1. Leadership Transition

    September 30, 2013 by


    Transition into a new leadership role can be a turbulent path whether you are facing the new role yourself, or an executive leadership change is to occur within your organization. According to a 2012 Corporate Executive Board Company study almost half of all new executives under perform during this transitional period. This lack of productivity can be avoided by both sides of the arrangement by fulfilling and acting upon several focus points.

    The article below by Robert G. Fangmeyer, Acting Director of Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, gives ten excellent focus point for a leader to concentrate on during his/her transition into the role. In addition he gives a further 5 key points, that outline what an organization should provide in order to assist the new executive leader into their new role.

    Let me start by introducing myself to those who don’t know me: I am the acting director of the Baldrige Program. My career at NIST began in 1991, in the agency’s Office of Workforce Management. I came to NIST with many years of small business/service industry experience, an MBA, a very strong customer focus, and an innate desire and drive to improve whatever activity, process, or project in which I was involved. That attitude led me to join the Baldrige Program in 1997. During my tenure in Baldrige, I have held multiple positions: staff member, team leader, supervisor, senior program analyst, deputy director, and now acting director. I have been a leader of the efforts to transform the Baldrige Program’s business model, business plan, and organizational relationships in the post-federal-funding environment and have played a leading role in the development of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and the design, development, and implementation of the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, as well as in international Baldrige activities.

    I have obviously, for personal reasons, been focusing on transitions for the last few months, reflecting on both leadership and organizational perspectives. I have synthesized thoughts from my readings on the subject into guidance for myself and others who may be facing transitions in their own leadership roles or in witnessing leadership transitions in their organizations. Chances are pretty good that you fit into one of those two categories: according to a 2012 Corporate Executive Board Company study, the average large organization replaces 12% of its senior executives annually.

    That study also found that 46% of leaders underperform during the course of their transitions. Beliefs about that time period in which new leaders must fulfill expectations placed on them during the transition vary widely. In a 2011 Corporate Board Member/RHR International study of 246 board members, 55% of respondents said that a new CEO has up to two years to deliver on expectations, and 28% believed such leaders should be given a longer time period. In contrast, 15% believed that a new CEO has only one year to deliver, and 1% said just six months. I am personally thankful that only a small fraction will be quick to judge the success or failure of the new Baldrige director!

    Whatever the time period for achieving high performance, all new leaders strive to attain that performance and to do so quickly. Let me share with you what I learned about what leaders should focus on during the transition to a new role, what organizations can do to help a new leader make the transition, and finally, the different types of situations leaders may find in moving to a new organization.

    Leader’s Focus

    I found ten areas for a leader to consider for an early focus during his or her transition. While I have assimilated information from various sources, of particular note is the book The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. I present the list of ten with some sense of priority, but do not consider it sequential:

    1. Check fit.

    This area is almost a prerequisite. Make sure you and the organization are compatible. Understand the organization’s culture—what it values and how it performs its work. Make sure you understand the drivers of the organization and the organization’s industry and that you can adapt to and address them. Make sure you understand the organization’s strategic challenges, strategic advantages, and core competencies.

    2. Accelerate your learning.

    Speed up your learning curve. Learn all you can about the organization’s products, customer and workforce relationships, internal politics, and work systems and processes. How does the organization gather, disseminate, and use its knowledge?

    3. Enhance self-awareness.

    Understand your personal strengths, your weaknesses, and your blind spots. Build mechanisms to rely on others for help in areas of lesser personal capability or interest. Listen to what others say about you, and use the information for personal growth.

    4. Promote yourself.

    Make the break from your old job. This is particularly challenging if you are remaining with the same organization. What has made you successful to date may not make you successful in your new job. Different skills and relationships may be required. More of the same may not be the right answer.

    5. Exercise personal discipline.

    You can’t do it all. Decide where you will place your early focus. Do not engage in areas that will not accelerate or allow your early understanding of organizational situation and needs. Rely on others to help you.

    6. Put people first.

    As a leader you are dependent on a lot of other people. Making it clear that you value them highly is critical. Develop a relationship with your boss early. Listen to the ideas of colleagues before making early pronouncements. Understand the ideas and personalities of people reporting to you, and then build your own team. Use the team effectively as an advice and counsel network. Processes are critical to organizational success, but people make the processes succeed or fail. Your colleagues and your boss have a vested interest in your success, because your success facilitates their success.

    7. Be human; get personal.

    Great leaders care about their colleagues. They show interest (without prying) in the personal lives of their colleagues and also share information about their own personal life. Leaders should be outstanding executives and outstanding, caring human beings.

    8. Seek early wins; accelerate everyone.

    Be proactive in establishing some short-term goals that colleagues can achieve with you. Recognize them for their success. Early wins for you become wins for them and accelerate your mutual respect and sense of pride.

    9. Achieve alignment and focus.

    Determine strategic priorities and share them. Align the organization to achieve the priorities. Bring structure into alignment with strategy. Demonstrate your commitment to the strategy by involving yourself in assuring adequate resources, displaying ongoing involvement, and reviewing progress regularly.

    10. Build community.

    Personally engage with key stakeholders. Show allegiance to important partners. Build a personal relationship with key customers. Be visible in the community.

    Helping the New Leader

    Senior leadership transitions are a regular occurrence in large organizations. The organization should be prepared for these transitions and should strive to ensure the success of the new leader. Obviously, this begins with good succession planning and leadership development programs; but how does the organization best help the leader immediately after her or his appointment? According to the Corporate Executive Board Company, the best organizations help new leaders succeed by providing the following:

    1. Organizational knowledge:

    Help the new executive understand organizational culture, business model, and current organizational capabilities.

    2. Assistance with key stakeholders:

    Identify; share background information, including any challenges; and make introductions to key stakeholders.

    3. Expectations:

    Inform the leader of the organization’s expectations of him or her. Make clear the leader’s role relative to direct reports and peers.

    4. Strategic guidance:

    Inform the leader of strategic priorities that come from the organization and of transition priorities that need to be executed.

    Based on the information I shared above, I would add a fifth:

    5. Patience:

    Allow the new executive enough time to learn, adapt, and assimilate. How much time to allow will depend on many factors.

    Situational Understanding

    “Change takes place no matter what deters it. . . . There must be measured, laborious preparation for change to avoid chaos.” —Plato

    Over time and frequently at transitions in leadership every organization will change. If organizations do not thoughtfully implement strategic change—and sometimes even if they do—change will happen to them rather than through them, and that is much more challenging to handle. A key component to being comfortable in a new organization and driving necessary change is to make sure there is a common purpose and shared values between the organization and yourself. You must know what changes have occurred recently and learn of change that is needed.

    It is vital that, upon entering a new organization, the new leader understands the current organizational situation. Michael D. Watkins has characterized the five possible situations with a STARS model to help leaders assess the situation and tailor their initial strategies. The five situations are Start-up, Turnaround, Accelerated growth, Realignment, and Sustaining success. In some cases, the leader may face a combination of these situations. I believe the national Baldrige Enterprise exhibits several of these situations simultaneously at the current time as we improve alignment across the Baldrige system and seek growth opportunities for all.

    In this summary of key factors for new leaders to consider, I hope to help myself and the Baldrige Program during this transition and to help others facing a similar leadership transition. In addition, I hope existing leaders will consider these insights in helping their organizations prepare for the inevitable leadership transitions of the future.

    In coming months, we will return to a regular Insights column. I have asked Harry Hertz, the former director and now director emeritus of the Baldrige Program to continue to share his thoughts in this space with me. We look forward to contributing our ongoing insights on the road to performance excellence!

    For further information on Baldrige and this blog post refer to http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/insights.cfm

  2. Toyota Leadership Changes Signal New Direction, Analysts Say

    April 18, 2013 by BPIR.com Limited

    Toyota motor is the largest car manufacturer in the world, Toyota name is associated with quality and reliable cars. Unfortunately, its image was badly hurt by a safety-related recall of more than 7 million cars.

    The incidents raised questions about the company’s quality control and customer service. The company was criticized for its slow response to react and manage the crisis, which was due to the management structure that prevented quick decisions.

    The company also suffered from a supply-chain disruptions post to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but in spite of the difficult years Toyota has returned to No. 1 largest automaker in 2012 for the first time in two years.

    So, how has Toyota managed to achieve this?

    For the first time in its history Toyota started a series of promotions and appointments of senior managers and board members from outside of Toyota. Is that an indicator of culture change in Toyota? It could be.

    To know more about the new appointments, read Industry Week article below.

    Note: Industry Week magazine is one of the leading magazines in the industrial sector, it’s is available in full-text up to date as part of BPIR membership, join now to and get access to 600+ periodical.


    Toyota’s management style has been criticized in recent years as too parochial for a global business, and its shortcomings were highlighted by a slow response to the recall of millions of vehicles since 2009 over safety defects.

    A management shake-up at Toyota heralds a new era that will force the firm to look beyond the narrow confines of corporate life in Japan and help it in the global marketplace, analysts said on Thursday.

    The world’s largest automaker said it had appointed three outside board members for the first time, and would appoint non-Japanese CEOs in the U.S., Africa and Latin America, in addition to Europe.

    It marks a huge shift for Toyota (IW 1000/5), which had always followed traditional Japanese management practices, with most of its executives and senior managers picked from people who had risen through the ranks.

    But its management style had come in for criticism in recent years as too parochial for a global business, and its shortcomings were highlighted by a slow response to the recall of millions of vehicles since 2009 over safety defects.

    Analysts said they hoped the changes would lead to a new management approach.

    “Toyota’s leadership changes portend a new era,” said James Post, an expert on corporate governance at Boston University School of Management.

    “New directors, drawn from beyond Japan’s shores, will help develop a truly global view at the top,” he added.

    The overhaul includes the appointment of Mark Hogan, an American who used to work for arch-rival General Motors, who will become the first foreign businessman to sit on the Toyota board without having come from the ranks of the company.

    The two others appointed to the board are Japanese – Ikuo Uno, executive adviser for Nippon Life Insurance, and Haruhiko Kato, president of Japan Securities Depository Center.

    The leadership shuffle came after a few difficult years for Toyota, which included the huge recalls that were both expensive and embarrassing.

    “Toyota has always been criticized on its quality of corporate governance,” Koichi Sugimoto, a senior analyst at BNP Paribas said. “We expect something positive to come out of this new system.”

    Critics have also said the traditional Japanese management style practiced by Toyota focused on team spirit and consensus, and produced bosses who tried to avoid making waves and were unprepared to take risks.

    However, previous attempts to bring international members onto Toyota’s board have not gone well.

    The first foreigner promoted onto the board was American Jim Press, who was given a seat in 2007 after nearly four decades with the company. However, he resigned from the post after just five months and went to rival carmaker Chrysler.

    President Akio Toyoda said he hoped the shake-up would cement Toyota’s recovery from the quake-tsunami in 2011, which hammered production and sales, as well as floods in Thailand that hit key suppliers.

    Industry Week, 7-Mar-2013

  3. What is Governance? A simple but non-trivial overview

    February 14, 2012 by admin

    Board governance, or corporate governance, simply refers to the job of the Board of Directors. Boards are sandwiched between shareholders (or some other kind of ownership) on one side, and the CEO and staff on the other side. Because the ultimate authority for an organisation comes directly form its owners the role of Boards involves:

    1. Regular dialogue with the owners to establish what results are expected.
    2. Translation of the owner’s expectations into written criteria (policy) for success.
    3. Monitor to check that the criteria were actually met.

    Boards of course may do a number of other things, but their core governance functions are simply as stated above – Ownership Linkage, Writing policy, and Monitoring outcomes.

    Governance exists in order to translate the wishes of an organisation’s owners into organisational performance” Dr. John Carver

    The following clip is narrated by Susan Mogensten of Brown Dog Consulting

    What is Governance?  A simple but non-trivial overview


    Our next Best Practice Report which is due for publication in March 2012 will cover the subject of Corporate Governance in detail.

    If you are not already a BPIR member this is an excellent time to consider joining to enjoy the many BPIR membership benefits.

    Neil Crawford

  4. 40 Lessons to Learn from Southwest

    August 30, 2011 by

    Southwest Airlines is the largest airline in the US, based on domestic passengers carried and one of the most profitable airline companies (at least in the US). On 18th June 2011 Southwest celebrated their 40th anniversary of being in business. To highlight its success Southwest Airlines published 40 lessons to learn in their in-flight magazine “Spirit”.

    The 40 lessons details many of the best practices that are often highlighted by business authors and consultants. In my opinion, the one thing that is clearly different is that Southwest Airlines does not just talk about these concepts, they apply them every day and every time.

    These lessons are universal and if you learn and apply them then you can be successful as well. So read the article and use it as checklist for  "how are we are doing".

    The 40 lessons are below and you can download the full article from here.

    Ahmed Abbas

    40 Lessons to Learn from Southwest Airlines 

    1. Keep the idea simple enough to draw on a napkin.

    2. A legend is an asset.

    3. Hire a good lawyer.

    4. Raise more money than you think you need. Now double it.

    5. Crazy is no liability.

    6. Find Executives who look like they walked off the set of "The Expendables".

    7. Target the overcharged and underserved.

    8. Be the good guy.

    9. Two strikes is one hit away from a home run.

    10. Recognize your luck.

    11. Lack of money makes you frugal.

    12. Gain talk equity.

    13. Promote from within.

    14. If the zeitgeist works for you, use it.

    15. Invent your own Culture and put a top person in charge of it.

    16. A Culture has its own language.

    17. The legal part is never over.

    18. Have a recognizable home.

    19. A crisis can contain the germ of a big idea.

    20. Simplicity has value.

    21. It doesn’t hurt to look like a toy.

    22. Remember your chief mission.

    23. Instead of whining, give a lollipop.

    24. It helps to have an extroverted Leader.

    25. Get into fun advertising wars.

    26. Take your business, not yourself, seriously.

    27. See your business as a cause.

    28. Put the worker first.

    29. Sweat the small stuff, but try not to lawyer it.

    30. Beware of imitators, but take them as a compliment.

    31. The Web ain’t cool, it’s a tool.

    32. Set and renew noble expectations.

    33. Increasing size should make you a force for good.

    34. Get green.

    35. It’s about Customer Service, not "scalability."

    36. Listen to advice, then celebrate it.

    37. Pick your peaks and stick to them.

    38. Manage permanence.

    39. Never rest on your laurels or you will get a thorn in your, um, butt.

    40. It’s OK to be unprofitable for a year.

  5. The King’s Speech: The first executive coach?

    May 26, 2011 by
    Vivian Vella , a Cranfield MBA visiting professor, explains why the movie The King’s Speech is a great example of executive coaching in action.


    A script of the interview follows the video.

    Steve Macaulay
    The film The King’s Speech has attracted a lot of attention. Now, it did so at Cranfield  too, but for different reasons probably from most people. Lionel Logue, the speech therapist, in our eyes, looks to be the first executive coach and we thought it worthwhile asking somebody that knows about executive coaching to explore this further. Vivian Vella, you have got a lot of experience of executive coaching, can you see parallels?

    Vivian Vella
    Absolutely – a brilliant film. There were two main parallels for me. And I think the first thing that really shows up in that the relationship is key between the coach and the coachee, in terms of the coach creating a safe environment where leaders – and in the film’s case, the King, a very high leader – where it can be quite lonely at the top. And to be able to have a space where a little bit of vulnerability can be shown, so that some things can be addressed in a safe and challenging, a supportive and challenge environment that is provided by a coach.

    Steve Macaulay
    Now I noticed that one of the things the King did was to rebel a bit and that Lionel tackled him on this and there was really quite an emotional moment during the film.

    Vivian Vella
    Absolutely, and that brings me on to the second point really. I think what that relationship and the coaching process shows, is there are two different types of coaching; there is developmental and transformational. The developmental part is the skills and techniques that are absolutely appropriate to learn and to develop strengths and to do things differently, to exercise the metaphorical muscle that isn’t used as much. And of course, in the film it was very literal in terms of using muscles that you didn’t use. So that is absolutely valid. And there is a transformational piece and I think it was in that relationship where there was a bit of rupture and the King got connected to something very different – a very different place in him. I think he got connected to his anger actually and passion and when he came back he was absolutely ready to do the real work because it is not easy necessarily. And that was a transformational piece; it transformed their relationship and the real work could be done at that point to lead to success.

    Steve Macaulay
    Now executive coaching seems to have become, almost from nowhere really, something that has become very popular in the business world – why do you think that is?

    Vivian Vella
    I think it is something about pace, actually. We live in a frenetic world and leaders and managers go from one place to the next and increasing demands are made on them and I think a coaching process supports their learning and gives them an opportunity to have a reflective space, actually. Evidence has shown, in terms of studies – it is up here on our website – around formal learning, it’s about 10% effective and it has its place. Twenty percent of effective learning is done through others and I think programmes encompass both of those elements, experiential programmes. And the 70% piece in terms of effective learning is on the job learning and I think the coaching process really offers that. Because when you set up an initial contract with a coachee you have certain goals and objectives that you want to achieve. Those might have come out of some 360 or psychometric profiling – in The King’s Speech there was a very definite speech that had to be done and delivered correctly. But the on the job piece is that you have these very special conversations that address what is absolutely relevant at the time for the coachee in service of achieving those ultimate goals. So it is not a linear process necessarily, although ultimately you want to see a visible difference in the business, but you address what is key for the coachee at that time. And I think that is what makes the relationship very special, in terms of having this place to be able to do this and have those sorts of conversations .I think Peter Hawkins refers to the coaching conversation and he is Chair of the Bath Consultancy Group and has written about coaching ,mentoring and consulting and he calls it ‘a robust dialogue born of fearless compassion’ which I think really sums it up; and you don’t often get that sort of quality in a conversation in service of helping somebody’s learning.

    Steve Macaulay
    So is that what makes it special – you have got some goals to aim for and you have got this fearlessness about tackling issues that maybe wouldn’t get tackled otherwise?

    Vivian Vella
    Absolutely; in a trusted environment and that is key. So that you have the relationship there and there is a lot of learning actually within the relations and I think we saw that in the film as well. Because what goes on in the coaching relationship will be observed because it can actually be reflecting what goes on outside. So your experience of the coachee will be in part how they are experienced back in the business. And a coach can make those observations, which can be really useful learning for the individual.

    Steve Macaulay
    One of the things that I noticed in the film was that over time the King started to say well I don’t need to see you so often now, to Lionel; is this the sort of thing that you would expect or is a bit of lifelong relationship?
    Vivian Vella
    I think that is really appropriate actually and it comes to working with an ethical code. I think that normal practice would be to contract at the beginning, with the coachee, what it is that you are there to address in terms of their learning, how many sessions you would want to initially contract with so that there is a checkpoint that could be re-contracted at any point, but that you have some boundaries around that. And of course, the main focus of supporting the coachee in their learning is that they become independent learners so that they don’t foster a co-dependency in that relationship and that is another reason it is important for the supervisor to check that that is not happening.

    Steve Macaulay
    So there is more to this coaching than meets the eye, but I think what you have done is give us some very useful pointers there. Thank you very much, Vivian.

    Vivian’s contact details are shown here.