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22 Nov

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A time to give…

November 22, 2018 | By |

“You make a living off of what you get, and a life off of what you give” are the similar words from Winston Churchill. No truer words have been spoken and none are more appropriate at this time during the holidays. To many Retailers at his time of year, these are great words to take heart. Yes, it is going to be a solid year from the initial receipts, however those businesses who look to extend their “life” beyond the latest fads, the latest gadgets, the latest offerings would do well to keep their purposeful giving, in mind. What matters most to your brand, your culture, your people. Authentic giving is very obvious and aligns with what matters most to the people within the organization.

This should be a measurable or metric for any and every business, no matter what product. Your associates are watching.

Sam Walton made it very clear to his leaders and asked us to share this belief in every store that “each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community”. That is a direct quote from Sam Walton. Sam believed in serving his leaders, his leaders should serve their people and the people in turn would serve their community.
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22 Mar

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How Men Can Help Women Unlock the Secret to Advancing Women in Leadership

March 22, 2017 | By |

Bates Article

By: Demetriouse Russell, Director of Client Solutions

Not too long ago I agreed to attend a fitness class with my wife. The predominantly women’s class is one she takes regularly and often remarks how tough it is. Walking into the room, I had the mindset of “How hard can this be”? If these women can do it, so can I. As a former college basketball player and generally athletic guy, I didn’t imagine it would be much of a challenge. The class was a combination of cardio, yoga and core strength training that admittedly, 60 minutes later kicked my butt. I left, sweaty, exhausted and blown away by the fitness level of the women. I’m a huge admirer of women athletes, and this class only reinforced what I thought. Muscles come easier for men, but I remarked “pound for pound” I think women are tougher, had more stamina and could endure much more pain.

Participating in the class was a huge eye opener for me. In a way, I think it is helpful for other men to consider taking a fitness class with women, when thinking about their role of supporting women to advance in leadership.

I had an equally compelling experience when I asked a CEO of a Fortune 500 company about their decision-making process related to their succession planning process.  Much to my surprise, he answered by stating, “we use the FCT Model.” I thought, OK, I’ll bite.  Tell me more, I asked.  “The FCT Model is quite simple, we think of Familiarity, Comfort and Trust when we promote within the C-Suite.” He continued to say that they don’t have many opportunities to build FCT with women.  Here in lies part of the problem and why many leading organizations suffer from what I like to call, ‘regrettable attrition.’ Studies show (Catalyst publication) that having women serve on boards leads to greater profitability. Direct causation has been proven and demonstrated. Per Ilene H. Lang, President of Catalyst, “Clearly, financial measures excel where women serve on corporate boards.”

In a recent Bates study, we examined the history of women in the workplace, and the rise of women to roles in corporate America.  The piece points out the lack of progress for women in the C-suite, despite their many years of participation in the work force, and this is something I see men as taking on a sponsorship role in helping to shift.

Why advancing women in leadership roles matters now:

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22 Mar

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What Your Leadership Team Needs to Do to Make an Acquisition Successful

March 22, 2017 | By |

Bates Article

By: Scott Weighart, Director of Learning and Development

Most companies underestimate how long it will take to realize the value from a merger or acquisition. Senior executives enter into deals seeking to make their companies more competitive, expand their markets, build new offerings, and evolve with changing needs of their customers – all in the service of driving growth.  Most appreciate that the integration phase will be lengthy and challenging. They don’t necessarily realize that the work has just begun when the ink dries on the deal.

As the pace of M&A hastens, the urgency around figuring out how to create value in the newly combined organization accelerates. When acquisitions fail, it’s almost never because the strategy was wrong; it’s because the execution was poor. Bringing different organizations together requires a different kind of leadership than leading organic growth.

What does your team need to know going into a deal to make it a success? We have researched the execution side of mergers and acquisitions and learned a lot about what differentiates leadership teams who do it well from those who don’t. Through our work with integration teams, we’ve developed a view on how to beat the odds.

Tackling the Confounding Challenge of Delivering Value in a Merger or Acquisition

Communication during the pre-deal stages is naturally limited because of regulation and prudent deal management. However, during that time, tension builds in the respective organizations. Leaders busy working out the details and mechanics of a deal may not always appreciate the depth of angst during this period.

Stress caused by uncertainty and anticipation is simply a reality until a deal is done. The result is people can be demotivated, paralyzed, and wrung out. Even A-players who are on board and working to help you know that behind closed doors, deliberations between senior management could have a significant impact on their careers.

Once the deal is complete and communication less constrained, senior leaders can begin cascading the plan for the new organization.  At this stage though, the decisions may still not be made. In addition, many leaders believe they are communicating more information than they are. The result can be that people experience what they get as “dribs and drabs” of information. For example, an announcement about organizational structure changes, or leader changes may not be accompanied by the “why.”

All this is to say that, in our experience, even when a communication plan is in place, leadership needs to act in ways that are different than when they are leading a company through organic growth. They may see it as sufficient to send out email announcements and conduct town hall meetings or videos that highlight a plan.

While these steps are an important part of the process, they’re only the beginning. What is required is a full-out, sustained effort to create a productive, positive dialogue with the organization, one that acknowledges the people side of the equation. Leaders need to dial up engagement, excite people about a vision for the future, and ignite an above-and-beyond effort to realize the value of the new entity.

Targeting the Right Leadership Qualities

Our research shows that there are specific qualities of leadership that make or break organizations in times of radical change such as a merger. The qualities often most important, and least exercised, are the social-emotional qualities of leadership. We have done extensive research in a leadership model that defines executive presence, one that includes these qualities.

What are a few of the qualities we know from research that are likely to determine the success of the leadership team in driving the value of a merger?

Read more here

08 Mar

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Executive Presence – a leadership truth

March 8, 2017 | By |

At its core, executive presence can be defined as “the qualities of a leader that engage, inspire, align, and move people to act.” Through research, we determined that executive presence is a three-dimensional phenomenon. Its outermost dimension is Style, the overt manner in which we engage, interact, and express ourselves. The Style dimension is important to driving execution. The next dimension is Substance, the mature qualities of leadership that indicate the depth of our thinking, the richness of our vision, and the quality of our judgment. Ratings in Substance will give us insight about perceptions of a leader’s credibility. The innermost layer is Character, those person-based qualities that anchor our values and define who we are as people. Perceptions of a leader’s Character reveal the degree to which the leader inspires trust.

Larry Keiter is certified in the Bates ExPI™(Executive Presence Index), the first research-based assessment to measure executive presence and influence in leaders. The ExPI model clarifies Executive Presence as three critical dimensions: Character, Substance, and Style. The multi-rater tool measures perceptions of a leader’s strengths and development areas within 15 distinct facets under these dimensions. The unique and powerful assessment process provides leaders with feedback that is insightful, actionable, specific , practical, and relevant to their business goals.

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14 Jan

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Starting Your Year On Purpose

January 14, 2016 | By |

Happy 2016! This is the time of year when individuals are naturally thinking about alignment. Resolutions are long- or short-term goals—remember our alignment chart? Well, goals are roughly in the upper third of the pyramid.

alignmentHowever, without knowing how these goals fulfill an individual’s hopes and dreams as well as their values statement, the individual may be doomed to fail his or her new resolutions.

One way to discover the base of individual or organization alignment triangles (Hopes and Dreams/Mission, Vision, and Purpose) is to use tools created by organizations dedicated to helping people and organizations find alignment.

A tool I recently discovered is Imperative, a for-profit B corporation that is dedicated to helping create Purpose-Oriented people and supporting their employers. Imperative provides online assessments, personal coaching, and a blog with career tips. They believe that workers belong to one of 24 “Purpose Types” that can allow you to unlock which values drive you and can be better utilized toward further success.

Imperative also features help for employers and universities. It is an expansive tool for all levels of the organization, and can help your group fill out all three aspects of alignment to create a solid “pyramid” of individual, team, and organization.

I especially like their long-term goal that combines the building blocks of their Values Statement with concrete goals: “Our Imperative is to double the number of Purpose-Oriented people in the workforce in the next ten years.”

Individuals may take a 10-minute quiz, which gives you or your organizations a “work personality type,” or as they call it, your imperative. The results break down your particular “work personality type” with the who, what, and how that gives you purpose in work. This website could be a neat tool that you can use to create your base or purpose (imperative) as well as the strengths area of your individual alignment triangle.

ImperativeResults1.13.16An illustration of the Who, Why, and How individual results from Imperative’s About page.

Here is mine: “My imperative is to work with teams and organizations to enable them to elevate their game, engaging them and bringing them together.” That is the why or my mission and purpose. If I put this at the base of my personal alignment triangle, it is a certain way to validate or ensure that I have the right information at the base, and everything I do should be in alignment with this purpose.

I encourage everyone to take the time at the beginning of the year to examine (or re-examine) your personal goals. Assess where you succeeded and where you struggled in 2015, and rewrite your Personal Statement, Strengths and Weaknesses, and Core Values. Then your 2016 monthly, weekly, and daily planning should be done with this solid base in mind.

Franklinizing or starting your day on purpose can only succeed if you have a solid foundation in place—aka starting your year on purpose.

For those of you who would like to complete your own alignment triangle, here is a blank triangle that you can save, print, and fill in the blanks with your own values, goals, and activities. Good luck with your new resolutions, and may 2016 be your most successful year yet!

Fill in the blank self alignment form Fill in the blank self alignment form part 2

29 Dec

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December Motivation: Spreading Kindness and Motivating Genius

December 29, 2015 | By |

Happy holidays! This week, we are taking a breather with some motivational posts. I hope that you and your families are enjoying a wonderful holiday season.

“Tis the Season…Random Acts of Kindness” by Jennifer Ablan

Ablan reflects on past Christmas holidays with her family, claiming that it’s not what you buy but what you do that truly makes memories. Similarly, our actions can change someone’s day and “can increase happiness, productivity and general well-being.” Check out this article for a link to some tips for performing random acts of kindness.

“Tell Stories Instead of Sharing Data” by Randy Bretz

Bretz shares the reality of all those spreadsheets that are brought to meetings. Do they liven up your presentation or do the opposite? Bretz think you should skip the numbers and tell a story.

“Bravo Maestro! Catalyze Group Genius in Your Strategy Session” by Robert Hargrove

This post is the sixth in a series about Strategy Lab, or conducting leadership of a group or meeting just as a maestro or conductor would. A leader is not just someone who keeps everyone on track, but someone who cultivates the genius in his or her employees.

Photo created by fauxto_digit.

22 Dec

By

Customer Service the Sam Walton Way

December 22, 2015 | By |

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, demonstrated how to be an effective leader and how to align a company every time you encountered him. He exemplified a leader who communicates the vision, the strategy, the brand, and the importance of alignment.

As a reminder, here is Wal-Mart’s Alignment Triangle:

Wal-Mart full alignmentI met Sam for the first time at a leadership academy in Bentonville, Arkansas. 40 up-and-coming assistant managers were brought in as “future stars” and future leaders. We were each given a 360 degree assessment and then worked with our fellow leaders from across the United States. The academy took place over one week during which we were taught by facilitators from the University of Arkansas, senior leadership, and HR.

Sam attended the final day of the academy, after we had presented our Team Action Projects, after we had spent late nights collaborating and bonding with our fellow teammates. We also had competed with each other and as teams, but ended the week with a graduation ceremony that followed our presentations. We were tired yet enthusiastic about meeting the Chairman.

Sam strolled in and spoke about how important our training was: What it meant to be a leader. How important our associates are. Finally, how important our customers are.

It was obvious he was a fountain of all things customer service, internal and external.

At one point Sam urged all of us to lead by example aka buy the items in your stores whenever possible. Sam, who was next to me in the front row, looked at me and asked, “Is that one of our jackets, Larry?”

I realized I had this jacket from college—I did not remember buying it at Wal-Mart. Sam reached to my lapel, lifted it, and looked at the label. He grinned at me, and then noticed my peers leaning forward to see if indeed Larry had worn the right clothes. Sam’s smile returned to me and slapped my lapel and said, “Yep! It sure is!” My peers patted me on the back. Larry was good to go now!

Well, my jacket was Haggar. JCPenney sells Haggar. Before I could ponder if Sam maybe didn’t know what types of clothes his stores carried, the Chairman congratulated us and we were on our feet applauding his pep talk. As Sam was leaving the room and attention returned to the closing facilitator, Sam leaned close to me and whispered, “My wife bought me one of those too.”

Sam could have used me to make a point, but he chose to make a different point to a thousand associates over the course of the next 20 years. I did not tell this story immediately because for one, I was a bit embarrassed, and two, I did not realize the power of what Sam did until I had chances to show respect for my own people in the months and years to come.

Sam not only knew what clothes we sold, but he knew something much more important: how to gain a loyal follower for life by treating that follower with uncommon awareness and respect.

On the Wal-Mart alignment chart, Sam’s choices reflected both the value statement “Respect for the Individuals” and who we are, “Our People Make the Difference.” He backed up his company strategy by walking the walk.

You have a choice as a leader: do you build your people up or accidentally/purposely tear them down? Living as an example of a servant leader, protector of your people, shows that you really do believe that your “People Make the Difference.”

17 Dec

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Organizational Alignment Case Study: The Wal-Mart Phenomenon

December 17, 2015 | By |

I witnessed first-hand a leader who kept organizational alignment extremely simple for his team. During my time at Wal-Mart, I experienced how to align individuals, teams, and an organization for success. Sam Walton provided an example of a leader who employed the strategies of organizational alignment as I have described in my previous posts. This post will walk you through how Wal-Mart used organizational alignment to become a leading organization.

Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, had a vision: provide quality goods to as many people as possible and keep the expenses low in order to pass the low price on to the customer. This was a self-propelling cycle that would increase traffic, decrease expenses, allow employees to bring in more low cost goods, and so on. (Eventually this became a recipe for diminishing returns and the realization that you can only go so low, but that is a topic for another blog post.)

This vision became the basis of all Wal-Mart alignment. In my Organizational Alignment Triangle, the Vision, Mission, and/or Purpose forms the base of alignment. To visualize, here is Sam’s Mission or Purpose stated as a Goal on the organizational alignment triangle:

Wal-Mart mission and purposeNext on the alignment triangle is the Value Statement. Sam would remind all employees of the three basic principles of Wal-Mart (Value Statement) and what made us unique:
• Service to the Customer
• Strive for Excellence
• Respect for the Individual

The core values were not hard to comprehend or put into action, and I would remind my associates and my stores about the three basic beliefs upon every visit. To the bystander, it was clear that we could sell goods like anyone else, but we did it with an understanding that three basic beliefs needed to be present. When decisions were made, we referenced the three basic beliefs!

As Lencioni states, leaders should clarify and support the message or value statement. Leaders cannot just use words—they need to resonate with the message, and actions speak louder than words. If a store manager made a decision, he was supported by referencing these three basic beliefs. It was not often that a decision would be overturned if it truly was aligned.

The Value Statement builds on top of the Mission, Vision, and Purpose:

Wal-Mart value statementFor example of a decision made in alignment, one decision I made as a store manager felt was a no brainer; however the decision pushed into new territory for the company. One of my associates had a child with cystic fibrosis. This associate was very loyal and hardworking. She could recite the three basic beliefs in her sleep, and I had witnessed her passion for being a “merchant” as Sam had always encouraged us to be. My associate informed me that her child had the opportunity to receive a chest wall oscillation vest. This vest was a new type of treatment, which our Wal-Mart insurance did not cover as it was considered an “experimental” prescription. My associate was adamant about how her daughter’s quality of life would be enhanced with the vest.

I took it upon myself to contact our home offices, my supervisors, and the leaders who made such decisions and asked them to please “take care of MY customer” aka my associate. After seeking to understand what was at stake and why this was so important to me, it was approved. A small step perhaps at just the right time, but nonetheless, this was an example of leadership walking the talk.

My “walk” was witnessed by more than that one associate. This store was one of the most profitable stores at the time, which I equated to the clear understanding and belief that alignment mattered to everyone in this store. It was much easier for our employees to take care of the external customer with this positive type of example at the ready!

Our values became who we were as a company. The value statements became our core motivations for our actions and decisions. This in turn became the brand of Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart brand and valuesThe core values worked for the entire company, for each team, and, yes, for each individual. Our values drove Wal-Mart for many years and helped the company keep its vision very transparent. I had greeters and stockmen who understood what these core values were and how they translated into each position. We were not a company of one million associates. We were the local Wal-Mart store.

Customers and employees shared a clear understanding that our brand was low prices with a big emphasis on our people. The motto held for many years was, “Our People Made the Difference.” The brand of leadership development emphasized how to truly lead people and lead them correctly, how to empower and engage the associate.

So we knew our values and our brand and who we were, but where were we going? How do you move a ship so big forward in an aligned direction?

There was not one of us in Wal-Mart who thought of the organization as being “big.” David Glass, CEO for 20 years, would tell his store managers and district managers that when he was asked “How do you run a company that is so large?” he would remind all of us “one store at a time.” Now picture each store with their own success steps that began with a common mission.

At one point in the 90’s, Wal-Mart lost its alignment message and, without Sam, we forgot to remind each other (remember Lencioni’s constant communication). Tom Coughlin, a vice chairman, and his team came up with a brilliant way to remind the company of what alignment looked like.

At a shareholders meeting, Tom introduced an articulate young first grader who stood in front of an audience of store managers and district managers and began a conversation with Tom. The first grader held the microphone and spoke about “What Mattered Most” in each store. These words became the alignment for many years to come.

He said, “Tom, I think it’s pretty easy what you do at Wal-Mart if you work in the store.”

The first grader read off each slide as it came up on the screen:
• Stock It: keep the merchandise on the shelf
• Price It: make sure the customer knows how much it is
• Show the Value: let our customer know our Mission and Purpose
• Take Their Money: speedy checkouts
• Teach Them: be a learning organization

Wal-Mart long term goalsThis mission and purpose was so simple that a first grader could understand it. I repeated this to anyone who would listen in my stores when I got home from the meeting because it aligned everything I did. I was so glad it was this simple!

I believe this message was the most important piece as the stores throughout the 90’s and into the 2000’s. This was a time of some great growth internationally, domestically, and online. This was also a key time for growth in our supercenters. Stores who grew kept the alignment simple and straightforward.

Buyers, IT, operations, store managers, greeters—everyone was on the same team because they all had a part in alignment.

The short term goals or our challenge to “beat yesterday” were the measures and metrics that kept us on track.

Finally, serving the customer was our mantra and what we did daily aligned with each piece in the Alignment Triangle.

Wal-Mart full alignmentEach person in the company did something to support the three basic beliefs and the five key long term strategies of our brand. With that level of alignment, how could you stop that sort of success?

10 Dec

By

Organizational Alignment: Keeping it Simple

December 10, 2015 | By |

We are now ready to discuss the third piece of the alignment puzzle: Organizational Alignment. This piece is where leaders and their teams begin to forget how simple alignment truly is and how alignment can make a big impact on any organization. The secret lies in the KISS principle: keep it simple, silly!

To refresh: When you want to align an individual, you simply need to ensure the individual is focusing on what matters most to them. Their direction is aligned to their core values. Their daily actions are aligned to the initial Vision and Purpose—a fairly simple concept as only one person stands in the way of progress, and that is the individual.

Then we discussed the team: Team alignment proves a bit more challenging as it requires a leader with the ability to understand the team, the team dynamics, and strengths and the ability to modify or implement “situational leadership” – what the team needs, when the team needs it.

Organizational alignment builds on this simplicity. However, the problem is that we as human beings take a simple concept and make it complicated. We feel that something so important or big cannot really be that simple. This next level of alignment may seem more complicated than individual or team alignment, and there certainly are more parts because there are more details and moving pieces within an organization, be it a nonprofit or a Fortune 500 company.

I can tell you first hand that the answer is too simple—and that is why we miss it!

Starting with the basic visual from the Oz Principle that I introduced in the first Alignment post, your experiences become your beliefs which fuel your actions which give you the results.1

OzPrinciplePyramidThinking about organizations which are getting results that they truly do not want, we can work backwards on the pyramid and see that the organization is designed perfectly for the results they are getting! To help us better prepare for the right results, we replace the experience referenced in the Oz Principle with the Mission, Vision, and Values that we believe we can achieve:

OrgAlignChart12.7.15

This second alignment triangle is the one that causes companies to spend money on consultants to help them figure out how to get results when the answer is the very same answer that helps the individual and the team get results: what matters to the individual also matters to the team and organization. KISS, keep it simple silly!

With an organization, these key components need to be intensified and amplified but most of all simplified so we do not lose our way!

Keeping alignment simple and easy to understand is important, and I feel Patrick Lencioni has done the best job of making organizational alignment very simple. In his book, The Advantage, Lencioni argues that the health of an organization makes the difference between its success or its failure, rather than how smart the collective organization is.2

Lencioni says, “An organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent and complete, and when its management, operations and culture are unified,” (or aligned as I like to say). He further defines healthy organizations as those that “outperform their counterparts, are free of politics and confusion and provide an environment where star performers never want to leave.”

Lencioni talks about four disciplines and a “healthy organization” as one that:

  • Builds a Cohesive Leadership Team
  • Creates Clarity
  • Over-Communicates that clarity
  • Reinforces that Clarity

TheAdvantage

His book is a series of processes and functions to keep the path aligned and to limit the confusion and clutter that slows the organization down. Three of his four main disciplines are about creating and maintaining clarity. KISS!

Lencioni starts with a Thematic Goal or a rallying cry that is shared by the entire leadership team and ultimately by the entire organization. Repeat the message and align your employees around clarity by communicating often. Have meetings to protect this alignment.

Referring back to the organizational alignment diagram, if the Vision and Purpose, the core values, and even the short term objectives are not clear and easy to understand, you risk misalignment. You risk the individuals and the team missing some of the key checkpoints.

In my next post about organizational alignment, I will share the Alignment Triangle that Wal-Mart used for many years in action.

References:

  1. Partners in Leadership, “The Oz Principle,” https://www.ozprinciple.com, accessed September 2015.
  2. Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (New York, John Wiley & Sons, 2012).

25 Nov

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Why Gratitude Should Be On Your List of Core Values

November 25, 2015 | By |

In this season of gratefulness and giving, I wanted to quickly address the topic of thankfulness. Thankfulness or gratitude should be on your list of personal core values. Picture your self-alignment triangle: gratitude belongs in the middle section “My Values.”

alignmentGratitude keeps you grounded and ever moving forward. The attitude of gratitude helps keep you aligned with your goals and working toward personal development.

Practicing gratitude with your employees also makes them feel more in line with the team. I let each of my employees know that I am thankful for their assistance and tell them what specific jobs or tasks I am thankful for. This helps my employees feel like a valued member of the team, and helps  further our progress on our path toward team alignment.

Tools for Gratitude

  1. The Forbes article “How Feeling Grateful Can Make You More Successful” from 2013 describes that not only does gratitude impact your emotions, but it has a positive experience on your work life as well. It breaks down what the feeling of gratitude really is and how to employ it in your business life.
  2. I have mentioned in other posts that family life plays an important role in the individual’s alignment and should be included in starting your day on purpose. Family add balance to the employee’s work life and form part of the Values, Hopes, and Dreams of the self-alignment chart.

Happy Thanksgiving

Image created by Satya Murthy.