Change Communication: More than You-Rah-Rah

Change communication – a topic that makes confident leaders into puddles of uncertainty.  But not Aaron.  A financial services company was installing new trading software.  It would significantly change their work processes, standardize many currently autonomous decisions, and result in some layoffs.  Aaron, the CEO, had worked tirelessly with his staff to assure a credible communication plan was crafted, emphasizing why the change was needed: a vision for growing the company and the software easing that growth, along with much better regulatory compliance tracking.  Aaron had not shied away from the question of layoffs in the communication plan.  The plan carefully laid out the numbers, broad timing, how people would be treated, and the desire to absorb as many as possible into other positions into the company.  Finally, the communication plan covered an overall plan for the implementation of the new software, including training.  Aaron planned to talk about the software implementation at each of the company’s bi-monthly all-employee meetings.  He felt pretty good about the company’s communication plan. Continue reading

Communicating Better Than Everybody, Somebody, Anybody or Nobody

There is a story about four people, and their names are Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  According to the story, there was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry because it was Everybody’s job, but Nobody asked Anybody.  In the end, the job didn’t get done, and Everybody blamed Somebody, when actually Nobody asked Anybody. Continue reading

Playing the Outside Game – the New Leadership Imperative

There’s a new role for leaders that probably isn’t being taught in business school.  And most leaders seem to still be unaware just how crucial this work is to the sustainable success of their companies.  Unfortunately, this crucial work by leaders is best seen in its absence.

Anybody heard of Monsanto?  Lessley Anderson, writing in Modern Farmer (March 4, 2014), summed it up pretty well: “Over the past decade, Monsanto has become a pop cultural bogeyman, the face of corporate evil. The company and its genetically modified organism (GMO) seeds have been the subject of muckraking documentaries, global protests, and assaults by everybody from environmental activists to “The Colbert Report.” Facebook and other social media are awash in memes and hashtags like #monsantoevil.  And it seems everyone, from your plumber to your mother, has an opinion about the company.” Continue reading

Why Do Leaders Ignore Risk? Five Simple Questions You Should be Asking

In a turbulent marketplace, with steady risk and even some periodic catastrophes (cyber-attacks, political issues, weather and earthquakes, as examples), risk is something that should be a careful and objective consideration for all leaders.  Yet the NACD 2013–2014 Public Company Governance Survey found that only 26 percent of companies have a defined risk appetite statement to guide their thinking about how to consider risk.  While that may be a new concept to many of us – it was to our team – it may point to a deeper reluctance on the part of leaders to give serious due diligence to the risks inherent in their businesses. Continue reading