Cascading Leadership - The Show

How a Strong Purpose is Critical to Leadership Success

February 20, 2023 Jim Season 3 Episode 9
Cascading Leadership - The Show
How a Strong Purpose is Critical to Leadership Success
Show Notes Transcript

 Dr. Jim discussed  the importance of leveraging technology properly to ensure success and avoiding the mistake of viewing technology as a standalone solution. A combination of people, process, and technology is necessary to solve any transformation initiative. In order to properly leverage technology, there needs to be  a conversation between stakeholders, develop a comprehensive plan, and consider the long-term impact. He concluded that a well-implemented technology strategy is key to advancing any inclusion initiative.

In order to ensure a successful initiative, a strong alignment and understanding of the purpose is essential. Organizations should do a current state analysis to get an honest assessment of where they are currently. This is important because it can be easy to get sold a product which paints a picture of a much more advanced future than the current state. Companies should also ask themselves hard questions about the current state in order to properly plan for the initiative. Technology can play an important role in the success of the initiative, but it is important to focus on the purpose and the current state first.

Dr. Jim discussed how organizations can create a successful talent strategy. He suggested focusing on aligning the organization's purpose and asking hard questions to gain a better understanding of the current state. This allows for the evaluation of people and processes and the creation of an appropriate solution. Technology can be used as an activator, but should not be the only solution. Additionally, organizations should look at the big picture and avoid focusing on one problem in a vacuum when creating their talent strategy. John Graham's conversation on how to create a talent attraction flywheel was also discussed, with the emphasis that organizations should focus on the entire picture and not just the talent attraction side.

Dr. Jim and John had a conversation about how to solve talent strategy issues. They emphasized the importance of having an honest assessment of where the current state infrastructure is before trying to attract more people to the organization. They suggested evaluating the existing infrastructure to make sure it's optimized for retention and development, as well as getting feedback from the existing team on areas that cause them issues with job satisfaction. This is important to prevent filling a leaky bucket and to make sure that employees are positioned for success.



"Exploring the Role of Technology in Driving Inclusion"


"Aligning Technology Initiatives with Organizational Purpose for Success"


Exploring the Framework for Successful Technology Transformation and Talent Strategy


"Evaluating Talent Strategy"


Strategies for Successful Talent Attraction and Factors Influencing Leadership Success


On Practicing Leadership Effectively"

Music Credit: Maarten Schellekens - Riviera

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[00:00:00] Dr. Jim: thanks for joining us today on Cascading Leadership. I am your friendly neighborhood talent strategy nerd, Dr. Jim. Today's episode, we're gonna answer three questions and also give you a preview into what's gonna be coming later this week.

[00:00:12] Dr. Jim: We're gonna understand in this conversation what role technology can play in driving inclusion. We're gonna learn how you develop successful talent strategies, and we're also gonna learn what factors are most. Important or impactful when it comes to influencing leadership success? Lot of stuff to cover in a relatively short amount of time.

[00:00:33] Dr. Jim: Let's dive into it. So when we look at the role that technology can play in advancing anything, but in particular we're looking at the issue of inclusion that leads to a lot of interesting conversation. Earlier this week I joined Workzinga for a panel discussion. And the topic was how tech can be an activator of in initiatives that are intended to drive inclusion.

[00:00:58] Dr. Jim: It was a great conversation [00:01:00] and we spent a good 30 minutes talking about any number of things in terms of the role that tech can play in driving all sorts of talent strategy initiatives. But one of the things that came up in that conversation was a framework for how you can leverage technology properly to make sure that your initiatives are gonna succeed.

[00:01:21] Dr. Jim: And the overarching lesson in that conversation was, , you have to avoid the mistake that a lot of organizations make, which is thinking that technology is going to be what solves the problem. Technology is never by itself the solution. When you're thinking about any sort of transformation initiative, you're talking about a people process and technology combination that comes together to solve an issue.

[00:01:46] Dr. Jim: So if you're just looking at the technology aspect of it, it's highly likely it's gonna fail. When. Look at the question of what can you do or how can you structure an environment to make sure that an initiative is successful? And how [00:02:00] can technology play a role in that success? We talk through a formula or a framework that I think is gonna be highly effective for a lot of organizations that that are looking to execute these sort of transformations.

[00:02:13] Dr. Jim: So first and foremost, what you want to do is make sure. That you have a strong alignment and understanding of the purpose. And we're talking about, this has to start with the organizational purpose and then how this particular initiative gets you closer to achieving the purpose of the organization.

[00:02:32] Dr. Jim: If you don't have tight alignment there, you're gonna have a lot of problems linking all the. Co-dependencies in that initiative to achieve success. Because if your initiative is misaligned from the purpose from either the organizational purpose, your personal professional purpose, or even the team purpose, there's gonna be a lot of confusion and stalls that occur after that.

[00:02:54] Dr. Jim: The next thing that you want to do, and this is where a lot of organizations probably don't [00:03:00] spend enough time, You wanna be asking the hard questions about where you are from a current state perspective, that current state analysis is absolutely critical because it gives you an honest assessment of where you are as an organization.

[00:03:14] Dr. Jim: A lot of times what happens in these technology initiatives is that you get sold a product. The organization that is selling the solution is painting you a picture of what life could look like, and that's great. But if what that life looks like is so far advanced from where your current state is, you're gonna have a hard time getting from point A to point B.

[00:03:37] Dr. Jim: So asking those hard questions about your current state helps you get a good sense of where you are and think in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, are you the type of organization that is trying to solve more of. Survival level set of needs, or are you trying to self-actualize? Or are you someplace in between?

[00:03:57] Dr. Jim: How you answer that question in your current [00:04:00] state analysis is gonna tell you, or at least is gonna signal to you what the appropriate solution for that point in time is going to be. So first you wanna align your purpose. Next, you want to be asking the critical questions and the tough questions, so you have a good sense of where your current state is.

[00:04:15] Dr. Jim: Then. Once you have a good understanding of current state, this allows you to align and evaluate your people and your processes that need to take you or propel you from where you are to where you want to be. This is another area where organizations, if they're like, if you're trying to drive any initiative forward, but especially a technology initiative forward.

[00:04:37] Dr. Jim: You need to have a good understanding of where you are from a people strategy perspective, and also a process execution perspective. What are the gaps? Who are we missing within the organization that's gonna help us drive closer to our desired state? Last, but certainly not least, Is a sober understanding of how do you bridge the gap from where you are to where you want to be.

[00:04:58] Dr. Jim: And a [00:05:00] lot of mistakes happen in this stage where you're trying to take on too much and go too far too quickly. You have to be somewhat sequential in how you address it, because if your current state is in survival mode, you need a different. Person or group of people to come into your organization need different sets of processes to get you from that basic level of need to that next level, which will springboard you through the use of technology to where you want to get to.

[00:05:28] Dr. Jim: So when you're thinking about the framework that you need to to execute any sort of transformation, but especially one where you're trying to evaluate the role of te. , you have to make sure your purpose is aligned. You have to make sure that you're asking the necessary questions to get an honest assessment of where your current state is.

[00:05:46] Dr. Jim: And then you have to make sure your people and processes are tight, and then you bring technology into the equation. Because technology is an activator. It's not what's going to completely solve your problem for you. So hopefully [00:06:00] understanding that f. Is gonna be helpful in helping you move any initiative forward.

[00:06:05] Dr. Jim: If you want to get the full conversation, obviously you can check out the conversation on Workzinga's , YouTube page or you can catch it on demand off of their LinkedIn page as well. The next thing that we want to talk about is is some of the highlights that came out of a conversation that I had with John Graham a couple weeks.

[00:06:22] Dr. Jim: And the overarching theme of that was how do you create a successful talent strategy? And the specific topic was how do you create a talent attraction flywheel? And we took an interesting approach to the conversation I, in that we didn't really focus on the talent traction side of the equation.

[00:06:40] Dr. Jim: So if the goal is for you to have a successful talent strategy, . You have to look at the big picture and where most organizations go go wrong, is that they only focus on one problem and they address that problem in a vacuum. And more often than not, they address the problem or try to solve the problem [00:07:00] through talent attraction.

[00:07:01] Dr. Jim: And that's a mistake. And here's why. When you look at solving for a talent strategy issue. . One of the things that came up in the conversation with John and I was that you have to have an honest assessment about where you are from a current state infrastructure perspective. And this again goes back to the earlier conversation about how do you drive an init initiative forward?

[00:07:23] Dr. Jim: If you're bringing people into your organiz, , but your infrastructure from a learning and development perspective, from an onboarding perspective, from a retention and turnover perspective, none of that is in place. You're gonna be stuck in the same problem over and over again where you're constantly going to need people and you're gonna need to find more people coming in.

[00:07:42] Dr. Jim: So first and foremost, if you're trying to fix a particular talent strategy issue, don't just try to bring more people into the organization to solve that issue. You need to. The necessary foundation lead to make sure that your overall e existing staff are positioned for success. [00:08:00] So you need to evaluate your current infrastructure to make sure that it's optimized for retention and development.

[00:08:05] Dr. Jim: And then that way you're not filling a leaky bucket, for lack of a better phrase, then, , you wanna get feedback from your existing team and your existing people. What are the areas that drive them nuts or cause issues for them in terms of making their work worthwhile, making them want to stay in the organization, job satisfaction, all of that sort of stuff.

[00:08:25] Dr. Jim: And then you prioritize what's coming up most often and then solve for those things first. And that's how you set yourself up on a firm footing and implement those changes that. Before you start the talent attraction side of the equation. So if you're thinking about how do you create a successful talent strategy, you have to look at your existing infrastructure first.

[00:08:47] Dr. Jim: You have to get feedback from your current employees to see and understand what's getting in the way. Prioritize the most critical elements that come up in that feedback loop, solve for that. [00:09:00] Then you can bring people. and the use case that we talked about with when John and I were talking was, dealing specifically with diverse talent and people from underrepresented communities.

[00:09:12] Dr. Jim: But this can be applied to any talent initiative that you have. It's even more critical for those from those underrepresented communities because they're least likely to speak up once they're into your organization and they realize. You don't have the su support structure in place to, to help advance their career initiatives and goals.

[00:09:31] Dr. Jim: So that hopefully that gives you a good framework that you can operate in to make any talent strategy initiative successful, but especially the critical point here is, Take less of a focus on talent attraction. Make sure your current state and your infrastructure and foundation is set up well from an employee development and retention perspective.

[00:09:51] Dr. Jim: And then you can focus on the talent attraction side of it. So the third question that we want to tackle in this conversation is, what factors [00:10:00] most influence leadership success? And this is a question that came up in the conversation that we had with Brian Bennett who was recently featured in in last week's episode.

[00:10:10] Dr. Jim: And the entire conversation is really interesting. I would encourage you to check that out. But when you're looking at how do you become more effective as a leader, how do. , not ensure, but as much as you can guarantee leadership success, there's a few themes that came up in that conversation that I think it's worth noting.

[00:10:26] Dr. Jim: One is that leadership should be practice. It should be just like any other skill, and not just practice for the sake of practice, but you should be exercising that skill in a way that focuses on get on, maximizing the level of effectiveness and. The first part of how you practice leadership is really to understand what you're good at and playing to those strengths.

[00:10:54] Dr. Jim: So there's an awareness component that a lot of folks need to get in tuned with early on so [00:11:00] that you're actually working on the right things. And one of the things that came out of the conversation with Brian is that if you're an early or mid-career profess. , you should be pretty diligent in finding yourself a board of directors or a group of mentors who can help guide your path to the na to, to whatever direction you want to go in as a professional.

[00:11:21] Dr. Jim: And that mentorship component is actually what helps accelerate what you should be practic. A real mentor or true mentor who's got your best interests in mind is gonna be able to point out your gaps. And those are areas that you're certainly gonna need to shore up, but they're also gonna be able to give you insight into what you're good at.

[00:11:43] Dr. Jim: And Brian made the analogy that, you don't see you don't see Steph Curry trying to dunk the ball every time in the nba. He shoots threes. That's the awareness part of it. Coming in and doing what you're good at as a critical element of leadership [00:12:00] success. You certainly need to practice your leadership skill, but you need to practice the right leadership skills based on what your toolkit and what your strengths are.

[00:12:09] Dr. Jim: So play to your strengths and practice the right way, and then that should help advance or get you closer to leadership success. The next element, and this was really critical when when Brian was talking, is that there's a four step framework that you should apply in developing your your leadership, and that's assess vision, live and reflect.

[00:12:29] Dr. Jim: So assessment is pretty simple. You can use any number of assessments to get an idea of who you are as a person and then identify gaps and at least illustrate how you show up. So knowing yourself is a critical path part of being an effective leader. Then the visioning part of it is who do you want to be?

[00:12:49] Dr. Jim: Where do you want to go? What do you want to become? Those sort of questions help formulate a vision for. , the end point that you're trying to get to or the next point that you're trying to get to. . Now, once [00:13:00] you've assessed yourself and built a vision, now it's live. The next step is to live that vision and live that motion towards that vision.

[00:13:09] Dr. Jim: So this is how do you show up in a way that is getting you closer to that vision that you develop for yourself? And then obviously the last step is reflecting reflection should be a daily focus of leadership. What are the opportunities that I had in front of me? How did I deal with those opportunities?

[00:13:25] Dr. Jim: Is there anything that I could have done better? And feedback from the people that I impacted so that I could better shape my direction. I think one of the underlying themes of that framework and the entire conversation is that in order for you to be effective, you have to own what you are trying to do and what you're trying to accomplish.

[00:13:44] Dr. Jim: That ownership mentality is embedded in all of this and that. I think that's something that that everybody should be aware of. So lot of great conversations in just the last seven days, and we didn't even get into the panel discussion that we had on Talent Strategy 60 where we talked about [00:14:00] how to successfully navigate life and career as a black professional.

[00:14:04] Dr. Jim: I would encourage you to check that out on our YouTube channel if if you get a chance, when you get a chance. It had tremendous impact and tremendous engagement on. Channel. So this week on the podcast, what do we have coming up? I think you're in for a treat because we are gonna tackle the topic of how do you make a mid-career switch.

[00:14:24] Dr. Jim: Into a technical field. And the person that is gonna be joining us is Stephanie Davis. And she's had a really interesting career. She started off in economics and finance and worked a really hard technical role in that function. She's been a product manager in, in, in her past life. And then she did a career switch where she basically did an apprenticeship and switched into.

[00:14:48] Dr. Jim: BI and data analysis and project management in the midpoint of her career. So she went from accounting and finance and economics as an analyst and pivoted into information [00:15:00] technology. There's a lot of interesting elements of the story but part of the conversation is gonna be how do you actually structure or set yourself up for success when you make that career pivot?

[00:15:11] Dr. Jim: And also I think it's worth not. The specific challenges or specific tactics that she talked about I in in making that pivot as a black professional. So you have you have a couple of different I interesting dynamics that you're navigating and I think it's gonna be a really useful for anybody that's contemplating a career switch, but it's gonna be especially useful for those who are contemplating a career switch as a mid-career professional.

[00:15:39] Dr. Jim: And if you're coming from an underrepresented community, we all know, that if you're from an underrepresented community, you have some challenges that the majority typically doesn't have to deal with. Let alone when you combine that with a career pivot, it leads for some really interesting dynamics.

[00:15:54] Dr. Jim: So you're gonna really love that conversation. It's gonna be. Probably pretty useful and relevant in [00:16:00] today's climate where you have an uncertain job market and you're trying to navigate and figure out, how do I make this switch? When's the good, best time to do it, and what's a, what's an easy transition from point A to point B?

[00:16:12] Dr. Jim: So hopefully so that's gonna be a great episode and looking forward to getting that out and and having everybody learn from that in our continued effort to help. Generation Z and millennials earlier and early and mid-career professionals move their careers further faster. 

[00:16:27] Dr. Jim: So really glad that we had a chance to go over some of these highlights in in this conversation. Let me know what you thought of it. If you like the show, make sure you follow us and and tell a friend. We really appreciate your support and stay tuned for Thursday when releasing Stephanie Davis's episode on cascading leadership.