Thursday, April 24, 2008

How to Lead Management

Too often employees believe that the decision responsibility rests with upper management alone. In doing so, they ignore the fact that decisions are often based on information and recommendations that come from within the organization. As such, the true power of the decision making rests within the organization. Fundamental to this principal is that we allocate resources and make decisions on the basis of facts and logic. The people who have more and better facts about their business can lead others.

This is a critical concept for employees and management to embrace. While this is written to management, I encourage you to share it with your organization. They and you must have a common understanding if you are to move to a higher degree of effectiveness.

In order to fully engage the organization in being part of the decision making process and really contribute to the company’s progress, some training and guidance may be required. The training and guidance is required for both the employee population and your senior management and it has to do with leadership. Leadership of thinking and influencing.

Opportunities with employees for leading and influencing management thinking can be ignored or not understood. In order to capitalize on the opportunity when it comes, employees must understand the following:

· Employees must provide a clear sense of direction as a framework for management's thinking. Effective leadership provides both a sense of momentum and direction that greatly facilitates management's understanding as to how each of the proposals fits in the broad scheme of things. It has to tie to the company’s business plan and that requires employees to know and understand that plan.

· If management does not sense strong well-directed leadership from the employees, they are inclined to fill this void by providing that leadership themselves. This is an unfortunate situation, since regardless of their experience and perspective, they simply do not have the detailed facts and understanding of the business and thus are at a disadvantage in their capacity to fill this role. It also leads to loss of initiative within the business unit or function which is detrimental to the development and job satisfaction of the people.

Employees need to pay particular attention to the following to be able to lead management effectively.

1. Establish their credibility and their right to lead. The right to lead any group cannot be granted, delegated or assigned. Rather, it must be earned through demonstrating the kind of proficiency that commands the respect of others and instills sufficient confidence to follow. The technical proficiency, knowledge of the business and sound principle/approach toward proprietorship of the business puts them in control of the business. Beyond their basic skills and proficiency, they must establish their credibility by ensuring that their proposals are thorough, precise and objective. They must recognize the risks along with the potential for success and share them both for consideration in order to get alignment and agreement.

2. Establish a continuing line of communications. They must make management partners in the business and vice versa. Employees must recognize that management can provide valuable counsel, born of practical experience and breadth of exposure in different and complex situations. If employees are to tap into the resource fully they must keep them advised of the direction and learning, whether it is encouraging or disappointing.

This ensures that management has a continuing grasp as to the flow of the details of the business and are able to participate in establishing longer-term direction. This participation and understanding represents a clear and simple framework within which management can evaluate the proposals. Net, if they understand and agree to the recommended strategy then the organization can focus on the relatively simple executional issues at hand.

3. Establish Project Communication. Related to the second point, both management and employees should stringently avoid surprises, whether they are successes or failures. There should be continual updates to management on progress so that they can share in whatever decisions emerge from the results. This also enables management to provide input well before final proposals are cast in bronze.

Leadership can be in the hands of your organization. To be clear, this is not meant to say that management gives up its decision making responsibility. Quite the opposite. Now you in senior management will have much better information on which to make the decisions. But only if you unleash the leadership power of your organization and set their responsibilities correctly.

Could this be perceived as threatening to you? Not if you want an inclusive culture, have good people and want to maximize the impact of your most valuable and expensive resource – your people.

Leadership rests with all in the most effective organizations.

John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

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Friday, April 18, 2008

"When Things Settle Down"

The Maver Management Group helps a lot of senior executives and companies reach their personal and business goals through business acceleration plans. Did you know that over 2/3rds of companies don’t have a written strategic business plan? Sure they have short term activity plans or projects that are being implemented. They may even have a set of targets that will cover the next quarter. But they don’t have a long term plan that will deliver their vision goals and successes.

Why not?

Many times I hear “We know this is really important and we want to give it quality thinking and time. We will get to it when things settle down.”

This isn’t just procrastination. It isn’t putting off to tomorrow what you could do today. It’s more putting off to tomorrow what you should do today. Would you care to guess when things are going to settle down? Right! They never settle down.

In my first general management assignment at Procter & Gamble, it entailed responsibility for two sales national sales forces. I had no specific sales management experience so I planned to take the Xerox course on selling when things settled down.

I told this to one of the company executives and he gave me some excellent advice. He said “what would happen to your division if you were sick all next week? Would it continue to run?”

I humbly said “Sure.”

He said “Then go be sick next week and take the course. The business and you will be healthier.”

I did and it was.

We find without exception with our clients that once the strategic planning process has begun it is the most satisfying work that the executive teams do. It is thinking time and those are treasured times. They hardly exist anymore.

There is another part of this. It is getting the help that is needed to actually make the planning happen and happen well. We all have been part of strategy sessions that were not well led and therefore didn’t accomplish what was expected.

Like most aspects of the senior executive’s responsibility, if something is going to happen that is positive, it is generally going to have to be with a conscious effort from that executive.

Things are never going to settle down so make the decision today to do what is right and get started with some help on your strategic planning. Not only will you have a greater success in reaching your goals, you will find that both you and your team will get greater satisfaction from actually working on the big issues and not just fire fighting.


John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Just for YOU -Executive Mentoring, Counsel & Coaching

Most CEOs and senior executives know where they want to go. They just need someone that has been there to guide them and show them how to get to their goals.

They lead what can be a very lonely life, despite the many people in their organization or around them. Here’s why and it holds true for CEOs and all senior executives with only some slight differences. CEOs can’t readily bounce ideas off their Board or share problems with them. The Board will want well thought out solutions and will expect the CEO or senior executive to have them. The CEO can’t share openly with his executive team. They, too, expect strong leadership not self doubts or questions about the direction of the company. They want well thought out plans so that they know exactly where they are going and what to do. The CEO can’t readily share with their spouse since they won’t have the level of experience on the business and enough information about any issue to provide unbiased support. They are often limited to “You’ll know the right answer dear.”

So to where or to whom can the CEO turn? The answer is to a knowledgeable and trusted mentor, counsel, coach. This individual has generally been where the CEO wants to go, has significant experience and has a “desk side” manner that enables him to provide the unbiased feedback and guidance that the CEO REALLY needs.

There are a number of sources all of whom claim to be able to fulfill this need. However many will try to drive their own objectives and not the CEO’s or the senior executive's. Do some checking. Pick the right advisor and you will never regret it.

These advisors can help you:
- Provide an unbiased but experienced sounding board to review your ideas, issues and opportunities with you.
- Help you create your vision and agenda.
- Identify your true talents and find ways to showcase your value to those around you.
- Be a thinking partner to plot a new course for your department or company.
- Provide assistance in reestablishing your priorities as well as a balance between your work and life.
- Learn to look forward, but work backwards. Decide what you want in your future and then make a clear plan to get there.
- Determine the value of risk vs. playing it safe.
- Be a better leader. Everybody's looking for a leader to follow. Make magic happen and everyone will follow you.
- Charisma is a teachable skill. You can learn it.
- Select what you want to accomplish and who you need on your team to get there.
- Learn how to practice 'laser business skills' vs. 'don't make waves.'
- Grasp the concepts that your feelings aren't facts and that your thoughts create your destiny.
- Find ways to make acquisitions, mergers, and right sizing all a normal part of business.
- Acknowledge that change is inevitable and get used to it.
- Find many things to celebrate along the road to success and the right people with whom to celebrate.

"I feel as though I have someone accompanying me on this journey - someone to bounce ideas off and someone who will give me direct and honest comments about whether I am being true to myself and the business in the process."
CEO client

There are multiple studies by top research firms concluding that failing to get help is one of the top reasons that business and executives fail. CEOs are in place for a shorter and shorter time as are all other C level executives. Every day counts.

At the Maver Management Group, we have served as advisors to many CEOs and senior executives across a broad range of industries. Their feedback has been consistent in that they valued not only the expertise, but the personal friendship that developed through mutual respect.

Let us help you. Contact us today.


John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn