Overcoming the mental hurdles of leadership

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By Ross TsakasiStock_000008266083Small[1]

Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality,” according to a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln.

I would contend that leadership is, in fact, comprised of a series of small promises converted into reality. Along the way, these small promises generate faith and trust in a leader’s ability to not only promise wonderful things but also deliver on those promises. Great leaders are then idealized as the faultless heroes who steadfastly strode forth and never looked back — but is that indeed the whole truth?

I can’t confidently state whether it is. All I can share is my own experience of being a leader and what I encountered along the way. My experience as a leader began when I formed my first venture, Eulysis. I had discovered a technology, the Single Vial System, to deliver twice as many medicines at half the cost worldwide. Along the continuum from inception to completion, I was fortunate to gain support from the World Health Organization, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Royal Society of Edinburgh, and HRH Prince Charles. I also led an international team of public and private partners across three continents. Continue reading

The Board Directors You Need for a Digital Transformation

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By Tuck Rickards and Rhys Grossman

iStock_000027814907Small - CopyWhen the term digital transformation was first bandied about by consultants and business publications, its implications were more about keeping up and catching up than true transformation. Additionally, at first it was only applied to large, traditional organizations struggling, or experimenting, in an increasingly digital economy. But true digital transformation requires so much more. As evidenced by the recent Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods, we’re living in a new world.

Early transformation efforts were focused on initiatives: e-commerce, sensors/internet of things, applications, client and customer experience, and so on. Increasingly, our clients are coming to us as they realize that in order for these disparate initiatives to thrive, they need to undergo an end-to-end transformation, the success of which demands dramatic operational, structural, and cultural shifts. Continue reading

5 leadership mistakes even the best bosses make

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MarcelSchwantesauthorphoto_79607By Marcel Schwantes

If you think your boss is some freak of nature and you’re the luckiest person alive, I’ll break it to you gently: He or she is human and will make mistakes.

The great ones rise up from their errors by A) acknowledging they made a mistake and correcting a behavior (think humility), or B) acknowledging a blind spot that needs to be addressed, then doing something about it.

Lets dive into a few prevalent leadership mistakes that even the best and smartest leaders tend to make.

1. The mistake of not giving employees a listening ear.
I recently wrote about the powerful business practice of “stay interviews.” Unlike the exit interview, this concept is predicated on listening to employees’ feedback to get fresh insight into improving the work environment that will help retain those valued employees today–not after they have emotionally disconnected and turned in their resignations. Leaders who check hubris at the door and listen authentically in this manner build trust, but even the smartest of leaders have this blind spot where they don’t leverage active listening skills to build and support culture. The message coming across to employees is that they’re not seen as important and part of the family — a critical mistake even for the brightest leaders. Continue reading

Changing workplaces call for a new type of leader

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Lisa-Sterling_jpgBy Lisa Sterling

Developing effective and empowered leaders is one of the most important things an organization can do to ensure the successful accomplishment of its goals, whatever they may be.

That’s because leadership influences nearly all aspects of a business, such as the selection, engagement, and retention of talent, customer loyalty, and overall brand perception and influence. Yet despite its importance, many companies seem to struggle with leadership development.

Perhaps the biggest reason for that struggle is the new and varied set of behaviors and skills today’s leaders need to be effective. One of the worst mistakes any organization can make is to base its promotions or leadership decisions on tenure. Simply being a long-serving veteran of the organization or a star individual performer does not automatically make someone a candidate for leadership or demonstrate they have the necessary commitment to the role, the team or the company.

In today’s ever-evolving and increasingly complex environment, effective leaders must be able to guide staff through moments of uncertainty, be a trusted source for honest and open communication, and encourage and inspire their teams to take risks without fear of failure. As Deloitte notes in its 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, leadership is increasingly about the challenges leaders face rather than the “art” of leadership. And those challenges are many. Continue reading

Organisational Politics Can Be an Asset to Strategy Execution

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michael_jarrettby Michael Jarrett

Identifying the types of political behaviour in your organisation is the first step to using it for positive change.

Dysfunctional politics can sink an organisation, but it can also be a force for good. This makes many executives frown, but the reality is that politics is normal – and too often a hidden barrier to effective strategy execution. In fact, without it, some strategic changes may not be possible.

Political behaviour allows differences to be shared and methods to be employed in strategy execution that go beyond the rules and norms of the organisation. Thus it’s important for leaders to understand the forms it can take and how they can harness it.

While we would be naive to ignore the potentially destructive nature of politics, when deployed effectively it can actually help the company meet its strategic goals and live up to its values, especially during change efforts.

Defining politics

Organisational politics refers to a variety of activities associated with the use of tactics to influence or improve personal or organisational interests.

Studies have shown that those with political skills do tend to outperform their politically naive counterparts. However, political behaviour is relative. It is implicit in many cases. For example, it may be the case that a manager or leader needs to exert a large amount of pressure on a team to get something done by using the power of their position over others. It is also occasionally necessary for employees to work behind the scenes to build coalitions of believers in a new vision. Politics is driven by the conditions of scarce resources, social and structural inequalities and individual personal motivations.

Thus, the first step to using politics requires executives to map their organisation’s political landscape and understand the sources of political capital they have.


The political terrain

Most organisational maps are characterised by four metaphoric domains; the weeds, the rocks, the high ground and the woods. Each has a different set of rules for skilful navigation.

Continue reading