Posts Tagged ‘alignment’

In 100 Words: Key Practice of a Level 5 Leader

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by Troy Schrock

Alan Mulally’s upcoming retirement as CEO of Ford Motor Company is big news these days. All organizations, not just those in the automotive sector, should take note. Mulally’s leadership in turning around Ford highlights a key Level 5 Leader practice he, and the executive leaders, used to take Ford to the top of the industry.

A tight weekly executive team meeting (Mulally’s BPR – Business Process Review) was implemented to drive both business plan execution and building a strong leadership team. Candor, along with accountability around data, virtually non-existent in past Ford culture, have paved the way for consistent business performance.

“Running a business is a design job. You need a point of view about the future, a really good plan to deliver that future, and then relentless implementation.” –Alan Mulally

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Practices of a Level 5 Leader

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by Troy Schrock

Alan Mulally’s upcoming retirement as CEO of Ford Motor Company is big news these days. All organizations, not just those in the automotive sector, should take notice. Mulally’s leadership in turning around Ford highlights a Level 5 Leader (a leader who places the success and results of the organization ahead of their own individual accomplishments and legacy). Here are some key practices he, and the executive leaders, used to take Ford to the top of the industry.

Most significantly, or simply, Mulally used a tight weekly executive team meeting (his BPR, or Business Process Review) to drive both business plan execution and building a strong leadership team. Candor, trust and accountability, virtually non-existent in past Ford culture, now form the foundation for the executive level leaders. With that foundation, a deliberate focus on data culminated in a dramatic turn-around (2007 – 2009) followed by years of consistent business performance.

Second, Mulally created a simple vision for the organization, repeated that vision all the time and didn’t change the course even when people outside were constantly looking for the next “new plan”. His view was, we have the right plan and we’re still working on implementing it.

Third, Mulally focused the organization back on the customer. Significant money was invested in new product development and quality initiatives even during significant cuts to operations. What mattered to customers was appealing designs, good fuel economy and cars that didn’t break.

Fourth, Mulally simplified the business. Ford reduced the number of brands (auto name plates) down to two. They also reduced waste and redundancy in operations by coordinating design, engineering, quality and manufacturing efforts across the entire global organization.

Mulally’s final step will be completing a deliberate and orderly succession. Here is a link to a recent article highlighting the transition.

For more in-depth understanding, see the book, American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman.


The Importance of Alignment Post Recession

Thursday, May 12th, 2011 by Ellen Bryson

Aon Hewitt, a global provider of human resource solutions, released its 2011 Talent Survey on May 3, 2011 citing a gap in leadership effectiveness and the ability to drive change in the post recession environment. Of the 1328 employers surveyed nationwide findings identified a gap between the leader’s involvement and their effectiveness.

Results indicate that leaders play a vital role in meeting business goals; 56% of respondents agreed, but only 12% rated their leaders as extremely effective. A leader’s involvement is essential in meeting profitability targets; 56% agreed, however, ony 14% believe their leaders are extremely effective in doing so. Fifty six percent of the respondents felt their leader’s involvement was necessary in delivering service, but only 17% felt they were extremely effective. Lastly, 44% of the respondents agreed that their leaders play a vital role in retaining talent, but only 7% believe they are extremely effective in accomplishing employee retention.

These findings demonstrate the need for leaders to evolve their skills as they are confronted with new barriers to growth that have arisen out of the recent recession. New leadership skills are required to increase productivity and engage the workforce. In this environment, it becomes increasingly important to align employee’s jobs with the business strategy so that employees feel a deeper, personal connection to the company. Employee development and training are essential for equpping middle managers with the tools and expertise needed to help drive this change since they provide the bridge between strategy and execution.

The most successful companies develop a process that can help gain clarity and focus while aligning the organization around vision and strategy. The basic premise shifts executive team focus from operational issues to strategic priorities and decision making. It is a proven fact that companies that focus on strategy generate significantly higher financial results and higher rates of growth than their competitors.


Discipline: Are You Focused On Your 95%?

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 by Susan Diehl

I was shocked recently as I read a blog entry on change by Tony Schwartz on the Harvard Business Review Online. In it, he states that 95% of our behaviors are habitual, and only 5% are consciously self-selected. How can this be? Are we so programmed that we literally only choose to do things 5% of the time? This hit home for me in particular, since I believe so strongly that we must be intentional in our behaviors, our decisions, our choices. No wonder why companies can so easily stagnate! Even when leadership teams have hired the right people, formed a high-performing leadership team and articulated a compelling strategy, results can still suffer. When it comes time to executing our strategy, we can so easily fall back into the habits of disengagement, politics, and stagnation. What can we do to make sure we don’t fall into the trap of (bad) habits?

First, it is about working to change your bad habits into good ones. So, you need to identify what are those unintentional behaviors that you want to change. I suggest you put together that “stop, start, continue” list for your department or organization. Recognize that you may be doing things just from habit and they no longer may be creating value in the way they once did. So, stop doing them! Don’t allow yourself to think “well, we’ve always done that” or “it is tradition” if no positive benefit is coming from what you’re doing. Start doing things that are necessary to your organization’s success, for example, setting objectives regularly, holding yourself accountable for achieving goals, acting on lessons learned. And, where you are doing things right, continue to do them intentionally and with purpose. You can enhance those good behaviors by recognizing them and actively working to increase their positive impact.

Second, stay focused and precise relative to what you want to change. Some clients repeatedly say “my goal is to increase sales”. Well, we all would like to increase sales, but it is more effective to identify precisely what specific actions you intend to take to help improve the likelihood of that outcome. For example, set a goal to spend some time as a team developing your value proposition, identifying your key customer segments and selling more to your high-value accounts. Set one critical goal at a time, work to achieve it and then go on to the next one. This will help you to identify the change you want to happen and increase the success rate.

Third, as Tony Schwartz observes: “Put simply, the more behaviors are ritualized and routinized — in the form of a deliberate practice — the less energy they require to launch, and the more they recur automatically.” If your strategy has become “credenza-ware,” you need to make sure you set aside the time to meet with your team and work on your execution together. Having a routine meeting rhythm will create the opportunity to change the inefficiency of your team members operating in a vacuum, or, worse yet, functioning at cross-purposes to the other groups in the organization.

Finally, take it one step at a time. These habits didn’t all start the same day and they won’t disappear overnight. It is all about setting priorities, knowing what makes sense within the culture of your organization, and recognizing that change takes time. I’m encouraged to start paying attention to my 95% and producing the high value change I’m after!


3 Disciplines That Drive Alignment

Monday, January 31st, 2011 by Susan Diehl

How does an organization achieve the alignment necessary to improve enterprise value?  It does so by committing to a process-driven approach to alignment.  A pursuit of sustained alignment is driven by three disciplines.  First, the team must work to develop cohesive functional teamwork.  Second, the team must agree on a compelling strategy that sets the direction for the future and captures the hearts and minds of employees.  Third, the team must execute the strategy with disciplined thought and action. 

I recently had an article published in The CEO Advantage Journal that examines these three disciplines in greater detail.  Please read it and let me know what you think!


Living Your Values

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 by Susan Diehl

It seems that many employees are increasingly disgruntled by their employer’s failure to “walk the talk”. When an organization proclaims it believes in something, but then behaves in a way that is contrary to those beliefs, the results are dire. Just today, I heard an example of a company communicating to its employees that it had instituted a process for global sales to promote fairness and transparency; however, when the process was not followed and worse yet, employees were hurt financially, the company turned its back on its values by not enforcing the policy against the offending employees. The reaction to this lapse, predictably, was that the negatively impacted employees did not want to follow the process the next time (and perhaps even to sabotage it!). Morale plummeted, trust in the process was lost, and no incentive remained to pursue similar sales in the future. In one fell swoop, the organization created a credibility gap.

Living your core values is more than putting a poster on the office wall, or holding a session to “embed” the values in the organization. Indeed, even if you are successful in aligning your employees around the values of your organization, it only takes one misstep (like the one above) to unwind all the good work that the organization has done to create that alignment. Put simply, the organization is just one behavior away from destroying a positive reputation that may have taken years to build. So, how can an organization ensure that it is walking the talk consistently?

First, and foremost—ensure that all members of your leadership team demonstrate your organization’s core values in everything they do. If they do not, you might as well not read any further. Leaders are like amplifiers: if they are aligned they will produce resonance, but if they are not aligned, the organization will hear static and will block out what is being communicated. Second, empower your employees to raise concerns about behaviors that are inconsistent with your values, without fear of backlash. You can designate someone in your organization or on its leadership team to champion these values. Encourage your employees to share their views and call out inconsistent behaviors, even if these behaviors originate with your leadership. Third, make sure that you follow up and follow through on these legitimate concerns. This will create credibility with your employees and promote an ethic of accountability. For example, if you value “respect for all people”, then allowing harassment or demeaning conduct in any form would not be tolerated. Finally, only hire and retain employees who demonstrate the core values of your organization. People are who they are—either they share your values or they do not. So, hire and keep people who reflect, rather than detract, from who you are. As Patrick Lencioni teaches, your values should be the immutable parameters of your hiring decisions.

On a personal note, I lost my father about a week or so ago. I was humbled and overwhelmed by the support we received by the many, many people who loved him. I heard wonderful stories about how my dad helped people when they were down, how he made them laugh, how he taught them to love, how he made them feel special. These were my dad’s values: showing love, being a friend, helping others, and keeping his family safe and secure. He lived them every day. I saw these even more clearly after he died and realized that your values are what define you. It reflects who you are and who you are not. Organizations, like people, need to live their values each and every day. These values define who they and what their legacy will be. So, go be inspired to create your legacy. It is the foundation upon which your organization rests.