion and collaboration in the organizations I led.  It was a framing perspective for the development of our own, scientifically-substantiated Adaptive Team Building programs that focus on cultivating soft skills, that are truly causal skills, that positively effect team cohesion, creative thinking and collaboration.  The ropes course advocates took great offense.  Yet, with ten minutes of research, I discovered that by the year 2000, there were more than 20,000 such courses offering team building programs to businesses in the country.  The CAGR of courses was adding an additional 250 sites per year to the landscape.  Sitting here today, with somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 of such programs in operation, why are we still searching for tools that support collaboration, cohesion and creative thinking in teams?  This Industrial Age approach to training no longer delivers value, if in fact, it ever did in the first place.

Jay Cross makes another insightful observation in his paper regarding the limitations of applying social technology without additional support.  He states, “Simply bolting on informal and social learning as a new technique doesn’t work.  A company cannot take full advantage of networked learning without shifting its values, culture and practices.  It must move toward becoming a collaborative organization.”  This migration requires the alignment and optimization of leadership, strategy and organizational culture; the fundamental premise and philosophy we at Performance Transformation have been discussing for five years.  Mr. Cross goes on to offer a four step approach to solving this dilemma.  Here are his recommended steps and Performance Transformation’s tools and solutions for igniting the value creating, collaborative flywheel:

1.) Create a Collaborative Culture.  This requires engagement well beyond the approximately 30% of associates that are actively engaged today (Gallup and the Chartered Management Institute).  Trust must be repaired.  This begins with adopting a fresh approach from transactional leadership toward transformational leadership.  Affective Leadership development focuses on cultivating the interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills that help leaders get off the dance floor and into the balcony by gaining insights into how their leadership neurologically and biochemically affects those they lead.  This approach literally invites engagement, the prerequisite for successful, open collaboration.

2.) Impart Collaborative Motivation.  Once again, we’re back to leadership, but also organizational structure.  Command-and-control leadership is as outdated to Gen X and Gen Y workers as an Etch-A-Sketch, and hierarchies can stifle motivation, especially in younger workers.  Introducing an Open Network Strategy Accelerator (“Accelerate”, Kotter, Harvard Business Review, October, 2012) that can thrive along side the efficiencies of the hierarchy opens the door for multi-generational, multi-cultural collaboration across company silos.

3.) Introduce a Collaborative Infrastructure.  While hierarchies can deliver remarkable efficiencies ensuring companies hit next quarter’s numbers, this structure is also stable to the point of being staid.  Hierarchies weren’t meant to be nimble.  Through our partners at Democrasoft, we’ve introduced a dynamic software infrastructure that supports the Open Network Strategy Accelerator described by Professor Kotter in the HBR.  This platform invites engagement and collaboration throughout the organization, cross pollenating creative ideas and insights, delivering remarkable visibility and transparency.  It pulls knowledge sharing and content collaboration out of email threads and onto a highly accessible, open platform.  The software even enables social branding initiatives to reach out into the marketplace as well as enabling segments of the network to open and capture knowledge from outside of the organization.

4.) Enable Collaborative Learning.  Our unique approach to collaborative learning incorporates Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL).  Our relationship-based approach has been commended by General David Petraeus and, most recently, adopted into the core curriculum of a charter school for at-risk girls.  It is not traditional training.  It is experiential learning on a truly collaborative level, both with fellow participants and the horses.  It is no more static than today’s economic landscape and engages the participants in a research-based, statistically substantiated and efficacious approach to professional development.

Touching on what Don Topscott shares in his TED video, he identifies four principles necessary for success in the new, open world.  They are collaboration, transparency, sharing of assets, and empowerment; all dramatic shifts from traditional managerial philosophy.  Again, we’re back to leadership, strategy and organizational culture as the overarching drivers of creating nimble, engaged, and innovative companies.

The point is, there’s no one, silver bullet solution to the challenges and opportunities we face today.  Success going forward will require an integrative approach to how we connect, engage, inspire and motivate human beings to collaborate and co-create in the age of Networked Intelligence; the rapidly emerging source of business value creation in the 21st century.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

Learn more about our integrative approach at Performance Transformation, LLC™.

Leave a comment

Filed under Experiential Learning, Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Strategic Planning, Team Building

Leading in the New Millennium ~ “Must Have” Competencies for Next-Generation Leaders

As the demands of leadership rapidly evolve to meet the challenges of the new competitive landscape, new competencies must emerge.  Competencies that range well outside traditional perceptions of leadership skills that were molded and refined during the Industrial Age of the 20th Century.  We’ve moved well beyond the technical, managerial skills that were once the threshold of competent, business leadership.  Our own, internal research brought us to this realization four years ago, and have served as the guiding principles for the creation of our products and services.  Now, research from leading, global consultancies and advisory firms are validating this perspective.  Overlaying and analyzing these research findings provides insights not only into what these competencies must encompass, but how to create robust developmental processes to cultivate world-class leaders throughout your organization.

I’ve written extensively about the findings of the CEB Executive Briefing – 2013 report that identifies the top ten competencies (out of a possible 32 examined) today’s high performers are demonstrating now.  Some of the competencies top performers are displaying can be seen as traditional.  A leader’s proactivity and their ability to prioritize, solve problems, and make sound decisions have not gone away.  What is finally being recognized is the importance of the so called, soft skills of leadership, in today’s world.  The CEB study revealed today’s top performers and high potentials are demonstrating competencies in self-awarenss, social awareness, the ability to influence (notice, this isn’t the ability to command), learning agility, and collaboration.  These are learnable skills that reflect a high degree of Emotional Intelligence which have traditionally been referred to as soft (as apposed to the hard skills represented by technical managerial competencies).

There’s truly nothing soft about these skills when it comes to organizational fitness and financial performance.  As far back as 2010, I published an article entitled, “How The Soft Skills In Nursing Can Save Hard Dollars For Hospitals”.  At that time, we had discovered over two dozen, peer-reviewed, published research studies that clearly demonstrated how cultivating Emotional Intelligence competencies in health care improve perceived quality of care, lower costs per patient at discharge, reduce medical errors, lower the risk of malpractice litigation, and reduce nurse burnout and the resulting 20% to 28% annual turnover rates amongst nurses.

Going back even further, to 2007, the U.S. Army published the article, “Emotional Intelligence And Army Leadership – Give It To Me Straight”, written by Major David S. Abrahams for the Military Review.  The article, which I highly recommend, reveals the fact that the most command-and-control organization in our society recognizes the efficaciousness of leveraging Emotional Intelligence competencies in leadership.  Just last month, The McKinsey Quarterly® published another article about military leaderships’ progressive orientation towards these so called, soft skills.  In “Leadership Lessons From The Royal Navy” author Andrew St. George, who just completed writing the British Navy’s first new manual on leadership published since the 1960s, stated, “In fact, I’d go so far as to say that naval training is predicated on the notion that when two groups with equal resources attempt the same thing, the successful group will be the one whose leaders better understand how to use the softer skills to maintain effort and motivate.”

Interestingly, these competencies reach far beyond one-on-one interactions in personal settings.  It turns out these skills are even more critical in today’s, and more importantly, tomorrow’s business social media landscape.  While the technology of social media enables connection, it is the soft skills that drive engagement.  That’s where the value for business lies, in the engagement, both cognitively and emotionally, of their workforce, stakeholders, partners and customers.  Simply connecting is only the first step in launching the collaborative value flywheel that robust, social media and social knowledge management architecture enables.

Our friends at McKinsey agree.  In an article published this week entitled, “Six Social Media Skills Every Leader Needs”, McKinsey partners working with General Electric shared their insights garnered through working with GE’s social media literacy approach for leaders.  GE has identified six dimensions of social media literacy every leader will need to master going forward.  The fundamental competencies that must be present alongside the more technical competencies include authenticity, compelling storytelling, and the courage to embrace the new reality of radical transparency which demands congruency.

A quote from the article provides a concise summation, “What’s more, there’s a mismatch between the logic of participatory media and the still-reigning 20th-century model of management and organizations, with its emphasis on linear processes and control. Social media encourages horizontal collaboration and unscripted conversations that travel in random paths across management hierarchies. It thereby short-circuits established power dynamics and traditional lines of communication.”  In this we can see how learning agility, mentioned earlier, will continue to be a key element of leadership success.

The good news is these are all learnable competencies that, as they take root throughout the organization, will dramatically improve associate engagement, productivity and fuel strategic acceleration for years to come.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

Leave a comment

Filed under Health Care, Leadership Development

Positioning with Purpose ~ Meaning, Engagement and Social Branding

The McKinsey Quarterly® just published a compelling article entitled, “Increasing the Meaning Quotient at Work”.  The article explores the power of meaningfulness in the workplace and shares several approaches to cultivate a sense of purposefulness throughout the organization.  We must admit, we have a bias in endorsing the research, as the concepts and application of psychological flow, emotional intelligence, the endowment effect, and inclusion through authentic engagement have been central tenets of our curriculum for the past four years.  For us, it’s a point of independent validation of our thought leadership (of being a step ahead of such prestigious, global firms like McKinsey) and approach to professional and organizational development.

Bell Curve FlowRenowned research psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, has demonstrated that when people are in psychological flow, they’re performing at their optimal abilities.  Be it an athletic, artistic or intellectual pursuit.  In fact, I wrote extensively about flow in my book and identified methods for creating and sustaining the culture necessary to propagate flow in knowledge workers.  In fact, working from flow increases productivity five-fold.  By intentionally building an emotionally intelligent workforce and emotionally intelligent culture will emerge.  Incorporating the work of Daniel Goleman, one of the fathers of emotional intelligence research, and the research of affective neuroscientists Jaak Panksepp and Richard Davidson, we’ve created easy-to-use, yet powerful tools to assist our clients successfully navigate their emotional landscape (i.e., The Emotional Compass™).

Another interesting finding from the article is another lesson we’ve long understood and emphasized.  It is from the discipline of Applied Behavioral Economics, and in particular, the research of Dan Ariely.  When we own something, be it an idea or an item, we naturally overestimate its value.  The McKinsey study reveals this with the experiment of writing your own lottery ticket.  Dan Ariely demonstrated it at Duke, with basketball tickets.  We’ve seen it for years in our strategic planning practice and it is why we migrated from writing strategic plans for clients to coaching them through the process.  When we feel (notice it is feel, not think or believe) ownership, we adhere and champion our work.  We have a psychological and emotional skin in the game, which also drives engagement.

The other tool McKinsey talks about is storytelling.  Storytelling was humankind’s first knowledge management system.  It was how, for millennia, human beings passed on survival skills, and the cultural mythologies that defined their identity as a people.  This is another long-standing tool we’ve incorporated into our experiential learning workshops as well as our new, social knowledge management platform.  Stories are powerful psychological tools that resonate with us.  It’s part of why we so readily remember song lyrics; stories set to music.

One of the artifacts of the Industrial Age of management is the exclusive use of extrinsic goals and values to drive engagement.  Money, prestige and the big corner office may have worked well to motivate a homogenous workforce, but falls short in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workplace.  Extrinsic goals and values are conditioned values, things our society tells us we should value.  By introducing intrinsic goals and values, leaders can transcend both cultural and generational differences in orientation and perspective.  Intrinsic values are universal values we all share.  Authentic relationships, personal development and a sense of shared purpose.  These are the values that resonate neurologically in human beings.  They are ancient, and we can still see how they manifest themselves in primal societies in which survival is highly interdependent.

Companies are coming to realize how purposefulness, of being a part of something larger than ourselves, drives engagement.  Professional development demonstrates an investment by the firm in the individual as well, implicitly communicating, “You have value and are worth investing in.”  Incorporating professional development plans for each associate engrains this message throughout the entire enterprise and can help change the tenor of the culture.

These lessons have strategic value and we are seeing this value manifest itself through the use of social media to create social branding.  Home Depot’s Aprons in Action program is an example of this application being conducted on Facebook.  Home Depot currently has a social media voting contest in place to support nonprofits that work with our veterans.  Each month, four nonprofits compete for votes to win a $25,000 gift card.  This engages both the public and their own associates to feel a part of doing something good for the community…of being a part of positive change.  Just think how much more cost-effective this is compared to a 30 second spot on television!  It sends the implicit message, “We care,” that resonates on an emotional level with the company’s stakeholders.

This approach creates deep reach.  For example, we partner with Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) to conduct our experiential learning workshops.  In doing so, our client’s investments in leadership development, team building and sales skills programs directly supports a community nonprofit that serves children with developmental disabilities and wounded veterans returning home.  It connects the developmental process with societal meaning and demonstrates service leadership.  When we heard SMART was in Home Depot’s contest this month, we sprang to action to create a fun promotional video for the contest. This level of engagement, of being a part of something bigger than us, mobilized action in support of their needs.  With that said, we invite you to please vote for SMART by visiting the Aprons in Action link.

This is the exclamation point on the power of social branding to drive engagement throughout an enterprise’s business ecology.  Videos are made, social media networks are leveraged, blogs are written and peer opinion and shared intention drives traffic to the Home Depot Facebook page.  Value is created in every direction that benefits Home Depot, SMART, and Performance Transformation.  How we feel, about Home Depot in this example, compels positive behaviors from outside the organization that contribute to the company’s brand equity and social standing.

Perhaps more than ever, employee engagement, customer engagement, leadership, marketing and brand management, are intersecting not so much in the head, but in the heart!

© 2013, Terry Murray.

Leave a comment

Filed under Diversity & Inclusion, Experiential Learning, Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Sales Training, Strategic Planning, Team Building