What is Situational Leadership


Leaders need to adapt they management style to fit the performance readiness of their teams.

Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard created the concept of situational leadership in the field of organisational behaviour.

They said that “readiness” not only varies by person, but also by task. People have different levels of ability and motivation for different tasks. Leaders can choose from directing, coaching, supporting and delegating depending on the situation and team member:

Situational_leadership

Directing

This style is recommended for team members that require a lot of specific guidance to complete the task. The leader could say: “Gerard this is what I would like you to do, here you have a step by step approach and here is when I need it done.” It’s primarily a command and control approach, one way conversation with little or no input from the team member.

Coaching

This is style is for team members who need guidance to complete the task, but there is a two-way conversation, the team member gives input. Coaching is for people who want and need to learn. The leader could say: “Gerard this is what I would like you to do, here you have a step by step approach and here is when I need it done. What do you think?”. Although the leader still set the approach, the team member is invited to give input and ultimately workout any change in the delivery plan if the leader and the team member think it will benefit the project.

Supporting

This style is for team members that have the skills to complete the task but may lack confidence to do it on their own. The leader could say: “Gerard, here is the task I need you to do and here is when I need this done. How do you think it should be done?, let’s talk about it, how can I help you on this one?. The leader knows the team member can achieve the task but s/he needs support to remove any impediment.

Delegating

This style es for team members who are motivated, have the ability to complete the task and have confidence. They know what to do, how to do it and can do it on their own. The leader could say: “Gerard, here is the task I need you to do and here is when I need this done. If I can help just ask, if not you are on your own.” Although is highly recommended to schedule health checks, the leader is confident the team member will complete the task based on his/her track record.

One style is not better than the other, each style is appropriate to the situation. Effective leaders know who is on their team, who can be left alone and who needs more direction.

How to Scale Using Motivation and Accountability


Many organisations scale effectively by hiring promising people and then teaching and motivating them to do exceptional work.

The following example shows how important is to hiring and developing people.

Tamago-Ya is a Japanese company that produces fresh box lunches and sell them to Tokyo office employees. The typical order comes from a office that buys lunches every weekday. Each lunch box contains six or more items and customers have a fairly long list of options to choose from stir-fried beef with oyster sauce, boiled spinach, etc.

Beef-and-Asian-Greens-Stir-Fry-Wide

The company takes orders between 9am and 10:30am, prepares the food with fresh ingredients each day and assembles the lunches near Haneda Airport a 60 to 90 minutes drive from their customers in downtown Tokyo.

The lunches are delivered by 12 noon the same day, so there is little margin error in assemble or delivery. From the 70,000+ lunches Tamago-Ya delivers every day, late orders are very rare and fewer than 50 are wasted.

Without a doubt, the company needs to have a sophisticated procurement and forecast system, but his founder Isatsugu Sugahara explained that they are decidedly low-tech.

The company relies on market intelligence from van drivers, mostly high school dropouts many of whom were arrested in their youth.

These drivers interview and choose their customers in their territories, they also reject customers when it will be too difficult to deliver lunches on time, each driver own his or her route. The driver’s compensation depends on how many lunches their customers buy and weather they can keep waste low.

Boxed lunches are delivered in reusable containers that drivers collect about 2pm, this give them the chance to find out what customers like and didn’t like and to get an idea of what customers will order next day.

Every evening, each driver talks to the area manager who oversees his or her team. Forecasts from these conversations are sent to the central office so they can plan next day’s production.

Suppliers deliver raw materials by 5am, this order is an educated guess based on previous day report from the drivers. Tamago-Ya also relies on these estimates to start preparing food and loading vans even before orders start coming in at 9am.

Tamago-Ya founder knows that the methods his company uses to motivate and ensure accountability are the reason for the success of the business.

Tamago-Ya case illustrate how people make the place, the drivers reciprocate Sugahara’s faith in them by achieving superior performance, feel and act like owners because they choose customers and routes and at the same time they feel obliged to customers, peers, area manager and the CEO who gave them a chance to rebuild their lives.

Read more: Robert I. Sutton and Hayagreeva Rao Scaling up Excellence. Random House Business and Tamago-ya of Japan: Delivering Lunch Boxes to Your Work. Harvard Business Review Case Study.

Program Management Governance in Few Words


The first thing the program must do is establish program governance by planning how it will monitor and control the constituent projects.

Program Governance

Effective governance ensures strategic alignment, the realisation of promised service and benefits, stakeholders are communicated with and kept aware of progress and issues; appropriate tools and processes are used in the program; decisions are made rationally and with justification; and the responsibilities and accountabilities are clearly defined and applied. All of this is done within the policies and standards of the partner organisations and is measured to ensure compliance. Program Governance is intended to provide:

  1. A framework for efficient and effective decision-making
  2. Consistent delivery management with a focus on achieving program goals
  3. An appropriate mechanism to address risks and stakeholder requirements

Governance is about structured decision-making on investments in projects as has been summarised as the four areas:

  1. Are we doing the right projects?
  2. Are we doing them the right way?
  3. Are we getting them done well?
  4. Are we getting the benefits?

What criteria to use to select the right programs?

There are 5 selection criteria for organisations to evaluate what programs to start, being the strategic fit and benefits analysis the most important ones.

  1. Strategic fit: how well the program fits with the business strategy of the organisation
  2. Benefits analysis: what the benefits to the business are and how they will be achieved
  3. Budget: the preliminary budget estimate for the program
  4. Resources: the human and other resources required for the program and their availability
  5. Risks: analysis of the potential risks to the program

Top Components of an Elevator Pitch


The elevator pitch is as important as the business plan, some people call it twitter pitch (but I think 140 characters might be too short).

Bplans explain what components a perfect elevator pitch must have; every single angle of a business plan in a short visionary version is laid out.

Top components of an elevator pitch:

1) Problem:

First you need to be clear about what problem your business will solve; without this there is simple no business. People require solutions to the challenges and issues they face. The definition must be simple and straight forward, so everyone can simply see the pain point:

  • “communication with remote teams can be complex”
  • “completing paperwork for a A&E doctor is time-consuming”
  • “filling out your tax return is difficult”

2) Solution:

When you have defined the problem, the solution needs to be explained. This also needs to be simple and focused.

3) Market:

Who is experiencing the problem you described?; it’s critical that you always keep in mind the persona you are targeting, their problem points, what pressing issues keep this person up at night. If your market is too big, then follow the divide and conquer strategy, segment you target market and prioritise the same.

4) Competition:

To have competition means that there is a market for the problem you are trying to solve, you also need to think not only on direct competition but alternatives. Like a wristwatch company competing with mobile phones, also think how well they solve your target market and which opportunities you have to differentiate your value proposition and positioning yourself differently.

5) Team 

People is far more important that ideas, people is what make ideas work. You need to explain how well this team can work together, what skills are they bringing to your company. You don’t need to have all the team in place but you need to understand what gaps you have and how you plan to close those gaps and when.

6) Financial summary

In here you basically need to clarify your business model; how you create value and how you convert that value into profit. Remember numbers never lie, be hard with your numbers, you need to do sales forecast and expense budget (these are based on assumptions).

7) Milestones

In here you present a high level plan, no need to enter in details but clearly identify large milestones / phases; their ordering, dependencies and when these will happen. This is the operational plan and it will picture your business as real as possible.

This great infographic from Bplans explains each component of an elevator pitch.

7 key components of a perfect elevator pitch

Source: The 7 Key Components of a Perfect Elevator Pitch [with infographic]

How Leaders Create Conditions for Change


Leaders can not dictate the culture, but they can nurture it. they can create the right conditions for change, creativity and innovation. Leader can multiply the effect of a team. Liz Wiseman interviewed more than 150 leaders to research her book Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter.

Leading a team

Leaders who are multipliers can double the output of a team or a company and improve morale in the process, here is how you can become a multiplier:

  1. be a talent magnet, who attracts and retains the best people and help them to reach their highest potential
  2. find a worthy challenge or mission that motivate people to stretch their thinking
  3. encourage debate that allows different views to be expressed and considered
  4. give team members ownership of results

Basic group dynamics

  • great groups believe they are on a mission beyond mere financial success, they believe they will make the world a better place
  • they are more optimistic than realistic
  • they ship
  • belonging to a strong creative group can be one of the most rewarding aspects of working life

Stop Planing and Start Acting


Being creative and innovative is not enough, you still need to act.

Many people get stuck between wanting to act and taking action. Professors Bob Sutton and Jeffrey Pfeffer call this the “knowing-doing gap”: the space between what we know we should do and what we actually do. This cal lead the company to have a paralysis by analysis, this is when talk becomes a substitute for action.

Yoya, Do or do not there is no try

A corporate example of paralysis by analysis is Eastman Kodak company, in mid 1990’s the leadership team had a deep expertise and intellectually understood that the future of photography was digital, Kodak had actually invented the digital camera in 1975 and later they pioneered the world’s first megapixel sensor. So why all this knowledge and technology was not marketed by Kodak, why they didn’t take action?

Kodak had basically owned the consumer and professional photography market for at least 100 years, with in some segments having a market share as high as 90%. Facing strong global competitors in the digital market like Cannon, Sony, Nikon, Kodak knew that it will struggle and the management team had fear of failure.

What happened to Kodak is not due to lack of information or leadership expertise; its failure was to not being able to turn insight into action, as a result one of the most important corporations lost its way.

To achieve goals, to overcome obstacles in your way, you have to be focused on getting it done now. As Yoda (from Stars Wars) put it to Luke Skywalker “Do or do not. There is no try”.

8 tips to turn insight into action:

  1. Start with the end goal in mind
  2. Fight procrastination by adopting “do it now!” as your mantra
  3. Don’t plan out everything you need to do to finish a project, just focus on the very next thing you need to do to move it forward
  4. Assign a set amount of time per day to work on a task or project
  5. Un-clutter, be able to access what you need, when you need it, without breaking the flow of your work to find it
  6. Break down large goals into smaller steps to make the journey to completion more doable
  7. Prioritise, certain tasks will always hold more priority than others
  8. Stop chasing perfection, getting things done shouldn’t involve mastering perfection

* Image credit hitwallpaper.com

Change and Negotiation


When people think about negotiation, they immediately think of having to influence someone else but Erica Ariel Fox says you have to manage yourself first.

She introduces the big four concept:

  1. Your Dreamer, or inner CEO. This part of you operates on intuition, and imagines big possibilities for the future
  2. Your Thinker, or inner CFO. This part uses facts and logic to make rational assessments, to evaluate options and manage risk
  3. Your Lover, or inner VP of HR. This part of you runs on emotion, values relationships, and excels at communicating with other people.
  4. Your Warrior, or inner COO. This part of you thrives on action, wanting to close the performance gap and getting things done, tell the hard truth, and take a firm stand for your values.

Without the CEO, you could miss the vision that is essential to an innovative strategy. No CFO, and the budget collapses. Without HR, the right people do not get hired or developed. If the COO’s absent, it’s all talk and no action.

The big four change from within

The Big Four represent your capacity to dream about the future, to analyse and solve problems, to build relationships with people, and to take effective action; they enable your visioning, thinking, feeling, and achieving; they make it possible for you to take four approaches to leading and living: inspirational, analytical, relational, and practical.

Ideally, you have these 4 c-level executives operate within you in balance, they are available to you and you can call on each one when the time is right. Negotiating with yourself means letting your Big Four consider which of them is in the best position to get the result you want.

Read more: Erika Fox. “Winning from Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change” HarperBusiness

Personal Touch of Innovation


There are plenty of organisations that have fully embrace innovation as the essence of their business model. An example is 3M defines innovation as “New ideas plus action or implementation which results in an improvement, a gain or a profit“. It is not enough to have a good idea only when you act, implement and execute you really innovate.

People is the most important factor of innovation not only the idea or the execution, innovation not only happen, people make it happen. Innovation Network definition of innovation is a lot more complete: “People creating value trough the implementation of new ideas“.

Tom Kelley from IDEO defines 10 personas to give the personal touch of innovation:

1. The Anthropologist learns by observing other people, how they behave and interact physically and emotional with products, services and other people. They do not judge, they observe, they empathise.

2. The Experimenter prototypes new ideas by experimenting, learning, improving based on a process of trial and error. They are best in to take words to sketch, to model and new offering.

3. The Cross-Polinator brings experiences from other environments like organisations, industries, cultures, countries then translate those into innovative solutions. Organisations can hire lots of people with diverse background, cultures and geographies.

4. The Hurdler knows that the path of innovation is not only one step but a journey that takes time and resources, there will be obstacles that need to be need overcome, this persona understands the importance of perseverance and is willing the bend the rules. This person does more with less.

5. The Collaborator helps to bring cross functional teams together and get things done, he often leads from the middle. You can collaborate working not only within the organisation but with clients and customers

6.The Director brings people together, sparks their creative talent, guide them with a great destination postcard and motivate them. There is an old adage in Hollywood “Directing is 90% casting”, great directors build a team of people who need little direction and can lead by example.

7. The Experience Architect designs experiences that go beyond the functionality and act also the emotional part to connect deeper with people. When companies can copy products and services, the price is not the truly differentiator but the experience created around.

8. The Set Designer creates the environment where innovation is created, where teams can do their best. This environment is the physical space that influence behaviour and space.

9. The Caregiver anticipate customer needs and are ready to go to look after them. They always go beyond the mere basic service.

10. The Storyteller builds credibility, triggers emotional connections, good stories help make order out of chaos.

Read more: Tom, Kelley. “The Ten Faces of Innovation: Strategies for Heightening Creativity” Doubleday

Business and Poker


Tony Hsieh is one of the most important business leaders of our time, in his book Delivering Happiness he explain how Zappos is built on branding, culture and pipeline as the only competitive advantage that Zappos will have in the long run.

In the chapter 3 of the book, Tony clearly defines the lessons he learnt from playing poker and that can be applied to business:

Evaluating Market Opportunities

  • Table selection is the most important decision you can make
  • It’s okay to switch tables if you discover is too hard to win at you table
  • If there are too many competitors (some irrational or inexperienced), even if you are the best it’s a lot harder to win

Marketing and branding:

  • Act weak when strong, act strong when weak. Know when to bluff
  • Your “hand is important”
  • Help shape the stories that people are telling about you

Financial management

  • Always be prepared for the worst possible scenario
  • The guys who wins the most hands is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run
  • The guy who never losses a hand is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run
  • Go for positive expected value, not for what’s least risky
  • Make sure your bankroll is large enough for the game you are playing and the risks are you taking
  • Play only with what you can afford to lose
  • Remember that is a long-term game. you will win or lose individual hand or sessions, but is what happens in the long-term that matters

Strategy

  • Don’t play games that you do not understand, even if you see lots of people making money from them
  • Figure out the game when the stakes aren’t high
  • Don’t cheat. Cheaters never win in the long run
  • Stick to your principles
  • You need to adjust your style of play throughout the night as the dynamics of the game change. Be flexible.
  • Be patient and think in the long-term
  • The players with more stamina and focus usually win
  • Differentiate yourself. Do the opposite of what the rest of the table is doing.
  • Hope is not a good plan
  • Don’t let yourself go “on tilt”. It’s much more cost-effective to take a break, walk around or leave the game for the night

Continual learning

  • Educate yourself. Read books and learn from others that have done it before
  • Learn by doing. Theory is nice, but nothing replaces actual experience
  • Learn by surrounding yourself with talented players
  • Just because you win a hand doesn’t mean you are good and you do not have more learning to do. You might have just gotten lucky.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advise

Culture

  • You have to love the game. To become very good you need to live it and sleep it.
  • Don’t be cocky. Don’t be flashy. there is always someone better than you
  • Be nice and make friends. It’s a small community
  • Learn what you have learnt with others
  • Look for opportunities just beyond the game you sat down to play. You never know who you are going to meet, including friends for life or new business contacts
  • Have fun. The game is a lot more enjoyable when you are trying to do more than just make money

Read more, not only from business but happiness: Tony Hsieh. “Dilivering Happiness a path to profits, passion and purpose” Business Plus

Why to Support Change


People are not against change. Employees are sometimes more aware than leaders of the need for change, they are in the front-line dealing with poor product quality, unresponsive service, effective competitors, etc.

Why resistance to change?

This can arise from many causes, most are rational and addressable.

  • Comfort with status quo
  • Lost of control
  • Threat of security
  • Negative history
  • Work pressure
  • Concern about results
  • Discomfort with learning new skills
  • Lack of clarity
  • Exhaustion

Why to support change? 

Here are some of the reasons for people to support, seek and celebrate change:

  • Personal growth
  • Ambition
  • Personal gain
  • Self preservation
  • Involvement
  • Adventure

Change management involves discovering beliefs, concerns and feelings; taking action to reinforce the positives and address the negatives, and bringing them into a favorable balance.

When there is resistance to change, it is very important to understand the reason for that resistance.

What to do when there is resistance to change?

  • What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity
  • Show people the problems with not changing
  • Create a destination postcard than makes the change more attractive
  • Simplify the problem
  • Lower the bar to get people moving
  • Use social pressure to encourage change
  • Shrink the change so you can start today
  • Find a bright spot that shows it can work
  • Focus on building habits
  • Motivate the team by reminding people how much they have already accomplished