• What’s Your Return-on-Time?

    Performance Tip

    Twice in recent weeks I’ve found myself in small-group meetings that included senior executives who did not need to be there.  After one of these meetings, I asked the chief operating officer, someone I know well, why he was at a gathering that clearly did not require his input or endorsement.

    “Damned if I know,” he replied honestly. “Few people here seem to value my time.”

    To finish the year strong, you and your team must exercise discipline with time allocation so that priority tasks and commitments are completed thoroughly and well.  What activities fall into this category?  Performance reviews, budget decisions, and customer care leap to mind.  These areBusinessman Writing in Scheduler not activities to be rushed.  Yet in reality they often are, with the result being missed opportunities to maximize talent performance and bottom-line results.

    To help calculate your Return-on-Time (ROT), check out our online Meeting Value Calculator Tool. It can help you determine the “cost” of a meeting for planning purposes.  It can also help you determine after the fact whether a meeting yielded a reasonable ROT.

    ©Susan Battley.  All rights reserved.

  • How to Be A Great Leader-Coach

    When it comes to core capabilities that prepare a person for the highest levels of executive responsibility and success, bosses loom large as role models, mentors and coaches.  They are major influencers of how top-performing professionals develop on the job.

    At the management level, professionals regularly tell me about key lessons learned from their superiors in self-confidence, executive outlook, managing relationships and handling adversity.

    To unleash their potential and deliver consistent winning results, top talent needs to be guided and inspired by great leader-coaches.

  • Bill Gates and the Power of Feedback

    Bill Gates observed, “You have to be careful, if you’re good at something, to make sure you don’t think you’re good at other things that you aren’t necessarily so good at.”

    How do you confirm your sense of what you’re good at? Feedback, of course.

    We all feel great when others – colleagues, bosses, friends, and competitors too – remark on our intelligence, skills, or performance. But as Gates noted, therein lies a trap, for we can overestimate or over-generalize our capabilities.

    How do we get honest, balanced feedback about areas where we’re not as good as we think we are? Or where we might need to improve or change?

  • Supercharging Change in Complex Times

    Five Questions Your Direct Reports Have (But May Not Ask)

    By Susan Battley

    The increased complexity that leaders face today means that mastering major change is even more challenging than it was a few years ago.  Whether it’s strategy change, management change, operational change, or product change, or some combination thereof, desired results need to occur faster than ever to maintain business health and competitive advantage.

    How can leaders supercharge their change initiatives?  For starters, they can address up front the questions, fears, and concerns that their people, including their immediate direct reports, have about the change.  If this can be done in advance of the change actions, all the better.  However, in many cases this needs to be done after the fact, as in situations involving management restructuring or workforce reduction.

    In the course of driving major organizational change, leaders can lose sight of the fact that they have to establish a new psychological contract with their people. (The term “psychological contract” refers to expectations of the employment relationship, such as mutual obligations, values, and expectations that operate over and above any formal contract.)

    In the vortex of change, leaders can make erroneous assumptions.  For example, they can overlook – or minimize – the emotional impact that layoffs have on the survivors.  Sadness and anxiety are common reactions.

    Leaders can assume that the messages they send are precisely the messages that are received. They can assume that stating key messages once is enough for motivated people to reconnect and re-engage. They can forget that people one and two levels below them may also be one and two stages behind them in the change process.

    The Five “P” Questions Everyone Has

    Here are five questions leaders should be prepared to address proactively as part of supercharging change in their organizations.  These are questions their direct reports – and everyone else – will undoubtedly have, but may not always ask.  Because they deal with performance, partnership, priorities, politics, and promotion, I often refer to them as the “Five P-Questions of Change.”

    #1 Performance.   How will I be evaluated?

    • Action Step: Describe as specifically as possible what success now looks like for the business, the boss, the team, and the individual employee. Review these metrics frequently to reinforce priorities and targets.

    #2 Partnership.  How can I survive (and thrive) during these turbulent times?

    • Action Step: Leaders must demonstrate strong team and culture-building skills. When leaders are accessible, consistent, transparent, and fair, less second-guessing and in-fighting occur behind office doors. Trust, the essential building block of peak execution, is established or re-established quickly.

    #3 Priorities:  How do I choose between competing options?

    • Action Step: Let team members and staff know which activities or relationships have the greatest value now. Even loyal, hard-working contributors will make subpar decisions if they don’t have all the facts.

    #4 Politics.  Who can make things happen for me, either positively or negatively?

    • Action Step: Help your key people understand the new power structure, both formal and informal. Brief them on protocol and any sensitive issues that could compromise their success. They will be more comfortable with the demands on them once they have the lay of the land.

    #5 Promotion.  How can I gain recognition?

    • Action Step: Model norms for appropriate self-promotion in these tough times. (Yes, they do want to know.)  Given the very real concerns with job security, your best people want guidance on how outstanding work will be recognized. Otherwise, they may have little impetus to take calculated risks or put in extra effort.


    Robust, updated psychological contracts with employees from senior management to the front-line are essential to supercharging results in the midst of major change.

    By addressing these five questions, leaders will get at the issues that those responsible for day-to-day implementation and oversight need to know to quickly re-engage and commit.

    Copyright © Susan Battley. All rights reserved.

  • Emotions and Effective Leadership: 13 Success Tactics

    When does emotion help a leader transcend to a higher level of effectiveness, and when does it undermine credibility and stature? Now that we’re firmly planted in the second decade of the 21st century, have the rules about leaders showing emotions changed?

    Whether male or female, it’s all about consistently projecting control, compassion and confidence.

    Perceived loss of emotional control erodes a leader’s credibility, as does tentativeness or indecision. Similarly, a perceived lack of compassion is likely to be interpreted negatively as insensitivity. In public situations, the range of emotions expressed needs to be modulated and appropriate to the occasion.