Let’s Tackle the Skills Gap at 3 Levels

We are hearing so often these days that there are tons of well-paying jobs for which companies simply can't find qualified people. Of course, skilling up alone won't solve the unemployment and underemployment problems we face. But we do need to skill up as an adult population. I think we all have a part to play, at three levels at the same time: At the national/macro level. This is the realm of public policy around economics, education and the accommodation of technology changes. At the … [Read more...]

Can Trainers Guarantee Results?

This has been a hotly debated issue among those of us who work in the so-called "soft skills" area. Our clients, understandably so, want a high degree of certainty that their investment in training will generate certain outcomes. In particular, that their trainees will learn and successfully apply the skills taught. And they would prefer the results be promised in the form of solid metrics.   And so would I…if t'were possible to guarantee. The fact is that management development is … [Read more...]

Leading and Managing: Are They Really So Different

I'm deep in the middle of Henry Mintzberg's new book, Managing. While not a light read, he does take his typically provocative stand: Instead of distinguishing managers from leaders, we should be seeing managers as leaders and leadership as management practiced well. While we may be able to separate the two forms conceptually, asserts Mintzberg, you can't disentangle the two in practice. This has a certain resonance with me. It has always felt a tad artificial to separate leading and managing, … [Read more...]

Leadership Development…Even in Tough Times

Hewitt Associates has published once again the bi-annual study they have lead since 2002, Top Companies of Leaders. They narrowed down over 500 entries to the top 25 North American companies and top lists globally. The finding most intriguing to me is that these top enterprises are still investing in the development of leaders with the same discipline and single-minded purpose as in previous, better economic times. Some highlights in this regard: They see leadership development as a … [Read more...]

Article – Delegation: The Forgotten Management Tool

"I never get to the truly managerial parts of my own job." "I'm staying too late at night and working too many weekends." "________is really ready to advance but I have no job to promote him/her to right now." "If I don't give my best people some new challenges soon, I may lose them." Sound familiar? Is this what you find yourself saying (or thinking) these days? You've tried all the time management techniques. You've even upgraded your solfware and tried (unsuccessfully) to re-negotiate … [Read more...]

People Still Need the Basics

It amazes me how often when considering a leadership development initiative, a prospective client will ask us for "something new." They will say, "Oh, we did the Myers-Briggs before. Haven't you got something newer?" Or, "Communications skills, that's much too basic for our managers." I once had a prospect company that put a huge leadership training program out to tender, selected our company, and then proceeded to tell us they wanted something "more sophisticated." This was learning material, … [Read more...]

Article – Executive Coaching: On The Rise

Isn't it funny what we assume about leaders in senior positions. They no longer have anything to learn about interpersonal relationships or leadership. They have arrived, proof positive of their skill level! Furthermore, only a fearless few people will give them the honest, useful feedback that self-development requires. The "culture" expects them to be role models and our models are supposed to get it "right." Showing their vulnerabilities is a "no-no," not to be done in front of those who … [Read more...]

Article – Ouch! It Hurts To Think This Much! (Communicating Performance Targets)

Are your employees clear about what you expect from their performance this year? I should be able to come in as a consultant, sit down one-on-one with any individual who reports to you and ask him or her, "What will constitute 'fully satisfactory' and 'outstanding' performance by you over the current year? Please describe it for me." When I then meet with you and ask the same question about the individual, your answer and theirs should pretty well match. In working with organizations large … [Read more...]

Book Review – Maximum Success: Changing the 12 Behavior Patterns that Keep You From Getting Ahead

By James Waldroop & Timothy Butler Currency/Doubleday, 2000 ISBN #0-385-49849-7 Why do talented people fail or fall short of their potential? Most managers have felt this question bubble up as they thought about certain people in their unit. "Wendy has such promise. She's got the gray matter, the charm, the education. But she just withers away when dealing with the executive team." "Derek has phenomenal persistence and drive. He lets nothing stand between him and what he wants. … [Read more...]

Book Review – Working With Emotional Intelligence

By Daniel Goleman Bantam Books, 2000 ISBN #0-553-37858-9 What are the ingredients that make up superior performers in our organizations? Must they be intelligent? know their stuff? have unyielding drive? be likeable? Recent research indicates grey matter and technical/job knowledge are but threshold competencies. What differentiates the "stars" are the personal qualities, the so-called "soft skills." It appears that Antoine de St.-Exupéry perhaps got it right in The Little Prince when he … [Read more...]