Leadership Development – Role of a Leader in Crafting a Shared Vision

Julie Straw and team in their book The Work of Leaders discussed three steps of leadership – Crafting a Vision, Building Alignment and Championing Execution. In this article, we discuss the importance of not just crafting a shared vision but also the role of a leader in crafting a shared vision.

To begin with, people like their leaders to have two distinct characteristics – being forward-looking and futuristic and being credible or trustworthy. To get extraordinary things, people must work in the present and focus on the future into the whole realm of possibilities. All things are created twice – once in the mind and then in reality. A leader’s job is to continuously envision new products and services and new business ecosystems that can take the organization towards success.

Leaders must focus on creating long term value for the organization and its customers while focussing on the present for delivering results. By focussing on the future, leaders can provide a sense of meaning and purpose to the organization that binds its people together and inspire them to work hard. By continuously seeking clarity of vision and then enlisting others, leaders create a sense of shared vision.

Motivation theories provide a business case for creating a shared vision. As we know, motivation is essentially of two types – extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation stems from the external environment, for getting rewarded or when we must achieve certain goals set by others. External motivation creates compliance and in some cases defiance. Externally controlled people could stop making efforts once rewards disappear.

Extrinsic motivation is difficult to sustain. However, the second type of motivation – intrinsic motivation is about what one wants to achieve internally. Not set or controlled by others, internal motivation is about our own interests, passion and desires. It gives us tenacity to see through rough times and work with tangible rewards. By enlisting people in the process of shared vision, leaders play on intrinsic motivation of people. By offering a shared vision that everyone feels intrinsically inspired by, leaders create a rich environment where employee engagement and performance are enhanced. The role of a leader in creating a shared vision is in enticing the intrinsic motivating of the people and in building consensus.

Role of a Leader in Crafting a Shared Vision

Self-Reflection

One of the first steps in crafting a vision is to do some self-reflection and articulate as much as possible one’s likes, passions, interests and inspirations. Because the process of envisioning is more art than science, more emotional than a sequence of activities, it is important to start by articulating what drives and inspires the leader. The role of a leader is in not just self-reflecting but also encouraging the leadership team in an exercise of self-reflection.

Direction

Second, by engaging with the larger team, where everyone shares in their values, inspirations, perspectives, questions, hopes and dreams, you could arrive at certain themes or directions that define the overall shared vision. Role of a leader is in engaging the leadership team in a structured process of deriving these idea directions.

Hindsight

Past provides a great way to start looking into the future. It is filled with experiences, data, perspectives, reality and most importantly learning. It gives a picture of what is possible and how long does it take for you as a company to do something new. It provides a good view of what can go wrong as well. While the past does not always portray the future possibilities of an organization, it provides a good way to extrapolate the success and assess what an organization may achieve. The role of a leader is in engaging the leadership team in a systematic process of sharing the highs and lows about the past and arriving at the key learnings form the past.

Present

By assessing the current business ecosystem, leaders can enable the creation of a shared vision. Recent research and surveys involve understanding how the organization creates value for its customers, what the current capability and shortcomings are and how people feel working in the organization. The juice of assessing, reflecting and articulating the current state of the organization is in knowing what must change and what must be preserved in the future.

Imagining the future

The final step of creating a shared vision, which the leader must drive is in imagining a bold future. A future that considers the unfolding market situation, trends and patterns in the buying behavior of the customers, technological advancements and disruptive trends. The role of a leader is in providing a psychologically safe environment for the team to share their version of the vision without the fear of loosing credibility.

Filed under: Leadership

Process of Executive Development Programs

Not surprisingly, people are most willing to attend training that has direct, concrete applications in their world – technical knowledge relate to their jobs. But when asked which would greatly increase their effectiveness at work, the number one answer, was executive development program.

Executive Development Program is basically leadership development program, and, in this article, we shall explain the three fundamental responsibilities an executive has. Leadership is a process by which an executive can guide, direct and influence the behaviors and working style of others to achieve the common goal of the organization. It is defined as the potential to influence and motivate others.

An executive has three fundamental responsibilities:

They need to craft vision, build alignment, and they should champion execution. There’s a lot of skills that goes into each of these responsibilities.

When leaders lack a clear vision of the group’s future, they are feeling their way through the execution process, relying on day-to-day revelations. Sure, they have a collection of goals, plans, and schedules, but they don’t see the underlying tapestry, how everything fits together. They’re much less likely to realize when priorities are misplaced or when opportunities are passing them by. Vision, however, is more than just the efficient use of time and resources. A truly great vision elevates our work. It sparks our imaginations. It touches on our human need to do something of value with our lives.

Think of difference between a beaver building a dam based on its instincts and a team of people building the Indira Dam. The vision of the Indira Dam involved reimagining not just a river but an entire landscape. That vision opened a whole awe-inspiring array of possibilities for the land and the community. Visions are designed to inspire us. They speak something that is uniquely human. Your executive development program should consider this factor.

Building alignment is the second responsibility an executive has after creating a vision. Building alignment is an act of gaining buy-in for the vision crafted and it’s critical in moving from imagination to reality. For an executive’s development, building alignment is as crucial as vision. It is people centric and is therefore as complex and unpredictable as human relationships. The full spectrum of human motivations, personalities, cultural understandings, perspectives, and needs is present in your workplace every day.

The people you work with may be seasoned employees or new hires, with vastly different experiences and levels of responsibilities. But building alignment means ensuring that every person understands his or her role in making the vision a reality. An executive also understand that alignment is not something to check off a to-do list. Alignment is dynamic, ongoing process that requires continual monitoring and realigning as conditions and needs change. By staying plugged in, an executive can quickly tell when alignment begins to wane, and they can then give the time and energy needed to revive it. Your executive development program should consider this factor.

At its most basic level, execution is making the vision a reality. And not just any reality, but the right reality, one that takes the imagined future and turns it into a real accomplishment. Execution is how organizations and teams take all the good ideas and tun them into results. While an executive may or may not be directly involved in day-to-day implementation and production, they are always responsible for ensuring that people have what they need to do their work effectively. Successful execution of a vision can’t happen without the deep commitment. Your executive development program should consider this factor.

For developing an executive, it is important that the executive have deep understanding of all these three responsibilities and therefore, while designing an executive development, one must keep in mind these crucial responsibilities.

Filed under: Leadership

Coping with Workplace Stress

Coping with Workplace Stress

Stress, which is essentially a physiological response to a disturbance in our equilibrium or homeostasis could be viewed as essential and good (eustress) when in occurs in levels that we can cope with easily and harmful when it occurs in excess (distress).

In this context, our engagement at workplace is a mixed bag and therefore, the understanding of workplace stress may vary. There are some aspects of work that could help us put in our best, provide us a cognitive and emotional treat while there could be other aspects which could be the source of distress or bad stress.

Stress doesn’t exist in the environment or in the individual. Instead, it exists in the interaction of the two, led by the cognitive appraisal of the events by the individual. When commuting through traffic, the noise doesn’t consist of stress. Traffic noise could be stressful for the individual who may either not be used to it or is overly aware of the traffic. It may be less stressful for someone who may be either habitual of the noise or is less concerned of the same.

Impact of an event or environment on a person varies based on the subjective interpretation of the event by the individual (cognitive appraisal) and the coping ability that they may have.

When we face a stressful situation at workplace, like say meeting scheduling a mid-year review with an unfriendly manager, the effect of the event will depend on our cognitive appraisal of the situation. In this case, there is a primary appraisal, which is our perception of the event. This may be positive (oh it’s time to get an extra bonus!) or negative (oh! I would have to justify all the errors and delays in my work) or may just be neutral. Our perception of the consequences of an event is what psychologists define as primary appraisal.

Secondary appraisal, on the other hand, is our perception of how well we can cope with the event. It refers to our confidence in our own abilities and coping strategies. These two forms of appraisal determine our emotional, cognitive and physiological response to an event. They together make an event eustress or distress! A person who is confident of the work they have put in and their ability to deal with different personalities, may not feel distressed by the same event – say, of having to get into a mid-year performance review conversation. Everyone has a different level of threshold stress that they can cope with confidently and predictably. Stress response is an individual characteristic.

Here are the top two contributors of workplace stress:

  1. Time stress – Workplaces are ridden with deadlines and schedules that invariably are the most common reason for stress. Because time is seen as money, and when multiple people work together, time commitments directly influence relationships, mastering one’s time is one of the most important skills to learn. By proactively planning, organizing and prioritizing work, one may remove the sense of urgency from their daily tasks. The key to reducing time related stress is in prioritizing and proactiveness.
  2. Relationship Stress – Because workplace is an outcome of people working together, the quality and richness of relationships is an important factor for success. Our relationships with various stakeholders – managers, leaders, sub ordinates, peers and partners may lead to stress. People are driven differently, have different emotional needs and behavioural preferences. By learning to deal with different personalities and accepting that not every relationship needs to be a close relationship, we can reduce relationship related workplace stress.

Finally, stress is our response to a situation and not the situation itself. By developing habits, skills and coping strategies for common sources of stress at workplace, we can experience a less stressful and healthy workplace!

Filed under: Training & Development

Learn the Art of Negotiation at Workplace

Negotiations skills have become one of the most sought-after skills for employees in the recent times. In a competitive market, tactful negotiations can help us gain a beneficial deal. Negotiation is a process where two or more parties come together to find a mutually acceptable solution. The need for negotiation emerges on the grounds that neither of the parties will be able to get everything they want. Realizing that there must be concessions, each party in the negotiation is required to embrace an attitude of understanding that they should get the most ideal deal in a manner which is adequate and acceptable to the other party. Good negotiators understand the importance of this balance.

By mastering the art of negotiating, one can contribute to business development and growth by:

  • building better connections and relationships
  • delivering quality solutions which is a win-win for both the parties
  • avoiding future conflicts and arguments that may damage long-term relationships

Understanding the other party’s inclinations and strategies is vital to great negotiation. Choosing a strategy that best responds to the other party’s inclinations and needs will help to achieve the best outcome. Your strategy for negotiation depends on whom you are dealing with and the type of relationship you hold with them.

One of the most powerful skills in the art of negotiating is that of active listening. It helps to understand the interests and need of the other party, frame our questions and responses and make better arguments during negotiation. Moreover, feelings and luck have no place in a successful negotiation. It is an art that must be mastered with practice.

Tips to Master the Art of Negotiating

  • The first and most important step in negotiation is of preparation. You should know well in advance about the party you’re negotiating with so that arguments can be crafted based on the needs and weaknesses of the other party. Preparation will have to build strategies and create work around, alternative plans.
  • Even with the best plan, you may not always be able to negotiate a successful result. You should have a backup plan if in case negotiations fail. If you plan well for alternative solutions, you can stay away from needless pressure and poor business results.
  • Changing the way, you think about negotiating is important to achieve better outcomes. Perceiving the reasons why individuals act the way they do and being able to communicate with a broad range of behavioural styles, offers the professional negotiator an edge over others to reach the desired goals.
  • Throughout the negotiation process, attempt to figure out what you accept to be an adequate outcome for the other party. Understanding the opposite side’s needs is similarly as significant as understanding your own, so make sense of what you would do, if you were in their shoes and present a solution that is a win-win for both. This will also help to decide on the face-saving formula, if any.
  • You’ll never get what you don’t ask for so be courageous in asking questions. Asking the right questions will help elicit more response from the other person which will further help to define the arguments and solutions better
  • Handling opposition in a right way by learning to deal with resistances and to make a team or other party agree to a common point is very important. The solution to this problem is to spend more time to effectively analyse the current problem areas. Preparation should include thinking about what could be the possible reasons of opposing to the solution and creating a counter-argument for the same.
  • Although we are talking about arguments, one must strive to bring honesty and decency in their conversations so that relationships are not damaged because of negotiation.
  • Lastly, developing a plan of action in advance of the actual negotiation gives the negotiator more confidence. Having a plan can likewise prompt better and progressively reliable outcomes for oneself and for the business. Also, ending the negotiation with discussion around the next action steps and follow ups is a good strategy to keep control of the situation.

The art of negotiating doesn’t come naturally to anyone. It comes with experience and practice. One must just be mindful of the tips provided above to start the basic practice and then further build on developing more advanced negotiation skills.

Filed under: Soft Skills

Goal Setting Process: Principles and Characteristics

Setting goals, whether short-term or long-term, are ultimate ways to provide focus and direction in our lives. The process of goal setting is not a casual effort but a purposeful, explicit process that guides transformation. Along with providing direction, goals also help us to measure if we are succeeding and whether any course corrections need to be made along the way.

Since goal setting process is a conscious effort, one needs to ensure that the goals have all the characteristics needed.

The Top Five Characteristics are Abbreviated as SMART

    1. Begin with writing specific goals as they help to provide precision to the process. Be as specific with facts and data as you can. For instance, instead of writing “achieve business target by end of this quarter”, set goal as “achieve business target of 25 lacs by March 31st “
    2. Second, ensure that your goals are measurable. As mentioned earlier, goals help us to monitor how much have we succeeded. If goals cannot be measured, it will be difficult to assess how well are we doing in achieving it. A goal of “achieve business target of 25 lacs by March 31st “can be easily measured by matching the on-actual numbers with the projections. In case the goal is more subjective, say “Think more positively by the end of June 2020”, then assign a measurable unit to that. How would you measure if you have started thinking more positively? Maybe, get feedback from others or have positive outcomes to situations. So, adding the outcome of the situation or the number of positive feedbacks received can be a measurable approach to a goal.
    3. Third, apart from being specific and measurable, goals should be attainable. it’s good to be ambitious but goals that are not realistic and only ambitious can be demotivating. Such goals, no matter how hard you try, will be difficult to achieve. Check for resources and capability to attain the goal before writing it down. If the adequate resources are not available, then specific and measurable goals may not be achieved.
    4. Fourth step in the goal setting process is to ensure that the goals are relevant and must be aligned to our ambitions and plans for self. When goals are not relevant, we are not motivated enough to achieve it and the focus from it is lost along the way.
    5. Lastly, goals should be time-bound. Giving a deadline increases the sense of urgency to achieve the goal and makes planning effective. When setting deadlines, one must ensure that it is realistic. It should not be too rigid and stringent, and neither should it be too lenient and flexible. Assess the adequate time necessary for achieving the goal and then set the deadline.

Apart from these 5 characteristics, the following principles must be considered:

  • Goals should be of moderate difficulty level. Goals that are either too easy or too difficult do not motivate us.
  • We must write our goals. Just keeping it in our head will make us forget and lose focus from the goals.
  • Although goals are set with its characteristic of being attainable, one shouldn’t be hesitant to ask for help if there is any obstacle in reaching the goals. Therefore, having a plan B and listing back up resources to attain the goal is a good practice
  • Make it a habit to keep checking your progress on the goal and make course corrections whenever necessary. Schedule these review session and make modifications early in the process rather than later (closer to the deadline).

Following these simple principles and characteristics in the goal setting process can help us to be more focused, provide us a direction and transform our lives.

Filed under: CoachingTagged with: ,

How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence, known as a key determinant of life success, is the ability to effectively regulate emotions by accurately perceiving a situation and then understand, apply and manage one’s emotions. There is a difference in such ability across the population and this can be ascertained with psychological testing and perhaps enhanced with appropriate training.

While intelligence (traditionally measured with IQ) is related to one’s ability to learn, the pace of acquiring knowledge and problem solving, emotional intelligence is related to something more basic as decision making. There are many theories that point towards multiple intelligences and there is little consensus on one robust definition of emotional intelligence. In general, emotional intelligence relates to aspects related to the emotions and the way they interfere with our response to situations.

There is a difference between the elements of personality or behavioral preferences such as extraversion, optimism or assertiveness and the underlying capacity to be emotionally intelligent. At some level, emotional intelligence can be seen a skill that can be put through objective measurement and could be used repeatedly in coaching and enhanced through training and development.

Many psychologists and popular trainers linked life success to Emotional Intelligence. Many companies relabelled their behavioral training programs as emotional intelligence programs. While there is a connection between personality and emotional intelligence, what’s important to notice is that emotional intelligence largely relates to the capacity to regulate one’s emotions and not the preferences as purported by the trait’s theory and personality models.

Emotions tend to start automatically, alters our attention and thinking and creates certain physiological differences in the body. Emotions are temporary and prepare us for action. Ultimately, emotions help us survive in our environment. They contribute significantly to the choices we make, to the decisions we make on day to day basis and the responses we give in interpersonal situations.

To Use Emotional Intelligence for Success in Life, Consider the Following Four Points.

    1. The first aspect of emotional intelligence is related to our ability to identify the emotion. It’s the accuracy of perception that matters here. For example, by realizing and naming the emotion we may be feeling at a certain time or in a certain situation, we may influence how that emotion is influencing us physiologically. Because emotions are often related to people’s intent and their expected response, accurately identifying someone else’s emotions may be the key to better interpersonal relationships.
    2. And then emotions influence thinking. Positive emotions help us learn, reflect, be engaged in creative tasks and group tasks. Negative emotions may be more appropriate when we are looking for mistakes or errors and identifying risks. When people differ in their ability to regulate emotions, they may differ in their ability to generate the appropriate emotions for the task at hand. This creates a difference in the level of emotional intelligence of people.
    3. Earlier we talked about identifying emotions and labelling them. The ability to understand emotions assist us in not only labelling the emotions we experience but also understand how they will influence our thinking and how they may progress. There exists an entire vocabulary for emotions that could help us label emotions such as surprise, disgust, shame, guilt etc. By understanding how each one of them show up and how they progress, transmit and subside, we could regulate emotions better.
    4. Finally, regulating emotions is about identifying the emotions, understanding how they may influence our thinking and decision making, understand different emotions and their respective characteristics and staying open to integrating all the knowledge to cope or make the best of every situation.

This openness to adapt and the ability to integrate all the steps above to be more effective in intra and interpersonally defines one’s emotional intelligence. Many authors and psychologists have spoken about how emotional intelligence is a better predictor of life success than intelligence (IQ) in its traditional sense. To sum it up, Emotional Intelligence can influence life success tremendously and can fortunately be developed with appropriate training.

Filed under: Managerial SkillsTagged with: ,

Crowd, Mob, Group & A Cohesive Team

A Crowd, a mob, a group and a cohesive team represent four different characteristics of a collection of people. People may come together for different reasons, for varied durations of time and with different or no inherent structure. These variations can not only drive group behaviour but also individual behaviors within the collection of people. For a leader, it is important to understand the characteristics of each type of “collection of people” and apply their understanding of these different formations in way that it enhances organizational effectiveness.

Let’s discuss the characteristics of these four types of collection of people.

1. The Detachment of a Crowd

Crowd is the most basic level of collection of people. People gathering to catch a glimpse of their favourite actor involved in a shooting at a mall is a good example of a crowd. Note that there is some common intent or goal that exists even within a crowd. However, what is missing is a sense of attachment or belongingness among the members of the crowd. While one may have a common purpose with other members of the crowd, there is no interaction among the members. Further, there is no interdependence for achieving the common purpose.

When people from the same organization come together for an event (let’s say a movie) at a certain place, without a set agenda, sense of purpose or norms, they may closely resemble a crowd. Crowd signifies people present at the same time or in the same situation and with no rational behaviour.

The flip side of “crowd mentality” in a team is diffusion of responsibility. In case there are many people in a team, who are often unrelated, with little or no dependency on each other, the sense of responsibility that each person has towards achieving the team goals may get diluted. When there are hundreds of people gathering at the site of a road accident, the responsibility of taking the victim to the hospital gets diluted. Everyone passes on the responsibility of taking the victim to the hospital to others.

2. The Impulsiveness of a Mob

A mob, which may represent a structured “crowd” often comes together for a short period of time. The behaviour of a mob is impulsive and may have little or no agreed norms among the members. A mob of people is viewed negatively due to the unpredictable, unplanned and impulsive behaviour associated with it.

3. The Identity of a Group

A group, which is an organized collection of people, may not necessarily be a cohesive team.

When people come together for a certain purpose, they have certain common goals, a set of norms that defines good and bad group behaviour, and interdependence in abundance, a group is formed!

An important aspect of a group is that people draw a sense of identity from the group and they have a sense of belongingness to the group. There are multiple sources of identity and multiple identities that a person may have. An employee may relate to a religious group, a gender group, a group of people with a certain sexual orientation, a certain “skill group” and a regional group. All these identities may co-exist for an individual. Because people are interdependent, and individual behaviour is defined by group behaviour and vice versa, group characteristics may work for or against the benefit of the group.

A group may experience social loafing and social facilitation. Social loafing, a phenomenon when people lower their effort or contribution towards collective tasks happens when there is no individual level evaluation of performance. Tug of war is an exciting team sport. However, there is no easy way of assessing individual performance. And that is why, a tug of war team is prone to social loafing. In a team, it is important to focus on collective results however, evaluation of performance must happen at the individual level.

This makes each individual feel responsible. They are motivated to put in their best as their effort gets identified, appreciated and rewarded. Social facilitation works this way. When people are working in an area of strength (which may be defined as talent reinforced with skill and experience) in the presence of others, they may be motivated to put in more effort when their individual performance is evaluated.

4. The Cohesiveness of a Team

A cohesive team is a type of a group that builds on the common characteristics of a group – a common purpose, interdependence, group identity and certain norms. A cohesive team exhibits the following additional characteristics

  • There is high level of trust especially vulnerability-based trust among the team members. People feel psychologically safe to share their mistakes, personal histories and aspirations
  • Members of the team engage in open discussions around ideas and viewpoints without making it personal
  • There is a sense of collective commitment to group decisions
  • Members of the team hold one another accountable
  • Individual results take a back seat as the members focus on achieving collective results.

Ultimately, great teams are cohesive in nature. They neither have the impulsivity of a mob nor the detachment of a crowd. They are built on trust. In order to create cohesive teams, performance must be measured at the individual level while the focus is collective results. Crafting, cascading and imbibing such norms in a team requires leadership training and a deep understanding of group behaviours.

Filed under: Team BuildingTagged with: ,

Why Leaders must be Trained for Fostering Collaboration?

Collaboration is the currency of effectiveness in a team environment and every leader must be able to deal with it and maximize it for best results.

Leadership, in any industry and at any level is never a solo act. The very essence of leadership is in creating excellent performance by engaging others. Even when there is personal excellence in a team environment, it is rarely an outcome of talent and commitment of one individual. It is a result of many people contributing to make one person successful.

In a world that is increasingly more interdependent, more networked and more aware of the ecosystem, collaboration will prove to be the driver and the game changer for any organization or team. Collaboration may be viewed as a social imperative without which extraordinary results may just be impossible.

So how should leaders go about creating and fostering collaboration in a team and perhaps inter-team? What should a leader train to do in order to create a fertile environment for collaboration to foster? There are three areas that a leader must train on in order to foster collaboration within the organization:

  1. Build Trust
  2. Define and enhance interdependence
  3. Encourage communication especially face to face communication

Collaboration, when not pursued with the right intent and behaviors could quickly deteriorate into conflict and stress and therefore collaboration, paradoxically so, requires more leadership than less.

Patrick Lencioni defines trust from a vulnerability perspective, many cultures and management gurus have viewed trust form the perspective of openness, being direct and transparent. What ever be the perspective, it does seem that relationships within and outside of the team foster on trust. Trust is the basis of all great partnerships and client-vendor relationships. Irrespective of the culture or geographical nuances, beginning with trust has always created an environment where people like to take risks and get things done.

When a leader is trained to build trust in abundance, they would often come across people who are willing to share how they feel openly, they call out mistakes and risks often and without fear and are motivated to commit to larger goals. When there is mistrust, relations suffer as doubt, fear and deceit becomes more rampant. Trust is a good indicator of the level of employee engagement you would see in an organization. Trust delivers higher level of commitment and collective results in a team. When there is trust among people, they are open to each other’s suggestions and viewpoints. They are ready to consider their own goof ups and mistakes in a positive way. And so, people are more willing to call out mistakes and appreciation for each other.

These behaviours enhance trust. Furthermore, leaders openly share their own aspirations, wants and needs, their own goof ups and vulnerabilities. Because they trust that their team does not take advantage of such personal information shared, they demonstrate trust. This further results in increased trust and that is why we say, trust begets trust.

For teamwork and collaboration to happen, it is necessary that everyone understands that they can’t do it alone! That success of one depends on the other and that there is no great individual success. There are just collective results. The second most important aspect for leader to train on and demonstrate is his or her ability to build a sense of positive mutual dependence among team members.

This is best done by building goals and objectives that require continuous cooperation. By looking at larger goals and breaking them down into action points or priorities for people based on their individual aspirations, talents and interests, it is possible to foster an environment where cooperation will bring greater results and sustained effort. A leader must also, at a cultural level, define the norms for reciprocity. Because cooperation may involve unequal effort and rewards, with one person doing more for the other person because of the nature of the job or their capability, role etc., it is important to define the norms that do not make any one person feel exploited. This aspect has a cultural nuance to it and is usually difficult for inexperienced leaders to play with.

Because communication is becoming more virtual, dry, short and abrupt, it can lead to moments of low trust and disengagement. By encouraging face to face communication, where people do not just exchange data but load it with feelings, perspectives, moods and values, leaders can foster collaboration. By interacting more with stakeholders and with sustained face time, it is possible to enhance trust and collaboration.

When a leader trains to systematically exhibit behaviours that help them build trust, enhance inter dependencies and create sustained face time, they can increase collaboration in an organization.

Filed under: LeadershipTagged with: ,

Sales and Business Development Training – The Difference and Similarities

The two terms “sales” and “business development” are often used synonymously or together by a large group of people. This may be because often people in the sales function are shifted to a business development role. That the term “sales” has a negative connotation attached to it, is obvious. Business Development Manager always sounds better than a Sales Manager. However, one must realize the difference between these two terms and use it when appropriate rather than interchangeably.

Business Development is a more Marketing function role than Sales. The idea of business development is to find the right market segment and match opportunities emerging from it to the products and services that the organization offers. Business development is about developing and expanding the business, in the literal sense of the term. The sales function of this role is majorly limited to opportunity qualification and negotiation. It includes more of brand placement, acquisitions and partnerships and market expansion.

Sales, on the other hand, includes revenue generation by selling the products and services directly to the customer. The link is that the business development function would generate the opportunities and create a channel to sell. While, the sales team would work on those opportunities to close them for revenue generation.

Now that this difference is clear, it also clarifies that the training for sales and business development is different.

Competencies to Focus on

Sales training is given with the purpose of maximizing sales success. The focus is on developing selling skills and understanding seller – buyer behavior. Competencies like negotiation skills, understanding needs, pitching, sales acumen, customer focus, strategic selling, prospecting, client relationship management, rapport building etc. needs to be developed along with adequate knowledge of products and services.

Business development training, on the other hand, is not restricted to the Sales professional only. It can be given to all leaders with the purpose of expanding the business and optimizing the potential of the market. Focus is on developing competencies like strategic thinking, conducting market analysis, customer focus, negotiation skills, networking, business acumen along with knowledge of organization’s products and services.

Now that the competencies have been differentiated for sales and business development training, let’s describe what approach can be taken for both the trainings to be effective.

The Methodology

We remember only 21% of information at the end of 31 days (as per Heman Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve) and surveys have proved that a lot of what is provided through training is lost. Earlier, training was restricted to one to two days only. Sales and business development professionals are left to retain and apply what they have learnt on their own. This is not an effective method. Now, with the growing needs of the learner, the demand is to use blended learning methodology. This methodology helps to reinforce what is learned through training.

Both sales and business development training must promote and focus on behavior change rather than just superficial change in knowledge. Training methodology should be clubbed with one-to-one coaching that focuses on individual strengths and challenges, personalized feedback to calibrate behaviors and specific action plans for application on the job.

Along with coaching, leader connect sessions are imperative. These sessions help to sustain the culture of sales and business development and helps the learners to learn from leaders who have “been there, done that”. Leader connect sessions use the technique of storytelling to convey learning around selling and business development skills. For instance, a lot of challenging situations that sales and business development professionals go through cannot be covered through classroom training and eLearning. Also, a coach cannot help in resolving those problems and advice on how to confront those challenging situations. That is when leader connect sessions help to learn the ropes.

Apart from a holistic approach combining different methodologies, motivation plays an important factor in sales performance and business development initiatives. Motivation is not just from compensation and incentives but also by rewarding various small behavioral changes observed in the professionals. A simple feedback that a seller was able to make a difference for the customer or that certain initiative helped the business to reach new heights or resolve certain business problems is sometimes, enough to motivate these professionals to keep applying what they have learnt.

To sum, when there is a requirement for sales and business development training, do not treat the two the same way. Although the larger methodology remains the same, the focus on competencies are different and that should drive the major learning experience.

Filed under: Training & DevelopmentTagged with: , ,

The Value of an Organization’s Purpose

The famous organizational consultant and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek, has brought to the attention of the world, the power of ‘why’. He stated that every successful organization and action is born out of this power of ‘why’. He has used the example of the high sales of Apple’s iPod to demonstrate that the power of why connects with the consumers and they associate themselves with the organization.

The ‘why’ here is the purpose and the mission of the organization. An organizational mission is a purpose statement and a rough plan inclusive of the organization’s values, strategies, and objectives. Every organization has a mission whether it is formally written or not.

An organizational mission is a guide for the major decisions taken within the organization as the mission includes the goal that the organization aims to achieve. Generally, the mission of the organization is one which was brewed from the mind of the founders of that organization. The mission is, therefore, a mirror image of the mission and the purpose of the founder; but this can evolve over time as the organization takes its own identity.

Shapes the culture of an organization and provides a basis for bonding and a better understanding of the organization. The newly added human capital to an organization can be easily trained by keeping the ‘why’ of the organization in mind. The employees also direct their behavior on their own as they continue to understand the organizational purpose and connect it with their individual purpose.

It is rather beneficial for every organization to formulate an organizational mission. There are many advantages to adding a formal mission in the organizational culture. As the purpose of an organization is imbibed within the employees, they are more likely to work happily and efficiently towards the same.

The mission statements also work as a guide and help leaders and managers to take actions accordingly. If all the employees are aware of the objectives of an organization and the ethical fulfillment of those objectives, then the organization has a higher probability of reaching its goals in a rather shorter time period. The mission and the goals stated in the mission are vital to boost positive behavior and reinforcement of goal-oriented behavior.

The mission statement of the organization should be concise, realistic and impactful. It is critical to formulate an accurate and clear statement; an ambiguous mission statement can lead to diversions from the goal of the organization. An ideal statement is known to include three major components – the target audience, the product/ service provided by the organization and the USP of the organization. It is important that a statement is objective and is not over the clouds, filled with fancy and unnecessary words. An unrealistic mission statement can lead to a wasteful utilization of the resources of an organization.

The business magnate Richard Branson has also stressed the value of an organizational mission towards directing the organization and pushing it towards the realms of success and progress. Hence, it is advisable for organizations to identify their mission and work towards formulating an encouraging and guiding mission statement.

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