Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

What’s Your Operating Style: At Work and at Home?

A high-ranking, results-driven, senior leader, “Phil”, recently received some tough feedback from his direct reports and peers. In summary, the feedback said Phil treated people harshly, with his pacesetting and overly-directive operating style. Phil explained that he had to operate this way; he was under enormous pressure to deliver results and this approach was required to ensure objectives would be met. Phil explained that his job was to deliver performance and he did what it took to get the job done. Acknowledging that he sometimes went overboard and could be a jerk at work, Phil assured the executive coach (who had been called in by Phil’s boss who worried that Phil was alienating others) that he only operated this way on the job; outside of work he was a completely different person.

His executive coach suggested that he call Phil’s wife and teenage kids and ask them how Phil was like at home. Realizing that he painted himself in a corner, when Phil’s coach asked for Phil’s wife and kids’ cell phone numbers, Phil had no choice but to turn them over, which he did half-heartedly.

What did Phil’s wife say? “Phil can act like a jerk at home; when he orders me around.” What did Phil’s kids say? “Dad can act like a jerk at home, when he orders us around and then yells at us if we don’t do exactly what he wants.”

Let’s face it, being a leader is a tough job. Leaders are under unrelenting pressure to deliver results, often having to juggle competing priorities with insufficient resources. And leaders need others to get results. How they get the results is critical. Leaders drive the working climate others experience, upwards of 50 – 70% of their working climate is created by the leader. And working climate drives discretionary effort and engagement. So what can leaders do to ensure others experience a better working climate while marching for results? Learn to use each of the six leadership styles and use the right style (or combination of styles) at the right time to gain the desired results. I discussed this concept last week on my appearance on NBC Milwaukee’s WTMJ4 The Morning Blend.

And when leaders leave work, go home and play the role of spouse, significant other and parent, they can also use these styles to strengthen the communication and bond with family members and to create a better atmosphere there. Believing there is only one way to skin a cat is a limiting belief. Learn the different styles and not only get better results, but improve how you are seen by others and your own satisfaction, too. Here’s a link to a chapter from my book Leadership Wipeout: The Story of an Executive’s Crash and Rescue that discusses each of the styles in detail.

What if you tried a new style at work and home? What could be the difference?


What Sunk the CEO’s Ship?

A recent Wall Street Journal article profiled former Chief Executive Officer of BP, Tony Hayward, as a recent casualty for failing to meet modern CEO demands.

A number of Hayward’s gaffes following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and ensuing disastrous oil gusher sealed his deal. Saying he wanted his “life back”, failing to cooperate when he appeared before legislators on Capitol Hill and attending a yacht race in England, while the gusher gushed and the oil slick spread across the Gulf of Mexico, showed a tone deafness, a lack of self-awareness and empathy, that is simply unacceptable for corporate executives.

Unfortunately for Hayward, his actions created such disdain for him in the US, BP’s largest market and source of the majority of its profits, and left him unable to effectively lead his company. By showing little empathy to the victims of the largest environmental disaster this country has ever seen, he received little empathy and became the object of scorn. Bottom line, Hayward demonstrated poor emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, Hayward is not alone in the emotional intelligence void department. The recent departures of senior leaders Stanley McChrystal and Mark Hurd from their posts also have their roots in appalling examples of emotional intelligence deficits.

The four key skills of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, can be assessed, learned and improved upon by anyone who is willing to improve, at any point in life. Increasingly, emotional intelligence is required for not only executive success but for success in life. And it’s not just executives who need emotional intelligence.

I’ll share more about the importance of and how to build emotional intelligence this Friday, August 13 on NBC Milwaukee’s WTMJ4, The Morning Blend, with co-hosts Tiffany Ogle and Molly Fay, at 9 am. If you can’t catch us live, I’ll have the video clip on on Monday, August 16.

Message to Men

The article in the latest edition of Atlantic shared recent alarming figures and trends in the US which confirms an unfortunate situation that we have been witnessing bits and pieces of for some time. Now, the dots are connected and we can see the magnitude of a very disturbing problem. The reality: men are falling behind women in educational achievement, basic employment and career advancement and income.

The sad reality is that too many American men are failing to continue their education, failing to earn and, most importantly, failing to adapt their skills as the economy shifts, thus preventing themselves from recovering from this downward spiral.

Over 75% of the 3 million jobs lost in the Great Recession were lost by men. The industries most severely affected were heavily male-dominated industries: construction, manufacturing and finance. Increasingly, strength and stamina are counting for less and less importance in the post-industrial economy. Emotional and social intelligence are what’s important in today’s human capital-oriented, knowledge-based economy. And unfortunately, men are failing to learn and demonstrate emotional and social intelligence.

Today’s economy calls for high levels of self-awareness, self-management, empathy, relationship skills, understanding of communication styles, adaptability and resilience. The good news: these skills can be learned. The bad news: too few men are learning and applying these skills – and that is hurting them from a career and life standpoint.

I recently shared ideas for Making Your Star Rise at Work on NBC-Milwaukee’s WTMJ4, The Morning Blend with Tiffany Ogle and Molly Fay. We discussed ideas for building your emotional intelligence and understanding and applying the four primary communication styles.

A number of the findings as shared in the Atlantic article are:

• Thinking and communicating have come to eclipse physical strength and stamina as the keys to economic success. Those societies that take advantage of the talents of all their adults, not just half of them, have pulled away from the rest.
• Earlier this year, for the first time in US history, the balance of the workforce tipped toward women, who now hold a majority of the nation’s jobs.
• Women dominate today’s colleges and professional schools – for every 2 men who will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree, 3 women will do the same. Of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade in the US, all but two are occupied primarily by women. Only janitor and computer engineer. Women have everything else – nursing, home health assistance, child care, food preparation. Many of the jobs replace what women used to do for free. Men seem unable to adapt.
• The US economy is becoming a kind of traveling sisterhood: upper-class women leave home and enter the workforce, creating domestic jobs for other women to fill.
• The post-industrial economy is indifferent to men’s size and strength. The attributes that are most valuable today—social intelligence, open communication, the ability to sit still and focus are at a minimum, not predominantly male.
• Women see guys as the new ball and chain.
• The role reversal underway between American men and women shows up most obviously and painfully in the working class. Male support groups spring up where the postindustrial economy has turned traditional family roles upside down.
• In 1950, 1 in 20 men of prime working age were not working; today it’s 1 in 5 – the highest ever recorded.
• The list of growing jobs is heavy on nurturing professions. Men are not proved able to adapt.
• Women dominating middle management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says women hold 51% of managerial and professional jobs up from 26% in 1980. Make up 54% of accountants. 33% of physicians are women. 45% of associates in law firms and these are both rising.
• A white collar economy values raw intellectual horsepower, which men and women have in equal amounts. It also requires communication skills and social intelligence, areas in which women, have a slight edge. Perhaps most important – for better or worse – it increasingly requires formal education credentials which women are more prone to acquire, particularly early in adulthood.
• Women now earn 60% of master’s degrees, 50% of law and medical degrees and 42% of MBAs. Women earn almost 60% of all bachelors’ degrees.
• Women aged 25 to 34 with only a high-school diploma currently have a median income of $25.5, while men in the same position earn $32.5, but it only makes sense up to a point. Well-paid lifetime union job has been disappearing or at least 30 years.
• “The economy isn’t as friendly to men as it once was”.
• Basic expectations of men and women have shifted.
• Colleges have been opening up a new frontier in affirmative action, with boys playing the underprivileged applicants needing an extra boosts. Being male increases the chance of acceptance by 6.5 to 9%.
• Gender balance is the elephant in the room.
• It’s clear that schools, like the economy, now value the self-control, focus and verbal aptitude that seem to come more easily to young girls.
• Typically, women’s income has been the main factor in determining whether a family moves up the class ladder or stays stagnant. Increasing numbers of women –unable to find men with a similar income and education – not forgoing marriage altogether. In 1970, 84% of women ages 30 to 44 were married; now 60% are.

The bottom-line: Young men need to be encouraged to value education and need to take responsibility for their education. And, equally important, men need to value and grow their emotional intelligence and communication skills if they are to have a chance to be relevant in today’s economy. And the good news is that emotional intelligence can be developed throughout our lives. Message to men: now is the time to build these new skills to be successful in today’s world.