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spike bullet August 2006 - Leadership Vision

Leadership Vision overview
Leadership Characteristics
How to start a re-evaluation
A typical re-evaluation process
Tips for managing a successful re-evaluation process
Resources (links, books, articles, the lighter side)

color bulletLeadership Vision

Leadership vision is about being out in front of people, leading the way, showing them where to go and how to get there.  Itís about paying attention to subtle signs of problems, new patterns forming or challenges that your staff may not yet be aware of.

Leadership vision is about seeing beyond the obvious to find new ways of doing business.  Itís also about paying attention to the people you are leading to gain clues to what they need, what can be done to help them become better at what they do or become better at who they are, and inspiring them to reach beyond themselves for new growth opportunities.

Sometimes, leadership is about stepping back, taking another look, re-evaluating past choices, adjusting course, making changes or reorganizing.

When a leader sees something that their staff do not see, it is critically important that they be honest in sharing their insights and their vision.  If itís time to re-evaluate, itís important that the leader be very clear about their reasons for the re-evaluation.

Often leaders decide to change things without being clear about their reasons.  Maybe they just say, "Weíre changing X because Iíve decided to do it."  This sets up distrust and suspicion that can quickly undermine even the best leaderís good intentions.

Stepping back and re-evaluating is a skill that many leaders in the US have forgotten in the short-term drive to constantly improve profitability, compete successfully and create new products or services.  Yet, good leaders will make time to do a re-evaluation of their operations periodically, looking for those subtle clues to how to make changes that will make their company, their organization or their work group more successful over the longer term.

Leadership characteristics

The characteristics most admired by people taking a survey by James Kouzes and Barry Posner in their book, Leadership Challenge (3rd edition), are:

Leadership Characteristic ó Percent of respondents selecting that characteristic (2002 edition)

HONEST ó 88%
FORWARD-LOOKING ó 71%
COMPETENT ó 66%
INSPIRING ó 65%
Intelligent ó 47%
Fair-minded ó 40%
Broad-minded ó 40%
Supportive ó 35%
Straightforward ó 34%
Dependable ó 33%
Cooperative ó 28%
Determined ó 24%
Imaginative  ó 23%
Ambitious ó 21%
Courageous ó 20%
Caring ó 20%
Mature ó 17%
Loyal ó 14%
Self-Controlled ó 8%
Independent ó 6%

Note: we included the entire list so you can see how low some of the characteristics ranked.

How to start a re-evaluation

First, by being totally honest about your plans with everyone affected.  Let your people know what you are doing and why.  Let them know that the outcome is uncertain at this time.  Give them a timetable when you expect the re-evaluation process will be completed.

Annual strategic planning sessions are a good habit for this very reason.  It gives people the regular awareness that leaders are looking at what is happening.  It also relieves the type of anxiety caused when of a sudden, leaders decide to have a planning session or someone from Personnel shows up to re-evaluate an entire work groupís duties without warning.

A typical re-evaluation process

The items listed are some of the typical steps in a re-evaluation process.  Our lists are designed to trigger your own thinking, not provide a step-by-step template to be followed religiously.

Weíve included resource links to many more in-depth methods, procedures and resources.  As you read through our general lists, you should be consider your own unique needs, people, situation and resources to create your own template.

1. Set up the parameters and boundaries

Some questions to trigger your own thinking:

  • Is this a re-evaluation of the entire company, a department or a work group?
  • Identify whether it will include a budget review, a personnel review, an organizational structure review, a business process review, a product review, a project review, etc.
  • Identify the timeframe in which the re-evaluation is to be done.  If it could take a few months, say that in the beginning so expectations can be set and understood.

2. Identify the participants

Some questions to trigger your own thinking:

  • Who will be involved in the re-evaluation?  Will all line managers and staff have a chance to provide input?  Will customers have a chance to provide input?  Will other managers/leaders in other areas of the company have a chance to provide input?
  • Will you use outside consultants, internal consultants or do it yourself?
  • Who will facilitate the discussions, collect the answers to questions, do the analysis and make the recommendations?

3. Identify the questions you want to ask

The overall questions are usually very simple. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Where are we now?  Where have we been?  Where do we want to go?
  • What is our mission?  Who is our customer?  What does the customer value?  What are our results?  What is our plan? [Peter Druckerís 5 questions]
  • What was our original plan?  How well have we performed against that plan?  What has changed since the original plan?  What new goals have we set since that original plan?  How can we adjust to achieve our current goals now?

After you cover the larger questions you want to answer, start defining the detailed questions you want to ask during your re-evaluation.  There will be different questions needed for different audiences.

If you have consultants working with you on your re-evaluation, they can help you refine your questions.

4. Plan your approach

Some questions to trigger your own planning process:

  • How will you do your re-evaluation:
        Will you do it yourself?
        Will you have internal consultants involved?
        Will you have external consultants involved?
  • Will your staff and line managers be involved?
  • What is your timeline for the entire evaluation?
  • What groups will be asked to provide information?

5. Gather data and information

Some questions to trigger your own planning process:

  • How will you gather information from others?  Will you have people provide casual comments, discuss in management or staff meetings, have an offsite meeting or retreat?
  • Will you have focus groups?
  • Will you have surveys?
  • Will you send out your list of questions for e-mail or written responses?
  • Will comments be anonymous or allowed to be kept anonymous?
  • What is your time line for people to provide input?

6. Analyze the data and make recommendations

Some questions to trigger your own close-out process:

  • How will you proceed after your re-evaluation and data gathering?
  • Who will be the decision-maker(s)?
  • Will your staff and line managers have a chance to make comments and/or modify the recommendations?

7. Close out the re-evaluation process and implement the results

Some questions to trigger your own close-out process:

  • Who will be responsible for implementing the results?
  • Will there be organizational changes, personnel actions, changes in job duties, changes in work or performance expectations, salary changes?
  • Have people in all those areas been involved all along or will you bring them in at the end as needed?
  • What will the recommendations cost?
  • How will you go forward?
  • How will you measure the success of any changes you implement?
  • When will you do a review to make sure things are going as well as expected?

Some tips for managing a successful re-evaluation process

1. Be honest about the process

We canít emphasize this enough, especially given the survey information about what people expect from their leaders.

  • Tell the truth.
  • If you canít reveal information right now, say so.  People are much more likely to trust someone who says they donít know than someone who makes up stories to avoid telling the truth.
  • If you donít know something, admit that.  Make a commitment to finding out and sharing the answer with your group or the people who need to know.
  • Do not cover up or lie. If you do, you will quickly lose credibility.

2. Be respectful of the people affected

It doesnít take much to create anxiety in a company or organization.  Most people with working experience have encountered bad bosses or incompetent leaders, and learned to be cynical of new "management initiatives."  If they havenít, their friends or family members have, and will gleefully share their horror stories.

If your staff already know that you are consistently honest and respectful of them, they will be much more considerate and respectful of your approach.

If you have surprised them unpleasantly before or if you do not already have the deep trust of your staff, your job and your re-evaluation will be much harder.

Be aware that many more people will feel that they should have input to your process than you have on your list.  An example: you may think that the Accounting Department doesnít need to know what you are doing with your re-evaluation.  Much later, you find out that they are responsible for coding your departmentís budget and will need to change your accounting codes to accommodate a re-organization in your area.

To avoid these types of surprises, spend time brainstorming possible impacts to others as well as people, processes and departments that interact with the ones being re-evaluated.

3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Communicate early and often!  Be aware that staff will be watching your every move and those of the consultants who are involved in your re-evaluation process.  Staff will be trying to "guess" what each comment means, what each secret meeting means, what each day out of the office means, what each delay in the end results mean.

If you are not giving them good information all along during the re-evaluation process, they will make up stories of their own and share them with others. If youíre not careful, your time will be diverted by dealing with rumors and morale issues built on totally incorrect information.

  • Pay especial attention to "rumblings" that surface and have several key people you trust who can help let you when they occur and can help diffuse problems.
  • Share your initial plans for your re-evaluation process and let people know the overall timeline.  Give them updates along the way.
  • Create a communication plan and let people know what it is.  If possible, create a special website inside the company intranet to post news on the re-evaluation process, documentation and progress reports.
  • If necessary, call people together to give them an update or send out additional information as it becomes available.

4. Review the results with people you trust

When you have finished your re-evaluation, gather people you trust to brainstorm possible recommendations and options.

  • Donít be constrained by what has been done in the past, what has worked or not worked, or what somebody thinks might or might not work.
  • Try to see beyond the "old ways" when looking for possible options.  Stretch your mind and use active creativity techniques to draw out more possibilities.
  • Put everything on the table and allow people to add in suggestions.
  • Leave some assimilation time for people involved to digest and mull over the possibilities gathered before settling on a specific course.

If using a consultant who makes the recommendations, allow their recommendations to be reviewed and discussed by your key line managers and/or staff before proceeding forward with implementation plans.

5. Stakeholder your tentative plans early

Be sure to give the opportunity for review to those people who will be affected by whatever changes result from your re-evaluation process.

  • If it is proposed that you make organizational changes, make sure the people affected have a chance to hear about the change from you, not be surprised by a letter or e-mail.  Donít let people find out from the rumor mill that their job will be changed Ė that will greatly undermine your credibility and the trust you need from the people affected.
  • Give your line managers a chance to absorb potential changes and provide input to how they can help achieve the new goals.
  • Different types of people change at different rates.  Be sure to have someone spend more time with those who donít change quickly or easily.

6.  Allow adjustment time

During any change ó even very good changes ó people need time to adjust to the new situation.

  • Donít expect miraculous results right away.
  • Acknowledge that this new way of doing business will take some time to accomplish.
  • Set up some measurement methods to evaluate the new ways and be willing to tweak the results if needed.

7. Review your re-evaluation process

After a re-evaluation process, do a "lessons learned" review.  Take a look at what was done, how it was done, why it was done the way it was and how successful it was.

Ask yourself, your line managers and staff: 

  • Did things proceed according to plan? 
  • Is the new approach working as intended? 
  • Are there any loose ends that need attention? 
  • Are we getting what we wanted from the changes?

What did you learn from your re-evaluation that you can use the next time?

Schedule time for your next re-evaluation ó maybe a year or more in the future, or maybe sooner ó depending on the nature of the re-evaluation and the types of changes that are were made.

Note: The process called "re-evaluation" in this article is sometimes called an "organizational assessment" or "assessment." As we are describing the process, they all mean the same thing.

World Wide Web graphic  Internet Resources

The following section is excerpted from http://www.leadershiplearning.org/pools/evaluation/html/lead_assess_tool.htmList prepared by Claire Reinelt for the Leadership Learning Community (May 2001).  (Note: We removed items that could not be verified as live links and updated others to the correct links.).  

Individual Leadership Assessment Resources and Tools

General Websites

The Center for Creative Leadership has developed a number of leadership assessment tools. They pioneered 360 degree tools. They have tools available to assess leadership skills such as Benchmarks: Assessing Leadership Skills and Enhancing Development Process, a 360-degree tool that identifies strengths and development needs in areas such as resourcefulness; doing whatever it takes; participative management; change management; building and mending relationships; compassion and sensitivity; balance between personal life and work; self-awareness; putting people at ease; differences matter; career management; and the Campbell Leadership Index which measures 21 dimensions of leadership ó ambitious, daring, dynamic, enterprising, experience, farsighted, original, persuasive, affectionate, considerate, empowering, entertaining, friendly; credible, organized, productive, thrifty, calm, flexible, optimistic, trusting. There is a cost to use these tools.  http://www.ccl.org/assessments 

Suggested Competencies for Effective Leadership in Organizations identifies and provides links for many core leadership competencies such as communication, motivating others, valuing diversity, conflict management, systems thinking, and team building.  http://www.mapnp.org/library/ldr_dev/cmptncy/cmptncy.htm#anchor4293089819 

On-Line Leadership Self-Assessment Tools

The Educational Leadership Toolkit has a leadership self-assessment and a team climate survey.  http://www.nsba.org/sbot/toolkit/LeadSA.html 

Other tools are available from the Free Management Library website on their webpage entitled Various Needs Assessments to Help Identify Leadership Development Goals. http://www.mapnp.org/library/ldr_dev/assess/assess.htm 

Organizational Assessment Resources and Tools

On-Line Assessment Tools

The Social Capital Assessment tool provides an organizational profile that is designed to assist organizations to delineate the relationships and networks that exist among formal and informal institutions in communities. It also provides tools for assessing the organizationís internal characteristics that may promote or hinder the building of social capital in a given community.  A common definition of social capital is "the features of social organization such as networks, norms and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit.  Link 

Other organizational assessment tools are available from Carter McNamaraís Free Management Library under the Organizational Performance Management section http://www.mapnp.org/library/org_perf/org_perf.htm#anchor984160 

Community Assessment Resources and Tools

General Websites

United Way Outcome Measurement Resource Network has an excellent set of resources to assist programs that want to achieve and measure community outcomes.  Their website gives links to sites that provide strategies, methods, and tools for assessing community outcomes. http://national.unitedway.org/outcomes/resources/ 

Redefining Progress provides resources and links to over 200 community projects that are part of a "community indicators movement."  This movement is committed to developing a collaborative approach to defining benchmarks of quality of life and progress that are responsive to those who live in communities. http://www.rprogress.org/cihb/index.shtml 

book graphic  Books

  • The Leadership Challenge (3rd edition).  James Kouzes and Barry Posner  Jossey-Bass, 2003.  (paperback).  ISBN: 0787968331 
  • The Leadership Challenge Workbook.  James Kouzes and Barry Posner  Jossey-Bass, 2003.  (paperback).  ISBN: 0787968218
  • Crisp: Organizational Vision, Values, and Mission: Building the Organization of Tomorrow (A Fifty-Minute Series Book)  Crisp Learning; 1993.  ISBN: 1560522100 .  From the Crisp Publications Course Catalog:  http://www.courseilt.com/ilt_detail.cfm?series=crisp&product=fifty&isbn=1-56052-210-0 
  • Community Building: What Makes It Work: A Review of Factors Influencing Successful Community Building, Paul Mattessich and Barbara Monsey, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, St. Paul Minnesota, 1997. ISBN: 0940069121.  Identifies twenty-eight factors that influence the success of community building.  These factors are divided into three categories: characteristics of the community; characteristics of the community building process and characteristics of community building organizers.  Evaluation questions for each factor are provided.

world wide web - articles  Articles

Newsletter articles:
         August, 1996 -- Managing Change
         February, 1998 -- Performance Reviews and Assessments
         August 2000 - Understanding Corporate Culture

See the Resources section. 

smiley graphic  The Lighter Side  

About our resource links:  We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links.   We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.

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Page updated: October 05, 2013      
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© Copyright 1980  -  2015,  Barbara Taylor               Copyright Notice and Student Research Requests                 Privacy Policy and Legal Notice