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July 2008

Happy Summer!

Creatively weathering the storms of the current economy is a tough leadership (and personal) challenge. Hopefully some of the ideas in this newsletter can help you in that process!

Please pass this newsletter on to anyone else who might be interested in its messages!

in this issue
  • The PRISM Conference and Passion
  • Strategic Leadership Competencies
  • Strategic Change Lessons and Special Offer
  • The Leadership Versatility Index® User Conference
  • Creatively Managing Stress
  • Innovation Summit 2008

  • Strategic Leadership Competencies
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    A recent study by Linkage, the global organizational development company, ranked "strategic thinking" as the single greatest challenge to today's business leaders. According to the study, succeeding in a demanding and competitive business environment requires top leaders to anticipate and diagnose critical threats to the organization and then take action to address them.

    Certainly, strategic thinking is crucial. However, strategic success is not just about coming up with the visions and strategies for the future. Leaders also have to make them happen. Thus additional competencies are called for, including:

    1. Global Acumen -- for realizing the potential of a truly globalized world and its many diverse cultures, economies and governments
    2. External Perspective -- to maintain constant vigilance to changes in the world, the industry, the market and with customers
    3. Relationship Building -- to work synergistically with different individuals and organizations across the spectrum of the business
    4. Talent Development -- to ensure the organization has the benchstrength needed to execute strategies in the short and long term
    5. Strategic Direction and Change Management -- to ensure the organization has the focus, goals, culture, and processes to achieve expected results
    6. Resilience -- to enable leaders to successfully manage the twists and turns and stay focused on what really matters

    Do you have these competencies? If you are wondering how you rate, let me know. Using the Leadership Versatility Index® and the Hogan suite of personality inventories, we can assess your strengths and work to develop an action plan for using them wisely.

    Strategic Change Lessons and Special Offer
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    Managing strategic change is one of the key competencies of a strategic leader. And a very challenging one since it has been estimated that 50% of all change efforts fail to reach their objectives! Research and experience have identified several best practices for defining and implementing a change initiative, while avoiding possible pitfalls:

    * Securing buy-in by involving those who will be impacted by the change initiative in defining its scope and the requirements to make it succeed;

    * Creating a well-thought-out plan for implementation that incorporates carefully setting boundaries of the initiative to manage expectations, motivating employees by appealing to head and heart, keeping a learning attitude, and aligning the change initiative with organizational roles and systems (for more information, see the Summer 2005 Sloan Management Review article "Making Change Initiatives Stick"); and

    * Continuously communicating the benefits and reasons for the change and being clear about and constantly reinforcing the specific behaviors required to make the change initiative work.

    "The Multi-Unit Enterprise" article in the June, 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review which I co-authored with Harvard Business School professor David Garvin provides valuable advice on cascading a change initiative down through the levels of the organization. It recommends several steps leaders can take to make sure their organization is successful at executing change initiatives and achieving expected benefits.

    A PDF version of this article is available to the first 100 individuals who click on the link below:

    The Leadership Versatility Index® User Conference
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    As mentioned in an earlier newsletter, I recently became licensed in the Leadership Versatility Index® (LVI®), a 360° assessment tool designed to help leaders enhance their ability to manage the competing challenges involved in building an organization of sustainable innovation. (For more background, please see the January, 2008, "Practical Innovator" newsletter at www.breakthroughcreativity.com. To learn more about the LVI®, you can check out the website: versatileleader.com.)

    For almost a year now, I have been using the LVI® very successfully as a framework in my coaching practice with senior leaders since it provides very informative feedback. In March, I attended the first LVI® User Conference in New York City, where I learned about additional uses of the LVI®.

    1. One large retail company has customized the LVI® and linked it to its organizational competencies as part of its leadership development program for its field managers.

    2. A U.S. engineering and construction company, rated one of the Fortune 100 best companies to work for, has incorporated the LVI® into its senior leadership development process, along with the Gallup Strengths Finder and executive coaching.

    3. A global hotel chain has combined the LVI® with the MBTI® and coaching to create development plans for each hotel's management staff.

    The LVI® can also be integrated with cultural surveys, such as the Denison Organizational Culture Survey and with leadership assessments, such as the Hogan Inventories.

    Creatively Managing Stress
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    There is no question that we are living in extremely stressful times. Creativity can help in many different ways. Knowing how to access your creative powers can provide you with new solutions to challenging problems. Appreciating your creativity can also heighten your resilience and ability to manage the twists and turns in life.

    Innovation Summit 2008
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    Last fall, more than 30 leaders from global and German companies, such as T-Mobile, Henkel, Bayer, and Siemens, met in Cologne to discuss how to build a culture that supports innovation. The conversations forged new relationships among the participants and sparked many new ideas for creating a more innovative culture.

    The next Innovation Summit, organized by "innovation europe" and its strategic partners, is planned for October 30, 2008. This year's topic is "Managing the Challenges of Strategic Leadership for More Innovation."

    The PRISM Conference and Passion

    In May, I was invited to speak on strategic planning at the annual conference of the Professional Records Information Services Management (PRISM) International in Anchorage, Alaska.

    It was an invigorating experience. In addition to the snow-capped mountains and glaciers, I was struck by:

    1) The enthusiasm, energy and entrepreneurial spirit of the participants and vendors. From turning family-owned limestone caves into unique records storage facilities, to finding innovative storage solutions through seeing old problems with the eyes of an industry newcomer, the creativity that is the hallmark of entrepreneurs around the globe was so evident.

    2) The insights of veteran entrepreneur Norm Brodsky on the importance of culture to successful, innovative businesses. They include: fostering a sales culture throughout the organization, focused on relationships and retention; creating a unique organization where everyone wants to work by nurturing entrepreneurial spirit and encouraging a steady stream of innovative ideas; and building a learning environment where mistakes are viewed as lessons.

    3) The critical ingredient of passion in everyday endeavors. Martin Buser, four time winner of the famed Iditarod race, arrived with his dogs, or "athletes" as he calls them, to share his story of how the race unfolds (for more information, see www.buserdog.com). His description of the extraordinary care the athletes receive led to three important lessons for strategic leaders:

    * You can only go as fast as your slowest dog (so you need to be sure all your employees have the training they need to succeed).

    * You must develop close relationships with your key constituents to serve as coach and trainer and sometimes nurse and cook.

    * It's as difficult being a winning Iditarod driver as it is to be a successful strategic leader. It can often be grueling as well as invigorating, but reward only comes through hard work!


    "The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones."

    -- John Maynard Keynes

    Lynne Levesque Consulting

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