Tag Archives: leadership

CEOS with daughters run more socially responsibly firms

As a father of 3 daughters (I know, I know… and 3 sons!), this HBR article caught my eye, partially for business reasons, but even more so because it piqued my personal interest. Could it actually be true, as the title states, that the gender of our children impacts us as business people and as CEOS? The answer appears to be a resounding yes.
The article reports on interviews with researchers from the University of Miami and CEIBS, who analyzed information on the offspring of S&P 500 Company CEOs, and the differences between those companies in terms of social responsibility ratings and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) investments. The researchers found that firms led by a CEO with at least one daughter, scored an average of 11.9% higher on CSR metrics, and spent 13.4% more of their net income on CSR than the median, thus indicating a definite correlation between executives having female children and increased investment in socially responsible activities.
As with any finding, this conclusion led to other questions such as; is the impact different on female CEOS than male? (Short answer: being a woman has a far greater impact, in and of itself, than just having a daughter) and, does having a son impact different business factors? (Short answer: an interesting question for additional research). The researchers also answer questions regarding the impact of the daughters’ ages, whether having multiple daughters magnifies the effect, and whether wives and sisters have any impact at all, as well as cultural differences.
As CEOS and business people, we like to view ourselves as objective creatures who make decisions based squarely on impartiality and logic. I found this article to be a valuable reminder of how (often for good) all of our decisions are unconsciously shaped by our personal experiences and life circumstances. This certainly doesn’t make us irresponsible leaders or decision makers. It makes us human.

read here

the secret to reducing employee productivity

Have you ever seen a child put their hands over both ears and say “blah blah blah” while someone else is speaking so as not to hear them? Have you ever seen a CEO doing the exact same thing, minus the hands on the ears and the “blah blah blah”?

You know what I’m talking about – right? The team member is allowed, perhaps even encouraged, to speak. No one interrupts them. Perhaps there is a small delay to ensure they are finished making their point. And then the CEO / Manager / Team Leader politely thanks them for their contribution, but disagrees, goes back to what they were originally saying, or possibly even takes the conversation in a different direction completely.

When this type of behaviour becomes part of the culture, employees simply stop disagreeing or speaking up, because they have come to feel it is pointless.

The following article brilliantly taps into a couple of the fastest and most effective routes to ensuring employee unproductivity:

1. Having employees that nod and agree with everything you say may feel like “alignment” but, in reality, mandating an “all on the same page” culture, at best stifles autonomous thinking, creativity, innovation and, at worst, sets you up for avoidable mistakes to be made, because employees know that pointing out drawbacks and risks will fall on deaf ears.

2. You may feel, as a leader, that having rigid, well-defined policies will result in a “tidy, well-functioning, and highly productive organization”, however, when the policies you impose on employees are too strict and inflexible, human nature is to retaliate by holding you accountable to the same strict “rule” adherence. For example, don’t expect your unwillingness to allow employees the discretion to leave before 5 “as required”, to be rewarded by having employees who are willing to work past 5 on other days “as required”. At best, this kind of rigidity results in employees who are unwilling to go over and above for you and, at worst, it sets you up for a culture where skirting the rules and lying becomes a common practice to bypass the stifling inflexibility of regulations.
This is not to say that organizations can or should be run without rules, or that every employee idea can or should be incorporated. But, by finding a way to truly value individuals and their contribution to the organization, as well as acknowledging their needs for autonomy and flexibility, according to this author at least, you will have the opportunity to tap into the “90% of each person that is what can make him or her a great employee, partner, team member: the initiative, the questions, the passion, the concerns, the hope, all the quirkiness and joy and excellence that people will bring to their work if you invite them to do so”.
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a few words on the passing of Satoru Iwata

2015.07.16_a few words on the passing of Satoru Iwata

Many of us come into this world with the luxury of choice. In a sense, we control our own destinies, or at least a good portion of us actively try to, by choosing our investments in education, the jobs we take, the places we live, the people we include (or exclude) from our lives, how we spend our time and resources. We consume and acquire each day, steered by the numerous personal and professional decisions we make.

One choice that alludes us, however – no matter how rich or famous we are, or how important we are to the world, or how much more we still have to offer – is how and when our life might end. Steve jobs could have told you this. And Satoru Iwata, CEO of Nintendo, who just passed away at 55 years old, could have told you this. Cancer doesn’t care if you are a CEO. It doesn’t care if you are 40 years too young to die, or even 80 for that matter. It doesn’t care if you are an innovator, a blue ocean thinker, a transformational leader, or a good human being, and by all accounts, Mr. Iwata was all of the above.

“There are CEOs who make a difference to the lives of the people – Satoru Iwata was one of the few who did” tweeted Min-Liang Tan, the CEO of Razer Inc. This sentiment is reflected and repeated in numerous articles, tweets, and commentaries that allude to Iwata’s legacy as being not only his contribution to the success of Nintendo, but also to his character as a leader, his humility and dedication, his sense of humour, and the connections he made with both customers and employees.

I’ve included just a handful of these messages below and, as you read them, I encourage you to take a moment to consider what your legacy as a leader might be? What might be written about your character, your commitment, or your connections to customers and employees? What changes might you want to make in order to be remembered as a truly great leader?

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are your leadership skills outdated?

2015.07.03_are your leadership skills outdated

Utilizing Technology
Understanding the Global Economy
Maintaining relentless Customer Focus
Attracting and retaining Top Talent

The complex skills required to effectively lead a successful organization in 2015 are not the same skills that might have ensured success a few decades, or even a few years ago. The world has changed, the economy has changed, and individuals, from both a customer and employee perspective, have changed. It is imperative to understand the importance of keeping up with these changes in order to thrive as a leader. The article below outlines four modern workplace challenges that cannot be ignored if you hope to lead your organization, or even your team, successfully. While the core components of strong leadership remain the same, it is flexibility, and the ability to deal with changing leadership requirements as demanded by economic and cultural shifts, that can make or break even the most admired executives.

What new or unique challenges do you see facing leaders in years to come?
read the full article here

Activity and productivity are not the same!

Telephone off the hook

It seems so intuitive. Everyone knows this right? Business 101? Just because an employee is doing something, doesn’t mean they are accomplishing something of value for the organization. Or even accomplishing anything at all. And yet it still seems relatively unacknowledged, or at least often unaddressed by employers, that just the act of being in a meeting, sitting at a desk, or dialing into a conference call does not equate with employees being productive for the organization.

If you aren’t one of the 10 million individuals who have already viewed this humorous YouTube take on a “Conference Call in Real Life”, you may want to take an unproductive but enjoyable moment to check it out now.
view here

While the ability to multi-task has generally been considered a positive skill, the following HBR article shines a light on the reality that the type of multi-tasking taking place while individuals are engaged in conference calls (ie. sending each other e-mails or checking social media sites), is not generally conducive to proper engagement in the call.

Which brings into question the true value of this mode of teamwork/meeting. Can conference calls be productive?

Absolutely, but ensuring that the call has a proper purpose, and that everyone on the call needs to be on the call is a must. No one likes to be cc’d on a dozen e-mails that don’t relate to them. The same holds true when individuals are asked to sit in on conference calls for which they have little to offer or gain. In addition, just like in-person meetings, calls should be scheduled only when relevant information needs to be shared or discussed, not just for the sake of it. As well, conference calls should be kept as brief and focused as possible to maximize engagement. Not to worry telecommuters and vacationers, the location of the caller is not nearly as important as what else they are doing while on the call. Someone sitting on a beach may be fully engaged in the conversation and providing much greater value to the call than an individual who is sitting at a desk perusing craigslist for a second-hand bookshelf, or e-mailing another colleague. The simplest fix suggested in this article is to lose the mute button option, thus ensuring that people know they are actually part of the call and not free to carry on with other business and distractions while they listen.

read the entire article here

a whole new way of thinking

a whole new way of thinking

Can you feel it? We’re in transition.

For years, many of us in the business world have been talking about the profound shift in the nature of business that is inevitably due to happen. Well, it has finally arrived.

In economic terms, we are well into the so called fourth economy, which has also been dubbed the Experience Economy. At the turn of the century, we focused almost exclusively on the nature of the product or service, its features and benefits. Later, we began to shift our focus to how the product or service was delivered. Today, organizations are faced with what could be the most daunting task of all, focusing on the product AND how it is delivered.

The customer is no longer just demanding a top notch product.

They are no longer just seeking first class customer service.

They are demanding both. From you. Right now.

Not only is the whole notion of a new way of thinking and fostering creativity by focusing on the experience as well as the product or service an imperative for organizations as a whole – it significantly impacts individual employees as well.

Coupled with improvements in technology, computation power and a free-agency mindset, jobs that are based on brawn rather than brain are on the decline, upwards of 50% a year.

The implications of this are extreme. Smart workers and smart executives are going to be in greater demand and the skills and competencies they possess will be based less on their acquired knowledge than on a proven ability to connect, decide and innovate.

Organizations wishing to think ahead will want to think about how they recruit, retain and develop their talent pool based not on an assumed fixed target, but rather on a rapidly moving one.

The bottom line – shift your thinking now!

“I don’t know!”

I don't know

Like others, just before the holidays I watched in stunned disbelief as Leaf’s goalie Jonathan Bernier described the great Nelson Mandela’s amazing achievements “on and off the ice”. I mean I get it, he’s a professional athlete and neither his legacy nor his pay cheque hinge on being well-versed in politics or world issues. It is hard to imagine, though, that he would attend a charity event and not at least have googled the individual being honoured. What was really interesting on top of that, was the way he chose to go into so much added detail, rather than just admitting what he didn’t know, or even offering up that he was a truly inspiring man and vaguely leaving it at that.
Why can’t we just say the words “I don’t know”? We all know that nobody knows everything, so why is it so painful for us to admit when we’ve been hit with a question we don’t know the answer to? Is it pure ego? Cultural expectations? Where does it come from and when does it start? More importantly, is there a downside to living in a society, or working in an organization, where we don’t feel that it’s OK to say so when we don’t have the answer? Plenty of business articles advise never saying you don’t know, but there can be a deep cost to that attitude. It can certainly impact your credibility, as it did for Bernier, when his inaccuracies were so blatantly obvious, however, it can also cost the organization when decisions are being made based on information presented as fact, simply because the individual making the call didn’t want to admit that they didn’t have all the answers.
Three simple words – “I don’t know” lend themselves to all sorts of positive business outcomes such as seeking solutions, acquiring knew knowledge, gathering new information and collaborating with others. Just because you don’t know one thing, doesn’t mean you don’t know anything, and the same goes for your colleagues, superiors and direct reports. This radio podcast, from the individuals who brought us the documentary Freakonomics, is a fantastic listen, and offers insight into the roots of our fear of admitting when we don’t know an answer, as well as highlighting the negative impact this can have on businesses that foster it.

listen to the entire podcast here

never underestimate the power of culture

never understimate the power of culture

Do you believe that “culture can make or break a strategy”? Martin Roll, noted Business and Brand Strategist, recently published an article in INSEAD Knowledge making this claim, and I concur wholeheartedly.
In the article, Roll notes that while culture encompasses what we might consider the soft stuff, it is still a very significant driver of success. He also quotes Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus James L. Heskett (from his book, “The Culture Cycle”) arguing that “the impact of organizational culture on profit can be measured and quantified, and that enabling purposeful organizational cultures can improve corporate performance by between 20 and 30 percent compared to culturally unremarkable competitors”.
In my view, the impact of culture on an organization’s ability to drive change and achieve strategic objectives cannot be overstated.

read the entire article here

debunking myths about the millennial divide

Co-workers in a meeting

When you Google millennials in the workplace, you find no shortage of articles describing how fundamentally different workers from this generation are, from all who came before. You’ll find articles on how they think differently, they act differently, they communicate and work differently, and that’s just the beginning.

According to a new report, however, when it comes to workplace preferences, perhaps generational differences aren’t as much of a factor as media accounts of millennial uniqueness might indicate. Perhaps it’s even time to stop sensationalizing the millennial divide, and start focusing instead on workplace environments and practices that foster productivity and success for all.

read the entire article here

why your private behaviour does (and should) matter

2014.12.1_why your private behaviour does (and should) matter

Much of the very early discussion around Jian Gomeshi’s firing from the CBC centered on whether employers have the ability and/or right to fire employees for behaviours and conduct that take place outside of the workplace. This discourse began before it was confirmed that criminal behaviour might have been involved however, it quickly became apparent that there had been red flags for some time, and warning signs about Ghomeshi’s behaviour. According to the Toronto Star, it would appear that our private lives really only matter to employers when it reaches a tipping point of adversely affecting that employer’s public image. Image and brand aside, however, I would argue that employers and organizations should care more about questionable personal behaviour, and that turning a blind eye too often can and does lead organizations to ignore red flags that have the potential to cause enormous organizational damage in the long run. It seems ridiculous to assume that an individual who behaves unethically in their personal life, is capable of turning that off on a daily basis in order to function as a trustworthy, ethical, and responsible employee within your organization. Of course, no legal expert would advise that you can fire someone for “seeming like a jerk”, but, at the end of the day, company’s should be looking to employ and retain individuals who conduct themselves with a high level of character and integrity, and should consider and individual’s personal behaviour as being a strong reflection of their professional value to the organization.

You can read more here…