Archives For April 2011

Every year since 2003, the Ken Blanchard Companies has conducted it’s survey of business leaders and has published findings from these conversations.

For the 2011 study, over 1300 global leaders were polled. Over 9,000 executives, line managers, training and HR leaders have participated in this ongoing study since 2003.

As Blanchard’s culture expert, I am always interested in how these leaders’ concerns and their views of upcoming opportunities have to do with their organization’s culture.

Key insights

  • Views of the economy are fairly optimistic, slightly more positive than respondents’ opinions of the economy in 2010.
  • 78% of respondents said they would be spending the same or more on training and development activities in 2011 than was spent in 2010. That’s a significant increase over the last three years.
  • The top organizational challenges remain the same from 2010. The top four include:
    • Economic challenges (60% reported concerns here)
    • Growth and expansion (60% noted this issue)
    • Competitive pressure (53% expressed this opportunity), and
    • Culture change (reported by 49% of respondents).

Respondents also reported these top five management challenges in 2011:

  • Managing change,
  • Creating an engaged workforce,
  • Developing potential leaders,
  • Performance management, and
  • Aligning culture with strategy.

The Impact of Culture

Let’s examine the top management challenges and look at how Blanchard’s proven, award-winning culture change process can address these issues.

Our culture change process creates a foundation of clear performance standards, clear valued behaviors, and accountability for both. Senior leaders find that culture is much easier to proactively manage when they utilize this process.

Leaders can effectively manage change – their own reactions and those of their team members – when vision and strategy is clearly defined and change consistently serve the declared vision and strategy.

Employees commit their heads, hearts, and hands when they live in a fair and just work environment. With values and goals agreed to, and leaders who demonstrate trust and respect towards employees daily, engagement skyrockets.

Developing potential leaders is a natural outcome in the high performance, values aligned workplace. Future leaders are coached and guided by leaders they trust and respect. They learn that effective leadership is not just about performance – it’s about how employees and customers are treated every day.

Our process helps leaders and team members understand how their goals serve the team’s vision & strategy. Performance clarity helps leaders hold themselves and team members accountable for agreed-to standards.

Finally, aligning culture with strategy is a natural outcome of our process. The discipline required of senior leaders to clarify & communicate strategy sets the foundation, while the proactive management of HOW work gets done and HOW employees and customers are treated creates a values aligned culture.

See my blog post on the ROI of culture change for more details on our culture clients’ successes.

One Final Survey Datapoint

The biggest leadership skill gap reported in this year’s corporate issues survey was “developing leaders who exude passion.” Less than 7% of respondents believe they have leaders who do so!

Values-aligned servant leaders demonstrate a tangible passion for their work, their team members, their customers, and their organization. How can we help you build a more passionate team at your organization?


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Some of you know that my delightful father, James A. “Jim” Edmonds, Jr., passed away on April 11, 2011 at 91 years of age. The photo of Dad at left is from a cruise he and my mother took in 2006; that is the Taj Mahal in the background.

As executor of Dad’s estate, I am focused on the dozens of tasks and activities required to manage that process. Today, I am very much aware of how his legacy impacted my life and guided my vision, my values, my leadership point of view, and my interactions with others.

Dad was a leader throughout his career. He was founder and president of his mortgage firm for three decades. He served terms as president of the California Mortgage Bankers Association and of ARELLO, the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials. He served as commissioner of the California Department of Real Estate for eight years under governor George Deukmejian.

I learned from his staff and from my own observations that Dad was a firm yet kind and trusting leader. He was a heart-driven leader who expected a lot from his team. They delivered consistently and felt his trust and respect daily.

Let’s look at how Dad created such a positive legacy.

Three Keys to a Positive Leadership Legacy

First, be clear about what you expect from others. Set the vision and strategy, and communicate how goals & projects serve that vision and strategy.

Do not “assume” people know what you or their customers need. Define expectations in specific, measurable terms, and link expectations to the strategy of your organization. Set high standards and then allow talented people to apply their skills and hearts towards common goals.

Second, be consistent. If you promise something to a team member or a customer on a certain day at a certain time, deliver, with no excuses. Hold staff accountable for their commitments. Praise progress and goal accomplishment, and redirect when performance falls short of standard.

If team members don’t have the skills, teach them (or arrange for such teaching). Learning was a good thing in Dad’s world! If team members do have the skills but do not meet commitments, do not tolerate “missed promises.” An effective team works cohesively, all pulling towards agreed-to goals.

Finally, be nice. Be ladies and gentlemen. Even in the hectic pace of your work environment, take time to express thanks, praise effort, and offer a smile.

Dad may have disagreed with your ideas but he did not have to drag you down for him to be “OK.” Dad may have thought you were behaving badly, but he didn’t point it out (he typically removed himself from those interactions quickly).

What is your Leadership Legacy?

You may not realize it, but you are creating your leadership legacy today. You do with every plan, decision, action, and interaction. If you’re not certain that your leadership legacy is as positive as you’d like it to be, ask your team members what they think. You may find you have some work to do. That’s good – map out a path and build a legacy you’ll be proud of.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I saw some interesting questions regarding corporate culture on an online forum this past week. Those questions prompted this post.

The writer believes that corporate culture doesn’t exist – therefore it cannot impact employee behavior, performance, or work passion. My experience doesn’t bear this out, and I don’t feel bound to engage in debate or attempt to change his mind. (NOTE: I have no idea the gender of the writer. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume the writer is male.) I’m not a great debater, and I’d NOT have a willing listener in that conversation.

Yet the questions posed are good ones for a “culture refinement expert” like me to address. We consultants deal with skeptics all the time. The way “into skeptic hearts” is to listen and understand their point of view, share your plan, and let the results speak for themselves.

Let’s examine the writer’s questions and assumptions. My answers come from my own experience at Blanchard, helping clients refine their cultures for the last 14 years. In addition, numerous studies have proven the positive impact of culture on performance – see this study for a great overview of key culture research or this one on the power of culture in Japanese companies. And, authors like Margaret Wheatley and Jim Collins have demonstrated the hard dollar impact of corporate culture.

Who is in Charge of Culture?

The writer asked, “Who is paid to manage an organization’s culture?” The writer’s assumption is that no one is formally paid or has the assigned role to manage culture. We can cite examples of culture officers like Susan Schor at Eileen Fischer, Gary Steuer with the City of Philadelphia, and Stacy Savides Sullivan at Google. AND, the best answer is that senior leaders are paid to manage their organization’s culture. Their job is to ensure consistent performance for the benefit of a “triumvirate”: customers, employees, and stakeholders. If they don’t create a culture that supports efficiency, innovation, high performance, and employee engagement, they won’t satisfy that triumvirate.

How do you know the Positive Impact was due to Culture Change?

Our clients are the best people to answer this question. Senior leaders who experience our culture process believe that culture is the primary driver of the results they’ve seen. Results of our culture change process include:

  • ASDA, a UK grocery chain, was selected as the top employer of choice by a Sunday Times survey. Sales and profits outperformed the entire retail sector over a two-year span.
  • Banta Catalog saw profits increase 36%, employee engagement increase 20% in six months, and retention increased 17% over a two year period.
  • Foodstuffs Auckland (New Zealand) found ROI on their culture project exceeded $600,000 within the first year. Turnover fell 28% while out-of-stock reduction of 1% resulted in $100,000 of additional profit.

Culture Change is Dangerous to One’s Career

The writer stated that any person leading organizational change will lose their job. They weren’t “at risk,” they’d lose their job.

I understand how someone might come to that conclusion. Often senior leaders who embrace the positive power of culture find themselves in organizations that don’t support this world view. They may choose to leave, to go find a more values-aligned organization. Or, they may be forced out, often because their department or division culture (despite it’s successes) is very different from the parent organization’s culture.

These scenarios do occur, yet more often we see culture champions celebrated because of the positive impact of culture refinement on the business.

I am delighted every time I help a “culture skeptic” understand the power of culture, of values alignment, in a workplace to increase revenue, profits, employee work passion, and positive customer experiences.

What are your assumptions about culture change?


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Have you ever considered who are you being when you are leading others?

What values and principles are reflected in your plans, decisions, and actions when leading others?

What are your intentions as a leader?

What can followers expect of you as a leader?

These powerful questions can help you understand your unique leadership point of view. Once clarified, your leadership point of view can help you stay aligned to your values and build trust and respect between you and your team members.

What is a “Leadership Point of View”?

The “leadership point of view” process was created more than ten years ago by Ken & Margie Blanchard when they designed their course for the Blanchard co-sponsored Master of Science in Executive Leadership program at the University of San Diego.

Margie describes one’s leadership point of view as your personal “elevator pitch” – it describes your own journey, your values, your goals and your expectationsArmed with the clarity this refined statement provides, leaders are able to quickly and efficiently establish a deep, trusting relationship with their team members. This trust increases the likelihood of team members’ exceeding performance standards while demonstrating the team’s declared values.

Since building trust is a vital element of a healthy, accomplished culture, I utilize this terrific tool with the leaders I coach through our culture refinement process.

Benefits of Clarifying Your Leadership Point of View

By reflecting upon and formalizing your leadership point of view, you are able to:

  • Be more authentic, more fully “of you” as a leader
  • Show up in “influencing moments” as who you really are – not who you think you should be as a leader
  • Be more intentional with your leadership efforts
  • Be more congruent as a leader, aligned with your core values and principles
  • Inspire others to clarify their values and their leadership point of view

The Process of Clarifying Your Leadership Point of View

Much of the “work” of crafting your leadership point of view centers on identifying your core values, clarifying how you came to hold those values, and reflecting upon how those values have played out in your life thus far. The process involves:

  • What are three or four critical events in your life that shaped your beliefs about leadership?
  • Who are three or four people in your life that shaped your beliefs about leading others?
  • What do you know to be true about exceptional leaders?
  • What are your top three to five values when leading others?
  • What gets in the way of you leading from your values every day? What do you, at times, make more important than your values?
  • What can others expect of you in the future as you align your actions with your core values?
  • And, what do you expect of others as you align to your core values?

This is not an activity to be taken lightly. It will serve you best if you approach these questions in a very intentional manner. You will find your answers become more clear over time as you reflect upon these questions.

Create your Leadership Point of View with Margie Blanchard’s Help

If you are in the San Diego, CA, USA, area on April 21, 2011, you can experience a half-day “Leadership Point of View” session facilitated by Margie. The session runs 8:30am-12:30pm on the USD campus – advance registration and a $150 fee will get you in the door. A hearty buffet-style breakfast is included. What better way to experience this fabulous process than with one of its creators?

Join in the conversation by commenting below. What, at this point in time, is your leadership point of view?


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”