Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Knowledge Is Power - Part 2

Last week I wrote about the concept that “Knowledge is power” and how most people believe that knowledge is power only when it is hoarded. The reality is that knowledge only has power when it is shared with all of those that need it. Shared knowledge creates power simply because leaders get results through people and without the knowledge they can’t create the results.

But sharing knowledge has another component that is often overlooked in the business world. You see, sharing knowledge not only allows your team to perform more capably but it also demonstrates clearly how willing your are to be open with them, sharing your knowledge, sharing the strategies, and sharing the goals of the organization. By doing this, you are building trust with those that work for you. And trust is one of the key components required for employee engagement.

It is no secret that engaged employees work harder and smarter than non-engaged employees. The mere fact that they care about their organization and their manager provides the motivation to create something bigger and better than those employees who don’t care about their organization or, worse, want to see it fail. By sharing knowledge and building trust within your organization you not only get the benefit of better, more informed decisions, but you also create a team of people that care about what they are doing and the results that they get.

How much information do you have to share?

You want to share as much information as you can without jeopardizing your fiduciary responsibilities to the company. As the leader in an organization there is certain information that is provided to you in confidence. Information that is not available to the public at large or to most of the employee base. When you are entrusted with confidential information you have a responsibility both morally and legally to keep that information private. Breaking that confidence could actually compromise trust in the organization, rather than building it. When in doubt, you must use your own judgment on what can and cannot be shared.

By sharing as much information as you can with your employees you empower them in their jobs and open the doors for improved performance and creativity within the organization. The message here is to share as much information as you can with your team. Sharing your knowledge will not only allow them to make more informed decisions but will also create a loyal and engaged team that will serve you, the organization and your customers to the fullest.

I hope that you enjoyed this article. At ECI Learning Systems LLC we are dedicated to improving productivity and profitability by creating engaged organizations. Our unique combination of training and personalized coaching, combined with our expertise in assessments allow us to create a development plan tailored for your success.

Until next time….

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Knowledge Is Power

Many managers and leaders often fall under the impression that one of the most effective ways to enhance their worth and their career is by hoarding knowledge. “Knowledge is power” they believe and, therefore, the best way to accumulate power is by becoming indispensable, by knowing things that others don’t know and by sharing that information very judiciously.

Sadly, at the lower levels of the organization where the manager is also the technical expert this strategy seems to work. Since the manager knows things that others in the department do not, they control the solutions to sticky problems and are rewarded for solving issues that their team did not.

Of course, this is not a long term solution for success. The higher one moves in the organization the less you are a technical expert. Hoarding knowledge is no longer a source of power, but now saps your power and limits your ability to find solutions and demonstrate your value to the organization.

None the less it is true. Knowledge is power. But, as you move up the organization, the power comes not from hoarding that knowledge but from sharing it as broadly as possible. In fact, the more you share information the more powerful you become in an organization.

Experienced managers understand that their success is not tied to how well they perform individually but to how well their team performs. No longer are they praised for their personal and technical knowledge. Instead, team results take the spotlight and they find themselves being measured for the performance of their organization. And, the best way to ensure that their organization performs up to expectations is to ensure that they have all of the knowledge and information that they need to be successful.

This can be an enormous paradigm shift for someone who has always viewed themselves as the technical expert and has been consistently rewarded for their ability to solve problems. It requires an entirely different mindset to acknowledge that others who are closer to the details may be better able to determine complex solutions. But, acknowledging that you are no longer the technical experts is one of the keys to moving yourself up the value chain in the organization. Instead of your value coming from your detailed knowledge, your value and your power now emanate from the performance of your team.

Managers who grasp this concept not only begin to share their knowledge more readily and reward those around them who share knowledge, but are also the managers who move up the ladder to higher levels of responsibility. Understanding that the power of knowledge is expanded, rather than weakened, through sharing is what separates those managers who top out their career quickly from those who continue to grow and move up in the organization.

Sharing knowledge has another benefit that is not commonly recognized. The sharing of knowledge in your organization actually creates a new level of employee engagement. But, I will write more about that next week.

I hope that you enjoyed this article. At ECI Learning Systems LLC we are dedicated to improving productivity and profitability by creating engaged organizations. Our unique combination of training and personalized coaching, combined with our expertise in assessments allow us to create a development plan tailored for your success.

Until next week,

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The 5 Most Common Executive Blind Spots

Every human being has blind spots, things that others see about them that they don’t see about themselves. Sometimes the blind spots are minor and, once identified, can be easily corrected. Others are more serious and may not even be recognized by the executive when they are pointed out to them. In these extreme cases, the executive may not realize the harm that their behaviors may cause, and they may even look at these behaviors as strengths.

Is your performance suffering from one of these blind spots?

1. Failing to clearly, concisely, and regularly preach the Vision and Mission of the company to ALL of the employees.

Too many top executives create a Vision and Mission, send out a company wide email proclaiming it, and then assume that all of the employees know, understand, and have bought into them. Any employee will tell you that actions speak louder than words, but actions combined with words are needed to reinforce your Vision and Mission. Communicate with the entire organization readily and don’t forget to show your employees how your latest actions are consistent with the Vision and Mission.

2. Undervaluing the concept of diversity in your inner circle.

We’re not talking here about ethnic or religious diversity (although those concepts may well play a role in the issue), but rather diversity of thought that allows new ideas to surface and be heard. Too often, executives want people who think the way they do. And, while it’s important that your inner circle share your core values, a lack of diverse ideas leads to a lack of creativity in your organization.

3. Viewing conflict as bad – believing that harmony results in greater productivity.

Conflict has a bad reputation in the workplace, but conflict plays an important role in creating explosive growth. While personal agendas and personal conflict may drag down your efforts, honest conflict involves people who are willing and able to present differing perspectives and debate those ideas knowing that there is a willingness to hear different views. A lack of conflict also represents a lack of trust in an organization, where no one is willing to express unpopular views.

4. Treating everyone the same in the name of equality.

If we accept the premise that all people are different, then we must also accept that all people want and need to be treated differently. Too often, we confuse the concept of equality with fairness. You need to recognize that people have different motivations, desires, and fears. Treat everyone fairly and with respect, but don’t make the mistake of trying to treat everyone equally.

5. Not creating the next generation of leaders in your organization.

An organization is only as strong as its people, and your leadership team is responsible for ensuring that you have strong people at every level. None the less, it’s your responsibility to create an environment that identifies the next generation of leaders and encourages their growth so that your leadership team remains strong. And remember, growing your people is as important in bad times as it is in good.

Did you recognize yourself in any of these 5 blind spots? More importantly, would your inner circle say that you possess any of these blind spots? If you don’t know what your own blind spots are, it might be time to bring in an expert to help you identify and manage them.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Is Vision Enough?

It often seems that discussions about leaders and leadership begin with a statement about vision.
  • All great leaders have a vision!
  • She is such a visionary leader!
  • I really buy in to his vision for our future!
It’s even fair to ask, “What good is a leader without a vision?” Having a vision for a better future is critical for any leader as it provides something to focus on for the future, a goal to attain, and even hope for all who believe.

Many companies today are struggling with reduced sales, shrinking profit margins, and reduced or non-existent profits. And, most employees realize the direct correlation between sales and profitability and their ability to receive raises in their salary, or even to keep their jobs. When this happens, new leadership is often brought in, bringing with them a fresh vision and new direction for the organization. Perhaps it involves developing new products, engaging in new markets, or improving the customer experience. Whatever it is, this new vision is expected to provide guidance to the organization and put it back on the path to profitability.

While I would certainly agree that vision is an important tool for any leader, you have to wonder if having a vision for the future is enough to solve the problems that we face.

The answer is “no”. Vision is just not enough.

A vision without some type of a plan is nothing more than a pipe dream. It’s like a starving man looking at a photograph of a fantastic meal. I mean, it looks good. You can use the picture to clearly depict what you want, but if you lack the funds to purchase the food or worse, purchase the food but do not know how to prepare it, then that picture doesn’t do anyone much good. After all, for a starving man what would be more nourishing – a picture of a Thanksgiving-style feast, or a bowl of rice?

Vision is indeed one of the key responsibilities of the leader. They must have the vision, they must communicate the vision, and, most importantly, they must position the followers so that the vision can be achieved. True leaders don’t rely on a vision without a plan. Instead, they create the vision, create the plan, put the right people into place, and provide the right tools to make it all come together.

Only then can they say that they have really led.

I hope that you enjoyed this article. At ECI Learning Systems LLC we are dedicated to improving productivity and profitability by creating engaged organizations. Our unique combination of training and personalized coaching, combined with our expertise in assessments allow us to create a development plan tailored for your success.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC