We have had some time to reflect on 2014 and look down the road to see what might be in store for us in 2015. Senior leaders will be preparing to take on the challenges that 2015 has for their organization and will be searching for business solutions that will assist them in meeting those challenges head on. With a focus on customer service and continued revenue growth in a very competitive market place leaders will be searching for those solutions that are in alignment with these challenges. The lack of leadership talent will still continue to haunt most organizations. A concentrated effort on the part of senior leaders and Human Resource professionals will be required in order to meet this challenge head on.
Retention of quality employees will continue to be a challenge for most organizations. This is a global challenge with all countries being affected and with some seeing it as a major challenge for them. In a very tight labour market investment in employees is somewhat minimized as a means to slow employee turnover. Organizations need to look at finding solutions as this behaviour will not adequately address the challenge. An organizational culture that is focused on learning and development will assist organizations in retaining key performers over the long haul.
Employee engagement continues to be a challenge. This is a global challenge as well with all countries being affected in some form with some seeing it more of a major challenge than others. Employee engagement has a huge impact on the bottom line for the organization and also impacts customer service and customer perception of your organization.
In order to address these challenges and many others organizations are encourage to look at mentoring as a viable solution. The business value that mentoring can provide is slowly being recognized on a global basis as countries are looking at mentoring as a means to develop their nation’s future leaders. Mentoring of leadership teams through professional external mentors is a service that is becoming more popular and is still growing. Organizational culture assessments to determine how mentor ready an organization is, is another service that is gaining recognition in a business climate that has become very much an employee based climate.
In the Global Leadership Forecast 2014/15 – “Ready-Now Leaders – Meeting Tomorrow’s Business Challenges” surveyed 13,124 leaders; 1,528 global human resource executives; and 2,031 participating organizations. The people survey were asked what would increase leadership effectiveness. Here are some excepts of the recommendations that were identified in this survey; offering external mentorship programs; enhancing mentoring of new leaders; mentoring and guiding new leaders rather than removing them from leadership positions; promoting a culture of active mentorship outside of one’s supervisor; acting consistently with stated values; don't just say that people are our most important asset when action shows otherwise; mentoring leaders for the first six months after they get promoted; creating more transparency, more attention to promoting women in leadership roles, and an atmosphere in which everyone has a chance to be a leader; motivating people, and not in terms of money; recognize people; give effective feedback; be honest; be clear.
Enhance your leadership capabilities within your organization by conducting an organizational culture assessment to determine your mentor readiness. Take advantage of the recommendations that will come from that assessment to improve your environment for the benefit of your employees and leaders. Implement mentoring in your organization and begin to move towards the creation of a mentoring culture in your organization. Provide professional one on one mentoring to your leadership team and to others within the organization that are part of the future of your organization. Create a culture of learning and development. Share the “gift of mentoring” – Can you afford not to?
1. Global Leadership Forecast 2014/15 – “Ready-Now Leaders – Meeting Tomorrow’s Business Challenges”. The Conference Board and Development Dimensions International (DDI).
I always like hearing stories that validate the business value for mentoring. It is also good to hear stories where it has not been as successful as we would like – after all we need to learn from those opportunities as well. This week I heard that young professionals were specifically requesting that mentoring be part of their organization and their development. Some of these young professionals will be leaders in their respective organizations and they want to have all the tools that they need in order to be successful.
When we were in Dubai recently that very same message was echoed loud and clear. Mentoring was viewed as a means to prepare their youth to lead the nation into the future. You have heard this message from me quite often lately but it is an important one as it seems to take time for us to realize the true value that mentoring brings to an organization. During our conversation with prominent business leaders the business challenges were no different than what we see elsewhere. Mentoring was seen as being part of the solution. The difference is that some organizations are early adopters and some are not. You need to ask whether your organization is an early adopter or not.
If you were selling something to a perspective customer I would hope that you would be focused on their needs and would be trying your very best to find them a vehicle that meets their needs. It is no different in an organization. When you have what is potentially your future leaders asking for mentoring are you not doing them a disservice by not implementing mentoring as a development tool for your future leaders? Would that not answer the question, “what is the business problem you are trying to solve with mentoring? “We know what happens when the needs are not being met – they will begin to look elsewhere to find an organization that is more focused on their employees. This challenge is one that we see globally – it is always the good employees that leave because they can!
We are now seeing a shift in the use of mentoring at the senior level in the organization. Some organizations have embraced the concept of bringing in a professional mentor from outside the organization to work with senior people in the organization. What can result is a combination of mentoring and coaching done through two different professionals each bringing specific tools to the relationship and the enhancement of leadership skills. The success stories that we are seeing with this approach are continuing to grow. It assists us in addressing the leadership talent shortage that faces most organizations globally today.
There are times that we do not understand or perhaps recognize the pain that may be in our organization. We fail to listen and hear what our employees are saying to us or to others about the organization and how we might improve the environment and the productivity in the organization. We have created the means for employees to share their concerns and to provide a medium for them to recommend solutions to some of the challenges within the organization. This is done through a mentoring process – an assessment of the organization to determine viability for a mentoring culture. This process engages and empowers employees and if we follow through on the findings it creates accountability which they have embraced as part of the change to their organization.
Leveraging the power of effective mentoring will assist your organization in meeting the challenges that lie ahead. The “gift of mentoring” is a transferable skill that we can all benefit from. Begin your mentoring journey today!
In a previous article, “Mentoring – Development of Future Leaders” we talked about how two organizations are looking at this from a nation perspective. The development of future leaders is important to them –important enough that they are looking at mentoring best practices to be part of the solution.
One of the interesting requests that have surfaced in our dialogue is a request from parents wanting to be provided with mentoring tools as part of their parenting tool kit. They see the value add that these skills bring in the development of their children and more importantly in their children’s contribution as future leaders of tomorrow.
When you look at this request it fits quite nicely into the strategy that would be required to develop our youth to be those leaders that we so desperately need. It would be a strategy that would involve mentoring skills at the family level , mentoring skills in a peer to peer relationship in the schools and then more advanced mentoring skills as our youth enter the work force and prepare for the added responsibility of leading our nation into the future. What we will have created by adopting this strategy is the development of a continuous learning and development environment that is not individual based or organizational based but is focused on a nation/country. This is an environment that is taking on the leadership talent shortage head on and recognizes the “gift of mentoring”.
One of the cornerstones for this strategy is the introduction of mentoring skills at the family level. There are a couple of avenues that this may follow. One that we seem to be most aware of is the use of mentoring skills in the family succession planning process. This is where a father and/or a mother owns the business and is looking at transitioning that ownership to one or more of their children. Mentoring is used in this situation as part of the knowledge transfer piece as well as the ongoing development of the leadership skills (sometimes called soft skills). The other avenue focuses on creating the foundation or cornerstone to the learning and development environment and that is the introduction of mentoring at the family level outside of the succession planning process.
What this involves is the development of mentoring skills in parents that will assist them in the parenting relationship and assist in the development of critical thinking skills in their children at an earlier stage in their formative years. This involves using a nurturing model where the parent figure, creates a safe, open environment in which their child can both learn and try things for him-or herself. Assistance that is provided by the parent is done so using the Socratic Method – asking a series of questions to guide their child to the answer rather than telling them what the answer is. Critical thinking skills and accountability are outcomes from this process. Understandably this explanation is very high level as there is more to this than what a few sentences can describe. The bottom line though is that effective mentoring skills are transferable skills that can be used in all aspects of our lives. We need to embrace the “gift of mentoring” and begin the journey. Ask yourself, “Can you afford not to?”
It most definitely is a challenge! Organizations are struggling with the leadership talent shortage and it is not getting any better. When you look at surveys that have been done the numbers are quite alarming and they do not appear to be getting any better. When I look inside organizations I see that management is not spending the time on developing their future leaders. They claim to be dealing with other more pressing matters! Not having a leadership talent pool seems to be a pressing issue to me. Who is going to lead the organization into the future if we do not invest in our people now? Most will tell you that they have this under control as they have a succession plan in place. What is missing in the plan though is succession development. We don’t develop our successors - we set them up for failure. We throw the leadership ball at them at the last minute and expect them to wing it! When they stumble and fall we say that it was a poor choice.
One solution that we see that can assist in addressing the leadership talent shortage is to implement a mentoring program in your organization. You can even go one step further and implement a mentoring culture – creating a learning and development environment in your organization. It is a culture where leaders will flourish and be ready to lead your organization into the future.
If you think this is a major challenge in your organization imagine what it would be like to address this as a nation. Gemstone in Nigeria and Progress Intern and Mentor Institute in Ghana are doing just that. They are working on developing their future leaders of their respective countries so that they have the tools to be successful and lead the nation into the future. They are looking at the development of leaders at a very early age. They are leveraging the “gift of mentoring” as the means to address this growing problem. Imagine a nation where mentoring is introduced in the family household and carries on into the school system and then into the work place. What is being created is a mentoring culture for a nation – not just an organization. What is exciting is that people are reaching out to them to become part of this very exciting journey. People are reaching out to them to be mentored as they see the value in what effective mentoring can do. They want to see change and they know that through the “gift of mentoring” change is inevitable.
When your organization is not sure where to turn to address their leadership talent shortage – remind them of the work being done to address this as a nation. The “gift of mentoring” is a powerful tool – embrace it after all “Can you afford not to?”
Yesterday begins a new chapter in our lives. Yesterday a miracle of life happened with the birth of our granddaughter, Olivia Eldora Fingas. She was surrounded with so much positive energy and love. If we were to equate that to whether or not the glass was half full or half empty it would definitely have a more positive aspect and would be “half full” or in the case of a proud grandparent – most definitely a full glass! Imagine how she will feel as she continues to grow in such a positive environment. Imagine the potential that she will have in wanting to share that energy and love with so many others.
As I reflect on the past few days I recall a conversation that I had with someone who saw things more from the half empty perspective. We were discussing organizational culture and how enhancing the organizational culture no matter the reason should always be viewed as an opportunity rich situation and with the glass half full. What I was hearing was all the negative aspects of why this was such a negative experience. Any time you can enhance the organizational culture don’t go looking for reasons why you can’t do it – embrace the opportunity and move forward with the glass at least half full.
The role of a leader in shaping the organizational culture is and always has been front and centre. One of the top reasons why people leave an organization is because of the leadership or lack thereof. Managers within an organization will typically emulate the behaviours of the leader and if the leader is looking at culture enhancement as the glass being half empty then you can imagine what the rest of the management team is thinking. There will be the odd one or two that will try to make a difference but they typically get swallowed up by the majority or they chose to move on to another organization. Remember that it is the good ones that leave – because they can! The rest will circle together and feed off the negative energy and fail to see the opportunity in the right context. As a result the culture will remain the same – there will be no enhancements and good people will continue to leave. The one thing we fail to realize or think of because we surround ourselves with all that negativity is that when good people leave the organization it can cast a shadow of darkness over our organization. People begin to wonder why so many good people are leaving the organization. We move from being an opportunity rich organization to one that is rich in negativity and that is certainly not something we want to strive for.
The days of command and control leadership are slowly diminishing as people that have lived that life retire and find a huge weight being lifted off their shoulders. A command and control leadership style is not a desirable work environment to be immersed in. It is too restrictive, de-motivating, stressful, bad for your health, totally demoralizing and crushes critical thinking skills. You wake up in the morning and drag yourself out of bed and then to work. You do what you need to in order to get by for the day. You wait to be told what to do rather than take the initiative to take on challenges. You become disengaged and your glass is definitely half empty. In fact, I have seen in some instances where the glass has been totally empty. The command and control leader has depleted any passion, any motivation from the heart of the employee and there is nothing but a shell left.
If your organization has the opportunity to enhance your organizational culture – embrace that opportunity. Think of creating that learning and development environment that a mentoring culture can bring. Let’s face it – if we are going to enhance the culture why not take it to the next level and create something more powerful than what we have today. Would you rather look at your culture as one that is a glass half full or half empty? Would you be willing to embark on a journey that may see that glass actually as one that is almost full? It is time for your organization to embrace the “power of mentoring” – “Can you afford not to?”
Just this morning I heard the same story again for the 151,000th time and I am being conservative. The question was raised regarding managers that were struggling in their roles that “we will provide them with more training!” So the first round of training apparently didn’t work for you and now you want to invest more money in additional training? Where is the return on investment for doing this? Perhaps, just perhaps the training that you are providing isn’t hitting the mark. Even worse and more than likely the main reason is you are doing the wrong things.
You can’t train people to be managers or leaders you need to develop them. Not everyone has the same level of confidence in order to become a natural born leader. But this doesn't mean with a sufficient amount of team training they won't reach that level. Anyone is capable of becoming a leader, but will only perform at their best when they are ready to put themselves forward.
If you feel compelled to spend some good money on training you go right ahead and do what you think is right. If you do not continue the learning process through coaching and mentoring then you have more than likely thrown good dollars out the window. You may have some inexpensive methods for training people such as some on line courses or have them watch webinars or something like that. If you don’t reinforce the learning through coaching and mentoring then you haven’t really accomplished anything.
According to researchers to achieve true expertise at a complex task requires approximately 10,000 hours of practice. This is not something that you are going to be able to obtain through training – this is something that you will acquire through real life experiences and the guidance of a coach and mentor. The initial training may well give you a foundation – but foundations will eventually crumble when exposed to a number of different variables – just like leadership.
If you create a mentoring culture which would include coaching as part of the culture you are creating a learning and development environment. This will enhance your culture and people will continue to grow on a personal and professional basis. If you stick with the training concept that you have in place today – your culture will be stifled. I really like how Mike Myatt has laid out the rationale for developing leaders rather than training them. I have provided you with a link to his article. You need to read this if you are struggling with your management/leadership team – actually everyone needs to read this including people that want to become managers/leaders in an organization.
Lack of leadership talent is a business challenge that is facing most organizations today. A study that was done has shown that nearly 60% of organizations today are faced with leadership talent shortages. This is why companies such as Catalyst 14 exist though, as having the right qualities to become a leader is very important. This can make such a difference to the overall management of your business. This has had a huge effect on their bottom line not to mention the high turnover rate that comes with poor management/leadership. There is a huge investment of money that goes into leadership training and yet we still have a leadership talent shortage. Obviously what we are doing is not working well.
We have said for a long time now that any leadership development program to be truly effective needs to provide a continuous learning environment as part of the journey. The foundation to that continuous learning environment is a mentoring culture that has a coaching element embedded in it. If you do nothing else but provide training – then you are setting your managers and leaders up for failure. Too many of you are doing that today.
It is time for us to take a look at our leadership development program. It is time to begin the journey to implement a mentoring culture that fosters a continuous learning environment. It is time to embrace “the power of mentoring”! “Can you afford not to?”
1. “Outliers” – Malcolm Gladwell - http://www.amazon.ca/Outliers-Story-Success-Malcolm-Gladwell/dp/0316017922
We hear stories about an organization having a culture that is so toxic. Employees are not happy working in this culture and productivity begins to suffer. Employees slowly start to disengage and productivity begins to slide even faster. We have a tendency to always want to look at the employees as the source of this discontent. Is that really the right place to be looking?
What I have found is that a culture that is not conducive to me wanting to get out of bed and come to work may very well be an outcome of poor leadership or just a plain lack of leadership. There are countless books written on the subject and lots of folks making good money on delivering leadership development programs but we seldom see the follow through that needs to take place. I can recall an organization that I worked for that spent good money on training its new leaders. When they came back from the training senior management proclaimed, “You are now a leader – go forth and lead!” Needless to say the majority struggled as what they were taught was not always how it is in real life. Perhaps the need to provide more hands on experience through the training process would have helped prepare them all that much more for the challenges of leading. Some of the existing senior leadership were definitely of the old style of leading – command and control. Employees were not to think, only to carry out the instructions of the leader. There was no opportunity to engage in critical thinking as you would be chastised for doing so if you did. People became mindless robots caught up in their daily mundane routines with the only highlight being coffee breaks, lunch breaks and for some smoke breaks.
Inspiring others to be the best that they can be is one sign of a good leader and yet it is a quality that a lot are lacking. Developing relationships with your employees is a must if you wish to truly be a great leader. Knowing one or two small details about each employee and demonstrating that you care doesn’t require a lot of skill but it truly demonstrates your abilities as a leader. The last thing that you would want is your employees running for cover when they see you as they wonder if it is their turn for discipline. If you spend the time to build relationships and nurture those relationships on a daily basis you would be surprised at the outcome.
One thing that I have learned along my leadership journey is the need for humility. I believe that it is a cornerstone to success as a leader. We all need to realize that we are only as good as the people around us and we need to recognize them for their qualities and help them grow personally and professionally. Imagine the success that we could have together if you leveraged each other’s strengths and recognized each other’s areas for improvement.
What if we have a toxic culture? Can it be helped through the “power of mentoring”? Can poor leadership be helped through the “power of mentoring?” We recommend that through a combination of coaching and mentoring you can make a difference in each situation but all too often we use one or the other or none of the above and we let a potentially great person become a rather poor leader. Not everyone has all the tools in their leadership tool box but wouldn’t it be nice to determine that rather than casting them aside because it takes too much work to help them grow personally and professionally?
Leadership has a huge impact on culture. If your organization is struggling with organizational culture challenges then it is time to embrace the “power of mentoring!” Can you afford not to?
I recall the last conversation we had when we did the radio interview with FireLive radio - http://www.fireliveradio.com/ back on January 5th, 2014 on the topic of leadership. One of the things that kept repeating itself was the categorization of people as leaders based on the role that they were in. We assumed that because they were the “leader of a country or an organization” that they were a leader. How far from the truth that can be.
There are leaders by virtue of position and leaders by virtue of the true definition of a leader. The true definition of a leader is someone that has "the capacity to influence others by unleashing the potential and power of people and organizations for the greater good."
So why is it that we categorize people that are leaders by virtue of position rather than actually seeing if they meet the definition? Perhaps we do not know better or we assume that they have got to their position of authority based on skills and abilities. I am perplexed to say the least as I am not sure that I have the answer for you. The more research I do, the more that I see people in leadership roles by virtue of the title with little if any leadership skills.
Perhaps if we look at Jim Collin’s five levels of Leadership we could say that at best some are a Level 1 Leader or are they? Typically what you might see is someone who is business savvy but is definitely not people savvy and you do need to have both qualities. One of the main reasons that employees will leave an organization is because of the lack of leadership. Employees want to be engaged, empowered and accountable and most are not. As a result we have an epidemic of disengaged employees that is not getting any better. The main cause for this – lack of leadership talent to motivate and create the environment that fosters engagement, empowerment and accountability. Add to that an environment that is a learning and development work place and you have taken some significant steps forward.
As you look at your leadership development program it is time to shake the trees and get rid of some of the old leadership processes. I guess it is hard to get rid of the owner of a company who is at best a Level 1 leader but there is hope – we can work with them to help them get better. That is the power of mentoring.
The next time someone points out someone to you and says that person is a leader give some thought to whether or not they are a leader by virtue of the position or by virtue of the true meaning of what a leader must be. Take the steps in your organization to provide proper leadership training where mentoring is a part of the process. Embrace the power of mentoring – can you afford not to?
If you were to look inside successful organizations today you would see a culture that fosters high performance and collaboration. It is a culture that focuses on “we + us” rather than on “I” with the understanding that “we + us” = success!
I met with Kevin Junek yesterday as he is my mentor and business adviser and we discussed this very same topic at great length. Kevin is blessed in that he works in an organization that gets it and has for a number of years. They have created what I would call a true “mentoring culture” and their hiring practices support that culture. When they are hiring they are looking not only for people that can do the required job but just as importantly the fit for their culture. They have built a culture of learning and development which has resulted in a high performance environment and now they protect that culture through their hiring processes. They have effectively removed the “I” from the organization and have made sure that their focus is “we + us”= success!
The development of this culture did not happen overnight. Leadership plays a key role in the development of and maintenance thereafter of any organizational culture. Global leadership creates a competitive advantage. Leadership is about having the capacity to keep learning and to change and evolve – while staying humble. You can see that having leaders in the organization that support a culture of learning and development would indeed move your organization closer to having that competitive advantage. A culture that focuses on the development of leaders within the organization through coaching and mentoring is one that supports the succession planning and more importantly the succession development process. All too often we develop a succession plan, identify potential successors for key roles and then do nothing to help prepare them for that role. We essentially set them up for failure. Just because you have provided someone with leadership training they are not leaders by virtue of that training. Training can stifle culture – development enriches culture. Development = coaching and mentoring!
Is your organization ready to begin a new journey in 2014? Is your organization ready to change and implement a culture that fosters a learning and development environment? Do you want to have a culture that has created a work place where people are lined up to become part of your organization? Do you want to successfully develop your current and future leaders to have that competitive advantage and see your organization reach new heights? Then you need to change how you are developing your leaders, implement a mentoring culture and embrace the power of mentoring and coaching in your organization. 2014 can and will be your year to exceed all your expectations. “Can you afford not to?”
1. Kevin Junek - http://talentc.ca/index.php/2013/leadership-starts-at-the-top/
Sometimes looking in the mirror can be such a daunting task as we are not sure that we want to see the image. Sometimes it is easier to just ignore or deny the fact that we might be part of the problem. I like to call that the “ostrich syndrome” where I keep my head buried in the sand – if I don’t see it or hear it everything must be good.
The culture in your organization has become so important today that if we do not have a great culture then we are likely to suffer the consequences. One of the most crucial consequences is the ability to retain quality talent in your organization. If the culture is not what your employees want it to be then they will leave. It is always the good ones that leave the organization because they can. I have seen it before and have had employees that have left an organization call me to say – now we understand what you were saying.
An interesting thought though – if the culture is not what they want then they will leave. Perhaps we should include our employees in the development of our culture. I recall being in a leadership role and involving the employees in a culture change. It was not a great place to work – contract resources would rather work any other place than in our organization. We embarked on a culture change and brought employees and contract workers together in the formation of a great culture. It was eventually torn down after my departure and a top down approach was taken. Needless to say it was not bought into nor supported by the employees and it reverted back to the way that it was.
We as leaders in the organization must set the stage for the development and maintenance of a strong culture. This will not be an easy journey as only 39% of Canadian employees trust their leaders. Think of it as strength based leadership – you draw on your employees to help you build the culture. You listen and hear what they are saying and take action on what they are telling you that is needed to make this environment work - one that they want to be part of.
A large part of your culture will be the creation of a work place that transforms into a learning and development work place. A place that we know that we will learn something new each day. Our learning's can be professional and they can be personal – we actually get to learn more about ourselves – now how scary is that! The cornerstone for that learning and development environment will be the implementation of a mentor program/mentor culture. This has so many different pluses to it. For the leaders in the organization the opportunity exists through the mentoring process to change the trust factor from a mere 39% to something a lot higher – something that we can all be proud of.
Now the journey is not an easy one. Your culture didn’t just happen overnight. It took a while to get where it is today. All along you wondered why you couldn’t recruit quality talent and why your turn-over rate was so high. You wondered why your employees seemed to be so disengaged even to the point of becoming complacent. You wondered why the work place seemed so negative. You can’t recall it ever being like this or what changed to get it to this point.
There is a lot of research out there to support the significance of having a strong culture or even better than that a high performance culture. I would like us to crawl before we walk and strive for the strong culture first. Our future leaders that will take our organizations into the next decade look for organizations that have great cultures as part of their research on where they want to work.
Tomorrow when you get up – look in the mirror and do you like the image you see. If not, then it is time to embark on a culture change for your organization. “Can you afford not to?”