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By Phone: 203.232.4841
By Email: doug@douglasbrownjd.com
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Our leadership style has a profound impact on our ability to build our brands, generate revenue and have satisfying careers.  In my travels as a executive leadership strategist coaching executives and business owners I found an excellent study on how our leadership style impacts the organizational climate. This work makes academic concepts easy to understand and apply in everyday life.

 

This is my synopsis of the main ideas reported by researcher Daniel Goleman’s Harvard Business Review article identifying identified six distinct leadership styles and the correlation to organizational climate as an indicator of performance. [1]

  • Coercive leadership is characterized by a “Do what I tell you – Now!” approach. The focus is on immediate compliance. It can be useful in a crisis, to start a turnaround or with problem employees.   It can also create passive aggressive behavior, spur rebellion, demotivate high performers and kill creativity.
  • Authoritative leadership is characterized by at “Come with me!” approach. It can motivate people towards a solution, gives leeway on how to achieve a result and allows freedom to innovate. Yet in high-performing teams of equals there may be a negative impact, and overuse of this style can become overbearing.
  • Affiliative leadership focuses on people first. It can create harmony and emotional bonds with the leaders. It is focused on communication, teambuilding and creating loyalty. This style is helpful for repairing broken trust, increasing morale and improving communication. There is risk with this approach because the team must figure out their own approach in the absence of clear direction and the focus on praise can allow poor performance.
  • Democratic leadership, as you may expect, is characterized by “What do you think?” It helps forge consensus through participation, improves morale and fosters creativity. Yet it can result in endless meetings and discussions without results, delay decision making and result in underperforming teams.
  • Pacesetting leadership can be captured with the phrase “Do as I do, Now”.   This leader sets high performance standards, drives people to achieve and leads by example with a “keep up with me” ethos.   This style can foster continuous improvement and get results. Yet employees can feel overwhelmed by the pace or unclear standards. Used to an extreme it can lower trust, undermine responsibility and reduce flexibility.
  • Coaching leadership style allows people to “try this”. It is focused on long term development of people for the future, provides instruction and feedback and room for people to fail.   This style of leadership takes significant extra time, effort and expertise. It teaches teams to communicate, lead themselves and rise to the challenge.

As you’ve read these descriptions you’ve probably been thinking about which style you are, or perhaps the style used by others in your organization. You may even have thought that you use a variety or combination of these styles in your day to day leadership.   And you would be right. Different situations require different styles of leadership – and the best leaders understand when and how to use each style.   Yet even the best leaders have a “default” preference – it is the style they revert to when under pressure and the one they are most comfortable with.

You might expect, the coercive style has the most negative impact on climate. What I didn’t expect was that the pacesetting style is a close second to coercive for the most negative impact on climate.   The two most positive correlations were authoritative and affiliative, while democratic and coaching were at the mid-point.

The message here is that we, as leaders, must be conscious of the leadership styles we apply to any given situation. We must be mindful of our default style and over-using any one style with a given team or situation.   And we must recognize that our own perception of our style may not match the perception of those we lead.   Finally, remember that as leaders we are learners – and there is always room for improvement.

To learn more about the study and read Daniel Goleman’s article visit www.hbr.org and search for “Leadership That Gets Results”. From there you will find a link to read the article or buy reprints for a nominal charge – it is well worth the investment in becoming a better leader.

[1] Goleman, D. Leadership That Gets Results. Harvard Business Review; March-April 2000

The most brilliant business advice is often the most obvious — and forgotten. In a recent article in the Post University Blog I explain what is  one of those golden nuggets of advice that all businesspeople should know, yet few have probably heard of or remember to do consistently.

It starts with three words: after action review. The U.S. Army was the first to develop after action reviews for its missions. These de-briefs let troops analyze what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better to help them learn from their experiences and improve performance. This process has vast applicability and value to business projects, tasks, and meetings — large and small.
It starts with three words: after action review. The U.S. Army was the first to develop after action reviews for its missions. These de-briefs let troops analyze what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better to help them learn from their experiences and improve performance. This process has vast applicability and value to business projects, tasks, and meetings — large and small.

You will answer four simple questions after an “action” happens. In business, the action can be anything from a sales meeting to a project planning session to a one-on-one meeting with your boss. Here are the questions:

1. What did we expect to happen? Going into a situation knowing you have to answer this question afterward will cause you to define your outcome in advance. When your goal is clear and expectations are defined, you have a greater chance of success.

2. What actually happened? Leave emotion aside and take an objective look at what actually happened. Describe as much detail as you can, because seemingly small events can influence results. Don’t be surprised if each participant has a different perspective on this question. It is important that the group reach consensus on this question.

3. Why was or wasn’t there a difference? At this point you’ve identified your expectations and actual results, allowing you to determine any differences between the two scenarios. Keep in mind, the results could have been better than expected, worse than expected, or spot on. In any event, determine why this is. This is another area where the group might have to brainstorm and work together to achieve consensus. Avoid placing blame or taking credit.

4. What can you do next time to improve or ensure these results? If the results were less than expected, what steps should you take to improve them? What went wrong that you can fix next time? On the other hand, if results were exactly or better than what you expected, what tactics and strategies are repeatable to ensure similar or better results? This is the heart of the review and should consume about 50 percent of the review time.

Follow this process as soon as you’re finished the activity, because it will be fresh in your mind and you’ll be better able to write down all the details and lessons learned. Keep your documentation well organized so you can easily refer back to it when planning future projects.

The beauty of an after action review is its ability to help you uncover insight into your planning and execution processes, shining light on areas that were performed well and areas that can be improved. If you realized less-than-stellar results, the after action review process can be instrumental in helping you recognize where things fell apart so you can formulate ways to improve these areas. Equally important, you can see what drove excellent results, revealing possible best practices you should repeat in subsequent endeavors. Either way, you glean insights for driving higher performance.

Here’s a simple example. You might have wanted a presentation delivered to you as a PowerPoint, but your team gave you an Excel spreadsheet. Your team had to go back and work the information into a PowerPoint, delaying the project. Then you realize you never defined what format to create the presentation in. So you learn that format is a factor you must define with all future assignments.

The after action review process is centered on actions and activities, rather than moments in time, like months or quarters. The more often you use it, the better able you’ll be able to identify incremental improvements that, made over time, can compound to generate better results.

Finally, remember to leave the blame out of it. That includes blaming yourself if you feel you failed by some measure. This review process is a learning tool, not a disciplinary action. When we’re busy trying to defend ourselves, we’re not in a learning mode. As a leader, you have the ability to undermine the process by turning it into the blame game, or embrace the process and gain all the efficiencies and productivity benefits it can provide you and your team.

Although we’ve talked about the after action review process in a business sense, you can also apply it in other areas as well. Consider class assignments, group projects, job interviews, parenting moments, and countless other scenarios. You can even use it at the end of the day when you think about why you did or did not accomplish all that you had planned. The after action review is appropriate whenever you want to improve your performance professionally, academically, or personally.

We encourage you to try this process with your next project or meeting, and we hope it lets you gain valuable takeaways. Feel free to let us know how it works out for you by leaving a comment. We’d love to hear your story.

I’ve been enjoying working with various reporters on topics of interest over the last couple of months.

Most recently my thoughts on working with a new team were included in a piece that ran in the Chicago Tribune and was also syndicated in the Hartford Courant and Sun Sentinel!

The topic is how a manager can work effectively with a new team when the team has been together for a long time.  I’ve done this several times, and each time I learn something from it!

Here is a brief excerpt from the linked articles:

When taking part in that initial “listening tour,” new managers should pay attention to both what is being said and what is not being said, Brown says. But if there is an immediate crisis that needs to be resolved, it’s important for managers to remember to shift back out of crisis mode. Brown points out that managers often fall victim to managing crises all the time.

“If you continue to operate in that way, you never take a deep breath and figure out what you’re doing long term and what the bigger picture is,” Brown says.

Discussion welcome!

 

The Small Firm Practice Management Section of the Connecticut Bar Association met recently to share tips and strategies for using technology to become more effective in small law practice.

In this case it was a round-table conversation where I facilitated a conversation from attendees.  These are always fun and informative because we hear great ideas from members, and get great questions.  Everyone leaves energized and learns something they can try in their practice.

Some of the ideas we talked about:

  • Value of a law practice management system.  Members shared perspectives on when and how they use LPMS and also how to leverage the power of MS Exchange and open source programs.
  • Efficiency from going paperless with scanning.  Most everyone uses a Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner to great effect.   It got uniformly great reviews.
  • Voice to Text is a big productivity booster for some.  Most favor Dragon NaturallySpeaking for creating documents and client notes.
  • Dropbox and online document storage were discussed.  We talked about the relatively new idea of “mycloud” private networks, but nobody had tried them (yet).
  • Notetaking with Evernote and OneNote
  • Copy2Contact and card scanning apps to capture contact data efficiently.
  • David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) system for managing tasks.  I found a nifty and simple guide called:  “GTD in 15 Minutes – A Pragmatic Guide to Getting Things Done”.  It is a good overview of the system with simple tips.

A copy of the slide deck we used for the conversation is attached to this post here.
SFPM Tech Tips 2-25-14

We hardly scratched the surface – but that’s why we have future meetings!

Next time one of our members is going to talk about how she has transformed her practice by charging for consultations (no more free consults).

We’re all looking forward to that conversation!

Happy to be quoted in this Investors.com piece on innovation.

So much of success comes from having the courage to take risks, fail and recover.   As they say, courage isn’t the absence of fear, but moving forward despite the fear.

“People come in from the corporate life, where they think a mistake is a career-ending move,” he told IBD. “It is about courage. It’s having the confidence to take calculated risks and realizing if it doesn’t work out, how can I apply that?”

via Teach Top Executives To Move Without Caution And Stir Innovation – Investors.com.

A troubling and important story for all attorneys and their families. “Unfortunately for many attorneys who define their existence by a hard-earned membership in the legal profession, the powerful despair they experience when that profession overwhelms and demoralizes them doesn’t leave them much psychological real estate for constructing a future they can believe in.” We can all help one another create a future worth believing in.

Opinion: Why lawyers are prone to suicide – CNN.com.

If you want to generate more business and build your brand, a Web site and blog are no longer enough—you need to have a social media presence. LinkedIn is the top social media site for attorneys and is an excellent place to start. It is devoted to professional communication as well as business and career development. This focus as a business application makes it an appropriate forum for attorneys who are not only concerned about their reputation, but also the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Why invest the time in LinkedIn?

Used properly, LinkedIn can be a force multiplier for you—especially when it comes to building your practice. You can rekindle relationships, increase your visibility, showcase your knowledge and expertise, and be found by potential clients. This does require some investment of your time at the beginning; I use the term “investment” because you need to consider the return you will get from your presence on the site and plan your activity and use accordingly.

How to get started?

Unlike Web site development, which can take many hours before you “go live,” you can start with LinkedIn today. If you are not on LinkedIn, schedule one hour to investigate the Web site by reviewing the profiles of other people and companies and learning how to get started. If you are already on LinkedIn, spend the time learning how to make the most of its features.

Here are the key elements you need to get started with LinkedIn:

  1. Your Profile is your home page with all the essential information about you. You should not need to write new content. The site is structured so you can easily transfer your information and begin. Make sure to upload a professional photo.
  2. Your Headline is your very short tag line. This is the one thing people see when they review listings or you use your profile to post. A strong headline will cause people to view your profile and connect with you. If you are not sure where to begin with writing a headline, just ask your favorite search engine, “How to write a strong headline on LinkedIn?”
  3. Your Web site links make it easy for people to learn more about you and your firm. This is not a substitute for having a complete profile.
  4. Use the Privacy features and control who sees your profile. You get to decide what the public gets to see and what is shared just with people in your network. The system will also notify your network when you make changes to your profile. You may want to turn this feature off while you are building it. To find these settings, click on your name at the top right corner of the home page and select “Settings.”
  5. Publish your profile. Each user has a URL associated with his or her account. Customize yours so it is easy to enter and add to business cards. Once you’ve set your URL, you can make your profile public.
  6. Make connections. The Web site helps you inform people you have a profile and to connect with you, but you need to decide how aggressive you want to be about connecting. Some people are open networkers and connect with everyone. I suggest you start with the people in your contact list that you know and trust.
  7. Share an update. This is how you share news about yourself and your activities with your network. You can use the same philosophy you would use with your firm  newsletter, but with more frequency. Read others updates to get a feel for what people are doing. I recommend that you start by writing about a development in your target area of practice to highlight your expertise. This is about sharing information, not writing commercials.
  8. Join a group to find and connect with people who share your interests. Go beyond just the groups such as “Connecticut Lawyers” and link to college and law school groups as well as groups that your target clients may be present.
  9. Use the Help Center. LinkedIn has many tools and tutorials to help you with the Web site, so make sure to use the resources provided to make the most out of your time investment.

To share your experience with or tips on how to use LinkedIn, connect with me at linkedin.com/in/douglasbrown

Clients are always asking me how to use LinkedIn to promote themselves and their practice.   Last week I was interviewed by Kathryn Tuggle of TheStreet.com about the kind of advice that I give to MBA students and clients.   I was thrilled to see that the article captured many of my ideas, and has since been picked up by a number of other me mainstreet.com and philly.com

Selected excerpts:

“Adopt the mindset that you are educating people about what you can offer them, exactly,”

“Ask yourself: What kind of job do you want, and who is your target market?” Brown says. “The challenge goes all the way back to brand strategy. If you are trying to be everything to everybody, you aren’t going to be anything to anybody.”

If a company sees your resume as being all over the place, they’re going to feel like you don’t want this particular job — you’re just desperate for any job. They may also feel that you’ve had no direction in your career, Brown explains, adding that phrases such as “I am a fast learner” or “I can do anything” don’t go very far.

“Leverage the power of affinity groups,” Brown says. “Everything from alumni associations to professional organizations are great ways to stay connected. You also want to look for professional associations and interest groups in the space where you want to be, even if you’re not quite there yet.”

You can read the whole article here:  http://www.thestreet.com/story/12043214/3/5-ways-you-can-lock-in-a-job-on-linkedin.html and see the other publications at:

What tips do you have on using LinkedIn effectively?

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By Phone: 203.232.4841
By Email: doug@douglasbrownjd.com
On LinkedIn: /in/douglasbrown