Sylvania No Comments

October 2019 – Question of the Month

By Wendy Lambourne , director, Legitimate Leadership.

Question of the Month: What are factors to bear in mind with a new-technology transformation in an industrial, unionised worksite?

Answer: From Legitimate Leadership’s experience in industrial transformation projects, the following are indicators:

  • Good leadership is at least as important, and often more important, than good technology.
  • If you empower the people who actually run the plant rather than throwing technologists (engineering and R&D specialists) and extra people at the problem, you do much better.
  • When outsiders treat those who operate the plant as fools, they become fools.
  • In any transformation, you need to talk to employees at the start and throughout the process. You need to engage with organised labour through labour (union) structures, no matter how hard this is; and with the people directly (by means of mass meetings, shift meetings and one-on-one meetings between managers and direct reports).
  • You can’t plan a transformation in detail up front. Nevertheless no transformation is successful without a clear vision, an overall strategy and a roadmap. Within that you need to act on the opportunities for positive change as they arise in the process (for example, clinching a deal making temps permanent in exchange for flexible work arrangements).
  • You need to help managers make the shift to connecting to people as individuals who have individual circumstances and issues as opposed to seeing them as vessels of skills and knowledge, a human resource which you deploy to achieve some result.
  • You also need to teach managers how to empower their people (how to trust and entrust them, how to coach them and hold them appropriately accountable). You cannot assume that managers know how to do this.
  • Not everyone will survive a transformation – either due to restructuring or because they cannot fulfil the requirements of the role they need to perform. There is a need in any transformation for some tough conversations and letting go of some people.
  • The right structures (for instance, levels and shape of the organisation, and conditions of work like shift patterns and flexible working) can be significant enablers of the transformation.
  • Transformation is always a combination of enabling the people who are there and bringing in new people who will help with the change. Getting that mix right is important.
  • Leadership’s intent in the process is all-important. Why are we doing this? It has to be to secure a viable future for as many people as possible and to realise the best in people as an end in itself.
Sylvania No Comments

Watching The Game To Enable Employee Contribution And Growth

By Wendy Lambourne , director, Legitimate Leadership.

There are different ways of “watching the game” or determining the means, ability and accountability issues, which if addressed, would enhance employee contribution and growth. Below are examples of how the concept of “watching the game” has been applied in various contexts, to realise significant improvements in individual and organisational performance.

Regional sales managers accompanied their sales executives in the field not to assist them to increase sales (although sales increased dramatically), but to determine what they needed in order to achieve excellence in the sales process.

One of the key scores on a warehouse scoreboard was picking error rate per picker. The warehouse manager shadowed both the best and the worst pickers in the warehouse. In a few days he was able to find out what, in terms of means, ability and motivation accounted for the difference in performance.

In an explosives factory, 80% of misfires in the field were due to powder gaps in the fuse, which produced by the operator during the process of spinning the fuse. A team made up of managers, technical experts and trainers spent 72 hours on site assessing operators against critical quality standards and asking them questions about their knowledge (including the “why”) of the standards. By watching the game, they found that 70% of the reasons for powder gaps were related to a lack of adequate means, 20% to ability (primarily a lack of “know-why”), and 10% to carelessness or wilful non-adherence to standards. Remediation of the issues reduced customer complaints from 20 to 2 per month.

In a company which recovered stolen and hijacked vehicles, a key role was that of the installation technician who installed the tracking devices in the vehicles. Team leaders across the country asked the installation technicians reporting to them 3 questions:

  1. What frustrates you/makes it difficult for you to do your job?
  2. What motivates/is important to you?
  3. What would make you more motivated in your job?

Acting on the answers to the questions led to a significant improvement in motivation and customer satisfaction.
In a retail environment, area managers radically changed how they spent their time in the field by going on store manager rather than store visits – with the aim of “fixing” the store manager as opposed to the staff, the store, or the stores’ performances.

An MD accompanied his marketing and sales manager on an international trip to visit key suppliers. They returned not only with signed contracts but with clarity regarding what the marketing and sales manager needed in order to take relationships with critical individuals in the supplier organisations to higher levels.

Another form of watching the game is to do the job for a period of time and experience the realities of it. There is nothing like running a branch, taking calls in a call centre, or serving clients to understand what is really required to perform in the role.

Legitimate Leadership profiles are a mechanism for “watching the game” of those in leadership positions. They serve to diagnose a leader’s degree of alignment to the care and growth criteria. Better still is to spend time with someone in a leadership role sitting in on their one-on-one meetings and team sessions and watching them “watch the game”.

To watch the game in any context requires leaders to take their eyes off the results and to put their attention on their people. It requires them to focus on giving their people what they need to excel in their roles. Then, and only then, will organisational excellence be achieved.

Sylvania No Comments

Coaching And The Legitimate Leadership Framework

By Stefaan van den Heever, associate, Legitimate Leadership.

I have been an executive coach since 2007. I have loved working with people in this way – it is a privilege to hold up a clear, mostly-untainted mirror for someone to come to terms with places/areas where there are gaps or incoherence in authenticity.

However, in the past few years I have realised that coaching can have only a limited impact if the system and culture of an organization, for instance, is not conducive to a coaching or learning way of leading.

During coaching, the client can gain great insights and can then go and implement new behaviours based on those insights. But then something can happen – almost as if the new frame of reference “collides” with what is going on within the organization (and often an organization has an inspirational mission statement and values but they are only words).

An example: I was part of an intervention at a manufacturing plant. We were there to teach people to lead in a coaching way – to get people to engage with each other in a “learning” way where listening and asking questions were key competencies. The training was successful and most people connected to this new way of engaging.

Unfortunately, when the pressure was on, most people also reverted back to their old style of “control and command”.

A frequent comment was, “It’s hard to collaborate with the other department when we compete against them for KPIs and numbers.”

I am now certain that most successful coaching interventions happen when they are part of a systemic intervention in which culture also shifts. Coaching then helps people to embed and really “live” the new way of doing things.

The Legitimate Leadership framework offers this systemic change to shift culture, and where coaching can be successful.

I became an associate of Legitimate Leadership because I believe in the “why” of the framework. The framework not only assists leaders in what they need to “do” as leaders, but more importantly, how they can “be”. It goes right to one’s intention as a leader and whether she is here to “take” from others, or to “give” or contribute to them.

Fundamentally, what also attracts me to this framework is that it speaks to the organization as a whole. When the organization subscribes to the framework, its focus as a whole shifts from “taking” to “giving”. The focus also shifts to qualities such as legitimacy, trust, contribution and accountability.

To shift the focus, the culture of the organization aligns to this new way of being as a system.

How is this done?

Some of the main ways are:

  • Align the organization’s mission, vision and values to be congruent with “giving”. The shift, for example, can be one where the organization was about “Being the best producer of X” to a giving organization where “We enable excellence for our customers”.
  • Align the structure of the organization so it is enabling for people to contribute, be empowered, and be accountable.
  • Re-invent the individual performance management system in order to really clarify contribution in a way where employees have control over their results, and where they can be held accountable.
  • Align discipline and reward systems to the new way of doing things.
  • Implement vertical and horizontal empowerment to facilitate the lessening of inappropriate or excessive controls in the organization.
  • Implement Grow to Care workshops for employees, where the focus is on personal, team and organization excellence, and intent.

So, for coaching to be effective it is important that it happens not in isolation but within a system that is conducive to people changing and living – within which they can behave in a way that is congruent to their values. The Legitimate Leadership framework creates this systemic shift and culture change.

Sylvania No Comments

September 2019 – Question of the Month

By Wendy Lambourne 

Question of the Month: Do subcontractors or temporary employees give or take more than permanent employees?

Answer: There is a view that temporary employment arrangements are a wholesale “take” by employers because they allow employers to get the job done on the cheap. They also allow them to dispense with excess or troublesome people at will, because the labour broker does the “dirty work”.

Such behaviour, it is said, is the antipathy of caring for people at work. Temporary employment arrangements allow those in authority to exercise power over people without paying the price of power – which is to care for and grow people.

Clearly, keeping people on temporary contracts without the benefits which full time employees enjoy when they are actually doing the job for a considerable period of time is not right. But to ban flexible work arrangements is not appropriate. Firstly, such a move flies in the face of reality. There are industries, like Legitimate Leadership’s (the consulting industry), where the work is seasonal or unpredictable. Secondly not everyone wants a full-time job – many people like the autonomy, the flexibility, the option to work less than X days a month.

But more importantly, I think that the antagonism over other-than-full-time employment arrangements is a red herring.

This occurred to me when I did the following exercise. Firstly I listed everyone engaged in and associated with Legitimate Leadership  as an organisation, including myself. Then I wrote down my perceptions of each person in terms of their “give” and “take” or “concern for other” versus “concern for self”. So, for example, Person X’s Give/concern for other was 90% and Take/concern for self was 10%.

Happily the overall “give” percentage far outweighed the “take” percentage, but everyone was definitely not the same. In my experience there are both “givers” and “takers” in all organisations and at all levels in the hierarchy.

Next to the “Give”/“Take” percentage I then wrote down whether the person was an owner, subcontractor, permanent employee or associate of Legitimate Leadership. There was absolutely no correlation – the type of contractual arrangement did not in any way correlate with the intent of the individual.

I concluded that what enables “givers” at work is not a particular type of contractual arrangement. Rather it is the intent of those in charge. Leaders who are consistently in the relationship with their people to “give” to them – specifically to care for and grow them – do over time cultivate more “givers” than “takers” in their organisation. Such leaders ultimately remove persistent “takers” from their organisation. It is the appropriate leadership “give” to do so.

My advice to those in authority at work is therefore to make what is important to them the care and growth of their people – irrespective of the contractual arrangements they have with them.

If, as someone in authority you are demanding delivery from people, be they permanent or temporary, then you would be wise to care for and grow them.

Sylvania No Comments

What Managers Who Care Actually Do

By Wendy Lambourne, director, Legitimate Leadership.

Care is what one person does for another. In the context of legitimate relationships of power at work, it is what managers do for those in their charge. To Care for someone essentially means to have their best interests at heart. It is about serving the needs of the other person before one’s own.

Good parents instinctively put the child’s interests first because they care unconditionally. Good managers similarly put their employees’ interests first.

For most managers, unlike parents however, this is not an instinctive choice. Rather, it is a deliberate choice that they make repeatedly over time. Care is something, in other words, which managers foster over the course of the reporting relationship they have with those in their charge.

Care moreover is definitely not a “soft and fluffy thing”. Care in the heart is evidenced in both “soft” and “hard” behaviours.

Caring parents feed and clothe their offspring. They give them their love and attention. They educate, guide and support them. They also establish boundaries, discipline them and encourage or even force them to stand on their own two feet.

Managers who Care similarly behave in ways that are both “soft” and “hard”. They do the following:

  • Treat their people with respect.
  • Demonstrate sympathy for their personal concerns.
  • Make themselves available to listen openly to their people’s views.
  • Get to know him/her both as a person as well as an employee because they are genuinely interested in the human being behind the human resource.
  • Keep or stick to promises made because it is important to them not to let their people down.
  • Ensure that their people have the “means” to perform their jobs.
  • Ensure that their people receive the training and coaching they need to do their jobs to the required standard.
  • Involve or consult them on things that affect them.
  • Make sure that they come back or respond to both issues raised and questions asked.
  • Assist with work-related problems by removing obstacles in their people’s way.
  • Keep their people informed regarding how they and the business are performing, because they want to know.

They also do the following:

  • Demand delivery/insist on high standards because they want their people to be the best they can be.
  • Tell people like it is, both the good and the bad news, because speaking the truth to their people is important to them.
  • Take disciplinary action when required, in their people’s best interests.
  • Exercise fairness to all and have neither favourites or non-favourites.

In every interaction they have with their people, managers who Care act with their people’s highest and best interests in mind – which is to set them up to succeed and ultimately realise the best in themselves.