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October 15, 2017

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Leaders Believe They Value Diversity, But Direct Reports Don’t Agreeby Zenger Folkman

How important is a leader’s commitment to creating a culture of inclusion?  How important is it that leader’s embrace and deliberately act to create a diverse organization?

In a recent Harvard Business Review article my colleague Joe Folkman and I shared our analysis of assessments from over 1.5 million raters describing 122,000 leaders from data collected over the last decade.  We were searching for new competencies that may have become more relevant and critical for leaders today than they had been in the past.  One of the most noteworthy competencies to emerge was the ability to value diversity and practice inclusive behavior.

Leaders were assessed on this capability through 360-degree feedback, collected from their manager, peers, direct reports and others with whom they worked.  Two of the items used to evaluate the effectiveness of leaders on this competency were:

• “Takes initiative to support and include people of different backgrounds and perspectives.”

• “Actively builds a climate of trust, appreciation and openness to differences in thoughts, styles and backgrounds.”

Note that the items evaluate a leader’s ability to create an inclusive environment.  The items take a broader view of diversity than merely  gender or race; and asked about diversity in background, perspectives, thoughts and styles.

(While our general conclusions come from our global database describing this competency, we  will  highlight results from one large global company.  The results shown below are based on data regarding over 4,000 leaders from that organization.)

Impact Of Valuing Diversity

We first sought to answer the question regarding the value and importance of this competency.  We can recall the time in years past when many saw this as just a “nice to have capability.” Is this now a critical competency that will impact the effectiveness and future success of a leader?  To answer that question objectively, we turned to the data.

In our first analysis, we conducted a “differentiation analysis” examining which behaviors would most effectively separate the best from the worst leaders.  We found that the two “diversity and inclusion” items were among the top 30 items.

We then analyzed the correlation between how a leader was rated on the diversity competency and their rating of their overall leadership effectiveness. The graph below shows the results.  Note that leaders who were rated very poorly on valuing diversity and inclusion were only rated at the 15th percentile on their overall leadership effectiveness.  Those who were rated in the top 10% on those two items were on average rated at the 79th percentile. This confirmed the strong correlation between a leader’s perceived overall effectiveness and their perceived inclusive behavior and actions that signaled that they valued diversity.

Correlation Between Valuing Diversity/Practicing Inclusion With Overall Leadership Effectiveness

It appears that displaying inclusive behavior and being perceived as valuing diversity is a key factor in elevating a leader’s overall perceived effectiveness.

Differences By Management Level, Gender And Ethnicity

Since the impact of valuing diversity and practicing inclusion was so significant, we were interested in conducting a demographic analysis of the data to understand which groups were more effective in practicing inclusion and valuing diversity.  We had demographic data on 1,628 of the leaders.  (It should be noted that this organization had an excellent track record around their practice of valuing diversity and practicing inclusion.)

In the demographic analysis, we compared the executive population of the more senior leaders to managers and supervisors.  We further analyzed the data by gender.  Not surprisingly, we found  that the executives and senior leader were rated significantly higher on their ability to value diversity and practice inclusion than were the middle managers and supervisors.

There were also absolute differences between males and females, but those differences were not statistically significant.  Repeatedly we have seen how prejudicial behavior by a senior executive can have an extremely negative impact on the culture of an organization.  Ensuring that senior leaders are perceived as being effective at valuing diversity and inclusion is a key factor today in organizational success.V

In this third analysis, we analyzed ratings of practicing inclusion by management level and by ethnicity.  We do not believe that these results are representative of any global or national trends but the analysis did bring out three especially important points.

1. Because a leadership team is itself diverse does not necessarily mean that they will be effective at valuing diversity and practicing inclusion. Valuing diversity is an attitude and mindset.  Practicing inclusion involves a set of behaviors that can be developed in leaders.  They are not automatically inherited simply because their current group is diverse.One of the authors was coaching a leader who was responsible for building the Japanese division of a global company and making it extremely successful.  After looking at his rating on valuing diversity the author thought, “There must be some mistake in the data,” because of the very low ratings.  Inquiring if the leader thought that this was an error the leader responded by say, “Oh no, it’s perfectly accurate. I have spent the last 10 years forcing our organization to conform to the Japanese culture and approach. I have been very inflexible.”

2. Self-perceptions in this arena are not highly accurate. Many leaders, especially the less effective ones, assume they are better at valuing diversity and practicing inclusion than they truly are. Conversely, those who are among the most effective leaders rate themselves as being less effective than others rate them.  It could be argued that individual leaders may know best about what’s in their heart, but others are in a far better position to objectively evaluate whether and how they practice inclusion in their day-to-day work.

3. Ideally senior leaders serve as role models and lead the way. If their behavior fails to convey valuing diversity and advocating inclusion then their direct reports will often emulate their leader. They absorb their attitudes and mimic their behavior.

Valuing Diversity And Practicing Inclusion Are Critical

The most progressive organizations throughout the world recognize the importance of this competency in their leaders.  Global organizations know this is a strategic advantage. Leaders who are less ineffective at this create significant problems that will haunt them and their organizations.   Fortunately, awareness and honest feedback bring change.  Intolerance and prejudice are not set in concrete, but can be modified.  Inclusive behavior along with valuing diversity can be developed.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

 

October 11, 2017

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Ep. 104: Asking for Feedback Giving you Nightmares? Tricks and Treats to Make Feedback Less Spooky!by Zenger Folkman

Knowing how you are perceived is critically important if you want to increase your influence as a leader—and getting useful feedback can be the fastest route to growth and improved performance.

Join Dr. Jack Zenger and Joyce Palevitz on this episode! They will arm you with a framework for powerful questions and preparation tips to guide your feedback conversations. It also may come in handy for those end of the year performance discussions you've been dreading....

While we can’t promise it will be painless, implementing these insights can make asking for feedback a lot less scary.

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October 6, 2017

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Leaders Aren’t Great at Judging How Inclusive They Areby Zenger Folkman

Many organizations today are making concerted efforts to become not only more demographically diverse but also more inclusive and welcoming of difference. The latter is much harder to measure than the former. It’s not that hard to count the percentage of women or people of color in your organization, but how can you tell if leaders in your organization are genuinely welcoming? Do leaders know if they are as welcoming as they think they are?

To explore this question, we analyzed one large organization with an excellent track record of hiring and promoting diverse candidates and a reputation for inclusion. This organization had hired us to administer 360-degree feedback assessments for roughly 4,000 leaders, and agreed to let us use that data for this analysis.

Leaders Aren’t Great Judges of Their Own Inclusiveness

We focused on two items that have stood out to us in over 10 years of administering 360-degree assessments with over 1.5 million raters describing 122,000 leaders:

  • “Takes initiative to support and include people of different backgrounds and perspectives”
  • “Actively builds a climate of trust, appreciation, and openness to differences in thoughts, styles and backgrounds”

When we compared leaders’ self-ratings with their ratings by bosses, peers, and subordinates, what we found was that many leaders assume they are better at valuing diversity than they actually are.

The graph below shows the senior leaders’ self-ratings and their ratings by direct reports.

What is clear in this graph is that leaders who are the worst at valuing diversity are more likely to overrate their effectiveness, and leaders who are the most effective tend to underrate their effectiveness. The implications of this data are: leaders are not good judges of their own effectiveness on valuing diversity; and those leaders who are poorest fail to see the problem, while those who are the best don’t realize their skill and capability.

This phenomenon is not limited to inclusiveness — the Dunning-Kruger effect, for example, explains that unskilled people are particularly prone to thinking they are more skilled than they are. Conversely, our research has found that many of the most skilled leaders are too humble and modest in assessing their strengths.

Nonetheless, we find this result particularly disturbing when we see it in the context of inclusivity. While a person’s effectiveness with any skill always needs to be based on the evaluations of others, rather than self-perception, it seems especially true in this case. Inclusivity is particularly in the eye of the beholder. You might intend to be inclusive, and even think you are inclusive, but your impact on others might be very different.

Inclusiveness and Effectiveness Track Together

Some leaders might be tempted to brush aside inclusivity as “political correctness” or “touchy-feely stuff.” But those leaders should pay particular attention to our next finding: a strong correlation between perceptions of inclusivity and overall leadership effectiveness.

Leaders who were rated very poorly on valuing diversity and inclusion were rated in only the 15th percentile for their overall leadership effectiveness, while those who were rated in the top 10% of those two items were rated in the 79th percentile.

This result does not surprise us. Repeatedly, we have seen how prejudicial behavior by a senior executive can have an extremely negative impact on the culture of an organization. Leaders who are ineffective at this create significant problems that will haunt them.

Senior Leaders Are More Inclusive

Using demographic data on 1,628 of the leaders, we conducted an analysis to see whether senior leaders or junior managers are seen as more inclusive.

When we compared the executive population of the more senior leaders with middle managers and junior supervisors, we found that the executives and senior leaders were rated significantly higher on their ability to value diversity and practice inclusion.

This might come as a surprise to some — senior executives are often assumed to be older, stodgier, and less innovative than younger, more junior leaders — but it did not surprise us. In many of our other studies, we have found that senior executives have accumulated more leadership and managerial skill than junior managers. Since inclusivity is closely associated with overall effectiveness in our results, it does not surprise us to learn that the more experienced, higher-ranking leaders are more competent on both. Moreover, it’s worth remembering that this is an organization that explicitly values diversity and inclusion, so it’s not surprising that it would promote people who are skilled at fostering both.

When we looked at senior leaders and lower-level managers by gender, we found that women were slightly more inclusive than men, but these differences were not statistically significant.

Valuing diversity is an attitude and mindset. Practicing inclusion involves a set of behaviors that can be developed in leaders. Our research has shown that self-perceptions in this arena are not highly accurate. While it could be argued that individual leaders may best know what’s in their hearts, others are in a far better position to objectively evaluate whether and how they practice inclusion in their day-to-day work.

 

This article was originally published on Harvard Business Review.

 

October 5, 2017

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eBook: Overcoming Today’s Workforce Challenges (feat. Erica Volini, Deloitte Consulting)by Zenger Folkman

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Erica Volini joins Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman in this edition of the Zenger Folkman podcast series to discuss the challenges she has observed in today’s workforce and some concrete ideas for overcoming them.

September 23, 2017

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Ep. 103: Overcoming Today’s Workforce Challenges (feat. Erica Volini, Deloitte)by Zenger Folkman

Erica Volini of Deloitte, joins Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman in this edition of the Zenger Folkman podcast series to discuss the challenges she has observed in today’s workforce and some concrete ideas for overcoming them.

Erica is the US Human Capital leader for Deloitte Consulting. In this role, she is responsible for the 4,000+ practitioners focused on helping organizations solve their most complex and pressing Human Capital issues. Throughout her 20-year career, Erica has worked with some of the world’s leading organizations across multiple sectors and geographies and is a frequent speaker on how market trends are impacting the HR organization and profession as a whole.

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What Solid Research Actually Says About Performance Appraisalsby Zenger Folkman

The world is currently witnessing a dramatic change in the practices of performance management.  The traditional annual performance appraisal process that has been deeply ingrained in organizations for decades is giving way to more frequent conversations between a manager and subordinate.  Ratings are being abandoned and replaced with discussions about performance; rather than a review of the past, the most progressive organizations are switching to discussions about the future.  In place of a manager writing a detailed performance analysis to be presented and discussed with a subordinate, the manager and subordinate are together setting stretch goals for the future.

Many organizations are leaping with great gusto onto these seemingly revolutionary new ideas.  They speak about it as if they had discovered the double helix that unlocks the human genetic code.

The annual performance review was a practice driven by two purposes.  The first was to justify salary actions; the second, to motivate employees to higher performance.  There were logical and seemingly compelling arguments for each of these purposes. However, one problem got in the way:  Those two purposes constantly butted heads with each other.

I am supportive of the need for a dramatic change in performance management, and believe the changes that many organizations are making of late are exactly the right ones.  The tragedy is that we are doing it 52 years later than we should have.

In 1965 an article, “Split Roles in Performance Appraisal,” was published in the Harvard Business Review by three highly respected psychologists who were employed by General Electric:  Herb Meyer, Emanuel Kay, and John R.P. French.   Not long before, the legendary Douglas McGregor (of theory X & Y fame) had written another HBR article, “An Uneasy Look at Performance Appraisal.”  Because of the interest this had stirred, the GE team decided to conduct research within GE on this topic.  Their findings were:

1. Criticism by a manager has a negative effect on the recipient. Although employees say they want more information about their performance, negative feedback does damage.  No one wants their year’s performance converted into a single Arabic digit.

2. Praise does little to change performance. (Later research suggests praise does improve the manager-subordinate relationship.)

3. Criticism generates defensiveness on the part of the subordinate, which in turn leads to poorer performance.

4. Coaching between a manager and a subordinate should occur day-to-day, and not be reserved for a once-a-year event.

5. Goal setting with clear targets and deadlines improves performance.

6. Participation by the subordinate in that goal setting process produces performance improvement.

Much has transpired in the 52 years between the publication of this well-conducted study and today.  A few findings that stand out to me are:

1. Repeated surveys of both employees and managers have shown that neither group liked the process of performance appraisal. In addition, the higher you moved in an organization, the less likely it was to occur.

2. Experts from the quality improvement discipline, amongst others, were constant critics of the negative impact of performance appraisals. Edwards Deming, James Juran, and Peter Drucker were consistent and vociferous critics of it.

3. The need to justify compensation decisions was allowed to eclipse the psychological pain inflicted by the appraisal process. Only lately have we had the courage to acknowledge that there is very little distinction between compensation changes for the large group in the middle of bell-curve.  In practice, the only people for whom there were real differences in compensation were those at the extreme ends of the curve.

My takeaways from these findings:

1. Pay attention to good research. Rather than embarking on an endless quest to conduct more surveys and perform more studies, find solid research and work to implement it.  Studies are doing little good if organizations don’t implement their findings.

2. Listen to the critics. For the past 60 years we’ve known that there were serious flaws in performance appraisals. There has been a large, respected, and diverse set of critics who were basically ignored. If everyone in the organization hates the performance appraisal process, perhaps something is wrong.

3. Question major assumptions. Performance appraisals being necessary for compensation decisions was, and remains to be, not true.  Performance appraisals motivating better performance was a myth that few people believed.  However, those were the two major justifications for the performance appraisal practice.

4. It only takes a few courageous, respected organizations to openly challenge a flawed concept. Many others will then follow.

If the medical profession ignored important advancements that had been discovered 50 years ago, such as penicillin or antibiotics, we would be aghast.  Keeping up with research is daunting; it is estimated that there are 2.5 million research studies published each year, and every discipline is inundated.  Ferreting out the practical and relevant studies is not easy, but there are nuggets of valuable information available if we read the respected journals that publish practical research. It is our duty to then apply this research within the leadership and management worlds.

This article was originally published on Forbes.

 

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Do Leadership Skills Decrease With Age? 3 Ways To Maintain Your Leadership Licenseby Zenger Folkman

 

Most professions have a licensing board that is charged with ensuring that people in that profession maintain and improve their skills. This is true for pharmacists, attorneys, engineers, and physicians.  What if those in leadership positions in every company or public-sector agency were also required to periodically show that they had taken active steps to maintain and improve their leadership skills?

One of the consistently lowest scores Zenger Folkman has found on our 360-degree feedback instruments is the question having to do with practicing self-development.  Most participants will say they aspire to become better leaders.  But when asked if they are overtly doing anything to accomplish that, the answer is typically “No.”  Less than 10 percent of leaders report that they have any personal development plan on which they are working.  For those who have any plan, when faced with any other challenge or demand at work, they acknowledge that their personal development is almost always put behind work demands.

How important is developing your leadership skills?  Let’s consider three perspectives:

1. Career success. A rising star in a Silicon Valley company was talking to a large group of younger managers.  The prime message of his talk was that he had decided early in his work career that every year he would deliberately choose some leadership behavior to improve. On his list were things such as delegation, strategic thinking, rigorous problem-solving, and becoming a better team player.  The audience was struck by this individual’s intense motivation for self-improvement.  Many we talked with were convinced that this had significantly contributed to his rapid rise in the firm.

2. Organizations need it. Whenever executives are asked about the state of their leadership pipeline, they invariably acknowledge their deep concern. They volunteer that the biggest constraint to their firm’s growth and long-term success is the dearth of strong leaders. Surveys consistently confirm that the number one issue facing CEOs is leadership development.As a result, organizations spend large sums of money to achieve it. It is estimated that US corporations spend roughly $50 billion per year on leadership development.

3. Personal satisfaction. Whatever game we are playing, most of us like to win – or at least perform respectably in the contest.  The same holds true for careers in organizations: it is always more fun when you are succeeding.  It is far more satisfying to be a highly respected leader versus one who is experiencing difficulties and receiving criticism from colleagues, bosses, and direct reports.

Do Leaders Generally Improve Over Time? 

On their own, do leaders generally get better over time?  To find out my colleague Joe Folkman and I analyzed data regarding more than 51,000 leaders.  For these leaders, we had 360-degree feedback data consisting of feedback from at least 13 of their colleagues regarding their leadership practices.  This feedback came from their boss, several colleagues, and their direct reports.

The 360-degree feedback instruments measured sixteen leadership competencies.  By combining those together we created an “overall leadership effectiveness” measure.  The table below shows the results by various age groups:

Overall Leadership Effectiveness by Age
Age Mean Percentile Number Participants
25 - 35 61.53 9,577
36 - 40 51.76 8,186
41 - 45 49.73 9,646
46 - 50 48.30 8,900
51 - 55 48.09 7,400
56 - 60 47.39 4,974
61 and over 47.01 2,725

Rather than improving over time, there is a steady decline from age 25 until retirement.

What do organizations offer leaders for their development?

1. Development programs. Most programs generally avoid measures of effectiveness, including improvement over time.

2. Performance appraisals. Appraisals have been an annual event in many companies; however, many firms are in the process of revamping their performance management system.  Traditional appraisals were focused primarily on evaluation and not development.  Newer approaches are focused on improving future performance and not directly on evaluating the leader’s capabilities.

3. Assessments, especially multi-rater feedback or 360-degree feedback. Unfortunately, most companies have a “one and done” process.  Only a few of the most sophisticated organizations have repeated measures, on a 12 to 18 month cycle.  Those firms track the individual leader’s progress.

What We Know About Personal Change

Many people are working on some target of personal change.  It could be to lose weight, or to become more physically fit.  Still others elect to learn a language, or a skill such as skiing.  Whatever the target, we know that success in any of these requires more than a one-time event.  Unless there is a sustained effort, frequent assessments of performance, and an ultimate target, no one should be surprised if no progress is made.

What Should Organizations Do If They Want Better Leaders?

The organization needs to establish an ongoing process of evaluation and feedback, designed to help leaders practice and improve in order to further their development.

There are several ways to provide sustainment and follow-up.  There can be:

• Follow-on development sessions

• Coaching discussions with internal or external coaches

• Periodic articles to read or videos to watch, with discussion

• Repeated 360-degree feedback

• Specific job assignments that require the application of a specific competency

Whatever the activity, the keys to success are continuity, persistence, managerial attention, and emphasis on improvement.

How long has it been since your last leadership behavior checkup?  More than 18 months?  It may be time to ask for an infusion of self-awareness and the motivation that comes with that.  Volunteer to participate in development sessions.  Convey your interest in regular feedback.  Express your willingness to have a coach – including a peer coach.  Create a plan for the relentless pursuit of improvement.

This article was originally published on Forbes.

 

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How To Effectively Grow Your Confidence At Workby Zenger Folkman

Someone struggling with their confidence often receives the advice, “Just be more confident!”  The question then becomes, “How?”  I was determined to discover if there were some skills that have more influence over a person’s confidence than others. For those who lack confidence, or those trying to build the confidence of others, what behaviors create a high probability of building their confidence while also making them a better leader?

To understand this question, my colleague, Jack Zenger, and I created two datasets. In the first we compiled the results from a self-assessment of confidence. We collected data on 7,800 individuals from which we created a valid measure of confidence.

The second was an assessment from managers on 49 key behaviors that enable leaders to perform exceptionally well. On this assessment, we collected data from more than 75,000 managers that accurately predicts a variety of organizational outcomes, such as turnover, customer satisfaction, engagement of direct reports, and profit. We matched the two datasets and found 330 cases where the confidence assessment aligned with manager competence ratings on the 49 behaviors.

We then identified 15 behaviors with highly significant correlations, concluding that these behaviors may do more to build a person’s confidence than other behaviors. However, because these finding come from correlations, it is also possible that highly confident individuals simply tend to perform these behaviors more effectively than individuals whose confidence is low. It is impossible in this scenario to sort out cause and effect. What we do know is that improvement on these behaviors will help a person to be a better leader, which should help a person’s confidence rise.

Behaviors that Build Confidence

By factor analyzing the 15 behaviors we identified 10 clusters of items. The clusters are listed by the strength of their correlations.

1. Skilled Communicator. Communication is the most malleable skill, and research shows it is the easiest trait to develop. Many people who have gone through a public speaking class have struggled through their first presentation, but after instruction and practice see significant improvement. Communicating clearly and providing others with a clear direction builds confidence quickly.

2. Clear Priorities. Imagine yourself overwhelmed with a variety of important priorities without clear insight into which was most critical. For most people, this would cause them to be confused, frustrated, and much less confident. Having clear priorities boosts confidence because it provides clear guidelines on how to succeed.

3. Accomplishing Stretch Goals. What happens to a person’s confidence when they accomplish something that seemed impossible? It increases substantially! Many have also experienced failures in which the impossible was, in fact, “impossible.” We believe confidence is built by attempting stretch goals and experiencing both the success and failures from these out-of-the-park efforts.

4. Demonstrate Energy and Enthusiasm. There is an interesting experiment which begins with measuring a person’s happiness. The person was then asked to put a pencil across their mouth and bite down for a short time, which caused them to approximate a smile. After doing this for a short time, people reported being happier. High confidence is strongly associated with the act of showing energy and enthusiasm. If a person can fake it until they make it, their demonstration of energy and enthusiasm builds confidence.

5. Represent the Group. Asking a team member to represent the team in a presentation or meeting can be challenging for some people, but it also sends a message that they are trusted and respected. This is a great way to help people build confidence.

6. Technical Expertise. Do you remember how you felt in school when you knew the answer? A great way to increase confidence in others is to allow them the time and support to become an expert. Many high potential programs use the approach of moving young employees to different functions every few months. This is counterproductive to confidence. While it helps young employees gain a broad perspective in the company, it often sets them up with only general knowledge and no deep expertise.

7. Deliver Results. Give people a piece of work that they can be responsible for and control. When a person delivers the expected results, they become more confident.

8. Coaching Others. Set people up as coaches to others who are still learning. Helping others to learn new skills reinforces the importance of your own knowledge and skills.

9. Become a Champion. Give people the opportunity to be in charge. This implies they are trusted and respected and can boost their confidence.

10. Solves Problems. Most people have had that eureka moment when they were able to solve a difficult problem. Too often managers who know the solution don’t provide direct reports with the opportunity to solve difficult problems themselves. When we allow others to solve problems, they often find unique solutions and innovative approaches, thereby building their confidence.

No matter the age or the experience of a person, there are times in everyone’s life when confidence suffers. Look through the above list and pick at least one behavior that you can improve, then watch your confidence increase.

This article was originally published on Forbes.

 

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Your Indecision Is Costing Too Much! 8 Proven Behaviors To Help You Be More Decisiveby Zenger Folkman

 As the pace of change increases, the ability of leaders to make high-quality decisions quickly and accurately is a critical leadership capability. One might think with the influx of information available to us today that good decisions would be easy to make. In many ways, a tyranny of choice occurs when leaders have access to so much information and so many potential choices: decisions become more difficult to make. Bad decisions can put organizations in jeopardy for obvious reasons, but delayed decisions can also hurt by losing competitive advantage.  Organizations need leaders who can quickly look at the facts, discuss options, and make a decision. While it seems simple, it is not as clear what skills are needed to enable leaders to develop this skill.To better understand decisiveness, I looked at data from 589 leaders. Each was given feedback on their ability to be decisive and make high quality decisions, and were evaluated using 360-degree feedback collected from their manager, peers, direct reports, and others with whom they worked.  The following four behaviors were used to evaluate their decisiveness:

• Makes decisions and continually moves forward

• Keeps decisions moving forward in an environment of uncertainty

• Balances reflection with decisiveness

• Makes good decisions based on a mixture of analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgment

To examine the impact of decisiveness on a leader’s perceived effectiveness, we first looked at independent potential ratings for the leaders as identified by their organizations.  We then compared those ratings to the overall 360-degree ratings on decisiveness.  The graph below shows the results.  Leaders who were identified as having high potential scored 10 percentile points higher on their decisiveness than those who were identified as promotable, and 20 percentile points higher than those who were assigned to develop in place. All the differences here are statistically significant.

This analysis shows that a leader’s ability to be decisive significantly affects their leadership potential. What can a leader do to become more decisive?

What Enables Leaders to Be More Decisive?

In further analysis of the 360-degree results, I identified the 20 leadership behaviors that were most strongly correlated with decisiveness. Using a factor analysis, I then identified the eight factors that enabled leaders to make decisions quickly and effectively.  Improvement on these behaviors will help a leader to become more decisive.

1. Risk Taking. A leader who is decisive is willing to take risks. Some leaders believe that if they look at all the data, understand all the contingencies, and calculate all the potential problems, the right decision will magically appear. However, when leaders attempt to do all the analytics, many develop “analysis paralysis” and are unable to make a decision. It is good for leaders to analyze data, look at trends, and anticipate problems. However, eventually leaders need to take a risk and make a decision. When leaders recognize that most decisions are risks, they also acknowledge that they might make the wrong one.

2. Communicates Powerfully. Decisive leaders are excellent communicators who continuously keep others informed, while indecisive leaders keep information to themselves. When leaders are effective at sharing information, often other people raise additional questions or push back on assumptions. This helps leaders to become smarter about the decisions they are making.

3. Strategic Perspective. The most decisive leaders were strategic, while the least decisive were tactical. By only looking at a decision from the view of the next few months, leaders have only a short-term perspective.  Many of their decisions can cause a temporary dip in performance.  Taking the long view helps in making a good decision fit into the longer-term strategy of the organization.  Without the long view, leaders often steer away from a good decision which could result in significant competitive advantage.

4. Technical Expertise. It is difficult to make a decision when you are in over your head technically. Most leaders who encounter this problem daily have two choices: dive in and learn quickly, or pull in others and collaborate. The best leaders involve others with deep expertise. This requires humility on the leader’s part, but the process of asking others for help and working together allows the leader’s expertise and technical depth to increase.

5. Courage. When making a tough decision, there is a moment that requires courage and the ability to stand alone. While others may have contributed to a decision, leaders need to be willing to be the accountable person.

6. Drives for Results. When a good decision fails to be implemented, it quickly turns into a bad decision. Leaders who do not follow through, or fail to act quickly, will not have a successful decision. I often refer to this important capability in being decisive as “push.”

7. Inspires. For a decision to be implemented there is also a need for “pull.” Leaders who can inspire and motivate energize others to change, making it far more likely for their decisions to be implemented.

Zenger Folkman offers a self-assessment that measures your preference for pushing or pulling. The assessment can be found at: http://zengerfolkman.com/preferences-for-motivating/

8. Integrity. Leaders who have a strong sense of integrity are able to be more decisive. It can be very clear what choice to make when asked the question, “What is the right thing to do?” Often asking that one question can take a very complicated and complex problem and make it very simple.

For leaders who see the value of becoming more decisive, improving a few of these behaviors will have a profound positive impact on their ability to do so.

This article was originally published on Forbes.

 

September 5, 2017

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Ep. 102: How to Do Truly Great Work in Your Organization (feat. David Sturt, O.C. Tanner)by Zenger Folkman

David Sturt, author of Great Work and Executive Vice President at O.C. Tanner, joins Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman in this edition of the Zenger Folkman podcast series to discuss his research into how people can make a difference—what they think about, what they do, and how their leaders help them achieve extraordinary results.

Sturt regularly consults with industry leaders and speaks at conferences in the U.S., Canada, and the UK. He has studied and analyzed the effects of people being recognized for great work and has distilled that information in his new book, Great Work: How To Make A Difference People Love from McGraw-Hill.

Download the free eBook for "How to Do Truly Great Work in Your Organization"

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