Business Challenges

Organizations today face a multitude of business challenges. Whether it’s related to the complexities of a globalized business environment, impact of disruptive technologies, or changing market conditions – every situation is unique and deserves a customized solution. After 30 years of helping global organizations solve their challenges, ALA believes that all business challenges fall into three focus areas: Grow Self, Grow Others, and Grow the Business. In most cases, they are related and connected.

Grow Self

Personal Leadership Effectiveness

Personal leadership effectiveness almost always comes down to this maxim: “Know Thyself.” The better you know yourself, the better able you are to lead others. The three phase approach that ALA puts into practice for this challenge is simple:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What stands in your way?
  3. How are you going to change that?

Step 1: Assessment

There are many different assessment methods available. We choose the assessment that is the best fit for the organization. In many cases, more than one assessment is optimal. For example: First, conduct a 360˚ to help leaders understand that they have blind spots. Second is an assessment to help the leader better understand their individual preferences – what makes them who they are. Lastly is helping the leader see where the intersection of the 360˚ feedback and the assessment style intersect. This provides the hard facts leaders need to better understand self, and how that impacts getting results with others.

Step 2: Live Leadership Laboratories

The first step is becoming armed with the assessment knowledge about style and how it affects others. However, leaders at higher levels of organizations may think they are invincible, believing that they can overcome behavioral challenges simply by understanding it intellectually. The truth is they need to experience themselves exhibiting those behaviors in action. We call it catching yourself in the act of being yourself. Seeing how one’s behavior affects performance during a simple task – the “Laboratory” – among a group of peers is a very effective tool for change. ALA pioneered an experiential model that allows leaders to become more self-aware and embrace change. It’s our signature approach of Action – Reflection – Learning.

Step 3: Commitment and Follow-Up

The final step to make lasting, positive change that extends beyond the program windowpane is commitment and follow-up. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution here, but the common denominator is accountability. This can be in many different forms including:

  • the form of peer accountability partners
  • pulse surveys
  • physical or digital reminders of what was committed to and what the conditions of satisfaction are for achieving that commitment

coin2Without the follow-up, even the best of intentions for change will stagnate. ALA plays a role in helping leaders stay accountable to the individual action plan – and that’s where real gains happen.

Grow Others

Technically Skilled to Behaviorally Skilled

As Ram Charan so clearly articulates in his book The Leadership Pipeline the transition from and individual contributor to getting results through others is often a make or break transition for the development talent pool. The challenge is moving from a technically skilled area, to a more behaviorally skilled area.  It is behavioral skills which new leaders or managers need.  The tough transition is:

  • Learning to value others, what they do, and how they do it.
  • Examine people skills and capture what is working, and not working.
  • Gaining the behavioral skill-set to provide valuable feedback, deal with difficult conversations, and in the end provide purposeful evaluation.

Growing and Leading Others requires playing with a different set of skills which for most successful people they have been using for a long time as “managers”

  • It is not about “winning” or being right at the expense of others. It is being humble.
  • It is not about being the first person to come up with the idea. It is about listening to others.
  • It is not about reacting. It is more proactive and doing that by interacting.
  • It is not just knowing yourself and your own style.  It is about understanding and appreciating other styles.
  • It is not short-sighted or the quick solution. It is far-sighted and about the long term.
  • It is not just business intelligence. It is emotional intelligence.
  • It is not about meetings.  It is about conversations.

Dropping these old comfortable behaviors is never easy for us as human beings, we used these weapons for a long time to get us to where we are.  We have become very comfortable reaching for them in times of need. ALA designs and facilitates across the learning engagement with a spotlight on these moments.  We highlight these moments when we see them in action. Whether from leaders that are visiting, to when the learner in the room reaches for an old weapon in the leadership lab or on a project team.  It is like learning a new language; get them to use it, recognize it and continually practice and they will become more fluent in the art.

 

Grow The Business

Create Strategic Alignment

Strategic alignment for organizations can usually be tracked down to one key element: communication. When it comes to alignment issues, the challenge of communication is directly correlated to how complex and dispersed the organization is. ALA’s approach to helping organizations with this challenge is from the perspective of facilitating robust dialog. That dialog has to happen in a safe environment in which people are able to remove their personal biases and regional perspectives that may be in the way of seeing strategic alignment for the good of the larger enterprise.

ALA has several methodologies that immerse organizations into a constructive dialog. On a large scale and for complex issues, the Leader’s Court methodology can be leveraged. For smaller issues, there are simple tools and team processes that can be used to help keep teams focused and on topic, aligning around what they as a team are clearly saying, and how they need to communicate it effectively to the rest of enterprise.

Collaborating for Enterprise Results

It has been widely recognized that in the broader sense of the world, when cells collaborate there is more gained than lost.  As humans we are hard wired for success but for humans that have developed in a system of constant competition, the notion of success in formal systems is clouded.  The typical profile for a top of the house “leader” who is charged with leading growth in an organization has been the product of a competitive environment for most of their schooling and career.  It is no wonder that the concepts of collaborating within the complex structures of business is a challenge for many of todays leaders.   Collaborating across an enterprise for results is often the number one growth factor an organization can tackle which will have the broadest impact on all the stakeholders.

  • Externally, collaboration helps organizations provide customers with consistent levels of service across markets.
  • Internally, collaboration raises the level of quality in a product and /or service.
  • Financially, collaboration saves cost by reducing redundancies and leveraging resources.
  • Behaviorally, collaboration fosters environments in which innovation is more likely to thrive.

All too often collaboration is seen as a factor in slowing down process and decision making.  But as the late Sumantra Ghoshal pointed out time and time again, collaboration for the sake of collaboration is a waste, organizations need to learn to look for opportunities to collaborate where collaboration is most natural.

ALA has build a customized simulation (The Silver Bullet Runway) which brings to bare the usual business acumen learning points of looking at individual team performance, but adds the twist in which collaboration is imperative to reach enterprise targets and stretch targets.  The simulation provides a lens for not only observing our past habits of competing and how that effects our ability to collaborate, but illuminates the ability to share ideas openly which drives innovation, mitigates risks, and increases the ability to leverage resources for higher performance levels.  The simulation highlights the behaviors and self-limiting structures we as leaders falsely impose which stand in our way back in the real world businesses for more effective collaboration.  The results of this highly customizable simulation is a rich collection of moments and triggers in which the leaders can examine their own businesses and the levers they could change for better collaboration.

First and foremost, the Action Learning Family extends our sincere hopes for wellness and safety to you and your family in these difficult times. We want our clients and friends to know that we have already adapted some of our more popular ALA team development activities to run in video conference environments. We believe now, more than ever, the power of teams delivering results together is essential as we endure these challenging times and look forward to the future.    

 Stay in touch and be well! - The Action Leaning Team