Good Leaders Do Not Manage Change……They Lead Change!

As I mentioned in my last blog, I have had several interesting consulting engagements recently and they have provided me some great experiences to share via this blog. I guess it just makes sense that most business leaders ask for consulting help because they are struggling with some type of change that they feel is needed or in further definition or implementation of that change. When I hear business leaders or their senior teams talking about change like a project, it always causes me to focus first on getting those business leaders to understand that change is not a project like a business IT system upgrade.

I recently had a consulting opportunity where the CEO was very clear on most of the changes his business needed to make both organizationally as well as operationally. His issue was not understanding what was needed but it was clear that his problem was not knowing how to really lead his business/team to accomplish the changes necessary. One of the biggest issues with his approach to change was that he expected it to have a beginning and an end. Great businesses are lead by great leaders and great leaders are clear that change is a constant event with no beginning and end, especially when it comes to organizational competence and operating efficiency. So, I hope you can get why I feel so strongly as the title of this blog says, you have to continually lead change versus building teams, projects and organizations to manage change.

I guess you could argue that some changes are managed such as restructuring or expansions but when you talk about growth, development or fulfilling a vision those long term changes must be led not managed. Leaders who believe that change is a constant leadership challenge will always get the most from their efforts.

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Business Success Starts and Ends with the Strength of the Organization, a Reality All Too Often Overlooked

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I have been very busy over the course of the last two months with a number of new business consulting opportunities. The size of the companies involved has been from several million dollars in revenue to those well over one hundred million dollars in revenue. We have discussed broad strategic issues in each of the businesses including market competition, price opportunities, operating efficiencies, communication, service offerings for re-occuring revenue streams and a host of other initiatives. The interesting thing in all of this is how quickly we come back on each issue to the current personnel, the capability/capacity of those folks and the need to identify ways to grow, recruit and/or develop stronger personnel solutions for the needs of the business going forward. I could write about many examples in detail but I want to use one ongoing activity that really re-enforces the title of this blog.

I am working directly with the CEO of a very fast growing business that has to find ways to both continue to grow the organization dramatically, serve the customer flawlessly despite record growth, protect price and margin via best in class performance and control the cost efficiency of this very fast growing enterprise. I know this sounds like a great problem to have for many of my readers but it as challenging a situation as you can have because a few missteps and the business never gets these opportunities again. When you think about these challenges, I can not help but ask first about the organizational competence/teamwork at the CEO level of direct reports and then their direct reports. I always ask this question by asking for the rating of this leadership team as a “A”, “B” or “C” player. My definition of these ratings is “A” player –capable of moving two levels up in the organization, “B” player–capable of moving up one level in the organization or executing equally as well in a lateral move and “C” player–not performing to job standard and hurting the overall effectiveness of the organization. Typically, I have been taught to believe that you should have about 10 to 15% “A’s”, 10-15% “C’s” and the balance are “B’s” at various levels of performance in that broad spectrum. I believe this is critical to know and confront honestly in your existing organization because if you can not understand and act on your current weaknesses as well as know where to focus on promoting valuable personnel, how can you ever plan, coach, hire and mentor for success especially in a growth business.

The CEO of this particular business completed this analysis during the December timeframe and we then had a six hour dialogue about the current team, the organization structure, the team dynamics, action plans for the “C” players and promotion opportunity for a couple of “A” players as the business moves forward in the critical performance year ahead. I am extremely excited that this CEO did his homework with brutal honesty and he is now preparing for changes, communication and organizational developmental moves that will drive business success in 2012 and I believe business greatness in the years beyond that! There is simply no way to move a business forward in its overall performance without this work being organizational reality work being done year in and year out as the cornerstone of the business.

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Process Is Critical, But Personally It Can Be Very Frustrating!

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In the last blog, I wrote about the utilization of a process oriented approach to helping a business that I serve on the Board of Directors to achieve growth in prospects and close rates with those prospects. I mentioned my process oriented background and the fact that I have embraced for years that process provides solutions while “quick fixes” usually provide more problems in the long term. With that said, you would think that I would readily accept the need for process in all aspects of my life. Well in some personal instances, that is easier said than done so I do have those personal occasions where I can understand how business leaders desire for a “quick fix”. The driving force for me in that personal quick fix is the resolution of a serious health problem with an immediate family member. It is a life or death situation. Having been taught to diagnosis, analyze and fix issues issues from a process perspective in the business world, I recognize that some issues can mean the same to the viability of a business. However, just as I have learned to trust the process (but drive decisions and actions) in business, I am learning and applying that same belief to my personal situation.

I have discovered personally that much like the business orientation, you must seek out the best members to put on your team and then you need to get all the members of your team (in this case various doctors) to serve as a team. The team needs to draw on the experiences of all the members of the team as they work to craft a solution or alternative solutions. No one solution is more valuable than another until it is discussed with both pro’s and con’s by the group. Once the potential actions and solutions are crafted, the team has to act and it has to be accountable for dates and follow-up both individually and as a group. Most importantly and very difficult to apply in this personal setting is the fact that the process may call for a solution that is not fast and not guaranteed. This is always tough in business but even more so in critical personal situations. Last, the team and the facilitator have to always consider the feelings/emotions of the individual or individuals for whom the actions are being taken which means strong communication and education.

Writing this blog has been good for me to help remind me that a process approach is the right way for my personal situation despite how much I long for a “quick fix”. I hope you can identify with the values associated with a process approach following my back to back blogs from both recent business and personal activities.

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Leading By Example Facilitates Real Change

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For those of you who do not know me, I will let you know that we have just entered my favorite time of the year, college football season. As I watched these first few weeks of the new season, it is clear that some of the best results so far are the teams that have a head coach that is leading their teams out front with real passion and commitment. The players feed off the energy of these coaches who run up and down the sidelines engaged in every play and who more importantly have delegated the leadership of their offense and defense to their assistant coaches. In other words, like so many good business leaders the real change and success of these teams is because they have a leader that believes, engages the team around him with delegated leadership and visibly gives 110% in effort to win!

I have written before about the need to be a real, authentic person in order to be a really effective leader. Well there is no way you can be real without really setting the example for all to follow. A real leader is out in front of his/her team. Did you ever wonder why a team could perform so differently with the same players and the only change being a leadership change? Well I have personally witnessed this in three businesses and I can tell you that in order to facilitate the dramatic changes that occurred, it all began with leading the members of the business in a very visible, honest, an energized way that set the belief that we could change and win!

You know we hear it most of our lives, “set a good example.” Well there could not be better advice when it comes to leadership. Strong leadership examples who give their all, energize people who may have given up on winning. Strong leadership examples can dramatically change the results of a less than successful organization. Real leadership often facilitates real change and a future that few can see.

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The One Thing That Maxmizes Organizational Results……Is Collaboration!

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When my son was in high school and playing on the baseball team, I volunteered to take on a significant leadership role in the Athletic Association for the entire high school. At the time, I was working for GE and had moved into a much bigger leadership role as well. In GE where I had hundreds of people reporting into my organization, it was easy to make things happen, because even if your hard work as influencing leader did not always work, you did still had the authority to drive consensus and get things done. However, in this athletic association there were hundreds of parents who all had good ideas and their own agendas depending upon the needs of the sport in which their child participated. So, not only was consensus impossible to drive because of lack of authority, it was also very difficult to drive because of so many conflicting opinions about the priorities for the funds raised by the association. The only real way to ever get anything done over the course of that year in that leadership role was by finding ways to drive collaboration among so many different people with so many different needs.

So, what is collaboration? Collaboration is the process of people thinking and working together to discover ways to solve problems and address complex issues/needs via the exploration of multiple options from various perspectives. Most of the obstacles to effective collaboration in business, public service or private functions are within the collaborators themselves. One of the most common issues is a negative or it can not be done attitude. I believe the second most common issue is the self-serving attitude found in various collllaborators. When we discussed fundraising in the association and pushed to think big, it was amazing how the same folks always were convinced that it could not be done long before we even started to achieve the goals. When we discussed the budgets for the association there was little regard from some folks as to what sports provided the most revenue to the budget. They wanted more than their fair share of the budget just because their child and their particular sport was more deserving in their opinion. These same attitudes exist in the business setting and sometimes even more pervasively. It is a much more effective way to impact the thinking of these few through the power of many positive people collarorating than just taking them on yourself as the leader of whatever organization you are driving forward

Collaboration is a way to energize people to work and think together and to have them see the value of broad engagement and experiences on various issues. Complex business issues that seem almost impossible to resolve in several businesses that I have lead were moved to a real breakthrough status by driving collaboration of a mix of business capabilities and divergent viewpoints on these major business issues. It is clear to me that finding solutions and a better way in today’s world of challenges is almost always much more than what one leader’s mind or a select group of leaders can handle. By pulling many in to the day to day process of collaboration as a business team, I think it drives better business speed, output, quality and ultimately profitability. My old adage has been to have the best business possible all your associates “must bring their brain to work and they must be allowed/encouraged to use it!”

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Great Businesses And Operational Success Are Founded On Even Greater Sales Results

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Spending the last several blogs writing about integrity and it being the cornerstone of any real business transformation, I want to shift gears and talk about the critical baseline that must exist to even begin to think about transformational results. That baseline is selling. Regardless of the businesses, you simply don’t have a successful product business, service business or a combination of the two without sales of your product/service that allow the business to cover its costs and grow. I know that sounds so simple that many of you must be wondering why I am writing about this. Well, most of what I write is driven by the events of day to day life and this writing is no different.

I am on the Board of a fantastic growth business called Serrus Capital Partners. This business has been built by two co-founders who have completely opposite but very complimentary skills. One of them is a serial entrepreneur who is creative and very effective in selling his concepts to a broad cross section of investors. The other co-founder is one of the brightest and most take charge operating guys who has years of experience in the real estate development. These co-founders took their collective skills and two years ago joined together to create an investment fund in distressed residential real estate that has been successful in all aspects including fundraising, deployment of capital, revitalization of the investments and the sale, lease, rental of these improved properties that are providing a strong investment return, improved neighborhoods and numerous jobs. In fact, Fund I has been so successful that we are just initiating similar opportunities in Fund II.

I share all this with you because of the most important part of this story. If sales of this investment concept had not have happened, all Fund I would have been was a good idea that failed. In fact the continuing investment opportunities in the real estate market exceed the funds raised in Fund I. We have proven operating success via our processes, technology and focus. There is greater opportunity for continued investment than when Fund I started but despite our success we can not take advantage of the significant remaining opportunity unless we sell this conceptually to more investors. The conclusion is that in so many businesses rarely is it that putting money to work is hard to do. On the other hand, most great business ideas that fail do so for lack of sales or revenue to deploy the business offering. In the next blog I will talk more about having the right sales resources, metrics and processes.

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If Integrity Is Such A Good Thing Then Why Is It So Hard To Do?

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For the past couple of blogs I have really been focused on integrity and the need to have that as the cornerstone of Transformational Leadership. I have been fairly vocal that I do not think you just get a bye or forgiveness for a lapse in integrity. It has to be the cornerstone that is not compromised in leadership and if fact you have to consciously think about all you do and say through the filter of relentless correctness before you act. I believe that to be true not just because it is the right way to think and act but I believe that to be true because those who follow you will only believe, trust and act based on the good or bad example that you set. So, if all this is true, why is so hard for leaders and other very visible people who have such influence to embrace this in their actions?

Well, I will voice my opinions on this question and then I will move on to another subject in the next blog. In my opinion, it is relatively straightforward as to why the leadership failures in integrity. For me, it is the simple act of failing to be a real person first. For you see, real people have personal problems (life is not perfect). Real people do not know all the answers. Real people many times fail as often or more often than they succeed. Real people know how to say “I do not know.” Real people accept differences in others and believe that strengthens an organization. Real leaders know that great companies come from hiring the best people, empowering them and allowing them to fail and learn. In short, far too many leaders fail on the integrity front because they use less than correct facts or actions to cover up their own insecurity in being a real leader with real problems, needs, issues and failures!

When an organization is lead by someone who embraces not having all the answers and being blatantly honest in all they do and say, that organization is headed for greatness. So, integrity is not really so hard to do if the leader embraces the values of being a real person first and foremost. The best leaders I have known were also real people who I could count on to always lead from their convictions versus just an end result.

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Having Great Integrity Does Not Mean Always Being Right

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I believe I have found a subject that many are anxious to discuss more as with all the feedback I have decided on a third article dealing with leadership integrity. In my previous two blogs I focused on integrity as the cornerstone of a transformational leader and that real committed leaders don’t compromise integrity just because things do not go their way or tough times confront them. With this blog I want to change gears and talk about the fact that strong integrity DOES NOT mean that you have to be right all the time. In fact trying to be right all the time will make you a very ineffective leader as others will be fearful of speaking up and making you feel wrong. That is a blog for a later date so let me further discuss not always being right.

As leaders we have been taught to have great confidence in what we do and say and quite often to be convinced that we are correct even if there maybe some doubt about the complete correctness of our opinion. I have seen and I suspect that many of you have also seen that leader who literally fears being wrong as he/she thinks it goes with the job to always be right. It is my opinion that if you lead with the belief that you will never be wrong then it is possible that your integrity can be as compromised as if you had failed to be completely open and honest in your communications. For you see the leader who has to always be right is the leader who has failed to realize that it takes much more than a title and facts to gain respect, and even outstanding integrity will not resolve that flaw.

As much as people want to work in a high integrity environment where they trust the direction, the communication and the leaders, they want just as much to be able to have an opinion and to know that everyone is capable of being wrong and learning from it. People don’t care how much you know or how right you are. People care about the integrity of their work environment and how much you care about them being a part of the team. So, you should worry about never compromising your integrity but you should spend little time worrying about always being right!

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Life Is Not Fair Or Forgiving, But That Is No Excuse!

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In my last blog I wrote about integrity being the cornerstone of real leadership and my disdain for how easily I see very visible people betray integrity for real bad reasons. That blog and several comments that I received on the blog prompted me to follow-up with these thoughts. As I shared in the last blog, when integrity is compromised far too many folks want quick forgiveness and a second chance because they just “made a mistake.” In fact, how many times have you heard someone say when they are dealt the consequences of their actions that “life is just not fair!”

I have a really close friend who says frequently that life is not fair and that a “fair” is something that comes to town once a year! What she really means is that we all too often see life as we expect it to be and the really funny thing is that leaders who make really bad decisions expect others to just overlook it, forgive and move on. These leaders have no real understanding that life is not just a series of all your expectations being delivered to you despite the impact that it has on others, a business and the inevitable future of all involved including yourself. So, life is not fair. Life is not fair because far too many times our expectations and our actions are not fair or even in line with the expectations that we should have for ourselves, our business or the business team.

Also, life is not always fair even for those who do the right things, but that is no excuse for not continuing to work hard and doing the right thing. Life, as I have heard on many occasions, will throw many curveballs at us. Those curveballs or things that we were not prepared for, is just a part of our growth and development as both leaders and human beings. People will see us and judge us not on how fair something was that happened to us but rather how well we handled those difficulties. Business as well as life can be very tough and unforgiving at times but that is simply no excuse for not be a strong leader whose integrity and conviction to doing the right thing can be counted on by all those around that leader. Real Transformational Leadership is about integrity with no compromise or excuses!

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What Is And Always Will Be The Most Important Business Attribute?

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I did not really want to go down this path on my blog this week but I have a been so troubled by a series of events that I decided it was critical to express my views about the most important business attribute that is not valued nearly enough by too many leaders. That business attribute is a simple word but the depth of issues that can surround it if it is not embraced is devastating. The attribute is integrity. We are bombarded, it seems like every day, by countless examples of leaders who have just simply decided that integrity was less important than money, fame, or some form of satisfaction which will now compromise there future abilities and effectiveness forever. In fact, I was at a Board meeting recently where I stated to the leaders of the business that I was simply serving with them and investing in their business because integrity was the most important aspect of their day to day leadership.

I never really was as visible to the general public as a CEO as many of our politicians or business leaders are today but it was my general belief that I was the leader of a great group of people who had placed their trust and future in my vision and leadership. If I falsified things about the business’s future, its needs, its financial position, or their future and it was discovered, at what point were they to believe me or trust me again? All the hard work by me, my team and all the members of the business could be destroyed or at least significantly impacted in a negative way by my lack of integrity. In fact, I told all my teams that I would answer any question with as much honesty or opinion as I had and if I did not know I would simply say I do not know.

I believe we are being conditioned to believe that lack of integrity is simply a mistake that is to be forgiven with the hope that things will be done better in the future. I do believe in second chances but I think as leaders we have to never ask for a second chance on integrity because we will never be as effective a leader when this attribute is compromised. Every team deserves to work for a leader and a leadership team that they can trust and that trust will be the cornerstone of buy-in to the vision, tough execution choices, strong communications and putting the best people on the team. At the heart of Transformational Leadership lies the cornerstone of integrity!

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Good Leaders Do Not Manage Change……They Lead Change!

As I mentioned in my last blog, I have had several interesting consulting engagements recently and they have provided me some great experiences to … [Read More...]

Motivational Leadership Speaking Motivational Leadership SpeakingRandy continues to be an exciting motivational leadership speaker, which has been his passion for over 25 years. He honed his skill as a motivational speaker and business coach working at GE under the tutelage of Jack Welch. From line supervisor to President & CEO, Randy has successfully lead individuals through his specific motivational methods that produce tangible results. Randy is personable, authentic, and driven. He has a speaking ability that motivates and energizes individuals to achieve beyond their potential.
Executive Leadership Mentoring Executive Mentoring & Leadership ConsultingRandy Dobbs is a proven CEO with strong operational/execution skills who has demonstrated success in fix-it situations. Randy has been a mentor for over 30 years helping individuals, senior leaders, to CEO’s at GE, Phillips Medical, USIS and wcasportfolio companies. Randy was trained in mentoring while at GE and subsequently pushed to train all the top leaders in Philips and USIS while implementing mentor programs at both organizations.Randy mentors/coaches CEO’s and some of their direct reports today in his current role.
Buy Randy’s book “Transformational Leadership” Transformational Leadership

Sharing personal experience and practical business blueprints, Dobbs takes the reader on a journey through the transformational process. Leaders working in organizations of various sizes--and facing diverse challenges and opportunities--will find Dobbs' ideas transformative, personally as well as professionally. This is a book for persons who want to be change agents within their respective organizations. It is for all who want to make a difference for themselves and their coworkers.