Excelerate Excellence

I  recently attended the HRPA annual conference, and, as always, came back inspired.  Here are a few insights from several of the great key note speakers that presented.

Excelerate excellence:  both personally & professionally.  Everything is going at a faster rate to get to where we want to go, and when we excelerate, we can then go even further.   Leadership, culture and employee engagement were expressed as means to excelerate our organizations.

Author Dan Pontefract spoke of the “Flat Army”.  In Latin, the word “arma” represents a flotilla of vessels moving together.  “Flat” is a level surface.  Think about that in an organization:  not a hirerarchy or collection of silos, but an engaged workforce that can get out of the trenches and work together. Employee engagement is reciprocal trust between the employee and leadership, to do what’s right, however, whenever, and with whomever.

He has developed a participative leadership framework, one that is authentic, reciprocal, educating, and continuous (acronym:  CARE).  And his leadership philosophy ensures a fair process through engagement, exploring options, explaining, executing, and evaluating.

Vanessa Judelman, of Mosaic People Development, focused on how to bridge the generational gap for a more productive workplace.  Leaders need to understand what from the past is still valuable, and what has changed.  And then determine how to put those together in a new business model to create a value proposition for the brand new world of work and all the generations that are working in it, to keep everyone engaged and productive.

Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard and Anne Dranitsaris discussed fearlessness.  Every employee and leader has a fear.  To engage with that fear and take action is courage.  Their program “Striving Styles” adds emotional intelligence to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  Knowing and understanding the predominant needs of your personality type will allow you to attend the fear, engage it, and get over it, allowing you to be a productive employee/leader.

In an organization, change and transition can lead to a culture of fear.  Leaders need to engage the whole person, address the fears, and provide for emotional security to get their organization to a place of fearlessness.

Geoff Colvin asked “What separates world class performers from everybody else?  Where does great performance really come from?”   In a global labour market, standards are rising, and demands are increasing.  Organizations have to be world class innovators to meet the demands.

Poor innovation is an organizational issue, not an individual issue.  Great performers at innovation get better /great in the same way everybody else does.  It is not hard work, having a massive IQ/memory or innate talent that make world class performers.  It is “deliberate practice”.  Lifetime hours of practice that is designed specifically for each person, that pushes you just beyond your current abilities, that can be repeated a lot, and includes continual feedback.

Applying the principles of great performance and deliberate practice in leadership development means that tomorrow’s leaders are always being stretched and grown – pushed just beyond their abilities.  Great performance is not limited to a preordained few.  It is available to everyone, and every organization.

Levity is another way to gain employee engagement.  Scott Christopher shared his philosophy on developing a culture of levity (humour) to the workplace.  Levity includes the concepts of:

  • Latitude (allowing others the flexibility & freedom to add their own personality to their work),
  • Attitude (what you bring to the table), and
  • Gratitude (expressing thanks in some fashion – and more than just a paycheque)

Using levity will engage your employees, give them pride with where they work and who they work with, and will develop team loyalty faster.

Finally, organizations should be like Canadian Geese:  collaboration is a behavior, there is a lot of communication (honking!), and leadership is shared.  Employee engagement is critical.