Clients & Partners,
Welcome to the Winter 2016 edition of Executive Edge.
In this edition, our focus is team communication and performance. Our first study explores six themes that researchers identified as barriers to effective management communication among management teams. These offer a great checklist for your team to explore ways to improve communication.
If your organization is looking at team empowerment initiatives, our second article is an important read. It highlights the opportunities and challenges of this type of initiative.
Lastly, our third article explores the impact of destructive leadership on the health of an organization and its people. It includes steps to prevent the development of a culture of toxic leadership.
We hope our selections are informative and thought-provoking, as well as providing you with ideas, tools and resources to facilitate your success as a leader as well as aid in the development of others. Do let me know if you'd like to know more about any of these studies.
Principal / Executive Coach
Growing Global Executives
By Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Ripa Rashid
This book reveals new research from the authors
11-country study and finds
that emerging leaders are in need of two core competencies: the ability to calibrate their leadership presence to project credibility to superiors at headquarters as well as stakeholders worldwide; and the ability to unlock value from globally dispersed and culturally diverse teams through inclusive leadership.
These competencies depend,
in turn, on mastery of the virtual communication toolkit, in a world where leadership is increasingly exercised remotely; and on leveraging the sponsorship of senior management.
You can also review the key findings in this
Harvard professor Linda Hill, co-author of "Collective Genius," has studied some of the world's most creative companies to come up with a set of tools and tactics to keep great ideas flowing - from everyone in the company, not just the designated "creatives."
A 10-Year Study Reveals What Great Executives Know and Do
Harvard Business Review
A ten-year longitudinal study on executive transitions, which included more than 2,700 leadership interviews skills of the top-performing executives, identified seven performance factors and four recurring patterns that distinguished exceptional executives. According to Carucci, "All four of these attributes are learnable, and it's never too early to start developing these skills."
Web Link - Does not require a subscription
6 Ways to Succeed
As A Leader
Center for Creative Leadership
CCL recently analyzed data from 2,339 managers in 24 organizations in 3 countries to understand the leadership gap-the skills that organizations need but their leaders don't have. Six key gaps were identified. Click here for the infographic or click the link below to read the post.
- Does not require a subscription
Using Science to Identify Future Leaders
Kenneth P. De Meuse, PhD
This is the third in a series of whitepapers on Learning Agility. We featured part two in our last Executive Edge. In this last part, De Meuse discusses the development of TALENTx7 Assessment™ which is designed to measure the construct. He is the developer of this new instrument.
- Does not require a subscription
Feat Women, Wit and Wisdom is now on Facebook. Click the icon above and like our page. We post research and thought-leadership, ideas and advice, women in the news and more. For anyone who is interested in advancing women's development, please visit us and join the conversation.
Communication challenges facing management teams
Eerika Hedman and Maarit Valo. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 36 No. 8, 2015 pp. 1012-1024.
This paper explores the communication challenges experienced by management teams (MTs) and suggests approaches for developing competent communication practices.
Using a qualitative research approach, seven MT members (three were female and four male) were interviewed. They represented seven different international companies and diverse functions such as CEO, HR, Finance, Strategy. The in-depth interviews explored all references to communication challenges.
Results: Six Themes
The output from the interviews was grouped into six dimensions.
- Common vs personal objectives
Tension occurs between common MT objectives and personal, position-related objectives. Personal objectives can originate when country, function or divisional goals conflict with the common objectives. Also, an unclear common objective can sidetrack the MT from its main objective to topics that are tactical/operational instead of strategic.
- Equally distributed vs polarized participation
This dimension relates to the extent to which MT members participate; whether equally and actively; whether a few members participate while the rest of the team remains silent. Three factors impact participation: the degree of expertise; positive/supportive or negative/discouraging team behaviors; and individual personality styles.
- Leader-centric vs team-centric communication
The role of the leader, who in most cases is the CEO or the president of the business unit is crucial in determining how team members participate during and outside meetings, and this shapes the decision-making process.
- Consensus vs unilateral decision-making
The decision making process was cited as a development need by interviewees. This dimension refers to who participates in decision-making; the whole MT, the leader, or a smaller group within the MT. Problems around decision making included lack of clarity in the decision-making process; participation in decision-making; and the absence of joint decisions.
- Formal vs informal communication
This relates to communication during and outside meetings; communication at work versus communication in one's free time; and the content of communication. Challenges arose during meetings which MT members perceived as being more formal than the other forums of communication. Specifically, agenda topics were tied to formal communication at the expense of more informal communication during meetings.
- Face-to-face vs ICT assisted communication
Although ICT (information and communications technology) is used in communication (E.g., video conferencing, e-mail and telephone), much MT communication is still dependent on face-to-face communication, especially in MT meetings. Meetings with the whole team present face-to-face were more informal and more genuine than online meetings.
Conclusion and Practical Applications
The authors conclude that MTs need to:
- Develop awareness of the communication challenges they are facing. By paying more attention to informal communication during meetings in particular, teams can build trust and relationships.
- Discuss communication challenges in a constructive manner by establishing a reflective practice focused on discussing team-related issues, such as team development.
Leading empowered teams: An examination of the role of external team leaders and team coaches
Tammy L. Rapp, Lucy L. Gilson John E.Mathieu and Thomas Ruddy. The Leadership Quarterly, 27 (2016) 109-123
In the first study of its kind, the researchers explored the effect of two interventions on team empowerment, processes and performance:
- External team leaders: leaders of teams whose role was to facilitate the teams to assume leadership responsibilities. The role of these leaders had shifted from a traditional one to team empowerment.
- Team coaches: organization development and change experts who were team development experts. They delivered team training, attended team meetings and provided feedback and helped teams with process design, team norms etc. - sometimes at the request of the team leader.
The study participants were 404 customer service engineers (CSEs) from 70 teams within a multinational office equipment and technology organization whose goal was to strengthen teams' ability to manage their own work processes.
The CSEs maintained and serviced customers' document production equipment and made their own decisions on how to respond to customers' calls and needs. Quantitative customer satisfaction data were among those used to measure team performance. Teams had access to leadership from the two sources above.
The study explored results against seven hypotheses represented by the chart above and found support for five of the seven. Key results include:
- Coach team-oriented behaviors contributed significantly to team empowerment.
- External leader team-oriented behaviors did not significantly influence team empowerment. The authors proposed that empowerment involves a change process and is fraught with challenges. The authors offered several possible reasons for this result, including leader resistance to empowerment initiatives; lack of knowledge and skills to empower their teams; their lower profile (team members were often "on the road").
- HR and organizational supports positively influence team empowerment. This supports other theory and practice.
Organizations wishing to implement team empowerment initiatives can expect that like any change undertakings, there are significant challenges and risks of failure. External leaders may have an inhibiting role if threatened, resistant or unprepared for the change.
Organizations may question the need to enlist external team coaches, especially in view of the cost. However, these results illustrate that the ROI of the investment and likely increased chances of success make this an important component, in addition to HR and other organizational supports.
Destructive leadership: Causes, consequences and countermeasures
by Anthony Erickson, Ben Shaw, Jane Murray, Sara Branch, Organizational Dynamics (2015) 44, 266-272
Starting with a definition of "toxic leadership" drawn from the military, the authors discuss what destructive leaders do and the challenges associated with identifying their behaviors.
The Destructive Leadership Questionnaire (DLQ) is one of a number of surveys that identify dysfunctional or toxic leadership by asking subordinates and peers to identify specific destructive behaviors a leader exhibits.
The short version of the DLQ lists 22 discrete behaviors (listed on the right) that are often cited.
U.S. Worker Study
Using the DLQ short version, the authors studied 1064 individuals who described themselves as the
of destructive leadership behavior and 1063 individuals who were self-described
witnesses to these destructive behaviors.
argets and witnesses concurred on the most frequently used behaviors which included
Making Significant Decisions Without Information, Playing Favorites, Being Ineffective at Coordinating and Managing, Micro-Managing & Over-Controlling and Unable to Develop & Motivate Subordinates.
- Both groups indicated that behaviors became worse over time, suggesting early intervention is necessary to prevent behaviors becoming entrenched.
The paper explores factors that cause destructive behavior and flags systemic issues that fuel its growth. The negative impact at both a personal and organizational level are discussed. The authors recommend early detection and intervention by upper management and HR and propose 3 key stages to identifying and managing destructive leaders.
- Hiring and training. New leaders should be screened for destructive leadership traits and trained in identifying behaviors in others. All employees should be trained in the skills of ethical decision-making and a behavior code of conduct.
- 360-degree feedback mechanisms. The use of feedback mechanisms is advocated to anonymously collect feedback and supervisor evaluations.
- Senior management intervention. Senior management must be willing and able to intervene and take action quickly when destructive leadership behavior is identified.
"There must be a variety of checks and balances throughout the organization such as comprehensive hiring and training procedures, promotion of an ethical and collaborative culture, inclusive performance reviews, and a strong oversight by senior management. Overall, employees must see that senior managers are actively and consistently rooting out destructive leadership through a variety of means wherever it is found in the organization."
In Closing ...
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Principal & Executive Coach