Can’t We All Just Get Along? Some Tips for Building Consensus

Consensus is a collaborative, participatory style of decision-making that offers an alternative to top-down or majority rule approaches. Its results often lead to more effective implementation, stronger group relationships, and greater interpersonal connections.

Consensus is both a process and an outcome. It means that the leader and team members listen to each other and try to formulate a proposal that combines many people’s ideas and is agreeable to all.  Consensus means that members are sufficiently in favor of a decision that no one will become an obstacle to carrying it out. It does not mean that everyone gets his or her choice or that there is  unanimous agreement about a best solution. Consensus exists once there is a solution everyone can accept even if they favored another outcome.

A leader should seek consensus when the team needs to agree on a specific decision or plan of action so that it can move forward. If there is ambiguity about the proper … Read the rest

Four key success factors for leading teams

Effective teams are ones that meet their objectives while maintaining their ability to sustain performance and providing satisfactory experiences for the team members. That definition, and  many of the ideas in this post, come from the work of my teacher, the late social psychologist Richard Hackman (see especially this, this, and this).

Leading teams requires attention not only to how the team does its work but also facilitating the collaboration process. So, what are the key success factors for leading a team? The four most important things leaders can do help their teams be effective are:

  1. Set a compelling direction
  2. Establish clear roles and responsibilities
  3. Facilitate interpersonal relationships
  4. Coach the group to enhance its performance

The first two are best done when a team is formed or when it has begun work toward a new goal. They can be revisited and adjusted as the needs of the organization and the team require. The second two are on-going … Read the rest

Six steps to a personal development plan

A key leadership competency is self-awareness, the ability to understand what makes you tick as well as your strengths and weaknesses. An important adjunct to this is taking responsibility for one’s own learning experiences to help develop the skills to lead others and excel at work. That’s why everyone should have a personal development plan in addition to the more typical performance plans, which are focused on work-related outcomes rather than learning.

Professional development does not consist simply of attending discrete events such as workshops and seminars. Rather, it also should be a set of on-going activities including the following:

  • reading articles and books related to learning goals
  • networking with peers in other organizations
  • seeking performance feedback from superiors, peers, and mentors

Follow these six steps to develop a plan that you can follow to enhance your knowledge in your field:

  1. Learning goal: Identify a learning goal for each competency or skill that you want to build. These are the
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10 Ways to Build, or Destroy, Trust

One of the primary challenges of leadership is inspiring the trust of others. It is essential when you depend on others to help you achieve a shared goal. For others to follow you, they must see you as someone with positive intentions, whose word is reliable, and who follows through on commitments.

What is trust?
There are four components to trust:

  • Care: Showing benevolence and goodwill toward others, taking an interest in their well-being and goals
  • Credibility: Acting with honesty, integrity, and consistency
  • Competence: Having sufficient expertise to offer solutions and to deliver them
  • Commitment: Demonstrating a long-term orientation to the relationship rather than viewing it as transactional or temporary

Why is trust important?
Trust is the lubricant that makes relationships work smoothly. It is vital to attaining creating a productive and effective team or organization. If you want to have open communication, people must have confidence that bringing bad news won’t be punished. If you want  employees to learn, … Read the rest

Success Requires Effort, Resilience, and Persistence

I spent ten years teaching at the Simmons School of Management, and each August the new group of MBA students would take part in a week-long series of classes, discussions, and activities we called Foundations of Business. Most of the faculty made an appearance;  I usually led a case study discussion and also gave my recommendations for how to succeed in the program (and everywhere else, for that matter). My simple advice came from what I had learned as a teacher, my familiarity with some research on learning, and my own personal experience as a student. It boiled down to this: Success requires effort, persistence, and resilience:

success = ƒ(effort)(persistence)(resilience)

Effort: Students need to be prepared for class, complete assignments, seek help when they need it, and engage with their peers. They need to take responsibility for their learning and not expect instructors to do all the work.

Persistence: Each semester’s workload has periods of greater … Read the rest

Effective Knowledge Management: A Framework

In the business world, knowledge management (KM) emerged in the mid-1990’s as a key element of process improvement, value creation, and thus overall performance.

A definition of KM: Academics and practitioners alike have written a lot about KM, especially over the past two decades. Most start with defining knowledge itself, often discussing the difference between explicit and tacit knowledge or distinguishing between data, information, and knowledge. Others also present a typology of the means organizations use to create value through knowledge. Few characterizations of KM, however, avoid using the words “knowledge” and “management.” The following definition avoids that tautology and synthesizes common elements found throughout the field:

Knowledge management is a formal approach to acquiring, creating, codifying, storing, sharing and using contextualized information, expertise and other intellectual assets to support achieving an objective.

Together, the processes, activities, practices, organizational arrangements and values associated with this approach make up the KM strategy of an organization. Note that this definition requires … Read the rest

Effective Knowledge Management: Capabilities

This post continues our discussion of knowledge management (KM) by identifying what an organization has to excel at to manage knowledge effectively.

What is a Capability?: A capability is something one is good at or needs to be good at to achieve an objective. For organizations, they are the sum total of the skills and expertise of its people and how they put them to use. To provide an advantage over competitors, an organization’s capabilities need to be unique, or at least difficult to replicate. Thus capabilities are at once strategic for an organization yet derived from attributes of individuals.

Two Types of Capabilities: Knowledge capabilities fall into two categories: those that support current, day-to-day functions (operational capabilities) and those required to adapt to future needs (dynamic capabilities). Each type of capability depends on an infrastructure of technologies, structures, and organizational culture and a set of processes, or activities, that make up the actual work of managing knowledge. These … Read the rest

Effective Knowledge Management: Collaboration

Effective knowledge management (KM) requires effective collaboration since fundamentally it is about taking what is known by individuals and creating the potential for it to be known by others. Collaboration is a defining characteristic of team based work, and it is especially true for knowledge-intensive functions such as R&D, marketing and customer support.

Three Conditions for Effective Collaboration: A collaborative culture is most likely to emerge when the following three conditions exist:

  1. Trust, transparency and learning are valued
  2. Organizational roles, rules, and rewards support knowledge exchange and learning
  3. People have the skills, motivation and tools to work with others

Three Essential Values: Values are those core set of principles and beliefs that guide action. For effective knowledge management, trust, transparency, and learning are essential because they are integral to collaboration.

  • Trust is the expectation that others will be benevolent, reliable, competent, honest and open. Interpersonal trust is distinct from an organizational climate that values it. In such
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