leadership

EQ vs Technical Skills: What Really Matters for Career Advancement

Recently, Google decided to data-mine their own employee reviews and promotions to identify what factors got people promoted to leadership roles within the company. While Google has a reputation for hiring and promoting based on technical expertise, the results surprised them.

They determined eight skills that the promoted managers possessed that others did not. Listed in rank order, they are:

  1. Coach your team members well.
  2. Lead your team without micromanaging them.
  3. Take an interest in team members’ success.
  4. Focus on results.
  5. Be a good listener and communicator.
  6. Focus on career development for your employees.
  7. Develop a strategy for your team.
  8. Possess technical skills to advise your team when needed.

Three are skills:  #8 is a technical, #7 is strategic, and #4 is tactical execution.

Five (#1, #2, #3, #5, and #6) are people-management and emotional intelligence (EQ) type skills.

In other words, it seems that Google hires for technical IQ type talent, but promotes for EQ oriented skills.

Experience with the CEOs I work with who have technical staff suggests that this is true for many organizations. To lead a team of engineers, you don’t have to be more brilliant than everyone else. You need enough technical knowledge to hire the right people and to ask the right questions. After that, executive effectiveness depends on listening (skill #5) to your smartest engineers and developing rising stars and helping them manage teams of their own (skills 1, 2, and 3). In other words, you need to be a coaching leader. And it you want to expand and take on more projects, you need to give your rising stars a path to upward mobility – which means training them to also be coaching leaders. The more sub-projects they can manage, the more effective you become in creating a profitable, growing company

It’s one of the reasons our Vistage CEOs this year are focusing on creating performance –driven job descriptions with measurable KPIs, understanding people’s Culture Index scores and learning more about how to measure leadership skills.  What’s your experience with EQ when it comes to career advancement and corporate growth? Share them with us!

It’s Time to Shift to Blue Ocean Strategy

When you develop a strategy for a new venture, expand or change an existing company, do you adopt a Red Ocean or Blue Ocean strategy? If you’re not familiar with the terms, let me explain.  

In 2005, Kim and Mauborgne, professors at INSEAD, introduced the distinction in Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. Michael Porter , a Harvard professor, originated the 5 Forces model to describe how a company develops strategy, noting that one was rivalry of incumbents. They fight over similar clients with similar weapons (e.g., airlines today increasingly compete on price, times and fewer amenities).  When they compete, they sometimes end up in a “bloody” war – turning the ocean “red”.  Kim and Mauborgne, suggest thinking “outside the box” and focus on customers who might not yet be served with new products that are neither lower priced (e.g., discount vs. full-serve airlines) or product “richer” (Mercedes Benz vs. Buick), but rather rethink the value offering to include some of both (e.g., iTunes, Smart Phones). For instance, after hundreds of years of circuses with animals and clowns that serve children and their parents, Cirque du Soleil, developed a completely different kind of “circus entertainment” for adults. In the world of billboard outdoor advertising, with limited options and limited impact, JCDecaux created “street furniture”, such as bus shelters with moving ads, to offer more cost-effective outdoor advertising.

As an innovation advocate, I provide workshops (through Vistage and Presentation Excellence Group) to help participants unleash their creativity for product, process and new market innovations, as well as help companies forge cultures to spur the ongoing adoption of innovations. Accordingly, I invited a speaker to discuss the concepts in the book with my Vistage CEOs at Board meeting.

Now, the authors have advanced their model to help more companies develop Blue Ocean strategies.   In Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing, they provide a set of tools that can be used to go after these opportunities and share more examples. For instance, the Four Actions Framework allows you to break the traditional trade-off between product differentiation and lower cost by listening to customers and non-customers who help you work through four questions:

  • Which factors that the industry takes for granted can be eliminated?
  • Which factors should be reduced below the industry’s standard?
  • Which factors should be raised well above the industry standard?
  • Which factors that the industry never offered should be created?

One example of a company that adopted the Blue Ocean strategy is citizenM, which created the new market space of affordable hotels – which offer the features of a 5-star hotel for 3-Star prices. Focused on the needs of today’s business travelers, they discovered that these customers did not value traditional hotel’s extra lobby space, personnel to run it, and food services,  but did value location, quick check-ins using kiosks and phones, high quality sleeping environment, and unique, compelling communal living spaces.  The result is a new, growing chain of hotels with high occupancy.

If you’re open to expanding your product line and market reach by rethinking industry’s approach to serving customers, which often takes “pain” for granted (e.g., standing in the rain for a taxi vs. Uber-type services), read the book!  Then share your thoughts and experiences.

(If you want your company to adopt the Blue Ocean Shift framework and forge new product and services, and/or enter new markets, we’ll be providing hands-on workshops starting in 2018!)

This is an interactive workshop, called “How to Capture and Capitalize on ‘Blue Ocean’ Opportunities” is designed so participants leave with a plan-outline. We’re offering it to Vistage groups, Association and corporations who have conferences focused on creativity and innovation, etc. Interested? Sign up here.

How Well Are You Executing?

When people think of strategy, they tend to focus on planning and design: getting the right people from the right bus – to identify what the company should be doing. As Wharton Professor, Lawrence Hrebiniak, notes in Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change, without adequate attention to execution –  changing behaviors that are currently leading people in the former direction and  executing new behaviors to achieve the new direction – success cannot be achieved.

He notes four sources of the “knowing-doing” gap:

  • Leaders are trained to plan rather than execute
  • Senior leaders tend to leave execution to lower-level leaders and team members; they review progress only periodically
  • Strategy formulation is typically done by relatively few people; execution is a team- or business-wide endeavor
  • Formulating a strategy is an action step; execution is a continuous, long-term process.

When I teach strategy for CUNY, I share experiences from companies in the news and those of the CEOs with whom I work at Vistage Worldwide (which serves 21,000 established CEOs), to drive home the “gap” problem. Key is an ongoing system to:

  • Monitor people’s execution performance
  • Hold them accountable for actions related to the new strategy and the underlying cultural values (as we discuss at Eval2Win.com – see overview)
  • Provide people with ongoing learning opportunities to acquire and perfect the new skills they need. (This is easier if your company is a CILO (Continuous Improvement Learning Organization) where learning is an essential part of the each aspect of a staff’ person’s job description.

Indeed, Vistage Inside was created to help CEOs change the organization to better align senior executives to the strategy and culture, increase collaboration and teamwork, facilitate learning by the staff they supervise, and hold people accountable to one another (e.g., members of the executive team to each other and employee-supervisor dyads to each other).

How well are you executing on your strategy? Is it easy to understand and compelling? Does everyone know what they should do? Are people ready, willing and able to perform their strategic activities? How well are you and the senior team holding everyone accountable for success?  If the answers aren’t positive, what are you doing to improve? Contact us for help: jerrycahn@presentationexcellencegroup.com.

Value Does Beat Lower Price!

 

The most frequent objection sales people hear from prospects is “the price is too high”, Every sales leader trains staff to focus on the value of the offering, instead of the cost. Still, sales people report that price is an objection that’s hard to overcome. Twice this month, I helped clients facing this issue through a presentation we developed for a client 15 years ago, that proved Value Can Beat Price!

Our client was in the packaging business, using corrugated cardboard to create displays for products (e.g., drinks, books and other products). Knowing our expertise is helping clients win big deals, we were asked to help their sales people develop more effective presentations and train the sales people to deliver them more effectively. Several months into our relationship, we received a call with bad news: one of their major clients (A) had merged with another company (B) and the general printing vendor for B had offered to provide all cardboard display packaging for free, in exchange for the contract to provide other printing services. As a result, our client’s business from A – which had been 50% of their business – dropped to zero.

About six months later, we get another call. Company B is issuing an Request for Proposal (RFP) for the package design work. Did it make sense to even compete?  After discussing the matter and looking at the quality of the incumbent’s work and my client’s capabilities, we decided to prove to the client that leading brands use powerful graphically designed packages to promote sales and to close sales they needed a vendor who could provide such quality. The presentation goal: demonstrate  that renown leading brands were succeeding, in part, because they used the company’s high quality graphic packaging.

With that, our work was cut out for us: we needed to show the judging team that well designed displays were powerful sales tools worth paying extra money.  We decided that the “medium is the message” – our presentation had to be a design masterpiece and not just a traditional powerpoint packed with words and numbers. We looked for some state-of-the-art animation software to create a presentation that showed the power of a gift box when you remove the ribbon, and presented samples of the company’s graphic packages in “books” organized by industry. We flipped pages within each book quickly, rather than move to different slides, to make it exciting to watch. (Today this is easy to do; years ago, it wasn’t.) Finally, we trained the presenters to speak convincingly as a collaborative team, using “power” words and letting the pictures do the talking.

A week before presenting, the client learned that in addition to the live presentation to the judges, three teams from Company B would be viewing the event from remote sites throughout the country. Recognizing it was more than likely that the software we used couldn’t be seen in remote feeds, we developed a second presentation on PowerPoint that was sent to each team. The presenters introduced themselves, noted that the live presentation was using animation and since it wouldn’t display remotely, they had a PowerPoint version to show what the judges would see. (Note: we’re following our A.D.A.P formula: Audience-driven sensitivity with both the design of the whole project and the viewing needs of judges and viewers; being Authentic by making the focus of the presentation something we believed in very strongly: the Power of Great Design to Sell.)

After the presentation, which was well received, the lead prospect-judge asked everyone for questions. There were none! At which point, she turned to the presenters and said “I guess you said it all!” Within 2 hours of the presentation, our client called to share what happened (timely feedback is mandatory with our clients), and asked what “you said it all” meant. I responded that they hit a home-run in design and delivery, and had a great chance of getting some of the business. Indeed, our client was awarded half of the work!  The buyer was persuaded that when having the best graphic displays was key to their success, paying for them was smart.

Share your stories of how value overcame price disadvantages. megagear

The Complex Role of Leader-Manager

 

As I begin outlining the new Management MBA course I’ll be teaching this summer on Leadership, I realized that the reason there are so many different definitions is that there are many facets to this complex position, and each definition is focusing on a different perspective.

For instance, one approach is to distinguish leaders from managers.  “Leaders have people follow them while managers have people who work for them.” In other words, the leader is focused on vision (how the world changes because of us) and the relationships between people to achieve it. The manager is focused on executing the tasks involved in achieving the mission, the activities we actually achieve.  Each makes appropriate strategic decisions; the leader choosing between visionary options and the manager choosing between different ways of executing the plan. A successful business person needs to be both a strong leader and manager to get their team on board to follow them towards their vision of success and obtain the resources (people, capital, etc.) and engage in the business activities.

A successful leader therefore is someone who  “earns the enthusiastic loyalty and commitment of followers and molds them into a high performance team”. (Tom DeCotiis) He/she inspires people (through words and role-modelled actions) to align their own performance with the organization’s overall strategy (i.e., vision, mission and goals). This involves, painting a compelling vision of the team’s future, pointing the way to successful accomplishment of the vision.  Ultimately, it’s getting someone to do things they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve. (Tom Landy)

On the other hand, a successful manager, is focused on optimal execution: recruiting, developing and growing talented team members; obtaining and using resources to most efficiently and effectively achieve the work necessary to give the stakeholders (i.e., employees, customers and investors achievement of its mission.

The leader-manager has to balance the different realms in order to be successful. Where are we going? What’s the best way to get there? What are the implications of each strategic choice? (G. A. Lafley.) As a CEO coach, I know it’s important to address both realms in terms of time allocation, expertise, and training (of self and other team members) to advance their own abilities as leader-managers. My challenge, as a teacher is to enable students to see the differences, and cultivate the perspectives and skills needed to see how they will fulfill these roles as they grow professionally.

What are your biggest challenges?? Share with us.

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