If Larry and Sergey Can Do It You Can, Too

This afternoon, like every Friday afternoon at Google headquarters, there will be an all hands meeting. And all hands truly means everyone.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin will give updates, field no-holds-barred questions from any employee, and make sure that everyone on their team is focused in the same direction. They do this every Friday.

Leaders at most companies provide far too little transparency and hide behind ‘open door policies.’ Open doors that they venture out of far too infrequently.

Effective leadership, management and enduring charisma require active, regular engagement with everyone on your team.

What keeps you from having a weekly all hands meeting like the one at Google?
Not enough time? Nothing to say? Fear of fielding uncomfortable questions?

Don’t pacify yourself with copouts. Instead enliven your team and results.
If Larry and Sergey can do it you can, too.

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Boeing Gets Nailed

Boeing has had to come clean about it’s poor battery testing practices. It seems they were using the same protocols that are used for cell phone batteries on batteries critical to the successful operation of one of the world’s most sophisticated flying machines.

They did the ‘nail test,’ driving a nail into the battery and seeing if it would catch on fire, because the battery was so advanced they didn’t have a test advanced enough to get proximate data.

The flaming failure of the batteries has cost Boeing’s customers millions in scrambled schedules when the entire fleet was grounded. The financial impact on Boeing is nowhere close to fruition, and it may spell disaster for the company.

How about your company? Are you using a ‘nail test’ when something far more accurate is required, because that’s the best tool you know to use?

If so, it may be time to add to your toolbox, or to invest in fire extinguishers.

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Strategic or Not?

At a recent workshop for the Association of Briefing Program Managers, we played a game called ‘Strategic or Not.’ In it participants guessed whether their bosses consider some of their contributions to be strategic, or not. Turns out there were a couple of surprises.

This isn’t unique to briefing programs. Do you know which of your contributions your boss considers strategic – or not?

ABPM Ranking of Strategic Contributions from greatest to least.

RANKING OF ACTIVITIES FROM GREATEST TO LEAST STRATEGIC VALUE

Strategic

Both strategic and tactical

Not

Integrating the briefing program as an inherent part of the sales process

89%

11%

0%

Helping the organization to better understand the value of the briefing center

78%

22%

0%

Participating in organization-wide strategic planning process

75%

13%

12%

Finding new programs to drive revenue-generating business

75%

13%

12%

Sharing customer visit insights and best practices among account teams

56%

44%

0%

Launching a Global Briefing Program

57%

43%

0%

Forging external partnerships

44%

22%

33%

Identifying and relating customer satisfaction/dissatisfaction

38%

50%

13%

Providing training for presenters

36%

55%

9%

Developing processes to prepare executives to meet with guests

33%

56%

11%

Improving the briefing program experience for guests

22%

67%

11%

Finding new ways to streamline program operations

22%

33%

45%

Refreshing briefing center

22%

33%

33%

Tracking and reporting briefing center performance

11%

67%

22%

Integrating briefing center into CRM software (i.e. Salesforce.com)

11%

67%

22%

Aligning catering costs to budget

0%

33%

67%

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Where do you get your new ideas in teaching leadership skills?

What’s your favorite source for new ideas in teaching leadership skills and making it interactive?

I always focus on the needs that the participants will have in the moment. For example, I’m currently on a flight to deliver some bad news to a group of symposium participants. Based on surveys I’ve conducted, the contributions these managers consider strategic are more often considered tactical by their bosses. The participants need to get this message without becoming defensive and I need to keep them engaged. Knowing I need to deliver a serious message, the creativity is to keep it lighthearted. I’m going to have them play a version of the Family Feud I’m calling “Strategic or Not?” I’ve been teaching leadership skills for a decade and in that time the needs of the participants always inspires the right delivery method, not the other way around.

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What defines “executive coaching”?

What defines “executive coaching”? Does it mean coaching for those in the C- Suite or does it mean coaching for anyone who manages others?

After a decade as an executive coach working with hundreds of professionals, here’s how I define executive coaching:

A holistic approach to maximizing the success, as they define it, of senior and emerging leaders.

Ready to try it?

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Working abroad can bring rewards of global economy

According to consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the number of employees working on international assignment outside their home country has grown by 25 percent in the last decade and by 2020 they predict an additional 50 percent increase.

Global consultant Michelle Randall, author of “Cultural Profit: Vastly Accelerating Bottom Line Results for High Growth Global Companies,” reflects the consensus of talent managers when she notes that “employees at every level within an organization (need) cross-cultural fluency.” She notes that cross-cultural competency isn’t just important for employees working for multinationals. “Go to your local Target and you’ll find that there is a culturally plural work force speaking at least two languages. This has huge hiring, work force and management implications.”

Whether you are at the start of you career, mid-career or looking for a second career, cultural competency is essential.

Business is becoming increasingly global. International trade, overseas assignments and multicultural  work forces create a demand for individuals that have developed the ability to deal effectively with individuals from other cultures.

What are the keys to cross-cultural fluency? Ken Belanger, director of Global Leadership Training for Berlitz, a provider of language training and cross-cultural services, points to the following elements: “One is an open attitude. Curiosity is a pre-requisite for engaging in the continuous learning process of developing cross-cultural effectiveness. From there it’s important to become self-aware, which is the ability to recognize one’s own cultural values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. You must also become aware of others, which is the ability to observe and identify the roles, behaviors, attitudes and cultural orientations of our counterparts. The fourth component of the Berlitz model is having cultural knowledge, specific and general knowledge about a given social and business culture.” Cultural competence, according to Belanger, requires not only learning these skills but also seeking opportunities to put them into practice.

To that end Berlitz has developed the “Cultural Navigator,” an online tool to help executives increase their ability to effectively interact with individuals with different cultural backgrounds.

Lauren Supraner, president of CAL Learning, an intercultural communications training company, points out that “understanding that not everyone views the world as you do is the first step to developing cross-cultural competence. Look. Listen, and lastly talk (not easy for Americans, who prefer the reverse order).”

Understanding your own culture is also important she adds, because it is “the filter through which you view people and events.”

Lynne Sarikas, executive director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern’s D’Amore McKim School of Business, points out that when she was in China recently it was “striking how many of the leaders of the multinational companies had experience working for multiple international companies and had strong language skills.” To lead global companies, there is an increasing demand for leaders with experience in many countries. Knowledge of the business challenges, culture and language enable these managers to be more effective and successful as they assume more leadership responsibilities.

For individuals interested in gaining international experience, Sarikas suggests the following:

• Build Your Value. Gain experience and build your knowledge of the company and how to get things done at headquarters first so you bring that value to the other locations in a future assignment. Do what you do very well so you will stand out as a candidate for a broader experience.

• Don’t Wait Too Long. I’ve seen people keep putting off the international assignment for various reasons. It is easier to relocate before you have a family or before your children start school.

• Be Prepared. Before starting an overseas assignment, do your homework. Learn as much as you can about the company and customers in that location. Review business customers. Learn at least common phrases in the local language. Talk to employees currently working there or those who recently worked there. Seek their input on ensuring a smooth transition.

• Seize the Opportunity. Make the most of the assignment. Learn as much as you can while you are there. Take advantage of being there to see the sights, learn the history, and interact with the locals when possible. Do your work well and learn as much as possible about the unique aspects of the business in that location as well as the challenges of working with corporate from afar. This perspective will change how you think about challenges in the future.

Berlitz’s Belanger offers the following career advice to individuals seeking to succeed in today’s global economy. “Get out there and experience the world. Take a curriculum that has a global perspective, look for internships with companies that operate internationally and focus your job search on global companies. One thing leads to another.”

A veteran human resources executive, Lee E. Miller is a career coach and the author of “UP: Influence Power and the U Perspective — The Art of Getting What You Want.” 

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Why do you invest in yourself?

Why do you invest in yourself?

To become qualified for better and bigger opportunities, and to be more successful in those roles — right?

I’m reflecting on this because today I was interviewed for a feature in my graduate school’s quarterly alumni publication. One of the questions they asked me was,

“What helped you the most throughout your career coaching senior leaders, and being a decision-maker yourself?”

My answer was that in the school’s multinational MBA program, I learned how to get results from international teams — a skill I’ve continued to study, refine, and systematize, culminating in my recent book, Cultural Profit.

I see so many leaders hopping onto airplanes and learning how to conduct business across cultural borders as “on the job” training. Sadly, the results are usually sub-optimal, as with any learning process. It’s costly for both the business and the individual leader. The ROI would be much higher if only proper investment of time and/or money were being made in the necessary training for global leadership mastery.

This month’s newsletter is chock-full of articles and podcasts to shorten your learning process to becoming a global leader. Because whether your team is around the globe or around the office, all of our jobs are global now.

If you aren’t already receiving our newsletter, sign up to receive it now and don’t miss a single issue.

Rooting for your success!
Michelle

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The New C-Suite Requirement: Cultural Agility

If you’ve got your eyes set on the C-suite, you should ask yourself the following question: What are you doing to make sure you go from being a good leader to a truly advanced leader and an agile executive?

Becoming an advanced leader requires figuring out how to ask the right questions, keeping in mind your own biases as you interact with people in various cultural contexts. Your teams and your customers are distributed around the globe, so in order to get the results you’re looking for, you have to be able to motivate, encourage followership, and serve people from all different cultures.

I was recently speaking with Marshall Goldsmith, one of world’s top leadership experts, about the nature of cultural ceilings. Is there a cultural ceiling that executives hit that limits their career? We concluded that there is a cultural ceiling, but not necessarily in terms of a national culture. Rather, it’s the ability to function in every culture worldwide, regardless of the corporation or individual’s home country, that determines one’s ability to have a successful career as a business executive.

When executives develop cultural agility–the capacity to recognize, understand, and respond appropriately to various cultures, and to work within those cultures to achieve business results–they massively expand their ability to advance their career. They can get results from teams around the world, and from multicultural teams within their local organizations.

History is littered with the broken careers of leaders who lacked cultural agility. Consider Carly Fiorina. Carly really didn’t understand the Hewlett-Packard way. She set out to change the culture, and wasn’t received well at all. She could have had very different results if she had developed some cultural agility.

But she’s is just one famous example. There are many people out there like her who don’t understand why they can’t break through to the next level of management. Often, the reason they’re not advancing in their career is their inability to be culturally agile.

Let me give you an example. There was once a man from the Northeast U.S. who was transferred to the deep South. I first encountered him when he was speaking to a group of people, and I happened to be in the back. I understood what he was saying, but he dressed differently, and he used different words than the rest of the people in the room. The woman next to me noticed that I was nodding along, and, at the end, she turned to me and asked, “What did he just say?” The problem was that he wasn’t speaking or delivering his message in a way that was relevant to the people he was trying to motivate to work together.

I was engaged to coach this individual, and we really worked on developing his cultural agility. He became more self-aware, and conscious of the impact that he was having. He became more attuned to understanding the environment around him. He adapted some of his word choices, the way he dressed, and the way he interacted with people, while ensuring that he did all this in a way that was also authentic to him. The results were impressive: His team pulled together, followed his leadership loyally, and was able to increase its sales and profitability eightfold.

That man has now moved on to other senior positions because he’s able to replicate his success with this group. He would not have achieved this success with his team, or in his career, without becoming culturally agile–and this is only a domestic example, it isn’t even international.

Keeping this example in mind, what are you doing to make sure that you, your executives, and your team are culturally agile?

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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.

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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   

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