Conversations with the C-Suite

Conversations with the C-Suite

The most significant discussions impacting the future of your organization are those that occur between C-Level (CEO, COO, CFO etc.) leaders. What are you doing to improve your skills for leading and participating in these discussions? How do you find the time to work on yourself while still meeting the demands of the day to day?  

Differentiating Strategies is pleased to have a partnership with Fox Valley Technical College and specifically the Business and Industries Services team that allows us to jointly offer Conversations with the C-Suite as a complimentary executive development series at FVTC’s Appleton and Oshkosh campuses throughout 2016.  

Resolutions

Resolutions

How well did you do on last year’s resolutions? What are your resolutions for the coming year?   

A new year is an opportunity to reflect on what we learned in the past and make resolutions for the coming year. Whether you start with the winter solstice and the beginning of the sun’s slow return to the northern latitudes or the change of the calendar from December to January now is the time to adjust. 

Stretch Objectives

Stretch Objectives

Are you spending more time trying to reach this year’s objectives or set next year’s objectives? I suppose that depends on how progress is going in meeting this year’s objectives.  

Have you ever asked a team to provide stretch objectives? What does that mean anyway? Does that mean you want them to sandbag their regular objectives and then give you a matching set that makes them look like miracle workers? Or does that mean you want them to critically consider the performance they can deliver with the resources you allocate and then develop a set of objectives they cannot reach? Or is there another way?

What Form Will That Take?

What Form Will That Take?

"Can you send me the form and we will get going?" How many times has a misadventure started with those words? How did we end up with forms being a form of work output?

I run into the forms question a lot. It usually happens when trying to lead a team through some kind of critical thinking exercise. It often occurs when teams are doing something for the first time. The question can arise out of a misplaced sense of urgency; perceived pressures to just get on with the work. The attention deficit driven call to just do something can create an anxiety that inhibits strategic thought. Why is this and why should we care?

Join The Discussion

Join The Discussion

Differentiating Strategies, LLC., in partnership with the Business and Industry Services division of Fox Valley Technical College, hosts a series of executive briefings. These briefings benefit executive level leaders of organizations seeking to align their human capital around shared organizational goals. The last opportunity to attend a briefing in 2015 is November 11th at the D.J. Bordini Center on the college’s Appleton Campus. Networking and registration will open at 7:30am with the briefing starting at 7:45am.  

I would like to invite you to attend if you want to discuss topics covered in this blog as well as make suggestions for calendar year 2016 briefing topics. Previous participants of these briefings found value in not only the presentation, but also the networking and Q&A discussion.

What Is Your Policy?

What Is Your Policy?

Do you have an open door policy? If so, what does that mean to you? What does it mean to your employees?

In a recent conversation, a senior executive confided that she was receiving criticism from employees. The team felt she was not honoring her open door policy. They stated that her door was often closed. As our conversation developed it became clear that the employees were emphasizing the word “door” in open door policy. 

Can You Say That in Five Words?

Can You Say That in Five Words?

What is your company’s headline? When someone asks you what you are trying to accomplish do you have a concise response? Can you answer it in five to seven words? Or do you find yourself launching into a paragraph long description that turns into a several minute monologue before you become self-conscious and quit? 

Why is this important? It is important because as a leader people will be turning to you to provide direction. That does not mean they are looking for orders. It means they need some grounding that allows them to allocate their time and company resources in a way that makes progress toward target outcomes.   

I Thought I Made Myself Clear

I Thought I Made Myself Clear

Does your organization have its own jargon? Maybe it has a set of acronyms. Perhaps there are euphemisms. I once worked in a company where “coaching and constructive feedback” was a euphemism for getting chewed out. In another organization being treated “with dignity and respect” meant you were going to get fired. It seems kind of bizarre that an employee had to get fired before being treated with dignity and respect.

How often do we use common words only to later learn that there was a misunderstanding? Failure to arrive at a shared understanding has many causes. Language is the means of conveyance for the substance of communication. Language includes many forms of conveyance including words, gestures (which finger were you holding up?), the tone of voice, the timing of delivery and the setting (your office versus mine?). Today I want to look at the role of words. 

Not Right Now, Maybe Later

Not Right Now, Maybe Later

How do you balance working on your business with working in your business? Do you find that day-to-day issues take priority over longer-term preparation and planning?

Senior executives understand the need to define long-term goals and establish the capability to realize those goals. They understand that without a description of benefit for a long-term goal it is hard to decide on what investment is possible while still delivering value. We know what needs be done. The funny thing is, despite what we know, we often plan to work on long-term goals, just not right now, maybe later.

Change Trajectory

Change Trajectory

How does your organization experience change? Is it a disruptive force driving business outcomes? Or is it just disruptive? What can leaders do to make change a force for performance improvement?

The words forming, storming, norming and performing are part of the business speak (BS) thrown around every day. But what does this process and what can we do as leaders to use it to help us lead change?

I Even Followed Up With an E-Mail!

I Even Followed Up With an E-Mail!

What is the definition of communication? Is that definition shared throughout the organization? Is there a system of defined communication processes? How much waste is being created by miscommunication? What is the outcome of communication?

Communication is one process used to bring everyone into shared understanding. You’ve arrived at shared understanding when all parties can verify their understanding. Everyone receiving the message should have a similar understanding to other message recipients. The exact measure of understanding depends on the level of tolerated variance while maintaining target outcomes.

Who’s Accountable and Who’s to Blame?

Who’s Accountable and Who’s to Blame?

A lot of people talk about the need for accountability, but what does it mean? When people ask, “who are you accountable to?” What do they really want to know? It is tough to be accountable if we cannot define accountability. It can move from being tough to being confusing if there are multiple definitions for accountability. 

I define accountability as keeping the agreements we make. If you and I make an agreement for me to mow your grass for $50 per cutting you should expect me to mow your grass when it needs it, and I should expect $50 for each time I fully mow your yard. I am accountable for mowing. You are accountable for paying.  That seems simple, right?