Delegate – Learn to Let Go

Delegation can be hard for a manager, especially those new to the role.  When your main focus has been on adding value through your technical value-add, moving towards a management role where you need to focus on other tasks learning to delegate becomes an important task to master.  Learning to delegate means learning to let go.

By letting go, you are now free to do these new tasks that your role demands.

Delegation involves coaching, feedback, tracking to maintaining progress, communicating and asking questions.  The aim is to build the capacity in others so that you can free your time on being a manager.

To delegate effectively:

  • Define the scope
    • The purpose, the big picture, stakeholder expectations, timelines and any shaping constraints
    • Do not fall into the trap of telling them how to do it; ask them for their ideas and approaches.  Encourage them to learn, try, experiment where possible.   Your role is there to support, coach and advise on the journey they take.
  • Select the individual / team
    • Play to the strengths of the individual or team. Assess the risks involved.  If the task is of high risk, this may not be the time to delegate.   Be aware of the demotivating impact of always delegating the same task to the same person.  Develops the hamster wheel effect.
  • Regular progress updates
    • You want to make sure that they are on rack and progress can be a mixture of formal and informal reviews.  Informal meetings can be powerful as they show openness; the meeting is seen as an opportunity and not as a threat

Delegating is not easy.  The first time is difficult.  But like most activities, the more you practise, the easier it becomes.

Pros and Cons of a Matrix Structure – Better Get Use To It

matrix-1799661_1920A matrix is a grid type organization that allows it to address multiple dimensions: Functions: product / service lines and geographies.  Typically an individual may have a mixture of reporting lines: both solid and dotted line.

Increasingly, large complex, global organizations have employed a matrix operating structure.  So why do it?

The advantages include:

It helps to break the silo mentality and structure, by

  • Increasing co-operation across vertical silos
  • Utilizing resources and talent where available 
  • Aids in delivering horizontal work, by
    • Serving global customers
    • Managing the supply chain more efficiently and effectively
    • Running streamlined integrated systems and processes
  •  Provides speed of response
    • The ability to respond to the importance of the global, local, business and functional requirements
  • Develops broader capabilities
    • Enhances capabilities that delivers value across the organization

A lot of these advantages can be categorized as being of benefitting the organization.

When focusing on the disadvantages, these can often be focused on the individual operating within the matrix and can include:

  • Goals are not clear
    • Who is doing what where are when. Often goals become misaligned due to a lack of communications, but also on not considering the bigger picture.
  • Determining who is in charge
    • The traditional organizational chart is of no use. We need to develop the matrix structure diagram by considering stakeholders, direct and indirect. Often these charts are fluid depending on what you do and the maturity of the activity.
  • Poor communication
    • The silo mentality takes over. What an individual needs to achieve can only be achieved through the combined efforts off the team, but if you do not know the formal and the informal members, then communicating becomes an issue
  • Lack of direct accountability
    • Going back to classic RACI model (Responsibility, Accountability, Consult and Inform) provides a process for identifying each contribution to an activity and decision-making. Knowing who is ultimately in charge, always helps!
  • Delays in making decisions
    • Often occurs because we do not know who is in charge. The other issue, becomes, who to inform and who needs to know when a decision is required.  Making a decision can often be easier than seeing it through within a matrix structure.
  • Increase in conflict
    • Created due to a range of issues goal misalignment, operating distance, lack of accountability. If you are operating in a matrix, and there is no conflict, then ask yourself if you really are in a matrix. The setup and implementation of a matrix, will result in conflict and potential conflict arising.  Managing the conflict in a proactive manner becomes key.








Navigate Leadership a Synopsis

A few years ago I co-authored a leadership book, developed by four Authors with over 30 years of leadership experience.  It is based on two books: Navigate Executive Leadership Part 1 and Part 2 by C.V Kroll, J. Williams, R. Dogra and J. Malpass.

Reflecting back on the contents and structure, it  still remain relevant today and wanted to provide a synopsis.

 This book consists of practical tools to implement and an opportunity to apply and then reflect on learning. It is based on sixteen modules that guides individuals, regardless of background and industry towards the transition of becoming a leader and developing leadership competencies.

The aim is not to provide a step by step guide towards leadership, but allow you to focus on your leadership journey and focus on the areas that help in enhancing your leadership transition and development.

An overview of each module is shown below

Plan journeys

Because of the many aspects and complexity of the path to Executive Leadership, via our selected strategies with specific goals, a sound travel plan is essential, both for us personally and for our organisation.

  • Planning your transition to leadership
  • Assessing and adapting your route
  • Developing leadership goals and outcomes
  • Identifying the time frame for the journey

 Know yourself

The most successful Leaders share certain qualities – they knew themselves well; they believed in lifelong learning; they wanted to be the best they could be; Identify and utilize all the resources you need to become a Leader.

  • Being an authentic leader
  • Building insight and self-knowledge
  • Developing leadership competencies

 Understand the organisation

Leaders at every level of the organisation must understand not just what the organisation’s is, but how it works, and how to leverage its people, resources, structures, and processes – both at the micro and macro levels.

  • understanding the technical and social context
  • Identifying what drives success
  • The need of knowing where one is really the best
  • Building passion

 Create vision

An organization can spend considerable time shaping the strategic intent based on their current mission (where they are) and future aspirational vision (where they want to be). Moreover, it will ultimately impact its allocation of resources and investments. The same can be applied to the Leader

  • Developing your personal vision
  • Articulate your values and mission
  • Communicate for buy-in
  • Linking your vision with the organization

 Strike balances

Balance is a range of things equally distributed. – the tightrope walker, the rope, balancing pole and the focus. In other words, the goal we are striving for and the factors that shape the journey; where all factors become inputs into delivering the Leadership result

  • Be a hero, inspire and help create and nurture other heroes
  • Understand your organisation and the context in which it operates
  • Take a holistic view
  • Create a balance sheet
  • Refer to the plan. Live, breathe and adapt where necessary

 Lead strategies

Planning, at any level, whether for us personally or for our organization, cannot be effective nor efficient without an overarching strategy or interrelated portfolio of strategies that are relevant to the circumstances at hand

  • Crafting a process for strategy development
  • Learning what to do, what not to so and what to stop doing
  • Implementing and adjusting to changing environments

 Make connections

Successful Leaders learn that there is a shift in gear from developing and refining their soft skills to an increased emphasis on who they know, and the ability to build and develop connections with others. These collectively become a network that is actively leveraged at the individual and group-wide levels

  • Creating win-wins for each connection
  • Continual proactive influencing for authentic partnerships
  • Sharing knowledge with your community

 Build trust

Trust is not a tangible thing in the practical sense of the word. Just like time, it is a concept that is vital to understand and manage if we are to be effective. Trust starts with trusting ourselves.

  • The road to building and maintaining trust
  • Creating a high-trust organization
  • Demonstrating reliability

 Facilitate change

Change is inevitable. We can help shape it by leading strategies, and we can chart detailed courses of action by planning journeys. We can ease the path of change for others affected by it by having an effective vision. But these are not sufficient. We must ensure that the changes undertaken are done so in ways that facilitate versus hamper their success.

  • Recognizing the need for proactive change
  • Avoiding change just for change sake
  • Recognizing reasons people resist change
  • Building your tool kit to reduce resistance to change
  • Developing a change management process

 Communicate messages

Communication is at the heart of everything we do and deliver, whether it is setting a vision, building and maintaining trust or shaping our personal brand. It influences everything that we represent and being an effective communicator is a key function that a Leader must master.

  • Creating engagement
  • Mastering Management By Walking About (MBWA)
  • Communicating through tools

 Foster innovation

The role of the Executive Leader was to create the strategic mandate, shape the environment and let the teams get on with it by standing out of their way and letting them innovate. They act as a catalyzer allowing innovation to flourish to allow the organization to adapt to change.

  • Innovating to provide value add
  • Shaping the organization through innovation
  • The role of the leader in creating an innovative culture

Cultivate passions

Passion whether personal or organisational unites and engages people both inside and out. When they deal with your people they want to know that a person is passionate about serving, adding value and creating a lasting experience based on the brand promise.

  • How to harness and manage my passion for the highest purpose
  • Identifying the passion with the team
  • Inspiring others to be passionate

 Grow leaders

Create the right environment, with the best ingredients and people will grow. Not only will they grow, they will thrive. The right environment will have some very basic elements, such as mutual trust, respect, being able to communicate honestly and being supported to be the best that you can be. After that thriving will depend upon the nature of your organisation, its values, beliefs, culture and the universe your organisation finds itself in.

  • Thriving or surviving
  • Position on the leadership life-cycle
  • Finding greatness in yourself
  • Acknowledging greatness in others
  • Seeking challenge and offering opportunity

Address politics

If you are to be effective as Leader, you must learn how to address politics proactively (as is also part of the ‘science of good sense’), to manage the politics ethically to smooth your journey rather than exploit it aggressively. If you do not, then those that you desire to lead will become disillusioned and your desired leadership will hence be ineffective.

  • Perceptions of organisational politics
  • Building alliances and networks
  • Contributing to constructive politics

Drive performance

Whilst individual and team performance is, in the main, a well-understood concept in most modern organisations, it is essential that Leaders develop an in-depth understanding of the performance of their organisation, and of the factors that drive performance within it.

  • Ensuring best practice in managing the performance of people
  • Building an effective performance measurement system
  • Driving the performance of the Executive Leadership team
  • Driving your personal performance as an Executive Leader

Brand you

A brand is, at its most fundamental, something which distinguishes a person, product, service or an organisation; it has an identity. It is much more complex because it is a promise of an experience that is personal in nature depending upon the perspective of the person having the experience. Personal and leadership branding are similar in philosophy to organisational branding, except people’s reputations are being managed, and you are trying to find ways to establish and demonstrate personal and leadership competitive advantage.

  • Understand branding and brands
  • Know your own brand values
  • Be aligned to the organisation’s brand values
  • Live the leadership brand


Developing Your Professional Services Capabilities

Professional services include a range of different occupations which provide support to businesses of all sizes and in all sectors. People working in professional services provide specialist advice to their clients, both internally and externally to their organization.

Professional services are critical to the success of the UK economy, representing 15% of UK GDP, 14% of employment and 14% of exports.”  Source:

In 2012, the U.S. professional services industry comprised about 760,000 firms with combined annual revenues of $1.5 trillion. The industry employed 7.8 million Americans.  Source:

Many individuals have embarked on enhancing and developing their technical abilities and competencies and have taken many courses focussed around gaining new insights and plugging technical gaps in their knowledge base.  All well and good but what about the other side of the scale?

  • The ability to work with productively with others
  • Understanding the business they work in and for
  • Managing their own productively and remain focused on outcomes
  • Becoming more commercially minded, without becoming a sales person
  • Identifying the needs of the customers, create win-wins and enhance mutual opportunities

These are some of the skills required to enhance individual capabilities, to increase their overall contribution to their organization.

I meet and have met many highly competent and technical individuals who are great when the emphasis is on their technical area of influence, but would struggle or find it difficult to operate and work with other stakeholders, contribute at team meetings, or simply operate effectively in front of customers.  These are important and necessary skills, often hidden and not as visible as the technical skills we often primarily focus on.

If I look at my own journey as a Professional, I spent my formative years focussing on my technical abilities (coding, project management, service delivery, stakeholder management etc.)  As my career progressed I moved into more roles that were primarily customer centric (both internally and externally) and had to develop a new range of skills that I learnt by reading books, trying new approaches, learning from mistakes.  I did my MBA in my 30s primarily to formalise my informal skill sets to increase and enhance my management and leadership abilities.

I am currently working on a new project where the PS Professional certification would have helped me in that journey, and believe it will help many individuals who want to enhance their overall skill set.

The certification focusses on five core areas, which when considered as a whole provides the overall offering a Professional can provide:

Athlete The foundations of being an Athlete are about being professional in how an individual present themselves and in what they do.  The key is the ability to plan and carefully prepare, combined with excellent time management skills.  There is a strong focus on both building and maintaining long-term influential relationships – both internally within the organization and externally with other stakeholders.

ExecutiveUnderstanding the nature of business is a key component to making a strong contribution.  There are a number of key components, which need to be understood and addressed which have an impact on the decisions a customer will make and on their direction as a business. For example, in addition to the important economic climate what are the social trends for that business? What are the effects of government and regulatory developments or what Innovations or technology trends will propel it? Do you understand the financial underpinnings of the organization?  Understanding the wider shaping factors is key and a real differentiator.

RainmakerA key goal is to make technical individuals more commercial and more sales oriented, even if they are not official sales people. The challenge with technical people is the need to be recognized as an expert, which leads to high level solutions, that a customer may not want need or are ready for.   This is at conflict with how you want to behave to develop effective outcomes with customers. The goal is to understanding what their business issues and drivers are and link them to something you can market and ultimately sell.

The secret to success is being really customer and sales oriented, with a true entrepreneurial spirit, a rainmaker (make rain where there isn’t any) who has earned the right to sell more.

AuthorityThe best professionals are experts in their particular field.  In essence, the Guru.

This is one of the most important aspects of developing and earning credibility, which can then be used to build trust.  People will judge an individual primarily on whether they know what they are talking about.  They will also be judged on how they demonstrate passion, a depth of knowledge, are able to tailor their message to the audience, have real credibility and are able to demonstrate it.

Catalyst The end game of any engagement is for the customer to get something implemented and eventually managed.  The biggest complaint customers have is that they were sold something that does not eventually work, or they had a very stressful time during the whole implementation process. The focus is to see things through the eyes of the customer and walk in their shoes. Understanding the operational environment, starting from the point of how something will operate, and reverse engineering the solution and associated activities to ensure that the customer experience is just as strong afterwards and during as it is at the beginning.

Creating the rounded Professional, one who has a strong technical background, balanced with the skills that this curricula provides, creates the professional of tomorrow.



Sustainability Applied to Global Working

I spend a lot of time working with companies that work in a global environment with front offices in one country and back offices in another.  They face day-to-day issues in achieving their tasks, such as: overcoming cultural nuances, time zones, communicating using existing technology and leading dispersed teams when travel budgets have been frozen.

These problems often stem from applying a co-located method of managing and leading a team to the virtual global world.  There are small and large differences and they need to be factored in to achieve agreed outcomes.  The reality is that often team members are communicating by email and in some instances, have no idea what the other team members key skills are, or in some instances what they even look like.

When you ask at a corporate level, why the organization operates globally you often hear the answer cost, as it is cheaper to offshore work to another country where the labor rates are lower than another country.  Global working is still in its infancy as a management science, and organizations are still learning about what works and what does not.  In the pursuit of lower costs, the long terms implications are often not considered and the question I ask, is whether this approach is sustainable?

If the real pursuit is cost, then yes a lower cost per employee, per hour discussion is relevant, and the gap between one country and another can be significant, but what about the long-term impacts?  What happens when a “low cost country” starts developing and the labor force experiences wage inflation?  If the cost savings are no longer viable, then will the maintain presence in that location?

Often companies will invest in training and developing their workforce, but the end result is that trained individuals, will leave and seek other opportunities, so the parent company suffers from significant churn rates, that means more time spent hiring people and training them.  This is certainly not sustainable, and works so long as there is a constant stream of eager applicants for jobs, but what happens if this runs out?  What are the options?  Focus on existing staff, or move to another country and start all over again.

As more and more companies offshore work, they are basically doing what others in their industry are currently doing.  All in the pursuit of reducing and controlling costs but what are the strategic implications of doing this?  If all organizations strategic intent is too offshore to reduce costs and increase profitability then this is not long-term sustainable and we are back to square one.

I encourage companies to consider the viability of their offshore models and think about the impacts from not just a short-term perspective, but a long-term sustainable solution that provides profit, growth and an environment that allows employees, regardless of where they are located to contribute and work seamlessly as a team.

Leading Teleworkers

I have worked with many organization’s to assist its leaders to manage the rise of teleworkers – those that are able to work at home and in the office.  For many of us, this would appear as the norm expectation for what we perceive as being “work” nowadays. But this is not universal.

I travel to many countries and visit many different types of organizations and observe many companies that do not want to do this and choose to have their employees all working in one location.

Teleworking if great if you want to do this.  But again this not universal.  Some find that working out at home is not entirely beneficial…

  • The lack of office gossip
  • No access to the coffee moments
  • No office meetings to break up the work conveyor belt
  • The blurring of lines between where is work and home life (especially for those that are working during school vacation time)

Others, of course, relish the benefits of working at home, and balancing the needs of work and home life and cutting out the wasted commute time.

Say you are a leader in an organization how do you lead a team of individuals who may be at home or in the office?  I am now coming across organizations where managers never have the luxury of getting the team together in one place at the same time.  How do you manage in these constructs?  Here is some advice to consider:

  • list-1030596_1280Set the ground rules.  We have them (implicit and explicit) when we are in the office so these should also exist when we are away from the office.
  • Touch base with the team, both individually and collectively often.  When a team is remote (operating at a distance using communications tools) then generally we need more not less communication.  From a leader’s perspective, has this been built-in?  If you do not make time, then it may not happen.
  • Be proactive in your use of communication tools.  Consider the message and then select the appropriate tool.  Often we pick a tool that is often closest to hand.  We have great tools but do we all know they exist and more importantly, are we even trained in using the tools?  I worked recently with a company where they all used social media tools (Twitter, Snapchat, Whatsapp etc) – but crucially they used these tools outside of the office and not inside the working environment.
    • I am also finding that training in using the communication tools is not offered by either the IT or the HR section, so it falls between the cracks.  If individuals are not trained in using a tool, they will not use it.
  • Make sure you trust your employees. Strange as it sounds, if there is no trust when the employee(s) and the manager are in the office, then it is unlikely to occur when the team members are separated from one another.
  • Build in the small talk.  It is part of life when we work together so it does not disappear when we are apart.
  • Working from home may not suit everyone, so keep in touch to find out how they are getting on, what issues they face and whether they may need to come back to the office (I am meeting more and more individuals who would rather go to an office then work from home).
  • Focus on building relationships and then maintaining these relationships, not just between the manager and the employee, but also between each team member.  We work well with others when we have built this foundation.



Make Connections

Navigate Leadership – Make Connections chapter introduction

At the start of a career, the value-add an employee offers is based on their formal education and exposure to the working world. As an individual gains more experience, and their career progresses, the focus moves away from their primary technical knowledge to another set of skills, colloquially known as soft skills. They include the ability to manage and then lead, motivate others, deal with performance issues, negotiate and influence stakeholders, gain buy-in to new initiatives and manage change, to name a few. Those that become successful learn that there is a shift in gear from developing and refining their soft skills to an increased emphasis on whom they know, the ability to build and develop connections with others. These collectively become a network that is actively leveraged at the individual and group-wide levels. These relationships include:Internally above and below, the solid line (direct) and dotted line (indirect) reporting.

  • Internally above and below, the solid line (direct) and dotted line (indirect) reporting.
  • Externally with key stakeholders such as customers, suppliers and shareholders).

In one global organization I have worked with all new employees are told that successfully progressing their career is directly related to their ability to become successful networker. What do they mean by this? It is not simply a case of increasing the number of entries in the address book. It requires and requires a strategic approach. The goal of forming connections and creating a meaningful network is to form an extensive web of formal and informal relationships that creates value for all. This value add has to be identified and can include a variety of factors such as:

  • Knowledge transfer.
  • Mutual decision-making.
  • Influencing others to gain buy-in into new ideas.
  • Marketing the activities of the organization both internally and externally.
  • Managing and delivering organizational change.

Operating successfully involves shifting the focus away from the quantity to its quality. The aim being to form relationships with others to create mutual win-win benefits. Forming successful connections can, if used strategically, lead to success, defined by quality relationships shaped by high degrees of trust (see Build Trust). It is qualitative in nature and if undertaken well allows an Executive Leader to deliver their results.

communication-1015376_1280In this chapter, the focus is on the role of the Executive Leader in creating connections that provide access to a wider pool of knowledge and identify new opportunities to pursue. Success is increasingly defined by not what we know but whom we know. There is a focus on the quality, and the efforts required to maintain them, shaped by attention on connecting for mutual benefit.

Foster Innovation

Navigate Leadership – Foster Innovation chapter introduction

Being innovative and inventive is often confused, but there is a subtle difference. Invention is the process of noticing and creating new ideas for products, services and processes. Innovation is “a new idea or way to do something that when exploited in some way, leads to new or improved products, processes or solutions.” Consider these approaches, regardless of whether they have a large or small impact.

Global organizations seek continual evolution, by embracing an innovative posture. Seeking new ways of doing things, experimenting at a small-scale and having a culture that enables collective thinking at all levels. Innovation or rather an innovation mindset applies to both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. For-profit organizations may need it to create a continuous throughput of products and services to meet anticipated customer needs and maximise profitability. Stakeholders in not-for-profit organizations increasingly demand a return on their investments that consist of quantitative and qualitative outputs.

An example of an organization that embraces innovation is 3M, which creates a vast array of innovative products. It may well employ industrious employees and have a great leadership team. It mandated that twenty-five per-cent of all new products be introduced within its last five years, requiring to develop an innovative posture. To achieve this goal it allowed employees to spend fifteen per-cent of their working week focussing on selecting their initiatives. The role of the Executive Leader was to create the strategic mandate, shape the environment and let the teams get on with it by standing out of their way and letting them innovate. Without this catalyst, perhaps, the range of products and services would not occur.


In this Chapter, the focus is on the role of the Executive Leader in forming and shaping the innovative environment.


Create Vision

Navigate Leadership – Create Vision chapter introduction

An organization can spend considerable time shaping the strategic intent based on their current mission (where they are) and future aspirational vision (where they want to be). Moreover, will ultimately impact its allocation of resources and investments. The same can be applied to the Executive Leader where the forming and acting upon their personal vision shapes their current and future activities and provides direction.

Most leadership discussion starts with crafting a personal vision statement, which in its simplest form provides a clear understanding of where you want to be and consider:

  • How do you make your personal vision happen?
  • Where are you now and where do you want to be?
  • On what is your personal vision based? Myth or reality?
  • Is your personal vision aligned to who you are, your values and leadership style?
  • What time frame is your vision based?

I have met many leaders who have taken time out to consider and create their personal vision statement. However, as soon as they return to reality, they forget their short snappy statement, and there is no longer alignment with their declared actions. They may even place it on a card on the desk and despite staring at it every day, they see through it as if it no longer exists.

A personal vision is powerful when we live it, and there is congruence between what you believe in and what you actually do.

When John F Kennedy declared that the U.S.A wanted to put a man on the moon, this was not some random statement based on spin and dreams. Many of the components required to make this happen were already in place, the vision became the catalyst to turn it into reality.

As an Executive Leader, your personal vision will impact the team and other stakeholders. It should be important to you, but equally consider how it will shape the beliefs, behaviours, direction, and actions of others.

Your personal vision should have alignment with the organization’s strategic vision. Achieving your personal success is highly dependent on the organization achieving its success, and there should be a mutually symbiotic relationship that results in win-win outcomes.


Communicate Messages

Navigate Leadership – Communicating Messages chapter introduction

No matter what organization I work with (large or small, for profit or not for profit), I am often brought in to fix some organizational issue. I often discover that the real problem is invariably communication or more precisely the lack of communication, but when asked to pinpoint the cause, it is often difficult to do so.

Communication represents a large sack filled to the brim with a range of issues and includes how messages are both delivered and received, the tools used to convey a message and the context in which it occurs.

Communication is an art and science, but we often overlook that. When it does not work, it becomes one directional. When it works, it is bi-directional and rich. It connects us emotionally allowing us to complete tasks with focus, operate as a team and deliver results.

Communication is at the heart of everything we do and deliver, whether it is setting a vision, building and maintaining trust or shaping our personal brand. It influences everything that we represent and being an effective communicator is a key function that an Executive Leader must master. It is the way that we externalize (and therefore make available to others) what is going on internally for us. We need to create our own authentic and effective leadership ‘voice’.

Communication exists in a number of guises: internally and externally, horizontally and vertically, formally and informally. Effective communication requires a proactive approach to addressing challenges that exist.

ball-63527_1280In this Chapter, we identify what constitutes effective communication and how the richness of face-to-face interactions is translated and filtered through a wide variety of communication tools that we use on a day-to-day basis. Communication in its broadest sense is providing the right information and knowledge to the right person at the right time in the right way.