Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Leadership Transition to 21Century Management

Focus: Management Challenges, Management Success

The Management Landscape Has Undergone a Sea Change

The Industrial Age                           The Information Age

v                   Please superiors                               Delight customers
v                   Command-and-control                      Empowering and participatory
v                   Stable                                                Agile
v                   Meddle                                              Enable
v                   Conforming                                       Outside-the-box action
v                   Need-to-know                                   Open and transparent
v                   Fiefdoms                                           Interdependent networks

In the prior Age, management skills stemmed from a heroic military model — plan, control, delegate, coordinate, and motivate.  As the Information Age hurtles forward toward the next millennium, within a business environment characterized by permanent whitewater, the high impact leadership competencies are now dramatically different:

The Explorer:           Forges a vision and is an agent of change

The Beacon:            Instills trust and inspires passionate commitment to the vision

The Advocate:         Clearest voice in support of visionary, strategic, and values-driven behavior

The Facilitator:        Creates a consultative and teaming workstyle within the culture

The Partner:             Encourages a collegial, supportive, and collaborative workstyle

The Coach:               Brings out the best in the organization’s people, in terms of their aspirations, potential, performance, and contribution

This set of six leadership roles, when used, creates extraordinarily powerful leverage for the executive.  Do you know how far from criterion you are on each of the six?  Do you know the best ways to close the gap?

Well, just as in sports and in the performing arts, it’s now increasingly becoming the case in business that the more successful you are, the more likely it is that you will use a coach to deepen and extend your success.  Tune up your game.

High Performing Managers vs. Under Performing Ones
We now actually understand a great deal about what differentiates the successful leader from the under-performing one.  Successful people are aggressive learners.  They are individuals who:

-Constantly seek feedback and are extremely analytical about their successes and failures

-Possess a finely tuned capacity for self-reflection and self-awareness

-Seek a wide variety of experiences, out of both a sense of curiosity and the sense that experience is the best medium for self-discovery

-Constantly strive to learn something new and different by searching for comparisons, contrasts, and generalizable insights

-Find ways to apply new learnings to new situations

-Use strengths to modify weaknesses

-The bad news is that only about 10% of us are by nature active learners.  The good news, though, is that much of what it takes to be an aggressive learner is coachable.

So, What Does It Take?
Much of what our coaching model focuses on is building a set of skills that helps the candidate become a more agile learner.  Increasingly greater agility is pursued in four different spheres, each of which has a marked influence on a person’s learning curve and on their performance as a leader.

I.                  Mental Agility.   The candidate discovers ways to more consistently:

v                   embrace complexity
v                   confront ambiguity
v                   expand their interests and perspectives
v                   pursue complexity out of heightened curiosity
v                   view penetrating questions as more important than answers

II.               Interpersonal Finesse.   The candidate develops more techniques with which to:

v                   self-reflect and augment self-awareness
v                   catch their own counter-productive behavior and modify it
v                   vary their role and style to the situation
v                   embrace conflict and harness it for creative ends

III.            Change Mastery.   The candidate’s executive repertoire is broadened when they:

v                   learn how to behave as strategically as possible
v                   employ hypothetical modeling in their thinking and problem-solving
v                   embrace the underlying spirit of continuous improvement
v                   come to understand how critical tenacity is in any change initiative

IV.            Goal Orientation.  The candidate hones a high-impact results orientation by adding or refining the following capabilities: 

v                   create a presence and inspire others by consistently acting “on purpose” (i.e., acting strategically)
v                   address their own performance and others’ in a systematic, developmental, and strategic way
v                   differentiate among the various levels of priorities and act accordingly (i.e., the two-by-two matrix of Urgent x Important)
v                   deliver on promises and expectations

If you feel you need individual coaching and power session with me to talk these things through.  Don’t hesitate to contact me: Or to learn more about coaching - click here.
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