Tuesday, October 2, 2007

People First Lessons From The Road

* My Sensei says (and I strongly agree) "People do not rise to the occasion; rather they fall to the level of their practice. The harder they practice, the less the fall when called to action"

* A Thought - Leader’s manage different processes, actions, results, and metrics, than managers. If I am still managing the same metrics, am I really leading?

* I seem to be asked a lot recently on my experience with personality, communication, behavioral, EQ, etc. assessments used in interviewing processes. In my experience, these tools are being used incorrectly and I have yet to see any long term proof that this exercise is effective.

In my experience I have yet to find a tool that will give me clear insight into a candidates core values. I believe understanding an individuals core values allows us to find a fit with corporate core values and thus place an individual into a purpose that they will want to engage and succeed in. Assessments seem to use labels that block the opportunity for the discovery of the individual’s unique definition of their sore value. What trust means to me can be different than what trust may mean to you. I have much success exploring core values using a conversation process that we have developed and have yet to find the tool that can replace this.

Also, the process used for these tools seems to be to develop a preferred results model for your position and than match candidates to this model. Again, my experience shows that this results in a group of like thinking and behaving team members. In this, this team lacks the conflict, debate, and argument that build continuous trust. As stated, I have yet to see long term success from this process.

To sum up, my experience proves that an unlabeled core value discovery will allow you to find the best cultural fit between the purpose for the candidate and the purpose of the organization. With this fit, employees want to work hard and be successful. Isn’t this the most important thing to know?

* Marcus DISCOVER not Label…award-winning author Jim Kouzes, about the publication of the fourth edition of his and co-author Barry Posner's classic book, The Leadership Challenge. Five practices of exemplary leadership have emerged from our research. When getting extraordinary things done, leaders:

• Model the Way

• Inspire a Shared Vision

• Challenge the Process

• Enable Others to Act, and

• Encourage the Heart

* Read “Leadership and Self Deception”, Arbinger Institute

* My answers to Johan’s’ questions on LinkedIn…

You are welcome. You are a wise questioner which is a quality that I respect in great leaders. As a point of reference, my great leaders are my mother for her unbreakable spirit of support (a tested theory), my college's football coach for his commitment to a lofty goal, and my Sensei for his ability to give up control in order to become more powerful. I say this, so that you can understand what I hold valuable in a leader in order to choose an answer to your great questions.

1) Do you think leaders are born or made?
2) Can you learn to be a leader?
3) You talk about installing a Leadership system consistent with a management system – what do you mean by this?

1. I have pondered this one much and do not have a strong opinion. In other words, I do not know. I am now of the belief that an individual is given many opportunities in life to lead, some choose to others do not. Knowing when to choose and not to choose is a practiced art of a great leader. Leadership is an art that requires much practice. My Sensei (and I strongly agree) "People do not rise to the occasion; they fall to the level of their practice. The harder they practice, the less the fall when called to action" Leaders choose to be called into action when a core value of theirs is compromised. I therefore believe and have experienced, that the practice of the art of leadership is that of a discovery of core values. Core values are the motivators that get people to do the things that they would not normally do.

2. I believe so, and again through the practice of understanding and honoring the human spirit in EVERY person through the discovery of core values. It has to start with discovering your own core values. Leader, first lead yourself.

3. In my experience, the most successful leadership systems are based on the collective core values of the group. A leader needs to establish the groups purpose ( core values, mission, vision if you will ), behavioral rules, and communication tenets based on each individuals chooses, and this is what they need to continually manage ( as opposed to profits, metrics, etc.). In other words in is built from the ground up not the top down. The challenge in this, and I personally experience this in my organization, is that it takes a strong manager/entrepreneur to get a organization started and eventually a strong leader/CEO to take it to the next level. I have found very few individuals who can accomplish both. The evangelical dreamer entrepreneur gets an idea started and then has to turn it over and remain consistently supportive of the strong leader to complete the task. When we engage an organization, we seek out the leaders in it, and coach a system where they consistently, throughout the life of the organization, re-discover the core values, mission, vision etc. of the different groups and enhance the strengths towards success.

Again, just one man's opinion based on my core values. Thank you again for the thought provoking questions. These allow me the invaluable opportunity to place thoughts to paper.