Blog - xquadrant

3 digital trends that change how leaders succeed

Q. Why do people scramble to answer the telephone?

A. Because their grandparents did.

Human behaviour always lags technology evolution. When our grandparents installed their home phones, a phone call was a very expensive form of communication, reserved for the weekly catch-up with distant relatives or for urgent and important notifications. So when the phone rang, you raced to answer it. It was important.

Contrast that with today. A phone call is practically free. If my experience is anything to go by, a call on the home phone (yes, still got one of those - giving away my age here!) is more likely to be a fortune-teller or independent financial advisor advertising their services than an important message from a friend. 

The point is this: humans change their behaviour far more slowly than technology.

But this creates unintentional negative effects. Jumping up to answer the phone used to be important, even at meal times. Now, it’s probably more likely just to disrupt the flow of conversation and family connection.

I observe the same effect in the business world. Many people are “managing people like their grandfather did” in a digital world where the context has radically changed.

Digital leaders - those who thrive in the digital age - need to act very differently to get results in this new context.

There are at least five mega-trends at work here. Here are three of them, which will be enough for this short article.  

>> Read more...

What do you do when your team are superstars?

I was speaking with the CEO of a fast-growing technology firm a couple of weeks ago. We were discussing how to build on their success by taking internal engagement, communication and alignment to a new level.

“I generally recommend starting with the senior leaders,” I explained. “Because leaders define culture, and people need to see their leaders walking the walk before they will follow”.

“Ah,” he replied. “But my leadership team are superstars. They are the best-of-the-best, they are going at 100mph and driving my business forward. Do they really need much input?”

It’s a great question. When we see poor leadership in our organisation, it’s easy to see the benefits of improved self-awareness, of a leadership toolkit or of a journey of growth. But… when our leaders are superstars?

In other words - do the healthy really need a doctor?!

Here are 5 questions to ask that can unlock growth when your leadership team already are superstars.

1. Have I celebrated them?

It’s great news that you have a team of superstars to rely on. You are in a privileged situation that is all-too rare. A superstar team can achieve truly great things.

And yet, precisely because these leaders are so low-maintenance and yet high-performing, it’s easy to underinvest in them in order to focus on the more pressing and painful challenges facing the organisation.

Action Step: Take a few minutes this week to thank them - not only for the results they are bringing in, but also for their professionalism, their character and your relationship. It’s such a simple thing but so easily overlooked.

2. Are we are team of high-performers, or actually a high-performing team?

At one point during my time at Cisco, I joined an incredible team. Everyone was a high-performer, with a strong track record internally and with key customers. And yet I could never shake the feeling that although we were a team of high-performers, we weren’t truly a high-performing team.

>> Read more...

The best New Year gift I can give you

As we prepare for 2018 I gave some thought as to the most significant gift I could give an ambitious, time-pressed senior business leader.

I've come up with something strategic, powerful and zero-risk. See the video below (or cheat and read the transcript instead):

Transcript (click to open)

>> Read more...

The game-changing plan for 2018 you’ll probably forget to make

You’re making plans for 2018: setting goals and prioritising initiatives. But what’s your plan to grow your most important assets?

As you know, most organisations are focused on the cash-generating machine of their business: offerings and customers. However, only a few pay proper attention to the two fundamental inputs that drive the business:

  1. their people, and
  2. giving these people sufficient clarity on the goals and game-plan of the team that each person can truly play their position in the most effective way

I described this phenomenon in a previous article.

At GiANT Worldwide, we call this ‘accidental leadership’, because it’s the easy path and the default setting for us all. The problem is that when we treat people like liabilities, they start to become liabilities! When we fail to attend enough to these two areas of people and clarity, we see various problems creeping into the organisation, from lack of trust to poor performance. See this article for 10 typical warning signs you’re underinvesting in your team.

The harder path is to be an intentional and consistent leader, who treats people like assets so that they start to become assets. This is the leader that people actually want to follow and for whom they want to bring their best.

So here’s the challenge: do you want to be an intentional leader in 2018?

If so, you need a plan to get your team to the next level. We call this a People Plan and it’s a game-changer because it >> Read more…

10 signs you’re underinvesting in your team

Here’s a shocking fact: The average team comes in at just 55% when we measure team health and performance across 5 dimensions (click here to get a top-line assessment for your team in about 100 seconds).

Like you, I’ve been in teams good and bad. At their best, the sense of cohesion and synergy is phenonemal. My last couple of teams at Cisco had exactly that dynamic - collegiate, results-focused, and a lot of fun. However, we’ve all experienced team situations where there’s conflict, mistrust, apathy or a general lack of ability to execute.

The average work team scores just 55% against an objective measure of health & performance #leadership

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As the survey results show, most teams are operating at only half their potential. As I argued in The Owner’s Dilemma, this is because the laser-focus on product and customer actually results in an underinvestment in people and in building a clear model for the organisation.

This has the result of jamming the brakes on the very business the product/customer work is trying to accelerate!

The obvious next question is: how would you know if you are under-investing in your people?

Here are 10 symptoms I often see in the course of my leadership consulting work with GiANT Worldwide. How does your team measure up?

>> Read more...

7 people issues that will ruin your digital transformation

It’s hardly new news – but digital disruption is now top-of-mind in practically ever sector.

You probably have your own favourite stats on this issue. Here are mine. 63% of industrial players and 81% of tech companies are experiencing significant disruption, or are expecting it within 12 months. (Source: Russell Reynolds Associates).

Digital disruption poses an existential threat to many incumbent players, who need to:

  • Reimagine the business model;
  • Implement new technology platforms & business processes;
  • Promote more innovative and entrepreneurial activity and experimentation;
  • Integrate data analytics, machine learning and AI into the business;
  • Accelerate the overall pace of change; notably by moving from top-down management to agile, cross-functional, collaboration

As an organisation moves forward with its digital transformation project, one key topic can easily get overlooked amongst all the discussions on strategy, technology and business processes.

People.

Because at the heart of digital transformation is a leadership and people question: How will our people live this digital transformation – and how can we instill the necessary values, mindset and practices?

I spend a lot of time helping businesses work through the people, cultural and leadership issues that hold back digital transformation. Here are 7 people issues that companies who are serious about genuine digital transformation will need to navigate. >> Read more…

60 personal effectiveness tips from world-class experts [UPDATED]

Effectiveness is more than productivity.  Whereas productivity is 'doing things right', effectiveness also includes 'doing the right things' and can be seen as a chain that links your daily activities to your deepest needs, desires and hopes for the future.

So if you want to live a successful, accomplished life, tuning up your personal effectiveness is one of the wisest investments you can make.

So for this important topic, I reached out to 60+ very accomplished experts in a number of fields, including CEOs, leadership experts, productivity gurus and ministry leaders.  I asked them the following question:

What is the most surprising tip you’d give somebody looking to grow their personal impact & effectiveness?

I recently updated this post with some additional insights and updates. I hope you'll agree that the result is one of the best collections of personal effectiveness tips.  This is real practical wisdom for achieving great things in your work and life.

Download now, digest later...

RECOMMENDATION: This is a long post, so I suggest you grab the free PDF version which also includes a one-page summary that you can refer to regularly keep you on track!

>> Read more...

The owner’s dilemma: why your laser focus on products & customers is killing your business

Remember Clayton Christensen’s classic, The Innovator’s Dilemma? It was the brilliant observation of how well-managed market leaders would almost invariably fall prey to disruptive technology, and fail to capture the next wave of value.

What was startling about Christensen’s work was that the incumbent firms were well-managed and made rational decisions at each stage of the market’s development. Yet still they lost.

Today I want to explore what could be called The Owner’s Dilemma.

I’m going to explain why the pragmatic, rational decisions you are making are undermining your business’s ability to grow.

If you are a founder, a small business leader, or a business unit leader (i.e. you have ‘ownership’ of a P&L) then this will be highly relevant. >> Read more…

Why so much M&A fails to deliver

It’s well known that the proportion of M&A deals that fail to create the expected value remains alarmingly high. A survey a couple of year ago from by Aon Hewitt found that nearly 50% of companies had failed to achieve their stated value-creation objectives from the deal. So what’s going on, and what can leaders do about it?

At the heart of value-creation: the culture challenge

The Aon survey is clear that ‘deal failure’ (failure to create anticipated value) comes from a variety of drivers.  What is interesting is that factors #2, #3, #4 and #8 are solidly people factors. Indeed, mismanaged cultural integration ranks as the second leading cause of deal failure. >> Read more…

Why leadership development doesn’t work

Most leadership development is a dead-end

Put it another way, it promises a lot but generally doesn’t result in lasting organisational impact.

Why is this?

Well, let’s take a typical scenario.  Does this sound familiar?

Bob comes back from a two-day leadership training offsite with 40 other  VPs from his company.  He’s found the program engaging and interesting and is motivated to put some of the management concepts into practice.  He walks in to the office with a shiny new binder of material under his arm.

His team groan.  Not only are they slightly resentful that their manager has been on another ‘jolly’ whilst they get on with the real work, but they’re now suspicious.  What new hoops is their manager going to make them jump through now?  What’s the fad of the month?

“Don’t worry,” they whisper to each other.  “Let’s just smile and keep our heads down and his enthusiasm will burn off in a couple of weeks.”

And indeed, within a couple of weeks there’s no real sign of any changed leadership behaviour.  The team keeps doing what it’s always done, how it’s always done it.

I’ve seen this scenario many times.  And to be honest, I’ve probably been in Bob’s shoes myself.  I’ve got my fair share of dusty management course binders on my own shelf.  Fair cop.

I remember the earliest time I saw this play out. It was early in my career and a senior manager came up with a team plan called “VISTA” – which his team immediately dubbed “Virtually Impossible State To Achieve”!  It was dead-on-arrival.

The more we see this play out, the more cynical and sceptical we get about whether ‘soft skills’ can really be improved and whether any of this people-development stuff can really deeply transform an organisation.  But before we write off people development, let’s have a look at why the current way of doing things just isn’t delivering.  We’ll start to see that there is a better way.

6 reasons why most leadership development doesn’t work

Let’s break apart that scenario a little and understand the six distinct factors that tend to turn leadership development into a dead-end activity. >> Read more…

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