Posts Tagged ‘leadership development’


Why measure Learning Agility?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

 

Tape Measure

Most people are good at doing things they’ve done in the past and coming up with solutions they know from experience work well. Fewer are adept at handling new and unique challenges where there are no obvious answers. Yet, this is precisely what is demanded of leaders today.

A dynamic and complex business environment requires people to be resourceful and adaptable, to think and act in new ways as situations change. It takes people out of their comfort zone and pushes them beyond their usual ways of doing things.

The extent to which people enjoy these challenges varies significantly. Some prefer to avoid them, holding on to trusted skills, expertise and patterns of behaviour, whilst others actively seek them out in order to satisfy their natural curiosity and enjoyment of doing new things.

Agile learners demonstrate the ability and willingness to learn from experience and use those lessons to succeed in new and different situations. They look for many, diverse experiences and this runs counter to sticking with any one discipline for long periods.

On this basis, not every job is suited to agile learners. Some jobs require deep expertise where being highly learning agile could actually be a disadvantage. Organisations can better manage their talent when they measure learning agility and carefully match the right people to the right jobs, career paths and developmental experiences.

 

how can learning agility be measured?

Learning agility is a multi-dimensional concept. Based on research over three decades, Korn Ferry’s model is made up of five factors – Self-Awareness, Mental Agility, People Agility, Change Agility and Results Agility. These are defined as a set of behaviours that are both observable and measurable.

Multi-rater assessment

A straightforward way to measure Learning Agility is through a 360-degree survey. Choices® is proven, easy-to-use online assessment that provides people with meaningful feedback on their overall Learning Agility and each of its five factors.

Choices® is useful as it raises awareness of what Learning Agility actually is among individuals and their raters by reading the behavioural descriptors as they complete the assessment. It is also supported by the FYI for Learning Agility™ book that contains specific actions a person can take to develop Learning Agility.

Self-assessment

A second way to assess Learning Agility is through an online self-assessment called viaEDGE™. To overcome the tendency of individuals to over or under rate themselves, rigorous verification scales are used to determine the accuracy of their scores, providing a confidence index for each completed assessment.

viaEDGE™ is useful when time is at a premium and is effective for assessing larger groups of individuals. It is supported by a development guide called Becoming an Agile Leader: A Guide to Learning from your Experience.

 

what are the benefits of measuring learning agility?

An organisation’s success depends largely on its people, talented individuals who contribute to the achievement of organisational goals. Those who effectively leverage the abilities of their people are focused on understanding and differentiating their talent.

All talent is important, but all talent is not the same. On one hand, there are high-professionals who generally have deep technical expertise and do well in functional roles. On the other are high-potentials, those who prefer broader experiences and responsibilities and are better suited to general management positions.

It’s worth noting that people across both of these groups are critical to an organisation’s future success, yet their contributions are quite different and they need to be nurtured and developed differently.

The key criterion that differentiates talent along the high-professional/high-potential continuum is Learning Agility. Knowing where your people stand on this scale will allow you to make more informed decisions in selection, succession management, career planning and development.

The benefits for individuals are obvious – better alignment between career and personal interests and motivation means greater job satisfaction and greater likelihood of access to personally meaningful development opportunities.

For organisations, measurement of Learning Agility gives that all-important big picture view of the talent pool. Group data with scores across each of the five factors of Learning Agility offers the opportunity to identify candidates who have the right skills for a job now or those who would benefit from specific developmental opportunities.

Importantly, the overall Learning Agility Index for your talent pool provides critical insight into the dominant themes in your organisation’s culture and how agile it is as a whole.

 

What’s new in competency frameworks?

Friday, March 27th, 2015

 

For the last two decades we have defined competencies as ‘measurable characteristics of a person that are related to success at work’. They can be technical in nature, such as the ability to develop a business plan or design a software program, or behavioural, which describe how a person goes about their job.The ability to build strong customer relationships and deliver customer-centric solutions may drive success in a sales role, whilst motivating people to do their best to help the organisation achieve its objectives may be the key to effectiveness as a manager.

The value of behavioural competencies is well established. Ongoing research by Lominger, Korn Ferry and others has consistently found that that they account for between 40 and 60 percent of total job performance.

Organisations around the world recognise the need competency frameworks that link individual competencies to the broader goals of the organisation, filtered through the business context and competitive strategy.

However, two factors are emerging that are shaping the way organisations think about their competency needs:

  • The rapidly shifting business environment demands increasing levels of resilience, flexibility and the ability to lead change and they want competencies to reflect this.
  • Many leaders recognise that they are facing an inadequate supply of top quality, ready-now talent and this is having a profound impact on hiring and selection.

In this context, the innovative new Korn Ferry Leadership Architect™ has a number of features with special appeal to those who want to:

  • Make sure their competencies are described in contemporary language that truly reflects the needs of jobs today.
  • Align competencies to their current business drivers and challenges, whilst also addressing future needs.
  • Precisely target a list of the most high-impact behaviours, skills and attributes.
  • Ensure competencies are relevant to people across the business, whilst keeping them simple and easy to use.
  • Take much of the guesswork out of putting the right talent in the right role at the right time.

In upcoming blogs we will describe how competencies themselves have evolved, how they are applied at different levels in the organisation and ways to overcome the most common challenges in implementing competency frameworks.

 

Driving a development culture

Friday, February 28th, 2014
What is your organisation’s investment in developing its people?

No doubt, the L&D budget comes immediately to mind. But, what about the not so obvious costs, such as those associated with getting people up to speed in new assignments, the efforts of managers in performance management and career development, the cost of job rotations or paid time off for study?

Taking all these things into account simply provides an added incentive to maximise the return on investment and take a more holistic view of what constitutes development. A lament we have heard too often lately concerns the challenge of sustaining professional development beyond an initial program or event.

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What this takes is a conscious effort over time, focused on two key elements – people and systems. Most people want to grow and develop, do well and be rewarded for their achievements; and organisations need a support system in place to help them. Importantly, managers need to be active participants in the process, as nothing much will happen without their ability, interest and commitment.

Six ways to sustain people development within your organisation

  1. Ensure development initiatives are aligned to business strategy – People need to know that what they are working on will not only help them be successful personally but also contribute to the organisation’s goals.
  2. Set targets for development – Provide role clarity through success profiles that differentiate skills by level and target high performance in the job. People are more motivated to work on skills that are recognised and rewarded based on their importance.
  3. Differentiate your development offerings – People are not all the same, they have different skills, talent, motivation, values and ambition. So, whilst all people need opportunities for development, they need them in different ways. One needs the challenge of new and different assignments, whilst another wants to deepen their expertise in their particular field.
  4. Empower your managers – Managers must embrace their responsibility for developing others. However many managers are not comfortable discussing a person’s skills or giving tough feedback but these are essential aspects to what can be ultimately a very rewarding experience, developing others.   Start with simple briefing sessions on what skills are important, how skills are built and the difference between performance and potential.
  5. Make development plans personal – There are different types of development need – a weakness that needs to be a strength, an average skill that needs to be superior, an overused skill that needs to be toned down. Add to this the nature of the need – is it a single competency or a cluster of similar skills?  Is it difficult for anyone to develop or specific to the person? Should they find another way to work around it?  People generally respond well to this broadband approach to needs analysis and development planning.
  6. Offer the right tools to kick-start development  – People need resources to create and implement a development plan. A range of self-assessment instruments, sources of feedback and clearly laid out options for skill development are essential.

Generation Y: Building tomorrow’s leaders

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Generation Y, or Gen Y, is the name given to the generation of people born between 1980 and 1994. They represent the single largest generation in history and by 2025 will make up 75% of the world’s workforce. Some other facts about Gen Y:

  • Gen Y’s currently make up 20% of the Australian population
  • Almost half of them have been to university
  • They are the most highly educated cohort ever to enter the workforce
  • They have higher expectations of promotion than previous generations
  • One in four change jobs in any given year.

 

Tips for Managing Gen Y Employees in Your Organisation

Working successfully with Gen Y employees can require some adaptation and flexibility on the part of their manager. For example, if they want to make their mark by trying new ways of doing things it shouldn’t be seen as a rejection of established practices in the organisation. Here are 6 tips for managing Gen Y employees in your organisation:

1.  Knowledge

Gen Y employees have a strong desire for knowledge and learning; and will often demand workplace training as part of their employment conditions. Lack of personal development, along with limited opportunity for progression, are major factors in why Gen Y’s leave organisations. Managers should plan for this and aim to provide ongoing learning that is mutually beneficial to the employee and the organisation.

2.  Feedback

Gen Y’s need plenty of feedback and recognition. Having grown up in an era where these were freely given in school, they expect it. They are happiest when they are being listened to and respected and will perform better if this is so. They want to feel they are working towards a purpose and this will encourage them to stay motivated.

3.  Flexibility

Research shows that Gen Y’s want work-life balance and are strong advocates of flexible hours and working from home. The saying ‘work smarter not harder’ resonates strongly with them. With this in mind, managers should factor in a flexible work/life plan to suit both the employee and the business.

4.  Technology

Gen Y’s are more technologically savvy than any previous generation. They use the Internet widely in everyday social interaction and for sourcing business information. Over 75% of them have a profile on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Their managers can tap into this capability to help drive technology-based innovation in their business.

5.  Teamwork

Gen Y employees value teamwork because they enjoy participation, interaction and collaborative decision-making. As a result, they appreciate managers who pay attention to building effective teams. Because they like environments that are social and fun, managers should also ensure they make time to debrief and celebrate team successes.

6.  Career Development

Most Gen Y’s will expect a pay increase within a short period of time in a job, along with good prospects of promotion. Whilst this may not always be feasible, managers can ensure they are being given new challenges, are included in decision-making and have access to coaching and mentoring so they feel their needs are being recognised.

So, does this seem like managing Gen Y’s is hard work? If it does, consider this. Gen Y’s are energised by challenge. They find new tasks and jobs as opportunities to grow. They enjoy finding new ways to do things, as well as connecting with and learning from other people. Managers who account for the wants and needs of their Gen Y staff will find a refreshing flexibility among them. In addition, they are more likely to support organisational change as long as they are provided with the rationale for the change and have the opportunity to explore and discuss the associated pros and cons.

 

Is leadership coaching for you?

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

 

Leadership is often seen as a role someone plays and the perception of a leader’s effectiveness is linked to outputs such as a compelling vision, innovation or business results. This encourages a focus on the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’ of being a great leader.

The way a leader goes about setting direction for the business and mobilising people may be the most critical factor in sustained leadership success. Leaders are most vulnerable to missteps during transitions such as a change in company strategy, a merger or acquisition or taking on a new role.

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A skilled executive coach acting as an objective and unbiased thinking partner can be invaluable if you are facing change or simply want to hone your leadership skills. Your coach can help diagnose the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, and be resourceful with ideas on how you can get there.

So how do you find the right coach for you?

An important consideration when choosing a coach is to understand a little more about them as a person, as well as their style and approach, so that you can decide if the coach is the right ‘fit’ for you.

Here are 7 things to consider when choosing your executive coach:

  1. What coaching experience and qualifications do they have?
  2. Can the coach provide you with testimonials?
  3. What examples of success can the coach share with you?
  4. Do they have experience in your industry?
  5. Have they coached leaders at a similar level to you?
  6. What types of assessment tools do they use to evaluate skills?
  7. What time frame are they allowing for the coaching assignment?

Research over the past decade clearly demonstrates the positive impact of coaching on people and on business results. You can expect to benefit in various ways:

  • Greater self-awareness
  • More clarity and focus on your role
  • New ways to build relationships with colleagues and other stakeholders
  • Ideas for overcoming difficult workplace issues
  • Improved business performance

Coaching is increasingly being recognised as a powerful partnership that inspires an individual to make changes to achieve fulfilling results, personally and professionally. And, with the right coach, that partnership can be a richly rewarding experience that gives you long-lasting benefits.

Ensuring leaders succeed in transition to a new job

Friday, September 27th, 2013

 

The early days in a job are challenging for most newly appointed leaders. Even if they feel well equipped   for the new role, they have a lot to learn about their organisation and its people, culture and way of working. Many people feel they can intuitively do this. After all, they have been successful in previous roles.

At first, it’s easy to put effort into ‘what’ to do in the new job at the expense of ‘how’ to go about it.Early mistakes such as failing to understand the culture, clarify the expectations of stakeholders or misreading group dynamics can be hard to recover   from later on. untitled-design-2

 

In most large organisations, up to 25 per cent of managers take on a new position in any given year. That    is a lot of people facing different responsibilities, learning new skills and coming to terms with fresh challenges!

What Research Tells Us

Research shows that up to 40 per cent of promoted leaders will fall short of expectations in the first eighteen months and the risk is even greater for newcomers to the organisation. When leaders fail, everyone suffers. Morale, productivity and revenue all take a hit. What we know is that:

  • Companies who invest time and resources in onboarding enjoy the highest levels of employee engagement.
  • Individuals who fail to adapt and develop as the surrounding context changes are at risk of derailment.
  • Unsuccessful leadership transitions have a negative impact on the credibility of the selection process.

The cost of turnover at the executive level can be 2 to 3 times annual remuneration. The cost is too great to leave successful transitions to chance.

Onboarding programs that consist of a company induction combined with individual coaching reduce the risk as they ensure that people get off to a good start and build momentum for longer-term success. Everyone Wins!

Four ways to advance the representation of women at the top

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

 

  • Today, more women graduate from university than men and yet far fewer make it to senior executive roles in organisations.
  • The percentage of women on ASX 200 boards is 15.4% and of those companies 52% have no women on their boards.[1]
  • Some 78% of women now leave their middle and   upper management positions to start their own business.[2]
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A challenge for women

A Harvard Business Review study conducted by Boris Groysberg and Deborah Bell found many leaders see a greater representation of women at the top of organisations is key to diversity and sustainability. At the same time, we have all heard the line that there are simply not enough skilled and experienced women around.

Here lies a challenge – women lag behind men in getting the type of assignments that prepare people for success at the top, such as those with P&L responsibility, heavy strategic demands and high visibility from top management. Understandably, it’s hard to sustain a career long term without the right experiential learning.

Agility is the key

In his article “The Importance of Agility” in Human Resource Executive online, Andrew McIlvaine says that in times of unprecedented change and uncertainty, we need to ensure that leaders have the requisite agility to not only operate in unchartered watersbut to thrive in them.

Agility has been a theme for Lominger International for two decades, after successful executives were found to embrace new and diverse challenges and integrate and draw numerous and varied lessons from them. In other words they are “learning agile”. Here is another opportunity to help women keep pace in development.

Helping women advance their careers

  1. Give women the opportunity to understand and develop their learning agility
    Women (and men!) benefit enormously from knowing where they stand now on learning agility. It is a measurable trait that can be developed. Coaching and self-help resources such Lominger’s Agile Leader series are useful for becoming a more agile leader.
  2. Ensure organisational career paths are identified and open to women
    When an organisation identifies its most critical jobs, any bias against women must be overcome so they are included in succession plans. Career pathways that are visible to themselves and others and appropriate development planning will help them stay the course to realise their potential.
  3. Support women in making successful leadership transitions
    Each step up the corporate ladder brings a new set of requirements in terms of skill, complexity of work and focus of effort. Navigating these changes at each transition is essential for long-term career success. Stephen Drotter’s book “The Performance Pipeline” is a good resource for understanding what it takes.
  4. Give women opportunities to build their professional network
    Women can often be distracted by the variety of roles they play in their lives – partner, mother, daughter, sister, etc. With so many facets to their lives, they may need encouragement to build a network of peers inside and outside the organisation, as well as finding mentors to help guide their path.

 

 


[1] Women in Leadership Report, CEDA, June 2013

[2] National Survey of Women Business Owners, Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, March 2012

Why leaders must read

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

At LDN we are avid readers of books and articles on all aspects of leadership success and development. We refer to many of them when we lead seminars and workshops, and are often asked to recommend readings on specific topics, our latest discoveries or our all-time favourites.

On the other hand, we regularly hear the lament “I’m just not a reader, I am simply too busy.” These words should sound a warning if they come from those who aspire to key leadership roles.

It’s not good enough in the information age to say they haven’t got time or just never got into the habit of reading. People who favour action over reflection, and today’s tasks over preparing for the future, will one day be left behind.

Staying on top of your game

Reading is essential to keep up to date on the latest trends in your field. Just as the body needs to be nurtured with good diet, exercise and sleep, the mind needs to be broadened with new ways of thinking. Time regularly set aside to absorb ideas outside the realm of everyday experience helps leaders build capacity to deal with new and unfamiliar challenges.

Personal development

Besides increasing general knowledge, reading has other benefits. It engages different parts of the brain that call on the ability to comprehend, imagine and develop ideas. Processing the written word is more complex than talking to a friend or watching a movie. Classical literature, in particular, uses more precise and elegant language than everyday conversation, increasing vocabulary and capacity for critical thinking.

Enhancing emotional intelligence

Reading about business makes good sense, but what about fiction? Keith Oatley, professor emeritus in cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, says that reading fiction enhances a person’s emotional intelligence through greater understanding of both the characters and human nature in general. A novelist himself, Oatley believes fiction offers the opportunity to experience emotions in books that people would not otherwise encounter.

Reducing stress

Reading can be a wonderful escape from the stress of everyday life. Research shows it slows the heart rate and eases tension in muscles in just a few minutes. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that silent reading lowered stress by 68 percent, beating listening to music (61 percent) and taking a walk (42 percent).

Five tips for making reading easier

  1. Subscribe to an executive book summary service to access summaries you can read in about 10 minutes.
  2. Buy the book if you want to explore it in depth, in hard copy or soft copy for your electronic reader.
  3. Subscribe to business journals that carry articles relevant to your business or industry.
  4. Find a couple of websites that have articles and blogs on topics of specific interest to you.
  5. Share your reading with your team so you can challenge each other on decisions you need to make.