Archive for May, 2009

Aligning Your Stakeholders to Maximize Competitiveness

Aligning Your Stakeholders to Maximize Competitiveness

DSC01758Leadership is often not about the leader but about those surrounding the leader.

Balancing the needs of your stakeholders with those of the greater organization can streamline your innovation process to make your organization more competitive. How does one assess their own str

Leading Teams to Sustainability

Were you ever a member of a team that did not work?  Were you part of the problem because you provoked or avoided conflict within the team?

Teams are constructed to provide deliverables of value to the greater organization.  They can be based on a project, product, or administer a department.  Many of us understand through our experience that the leader is ultimately responsible for the outcome of a team, yet it is the membership that should be called on to guarantee the success of the team (as in the analogy of all hands needed to keep a ship afloat). 

Establishing a team with a defined scope and purpose is a major key determinant of success.  Getting the right members on the right seats of the bus is another determinant.  Most often in practice, it is the leader who sets the direction and membership, and that direction is modified by inputs of team members.  These modifications help build cohesiveness and alignment within the team. 

However, alignment of direction should not be confused with a diversity of viewpoints.  The healthiest and most sustainable teams possess disruptive opinions that challenge ideas and viewpoints when discussed in a constructive manner.  It is the responsibility of the leader to reign in “constructive disruption”  to maintain progress toward team goals.  Sometimes, an outside influence, an HR person or team coach, is helpful to monitor team progress and to help the leader with membership and progress. 

These determinants of alignment and constructive disruption help build and maintain sustainable teams with value-added deliverables.

Leadership Styles in Technical Environments

Leadership Styles in Technical Environments

Wild MustangsMany technical environments are traditionally heirarchical in nature, so in many R&D organizations leadership styles are often the outcome of lord-serf relationships. This situation is an archetype of the academic environment from which so many technical professionals emanate. This leadership style fits well within the heirarchical corporate culture, yet how does one adapt their style to other types of cultures, namely, the market, clan, and adhocracy cultures.

Short answer: flexibility is the trait one needs best to adapt and align with other stakeholders notwithstanding the type of corporate culture, like the approach taken by Strategyn. Clan cultures are typically family owned and dominated by a single dynamic and sometimes charismatic individual who runs almost everything So in some companies, a it is best to be willing to share the limelight and credit yet simultaneously provide “push-back” toward an organizational tendency to switch research initiatives prematurely before fruition. Instead of succumbing to an opportunity du jour environment, a sturdy hand on the rudder approach wins in the long run–in the end, we all need to deliver to provide value.

Market cultures tend to be highly driven from the view of the marketing department’s needs (typically a good thing), which can quickly change from week to week or month to month, depending on the industry. For most companies with the market culture, the research agenda is set well in advance so it is helpful for sustainability to have small skunk works to augment the innovation effort. The adhocracy culture is innovation driven, so the opinion of the technical leadership looms large in the direction of such companies. Most any leadership style that is non-hierarchical can work, because the company’s progress largely depends on the pace of new deliverables.

In sum, flexibility to the particular culture and adaptability to change helps direct the leadership style that best fits with the culture and align with stakeholders.