The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Tag: Organizational Leadership

How to be a successful leader

Word Cloud of RMGT descriptionThere are many factors that determine the success of an organizational leader, from personal attributes such as leadership style and emotional intelligence to communication, decision making, and conflict resolution skills. Then you have external factors, including organizational structure and the influence of corporate culture. Regardless of external influences, successful leaders have a strong moral code, are able to motivate a team, and can provide effective feedback when necessary.

Brandeis GPS will be offering Organizational Leadership and Decision Making during our Fall 2 session, starting in October. The fully online, 10-week course will focus on leadership as a process by which one person influences the attitudes and behaviors of others. Topics covered include various leadership theories and models, differences across cultures, ethics and attributes, organizational change and development, and the role of the leader in establishing organizational culture and facilitating change. Students will deepen their understanding of these concepts through group projects and leadership simulations.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Gain insight into their own strengths and weaknesses as a leader and create a plan for continued introspection and improvement
  • Describe the nature of leadership and assess the basic functions of management and the complexities of leadership
  • Analyze the role of moral reasoning and ethics in organizational and team decisions
  • Examine multiple viewpoints for differing frames of reference, perspectives, and orientations to the same situation
  • Employ leadership, team-building and decision-making concepts; examine how teams make high-stakes decisions in stressful situations, why individuals and teams make flawed choices and how leaders shape the context and the process through which teams make decisions
  • Critically reflect on leadership style and their own experience within a team and its leadership
  • Understand the role of leaders in setting strategic focus and direction

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two courses before enrolling in one of our 12 online Master’s degree programs. If you’re interested in exploring the MS in Technology Management or would like to learn more about leadership and decision making as part of your own professional development, contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

The Art and Science of KPIs

By Phil Holberton

Every business leader needs to organize a set of KPIs. These KPIs have two purposes:

  1. To track the progress of a business.
  2. To motivate the organization to stretch and achieve its maximum performance.
KPI Capture

Click to view Phil’s March 2016 webinar on linking performance management to KPIs.

Where Do You Start?
Begin with a few KPIs — five is a good number. Choose KPIs that drive financial results; those KPIs that can measure the performance of the team or company. KPIs need to measure critical activities and the effectiveness of those activities, such as customer retention rate or average order size. Choose those KPIs that you can frequently measure, whether it’s weekly, daily or monthly. Assign responsibility for those KPIs — someone on your team needs to take ownership.

The Technical Aspects
Select KPIs that you can calculate easily. On the surface, everyone should be able to understand them. The top KPIs are those that indicate if individuals are doing their job, and can motivate them to change their behavior and influence the results. Spending is an easy KPI to use — am I under/over budget? Another is sales — can I do something to create improvement in the sales results? Can I make one more sales call or go that extra mile for a customer that results in incremental business?

The Emotional Impact
Psychologically, employees will look at KPIs as their individual report card – how did I do? The trick for the leadership team is to develop and use KPIs to help motivate its employees, not use them as a demotivator. If KPIs are used to discipline an individual, they will fail and not be supported by the rank and file. Use KPIs as a way to measure your progress and as a coaching tool to attain even more effectiveness from the organization.

Identifying the right KPIs is not easy – yet it can be very simple to organize a few KPIs that everyone can wrap their mind around and support. Why is it not easy? Because we have many choices. If you ask ten employees, you may get ten different lists of KPIs. If we step back, I can safely say there could be hundreds of KPIs, each of them having a precise significance yet can be distracting if used only by itself. In this case, the saying “Less is More” prevails.

KPIs, when well established, can be a system that allows for continuous improvement, allowing you to refine your business processes over time, become more efficient and continue to drive overall financial and employee performance. Use KPIs as a means to view the glass as half full, not as half empty and bringing the best out of your employees. Everyone will feel better about themselves.

Ask yourself, am I a leader?

Phil Holberton is the founder of Holberton Group Inc. – Speaking of Leadership, a business advisory firm specializing in strategic, organizational and executive coaching. He also teaches courses in the Project and Program Management and Strategic Analytics programs at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies.

Helping Your Teams Grow Through Coaching

By: Phil Holberton, Adjunct faculty at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies

Originally from: http://holberton.com/helping-your-teams-grow-through-coaching/

As team leaders, we evaluate our team members and expect them to do the job up to our standards. Sometimes our standards are out of sync with their ability or training. After all, coachingthese individuals have not traveled in the same shoes as we have and may not have the skills or cognitive preparation to achieve what we expect. Therefore coaching becomes an integral part of helping teams grow to the next level.

In my experience, the most effective leaders shine when they are helping others day in and day out. This is where coaching enters the picture. Those team leaders who are really performing up to their capability (in a leadership capacity) are consistently coaching their colleagues (and not trying to micro-manage their activities). Individuals don’t appreciate being managed. But, they are more open to coaching if the coach immediately establishes his or her desire to help the individual meet their established goals.

The first and most important coaching skill is to be in the moment, not distracted by six different things on your mind. Coaching is about How-To-Minimize-Distractionsrespect for each other. There is no more predictable way to show lack of respect as not being “present” or “engaged” during a conversation. I once had a boss whose eyes would become “fish eyes” during our conversations. Do you think I was being heard? Do you think I respected him?

Secondly, a good coach (team leader) will seek to understand by asking open-ended, empowering questions. It is very difficult to understand what is going on in someone else’s head if we ask simple yes/no questions. Questions need to be open-ended so we fully understand the complexity of an individual’s state of mind.

A third critical skill is the need for the coach to suspend judgment and remain reflective and objective. Being contemplative shows that you understand the thoughts or feelings in the conversation. These first three skills will help develop understanding, balance, and respect—all very important ingredients in a successful coaching relationship.

0x600-636x310The fourth critical skill is affirming the conversation. This action brings into focus the individual’s desire to move ahead, whether it’s an improvement in performance or learning new skills and growing as a professional or human being.
These skills, when practiced and used daily, will help you become the most effective leader imaginable.

Help your team grow. Be a coach not a just a team leader or boss.

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