How can you display entrepreneurship within your existing organisation?

The news feeds have been full of stories about Alibaba securing its place as the world’s largest-ever stock market flotation at $25bn and a market capitalisation of more than $230bn. The story of itsfounder Jack Ma’s long, improbable journey from English language teacher to the richest man in China seems to fly in the face of traditional leadership and entrepreneurship principles. How does an English teacher attract and inspire technical, financial and even other enterprise experts? Where are his commercial credentials? Could his lasting devotion to Winston Groom’s legendary hero Forrest Gump really have provided him with the attitudes and behaviours necessary to succeed as he maintains? read more Exposure to opportunityHe maximised his exposure to foreigners and the English language by giving free English language tours to visitors around Hangzhou's West Lake providing him a rare window to life outside China and future possibilitiesAttending Hangzhou's Teachers University where he studied to be a high school English Language Teacher proved providential in two ways: It gave him a cultural advantage rarely enjoyed by his counterparts in other countries. The Chinese have the saying: “Even if someone is your teacher for only a day, you should regard him like your father for the rest of your life.” This gave him later access to a large pool of software engineers, formerly his students, who trusted and respected him. It enabled him to become a Chinese to English interpreter for a trade delegation to Seattle in 1995 where he saw for the first time the Yahoo Portal and how it connected users to the internet. Recognition of needThough not coming from a technical background, he understood what Chinese people needed and wanted. He regarded the internet and the newly emerging e-commerce as a way of addressing these issues. Establishing collaborations and learning what doesn't workHis ultimately doomed China Pages directory service joint venture with China Telecom taught him what not to do with regard to future collaborations. In 2000 Ma received an additional $20m start-up funding from Asia's leading Internet venture, the Masayoshi Son Softbank, who also ran Yahoo! Japan in what would be another critical foreign relationship for him. Defining the business modelIn 1999, in the very early days of e-commerce, he received funding from Goldman Sachs for Alibaba. Goldman had predicted B2B e-commerce to be a $4.5 trillion market by 2005. This episode exposed him to the then prevalent US ecommerce business models that focused on serving large enterprises and helping them save money. However, Ma set up Alibaba to help small companies make more money. Fulfilling a real needThe enterprise was started in his home province of Zhejiang that was already home to hundreds of thousands of manufacturing merchants. A more careful study of the deliberate choices Ma made together with the principles he adhered to, skills he acquired and lessons he learned reveal that he was displaying classic entrepreneurial behaviours. Can these be learned or are they in-born? Is it really possible to adopt an entrepreneurial mind-set to maximise opportunities, foster creativity and address challenges? How can you display entrepreneurship within your existing organisation? Acquire the necessary skills to become an Organisational Entrepreneur or ‘Intrapreneur’ yourself or learn how to develop potential intrapreneurs you’ve identified on our dynamic ‘Enabling Intrapreneurship’ workshop. In addition, determine if these individuals have really got what it takes by looking at our FDA Full Depth Assessment that examines the key dimensions of the Intrapreneurial Mindset as well as the necessary personality characteristics.

Research: Why Rejected Internal Candidates End Up Quitting

HBR published an article ( JR Keller and K. Dlugos their research with 9,000 rejection experiences indicates that internal job applicants who are rejected are twice as likely to leave as those who had not applied. the consequences to the company are severe- loos of productivity, motivation and the cost and time involved in replacing these candidates.The reasons for dissatisfaction with the interview process:1. those internal candidates NOT interviewed by the hiring manager were more likely to leave and feel dissatisfied by the rejection.2. Less likely to leave if an internal candidate was appointed rather than an external one Learnings from the research: organisations should be 'thoughtful' about who they want to include in the 'must interview' list. An applicant tracking system have the capability to track their high potential or star performers - those they definitely want to retain within the organisation, so whoever is interviewing has this information. Consideration should be given to upskilling internal candidates through coaching and mentoring in order to make them 'ready' for the next step role. This will result in increased motivation of internal candidates, retention of difficult to recruit candidates, financial savings in recruiting external candidates and losses of unsuccessful internal applicants. for the full article see HBR July 22, 2021

Using words wisely – how leaders can motivate others

Fixed and growth mindsets and how it affects failure or success is an area that Carol Dweck has researched and written about widely.Yesterday, I was discussing with a group of leaders how by choosing their words wisely they can create better performance in their staff or colleagues. These words create a fixed or a growth mindset in the receiver's thoughts. It is easy to do and evidence based. Changing a leader's habitual style of speaking to others may prove difficult to shift but that is where an excellent executive coach comes into play. For more information contact me Nina Len at dweck, #leadership, #growth mindset

Three powerful ways to advance your career

Know your vision for your career Have you a clear picture in your mind of your longer term career objectives?Can you visualise yourself in that role? If so, write your career aspirations down. By creating a personal development plan you will be able to assess where you are now and what skills and experience you lack in order to reach your objective. Neuroscience has shown that you need to be planful about developing new behaviours and put together a ‘practice plan’. That is to schedule in your diary specific times when you will practice new skills in order to embed them. Get feedback from a variety of sources You cannot assume that your view of your effectiveness corresponds to others’ perspective. A 360 feedback survey such as the ‘Q-OPD Measuring Change 360’, is an important means of gaining frank and honest feedback from your work colleagues in a safe and confidential way. You can, of course, just ask others to give you verbal feedback but often people will put a positive spin on their comments so as to not to damage their relationship with you. Use an Executive Coach to challenge your assumptions and help develop your critical thinking skills. Find an ‘inhouse mentor’ to help you manage the organisational politics. Develop your communication and influencing skills The higher you rise within an organisation the greater number of people you will need to influence. By understanding your communication preferences by going through a robust personality assessment such as Lumina Spark, you will be able to flex your style to appeal to a wider range of people. As a leader you need to have your ideas heard and bought into, developing your influencing, communicating and presentation skills is a must.

Why Leadership Programmes Fail: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

In order to save time, money and build more capable leaders organisations need to avoid four common mistakes according to an article by McKinsey & Co. Studies sadly show that, despite the huge amounts of money spent on training, after 12 months only about 10% of the material covered is retained or put into action by the attendees. According to their research, the four common mistakes to be avoided are: 1. Underestimating mind-sets – Becoming an effective leader often requires behaviour change. This often requires a change in the in the ‘mind-set’ that drives the behaviour, i.e. the beliefs and attitude that keep certain behaviours entrenched. Development that incorporates personality assessment goes a long way to opening the individual’s eyes to their preferred ways of being. Effective behaviour change solutions require a means to practice new behaviours consistently in the workplace. Smart technology solutions such as the QOPD ‘Talent Enabler’ use the latest thinking in neuroscience to help people to transfer & embed new behaviours to their workplace, thereby, creating sustainable change and ROI on training investment 2. Overlooking the context of the development – The assumption that ‘one size fits all’ and that the same skills sets will be effective regardless of culture, economic climate or the organisational strategy. Therefore, the question to ask when planning a development programme is: “What is this programme wanting to achieve? How do we want these individuals to behave following the programme in this particular context?” 3. Putting the new skills to work – Most people learn by doing. So how can the organisation provide opportunities for delegates to apply their knowledge to address high priority needs? E.g. accelerating a new project launch or developing a new digital marketing strategy. 4. Failing to measure the results & ROI – Organisations often run leadership development programmes with no useful metrics in place at the start of the programme and therefore cannot get sound ROI data. Solutions would include:Using robust 360 feedback measures. However, many 360s are too light weight and do not provide valuable data. 360 feedback systems need to be carefully chosen and probably customised to get the best results. QOPD Strengths & Gaps 360 is a robust 360 process which provides comparative pre and post 360 reports.Monitoring career development of the leaders for a few years after the trainingMeasuring changes in employee engagement resulting from the changes in the leadership behaviours being displayed.Monitoring the business impact, e.g. increased productivity pre- and post-training.By being reminded of these ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’, organisations can put specific processes in place that will significantly increase their return of on investment of leadership development interventions. For the full article, click here

Hiring is Getting Tougher

A recent survey (AGS) on hiring levels showed that globally 51% of organizations report they are taking on staff, in Western Europe 35% of companies are currently hiring. This brings additional problems as many are competing for 'ideal fit' top candidates. Part of the solution is to throw the net wider and interview individuals who may have great potential but are not an exact fit for the role. The spectre of time and money being wasted by hiring the wrong candidate is always on the horizon. Research from USA shows that for senior positions up to 55% of recent appointees fail in the first year of appointment ( Hogan & Hogan).Therefore smart companies are reducing recruiting mistakes by using external specialists to help profile the role, culture and candidate fit using customised personality assessments which provides a candidate profile (such as our Full Depth Profile) to explore traits and competencies that can’t be seen easily at interview thus adding depth to the interview process enabling a better choice to be made.

Evidence-based practice and the Long Tail of Performance and Talent

As occupational and organisational psychologists we’re often asked how we differ from regular consultancies. One key area is our evidence-based approach, i.e. our structured and mindful evaluation and use of current best evidence in designing and delivering solutions. This causes us to display a healthy scepticism to even widely accepted ‘truths’ or general assumptions. One such ‘truth’ is that most variables such as intelligence, ability, performance and talent, etc. are normally distributed throughout a given population and can be described by the famous Bell or Gaussian curve. Here you have roughly equivalent numbers of individuals distributed either side of a mean or average with outliers forming tails on the extreme left and right. Most individuals can be found in the main body of this symmetrical curve. Therefore, this model suggests that the average organisation will have a small number of very high performers, an equivalent number of very low performers and most employees clustered near the average. The following illustration shows a typical Bell or Gaussian Curve for approx. 100 individuals (click the image to enlarge it):

Leaders, Emotional Intelligence & Luck

Research has shown that most business and promotion opportunities come through recommendation and personal contacts, so why is it that some people seem luckier than others? How is it that some people always seem to be in the right place at the right time? Is it just pure luck or is there something more to it? Are people born lucky or can luck be created? Can you increase the amount of luck you experience in your life? Professor Richard Wiseman, an expert on luck, draws the distinction between ‘Chance’ and ‘Luck’. Chance is defined as something that is totally out of an individual’s control – like winning the lottery – whereas when people describe themselves as consistently lucky or unlucky then it is probably due to something they are doing. Exploring the issue further he did indeed find differences in the attitudes and behaviours of Lucky people compared with Unlucky people. Read more

The Neuroscience of Leadership & Change

Neuroscience in the context leadership, offers an evidence-based approach to address the challenges leaders face in today’s fast paced organisations. The traditional view of an effective leader is one who gets results, increases the bottom line and maximises the productivity of workers. All noble activities but often achieved at the cost of employee engagement, innovation, retention, trust – and bottom line results. Why should organisations and their leaders be interested in neuroscience? Because organisations, in response to Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous environment as well as predictable competitor, governmental and ecological pressures, have to change in order to survive. As a result, leaders by definition must deliberately, willfully and continuously create and implement change. Unfortunately change is perceived by our brains as a potential threat. Read more

360 Feedback# Enabling Leaders To Lead Across Different National Cultures

We are increasingly involved in designing and implementing 360 feedback assessments for organisations that want to use the 360 feedback not only across EMEA but also globally. Organisations require leaders to lead internationally, connecting with teams in their home countries and working in culturally diverse workforces. In order to be effective certain competencies or capabilities become critical for effectiveness. Organisations need to consider these behaviours and include them in the 360 feedback behavioural item questions used to grow leadership talent. An interesting article by Clodagh O'Reilly (for the full article see her LinkedIn blog) makes clear some of the leadership constraints across culture. We have included some extracts from her article below. When employees report they follow effective leaders, the average employee engagement score is 91% – compared to 17% for employees who report neutral or ineffective leaders (SWI, 2011).The impact this can have on organisational performance is significant. Organisations scoring in the top 25% of leadership effectiveness realized a 5.7 times greater diluted earnings per share (a measure of company profit) in the following year than organisations scoring in the bottom 25% (SWI, 2011).The impact this can have on organisational performance is significant. Organisations scoring in the top 25% of leadership effectiveness realized a 5.7 times greater diluted earnings per share (a measure of company profit) in the following year than organisations scoring in the bottom 25% (SWI, 2011). Read moreClearly, whilst ‘effectiveness’ has some absolute measures, it crucially has some that are culturally determined. These cultural determinants can be both national/geographical and also organisational, in particular as displayed by sub-cultures, i.e. those that apply to individual operating divisions or silos. Leadership themes that are common across cultures - engaging diverse teamsWhen asked this question: “What is the most important thing you want from your employer?”, research shows people respond similarly across different countries, industries and job roles. This is heartening news as leaders who have been effective in engaging employees in one geography or from a particular cultural group, could likely engage employees in other geographies/groups as well.However, the behaviours required to effectively engage individuals are not consistently observed in leaders; many leaders may need support to learn to how to display these.The requirements of leaders who wish to motivate employees to perform at their highest levels are shared below:Recognition. Employees want ‘a pat on the back’ and they want their views to count. Essentially, they want to be recognised and appreciated as valued team members – particularly by the person who should be most familiar with their work: their line manager.Exciting work. Employees want a job that’s challenging, interesting, and fun. They want a sense of accomplishment, and they want to feel the time they’ve spent at work has been worthwhile.Security of employment. Employees want job security. They want to feel confident about their organisation’s future, and they want stability and steady work so they can meet their financial obligations.Pay. Employees want to be compensated fairly for the work they do and the contribution they make (through base pay, bonuses, and benefits). The important word here is fair. We all want to feel that we are being treated fairly and that our performance is evaluated on merit.Education and career growth. Employees want to be given opportunities to develop their skills and to advance their career. 360 feedback when used well and with a 360 report that shows strengths and gaps can help employees direct their career.Conditions. We don’t work in a vacuum; what happens around us matters. Employees want a well-equipped environment that is comfortable, healthy, and safe.Truth. Finally, employees want to be told the truth. They want to work for honest and transparent managers who act with integrity and who communicate openly and directly.​Behaviours associated with High Performing Leaders that contribute to employee engagement, that are generally well developed in executive populations are:Building confidence. Personally building others’ confidence of one’s capacity to succeed and create a successful team, business unit or organisation; creating a positive, optimistic and enthusiastic atmosphere.Communicating effectively. Communicating convincingly and with vitality; building communication strategies to present clearly and concisely for all audiences at all levels internally and externally.The behaviours that are commonly under-developed in many executive populations, which contribute to employee engagement and correlate with intercultural sensitivity, are:Influencing people. Forming supportive alliances, working with others to ensure practical support for necessary change or resource in their team, unit or organisation. Developing talent. Taking personal responsibility for supporting and developing others by acting as a mentor, coach, or trainer, modelling effective behaviour, getting others to practice this behaviour and using constructive feedback to enhance their capabilities.Fostering collaboration. Facilitating dialogue between team members and teams, business units and across divisions to utilise the full potential of the wider organisation to create solutions and achieve outcomes.Establishing trust. Accounting for others’ needs and views and validating own understanding of another's ideas, feelings or beliefs; enables others to do the same.​​Research indicates that certain practical differences apply to the skills required for Leaders to operate effectively in certain territories for example:A highly operational focus will be more appropriate for leaders working in markets that are emerging and/or developing at pace (e.g. India), where getting products to market quickly will be more important than longer-term strategic planning. Often it will be necessary for leaders to be directive and ‘commanding’. In Nordic markets, however, where organizations have flatter structures, communication skills and influencing skills are of particular importance for a leader.The good news is that all these behaviours can be developed with the appropriate focus, practice and feedback that 360 feedback affords. The value of the QOPD strengths and gaps 360 survey is that it identifies to what extent the leader is currently using these crucial behaviours and also captures to what extent others would like them to be used. This enables participants to target their development accurately and hone the specific skills that will make them more effective. To discuss ways of developing and implementing a culturally sensitive 360 feedback process contact us