TAG Consulting

Where Leaders Earn Their Pay


June 16, 2016

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Transformational leadership challenges are where leaders “earn their pay”.

Technical challenges simply require the right expertise or the right expert. Strategic challenges are more complex than tactical but they are found simply in a skillful reading of how changes external to the organization must be met and leveraged by drawing together the right people with the right skill sets.

Transformational leadership takes place when there is a significant and painful gap between what the organization aspires to and what it is experiencing. Transformational leadership is exercised at the level of deep and significant conflict – over values, loyalties, and beliefs. Often there are “winners” and “losers” in transformational change. At a minimum there is wrenching change and new expectations of all involved.

The results of transformational leadership are exhilarating – a new lease on life for an organization, an embrace of a new and more promising future, engaged and passionate employees or volunteers liberated to make greater contributions in accord with their talents, passions, and uniqueness.

But it’s tough to get there. Resistance marks every step. At times the transformational leader will feel that everyone is against her, that no one sees what she does.

At moments, she may be right.

So, if you are going to embark on the harrowing, rewarding journey of transformational leadership, it’s wise to make sure you have the knowledge to identify accurately the nature of transformational challenges.

You know you are facing a transformational issue when:

  • There is a persistent and obvious gap between what the organization wants to be and what it is.
  • You’ve tried everything you know how to do (including what has worked well in the past) and it’s getting you nowhere.
  • People across and at all levels of the organization are starting to experience a sense of disease and crisis.
  • There is a palpable sense of frustration, stress, and anxiety.
  • Conflict, frustration, and tension are on the rise.
  • The same cast of characters keeps failing to deliver results.
  • Short-term fixes reveal themselves to be band-aids and the problems they were designed to “fix” reappear, often getting worse.

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? A little depressing and overwhelming, perhaps?

Well, be realistic but – ultimately – take heart!

Transforming leadership IS hard, make no mistake. It will require your selfless best, your most creative and risky effort. Perhaps most important, you will have to be willing to change yourself.

But, take heart to be sure. It’s worth the pain and energy and resistance. You can do this.

Transformational leadership will require people to accept and even embrace radical changes in their beliefs, priorities, values, habits and loyalties. But once this work is done, new options and new futures are open to all involved. You have it within you to be a transformational leader!

At TAG, we thrive on and specialize in helping leaders and organizations embrace transformational challenges, through Discovery, Facilitated Learning, and Coaching.

Our approach to consulting is a truly customized one. While we have proprietary methods and intellectual property to apply to any type of challenge or opportunity, we are committed to a process that always begins with thorough DISCOVERY.

Once information is captured, interpreted, and discussed we are able to develop a plan of action with you. Regardless of the plan, our method always involves the FACILITATION of outcomes. We believe each client has what they need to resolve their most difficult challenges and improve their overall leadership health. Our role is to shed light on the real issues and help focus that light so that you achieve your desired results. And we are skilled at coming alongside leaders as coaches and trusted advisers.

We’re here to help and serve. Find out more and connect with us here!

The First Two Tasks Of A Change Leader


April 4, 2016

Because you are reading this blog, we assume you are a reader who is interested in helping your organization change and craft a great culture. We’re excited about that and honored to be partners in your quest! We know beyond a doubt that none of us can do this alone.

As your begin or lean deeper into your quest to craft a winning organizational culture, here are your first two tasks:

1. The first task of leadership is to distinguish between what needs to be preserved and what needs to change. As you work through changes in your organization, make sure not to lose sight of what is valuable and needs to be preserved and built upon. Make sure you know your organization’s code – your DNA – and build your cultural change upon this foundation.

2. When you come into an existing situation to make changes, make sure not to condemn the past. Always frame your vision in an upbeat, positive way. Your job is not to erase the past but rather to help people envision a brighter future. The people you now serve were part of the past – honor their contributions, effort, and investment. Even the most dysfunctional organization has things in its past that are worthy. Dwell on these even as you chart a course to the future.

So, step one is to DIAGNOSE (that which needs to change and that which needs to be preserved) and step two is to HONOR (the good parts of the organization’s past and the people that have given themselves in service).

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If you get your change initiative off to a good start with healthy, open-hearted diagnosis and honor then you will be set up well for the hard, invigorating work of crafting a healthy culture.

To go deeper into both diagnosis and honor, check out our latest book The Secret Sauce: Creating A Winning Culture, here.

We’d love to serve as your trusted advisor as you lead organizational change. You can find out more about TAG Consulting and how we can serve you here.

Three Steps To Diagnose Your Organization


January 12, 2016

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Our client work begins with a diagnosis of the system of an organization – particularly a close look at the Transformational issues the organization is challenged by and how well prepared it is to respond.

There are three components to a thorough diagnosis of an organization – take a look at these and try a quick, beginning diagnosis of your own organization! (We note here that we are indebted to the work of Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky as well as the work of TAG partners Kevin Ford and Jim Osterhaus in their new and important book The Secret Sauce: Creating A Winning Culture.)

The three components are Structure, Culture, and Default Processes.

Structure

Structure includes rewards and incentives, organizational charts, reporting relationships, communication practices, hiring and termination processes, and compensation philosophies.

A key question here is “What behaviors are supported and rewarded by our structure?”. It’s an old and reliable adage that we get the behavior we reward, not the behavior we say we value. While structure feels like nuts and bolts engineering, it is in fact a powerful, subtle reinforcer of what the organization values and how agile and adaptable it has the potential of being.

Exercise: List all of your organization’s structures on a whiteboard in one column. In the next column, describe how and if each structure either supports or restricts your ability to carry out your mission.

Culture

Ford and Osterhaus have written perhaps the most thorough and useful work on crafting a winning and healthy organizational culture (yes, we are biased, but…).

In their book they prove the ‘why’ of the saying “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. In fact, culture snacks on almost anything else. The great differentiator between pretty good and really great organizations is a winning culture which is on its way to finding its own unique “secret sauce”.

A winning culture is an expression of the universal desire “to belong, to contribute, and to make a difference”. This culture is expressed in such facets as stories, heroes, architecture, group norms (such as dress codes) and meeting practices (who is ‘need to know’, who gets invited to what meeting, who leads meetings).

Culture sometimes feels ‘squishy’ because its standards are generally not written down, but it is a powerful, unseen, all encompassing force that largely determines attitudes, behavior, and employee engagement.

Exercise: List the elements of your culture. Which of these make it easy for you to respond quickly to internal and external challenges, and which slow you down?

Default Processes

Most all of us become comfortable with things that have worked in the past. This goes for individuals and for organizations. And it goes for groups in organizations. As Heifetz, Linsky, and Grashow say “When people in an organization find that a certain response to a particular kind of situation worked well previously, they will likely repeat that response whenever they encounter an apparently similar situation”.

Over time, this gets worked into the fabric of the way our organizations work. What’s worked generates predictable ways of looking at things, which generates predictable actions. Default interpretations become default instincts become default responses become default processes.

But there are problems with defaults. What works in one time and place – even repeatedly – may not work in others. A default can blind us to new ways of seeing, responding, and deciding.

Exercise: Choose a default process your organization practices. Dig a little deeper. What point of view about the world does this process represent? What behavior does this point of view result in every time? Are there times when this behavior has NOT been effective? Contrast that instance with the times it was effective.

It will take some time, thought, and courage but working through these exercises in three steps will present a good diagnosis on how prepared your organization is for change and where you might need some coaching and encouragement to get to the next level!