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Posts Tagged ‘leadership operating system

Leadership Deliverables and How to Cook an Omelet

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Yesterday I gave a webinar organized by Quidam Global in Mexico.

The topic was the correlation between the practice of Direct Leadership™ and Employee Performance. The webinar was my first occasion to speak about how the deliverables defined in my model of day-to-day leadership will directly translate into what we desire to achieve among our employees.

Afterwards I thought about how to best describe the difference between deliverables and the more commonly addressed topics of culture, competencies or personalities.

I believe the answer is to take our eyes away from the infinite variety of competencies, cultural differences, personalities that makes every workplace and every team a unique place. Instead, we need to get up into the helicopter, rise above the trees of the forest and look at the bigger picture.

Only when we do so can we see the deliverables as the manifestation of all those other ingredients.

In a way you could compare it to cooking an omelet.

To make let’s say a mushroom omelet, you need eggs, milk, butter, salt, pepper and mushrooms. However, neither looking at the separate ingredients, nor tasting each of them will give you the same experience as tasting the end result.

Eggs, milk, butter, salt, pepper and mushrooms are comparable to cultures, competencies, and personalities. The finished omelet is the deliverable.

Let me be clear, I do not suggest ignoring culture, competencies and personalities.

However, I do urge you to understand that these are only means to produce the deliverables. Exactly like eggs, milk, butter and mushrooms are essential to produce a mushroom omelet, but not equal to an omelet.

The Direct Leadership™ Model describes and allows you to measure those very deliverables when it comes to day-to-day leadership.


Don’t mention the War!

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At first I thought I had not heard him, but when he repeated, I realised my mind had simply not been able to grasp what he said.

It was just a few weeks ago, so the year was 2012 and not 1952. I was on a plane back from the wedding party of some friends living abroad, and the man next to me and I had struck up a conversation, first over the books we each were reading, then over what kind of work we were each doing.

And as it so often happens when I say that my business is ”everyday leadership” the conversation turned to how my co-traveller experienced leadership at the state-owned research institution where he was working.

And then he told me. ”At our organisation, we recently had this employee satisfaction survey. But it was made quite clear that if we were critical when replying to the questions about our leaders, our replies would only be taken into consideration if we abandoned the anonymity that applied for the rest of the survey.” And he continued: ” To me this tells that leaders are not appointed according to their competencies, but because they are friends of the existing leaders.”

That was when the words of the headline (made immortal by John Cleese in the BBC sitcom Faulty Towers) came to my mind.

We want to measure employee satisfaction – but do not mention your leaders for anything but their virtues!

As I said, at first I could not believe that I actually heard this.
Second thought: ”they must not have any professionals involved”, so I checked if I were right.
But the reply was: ”Oh definitely, a well-known consulting company specialised in employee satisfaction was involved!”

I rest my case…


(oh, to see that particular episode of Fawlty Towers, click here http://www.youtube.com/BBCComedyGreats )

What is your leadership mother tongue?

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In my last blog post I shared my musings about the need for a leadership operating system, which followed a series of meetings with colleagues around the globe.

Now that I have been back in my own culture for a week, the notion of having a mother tongue as opposed to speaking a foreign language has struck me.

My own mother tongue is Danish, but I have been immersed in talking and writing English almost all of my adult life, so I am pretty fluent in English.

Nonetheless, there is still a distinct difference between my English skills and my mother tongue. In a certain way the wording I use here tells the difference. I possess a certain amount of skills in English, but Danish is “my tongue”, that is it is part of who I am, my identity, my outlook upon the world. For good and for worse.

Is it possible to make a similar distinction between leadership skills and having a leadership operating system?

Well, by and large I find that the comparison will stand trial for individuals as well as for organisations.

There is a distinct difference between possessing a set of leadership skills and operating from a leadership operating system .

The latter will do the same for the leaders and employees of an organisation as a mother tongue will do for the sense of coherence and inter-connection among a group of fellow countryment. The difference between mastering a set of skills in relation to communicating and interacting with people – and of having an operating system, which embraces every particular trait of the company culture, the organisation’s particular context and establishes a sense of belonging.

Do you possess a leadership “mother tongue”? If so, what is it?

Written by Karin Zastrow

June 10, 2011 at 13:56

Do you have a Leadership Operating System?

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These past three weeks I have been on the road.

Two weeks ago I was speaking in Mexico City and Orlando, Florida about Direct Leadership. Last week I spent in discussions with colleagues who all work with The Human Element. And this week I am accompanying Jim Tamm in a speaking tour about his Radical Collaboration model for several different groups in Copenhagen.

All of this time I have spent in different settings, but all the time discussing my passion, i.e. how to improve our world’s workplaces through creating solid everyday leadership and company cultures which leaders and employees alike may take pride and pleasure in aligning with.

As the weeks have unfolded, more and more I have been convinced of the need for what I have begun to think about as a leadership operating system.

All leaders need to understand the organisation’s as well as their own particular context. What is the nature of the organization? The market it operates in? Who are the organisation’s stakeholders? Is there more than one bottom line? What is the organisation’s vision? It’s strategic goals? What is my department’s position in the organizational food chain?

Another thing is to have a solid grip on their values. On the one hand, the values of the organization that serve as guidelines for how the organization want to conduct their business. On the other hand, the personal values, which will determine if your staff perceives you as the kind of leader they would voluntarily select to follow or just their formal superior.

Thirdly, anyone with leadership responsibilities need what I call people skills. By this term I also refer to two things. Understanding what generally motivates people and what doesn’t – and understanding yourself and your own preferences when it comes to relating to others.

Lastly, you want to understand the leadership deliverables, the content of your role and the main leadership styles, which you should be able to apply according to what you intend to achieve with your staff.

With all four components of the leadership operating system in place, your organisation is well-suited to exercise coordinated leadership in the short as well as long term.

Without one or more of them you as an individual and the organization you work in are less likely to be effective.

Written by Karin Zastrow

June 9, 2011 at 10:42

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