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09-14-20

WINNING TEAMS HAVE A CULTURE OF CANDOR

LinkedIn-Post_TEAMWORKcandorEvery executive team has discussions.

Unfortunately, most discussions never really get to the heart of the issue.

Why?  Because executives are afraid to speak their minds.  Their need for self-preservation kicks in.  They decide that telling the emperor that they have no clothes would be a career limiting move.

We see this all the time.  We can tell that executives are “holding something back.”  We can see their discomfort with the discussion or the decision that is about to be made.  Yet, they are afraid to speak up.

Google did a fascinating study about teams.  They concluded that “psychological safety” was a key component of high-performance teams.  It is this psychological safety that creates the environment for executive teams to have vigorous and candid debates about the company.

Psychological safety is the prerequisite to candor.  And the discipline of candor is the key to productive debates.

Creating psychological safety starts at the top.  CEOs must create an environment where candor is valued and opinions can be expressed without retribution.

Many CEOs struggle with this.  Having an outside consultant – such as a SHIFTPOINTS strategy coach – can help.

SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.

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09-07-20

WINNING TEAMS WORK AS ONE

LinkedIn-Post_TEAMWORKworkasoneIn theory, every executive team is a team.

But in reality, most executive teams struggle with the discipline of teamwork.

There are many reasons for this. Executive teams have unique dynamics that make them unlike any other team in the organization. (More on this in the weeks to come.) Most function like a golf team, where everyone is playing their own individual game.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams operate more like a basketball team. They have a high degree of interdependency. They model unselfishness and demonstrate a “we before me” attitude.

You don’t develop this kind of teamwork by sitting in a conference room presenting PowerPoint slides to each other. You must spend time as a team working together to solve your company’s most pressing problems. You must also take time celebrate your company’s biggest victories.

A few Check Points for your consideration:

  • Does your executive team have a strong foundation of trust?
  • How much of executive compensation is based on overall corporate performance?
  • Are you tolerating any executive behaviors that undermine teamwork?

SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.

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08-31-20

WINNING TEAMS ARE COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE

LinkedIn-Post_TEAMWORKexcellence-1

Every executive performs.

But most executive teams have at least one member who is not meeting expectations.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams optimize the performance of every member of the team.

This starts with high – and continuously elevating – expectations of performance. High-performance executive teams are constantly raising the bar.

They set high targets and challenge each other to get better.

Thus, every executive must commit to both individual excellence and continuous improvement. (I’m astonished by how many reach the executive level and then stop growing and learning.)

In addition, as companies grow and evolve, the executive team must also grow and evolve to embody the discipline of excellence. 

Sports teams are great examples of the relentless quest for excellence. They trade for players who can upgrade the team. They are constantly evaluating performance. Raising the bar is just part of the process.

Here are a few Check Points for your consideration:

  • Is every executive on the team really performing up to your standards?
  • Does your executive team have a culture of challenging each other to “raise the bar?”
  • What are you doing to help each executive develop their professional skills?

SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.

08-26-20

WINNING TEAMS ARE EXECUTIVE GRADE

LinkedIn-Post_TEAMWORKexecutivegradeGMC Trucks has a slogan, “We are professional grade.”  (A great brand position, by the way.)

High-performance organizations are led by people who are “executive grade.” 

These executives demonstrate a rare mix of skills, abilities, and behaviors.  Here are some of the most important ones:

  1. Executive-grade results.  First and foremost, executives deliver executive-grade results.  They sign up for “the big number” and then build organizations to deliver it.  They earn the organization’s respect … not because of their position, but because of their results.
  1. Executive-grade strategic thinking.  It has been said that, “leaders are readers.”  Executive-grade strategic thinking is driven by continuous learning, reading, seminars, etc.  The best executives are humble enough to know that they don’t know everything … and that humility fuels their quest for knowledge.
  1. Executive-grade perspective.  Executives have a breadth of perspective that extends beyond their departmental responsibility.  They understand the interdependencies of all elements of the organization, and understand that the needs of the organization supersede the needs of their own department.
  1. Executive-grade expertise.  Executives have functional expertise developed at the highest level.  They are truly one of the best-in-the-world at their function.  This deep expertise allows them to recruit top talent for their departments … because the best want to work for the best.
  1. Executive-grade communications.  Executives are polished communicators.  They know what to say, and how to say it.  They have a mastery of language which allows them to paint compelling word-pictures to inspire followers to charge the hill. 
  1. Executive-grade energy.  Being an executive is not a 40 hour / week job.  Executives must set the example, working long and hard.  They must attend social functions on nights and weekends.  They travel, often extensively.  Therefore, they must have high energy levels and a “big tank.”
  1. Executive-grade decorum.  Executives realize that they are always “on-stage.”  Therefore, they conduct themselves with decorum.  They dress appropriately.  They use appropriate language.  They only discuss things that are appropriate … with the appropriate people. 
  1. Executive-grade networking.  Executives build relationships with other senior executives.  They have a unique ability to connect and leverage those connections to create value for their organizations.  This deep, executive-grade rolodex is one of their greatest assets.
  1. Executive-grade decision making.  Executives are forced to make tough decisions.  In fact, if the decision is easy, it probably should have been made by someone lower in the organization.  To make the tough decisions, executives apply wisdom to gather information, evaluate the options, and make the call.
  1. Executive-grade development.  Executives must be developers of people.  They must have an innate ability to spot talent and potential in others, and then invest themselves in helping people develop to the maximum of their potential.  Often, they see developing people as their greatest achievement.

To win, your organization must develop leaders who are truly “executive grade.”

The Develop One Team module is a key component of many Pit Stop Programs.

08-17-20

WINNING TEAMS HAVE EXECUTIVES WITH A UNIQUE PURPOSE

LinkedIn-Post_TEAMWORKpurposeEvery team has a purpose. 
 
But most executive teams have never taken the time to clarify what theirs is.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams have a clear – and unique – sense of the discipline of purpose.
 
This seems like it should be obvious, but there are many different kinds of executive teams.  In the same way that each company should have a unique purpose, the executive team running that company should have a unique purpose as well.  (A church’s executive team has a very different purpose than a construction company’s executive team.)
 
To clarify your executive team’s unique purpose, consider three factors: decisions, outputs, and outcomes.
 
Decisions are the unique things that your executives decide as a team.  (Like approve bonuses.)  In some companies, this list is actually quite small, since most of the decisions are made by individual executives without bringing the issue to the entire executive team.
 
Outputs are the unique deliverables produced by your executives as a team.  These include things like corporate strategy documents, annual budgets, or organizational goals. 
 
Outcomes are the unique results that your executive team is responsible for as a team.  These include things like financial results or employee engagement.

Once you know your executive team’s unique purpose, you can design the team to accomplish it.

SHIFTPOINTS® helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment.  Because alignment is the ultimate competitive advantage.

08-10-20

WINNING TEAMS HAVE EXECUTIVES WITH EXCELLENT VISION

LinkedIn-Post_TEAMWORK_winningvisionEvery company has a vision.

But most of them are pretty blurry.

Only 35 percent of adults have 20/20 vision, and an even smaller percentage of companies do.

Most companies suffer from some sort of vision disorder, such as myopia—where they can’t focus on the long-term, or tunnel vision—where they get blindsided by market shifts and discontinuities.

Worse yet, according to Achievers’ 2015 North America Workforce report, a whopping 60 percent of employees did not know their company’s vision.

Fast-lane companies create alignment by having just One Vision. After all, how can you create One Company when every division has a different vision?

While it is critical to have One Vision, there are many ways to articulate one. In fact, we discovered four common ways:

  • The “visionary” vision
  • The “inspiring” vision
  • The “company ambition” vision
  • The “Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)” vision

In fast-lane companies, the process of defining the vision is as important as the vision itself. They use a collaborative process that combines top-down aspirations with bottom-up forecasts.

Assumptions are debated. Competitors are studied. Trends are extrapolated.

Of course, smart companies do a gut check before launching the vision. They understand what it will really take to turn the vision into reality. They have “counted the costs.”

There is nothing more demoralizing to a company than a unilateral, top-down vision that is more of a delusional pipe-dream than a vision.

And finally, high-performers make the case for the vision. Every executive—not just the CEO—can passionately articulate the vision and can explain why this is your vision.

Of all the visions you could have chosen, why did you select this One? If you can’t answer that question, no one will buy in.

Our Pit Stop Program provides a timely and efficient way to reconsider these questions.  Find out more.

Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book,Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the One Vision chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on One Vision.

08-03-20

WINNING TEAMS HAVE EXECUTIVES THAT LIVE THEIR VALUES

LinkedIn-Post_TEAMWORKWTValuesEvery organization has values.

Unfortunately, most executive teams do not live by them.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams are fully devoted to their values. To high-performers, the discipline of values is much more than words on posters in the break room or in a booklet on the brochure wall.

High-performance executive teams use their values to guide their decisions and never tolerate behaviors that are inconsistent with their values.

Far too many companies tolerate executives who do not personify their values because they are “making their numbers” or “have been here since the beginning.”

Here are a few Check Points for your consideration:

  • Which of your executives most personifies your core values?
  • Should “value personification” be a criterion for executive bonuses?
  • Are there any executives whose behavior is so counter to your values that it is time for them to go?

SHIFTPOINTS® develops high-performance executive teams - because you can't win without one.

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07-27-20

Are your Executives a Group or a Team?

Alignment-Starts-at-the-Top-LinkedIn-Post-3 

Every organization has a group of senior executives.

Winners win because their executives work as a high-performance team.

There is a big difference between a group of executives and an executive team.

Groups of executives sit in the same room and present PowerPoint slides to each other. But people just pretend to listen, and are probably checking email or playing Angry Birds.

In contrast, high-performance executive teams have a shared vision, common goals, high accountability, and demonstrate a “we before me” attitude.

So, is your senior leadership a group or a team?

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SHIFTPOINTS®  helps companies unleash the accelerating power of alignment. 

Because alignment is the ultimate competitive advantage.

06-18-20

HOW MCKINSEY UNLEASHED THE ACCELERATING POWER OF ALIGNMENT

LinkedIn-PostMcKinsey

Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the EveryOne chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on talent management disciplines. 

McKinsey (www.mckinsey.com) is a global management consulting firm with 22 industry practices, over 12,000 consultants, 2,000 research and information professionals, and offices in 120 cities around the world.

Each year, they set aside One Day to reflect on their core values.

Here is how McKinsey describes their firm, “We are a values-driven organization. The values inform both our long-term strategy as a firm and the way we serve our clients on a daily basis.”

Every company has values, but only a small subset claim that they are driven by them.

But consider McKinsey. Not only do they claim to be “values-driven,” each year the entire firm takes one entire day to reflect on their values.

McKinsey makes a huge investment in Values Day. If you assume that the average billing rate for their 12,000 consultants is $500 per hour (which is probably low), the investment is in the $50M range!

How many companies do you know that believe in their values enough to invest $50M a year in them?

And if you are going to invest that kind of time and money, your values better be worth it. For your reflection, here are McKinsey’s:

Adhere to the highest professional standards

  • put client interests ahead of the firm’s
  • observe high ethical standards
  • preserve client confidences
  • maintain an independent perspective
  • manage client and firm resources cost-effectively

Improve our clients’ performance significantly

  • follow the top-management approach
  • use our global network to deliver the best of the firm to all clients
  • bring innovations in management practice to clients
  • build client capabilities to sustain improvement
  • build enduring relationships based on trust

Create an unrivaled environment for exceptional people

  • be nonhierarchical and inclusive
  • sustain a caring meritocracy
  • develop one another through apprenticeship and mentoring
  • uphold the obligation to dissent
  • govern ourselves as a “one firm” partnership

As you can see, their values are written according to our One Code model and contain eighteen very specific expected behaviors.

McKinsey says they are values-driven, and they put their money where their mouth is. Investing One Day per year to reflect on them is how they create strategic alignment.

Would your company take EveryOne away for an entire day just to reflect on your core values?

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06-16-20

SPEED READING: EVERYONE

LinkedIn-PostEveryone

Note:  This is an excerpt from my latest book, Drive One Direction: How to Unleash the Accelerating Power of Alignment. In the EveryOne chapter, we highlight companies who unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with an intense focus on talent management disciplines. 

Every company wants everyone to be aligned.

But most are focused on engagement.

Dozens of companies have developed surveys to measure employee engagement. These are often tied to the multitude of “Best Places to Work” awards.

When you evaluate the questions in employee engagement surveys, most focus on things like company benefits, work/life balance, and the quality of the coffee.

While it is good to have employees who are engaged, it is infinitely more important that they are aligned. After all, highly engaged employees can still be driving in the wrong direction.

There are many things that you want everyone to align with. For example, you want everyone to:

  • Align their behaviors with your company’s code.
  • Align their customer interactions with your company’s brand promise.
  • Align their decisions with your company’s strategy.
  • Align their actions with your company’s way.
  • Align their goals with your company’s goals.

Of course, this assumes that you have clearly defined all those things.

After all, how can you hire people who are aligned with your vision if your vision is blurry? How can you train people to accomplish your mission if you don’t know what it is? How can you incentivize people to deliver your brand promise if you don’t have one?

That is why we have spent the last eleven chapters emphasizing the importance of clarifying those things.

My next posts will explore how 23andMe, Cirque du Soleil, McKinsey, Publix, Simplexity, and the American Red Cross implemented corporate talent management disciplines to align EveryOne.

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