Identifying High-Potential New Leaders

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By Jeff Wolf

How do you identify high-potential new leaders? Leaders must be proficient in both hard and soft skills. For years, organizations looked at only hard skills or technical knowledge, such as expertise in strategy or finance. They viewed these hard skills as the most important characteristics of high-potential leaders. However, the soft skills (people or interpersonal skills) are key for the next generation of leaders.

Look for these soft skills:

  • effective communication
  • coaching ability
  • listening skills
  • teambuilding capability
  • facility for building relationships with their staffs and teams and with cross-functional areas to achieve goals and get work done
  • a sense of inquisitiveness
  • a willingness to improve
  • trustworthiness
  • a tendency to ask a lot of questions
  • an understanding of how their actions have an effect not only on themselves, but also on others

Leadership is difficult and demanding because leaders must help drive results, inspire, guide people and teams, and make tough decisions. Clearly, not everyone has the desire to lead, so the first question appears to be:

  • Does the person want to be a leader?
  • What are his goals and aspirations?
  • Does she see the big picture versus having a silo mentality?
  • Does he have the ability to strategically navigate complicated issues?
  • What types of real-life experiences does she have?
  • Is he honest and ethical?

Leaders need to be positive and have a great attitude because they can either impart or sap energy. A leader’s upbeat attitude becomes contagious, lifting the morale of those around her. You can always teach skills, but you cannot always teach people how to be positive; they either have a great attitude or they don’t.

Observe firsthand how potential leaders work with others and how other people view them. When they stand up to speak in front of a group, do they exude confidence, present articulate, clear messages, and carry themselves well? They should also have good judgment skills in three discrete areas:

  1. People. Can they make sound judgments about people, such as anticipating the need for key personnel changes and aligning people to make the right call?
  2. Strategy. Are they flexible and adaptable? Can they make changes when a current strategy isn’t working?
  3. Grace Under Pressure. When they’re in crisis situations, do they remain calm, focus on their goals, think clearly, and develop new alternative strategies? When they make a mistake, do they admit it, let others know about it, and move forward, or do they try to hide it? By admitting mistakes, they serve as role models, communicating that it’s okay to fail and make a mistake.

Lastly, employ a series of tests and assessments to further measure their hard and soft skills.

LOOKING FOR A FRESH PERSPECTIVE TO IDENTIFY AND GROW YOUR LEADERS?

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader.
A dynamic speaker and highly requested executive coach, he was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness. He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com

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Attract the Best People

By Jeff Wolf

shutterstock_369899390Top employers are facing a perfect storm in the fight for talent. Unemployment is at its lowest rate since 2009 and job openings have increased by 73 percent. At the same time, Baby Boomers are rapidly retiring and new college graduates are significantly lacking the skills businesses are seeking. And if that isn’t enough, at least one third of the existing workforce is ready to quit. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Make your life easier, and make your company more successful. Smart leaders don’t recruit the best people, they attract them. Why? Because it makes their lives easier and their companies more successful. How do they do it? They have a clear purpose for existing (PFE), and they live it and tell the world about it… And the best people come to them.

The success of attraction is based on two principles. The first is a basic tenet of life: Like attracts like. In any animal or human culture, subgroups are composed of individuals with similar characteristics. A leader who defines his/her company’s PFE is saying, in essence, “We are zebras. If you, too, are a zebra, come join us.”

The second principle is that the best and the brightest people seek more than just a paycheck from a job; they seek fulfillment of their own PFE. They seek companies whose PFE supports their own. In certain industries, labor shortages will likely occur again later this year. The repercussions will be felt in lost opportunity costs as companies can’t find qualified talent to serve their customers or to fill open positions. Total costs to replace a skilled manager can exceed 150 percent of the person’s salary. With over 50 percent of salaried people planning on moving as jobs become available, this cost will be substantial for many companies. Thus, the opportunity to attract the best people, as well as keeping the right people, becomes more relevant.

Take Three Key Steps

To attract the best candidates, follow three key steps.

  • Clarify your PFE. What is your PFE? Why was the organization formed? What unique function does it serve? Make sure your PFE is deeply imbedded in the culture, codified in writing, clearly articulated, and widely distributed. An example of a PFE that is clear and impactful is that of Merck & Co., a global pharmaceutical company. Its PFE is as follows: “Our business is preserving and improving human life. All our actions must be measured by our success in achieving this goal.”
  • Tell the world your PFE. When you have a clear PFE, articulate it. Place it conspicuously in all your marketing materials, internal documents, websites, and communications with buyers, suppliers, customers, placement offices, and partners. Make sure that when people hear the name of your company, they know what your PFE is. Your PFE will have an impact on the people who interact with you. Those who have a personal PFE that is similar to yours and who can fulfill their PFE by helping you fulfill your PFE will be attracted to you.
  • Fulfill your PFE. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.” To attract the best people, you must live up to your PFE. Exhibiting actions incongruent with the PFE will damage your credibility and decrease the attraction. For organizations that live the PFE they create, every action makes the attraction that much stronger for potential candidates.

By following these three steps, you approach hiring in a new way. Creating awareness about your PFE and then interviewing people attracted to the company will become the norm. Once you start taking these three steps, if you have to work hard to recruit someone, you are likely trying to get the wrong person. Make your life easier, and make your company more successful. Don’t recruit the best people….attract them.

LOOKING FOR A FRESH PERSPECTIVE?

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader and founder and president of Wolf Management Consultants, LLC.

A dynamic speaker and highly requested executive coach, he was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness.

He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com

Take A Summer Vacation This Year

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by Jeff Wolf

How many times have you heard your boss tell you that? In fact, how many times have you told your employees that?

Come on, fess up. Either case is as rare as a drenching rain in the Sahara. Let’s face it. Too many bosses discourage employees from taking more than a day off or a weekend here and there. And even then they don’t discourage a barrage of phone calls from work and many will expect employees to check their email several times a day. A two-week getaway to the Far East? Not a chance.

Every year, the media reports on surveys showing that large chunks of U.S. workers don’t plan on taking all their vacation time. Why does this happen, when it’s part of a worker’s compensation package? Large percentages of workers wouldn’t pass on a company-sponsored life insurance plan, or forgo a paycheck for all of December, so why are so many people willingly (or perhaps not so willingly) giving their paid time off back to their employers?

Forbes Magazine contributor Kristi Hedges nails the explanation: “The idea of a skimpy vacation as a worthy sacrifice or badge of honor is culturally embedded. The U.S. is the only rich country to not have legally mandated paid vacation and holidays.” She goes on, “science tells us that this is a very bad idea. Increasingly, studies are showing that breaks of any kind are not only good for you; they can actually increase productivity and well-being.”

Long Vacations Benefit Both Company and Employee

To create a lasting change in their organization, and maybe even greater society at large, leaders must fully embrace the practical benefits of vacations. Good leaders will be more inclined to not only grant, but also encourage employees to take not just a couple of long weekends here and there-and maybe a week off in the summer-but longer vacation time. Employees come back from a full week (or two or three) of time off when they were able to truly disconnect from work energized and recharged, with better ideas, a fresh perspective, lower stress-levels, and genuine excitement to tackle work challenges that can become overwhelming without time to recharge. Truly effective leaders recognize the value of paid time off, and understand it’s key to a productive and engaged workforce.

Here are specific steps leaders can take to make sure this happens:

  • Issue specific company policies that encourage all employees of the organization to take all vacation days due them, and in any increments they prefer.
  • Be clear the time off must not interfere with mission critical work, but also be clear that one person’s week off shouldn’t incapacitate a well-run department, and that while every department has busier times on the calendar, it is normal and expected that departments will experience slower times periodically throughout the year.
  • Require that all managers and supervisors conduct short meetings with their employees explaining the vacation policy.
  • Ask employees for feedback regarding perceived problems with the vacation policy. Since many employees may feel constrained to speak up, use a suggestion box where they can offer suggestions or voice complaints.
  • Assure that all complaints and suggestions are answered by a third-party, such as Human Resources.
  • Follow-up yearly to make sure the new vacation policy is working.

As we head in to the height of the summer, when friends and family frequently plan reunions, couples get married, families with children have the freedom to travel, as leaders it’s our job to help facilitate these getaways. Your employees will thank you for it, and ultimately, your bottom line will thank you for it too.

Jeff Wolf is the author of Seven Disciplines of a Leader and founder and president of Wolf Management Consultants, LLC, a premier global consulting firm that specializes in helping people, teams and organizations achieve maximum effectiveness.

Contact us today to discuss how we may partner with you to develop your current and future leaders or to have Jeff Wolf speak at your next meeting, conference or convention: Michael Adams madams@wolfmotivation.com 858-638-8260 or www.wolfmotivation.com

 

Practical Thoughts on Leadership

By Jeff Wolf

  • Leaders maintain credibility by being honest, forthright, and open; their values, allegiances and priorities are beyond reproach
  • Leaders establish shared values among teams, instill confidence in followers, create organizational excitement and are not afraid of change
  • When strategies, objectives, and paths to success are clearly defined, individuals, teams and organizations will be motivated, inspired and energized
  • Great leaders listen with empathy and speak with honesty to gain and maintain trust with people
  • Customers are vital to your success. As a leader, you must continually enhance and reinforce the ideals of customer satisfaction from top to bottom of the organization
  • Motivated people give you a competitive advantage. As a leader, you can make the difference between those who care deeply about their roles versus those who simply show up for work every day (if you’re lucky), and go through the motions while collecting a paycheck
  • An effective leader motivates employees to work together and achieve greatness, instilling confidence and trust as they go about their everyday business

Contact us today to discuss how we may partner with you to develop your current and future leaders or to have Jeff Wolf speak at your next meeting, conference or convention: Michael Adams madams@wolfmotivation.com 858-638-8260 or www.wolfmotivation.com

Did You Know

  • According to a Stanford Study: Nearly 66% of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, while 100% of them stated that they are receptive to making changes based on feedback. Nearly 80% of directors said that their CEO is receptive to coaching.
  • A global survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Association Resource Center found that the mean Return on Investment in coaching was 7 times the initial investment, and over a quarter of coaching clients reported a stunning ROI of 10 to 49 times the cost.
  • A Deloitte University Report found:Leadership development and succession planning was identified as an “urgent need” by 86% of those surveyed but only 13% believe they do an “excellent job” of preparing individuals for future leadership roles. Building a leadership pipeline demands multiple resources throughout the organization, but perhaps the most challenging aspect is the range of resources required for leadership development by the HR department.

Building an Optimal Team – Team Health

By Jeff Wolf –  Seven Disciplines of a Leader

All the competitive advantages – strategy, technology, finance, marketing – that we’ve pursued in the past are gone. The disciplines haven’t disappeared, but they have lost their power as meaningful competitive advantages, as real differentiators that can set your company apart. Why? Virtually every organization has access to the best thinking and practices on those topics. As information has become ubiquitous, it’s almost impossible to sustain an advantage based on intellectual ideas.

However, one simple, reliable, and virtually free competitive advantage remains – team health. Healthy teams all but eliminate politics and confusion from their cultures. As a result, productivity and morale soar, and good people almost never leave. For those leaders who are a bit skeptical, rest assured that none of this is touchy-feely or soft. It is as tangible and practical as anything else…and even more important.

Even the smartest team will eventually fail if it is unhealthy. But a healthy team will find a way to succeed. Without politics and confusion, it will become smarter and tap into all of the intelligence and talent it has.

Team health requires real work and discipline, maintained over time, and the courage to objectively confront problems hindering true team achievement. Leaders must confront themselves, their peers, and the dysfunction within their teams with honesty and persistence. Persistent leaders walk into uncomfortable situations and address issues that prevent them from realizing the potential that eludes them.

Four Disciplines

To get healthy, leaders need to take four simple, but difficult, steps:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team. Get the leaders of the organization to behave in a functional, cohesive way. If the people responsible for running a team, department, or organization are behaving in dysfunctional ways, then that dysfunction will cascade down and prevent organizational health. And yes, there are concrete steps a leadership team can take to prevent this.
  1. Create clarity. Ensure that the members of that leadership team are intellectually aligned around simple but critical questions. Leaders need to be clear on topics such as why the organization exists and what the most important priority is for the next few months, and eliminate any gaps between them   Then people who work one, two, or three levels below have clarity about what they should do to make the organization successful.
  1. Overcommunicate clarity. After the first two steps (behavioral and intellectual alignment), leaders can take the third step: over-communicating. Leaders of healthy organizations constantly repeat themselves and reinforce what is true and important. They err on the side of saying too much, rather than too little.
  1. Reinforce clarity. Leaders use simple human systems to reinforce clarity in answering critical questions. They custom design any process that involves people from hiring and firing to performance management and decision-making to support and emphasize the uniqueness of the organization.

Healthy teams get better at meetings. Without making a few simple changes to the way meetings happen, a team will struggle to maintain its health. Healthy teams rarely fail. When politics, ambiguity, dysfunction, and confusion are reduced to a minimum, people are empowered to design products, serve customers, solve problems, and help one another. Healthy teams recover from setbacks, attract the best people, and create exciting opportunities. People are happier, the bottom line is stronger, and executives are at peace when they know they’ve fulfilled their most important responsibility: creating a culture of success.

Applying the principles of great performance is hard, but the effects of deliberate practice are cumulative. The more of a head start you get in developing people, the more difficult it will be for competitors to catch you.

–Jeff Wolf

Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop and grow your leaders and teams: jeff@wolfmotivation.com, 858-638-8260 or www.wolfmotivation.com

Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffWolfUSA

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