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What Does Leading by Example Actually Mean?

By Chally Kacelnik

I meet a lot of leaders who talk about their capacity to lead their teams by example. It’s one of those phrases that just sounds right. “Leading by example” connotes getting amongst it and relating to people in a simple, accountable, down to earth way. However, it can have quite disparate meanings depending on who you ask. Most recently, the answers I’ve heard are that leading by example is about:

  • Being able to build trust and influence with staff as you go about your work
  • Being hands on and helping staff with practical issues
  • Demonstrating respect and otherwise working positively with others
  • Being consistent in what you expect from staff

Trust, practicality, respect, and consistency are all worthy goals for leaders to pursue in their relationships with their staff, their peers, and with everyone they encounter in the workplace (not to mention their broader lives). However, it’s telling that there’s not often a common thread in what leading by example means to people. People tend to be quite confident that leading by example is a thing that they do, and my experience is that there isn’t much of an awareness of different interpretations. The main commonality is that everyone’s quite sure that everyone else understands what they mean by it.

That’s pretty worrying. If we assume that others are not the same page about something as common as this, how can anyone be sure about what example they’re setting, let alone whether they’re leading and communicating with others effectively?

So what should we talking about when we talk about leading by example? Walking your talk sounds like bluster or fluff if you can’t pin down that talk. That’s where the problem lies. For some leaders, saying they lead by example inadvertently becomes a way of not communicating effectively and not operating at the right level of work (see our levels of work article for more information on this).

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Getting On-Boarding Right for a Healthier Organisation

By Sam Robinson

While talking to a client in a government organisation recently, I realised how sloppy I am when talking about onboarding and induction programs. For the sake of clarity (I love clarity!) a few definitions:

  • Recruitment: the broad process of attracting and selecting people to join an organisation
  • Selection: choosing a single candidate for a role (part of a selection process)
  • On-boarding: the process of integrating an individual into an organisation, whether this is based on skill development, cultural norms and beliefs, or systems and process knowledge
  • Induction: the process of informing a new employee about an organisation’s policies, systems and procedures (part of an on-boarding process)

I’m not an HR professional, despite LinkedIn assuming I am, so please excuse the lack of convention. These are definitions I find helpful and I’m not suggesting this is “the general consensus” or an “industry standard”. (By the way – a topic for another time – what do you think when people throw in those phrases?)

I want to focus on on-boarding because it’s often relegated to the “we strongly intend to look into this in the next financial year” pile. Looking at an on-boarding process can provide a window into the health of an organisation. When I’m helping an organisation improve, I look at an on-boarding process as evidence for:

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Changes at LKS Quaero

After five years as our Managing Director, Susan Law will be departing from LKS Quaero at the end of July. She has always described herself as an escapee from the Council chamber and she will be returning there as CEO of Armidale Regional Council.

Under Susan’s leadership, we’ve emerged as a leading management consulting firm with a reputation for genuine, practical, and forthright advice. She has led a dedicated team of consultants who are committed to delivering high quality support and outputs for our clients.

Our longstanding Director, Leadership and Culture, Sam Robinson, is commencing the role of Managing Director. Sam has a diverse consulting background in settings throughout Australia, Antarctica, and Malaysia, across the resources and logistics sectors and local government in NSW, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia. Sam has been crucial to LKS Quaero’s achievements and growth of the last several years and we congratulate him as he continues that work in his new position.

We wish Susan the very best in her new role. We’re excited to continue providing our clients with trusted advice on their organisational direction and strategy.

At LKS Quaero, we draw on decades of hard-won ingenuity to help solve seemingly intractable problems. If you’d like to know more, visit us at lksquaero.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Mapping High Level Strategy to Everyday Work with the Travelling Salesman Problem

By Chally Kacelnik

It’s an exciting time when organisations are overhauling their vision and planning: synapses are snapping, there’s energy in the air, and people are engaged with building an exciting, compelling story of how their organisation is going to be in the future. However, when it comes time to turn intention into reality, that’s when things might get a little stuck and start to stagnate.

There will be those in the organisation who nod through the changes, but believe it’ll be another false dawn and that everything will go back to business as usual. Effective leaders will bring the rest of the organisation on the change journey and entrench the new business as usual. However, for many organisations, strategic planning and visioning is sadly just seen as the stuff you have to tick off before getting back to the “real work”. It’s not seen as what should drive that work.  The challenge is not only to develop the new ways of doing things, but to make sure they’re truly reflected in people’s activities and beliefs.

How do you make the new, compelling way of doing business not just something to pin on the wall, but a felt reality in day to day activities? It’s often difficult for individuals to see how the work they do – their activities, the systems they work with, the parts of processes they undertake – relates to the work of people in other parts of the organisation, let alone the overarching vision, strategies, and goals. 

Shelved, lopsided black binders

Managing Customer Data the Right Way: 10 Basic Principles

By Chally Kacelnik

Let’s consider how to manage customer data the right way: ethically, usefully, and achievably. With scandal after scandal about the misuse of customer data making headlines, it’s no longer possible to think of data as something neutral or passive that gets collected and sits out of sight and mind.

We’re seeing rapid changes to how we think about the collection and use of data. One major theme of the day is technological innovation. Traditional boundaries are being tested, with even governments feeling out how public and distributed innovations like blockchain could work for them. Another theme is dread. There’s a distinctly dystopian resurgence of anxiety about surveillance and poor or actively harmful data management, and unfortunately we’re seeing that suspicion justified. It’s vital for organisations – particularly government ones – to understand that data is fraught and to take a thoughtful approach to the ethics, reach, volume, and scale of the data they collect and use.

Within organisations, there tend to be two opposed approaches. There are those who trust in tech to solve data problems, the more innovation and more data collected the better, even if it’s not fully understood. Then there are those who trust their own workarounds more: the people who have their paper folder or their spreadsheet sitting on the side, whether because the system isn’t set up usefully, there isn’t an established way of working that encourages the right kind and quality of data isn’t being entered, or because of habit and comfort.

Increasingly, the uses and abuses of data are so top of mind and so poorly understood by most of us that organisations are tending to throw everything at the wall. It’s all too common for organisations to take the approach of investing big in new systems without understanding how to drive them effectively, ending up with messy data that causes lots of headaches, rework, haphazard ways of working across the organisation, and reinforcement of those two opposed approaches (including workarounds on top of workarounds!).

In short, if you throw everything at the wall, you’re going to find cracks. Technology isn’t a wilful force in and of itself (at least not yet!) and should be a facilitator rather than a driver. Positive, active human behaviour should drive how we interact with data and how we use technology to facilitate that interaction. Let’s get back to the very basics of what organisations need to do with data: serve their customers.

Here are seven principles for achieving that aim by managing customer data well at the ground level:

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What Makes Us and Our Leadership Development Programs Different?

See our recent series on a series on LKS Quaero’s leadership development programs.

In short, our programs are different because they are relevant, practical, sustainable and proven.

Lots of organisations have previously invested a lot of time and money on leadership development. That programming might have given people a good set of skills and it might have built team cohesion – or the results might not have been commensurate with the investment. There’s nothing wrong with cohesive teams and improved skills, but these things aren’t that useful if the leadership development wasn’t ultimately geared towards improving results. Without a common language, toolkit, and framework for leadership that everyone uses and knows works, the results will fall flat.

We work to genuinely help our clients solve their problems and we tailor our programs to meet their specific needs. The programs are different to anything else available as they are very tightly connected to what the organisation wants to achieve. Each program begins with the senior leadership presenting the context of what’s happening in the organisation at the moment and how the program is connected to what our clients want to achieve as a whole.

We help our clients to succeed by looking at the impact of how they’re leading. What we do doesn’t just fall out of a textbook or a pet theory: every model is based on our hands-on experience in industry. We equip participants with problem-solving tools that work and show them practical examples of success.

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How We Help Clients Design and Reach the Desired Future State

This is part of a series on LKS Quaero’s leadership development programs, published in advance of our 2018 Public Program in Newcastle. You can book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Advanced) Diploma program or book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Essentials) Certificate IV program now.

Once the organisational problem has been identified and the current state analysis has been undertaken, our clients have a clear picture of what’s going well and what’s not. How do we help them turn that knowledge into concrete change?

It’s tempting to go and tackle lots of little changes. However, without a clear plan, those changes don’t cohere or stick. We work with clients to clearly map out where they would like to be by helping them to design the desired future state for their organisation.

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What Clients Get Out of Our Leadership Development Programs

This is part of a series on LKS Quaero’s leadership development programs, published in advance of our 2018 Public Program in Newcastle. You can book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Advanced) Diploma program or book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Essentials) Certificate IV program now.

What do organisations and individual participants get out of our leadership development programs?

At the start of the program, we ask participants what their expectations are. For many people, expectations are pretty low – they’re just there because their boss has sent them, they’ve done training before, they don’t think they’ll get much out of this. These participants, without exception to date, have a completely different response at the end.

Our programs are unique because we don’t just teach theory and send participants back to the workplace to find their feet. We actually won’t pass or accredit someone unless they’ve made improvements in their area of accountability at work, demonstrated against specific targets that are aligned with the organisation’s business plans. As a result, we’re being inundated with requests from previous clients to come back and run more programs.

In financial terms, one participant in one course alone has saved $1.5M in the first year as a result of better inventory management.

Diagram representation of the 5 Tier Leadership Program

The 5 Tier Leadership Development Program

This is part of a series on LKS Quaero’s leadership development programs, published in advance of our 2018 Public Program in Newcastle. You can book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Advanced) Diploma program or book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Essentials) Certificate IV program now.

We’ve developed a 5 Tier Leadership Development Program. What are the tiers, how do they work, and how do they connect?

Organisations tend to have several leadership tiers, with different needs, challenges, authorities, and accountabilities. We don’t believe in ignoring these differences recycling generic, inapplicable programming. We believe in meeting people where they’re at and providing practical help and learning. Just like an organisation has several levels, our program is pitched and tailored for different organisational levels.

Each level increases in complexity in terms of understanding an organisation:

  1. Leading in the Frontline (Essentials) is designed to develop more effective frontline leaders by providing some basic training in terms of leadership and expectation-setting
  2. Leading in the Frontline (Advanced) is designed for current and potential frontline leaders believed to have the capacity, capability, and desire to progress to higher organisational levels. It addresses the expectations of a leader and basics of management processes, with the opportunity to gain some accreditation towards a Certificate IV in Leadership and Management
  3. Leading for Change (Essentials) is geared towards the current middle management group, team leaders, and supervisors, with the opportunity to gain the Certificate IV Leadership and Management. It focuses on driving sustainable improvement, validating skills and utilising targeted interventions to build an engaged and energised team
  4. Leading for Change (Advanced) is most suitable for senior managers and is focused on creating a constructive culture in which team members can work to their full potential. There is the opportunity to gain a Diploma Leadership and Management
  5. Leading Transformation is designed for senior leaders, focusing on whole of organisational transformation and long term business improvement. Participants have the opportunity to gain an Advanced Diploma Leadership and Management

The program goes all the way from picking different units of competency that go towards making up a qualification to an Advanced Diploma. The Certificate IV, Diploma, and Advanced Diploma in Leadership and Management are all nationally recognised qualifications and there are a number of units that are mandatory for each.

There is flexibility built into the program to tailor it specifically to an organisation’s needs, with electives that we help clients choose to tailor the programs towards specific areas of focus, such as financial aspects of the business or more diagnosing issues with productivity and performance.

A jumble of puzzle pieces

How We Help Clients to Solve Problems

This is part of a series on LKS Quaero’s leadership development programs, published in advance of our 2018 Public Program in Newcastle. You can book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Advanced) Diploma program or book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Essentials) Certificate IV program now.

It’s hard to see all the way around a problem when you’re in the middle of it.

Organisations come to us with various levels of understanding of what their problem might be. Whether or not you have a solid idea of what the problem is in your organisation, clear and impartial analysis is crucial for getting the full picture. It’s vital to identify the problem and understand it properly before constructing any solutions. At LKS Quaero, we start with defining the problem really well, in useful context.

Clients approach us with a number of different ideas about what’s happening. Perhaps they’ve identified the culture as a problem, or safety, or something else entirely. We keep digging down and asking “how do you know that’s the problem?” Often, this process leads to our clients realising that at the bottom they actually have a leadership issue. We say that leadership creates the culture and it’s the culture that delivers the results – good or bad. If you want to improve the results or tackle the symptoms of the problem, you need to look at the impact of the culture and the leadership.