English: Signature of Mahatma Gandhi.

English: Signature of Mahatma Gandhi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

You can’t learn swimming in a classroom. A powerpoint presentation won’t teach you how to ride a bicycle. Getting “coached” on how to bake an apple pie won’t complete the learning.

Leadership, is a practice.

It is something you do. It is something that is experienced and felt by others. Leadership is an expression of your life-experiences and the values and beliefs you have developed as a result of those experiences.

Really think those can be developed in a classroom? Think again!

I believe organizations are wasting a lot of time, energy and money on sending batch after batch of leaders to workshops. Leadership Workshops will NOT build skill. They serve a purpose and the purpose is:

  • Building perspective
  • Building knowledge
  • Introducing a concept

So how do you do it? How do you build great leaders? 

Skill-building always has been and will be an outcome of practice and experience. Create experiences and situations that test their skills and raise the difficulty levels of the challenge from time to time.

Some ways you can do this are:

1. Job rotation: This does not mean some namby pamby name change for the role or a 1 degree change that the individual will hardly notice. A job change that challenges skills that have not yet been tested is the most appropriate way to do this.

2. Location change: Managing a team in NY is very different from managing a team in Cincinnati. As is the difference between leading people in North India versus South India, or Shanghai versus Singapore.

3. Situation change: Running a sales outfit in an area where you have leading market-share is very different from running a sales outfit in a region where you are the slacker

4. People Challenge: Get them to lead a team of youngsters. Freshers. Folks who’re older than them. Mixed groups. Cross-functional teams. Each one will develop new skills

Regional Leadership Forum

5. Context change: Manage a start-up business/project. Lead a turnaround situation. Lead a high growth, rapid ramp-up situation. New territory expansion. New product category.

6. Business change: Manage a not-for-profit

Through each assignment, monitor how the individuals are handling people, decisions, analytics, relationships, intuition, growth, resolution. Elicit in partnership with them, the values and beliefs that seem to be driving their choices and behaviours. Develop high levels of self-awareness, reflection, critical thinking and insight. These are long-term differentiators of great leaders.

Don’t molly-coddle. Allow failures. Ensure that challenges are real and steep. Dealing with failures will build both, Resilience (ability to learn and bounce-back) and Humility.

Appoint mentors/coaches who will hand-hold them through the transitions, so that you enable a support structure that fosters success (instead of a sink or swim). The benefits of Transition Coaching are manifold and derisk leadership transitions for organizations.

Not only will the above process develop leaders, it will also bring a new pair of eyes to a lot of roles and throw up things that will benefit the organization as whole. It will raise the levels of engagement and challenge at work thereby increasing retention. Of course, it will derisk the leadership pipeline and succession significantly.

Don’t delay. Pick a cohort. Even if it is just 4 people. Get the sign off from the CEO, and put this into action. At least 2 of the 4 will make it for sure.

Read the IBM interview down below and discover how IBM is reaping multiple value from following a similar process.

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Human Resources is a Supply Chain Management, Quality Assurance, Accounting and Management Department

Thanks to Randy Glasbergen for a brilliant take on what HR needs to deal with at times.. If you're smiling, you must be from HR!

In my earlier post on HR I had promised a more detailed note on the role of HR and, as I read the Economic Times article on HR this morning, I was once again reminded of the dissonance between HR and employees, and the unfairness of it all inspired me to immediately put this down.

The primary role of HR is NOT to be a people-facing function. There. Let’s start with that.

Just like any other function, HR brings a core competence to the business, which the business must recognize and leverage. The primary problems are:

1. Business is unclear what to expect from HR. As a result HR gets neither credit nor necessary empowerment. And ends up with a lot of blame, because the function with fuzzy, unaccountable goals always gets in trouble. Look at any organization that has a great HR track record and you will realize that in those organizations, Business GETS IT. They GET what HR must deliver.

2. Quality of HR Talent. Trained on and brought up on fuzzy expectations/norms, the HR Talent world is woefully thin. And since most HR professionals themselves are unable to clearly articulate/educate for the business, what they bring to the table. The cycle continues. 

The role of being people facing, of looking after employees’ best interests, of ensuring employees are treated fairly, managed well, appraised effectively and rewarded financially and non-financially belongs to each manager and each function head, and finally the CEO.

HR’s job is to ensure the following:

1. Raw Material supply: Just like an SCM function is responsible for sourcing and bringing raw material in. So also the HR team is expected to help the business bring in the talent and staffing required to run the business appropriately. This is a partnered role, where HR will ensure that key processes are in place, but the final outcome depends on the final interview and assessment conducted by the business i.e. supervisor/function head. It is the role of HR to ensure that there is a well developed capability across the organization to interview effectively and that assessments are consistent across various interviewers. It is HR’s job to ensure that the cost of hiring is within established benchmarks/goals.

2. From Raw Material to Finished Goods or Ready goods for the next process: Once the SCM function has brought in the goods. They are handed over to manufacturing to be processed. Similarly, the goal of effective performance management is to ensure that each employee receives input that enables her to perform at her best, and to grow and develop in resonance with the organizations values and culture. Once again, the primary role belongs to the manager of the employee. HR’s job, is to ensure that there is a clear, well-defined, proven process. And that the manager is effectively competent in the process and skills required to do the above. It is also HR’s job to provide MIS on the health of the process and the health of the talent across the organization.

3. Quality Check and Quality Assurance: From time to time, HR must establish whether the Input-Process-Output is performing as per design and expectations. Hence it must perform the role of Quality Check at key points. And work in the Quality Assurance role, alongside the managers to help them raise their levels of capability.

4. Conscience keeper: In addition to the above, HR plays a vital role in being the conscience of the organization. And for this HR is accountable for Truth-telling. If the organization is going astray from it’s values. If the culture is not supportive of the strategy or if there is a departure from the Mission, HR must speak up. In this role it needs to work closely with the CEO and the Leadership team and must be unflinching in it’s ability to tell the truth.

5. Metrics and other transactional areas: Just like the finance team is accountable for certain core financial processes, so also the HR team is responsible for some things purely HR: keeping compensation benchmarks up-to-date and providing input on how the organization compares. Ensuring consistent and transparent policies are available to employees. And there are a few more. 

I would like to hear what you think. Please add to this note, so we can make it more complete.

I would also like you to comment on the capabilities required of HR professionals if the above are indeed their roles.

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Originally posted on Gurprriet Siingh's Blog on Life, Leadership and Change:

I recently came across the work of Ronald Heifetz, on Leadership and was impressed with the simplicity and power of his work.

English: Cantick Head Lighthouse by night Take...

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s an extract of his work, and some takeaways I had. Hope they hold meaning for you too.

Mustering the courage to interrogate reality is a central function of a leader. And that requires the courage to face three realities at once.

First, what values do we stand for — and are there gaps between those values and how we actually behave?

Second, what are the skills and talents of our company — and are there gaps between those resources and what the market demands?

Third, what opportunities does the future hold — and are there gaps between those opportunities and our ability to capitalize on them?

And this is the strength of Heifetz’ work. Three questions that appear simple and…

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Originally posted on Gurprriet Siingh's Blog on Life, Leadership and Change:

Which one are you today?

When you fail do you:
1. Reflect & Learn? OR

2. Self flagellate & moan?

One of these attitudes will take you to success!

When you succeed do you:

1. Swell up and feel invincible? OR

2. Appreciate everyone involved & reflect to learn what were the key factors that led to success and key decisions that were taken?

One of these attitudes will sustain success

When you learn something new:

1. Do you apply it at the earliest? OR

2. Plan to apply it and it gets forgotten as time passes by?

When you receive feedback:

1. Do you thank the giver, reflect on your own, go back to seek clarification if required & work on correction/continue the strengths consciously? OR

2. Do you get defensive, justify or start giving feedback to the other person?

One of these attitudes makes you a very irritating person

When your direct report…

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gurprrietsiingh:

As an OD practitioner, this is one of the key challenges, to build a culture of Respect and Inclusion

Originally posted on Gurprriet Siingh's Blog on Life, Leadership and Change:

Diversity. Inclusion. Affirmative action.

10 years ago, few people knew these words. 20 years ago, hardly anyone. In the recent past, these words have come to become prominent in organizational literature and have also become key functions in some organizationsImage is from the website of the University of Tenessee CCI Diversity Committee charge

What gets my goat is when I hear talk about “A business case for Diversity”.

Why?

Diversity exists in nature. Look around you. There are hundreds of different types of trees, many different types of dogs, cats, snakes, human beings even. And among human beings there are various tribes, religions, cultures, nationalities, sub-cultures. The universe is fundamentally diverse.

Saying you need a business case for diversity, is like saying you need a business case for leadership.

So why has Diversity suddenly gained so much prominence?

Thanks to globalization, mobility and the internet, organizational homogeneity has come to an end. Time was (a century and half or so ago), someone opened…

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HR

A colleague was telling me today how an employee walked up to him the other day, and said “HR isn’t doing enough to represent the employees”… Maybe this was once the case. When HR was supposed to “represent” the employees’ interest. Not any more.
 
I firmly believe that “representing” employees, being sensitive to their needs, counseling, coaching, rewarding etc. are all the job of the manager. If line managers “outsource” this role to HR, then that organization will never have a powerful employer brand, nor will it be able to hold onto or develop talent.
 
What then is the role of HR? Is that what I hear you asking? 
 
Why don’t you tell me..
 
All that I will say is, anything that can be outsourced to a third party (payroll, leave management) are no longer the role of HR.

 
Leave your comments and I promise to collate the responses, as well as put up what I think is the contemporary JD for HR professionals. But first, I’d like to hear what you think! Leave a comment.

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Great Places to Work

Interesting thoughts and insights from the PeopleMatters, Great Place to Work conclave

At hire stage (teach for india) applicant has to convince the interviewer WHY s/he wants to join..If they can’t, no job #PeopleMatters #GPTW
JoyAndLife
August 24, 2011
Teach for India, clearly using the Visionary Leadership model to attract talent.Follow me and we’ll build the nation. #PeopleMatters #GPTW
JoyAndLife
August 24, 2011
Anuja Kishore (Teach for India) talking about "recruiting" volunteers for Teach For India.. Interesting challenge #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 24, 2011
Microfin orgs which focus on double-bottomline, need to hire people who have dual goals i.e. Personal and social goals #PeopleMatters #GPTW
JoyAndLife
August 24, 2011
Before we hire anyone, they have to spend a day on the field, in the slums/villages. Samit Ghosh CEO/Founder Ujjivan #PeopleMatters #GPTW
JoyAndLife
August 24, 2011
H R heads keep talking about processes. CEOs talk about principles, philosophy and behaviours.. #PeopleMatters #GPTW
JoyAndLife
August 24, 2011
Interestingly enough,CEO speakers have spoken more clearly than the H R speakers about what makes a Great Place to Work #PeopleMatters #GPTW
JoyAndLife
August 24, 2011
Lack of fairness is the greatest contributor to demotivation and disengagement in an organization #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 24, 2011
Employees are not looking for HR processes, HR professionals are.. *wisdom* by Joyoti Banerjee #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
Over 75% employees in corporates today, have less than 5 yrs tenure in present company #GPTW #PeopleMatters How do we manage transients?
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
Younger age group employees are harder to engage and retain than older ones. Joyoti Banerjee of #GPTW at the #PeopleMatters conclave..
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
Leadership is not something the just the CEO does, but managers, all the way down the line, Sanjay Rishi #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
Sharing Best Practices is itself a Best Practice, Sanjay Rishi, AmEx #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
Good leaders are those who bring infectious optimism and communicate well, Harsh Chitale, HCL #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
During tough times, ensure you have a compelling vision and communicate ruthlessly, Harsh Chitale, HCL #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
Ability to attract n retain talent is a key competitive differentiator today – Sanjay Modi, MD Monster.com #PeopleMatters conclave on #GPTW
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
Leaders’ reputations are not made during good times, Sanjay Rishi, AmEx #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
3 models of leadership 3. Visionary leadership – follow me for achieving this great vision, Sanjay Rishi, Amex #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
3 models of leadership. 2. Negative leadership – if you don’t follow me, something bad will happen, Sanjay Rishi, Amex #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
3 models of leadership. 1. Positive leadership – follow me because good things will happen if you follow me #GPTW #PeopleMatters
JoyAndLife
August 23, 2011
Easy measure for engagement- Do ppl come to work charged on a Monday, or do they drag themselves in-Rajendra Ghag, HDFC #PeopleMatters #GPTW
JoyAndLife
August 24, 2011
#PeopleMatters #GPTW As Anuja Kishore speaks, she has already used the term "non-negotiable" several times. Tells … http://t.co/PkPTtgi
JoyAndLife
August 24, 2011

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