How Companies Will Stand Out Post-Pandemic

by Ulrik Juul Christensen

(Hint: It’s Not AI.)

In a post-pandemic world, companies undoubtedly will turn increasingly to advanced technologies — artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and automation — to accelerate growth and improve profit margins. Such an arms race, however, will not be sustainable as even the latest technology will eventually become commoditized. Instead, the true point of differentiation will be well-educated human capital deployed dynamically to tackle challenges so complex that AI and automation will come up short.

To be clear, technology will be the foundation of digital transformation. As two experts from the World Bank wrote in Harvard Business Review, “Increases in efficiency brought about by digital technology can help businesses expand. Digital platforms can create entirely new occupations and jobs.”  Yet that opportunity will not be realized unless people are well-educated, not only when it comes to job-specific technical competencies, but also in 21st century skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, as well as character traits of leadership, ethics, citizenship, and grit.

Based on conversations I’m having with business leaders across multiple industries, and even what I see in our own company, I believe the key to future success — through this decade and beyond — lies in learning engineering. Essentially, that means offering the right learning opportunities to build relevant skills and ensuring that people take advantage of learning and development (L&D). As a chief learning officer (CLO) told me recently, “The pandemic has exposed the fact that L&D is not a ‘nice to have’; it is a ‘need to have.’”

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5 tips for leading IT remotely

By Bob Violino

With WFH and hybrid workplace strategies stretching into 2021, IT leaders must settle in to new work habits to ensure success in leading IT from afar.

Many people have had to adapt to working from home and other remote locations — at least part of the time — in the hybrid workplace that’s emerging because of the pandemic. That includes CIOs and other IT executives.

Whether executives are working remotely for one or more days per week or full time, leading IT has change significantly — and perhaps permanently.

The new working model affects many facets of management, including developing IT strategies, maintaining culture, driving change, and collaborating with business colleagues. The situation presents challenges, but it also offers growth opportunities for technology leaders.

Here are some suggestions from home-working IT leaders on how to make the most of the new environment.

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Seven Building Blocks for a High-Performance Sales Culture

By Neil Zaman

While there are certainly many opinions on how to build successful teams, here’s one roadmap for constant improvement based on the Triangle Model. When followed, this model can lead to increased innovation, improved individual satisfaction, more effective communication, better decision making, and higher quality execution. And what sales team can’t use all those?

Below are seven key principles for building out a team – with explanations of how these principles can help an organization up the ante.

 

1. Trust
Trust is the foundation on which all successful teams are built, and that requires an unwavering belief that everyone is driving toward the same strategic goals. This is the most critical component when building a high-performing team.

When laying out that foundation, begin by ensuring everyone is in a position that matches their skillset. If people are in positions where the opposite is true, the overall team trust will be on shaky ground.

Communicate with and learn from your employees and explain why you’ve strategically placed them where you have – reinforcing that you believe they can succeed in this role. Show employees you trust them by allowing them to make decisions, and back them up if questions arise. Employees will feel the trust and empowerment when they know you have their backs.

2. Vision
Once you are on your way to building out your team of strong contributors, you’ll need to share a clear, simple vision that is aligned all the way to the top-line corporate strategy. The vision should be lofty, but the most important part is that it’s actionable for everyone.

As an example, strive to delight customers – and talk about this all day, every day. This means the actions and decisions we make must be aimed at ensuring our customers are successful. Within the overarching vision, there can be several goals to support it, such as, “Improve customer support by X%,” or, “We plan to introduce a new product this year at a specific number of customer sites.”

3. Teamwork
Be mindful that some may feel isolated at work rather than feeling like part of a cohesive team. Highly distributed teams and improper positioning can cause challenges – as can a management team that doesn’t reinforce a team-centric mentality.

Drive inclusion by encouraging each and every team member to bring creative ideas to the table to solve problems or provide input for important decisions. Everyone has individual roles and responsibilities, but there’s usually some kind of crossover with other peers and cross-functional groups within the company. Facilitating crossover leads to a “we are in this together” sentiment.

Foster a team mindset within the organization by instilling incremental checkpoints to ensure you’re on the right track.

4. Empowerment
When you’ve completed the above steps, it’s time to let the team perform. Find ways to empower them so they can earn wins that pay off for the broader organization.

Team members are often more productive and perform at their peak when you get out of their way. It’s critical that team members have opportunities to grow and execute on their own. Be ready to guide, but first set the stage, agree on the goals, and let the teams and contributors establish their own success strategies.

5. Accountability
Bringing accountability to the table helps build trust and understanding within your team. Similar to building a trust foundation, accountability helps reinforce the trust that is already present.

To build accountability, establish clear goals from the top down that can be measured with each individual – and have regular check-ins to track key milestones. By staying on top of progress, you are avoiding surprise and establishing predictability. Demonstrating accountability when it comes to objectives – and being transparent about successes and misses – elevates the organization.

6. Execution
Building a high-performing team that drives innovation and growth is incredibly challenging, and I’ve found that pushing execution and follow-through is sometimes overlooked.

Instead of being paralyzed by planning and analysis, remind the team of your shared vision and push them to execute on it. Instead of complacency, develop an agile and customer-focused approach.

7. Reward
After you’ve built your high-performing team and are in a success pattern, don’t forget to acknowledge and reward your team members.

Money isn’t always the answer. Sometimes just giving someone the credit in front of a group can go a long way. With repeat successes, you can look at opportunities to expand your team members’ responsibilities and consider promotions. The recognition can be very motivating and fuels the continued success of the individual, the team, and the broader company.

Building a team and leading it to success requires a lot of steps. If any step within this model breaks down, the entire foundation can become weak – leaving you with lost opportunities.

Using this triangle model, you too can enable your team to succeed. You may want to put your own twist on the model so it’s true to your own leadership style. But always put your customers first.

Source: Selling Power

Happy Holidays

 

2020 has been a challenging year to say the least!  As we celebrate the Holiday Season we want to thank each of you for the continuing support of our firm. Best wishes to you and your family for good health, happiness and prosperity in the New Year! 

How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted — and You Are, Too

by Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg

Summary.   

As we head into the second wave of Covid-19, you and your team may be feeling foggy, cranky, and fatigued. The adrenaline of the first wave is over and, while good news about a vaccine is on the horizon, getting through the winter may be the toughest leadership challenge of all. What should you do when assurances that “we’re all in it together” are met with skepticism and annoyance, and when you’d rather snuggle up in bed instead of strategize for the future? Leaders should focus on three areas: understanding the difference between urgency and importance, and focus on the latter; be compassionate while also driving your employees to action by channeling their feelings of defiance, anger, and frustration. Finally, change things up every single day with a focus on energizing your team.

“What happened to my resolve?” a leader remarked in the middle of a session.

We were discussing how he and his team were navigating the second wave of the pandemic and responding to the breaking news that a vaccine might be on the horizon. On the surface, everything was fine: The business was thriving and his company was in a good position.

Still, that remark captured his true concern: On a personal level he was experiencing a loss of agency, determination, and energy. The “steady hand” approach and rapid action mindset that had characterized his leadership during the first wave were becoming fuzzy, less ingenious, and much more volatile.

As we dug through the layers of the organization, it turned out that the feeling was widespread among other leaders and managers. Stress incidents were on the rise, people’s emotional reactions were becoming more polarized, and there were more team defections.

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