Key Insights to Be a Better Leader in Today’s World

leadershippanelists2009DenIn the spirit of cooperative intelligence I am sharing my takeaways from this workshop on leadership sponsored by Denver-based Sustainable Business Group, a leadership and management consulting firm led by Herb Rubenstein.

Wayne Nelson, Chief Strategist at Anderson Professional Systems Group kicked off the meeting with a discussion about emotional intelligence, telling us the 5 components of emotional intelligence: self awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill from Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence.

What I found even more interesting was his discussion about 6 leadership styles:

Coercive – Tight control over things. “Do what I tell you.”
Authoritative – Build the vision. “Get people to follow where you need to go.”
Affiliative – Promote harmony, cooperation. “Puts people first, tasks second.”
Democratic – Builds on group consensus. “So what do you think?”
Pacesetting – Intent on setting high performance standards. “Do as I do it.”
Coaching – Develop the team or individual for the future. “Try this: How can I support you?”

We all have a tendency towards a particular leadership style.  A good manager is flexible and uses the right style to be effective at the appropriate time. It’s also good to employ people whose styles you lack to keep balance in the workplace.

Jennifer Churchill of Opus Leadership Group focused on talent retention.

She suggests 3 key areas to promote talent retention:
1. Senior Management must be involved (acquisition/retention of top talent)
2. Conduct a gap analysis of your company’s talent to find what’s missing
3. Strong leaders attract and retain strong talent (management by example)
So know yourself and the kind of leader you are.

Kevin Asbjörnson, Founder and Principal Performing Artist of Inspire! Imagine! Innovate!  brought a global aspect to leadership. Music is a global language and inspires whole person leadership by getting us to use the right side of our brain and connect both sides of the brain to bring leadership balance and passion. One take-away for me was that Empathy is the foundation of emotional intelligence regardless of your culture. I had thought it was Self-Awareness. As a behind the scenes primary researcher I am an ‘off the chart’ empath, and don’t think of myself as a leader. I look forward to hearing and experiencing Kevin’s piano performance around leadership. Somehow we didn’t have room for a Yamaha at our session!

Inevitably, the topic of social networks came up in the context of emotional intelligence as people reach out for connection in cyberspace. I have the idea that social networks have taken off since the workplace has become lonely. Gone are the days when a product team meets in the company cafeteria. We work remotely from each other all too often with a lack of leadership and weak connection. We have this human need to connect and cooperate and help each other out. This is increasingly achieved through connections made via social networks!

I liked the saying that Herb shared with us, “Nobody cares what you know until they know you care.” That’s good to keep in mind when you’re connecting, whether through the old fashioned ways of in-person meetings, telephone and email; or the various forms of social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Keep that communication two-way and listen!

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Gain Cooperative Intelligence through ‘Being There’

UlladeStricker

Cooperative Leadership

‘Being There’ is what I think of when I think ‘cooperative leadership’. Offer colleagues the opportunity to lean on you, and learn how to lean on them. We often forget to ask people for their help in our anxiety to please and be helpful. Be specific with your request for help. This allows the other person to quickly judge if s/he can help you or refer you to someone else.

People with strong social capital are often cooperative leaders whose expertise, connections, opinions and contributions are respected by others. Social capital is not earned by a job title, but rather through the earned respect of others. In competitive intelligence social capital is valued, when positioning and communicating with fellow employees, especially executives. Remember it takes time to build those relationships, and sometimes we’re impatient to get respect before we’ve earned it.

Ulla describes another cooperative leadership practice. Take a stand confidently and refuse to bend in the face of criticism or opposition. Cooperative leaders “just do it” without a safety net. Ulla shares her experience of convincing a manager of the need for a program at a local educational institute, which she then created. She “did it” because she thought it needed doing.

Cooperative Connection

Work constantly to strengthen your networks. Always ask yourself, “Who else should be part of this conversation?”  Remember that people who could benefit from your knowledge need to learn about your expertise. Communicate in person or electronically with your peers and managers at work or by presenting at relevant meetings, trade shows or through teaching. Share your discoveries, experiences and opinions electronically through websites, blogs, social media or formal publications.

I love how Ulla ends her article by suggesting that you make it a priority to undertake actions and responsibilities that are above and beyond the call of duty. You can do this because you have others to lean on.

Ulla de Stricker, 2007 chair of SLA’s Leadership and Management Division, is a Toronto-based information and knowledge management consultant. She speaks regularly about career-related matters and writes about information and knowledge management on her blog. Her book, Business Cases for Info Pros: Here’s Why, Here’s How, was published in 2008 by Information Today, Inc. Here is a list of her publications. Contact Ulla.

Honoring Edward “Ted” Kennedy: Cooperative Statesman

Ted Kennedy“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!” While this quote came from his older, brother, former President John F. Kennedy, I believe Ted Kennedy lived this quote for at least the 47 years that he was a senator from Massachusetts.

He was the epitome of cooperative leadership both in his personal and professional lives. I was moved by the personal account from Teddy Jr as he recounted his dad’s resolve as 12 year old TJ feel down a slick hill, having lost a leg to cancer. His father said, “I know you can do it. There is nothing that you can’t do. We’re going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us all day.”

As the youngest sibling in his family he developed emotional intelligence and patience that gave him great success in politics as he was a master in communication, bartering, persuasion and negotiation. Charles Campion recalls, “His greatest legacy was his own faith and unwavering beliefs. He followed his own compass, and regardless of the polls and even his own political vulnerabilities, he would never compromise or finesse on his principles.”

He battled for those who had weak representation among lobbyists championing civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ issues, immigration reform, health-care and education reform and the environment. He sponsored a long list of bills for these causes, and walked both sides of the aisle for their support. For example, it was no coincidence that President Bush called on Ted for support in passing the “No Child Left Behind” education bill. Only weeks after his brain tumor was diagnosed, he left his hospital bed to vote for legislation blocking deep cuts in Medicare payments to doctors.

He was incredibly connected on so many fronts, and there were high expectations of his involvement ranging from the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s JFK School of Government, his family, his staffers, his Senatorial initiatives and so much more…

I also appreciate his strong connection with the public and the issues affecting our nation, and attribute this to his hiring an incredible staff over his 47 years as a senator. I often think it was his experience with pain and suffering and the mistakes he made along the way—that kept him in touch—empathetic to other’s plights and connected to the public and to his family. I also believe his strong Catholic faith contributed to his listening and caring, and his tireless efforts to support issues he thought were important with conviction.

I love how he was a cooperative communicator right to the end of his life. During his final illness he finished writing True Compass (to be published on September 14), which he worked closely with Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Powers to assemble. In this book, he makes a strong and personal plea for health-care reform, the culmination of his life’s work.

President Obama called Ted Kennedy, the “greatest senator of our time.” He leaves behind a legacy that few in public life will ever achieve. On the Labor Day weekend, I salute you Edward Kennedy, a man who labored hard and with integrity as a champion of the poor, downtrodden and dispossessed.

Contrasting the Traits of Good Product Managers & Competitive Intelligence Managers

Barbara Tallent

Barbara Tallent

Yesterday I listened to Barbara Tallent of LiveBinders deliver “Why are there so few good product managers: a CEO’s Perspective.” She has been both a CEO and product manager and had interviewed 6 CEOs to prepare for this webinar. As I listened, I couldn’t help but put on my competitive intelligence hat, as many of the traits that make a good product manager also make a good competitive intelligence manager. Yet the jobs are so different!

Product managers have all the responsibility for the product, yet none of the authority. The best product managers need to understand the customer’s world. Don’t filter customer’s input based on what you believe. A common question product managers ask executives is “what keeping you up at night?” to get focused on what the executive needs immediately. That is the same question I ask executives during the competitive intelligence needs analysis process, and for the same reasons.

Another big one was LISTEN. While you need to be an excellent communicator and deliver insightful and engaging presentations, you need to know when to stand back and listen.  That is a key competitive intelligence skill as well, and one of my key cooperative intelligence practices, since in any profession our communication too often is expressing our opinions without carefully listening to the other person.

Don’t let the appearance of process become more important than the outcome! Your career will advance once you prove yourself, just not today! Put the success of your product first and your career will follow!

Desirable traits for product managers include good communication, smart, articulate and dogged. I would add “curious” for a competitive intelligence professional since we do a lot of digging!

Here is what was different. While CEOs may be critical of product managers, they expect future leaders to have product management experience. Product management is more a career advancing position.  Product managers typically look to round out their background, so after a few years in the job are more apt to take jobs in marketing or development–somewhere new that moves them up the organization. Few competitive intelligence professionals have a progressive career path. And CEOs don’t look for leadership to have competitive intelligence experience!

Like product managers, competitive intelligence professionals rely on others in their company for support who do not report to them. Both jobs require that delicate balance of gaining cooperation from others by pushing the organization where it needs to go while being constructive and NOT creating an adversarial role with other people. Product managers focus on a product or service. Competitive intelligence professionals often do damage control and prevent companies from making the wrong moves and present opportunities for growth.

Competitive intelligence is a behind the scenes profession whereas product management is a visible position. Every company has product managers, and everyone knows what product management is. Many don’t know what competitive intelligence is, or who is spearheading the company’s initiative. In this weak economy many companies have laid off their competitive intelligence managers, so various employees in sales, marketing, product management, strategic planning, R&D and engineering are doing competitive intelligence as part of their job, and more companies are outsourcing competitive intelligence: they are not outsourcing product management!

Ryma provides free weekly webinars on topics of interest to product managers, open to anyone. If you miss a webinar, you can listen to it later as the sessions are taped and slides are included.

How Executives Find & Value Information

ForbesInsightA recent Forbes survey of 354 executives at large US companies indicates that competitor analysis is the most critical area for research. This bodes well for competitive intelligence, but somehow my phone isn’t ringing off the hook.

The Internet is valued more than any other information source, including internal, external and personal contacts as well as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, conferences and trade shows. 

 ForbesValueofInfoSources

Rob Shaddock , Senior VP and CTO of Tyco Electronics  explains his preference for digital information, “Newspapers and print are static. Often an article leaves you with just so many additional questions…on line, it’s so easy to find additional information.”

This is SCARY: info gained through the Internet is valued over experts! Furthermore, the c-suite first turns to mainstream search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Live Search. Yikes! They’re informative, but my, they’re shallow and, sometimes inaccurate and usually not that timely—the essential ingredients behind competitive intelligence—timely and accurate!

However, on the positive side, I like it that the c-suite does their own searching. Previously I think they relied too much on information from others and could more easily be blindsided by filtered information from managers who wanted to push their agendas. Now the c-suite is more armed to ask provocative questions based on their own research. However, their blinders might be swinging to an over-reliance on Google and the like!

Executives will dig through multiple links to find the information they seek and I can understand why they “Google” since search engines are “free” and easily accessed. However, to make good decisions, we need a balance of sources and I hate to think that the Internet wins over human intelligence—where you can engage in a dialog, not just more searching and multiple links!

I wonder how much time our leadership wastes looking for data, which could be found so much faster through the various paid sources such as Dialog, Dow Jones, Thomson reports or the invisible web. I’m also concerned that the c-suite might be further distancing itself from people—who have expertise from years of industry experience—in favor of Internet searching. The answers and analysis that are required to make good decisions do not reside on the Internet!

The digital age has forever changed the c-suite. Younger executives make extensive use of social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook—which allow them to engage with a far broader group of people than they would meet otherwise—another great resource to prevent from being blindsided. President Obama epitomizes today’s c-suite executive as the first president to use email, social networks and a Blackberry.

Thankfully personal and professional contacts still trump virtual networks. Sophie Zurquiyah, Chief Technology Officer at Schlumberger says, “I get the most valuable insight from my interactions with people.” She mixes the views “of vendors, colleagues, internal managers, workers…” While technologies such as email or Web video certainly enable such interaction, “you can never lose sight of the personal aspects—relationships with people are your most valuable information resources. You cannot discount personal interaction.”

You can read this set of articles in the July Forbes magazine. It goes into much more depth, and doesn’t include my editorial comments! I hope you’re having a great summer—those of you in the Northern hemisphere. It’s heavenly here in Conifer, Colorado!

Yesterday I sent this out as a newsletter…it evoked so many comments that I thought I better share this with you too, so you can share your thoughts and experiences dealing with executives.  If you want to subscribe to my newsletter fill in the blanks here. I send one out about every 6 weeks, so won’t crowd your mailbox too much!

Another source for comments and provocative discussion is our CI Ning where August Jackson created a forum around this bulletin. Connecting with the executive suite has always been a challenge for competitive intelligence professionals, but now that they can access information so readily, it’s even worse since it can give one a false sense of power! Today more than ever, we need to help our executives realize the value of accurate, insightful intelligence–which is NOT posted on the Internet!

Deloitte Shift Index Findings: Global Collaboration Will Improve Business Competitiveness

The Deloitte Center for the Edge recently got my attention with its findings that competition is intensifying globally with a US return on assets dropping consistently across 15 different industries by 75% over the last 40 years!

DeloitteFirmPerformance1965-2008

Some other key findings: 

US competitive intensity has more than doubled during the last 40 years. The “topple rate” at which big companies lose their leadership positions, has more than doubled, suggesting that “winners” have increasingly precarious positions. Customers appear to be gaining and using power as reflected in increasing customer disloyalty. 

The exponentially advancing price/performance capability of computing, storage and bandwidth is driving an adoption rate for our new “digital infrastructure,” that is two to five times faster than previous infrastructures, such as electricity and telephone networks.

The Shift Index consists of 3 indices: Foundation, Flow and Impact, plus 25 other metrics that together quantify the stock, pace and implications for change. Given that competition is intensifying, here are some ways organizations might improve their performance.

1. Recognize the Foundation Wave: The business landscape has changed through the spread of the digital infrastructure and this has been reinforced by long term public policy that shifts towards economic liberalization. Changes in Foundations tend to reduce barriers to entry and movement, leading to a doubling of competitive intensity.

2. The Flow Wave looks at drivers of performance shaped by digital infrastructure. This wave looks at the flows of knowledge, capital, and talent enabled by foundational advances. Knowledge flows are the key to improving performance. This is a key area where many conventional businesses fail as they are too insular and have developed serious blindspots. This is the opposite of “Command and Control” leadership.

3. The Impact Wave comes last, as it will take time for companies to participate in and harness knowledge flows leading to improved performance and more innovation.

Successful firms will shift from what’s worked in the past, scalable efficiency to scalable learning. 

This is a huge shift for most large US companies, and many of them are failing due to their closed nature, lack of flexibility and poor use of technology to gallop past competitors and collaborate with suppliers, customers and many other sources to develop innovative products. 

Think Apple Computer when you think about a successful company by these “Shift Index” standards.  Apple has kept its entrepreneurial magic largely by reaching out and being innovative in product development, and using all the technology, including social networks to continue expanding its connection to knowledge. This is a company that knows its customer. It’s no coincidence that Apple customers enjoy the experience of using its products. Who doesn’t just love their iPhone!

The conclusions and details of this study go far beyond what I can cover in a blog.  Check it out. I think a lot of what it preaches is what good competitive intelligence has been preaching for YEARS.  Keep reaching out and connecting both internally and externally and build on the intelligence you gather. Stay connected with people through all the means technology allows you to reach them. Isn’t this the foundation of a good early warning system?

Jeffrey Immelt’s Ideas on Renewing America’s Competitiveness

As we approach this Independence Day in America, my cooperative spirit pushes me to share Jeffrey Immelt’s ideas about how to renew America. Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE is one of America’s stewards of leadership and innovation and I highly recommend that you view his talk given in late June 09 at the Detroit Economic Club.

JeffImmeltAmerica has a myriad of economic problems, not the least of which is it has moved from a technology-driven manufacturing economy to one that is services oriented. We are known as a country where CEOs are viewed as short-term speculators, which has been re-enforced by our “leadership” in the financial global meltdown. There is something seriously wrong when “a mortgage broker is pulling down $5 million a year while a Ph.D. chemist is earning $100,000.”

Jeff thinks the US needs to create an industrial renewal as follows:

1. Invest in new technology

2. Win where it counts in Clean Energy and Affordable Healthcare

3. Become a country that’s good at manufacturing and exports

4. Embrace public/private partnerships

5. Encourage leaders that are also good citizens

During this recession, GE has not reduced its R&D expenditures, which are pegged at 6%, while the US average is only 2% of sales. In 2008, GE exported $19 billion and plans to increase exports each year. GE is partnering with local government to fix the US educational system by investing at inner city schools to improve math and science since only 4% in the US study engineering, which often produces innovators.

GE has two great initiatives to stimulate innovative product development: “eco-imagination” and “health-imagination”. Eco-imagination focuses on alternative, clean energy development and renewable energy products as well as making better use of traditional energy sources. One initiative is a GE + Duke energy coal degasification plant project. America is like the Saudi Arabia of coal supply! Through innovations in health research, GE will launch hundreds of new products in the next few years to reduce the cost of healthcare, particularly in areas like infant care and mammography.

GE invests $1B per year in training. One way this has paid off is that their educated locomotive teams reduced the time it takes to manufacture a locomotive from 100 days to 20. Jeff’s talk is full of these examples of “can do”, which I think is missing from America’s fabric in these tough times.

GE practices what it preaches: it changes with the global demand for its products. Over 50% of what GE produces today didn’t exist 10 years ago. GE will introduce more new products during this recession than any time in its history.

Big business needs to fund small businesses to invent and in the supply chain to compete globally. He states that as “Business leaders we are responsible for the competitiveness of our own country.” This comes from a free marketer and Republican. I wish more of our country’s leadership felt this way. The US is at a competitive disadvantage globally since the private and public sectors are often at odds and do not cooperate like they do in most other countries in the world! The US needs to welcome government as a catalyst for leadership and change. Look at all the creativity and innovation that came from NIH and NASA over the years. The government can be creative and foster cooperation!

I’ll conclude by sharing that Jeff is practicing what he preaches: GE is investing $100 million to develop a manufacturing lab near Visteon Center in the Detroit metro. This will provide 1200 professional jobs to start. Jobs will focus in three areas of innovation: advanced manufacturing technology including applications in aviation and energy products; software applications such as the smart grid; and a training program for information technology. GE is working with the public sector in Detroit and drawing talent from MI universities, in addition to the local work force.

I hope more of America’s leadership adopts Jeff Immelt’s attitudes and practices so America can once again feel proud. US competitiveness will only improve as we become a more self confident society. America’s consumer spending is not going to pull us out of this recession: this alone is not sustainable! America’s business investment in technology, innovation and value-added manufacturing will.

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