The Global Government Forum’s Responsive Government Survey shone a light on the different perspectives that leaders and other members of government organizations have about their performance. Compared to 2021, recent research found that public and civil servants have lost confidence in government responsiveness. Despite this, there is a high percentage of respondents—most notably belonging to those in leadership positions—who believe that their agency is more than capable of learning and responding rapidly.
This positive outlook is present across the board among those in leadership roles, 73% of whom agreed that leaders were open to adopting new methods to better serve the public. This is in contrast to just 56% of managers and non-managers who agreed when asked the same question. Things are no different regarding morale, as 64% of leaders agree that it was high, in contrast to the overall response score of 54%.
Former cabinet secretary of Canada and current Jarislowsky chair of public sector management at the University of Ottawa Michael Wernick said, “It’s really important [for leaders] to develop [an] awareness of how their workforce is perceiving things—to take the pulse of their organization regularly and to deliver proof points to them.” Source: Global Government Forum
Stay ahead and empowered! Dive into the dynamic world of government strategy and performance management with the PERFORMANCE Magazine Issue 27, 2023 – Government edition. Download the magazine’s digital version at the TKI Marketplace and via Amazon for printed copies.
Editor’s Note: This article is the first part of the series titled “How To Succeed at Leading People Through Change.”
Change in any organization is currently becoming the norm of their structure and tackling internal and external issues. Moving to a new market or introducing a new product or service or even a feature is considered a change, also introducing a new process or policy or guideline inside the company is also considered a change. Whether change is small or big, it needs to be managed and tackled properly, and leaders should accept that managing change should become part of the culture to continuously build on and improve instead of considering it once in a time thing that we tackle and close (Robert H. Schaffer 2017).
In managing change, considering the different parties and tools involved is a matter of importance, while it’s critical also to consider a full model to do so. This is where you can oversee what is involved and what areas need to be identified and tackled to have a sound and integrated approach towards leading a change that is led and managed completely, with flexibility and enough room for learning and improvement (EFQM 2020).
The world is continuously changing, and now it’s faster than ever, with the fourth industrial revolution, new and more technologies and digital disruption being presented and offered around the world. These affect almost all organizations regardless of the sector and region they work in (Ravin Jesuthasan and Marie S. Holmstrom 2016).
While these effects can be considered as opportunities or threats or both, leaders still need to align them with internal strengths and areas for improvement to fulfill strategies and identify a complete strategic direction to act upon the external environment using capabilities now and in the future. All of this means that we are in a storm of changes, and those who succeed and sustain are the ones who can lead these changes efficiently and effectively. Leaders need to be ready, not only by using their past experiences but also by absorbing the changes around them. This also means developing their skills, competencies, and ways of doing work to manage the current era’s workforce, embed innovation in how things are done, and tweak challenges for change to succeed (The KPI Institute 2019).
Leading Change Is a Journey
Most CEOs focused on leading change in cost cutting, like Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. However, Fred Hassan, the CEO of Schering-Plough who undertook multiple acquisitions, focused on leading change in sales performance improvement because he believed it would positively affect other business areas and support the long-term initiatives. As a CEO and top leader, he believed that being the one who unites the business behind the right purpose and direction, cares about people, and provides needed support is the important aspect that supports the growth of the business and the harmony between people. Differences in culture among people shouldn’t be regarded as a disadvantage in terms of managing salespeople or a reason to change strategies in managing sales as they are usually extroverted and understand what needs to be done. They even care more about their linkages with the company and how they are being rewarded and cared for (Thomas A. Stewart and David Champion 2006).
It all starts by identifying the need for change and creating the importance of such a change that is bought equally by all people inside the organization. Such attention to change is shared as high enough. No less than 75% of company management believe that change is needed and that the current business can longer sustain itself. The change any organization wants to undertake needs to be aligned with a sound and clear vision that is integrated into the change they want to happen. However, achieving a vision can take time, and during the journey, people need to realize they are doing well and that they are achieving a part of this vision and getting rewarded for such positive progress. Accordingly, setting clear milestones along the way, with clear results to be achieved and shared with everyone, is needed among change teams. This will boost motivation, collaboration, productivity, and satisfaction for teams and team members involved (John P. Kotter 1995).
Defects are easy to be created during change; thus control gates need to be identified and constraints need to be eliminated. This includes acting upon any of such constraints in a timely manner and making sure that decisions are taken in alignment with the change with no fear of such decisions as everyone agrees that they are needed to move forward efficiently (The KPI Institute 2021).
Leading change also affects leaders by expecting them to lead change and be ready for such a change. Leaders may act slowly trying to absorb change and reflect on their management style. This involves an evaluation of how to manage work during or after change. Meanwhile, a failure in reacting efficiently to the change may cause damages in the relationship between leaders in the organization and will put pressure on all efforts made to succeed in any transformation or change, as they may not be ready to deal with it or don’t realize what is needed to be done. So, it’s not only the organization that requires transformation and change to meet new needs or changes in the external environment. Another layer in this change is the company leaders who need to work in parallel and identify what is needed from them to change or to create to be the right ambassadors for the needed change and also be able to manage it (Cassandra Frangos 2018).
Leaders need to acknowledge the past to build on the future and drive the new change forward. This includes learning from past experiences, whether they are driving a change in their current company or even joining a new company and starting a new change. It doesn’t mean that previous challenges and failures done by other leaders don’t relate to current leaders trying to drive a new change. However, all leaders need to acknowledge the past, the disappointments of employees, and their lack of trust in new initiatives. Learning from the past includes conducting a baseline assessment of the current situation in the organization and understanding the internal factors that negatively affected the past changes and how these factors can affect the new change. Such assessment needs to be shared with change teams and employees to explain what was going on and what we have now in hand to use for the new change (Ron Carucci 2019).
To learn more about developing the strategy of your organization in times of change, sign up for The KPI Institute’s Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional Live Online Course.
Emotional intelligence can improves business results often by order of magnitude. Today, the leader’s mood plays an important role in this dynamic. New research has shown that leaders should redefine what they do first and best.
The human mind proves that leaders’ moods could affect the feelings of those around them. The reason for that lies in what scientists call the open-loop nature of the mind`s limbic gadget, which relies upon outside assets to control itself and serves as our emotional center. However, the closed-loop gadget is self-regulating, and our mood usually depends on our connections with different humans. The open-loop limbic gadget is a triumphing layout in evolution. It allows humans to come to one another’s emotional rescue; for example, permitting a mom to appease her crying infant.
Image Source: oatawa | Canva
Resonant Leaders Inspire People
Resonating means being in harmony or in sync with those around you. Mary Tuk engages with the people around her, those who report to her and others. She tells them not only what is important to them in their lives and work but also to their personal and professional vision. She listens to them because she cares. Employees sense this and respond accordingly. This creates an environment of open dialogue, mutual respect, and trust.
Personal and shared visions have a long history in management and organizational practice but only recently have they begun to systematically build empirical knowledge about the role of individuals and shared visions, teams, or organizations when developing personal or shared visions. Positive Emotional Attractors (PEA) and Negative Emotional Attractors (NEA) are two major states that are strange attractors, each characterized by three dimensions. These are (1) positive emotional awakening and negative emotional awakening; (2) endocrine excitement of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, and (3) neurological activation of standard mode networks and task-positive networks.
Building a compassionate relationship in a shared vision is difficult even in the simplest times. But in a highly competitive industry like banks, this is a big challenge. Imagine trying to excite people in the future by working on performance, energy updates, and sustainability when the world around you seems to be collapsing. Emotional and social intelligence skills show that in many countries around the world, they predict the effectiveness of leadership, management, and professional activities. They can be called emotional intelligence (EI) and social intelligence (SI) behavioral levels.
To be an effective leader, manager, or expert, a person should properly understand and handle his or her emotions based on each person or situation and interact effectively with others. One needs to understand the emotional signals of others . These competencies occur in three clusters: (1) Cognitive intelligence (CI) competencies, such as systems thinking and pattern recognition; (2) Emotional intelligence index (EI) abilities, such as adaptability, emotional self-control, emotional self-awareness, positive attitude, and achievement orientation; and (3) Social intelligence (SI) abilities, such as empathy, organizational awareness, inspirational leadership, influence, coaching and mentoring, conflict management, and teamwork. Other competencies are like threshold competencies, and that means they have to be defensive.
Emotional intelligence at work
Emotions can also be a valuable tool in the workplace. Through learning to read and influence the emotions and reactions of others, emotional intelligence can be rewarded in your organization. Here’s how that can happen:
Make sure leaders practice the right actions. If the leader does well, you can see it in the team.
Allow colleagues to distinguish between emotions and personality. Try this exercise: The manager puts a huge calendar on the wall, and the team members mark the calendar with emojis that show their feelings. Encouraging employees to say “I feel frustrated” rather than “I’m frustrated” can increase their emotional awareness.
Make employees feel valued. When employees have a say, they feel more connected. Talk frequently with your employees to find out what they think of changes and projects so they can talk and hear. If they tell you they are angry, frustrated, or worried, make it okay. Also, say thank you and show people that you are grateful.
Make feedback routine and factual. Give and receive negative and positive feedback. It helps everyone become a better employee. It’s a good idea to start with a question, “How are you? What are you thinking?” If you give negative feedback, don’t do it personally. Also, please accept feedback from the team. “What would you change if you were in my position?” Remember to control your reaction to what you hear. If you don’t like it, think about why and pause before answering.
Make assertion training accessible to all employees. Explosive anger, resentment, and frustration result from disgusting emotions. For many, it is difficult to express themselves properly. Teaching employees when and how to deal with difficult situations can help people avoid emotional relapses.
Facilitate stress management. Be aware of your employees’ increasing workload, deadlines, and stresses. Provide support if possible. Implement stress-relieving strategies and training to reduce emotional ups and downs.
There is no single formula for becoming the leader of the future. Every organization has its own culture, structure, and transformation journeys. But what happens in between the stages of change is where we realize we are going through the same struggles.
Leaders who are not yet adapting to those needs would still find themselves rethinking their style because they can’t stop their environment and people’s behavior from evolving. Here are some of the common principles and practices for the leader of the future.
Practice empathy and empowerment. “As I understood it, many people were struggling at home because of the situation of the crisis that surrounded us. And I have to admit that I was also struggling at home. I think all of us were, one way or the other. So, it’s a question of being empathetic and trying to put yourself in the shoes of your colleagues,” Xavi Ballesteros, who is a Cambridge English Country Director in Spain and Portugal, said during a Q&A forum held by the Cambridge University Press.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Cater, Managing Director of CEM, shared that she assessed their communication pattern and looked more closely into what empowerment could offer in return. What she did was “making sure that things can happen without me being in the room, because there are so many projects that we’ve been working on over the last few months and needing an approval from me on everything wouldn’t work. So, trying to understand how to engender empowerment across the teams has been a focus as well.”
Communicate with employees constantly. “The main challenge is to make colleagues work throughout the company and to manage different time zones,” Monica Marchis, Research Director of AMSI, told PERFORMANCE Magazine. “We have one-on-one weekly meetings with all team members and regular meetings with the team for an overview of all work done individually. This way, we enable perspective and recognition and ensure support. In order to gain coherence, a corporate governance project has been initiated and a job evaluation project for internal equity has been done.”
Create new strategies for virtual meetings. According to The Economist, before the pandemic, managers were spending almost 23 hours weekly attending meetings. After the pandemic, barriers that keep people apart increased and organizations have to come up with new ways of running a meeting. Organizations can consider the following techniques:
- Designate an amount of time for each topic, and once the time is up, the timer will ring and participants can move on to the next subject matter.
- Write follow-up action notes that can be seen immediately in the meeting rather than sending the list via email.
- Set positive communication rules, such as allowing presenters to finish their statements before commenting and encouraging participants to speak up.
- Have an additional break after each presentation in a meeting.
- Come up with creative icebreakers.
- Develop interactive and visually appealing presentations.
- When there is a new meeting platform, perform trial runs with attendees to familiarize them with the functions.
Prioritize productivity over multitasking. One useful technique to assess serial-tasks and avoid multitasking is the Pomodoro Technique. It proposes working in a hyper-productive rhythm for 20 minutes without distractions. For managers still working in a hybrid environment, dedicating 20 uninterrupted minutes to a task seems reasonable rather than an entire one hour. Dividing the time into short bursts allows the brain to fully concentrate. At the end of the day, it seems more productive than a day spent multitasking.
Make individual strengths shine. If the pandemic taught us one thing in the organizational environment, it is that individuals have different needs and respond differently. To win over the actual context, the manager needs to balance shared team commitments and the unique needs and strengths of individuals. In the opposite corner, the one-size-fits-all method will erase the possible shining contributions of individuals. With this, managing a diverse team means the ability to shield performance from drawbacks.
Keep it real. A potential leadership crunch can also be avoided by looking at the technique of trading perfectionism for compassion. Before COVID happened, a good day meant being able to submit all assignments and attend all meetings. The post-pandemic work life paints it differently. For working parents, it got even more difficult as they have to get the children accommodated with homeschooling while attending virtual meetings. This does not imply falling short of one’s own standards, but becoming more reasonable when it comes to the number of tasks they can accomplish.
If you’d like to boost your personal performance as an individual and a leader, check out The KPI Institute’s Personal Performance Professional Certification course.
Deepak Gupta, Managing Director – Middle East at PDI Ninth House moderated a panel discussion with focus on leadership development as part of the second day of the HR Summit and Expo 2012.