Culture

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast! 3 Competencies To Strengthen Your Soft Skills

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. What a big idea, right?

As a leader in your organization, you proudly celebrate the wins. On occasion, it doesn’t work that way and during a loss, you may ask yourself whether it was you, your team, or the organization as the root cause. With each examination, you may see a pattern within your company culture itself, through discussion, surfacing time and time again.

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast!
— Peter Drucker

Two areas of tension leaders in any organization must balance daily are that of hard and soft skills. Most leaders excel greatly in hard skills. They know their product or service inside and out. They understand delivery and execution in order to promote and provide markets for their product or service. It is then not surprising that with leaders focused so strong on hard skills, many lack what amounts to be the equally, if not of greater importance, the soft skills needed to manage the people of the organization.

Through many years of coaching leaders, it has become clear to me that there are three primary areas of competencies needed within any organization. They include:

  1. Effective Communication
    Great leaders are effective communicators. What are we communicating? What are the questions we’re asking? Are we taking time to actually listen to understand what’s happening? And then being able to turn around and explicitly share those ideas with a broader audience and making sure it lands and hits its mark so that we know that we’re communicating clearly and effectively that engages the rest of our people. (We recommend leaders start by answering 3 questions).

  2. Creating Connection
    We are wired for meaningful relationships. Sometimes, when we meet with people, there’s just a disconnect. And sometimes we just don’t even know why. It’s often this place of just connection with those key people. We really want to understand what’s happening there, and what can we do to build stronger levels of trust and unity so that we can have a healthy working relationship? (We recommend the Conversationalist for building stronger connection).

  3. Change Management
    Change is necessary for continued growth. That’s a big idea in terms of a leadership sense of expectations. Are we moving too fast? Perhaps we’re moving too slow. Somewhere in there is finding that cadence of what is the rate of change where we work well and thrive within. Change is hard and if we don't change, then things won’t happen as we expect, and our results will suffer.


What is Culture?

Values + Behavior = Culture

To deep dive into your organization, your team, or even the culture that you live as a leader, look at those values. What are the things that are core to who you are? Are you moving them from implicit ideas to explicit? When you do, then, you can begin putting a plan together on how to live those ideas out.

Culture is a complex idea because we’re dealing with the soft skills. If you want to improve your culture, start there. What are those values? How do we live them out? 

Communication - Connection - Change

Communication - Connection - Change

I would encourage you to look at those three areas of communicating effectively, being able to make strong connections with your people, and then, finally, look at your expectation around change management.

Final Thoughts

When you do the above suggested actions, they will strengthen your culture. When blended with your strategy, suddenly you’re going to see your results successfully executed, positively affecting your bottom line. Hope this has been helpful.

If you need help with your leadership skills the Advance team provides one free complimentary coaching session. It will help you clarify your answers and give you a plan to lead more effectively. (We provide a professional coaching experience, not a sales pitch!)

If you want to be a more effective leader select Start Now!

Making the Right Move for Wrong Team Member…and the Cost if You Don’t! Part 1

The number one issue I have seen among leaders and the issue that carries the greatest emotional weight that often clouds objectivity is letting go of a key leader on your team. As an executive coach, I’ve had a front row seat to seeing the most brilliant strategists and effective leaders who have lost themselves under the emotional weight of losing someone who is critical to their team, or at least their role is critical to the team and the organization's success.

Most leaders know the enormous weight of the responsibility and need for patience when allowing a key leader to settle into their role. Yet, after an undefined appropriate amount of time, the key indicators are not trending positive, or projects are under performing, it becomes evident this is the wrong person for the position. Most often we hire somebody who performed with excellence and delivered exceptional results in their discipline in one or more organizational settings. For a variety of reasons they have failed to gain traction in our environment.

The weight of this issue for most leaders, more often than not, comes from the loss of confidence in the individual in whom they had personally placed so much trust and hope. Leaders hire people in the confidence that they have all that is needed to be successful in the position. Having been so persuaded, we adopt them into our corporate family, nurture them into the culture, and give them the tools and resources needed for success. We have personally sponsored the new hire into the organization. The idea of cutting ties with a member of your team brings a sense of personal loss. Facing the daunting task of replacing any high profile leader carries with it a heightened sensitivity to utilize an improved vetting and decision making process. The thought of having to find the replacement and start the process all over again with the prospect that the next person hired may not work out can be overwhelming.

I have found, in hundreds of hours of coaching and working with teams in off-site settings, a leader instinctively knows when it is time for a transition to happen. Certainly, there are protocols that determine the appropriate amount of time to allow for the individual’s performance to improve or for adjustments to be made to his or her role and/or responsibilities.  Yet, in the end, I have seen again and again, that leaders have an instinct for when it's time for a transition. The question becomes what will that leader do when they know what the right decision is and when will they take action?

When a leader delays in doing the right thing, the weight of the issue grows with each day, week, and month, making it harder to step forward and act objectively. This leads to our emotional malaise as leaders and allows the dysfunction within the organization to spread. Delay could also cost the organization critical leadership talent at the lower levels as those people lose confidence that the matter will be addressed. We can be confident in the fact that if we're seeing nonperformance, it has already been the subject of water cooler conversation in the organization. At some point, this emotional weight and lack of decisive action creates a toxicity that is felt throughout the culture of the organization.

If you are that leader who is in that place and know you need to let one of your key team members go, then let's get grounded. First we need to evaluate the cost of this decision or your indecision. As a leader, ask yourselves these questions:

  • What is the cost of the emotional and mental energy that is likely preventing me from moving forward strategically in the department with the under performing leader?
  • What is the cost for the rest of my team who is having to tiptoe around the issue rather than being engaged as a highly performing team?
  • What is the cost within that specific department where that leader is not meeting their goals or objectives?

Take a Step in Right Direction

Take time to think! Spend a few minutes thinking through these things will bring clarity.  Writing down a note, even if it's on a napkin, gives you an opportunity to evaluate the time, money, and resources the delay in this decision is costing you. Find a person or peer group that is a safe place to verbally process and gain feedback .

After you've had to time to count the cost, seek clarity, and the perspective someone you trust you're ready for action. Part 2 of Making the Right Move will give 4 Steps towards a healthy transition.