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The Best Leaders Grow Their People

August 30th, 2019

By: Karen Colligan

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”  - Former CEO of GE, Jack Welch

I often talk about how important it is for leaders to continue to grow and develop. And…it’s also important to grow your people. Both are essential if you want to prepare your organization to succeed today and into the future.

Employees need to feel valued, connected, challenged and recognized.  Providing them with opportunities to build on their strengths, learn new skills and prepare for the future needs of the company demonstrates in a very real way that they are integral to the organization and its success. And when employees feel that kind of connection they will be more engaged and loyal.

Employee development can happen in many different forms: on-the-job training, personal development, cross-functional projects, coach and/or mentor, special projects, stretch assignments, training courses, reading and personal study, online courses, peer coaching, job shadowing, etc. The important thing is that it is available and encouraged.

Too often development opportunities are limited to “fixing” an employee’s weaknesses rather than leveraging and developing their strengths. Yet, according to Gallup, organizations that focus on employee strengths have higher engagement, less turnover and a better bottom line.

Create development plans that take into consideration organization goals and the skills and behaviors employees will need to contribute to achieving those goals. It’s also essential that individual employee career goals and personal interests be taken into account in development plans. All too often employees have skills and talents that are under-utilized. In fact, 74% of employees feel that they are not reaching their full potential. (The Learning Wave)

Also consider the skills and behaviors employees will need in the future to succeed (yes, even if it’s not in your organization).  According to a report from the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills in 2020 will be:

-Complex problem solving

-Critical thinking

-Creativity

-People management

-Coordinating with others

-Emotional intelligence

-Judgment and decision making

-Service orientation

-Negotiation

-Cognitive flexibility

Creating, implementing and supporting development plans for your employees will not only help keep them loyal and engaged, it will ensure that your organization is ready for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

"The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay." - Henry Ford

Till next time,

Karen

Engagement, Leadership, learning and development, People, Professional development

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Soft Skills Win in the Race for Job Success!

August 28th, 2019

By: Karen Colligan

Think about this: 85% of job success is due to having well-developed soft skills, and only 15% is due to technical, or hard skills.  This is from Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and the Stanford Research Center.

It amazes me that despite this research, organizations (and individuals) still tend to focus on developing hard skills. In 2010, employers spent $171.5 billion on employee training and only 27.6% of those training dollars went toward soft skills, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

It’s time to put more of our dollars and development efforts where they really count. In our increasingly global, dynamic and service-oriented way of working, organizations need leaders, teams and individual contributors who have the personal behaviors and interpersonal skills that will help them grow and thrive.

So what are those skills?  In my work with organizations to create leadership and employee development initiatives, these are the 10 soft skills/behaviors (in alpha order) that leaders most often tell me they need in their people.

Collaboration – the ability to meld ideas and share credit with others.

Creativity – initiating new approaches to projects, solving problems, etc.

Effective communication – clear and concise speaking and writing paired with active listening.

Emotional intelligence – self-aware and sensitive to others, empathetic.

Flexibility – adaptable to change.

Growth mindset – recognizing they don’t know it all. Being willing to learn.

Leadership – the ability to lead, even without the title.

Reliability – do what you say you’re going to do by when you say you’re going to do it.

Resilience – the ability to continue pursuing the goal despite roadblocks and challenges.

Teamwork – sharing the work and supporting others toward a common goal.

Organizations who want to remain competitive and individuals who want to increase their marketability would do well to put more emphasis on identifying gaps in these skills and then creating a comprehensive development plan to close those gaps.

One of the best ways to identify gaps is through a behavioral assessment. The one I use with leaders, teams and individuals is Lumina Spark.  Lumina Spark is a state-of-the-art psychometric assessment that provides a framework to help people achieve better self-awareness and learn how to improve their working relationships with others.

Check out the Lumina Spark fact sheet and then contact me to learn how PeopleThink can help your organization build its people capability.

Till next time,

Karen

Career, learning and development, Professional development

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Leadership and Learning – An Essential Combination

March 27th, 2019

By: Karen Colligan


The best and most successful leaders recognize that the learning journey never stops. They know their strengths, and look for opportunities to leverage them. They also acknowledge that there are areas where they aren't as strong and need to continue to develop.





One of the challenges for new and emerging leaders is determining what skills and behaviors - competencies - are the most important to be an effective leader today and into the future. A Google search will result in myriad lists of "top" skills for leaders. "The Top 10 Leadership Competencies" (Psychology Today), "The 5 Most Important Competencies for Function Leaders" (Center for Creative Leadership), "The Most Important Leadership Competencies According to Leaders Around the World" (Harvard Business Review).





In a review of these lists, there are several core competencies that bubble to the top: strategic thinking, effective communication, a desire to develop others, decision making, creating a vision, ability to have tough conversations. And, of course, trust and integrity. THAT should be a no-brainer. As far as I'm concerned, integrity has to be at the foundation of leadership, 'cause if you don't have that, nothing else matters!





These are some of the traditional skills that make an effective leader. But there are additional skills that have become increasingly important over the past few years as we look at a new way of working in the 21st century. Skills like emotional intelligence, self-awareness, collaboration, global thinking, agility and future focus.





When was the last time you did an inventory of your leadership competencies - both strengths and development areas? What are you doing to prepare yourself to overcome the challenges, and leverage the opportunities, as a leader in the future?





I recently went to an inspiring talk by John Chambers, former CEO and now Chairman Emeritus of Cisco, and author of the recently-published Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World. He spoke about taking Cisco from a $70 million, 400-employee company (1991) to a $47 billion tech giant (2015) and how important it was to have clarity around who he was as a leader - during both the good and the not-so-good times. He emphasized that you have to always be preparing for what's next.





Think about this: Gen Z (born 1995-2012) employees will have 12 jobs in their lifetime. Six of those jobs aren't event invented yet.





What do you need to do to prepare yourself to lead multi-generational teams? How will you lead as artificial intelligence becomes an integral part of the way we work? What are you doing to keep your competencies current and ready for what's next?





"The worst thing to do when things are running smoothly is to get comfortable. You've always got to be thinking what's next." - John Chambers





Till next time,





Karen


Career planning, Leadership, leadership development, learning and development

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The greatest untapped resource for leadership development is experienced leaders who have done the work to improve their effectiveness as leaders. That’s why I recently conducted a survey – the PeopleThink Leadership Journey Survey – to capture insight, experience, and lessons learned from people who have “earned their stripes,” so to speak, as experienced leaders of teams and/or organizations in a variety of industries. I’ll be integrating the results of the survey into my GET REAL Leadership Program, which I’ll be rolling out early next year.

Survey respondents represented more than 10 different industries across the US and Europe. Industries included Technology, Life Sciences, Financial, Professional Services, Learning and Development, Nonprofit, and others.  Leadership roles represented ranged from Mid-Level Manager (17%) to Senior Leader (31%) to Founder/Entrepreneur (21%) to C-Level Executive (18%).  The average length of respondent leadership experience was 13+ years.

Here are some highlights of what the leaders collectively shared from their Leadership Journeys.

Primary purpose of a leader. The majority of respondents said that the primary purpose of a leader is to 1-Build a Strong Team.  Other purposes that rated highly include (in order):

2-Focus on the people (coach, develop, grow)

3-Achieve results

4-Set the vision

5-Shape the culture

Since one of the goals of the survey was to capture insight that I could incorporate into my leadership development and coaching work, I wanted to understand what respondents believed were some of the key actions that helped them achieve their purpose as a leader. Here are some responses:

“Hire the right people” (Build a strong team)

“Learn to listen” (Focus on the people)

“Hold yourself and others accountable (Achieve results)

“Communicate the vision” (Set the vision)

“Build trust” (Shape the culture)

Leadership competencies. Respondents identified the following as the competencies that most helped them succeed as leaders (in order)

1-People focus (coach, develop, grow)

2-Communication skills

3-See the big picture

4-Honesty/transparency

5-Innovation

Personal development. A rather alarming result from the survey was that while 74% of respondents said they believe that leaders should carve out time to develop their leadership competencies, 40% spend LESS THAN 15% of their time developing those competencies. Competencies they identified as important to work on:

1-Active listening

2-Seeking feedback from others

3-Being comfortable with change

4-Building trust

5-Having difficult conversations

Developing others. 86% of respondents said they believe that leaders should carve out time to help their people grow and develop. The top resources they currently make available to their people:

1-Conferences

2-Mentor

3-On-site training

4-Stretch assignments

5-Networking

Some of the greatest insight from the survey came from the open-ended questions where respondents were asked to reflect on what they would have done differently on their leadership journey, and what their key lessons learned were.

Self-reflection

“I would have invested in myself earlier in the journey.”

“I wish I had taken more risks.”

“I was once told that if I felt like an ‘imposter’ in my leadership role, then I didn’t understand my true value. So, I began to ask what value I provided, and in all my years as a leader that has made the biggest difference for me.”

“I would have started sooner to take more time to work on my leadership competencies.”

Lessons learned

“Hire the right people and invest in their development.”

“Focus on the people and the results will follow…This is now my leadership philosophy and it has proven true many times.”

“To make critical decisions, always keep in mind the mission and vision of the organization. When you lose sight of that, it never turns out well.”

“Delegate and empower people! It’s the only way to achieve multiples of what you can achieve on your own.”

“See the future, believe the future, feel the future.”

If you didn’t have the opportunity to complete the survey, but would like to share some insight or lessons learned from your leadership journey, please complete the The PeopleThink Leadership Journey Survey.

Thank you!

Till next time,

Karen

Leadership, leadership development, learning and development, Professional and team leadership

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Team Derailed? Here’s How to Get Them Back on Track

October 24th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

Whether you are leading a small work team or a large organization, there are bound to be some team-related challenges. Having some ground rules in place, as I suggested in my last blog, will certainly help, and…you can’t just post those on the board and walk away. As the leader, you need to proactively identify and resolve issues before they impact team members, their work or the business.

Here are 5 common team challenges and what you can do as a leader to fix them.

Lack of trust. This refers to trust in you and in each other. A lack of trust impairs productivity and may lead to missed deadlines, milestones and even project failure.

Solution: Build trust by being very clear about team purpose, individual roles, and expectations. Be open, honest and consistent. Be willing to tackle tough issues and to stand up for the team. Demonstrate empathy. And demonstrate that you trust the members of your team.

Poor communication. Infrequent, incomplete or disrespectful communication impacts employee engagement and may lead to errors or intra-team conflict, ultimately affecting productivity and goals.

Solution: Communicate clearly and regularly. Share as much as you can, especially about business information that may impact the team or their work. Listen. Ask for feedback, ideas, solutions. Model open, honest and respectful communication so the team will mirror that among themselves.

Lack of accountability. When people aren’t held accountable for the quality and timeliness of their work others may have to pick up the slack resulting in conflict or missed deadlines or – at worst – project failure.

Solution: Be sure everyone clearly understands expectations and the impact of not meeting those expectations. Challenge your team to higher performance goals and establish an environment where they hold themselves – and each other – accountable for results.  Include regular progress reports, open sharing of mistakes and lessons learned, and team discussions on how to move through roadblocks.

Conflict and tension. Some conflict is good for airing different ideas. However, when left unchecked or unmanaged, it can lead to distrust in the leader and impair team progress.

Solution: Harness the power of diverse thinking. Create an environment that encourages fresh ideas and approaches. Reach out to those who are less vocal to ensure that their ideas get added to the mix. When everyone feels heard and appreciated, “conflicts” become productive discussions. When tension arises between team members, facilitate a discussion to get to the root of the problem. Overlap of responsibilities, perceived lack of effort or contribution by a team member, and personality differences are common causes.

Working in silos. When team members each march to their own drum, chaos ensues, wasting precious time and resources.

Solution: Be sure everyone has a clear understanding of their role, other team members’ roles and the importance and interdependence of each role and task in achieving team goals. Establishing this knowledge up front will prevent duplication of effort, project delays and team conflict.

And remember, the best teams bring diverse personalities, skills and experience to the table. Recognizing the value that each individual’s skills and traits contribute to the team and how they complement each other will help you lay the groundwork for a well-functioning, high-performing team.

Till next time,

Karen

Leadership, learning and development, Relationships, Teams

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Soft Skills Win the Race for Job Success!

August 20th, 2018

By: Karen Colligan

Think about this: 85% of job success is due to having well-developed soft skills, and only 15% is due to technical, or hard skills. This is from Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and the Stanford Research Center.

It amazes me that despite this research, organizations (and individuals) still tend to focus on developing hard skills. In 2010, employers spent $171.5 billion on employee training and only 27.6% of those training dollars went toward soft skills, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

It’s time to put more of our dollars and development efforts where they really count. In our increasingly global, dynamic and service-oriented way of working, organizations need leaders, teams and individual contributors who have the personal behaviors and interpersonal skills that will help them grow and thrive.

So what are those skills? In my work with organizations to create leadership and employee development initiatives, these are the 10 soft skills/behaviors (in alpha order) that leaders most often tell me they need in their people.

Collaboration – the ability to meld ideas and share credit with others.
Creativity – initiating new approaches to projects, solving problems, etc.
Effective communication – clear and concise speaking and writing paired with active listening.
Emotional intelligence – self-aware and sensitive to others, empathetic.
Flexibility – adaptable to change.
Growth mindset – recognizing they don’t know it all. Being willing to learn.
Leadership – the ability to lead, even without the title.
Reliability – do what you say you’re going to do by when you say you’re going to do it.
Resilience – the ability to continue pursuing the goal despite roadblocks and challenges.
Teamwork – sharing the work and supporting others toward a common goal.

Organizations that want to remain competitive and individuals who want to increase their marketability would do well to put more emphasis on identifying gaps in these skills and then creating a comprehensive development plan to close those gaps.

One of the best ways to identify gaps is through a behavioral assessment. The one I use with leaders, teams and individuals is Lumina Spark. Lumina Spark is a state-of-the-art psychometric assessment that provides a framework to help people achieve better self-awareness and learn how to improve their working relationships with others.

Check out the Lumina Spark fact sheet, and then contact me at kcolligan@peoplethink.biz to learn how PeopleThink can help your organization build its people capability.

Till next time,

Karen

Career planning, leadership development, learning and development

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