Importance of Local Talent

This is part of a new category of posts: Q&A with Michelle. In this I’ll share some the questions I’m being asked along with my answers. As my teachers always said, “If one person has a question, others in the class are probably wondering the same thing.” You’ve welcome to add your questions!

How important is it to have qualified locals working in emerging markets?

It is critical to have qualified local talent regardless of the foreign market a company is in.
Local leaders:
1. Make it easier for local employees to work with the parent company because local leaders manage toward company objectives in a manner that is effective for the regional culture.
2. Provide intelligence on the local market, culture and on-the-street happenings that the headquarters needs and wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
Being a local leader is demanding because people in this role are often acting as a buffer between two opposing forces. As a result, key local talent must be robustly developed and retained.

Perseverence vs. Intelligence

This is part of a new category of posts: Q&A with Michelle. In this I’ll share some the questions I’m being asked along with my answers. As my teachers always said, “If one person has a question, others in the class are probably wondering the same thing.” You’ve welcome to add your questions!

Do you think that to achieve your objectives is a question of perseverance or intelligence?

This isn’t an with or question. To preserve takes dogged determination plus ingenuity to quickly and powerfully navigate around obstacles. Perseverance without intelligence is only continuing to do the same thing. A definition of insanity. 
Sadly, I’ve seen overbearing intelligence in a client lead to them having such unjustified optimism that it bordered on delusion. 
Add self-awareness and humility to your equation to vastly improve the chances of achieving the results you’re looking for.

What is the most important thing you have done to grow your business and gain customers?

This post belongs to a new category: Q&A with Michelle. In this I’ll share some the questions I’m being asked along with my answers. As my teachers always said, “If one person has a question, others in the class are probably wondering the same thing.” You’ve welcome to add your questions!

What is the most important thing you have done to grow your business and gain customers?

The most important thing I’ve done to grow my business and gain customers is to address their needs and deliver extraordinary value. Marketing is not about the company, but about the customer – just the same way that coaching and consulting are entirely devoted to the client’s agenda and achieving success on their terms. 
I provide compelling inquiry, my intellectual property, and best practices based on my experience with scores of companies in order to offer outstanding value to inform decision making. 
I offer these without any agenda beyond helping my clients to achieve their own goals in their own way. The results are phenomenal, which leads to consistent referral business.

Are You Really Managing For Results?

Fast Company first published this article. For more of Michelle’s articles there visit www.fastmichelle.comIf I asked, would your employees tell me that you manage their results or their tasks?

It is often natural to want to attempt to manage the different processes that are underway in your organization. The key, however, is to measure the results of the processes, rather than the processes themselves. Four out of 5 managers would say that they manage for results, but their people often have a different story to tell.

How do you identify whether you are measuring the process or the results? To begin, there are three questions to ask yourself:

1. Are you measuring how your team is getting to a result? If the answer is yes, then you are looking at their process, not the results–actions and tasks are just a means to an end. The end is the result

2. Is it measurable? You might assume that if the thing you’re focused on is measurable then it must be a result, but really it could be either. Consider a PR professional who has submitted X number of press releases. That number is measurable. But is it important? How do we know how those press releases have created a result, like impacting the bottom line? You can measure parts of a process–just because it is measurable doesn’t mean it is a result.

3. Is it an outcome or a milestone? Are you looking at a snapshot during the process where you can measure your progress toward the end result relative to where you started? If the answer is yes, then you are looking at a result.

Every manager must learn to make this distinction. It isn’t as simple as it might seem. In fact, many of my best clients struggle with it at times. However, the benefits of managing the results rather than the process are multifold. For one thing, a results focus really limits micromanaging because you are not involved in other people’s processes. They can figure out what they are going to do for themselves. You are just looking at the results of their work and how they impact the bottom line.

Another benefit is that your employees must own their own results. The less you interfere with their processes, the more your team has to own what they create. They have to take ownership of their decisions and their risks. As a result, your employees are forced to develop the capacity to be responsible for their own processes, and this, in turn, frees up your time and attention so that you can take on bigger and better things. Another critical benefit of measuring results rather than processes is that it makes measurement impartial–the numbers speak for themselves.

While distinguishing the difference between managing for processes and managing for results can be a difficult skill to master, it is critical for managers to develop this ability, and put it into action. In doing so, business leaders are able to assess their companies’ progress toward an end-goal, with one eye always on the bottom line.


Leading High-Stakes Growth

Leading High-Stakes Growth in the Post-Recession Economy

Last week, I spoke on the topic of Leading High-Stakes Growth in the Post-Recession Economy. Here’s a top level view of the talk.

The recovery has begun, which means that growth is upon us. However, this growth is high-stakes for two reasons:

  1. The talent war is back . Hiring companies are likely targeting your best team members. It is now more crucial to grow loyalty than was required in the past few years.
  2. Volatile growth creates tremendous opportunity. The world’s economic leader board has shifted significantly. Chinese private equity funds are looking to place billions of dollars. Are you ready to benefit?

Five keys to leading high-stakes growth:

  1. Hire and Manage a Spirited Team.
    Silicon Valley is driven by a unique talent pool. This requires hiring and managing for spirit, specifically teamwork and heart. One example is a client company where I helped transform an authoritarian workplace into one where employee creativity and engagement flourished.
  2. Expand Cultural Agility
    Cultural agility is not about making it easier for you to work with other people, it’s about making it easier for others to work with you. This applies not only to leaders, but to entre organizations. Expand the cultural agilty of your team and yourself to avoid costly missteps and instead transform the potential you hold.
  3. Develop Cultivated Charisma
    Born with it or not, any leader can cultivate their charisma by infusing meaning into the results the team is creating. One client who did a great job of this, was able to let me help make his message so compelling that he was able to turn around a failing company.
  4. Avoid the Success Trap
    When a rising tide is raising all boats, as in the recovery, it’s not enough to grow. To outperform and outmaneuver the competition, leaders must get their teams to shorten plateaus and speed the velocity of growth, which requires innovation.
  5. Execute for Innovation
    Creativity demands a highly functioning organization in order to have the space to create – it doesn’t systematically happen when fighting fires. Only creativity that is executed becomes innovation. Just as I do with my clients, execution must be embedded into every aspect of the strategy process in order for the organization to reach optimal performance.

Throughout the talk we had a rich discussion and the audience had many great questions. At the end I asked the audience which of the steps they would focus on implementing.

Which would you?


“All of us at The Swedish American Chamber of Commerce San Francisco/Silicon Valley would like to thank Michelle Randall for an outstanding speech at our latest business event. Michelle gave an inspiring and well-versed speech detailing the keys to successful leadership in Silicon Valley and the necessary steps to grow your company during the economic recovery. After the speech Michelle opened the floor for discussion and many of our members contributed with great thoughts and questions. It was a pleasure working and planning this event with Michelle. She is easy, flexible and absolutely passionate about her work.”

Louise Lindberg,
Swedish American Chamber of Commerce
San Francisco/Silicon Valley   


Hall of Shame: Popchips and Ashton Kutcher

Start by watching this and you’ll understand the firestorm.

Popchips says in a statement that the “dating parody featuring four characters was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone.”

Really? Every single one of the singles is a cultural stereotype.

The Indian stereotype is at the heart of the firestorm, being called racist.

Tech entrepreneur Anil Dash calls the spot a “hackneyed, unfunny advertisement featuring Kutcher in brownface talking about his romantic options, with the entire punchline being he’s doing it in a fake-Indian outfit and voice…I can’t imagine I have to explain this to anyone in 2012, but if you find yourself putting on brown makeup on a white person in 2012 so they can do a bad ‘funny’ accent to sell potato chips, you are on the wrong course.”

The root of this failure is at the very first skill of cultural agility, self awareness.  Even a chip producer who seems to be marketing only within the US needs its employees to be culturally agile enough to recognize their own cultural biases.

Hiring a diverse team isn’t enough to safeguard against making these kinds of blunders because then you end up with a very small sample size, often a single individual, representing the biases of an entire cultural group.

Everyone on the team needs to have enough self awareness to recognize their own cultural biases and then make choices that are attuned to the larger market.


The Importance of Innovation

Michelle discusses how innovation is key in a dynamic growth market and provides a few ways to go about this.