Tag Archives: Leader

How Do You Hire Foreign Personnel? Four Observations

Situation: A rapidly growing US software company has an office in Europe. Prospects for key positions have been flown from Europe to the US for interviews. Two or three good prospects have withdrawn their applications before the company could make an offer, citing cultural incompatibility as their reason. How do you hire foreign personnel?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Cultural incompatibility can be an evasive non-response. It is important to dig deeper, perhaps with the assistance of a European-based consultant, to determine what the candidates perceived as the incompatibility. Do this with the candidates that have already rejected the company. Identifying the deeper reason will help to pre-screen future candidates before flying them to the US for interviews.
  • It is important to have a local leader. This appears to be the individual that the company is attempting to hire. The local leader will then do the hiring for the local office. Employees work for their managers and with their peers and will decide on whether to accept a position based on their feelings of compatibility with these individuals.
  • Given that the company is attempting to hire the leader of the European office, review and approval of the candidate by the CEO is important. Here are options to explore:
    • Spend some time studying the culture of the country in which the office is located (European countries vary according to local culture) and adapt the interview style so that it is more compatible with this culture.
    • Hire a European that the CEO trusts to do the recruiting, screening, interviewing and selection a final set of candidates. Ask this individual for their input on the best way of facilitating a meeting with the CEO. For example, instead of flying candidates to the US, once several candidates have been identified travel to Europe and instead of conducting formal interviews, have dinner with each of the candidates. This reduces the tension and makes the interview more congenial. Consider taking the head of HR with along and both of you having dinner with the candidates and their spouses. Again, this will reduce the tension in the meetings, and you will have two viewpoints on the candidates.
  • If, after trying the suggested alternatives, it continues to be difficult identifying a good European candidate, an alternative is hiring an American – someone with solid experience managing offices and operations in Europe – to oversee the European operation.

When Are You Dominant and When Do You Facilitate? Three Keys

Situation: For a CEO to lead effectively, she or he needs to be able use both dominant and facilitative modalities of leadership. James Church, in Navigating the Growth Curve, ties the use of each mode to the growth stage of the company. A CEO asks whether the use of each modality is purely a question of growth stage, or whether there are situational guidelines for the use of each modality. When are you dominant and when do you facilitate?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The Dominant Mode is appropriate when there is an immediate situation with a clear desired outcome; whereas the Facilitative Mode is appropriate when fixing a broken system that produces issues, or to increase team communication and contribution. As examples:
    • The Dominant Mode is appropriate when there is an immediate issue to be resolved, with clear legal implications and a clear response based on established policy.
    • The Facilitative Mode is appropriate when you want to develop and institute policies and procedures to handle issues ahead of time, or to establish guidelines for action. In these cases you want both input from the team as well as buy-in to institute the resulting decisions.
  • Strategic Planning shifts from Dominant to Facilitative Mode as the organization grows and becomes more complex. Early on, strategy needs to come with a single, decisive voice. In larger companies strategy becomes a group exercise because there are many moving parts and teams.
  • Another way to think about this is that Dominant is appropriate when “the buck stops here,” and will shift from CEO to managers for specific decisions when you reach a stage where the managers are now dominant. Facilitative becomes appropriate when managers and employees – those below the level of company or division leader – need to make the decision instead of the leader.

How Do You Set Limits on Demand for your Time? Eight Tactics

Situation: A company’s CEO wants to segue from rainmaker-project manager to leader, with others taking the lead on projects. He has tried raising prices on his time, but clients are willing to pay the higher price so this hasn’t worked. How does the CEO set boundaries so that he is not involved in day-to-day project management?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The most important question is: where’s the real battle – is it in the client’s or your own head? Is this really a client problem, or are you unwilling to let go? You need to answer this question before alternate strategies will work.
  • Look for the right project managers. You will change your hiring when the goal is for you to not be deeply involved.
  • Hire people who are better than you.
  • Gradually phase existing relationships to others.
  • In early work with a new client, set expectations so that your involvement is at the appropriate level and your team handles the heavy lifting.
  • Instead of attending meetings in person, use electronics – video conferencing. This saves the travel time for the meeting.
  • Don’t respond to client emails too quickly when you are copied – let others respond.
  • As one company grew, they invented new roles with high profiles but little work. These roles were figureheads for project leadership.
    • Project emails were set up so that all client emails went to the team, as well as the CEO, but the team would then respond to client questions.
    • Over time, the CEO was able to “just say no.”

How Do You Build Strong Teams? Seven Suggestions

Situation: A company has lost the team spirit that they had when the company formed. The CEO has struggled to revitalize this spirit but encounters resistance from some employees. What techniques have you found effective in building or rebuilding a strong team culture and improving team performance?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • If an individual is resistant to team meetings, work with them one-on-one. Listen to their concerns about meetings and ask questions to focus them on a higher level of concern – individual and team performance and the need to build effective teams to enhance this performance.
  • If an organization has divided into functional silos, form multidisciplinary teams around initiatives to build inter-team synergy.
  • Choice of leader is critical in team formation. The best teams have the most effective leaders.
  • Crisp, clean communication is important. Document verbal commitments in writing.
  • Select team membership with an eye to team compatibility. Avoid putting individuals with a history of conflict on the same team, particularly if this is a management team.
    • Engineering product teams – where individuals work independently on distinct aspects of a larger project – may be more tolerant of past conflict as long as team activities do not require collaboration among individuals with a history of conflict.
  • Look for common value systems and common focus when assembling teams. This helps to build the team as a strong unit.
  • Recommended Reading: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni.

How Do You Develop Leaders and Managers? Five Factors

A company has focused on developing future leaders and managers. They do this both to increase their managerial and leadership bench strength and to boost employee retention. What has worked for you in developing managers and leaders?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Trying to make a leader doesn’t work. Leadership is a trait, not a skill. Leaders can arise from anywhere within the organization. An effective CEO recognizes this and works with both the leaders and the managers, whatever their position.
  • The Gallup Organization found that exceptional managers and exceptional leaders are not often the same people. Usually, the best managers are people who excel at bringing out the best in their employees, but may not be either visionary or strategic thinkers. Leaders, on the other hand are those to whom others look to for guidance and direction. Good leaders know how to identify and delegate to good managers.
  • Identify and develop strengths within your people; don’t try to fix weaknesses.
    • Gallup found that talented people have identified and developed their strengths. Instead of fixing weaknesses they find ways to work around weaknesses so that they are not harmed by them.
  • Use informal mentoring. Assign mentors to employees, and include cross-departmental mentor assignment to extend skills development, as well as managerial and leadership development.
    • Ask mentors to report progress to the CEO on occasional basis.
  • As you develop your talent pipeline, track the number of employees added to the pipeline per year as a key company metric. As an additional metric, look at the number of individuals in your pipeline compared with the number that you believe you need to fill future needs.

How Does an Entrepreneur Evolve from Doer to Leader? Four Suggestions

Situation: A company has grown largely through the determination and energy of the founding CEO who is still the principal business development resource. The CEO wants to move from day-to-day focus to a leadership role, planning for the future. How have you evolved from principal doer to leader?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Start by developing and managing an organizational chart for the business.
    • Create the organizational chart initially by role and responsibility.
    • Match existing people to the roles. Individuals may fill more than one role, but be sure that the individuals are suited to the roles to which they are assigned.
  • Give ownership of areas of responsibility to others.
    • Make it clear for each area of responsibility that the individual assigned is now in charge.
    • Match projects or assignments with individuals’ abilities and available time.
    • Establish quarterly or annual performance objectives WITH as opposed to FOR each individual – objectives that support company objectives.
    • See that people are rewarded for their results – both soft and monetary rewards – as appropriate to the responsibility held by each.
  • While you continue as the lead of business development, hand off new clients to others as soon as you get them on-board. Let others take on the customer nurturing and maintenance roles. Establish a plan to replace yourself in this role.
  • The EMyth Revisited by Michael Gerber provides a soup to nuts recipe for moving from doer to leader of a company. Everything starts with your organizational chart.

Key Words: Leader, Doer, Role, Focus, Organizational Chart, Org Chart, People, Match, Ownership, Responsibility, Performance, Objectives, Reward, Results, EMyth, Gerber