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Aligning Expectations in Construction Projects

AlEx Crosshairs

Your Line of Sight to Successful Projects

Aligning Expectations in Construction Projects

Getting & Keeping People on the Same Page

Clarifying and improving performance contracts between critical relationships, such as:

  • Architects and their Design Engineers
  • General Contractors and their Sub-Contractors
  • Managers and Subordinates
  • Leadership Teams
  • Cross-functional groups

Groups have successfully used AlEx™ to:

  • Improve competitiveness
  • Deliver more customer-focused solutions
  • Deliver a building on-time, on-budget and no legal


  • Accelerate and build partnerships
  • Integrate new Architects
  • Streamline Change Order & RFI Processes

Potential Benefits of the Eternal Triangle: Owner, Architectural Design Team & General Contractor

The Goal: a perfect building with proper design, highest quality, constructed on time and last but not least, built within budget.


What follows are three areas where AlEx can potentially help the “Eternal Triangle” of tension and mistrust that pervades many construction project relationships

1. Managing Conflict and Relationship Tension

2. Managing Complexity

3. Improving Building Performance

1.    Managing Conflict – Benefits of AlEx™

  1. Helps develop a healthy attitude to managing rather than hiding conflict.
  2. Reduces the distracting and destructive products from poorly handled conflict situations.
  3. Helps harness diverse views and experience in the project team for the good of the overall project and Owner.
  4. Helps handle change as the project progresses and manages the constant flow of information between Owners, consultants and contractors.
  5. 5. Addresses the tensions in managing the dynamic and transient nature of the project life cycle process.
  6. Recognizes that as work precedes the relative bargaining strengths of the parties are constantly adjusting. Standard approaches to contracting simply do not take this into account.
  7. Overcomes, the inflexibility inherent in standard building contracts. For example, one contract assumes that the design is complete at the time of bidding and that the contractor employs most of the resources that will be required for the project. The fact is, design is rarely 100 % complete at the time of bidding and contractors subcontract most of the work.
  8. Develops Project Teams while recognizing their different rules of engagement. AlEx™ recognizes and helps facilitate different project needs and rules of engagement, like:
  • Changing Owner demands
  • Rapid learning
  • Generating and maintaining effective interaction between team members so that they can exchange views and debate the consequences of their decisions in an open and honest forum.
  • Changing circumstances over the project’s life cycle.
  • Shifting relationship tensions between the major members of the project team.
  • Building trust for when things do not go as planned.

2. Managing Complexity – Benefits of AlEx™

1.    Designs in flexibility in management structure and style that is essential in dealing with complex and changing business environments.

2.    Deals with the reality that construction contracts are based upon industry-wide standards that often are hastily modified and executed during a hurried design and bidding process. AlEx™ picks up where the contracting process stops. Every project needs a legal contract and a guide to monument – AlEx™ is the formative process to get the contracting parties into alignment.

3.    AlEx™ helps harness conflict that causes the distress and low productivity associated with escalating conflict. AlEx™ helps to develop open, skillful discussion that is needed to turn differences into synergistic gains rather than squabbling losses.

4.    The use of AlEx™ helps project teams build Partnering, a process of building up long term business relationships that reduce the adversarial nature of construction. The expectations approach helps shift the emphasis from a contractual focus to a results orientated management focus.

5.    AlEx™ takes the heat out of how to convert business deals into good contracts which produce lasting positive relationships.

6.    Helps develop the close working relationships needed between all designers and contractors in order to produce an integrated building in which all building services, structural and building elements are fully planned, systematically organized and combined, and brought to fruition as required by an Owner. It really produces teams that actually communicate effectively with each other.

7.    Helps develop the processes needed to cope with the growing complexity of design and Owner needs, e.g. as hospital buildings grow in size and complexity, building services also tend to be more sophisticated and difficult to manage from design to certificate of occupancy.

8.    Helps develop coordination to ensure that services and other building elements are properly planned, managed and coordinated.

9.    Develops protocols for coordinating multi-head Owner, changes of design, conditions of engagement of designers and contractors, division of design responsibilities, allocation of risks, early incorporation of specialty contractors/consultants, forms of contract and quality of design and construction management.  AlEx™ can also have a positive effect on coordination of building services within the General Contractors office.

10. Examines ways in which Owners and various designers, contractors and equipment suppliers can work together as a team in line with the projects procurement path or strategy (The whole process of creation, communication, response and integration in    the context of the project can be defined as procurement).

11. Helps develop Procurement Strategies by guiding decisions early in the project influencing risk allocation, design strategy and consultant/contractor hiring. This ensures that throughout the project the following are all consistent with the selected procurement route:

  • Roles and relationships
  • Project management approach,
  • Communication channels
  • Information systems,
  • Forms of contracts, and
  • Overall management of the project organization

3.    Improving Building Performance – Potential Benefits of AlEx™

1.      Identification of problems and their solutions before they actually occur. This is a proactive approach toward building solutions to performance issues.

2.    Improved space utilization and feedback on building performance.

3.    Improved attitude of building owner through active involvement in the evaluation process.

4.    Understanding of the performance implications of changes dictated by budget cuts and scope changes, add-ons, contract extensions, and government intervention.

5.    Built-in capability for facility adaptation to organizational change and growth over time, including

  • Recycling of facilities into new uses
  • Significant cost savings in the building process and throughout the building life cycle.
  • Accountability for building performance by design professionals and owners.
  • Long-term improvements in building performance:
  • Improved measurement of building performance through quantification.
  1. Exposing and Expelling Pre-Conceived Notions

Project Owners believe Contractors to be _____________.

  • Architects believe Contractors to be _________________.
  • Contractors believe Architects to be _________________.
  • Contractors believe Owners to be ___________________.

Great, but how can this help me?

This is probably the  first thing on your mind after reading this Blog.   How about asking us?  The first call is free!  Just email me to set it up.  Don’t wait, get The Crispian Advantage working for you!. If our conversation leaves you needing more, we offer at a reasonable fee telephone and video coaching on change, alignment, and personal and executive performance that improve the bottom line.  If that still doesn’t do it, we’ll work with you on a solution.

Meetings Bloody Meetings

 Meetings Bloody Meetings

Interactive Skills Series – Part Four

Meetings Bloody Meetings

This is the fourth in my series to help people assess how good their interactive skills are. This series is based on research of common commercial interactions that has led to many useful insights into how to create and manage effective meetings, deal with those who are most difficult to persuade – Low Reactors. This week I am focusing on those behaviors we all use most.

Clarifying Behaviors are those which exchange information, facts and opinions and, of course clarification. For Today we will consider, the four main behaviors which when used to observing meetings led to practical insights for anyone who is dreading attending yet another meeting this week J

  • Testing Understanding– checking to see if an earlier contribution has been understood
  • Summarizing – restating in a compact form previous discussions or events
  • Seeking Information – seeks facts opinions, feelings or clarification from others
  • Giving Information – offers facts , opinions or clarification to others

Over the years these four main categories have been developed into behavior groups especially Seeking the Behaviors which have led to some of the most important research on successful persuasion which I will cover in a later program.

But, for now I want to help the listeners diagnose their meetings and how too much, too little or the wrong balance can waste time and often make meetings very frustrating and ineffective

Which of these four behaviors do we tend to use most?

Usually the most common of all the behaviors we are discussing in this series will be Giving Information. In some cases this can be as high as 50%

What happens when you get over that level?

The first thing; participants’ ratings of the meeting change negatively is when a meeting has a high level of GI is Time Wasting. It happens when everyone in the meeting wants to add yet another reason, anecdote or opinion as to why an initiative should or should not be pursued. All of which tend not to help the decision making process

The second rating; that increases is that the meeting is Confusing and Divergent – This is especially true where Testing Understanding & Summasrizing are low. People often say things like it was like “swimming in syrup”. Points become disconnected, the meeting wanders and meeting participants become confused. You know when this happens because you will have another meeting to decide what was decided at the last meeting –

I have been in meetings where people drone on about themselves which feels like they are trying to puff themselves up.

Do you have any research to say what is going on when this happens?

Anyone who is a high information giver is frequently seen as less interested in others views than putting forward their own. This also often means they try to push their own proposals. When everyone is high on Giving Information it feels like there’s a whole set of mini meetings going on each not really connected with any other

What about Seeking Information – when a meeting is high in this behavior what tends to be the result?

Firstly, it would be rare for Seeking to exceed Giving Information. In fact, participants will perceive a meeting is high in Seeking if it exceeds half the amount of GI. When this happens though participant ratings change in three ways:

  • Fostering interest in others’ views – it’s like they see it as stimulating interest in others views
  • Convergent & Focused – When Seeking is high the connection between each successive point is likely to be clearer. This is because Seeking explores a point already made which then creates a connection to the previous contribution or asks for another pint. These meetings are also tending to be focused.
  • Time Saving –you would think that meetings with a lot of questions would take longer to resolve issues that those with fewer questions –this is not the case. There is a positive correlation between people’s perception of whether a meeting saved time and the volume of SI

Testing Understanding  explores understanding of previous contributions. It ties down and clarifies points which may be unclear or ambiguous. As importantly it is used to check that people are seeing things the same way. When levels are high, people rate the meeting as:

  • Fair – a fair hearing
  • Clearwhen combined with Summarizing
  • Rationalvs. levels of DA

Summarizing – Defined as a compact restatement – be careful- It’s not extended repetition or introducing new material under the umbrellas of “summarizing”

High Summarizing Meetings are rated as:

  • Structured
  • Clear
  • Controlled

These last two behaviors seem to perform similar functions in terms of clarifying and organizing what has been discussed.

So, What happens when both these are high?

Research was carried out to correlate the number of misunderstandings and misinterpretations that occurred after the meeting with the amount of Testing Understanding and Summarizing during meetings. In all, 49 Meetings were observed involving 297partiipants.

Those Meetings low in TU & SUM had significantly more errors and omissions in people’s accounts of the principle decisions agreed to in the meeting. As meetings differ in length the researchers took TU & SUM as a percentage total meeting behavior.

The findings are rather disturbing:

  • <2.5% – TU SUM  Average 4.3 errors or omissions
  • >10%+ TU SUM – Average 1.2 errors or omissions

So, what recommendations would you make?

To get a clear understanding and consensus on what was decided approximately 1 in 10 behaviors needs to be TU or SUM

How can people get better control of their meetings in terms of clarifying behaviors?

If you look at the current condition of your meetings, ask yourself what you need to do differently, for example:

Not making enough of the brains round the table – So. you want to create more curiosity of what the lower contributors have to say. Then use Testing Understanding where such a person reacts non-verbally e.g.

“Joan, you seem to be shaking your head about Peter’s last point – Am I right?”

Another tactic is straight forward you bring in people by Seeking –

“Joan, in our experience what do you see as the pros and cons of Peter’s position?”

What if I am frustrated with going over what was covered in previous meetings?

Certainly Summarizing will help, but if you are not the Chairperson, you will need to make a Procedural Proposal.

“Bill (addressing the Chair), At the end of the meeting can we ensure we summarize what we agree to doing before the next meeting”

Great, but how can this help me?

This is probably the first thing on your mind after reading this Blog.
How about asking us?  The first call is free!  Just email me to set it up.
Don’t wait, get The Crispian Advantage working for you!. If our conversation leaves you needing more, we offer at a reasonable fee telephone and video coaching improve bottom line results.
If that still doesn’t do it, we’ll work with you on a solution.

For Help in Getting Your People on the Same Page
Nick Anderson, The Crispian Advantage

E-mail I Web I Linkedin

© Copyright All Rights Reserved, The Crispian Advantage and Walk the Talk – A Blog for Agile Minds, [2010-2012]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nick Anderson, The Crispian Advantage and Walk the Talk – A Blog for Agile Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rewarding Change – A Conversation

(Nick Anderson, The Crispian Advantage & Dr Larry Dugan, Precision Personality Plus on WGVU )

This is part of the series: Seven Challenges of Leadership which focuses on ensuring competitive success by:

• Getting the Right People
• With the Right Focus
• To produce the Right Responses

We are at the 6th stage. In our prior conversations we have covered the topics of:

• The Intelligent Use of Consultants
• The Leaders Responsibility to Embed Purpose
• Remove Distractions
Align Expectations
Differentiate from the Pack
Coaching Strategically

All too often the failure to reward change is the pivotal point where change efforts fail—which is what makes it so regrettable. A company has gone through the necessary steps and just at the point where they are implementing the change, they misfire. Rewarding change lags behind the other processes. Thus a company can embed purpose, remove distractions, align expectations and coach. But if the recognition and reward systems of your company are based on lagging indicators such as sales revenue and profit margin, you will only encourage people to do things differently, not “do different things!”

To change, you need to consistently reward the new behaviors, not the “reward legacies” of the past.

What attributes do effective leaders need to meet this important challenge of Rewarding Change?

• High on Open-Minded
• Low on Security Minded
• High on Innovating

What evidence do you have to demonstrate what happens when leaders and managers do not reinforce change?

Probably the best illustration of this occurred when we analyzed IMS’s communication channels.

Peter, was the Director of the Toronto sales force. Mary Jo lead the Division of Customer Data Solutions. Peter wanted simple, quick sales of equipment.
Mary Jo—and the company leadership—were shifting to a process of leasing equipment and providing service. The sales force continued to be paid a higher commission for selling equipment than selling Service Contracts. They had no incentive to do different things. Another example is what transpired with the Sweet’s Catalogs in the construction industry. A Sales force accustomed to selling large bound texts for thousands of dollars and the resultant commission, were now being asked to sell a CD-ROM version for significantly less (and less commission). This added to the dilemma of overcoming Industry resistance to making the shift.

So if you are going to ask people to sustain change, How can you measure and reward those who support your purpose?

This is the core of the issue. If a company is to overcome resistance to change, they need to reward new behaviors.

You start by keeping the right data. For example, if I am striving to emphasize positive labor—management interactions I have employees and managers track the time spent in productive business-based interactions and general positive social interactions. Then I reward—both by public recognition of their efforts and by financial compensation—those who show the most significant change.
Or if my goal is to continually find productive employees, I reward managers who demonstrate that they are taking steps in that direction.

What recommendations would you have on Benefits and Compensation?

Compensate new behaviors to a higher degree than old behaviors. As far as benefits go, work with the employee to ascertain what benefits are important to them. Example: A bank that was growing and needed a cadre of experienced employees for their new branches. Several very qualified applicants had been rejected based on the fact that they were seeking special conditions such as leaving at 3:30 (so they could be home for children returning from school) and ad hoc days off—to attend to sick children. Instead of hiring 3 full-time people, the bank hired 5 part-time staff, pro-rated the benefits packages and achieved their goal. If they had not been open to “doing different things” and compensating the employees and managers who resolved this issue, no one would have taken their claim seriously that they were “creating new policies” this could not have happened.

Another example: We were engaged with a company called MenuFocus. The “benefit” they are offering employees is the chance to design their future with the company. Now, the company helps in this process by completing comprehensive surveys on every individual in the organization so they can better learn their interests, aptitudes and personality traits as suited to a given position. That is a fringe benefit.

What proportion of people’s compensation should be tied to adopting the new behaviors?

Overall, at least 25%. At least 50% of increases in salary and benefits need to be tied to adopting the new behaviors. People need to know you are serious.

What else is important in Rewarding change?

Again, we start with Purpose. Successful companies place less emphasis on clear strategy and more on building a rich, engaging purpose. It is not enough just to build that purpose; you need to communicate purpose to employees at every level. Make it succinct. For example, tell employees… strategies change, purpose does not. We still have the same purpose; we are creating new ways to achieve that purpose. To use the example cited above, our strategy now is to lease equipment and obtain service contracts rather than sell equipment which will be antiquated in nine months.

Create new and more effective management processes.

• 45% of all profit margin fluctuations are a direct result of employee attitude
• 55% of employees feel underutilized and under-appreciated
• Boredom as a single factor reduces productivity by 50%—whether in a Service setting or a Production setting

Put these statistics together and you can begin to understand how companies fail. Successful companies move away from trying to control employees’ behavior and placing more emphasis in developing their capabilities and broadening their perspectives. Successful corporations are moving away from the old doctrine of strategy, structure and systems to a more organic model of purpose, process and people. This has meant creating an organization with which people can identify, in which they share a sense of pride, and to which they are willing to commit-committed members of a purposeful organization.
A great example of many of the concepts we have cited here can be found at Monarch Hydraulics. Monarch years ago instituted a Gain Sharing program whereby employees at every level shared in whatever gains made over actual costs.

So how do you achieve strong, enduring attachment from everyone to a new direction?

Achieving strong enduring commitment from everyone to new strategies requires a straight-forward approach including:

Articulating the well-defined corporate ambition
in such a way that captures employees’ attention and interest rather than stating purpose in terms related to strategic or financial goals.


FedEx. Overnight Anywhere Guaranteed.

This is Purpose. This can capture the imagination of everyone in the company every single day. Not ROI…not a strategy to penetrate the market more deeply. Purpose. Overnight Anywhere Guaranteed. There is no way you can misconstrue the meaning of those three words.

Another example, we are consulting with a Printing and Promotional Product Firm called Dodson Inc. Their new motto: 24-5…meaning:
• a 24-hour response on all estimates.
• 5 days to deliver product.
It is the focal point of every activity in the company. This is Purpose.

A sidebar. With this company we have another interesting phenomenon. As they recruit salespeople, this company openly tells applicants, we want you to make more money than we do as owners. How many companies do you know that do that? Again, to that end, to insure the change they have striven for, Dodson created a liberal compensations package

• Engaging everyone in the company is in developing, refining, and renewing the ambition.

• Ensuring that the ambition, the Purpose is translated into measurable activities to provide a Continuous benchmark for achievement.

• Making it everyone’s responsibility to sustain a Sense of momentum—and a sense of excellence—every single day.

How does a company instill new organizational values?

By the ways it defines, measures and rewards performance”

To date many still follow traditional practice of focusing almost entirely on financial results. The old mantra has had its day. This is not to say- “remove all financial targets!” It is more a question of balance:

“It’s fine to emphasize what we must shoot for, but we also need to know what we stand for…”

This is more difficult than articulating a new strategy because it relies less on analysis and logic and more on emotion and intuition. For too long, I think, we have operated on a set of beliefs and philosophies which have remained implicit. Some would say we repressed discussion of these issues so that we didn’t take our eye off-the-ball or not to offend people who held difference views. We have tended to taken refuge in “safe” financial performance targets that can’t be easily disputed.How many such differences do we know exist in the rest of Organizations?

How could unresolved differences blow us off course?

There are three lessons for instilling new organizational values:

1. Build the new philosophy around the company’s existing value and belief system.
2. Maintain a high level of personal involvement (leaders) in this activity over many years.

“In the end managers are loyal not to a particular boss or even to a company, but to a set of values they believe in and find satisfying”-Goran Lindahl, ABB

3. Third, translate broad philosophical objectives into visible and measurable goals.

“Most businesses focus all the time on profits, profits. I think this is deeply boring. I want to create an electricity and passion that bonds people to the company; you have to find ways to grab their imagination. You want them to feel they are doing something important.”- Anita Roddick, Bodyshop

What has been your experience of building core values?

We can’t use the same methods for, say, driving down profit objectives and establishing new value sets…organizational cynicism brushes off such initiatives as “flavor of the month.”

We can’t instill new values through a crash program, so:

  • How can we build on the strengths and modify the limitations of our existing values without radical change?
  • Where we do have to confront values, how are we going to do that?
  • What sort of things would you advise in terms of rewards for people who try or actually do change?

Here are some thoughts…

Sowing the Message

Embedding values is obviously more than fine words. What lessons can we draw from research?

“talk, listen, and feel the atmosphere. Reiterate the new values at ever opportunity and tell stories that reflect their impact…” Jamie Houghton, Corning

Needless to say he supported such communication with concrete action to signal his seriousness of the change.

Measuring Progress

Many have found real problems in placing measures of progress on such things as value statements which don’t easily offer clearly defined goals. Unavoidably,

“the hard drives out the soft, and commitment to the desired values dissipates”

How can we avoid this? For Example-

Houghton’s approach was to publicize the new values (“world class company”) to the wider community repeatedly which contributed, overtime, to Corning being polled as “one of America’s most admired corporations.’ The result being that it could be measured by the extent to which employees identified with the standard- “world-class company”-and took pride in this achievement.

How do you do this in a rapidly changing world?

By giving meaning to people’s work-It goes to the heart of what will make or break the new structure.

Today’s world of work is rapidly changing. People’s loyalty continues to drift away from the Company and more toward activities they find intrinsically satisfying and congruent with their beliefs. This is especially true of consultancies, and ad agencies and other service organizations, etc. The more leaders have to rely on consultants and other specialists:

You cannot afford to have dissatisfaction due to a lack of such satisfaction or congruence.

The most successful companies’ studies, in this area, developed a new kind of relationship with their people.

• They translate big ideas down to a personal level
• They recognize people’s contribution and treate them like valuable assets.
• They ensure everyone understood how their roles fitted into the company’s overall purpose and how they could contribute personally to achieving it.
• They are committed to maximizing opportunities for personal growth and development.

How can we Recognize Individual Accomplishments?

Whilst international communications do help, the real core of recognition is not appreciated by many.

“Personal recognition must reflect genuine respect. People on the front lines are quick to recognize empty public relations gestures…”

In sum, any changes we make must improve the connection between the growth and development of organization with the growth and development of individuals.

Commit to developing employees

A clear message. Successful companies make a stronger commitment to personal development. Instead of simply training for job skills they develop their capacity for personal growth.

Anita Roddick said: “You can train dogs-We want to educate people and help them realize their full potential”

A large Consulting Group views the development of its people as a goal in itself and makes no proprietary claims to the skills and knowledge it develops. It’s recruiting brochure promises ‘after training with us, you could work for anyone…”

What else do leaders have to consider in releasing their people’s potential?

Fostering Individual Initiative

We have to develop a new momentum that improves recognition for individual initiative as the main source of growth. We have to find ways of institutionalizing this central belief in policies and procedures. For example:

“3M’s-15% Rule-which allows employees to spend up to 15% of their time on bootleg projects that they believe have potential for the company”

What conclusions do you draw on rewarding change?

Three steps:

1. Continually refocus on Purpose in a mutually inter-dependent-and collectively reinforcing manner. In short, have everyone involved. MOVIE: Stand by Me

2. Continually Demand Accountability involving traditional standards or measures and new standards/measures

3. Continually Gather Data.

The danger is that if we don’t address the issues companies become focused on narrow corporate self-interest. We will eventually lose the excitement, support and commitment of those people who are the very engines for change-our people. We have to find a way of defining, establishing and sustaining a set of values which:

• Creates a sense of identity
• Creates a sense of pride not only to those employed by to customers and others.
• Respects and gives attention to our people’s ideas and inputs
• Motivates and builds commitment to a shared sense of mission.

Great, but how can this help me?

This is probably the  first thing on your mind after reading this Blog.   How about asking us?  The first call is free!  Just email me to set it up.  Don’t wait, get The Crispian Advantage working for you!. If our conversation leaves you needing more, we offer at a reasonable fee telephone and video coaching on change, alignment, and personal and executive performance that improve the bottom line.  If that still doesn’t do it, we’ll work with you on a solution.

Aligning Expectations is a Two Way Street

This is the second in a series which goes to the heart of the challenge facing our economy  – Implementing Successful  and Sustainable Change.

Since 1996 when Kotter’s research revealed that only 30% of change initiatives succeed. Even today, when McKinsey surveyed 3000 business executives this ratio of 1 in 3 still applied in 2009.

You see for people to be clear on their expectations of others they need to understand the change from their perspective. The problem is that managers use rational models which they think just makes a common sense and why things go wrong from the get go Why?

Because when they simply implement their prescription, they disregard or are not aware of certain, sometimes irrational- but predictable elements of human nature. Unfortunately, Yes. I say that because only 30% of change works and only 10% of such initiatives deliver everything intended by those planning the change.

Why has this lack of success been so difficult to improve upon?

At its core is this quote from Rabbie Burns:

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us

Rabbie Burns

To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us”

 “O would some Power the gift to give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us”

Robert Burns

Another translation

The name of this radio program is “Walk the Talk” or translated “Do what I do” But what talk?

In times of change conventional wisdom suggests that the leaders of change should model the desired change to mobilize influential leaders to drive change deep into the organization yet….

So, you’re saying before leaders start walking their talk they need to be careful. What do you see as the pitfalls leaders should be aware of?

Two spring to mind.

First, Leaders think they have already made the change and we need to get everyone on side. Elaborate – behind closed doors – advisors, consultants etc.

Second, they think they are the panacea rather than mobilizing others to get things to happen.

Let’s take the first one.

Most senior executives generally buy into Gandhi’s astute observation:

Be the change you want to see in the world”

Yet knowing something and committing oneself to change too often don’t lead to significant results

So, leaders change their behavior and yet nothing happens…I am confused…

You might as well talk to yourself!

And so are leaders…..when they make a change. Too often most leaders don’t count themselves among those who need to change.

Like if you pulled them to one side and whispered “Are you really customer focused?” they would say “No” (I don’t have time to be…have you seen the paperwork I have to get through or ….P & L)

The fact is we all consistently think we are better than we actually are – in psychology it’s called “self serving bias”

For Example, 94% of men rate themselves in the top half of male athletic ability

So, when it comes to change Walking your Own Talk it’s not so much as a desire to show people what to do BUT the real bottleneck is leaders knowing what to change at a personal level.

It sounds like many leaders don’t take a cool hard look at themselves before embarking on “Walking the talk” and prescribing what others should do?

Exactly, we often see this in our alignment work. Consistently, leaders have 70%+ more expectations than others realize and leaders are often oblivious of what their people expect of them.

What can leaders do to overcome this potential blind spot?

The Ring of Fire

There are several ways using surveys like 360 degrees feedback, or simply asking regularly what should I be doing differently? Or one large company has what they call the “Ring of Fire”

Direct feedback in answer to

1.  “What makes you great?”

2. “What holds you back?”

Are people really going to reply honestly?

No, not if the climate has not been set.

Yes, if the Leaders don’t believe they are the cure all for their organizations problems.

Yet, it’s sound advice that they should mobilize others, who by experience, respect and ability can become influential it getting things to happen. Yet, too often the influential leader’s role has shifted from being that helpful element to a broad set of actions, to being a cure all.

It’s a mindset problem leaders have. They forget they need to create the framework for changes not persuade people to adopt their prescriptions for change.

That sounds like leaders should let people come up with their own solutions…

No & Yes.

Persuasion or selling the need for change and what the change needs to be get welded together in leaders’ minds.

Leaders need to create receptivity for change (Framework) and not stray into the debilitating arena of “I know what we need to do…..”

The dangers are that you are seen to be part of the problem, you risk cutting off the growing motivation to do something differently and focus people on being spectators of change rather than being players in the game.

In reality it is often unexpected people who feel compelled to step up to drive change e.g. Genzink Steel – work scheduler

That’s why keeping leaders focused on creating the framework of lasting change is vital.

Too often we see leaders vested in their narrow focus unwittingly excluding the very people the need to create this framework.

Ok. Got that. So, What does effective leadership look like?

If you turn to Robert Greenleaf’s philosophy it can help leaders create the frame and not try to build their house on their own.

“Greenleaf  – The servant-leader is servant first… Becoming a servant-leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first… The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and the most difficult to administer, is this:

  • Do those served grow as people?
  • Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

Robert Greenleaf’s most important work, Servant Leadership (1977/2002), is subtitled A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power & Greatness. Though his terms are secular ones, his definition of leadership is the clearest statement of this idea that the needs of followers are holy and that legitimate use of power arises from the consent of followers.

Like Christ washing the disciple’s feet – what did this do for their perception of his leadership?

Here’s a tip for now:

How often do you proactively ask for feedback?

Remember alignment is a two way street

  • What you expect of me
  • What I think you expect of me
  • What I expect of you
  • What you think I expect of you

Great, but how can this help me?

This is probably the  first thing on your mind after reading this Blog.   How about asking us?  The first call is free!  Just email me to set it up.  Don’t wait, get The Crispian Advantage working for you!. If our conversation leaves you needing more, we offer at a reasonable fee telephone and video coaching on change, alignment, and personal and executive performance that improve the bottom line.  If that still doesn’t do it, we’ll work with you on a solution.