Tag Archives: power

Six Leadership Myths Sabotaging Your Team

Six Leadership Myths Sabotaging Your Team

GUEST POST from David Burkus

We all arrive at leadership with certain preconceptions about what makes a successful leader.

Sometimes we form an idea of what great leaders do based on historical leaders or modern-day leaders who are always getting media attention. Other times we form a picture of great leadership based on our own past experiences—both leaders we’ve worked under and even what attributes got us promoted into leadership. But those are often anecdotes.

And the plural of anecdote is not data. When you look at the data on effective leaders, pretty quickly you notice that some of these notions are misconceptions or outright leadership myths.

In this article, we’ll outline six leadership myths that are holding you back as a leader and may even be ruining your team—if you believe them of course.

Myth 1: Your Title Is Your Power

The first leadership myth is that your title is your power. It’s great that you’ve been promoted into a leadership role, but the mere title of leader doesn’t actually give you a lot of power over the team. Sure, your name is one box higher than your team members on the organizational chart. But if you work for a large organization, you may not actually have much ability to fire or punish people without getting approval from your boss or from human resources. Instead of trying to gain “legitimate power,” new leaders are better served by gaining rapport or respect from their team (what’s often called referent power and expert power respectively). When your team feels connected to you and respects your expertise, they’re much more likely to be influenced by you than if you’re merely trying to command them.

Myth 2: You Need To Have The Answers

The second leadership myth is that you need to have all the answers. This myth is most common in new leaders. Often, it’s the individual contributors who are hugely productive and who often have all the answers that get promoted into leadership roles. You were promoted for your expertise, so you protect your expertise at all costs. But the longer you stay in a leadership role, the more likely it is that your people know how to do the work better than you do. Pretending you know better may actually trigger their disrespect. In addition, leaders gain a lot of trust among their team when they’re willing to say, “I don’t know” and then look to the team for answers or commit to finding the answers and bringing them back. You don’t need to have all the answers, you just need to be committed to helping your find them.

Myth 3: Your Style Works For Everyone

The third leadership myth is that your style works for everyone. This myth is most common with middle managers. In the first leadership role, you often develop your preferred leadership style. And it often works because you’re leading a team of people who do a lot of the same work. But as you move up in an organization, and as your “team” starts to be a collection of different roles with different preferences, your preferred style becomes less important. It stops being about how you want to lead and starts being about how they want to be led—and led on an individual level. The best leaders understand the motivations and skillsets of each of their people individually and adjust their leadership style accordingly.

Myth 4: Disagreement Equals Disrespect

The fourth leadership myth is that disagreement equals disrespect. When someone on a team speaks up and disagrees with your idea, it can be easy to become defensive and see their disagreement as an act of defiance. And while some people can be downright belligerent, most disagreement on a team is healthy. The best teams are marked by a sense of psychological safety where everyone feels free to speak up, to express themselves, and even admit failure. And when team members disagree respectfully with you, how you respond affects how much psychological safety the team feels. Treat conflict as collaboration and remember that task-focused disagreement not only helps improve your idea, it helps everyone on the team know their opinions are valued.

Myth 5: Silence Signals Consent

The fifth leadership myth is that silence signals consent. This myth is the reverse of the previous one. Disagreement does not equal disrespect but at the same time, no one saying anything doesn’t mean everyone agrees with you. It could be that they have disagreements, but don’t yet feel safe to share them. (Or it could mean that everyone agrees…which means your team might not get much independent thinking.) When you feel your team reaching consensus early, or when no one is pushing back on your ideas, you’ll have to look harder for disagreements and encourage more candor on the team. Be willing to wait in silence for someone to speak up. Then treat that conflict as collaboration and over time your team will be less and less silent.

Myth 6: Performance Is Personal

The sixth leadership myth is that performance is personal. This final myth is less of a leadership myth and more of an organizational one. For most organizations, performance is measured individually and performance reviews conducted individually. But great leaders know it takes a team effort, and a growing body of research suggests that most of individual performance is better explained by the resources and collaboration of the team as a whole—whether high performance or low. So, when coaching members of your team, remember to take into consideration that much of their performance isn’t something they can fix, but rather something in the system or on the team that they need you to fix.

As you review this list, one myth in particular probably stood out to you—depending on your style and your leadership journey. That reaction is a good signal that the particular myth is one to focus your attention on and work on improving. But keep a lookout for the other myths as well. You may not believe them, but you may need to defend your team from other leaders who do. And as you move from myth to reality, your team will move toward greater performance until eventually they, and you, are doing their best work ever.

Image credit: Pixabay

Originally published at https://davidburkus.com on January 30, 2023

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How Do You Measure Power?

How Do You Measure Power?

GUEST POST from Geoffrey A. Moore

In a recent blog, I argued that management needs to be accountable not only for delivering current performance but also for investing in power initiatives that will fuel future performance. Compensation systems that focus solely on the former too often result in a hollowing out of the enterprise, as we have seen with any number of iconic companies that have “performed” their way to the sidelines.

But this begs a key question—how do you measure power? Specifically, what kind of metrics could supply a stable foundation for management accountability and executive compensation?

In my book Escape Velocity, when discussing managing for shareholder value, we introduced a framework called the Hierarchy of Powers. The idea is that investors, who are buying a share of your enterprise’s future performance, value your company based on how much power they think it has relative to other investments they could be making. In this context, we claimed there were five classes of power that got evaluated in the following order of priority:

  1. Category Power. Is your core business in a category that is growing, stable, or declining? This, we claimed, is the single biggest predictor of future performance.
  2. Company Power. Within that category, where is your company in the pecking order of companies? If you are number one, that is a huge advantage. If you are number two, it also provides tailwinds. After that, there are no more tailwinds to be had.
  3. Market Power. For companies that focus on one or more vertical markets, is your company the default choice for major prospects and customers in that segment? Wherever this is the case, it gives a material boost to your sales momentum and thus your company’s valuation.
  4. Offer Power. Do you get preference and/or premium pricing due to the differentiation of your offer? Do you win the lion’s share of any competitive bake-offs?
  5. Execution Power. Do you have a history of meeting or beating guidance on a consistent basis?

The model has stood up well over the years, but there is still the question of how to ensure accountability for investing in power when so much of our attention (and compensation) is focused on creating the next quarter’s performance. To that end, my colleague Philip Lay and I have been sorting through objective measures that signal material gains in power, ones that executive teams could readily track, and compensation programs could use to calibrate bonuses.

Here’s what we propose should be the top two metrics for each class of power:

Category Power. The focus here is on portfolio valuation—how many categories does the enterprise participate in, and how is each category faring. Meaningful changes in category power typically come through M&A, often supplementing organic innovation that is looking to scale quickly. Top two metrics for each category assessed:

  1. Category Maturity Life Cycle status. The key stages are secular growth, cyclical growth, stagnant, and declining.
  2. Technology Adoption Life Cycle status. This model focuses specifically on the period of secular growth, breaking it up into the following stages: Early Market, Chasm, Beachhead, Bowling Alley, Tornado, and Main Street. The two big valuation changers are winning a beachhead market segment in the Bowling Alley and participating with meaningful share in the Tornado.

Company Power. In high-growth categories, the focus is on bookings growth and competitive win rates. In mature categories, it is on the stability of the installed base as well as bargaining power both with suppliers and with customers. The top two metrics are:

  1. Market share within each category. By far the most important metric, as market ecosystems organize around and give preference to the category leader.
  2. Balanced mix of power and performance categories. For global enterprises, in particular, portfolio balance creates optionality to deal with both bull and bear markets.

Market Power. In emerging categories, dominating a target market segment, as opposed to merely participating in it, is critical to crossing the chasm and creating a sustainable franchise. In mature categories, target market segment focus is key to creating above-market growth. The top two metrics are:

  1. Segment share. The most important metric because ecosystems that serve market segments organize around a segment leader only when it has dominant segment share.
  2. Growth rates within target market segments. This is particularly important in any economic downturn that impacts different market segments to highly varying extents.

Offer Power. This metric and the next are closely aligned with delivering performance in the current fiscal year. That said, they still signal successful investments in power. The top two power metrics are:

  1. Magic quadrant status. This is the most widely circulated third-party measure of offer power.
  2. Win/loss record in head-to-head competitions. This is the most credible measure of offer power.

Execution Power. This really is the land of performance, but there is still power in reputation. Top two metrics are:

  1. History of “meeting or beating” commits, be they forecast or, release dates. This is what gives confidence to customers and partners to give your team the nod.
  2. Customer success metrics. These include Net Expansion Rate, Net Retention Rate, and Promoter Score, all of which validate that you are keeping your sales promises.

Guidelines for Using the Metrics

Metrics are a device to ensure visibility and accountability, and nowhere is this more important than when dealing with something as abstract as power. The key is to associate the right metrics with the right people, the ones who can have the most impact on the level of power in question. This works out as follows:

  • Top Executives: Category Power, Company Power. The two key levers here are using M&A to strategic advantage and using the annual budgeting process to allocate resources asymmetrically to achieve strategic objectives.
  • Middle Management: Market Power, Offer Power. The two key levers here are using market segmentation to strategic advantage and allocating the resources under your control asymmetrically to achieve dominant shares in target market segments.
  • Front Line: Execution Power. The key lever here is to align and focus the resources under your control or influence them in order to deliver the performance you have committed to.

For purposes of compensation, promotion, and overall alignment, these metrics align well with OKR objectives and can be used wherever OKRs are focused on increasing power. Again, the goal is not to replace performance metrics but rather to complement them.

That’s what Philip and I think. What do you think?

Image Credit: Unsplash

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Rethinking Electric Vehicles and the Power Grid

Ford F150 Lightning Electric Truck

Ford just announced an electric truck for the masses, the Ford F-150 Lightning, with up to 300 miles of range starting at just under $40,000.

That is about as much detail as I’m going to go into about this new electric truck from Ford, and you won’t find me comparing it to Tesla’s Cybertruck or GM’s electric Hummer. I’ll leave that that to the gearheads.

The purpose for today’s article on Human-Centered Change™ and Innovation is not to compare electric truck specifications, but instead to highlight a somewhat buried feature of the new Ford F-150 Lightning Electric Truck:

Ford is providing an 80-amp home charging station that completely charges the truck in eight hours, or allows buyers to easily use the truck to power their entire home for around three days in the event of an electricity outage.

Sometimes what seems like a minor benefit outside the typical product feature set actually has the potential to shift mindsets and customer expectations. AND, it leads to a series of questions:

Have you spent $10,000-20,000 on a Tesla Powerwall battery backup system for your house?

Or thousands of dollars on a more traditional partial home generator?

Have you ever thought about using your car or truck to power your house?

What if this were to become a common expectation of consumers of electric vehicles?

If this became a key differentiator between internal combustion and electric vehicles, might this help to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles in the United States and elsewhere?

And what might the implications be for utilities and the power grid?

Stay tuned! It will be interesting to monitor how this situation develops and whether other electric vehicle manufacturers modify their marketing strategies, leading to one final question:

Innovation or not?

Image credit: yahoo

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Using Gravity to Save and Improve Lives

Using Gravity to Save and Improve Lives

I came across an IndieGogo project that is focused on building and trialing a gravity-powered power station that can serve either as a lantern or as a flexible power source that can be used to power a task light, recharge batteries, or potentially other things that users might dream up that the designers can’t yet imagine.

Check out their video from IndieGogo:

They have already raised FIVE TIMES the money they set out to raise on IndieGogo.

I found it interesting in their promotional video that initially they started with a design challenge of designing a system that would charge a light for indoor use using a solar panel, but that they decided to abandon the approach specified from the outset and pursue alternate power sources.

Also interesting from the IndieGogo project page are the following facts:

The World Bank estimates that, as a result, 780 million women and children inhale smoke which is equivalent to smoking 2 packets of cigarettes every day. 60% of adult, female lung-cancer victims in developing nations are non-smokers. The fumes also cause eye infections and cataracts, but burning kerosene is also more immediately dangerous: 2.5 million people a year, in India alone, suffer severe burns from overturned kerosene lamps. Burning Kerosene also comes with a financial burden: kerosene for lighting ALONE can consume 10 to 20% of a household’s income. This burden traps people in a permanent state of subsistence living, buying cupfuls of fuel for their daily needs, as and when they can.

The burning of Kerosene for lighting also produces 244 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide annually.

So, what do you think, a meaningful innovation or an interesting but impractical invention?

More information available on their web site here.

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