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Everyone a Leader – Another Fad?

Writing in the August 17th, 2009 issue of Business Week, McGill University Management studies Professor Henry Mintzberg laments that today’s organizations are overled and undermanaged. Professor Mintzberg says that . . . “we should define ‘leadership’ as management practiced well.”

leadership richard lewine

As an organization development consultant I frequently encounter this situation. And, in my opinion, much of the fault lies with our profession and the media. Leadership “coaches” ply their wares on the web, in business publications, at networking events, and anywhere else they can find an audience. How all these people, many in their early 20s got to be “coaches” boggles my mind. I’m not saying that these folks can’t be helpful. An objective viewpoint can be valuable.

Without life experience and some “seasoning”, however, I’m hard pressed to believe that the CEO of a multi-national can be coached by a neophyte with a “certification” in Leadership Coaching.

Back to the point of “undermanaged”. It appears that a high percentage of consultants are spending their time and effort, at the behest of the organization’s “leaders”, counseling mid-level and supervisory management people on leadership skills, not management skills. Many of these people were promoted from “superworker” to supervisor without an ounce of management development or training. When they left work on Friday, they were part of the workforce.

When they arrived at work on Monday, they were magically, “the boss”. And they are now getting leadership coaching? It’s no wonder that Professor Mintzberg is unhappy. Particularly in the SMB arena, the fad of the month, quarter, year is leadership. CEOs exhort their managers to be strong
leaders; to “show your people the way,” to “lead by example.” Many CEOs and Presidents get caught up in the book trap.

They read the latest and greatest book on leadership principles that claims to be the panacea for all organizational ills. The management team is directed to read the book and “be prepared to discuss it at our next management meeting.” This is preparation for leadership? In six months the next solution will hit the bookstore shelves and the cycle repeats. The first one is long forgotten. But, the management team doesn’t forget that the organizational leader switched his allegiance from author A to author B.

What ever direction is given is heavily discounted, if not ignored. Paraphrasing John Kotter of Harvard, I believe that “management is about dealing with complexity”. In a managerial role, that would mean implementing, executing, setting and tracking goals, developing people’s competencies, training through delegation, managing projects, establishing systems, and much more “running the business” stuff. After all, isn’t that why we even have “managers”? If an organization ran without human intervention, there would be no need for anyone except the founder. Who would that person be leading?

Our language also contributes to this confounding circumstance; as do our societal values. Being a “leader” sounds more powerful than being a “manager”. Status bestowed by title. Easy to do. Pleases all concerned. Creates myriad problems. It brings us right back to undermanaged. If I believe that as a leader I’m supposed to tell others what to do, to only analyze, review, provide guidance, then how does the management of the system or systems get done? My coach tells me that I’m a leader. OK, how about I learn how to manage first. I’m paid to get results and my people are giving me fits! I believe we are confusing our management people. We ask them to get measurable results that ultimately impact the bottom line. (Non-profits also have a bottom line, called surplus). We give them the authority to make decisions that both cost money and make money.

We ask them to manage processes and people that are engaged in productive behavior. They are supposed to appraise the performance of their people to identify both areas of need and praise, on which are based bonuses, pay raises, promotions, training, development, etc. They are asked to identify better ways to get things done more quickly, at less cost and at higher quality. They are told that the customer must be satisfied. All of these are elements of the anfractuous nature of an organizational entity. They are dealing with the complexity of a socio-technical system.

This is a full time job that requires one’s full attention if it is to be done well. Now we tell them, “while you’re at it, be a leader, too.” Different skills, different attitudes, different expectations. Do we want these people to produce results, or to carry the flag? Tossing the baton and playing the trombone simultaneously is a bit difficult. We need leaders. We also need managers. Some people have the requisite attributes for both functions. Most do not. It may be true that both skill sets can be learned. Let’s be sure that one is in place and being implemented effectively and consistently before we impose a requirement for the other.

Inspired to grow your leadership skills? Enroll in our next workshop!

Executive Showcase: Effective Personal Productivity

Join a small group of executives and business owners who are looking to sharpen their leadership skills, improve personal effectiveness, and clarify critical growth strategies.

Organizational Transformation: What Is it?

organizational transformation

Organizational Transformation

Organizations are containers within which people of varying disciplines practice their trades. Organizations are names on paper in a courthouse or law office. Organizations are only as effective at delivering results as allowed by the people that comprise it.

For an organization to deliver better performance, “enhanced results”, and more revenue and/or profits, the people that lead the organization must 1) behave differently, 2) perform differently, 3) converse differently and 4) expect differently. Without this change, the current state becomes the future state and everything remains the same. Nothing changes.

The moment an organization’s leader becomes aware of his/her need for personal leadership development is the moment that her organization begins evolving. The leader needs to evolve or transform from her current state in order to lead the organization to the desired state. Even though the process may be complex, this journey will lead to a more effective organization as an outcome.

Harvard’s John P. Kotter says that, “leadership is about coping with change; management is about coping with complexity.” Both are required if transformation is to occur.

Organizational Transformation calls for a process that looks something like this:

1- Leader’s Personal acknowledgment that he/she must make some changes. →
2- Vision building, which then requires →
3- Strategy Formulation, supported by →
4- Executable Goal Systems, requiring →
5- Leader/Manager Development, that produces →
6- Enhanced effectiveness of the organization.

The outcomes of this process include increased organizational planning and deeper leadership development at all levels; supporting the evolution of the organization from its current state, to the desired state at some predetermined time in the future.

Organizational Transformation is a long term process, not a quick fix. During our multi-year, client focused effort, incremental improvements show up along the way as we move on the timeline from “now till then.” Transformation to a new, desired state, however, isn’t recognizable as such, until the aggregate outcomes of the six processes above coalesce into a new form.

Beginning the Process

Regardless of the entry point chosen to begin an evolutionary process, it’s the Leader’s awareness of the need for change that initiates and supports that effort. That awareness and personal acknowledgement of, “I am responsible for what this organization is, and I must take the necessary action to make it what it can be,” must occur, or nothing else of import will happen. Everyone else in the organization can say “no” but only the leader can say “yes.”

Different processes can run simultaneously when transforming an organization. For example, vision building and articulation are addressed by the leadership group while those same leaders work with managers on personal growth efforts. These conversations help all the players envision the evolutionary nature of the journey on which they all have embarked.

Running the Business Needs to Continue

This doesn’t mean that everyone stops running the business while they “think about the future.” These high level, strategic initiatives may be spread out over many months, allowing the leadership group to continue working on day-to-day duties as required. The difficult balance of paying the bills while creating the future is new to most groups of people within organizations but it can be learned!

When it comes to the transformation process, not everything is an emergency. Developing an appreciation for priorities and applying these principles to the daily effort of managing, allows people to learn to say “no.” This lesson alone can have a remarkable effect on the amount of time that can be allotted to “future think.” It has the added benefit of putting the person who asked for that time in the position of making their own decision!

Creating an organizational climate in which it’s OK to say no and in which it’s OK to make mistakes, (errors in judgment) is a daunting task. The pervasive dysfunction of “it’s not OK to be wrong” has stultified the transformation efforts of many organizations. A no-risk culture almost guarantees a no-growth organization. Only by taking risk can an individual or organization progress. Like the turtle, it can only move ahead by “sticking its neck out.”

On Being Ready

One of our long-term clients employed about 100 people when we started with them. They had been in business for over 20 years. There were no clear goals or strategy. Meetings were complaint and “pity me” sessions. It was a crisis-to-crisis environment in which every customer-facing person believed that if they didn’t get an immediate response from their manager, the customer would be lost. A full 50% of the people in the organization were in “touch the customer” roles every day. Chaos reigned supreme. Additionally, the leadership group was of the same mind, so the myth was perpetuated consistently and constantly. One of the consequences was a much lower profit than was expected.

After our initial intervention, which consisted of three days off-site with the owners/leaders, and several months of on-site contact with others in the organization, a small change began to occur. The mid-level people continued their dramatic requests but, the leaders began to say things like, “not now,” “what do you think you ought to do?” and other similar responses. Over a 3 year period, a series of leader/manager development programs were instituted, annual goal setting sessions became the norm and a clear long-term vision was articulated and published. Several years later the owners realized they had transformed beyond the roles of owner/operators. They sold the business for a handsome sum to a much larger organization in a closely related field and began pursuing their other, individual passions.

Potential Outcomes

Organizational Transformation is about evolution, not revolution. Patience and understanding of the human condition are necessary for the consistent support and effort required to nurture this process and the organization’s people. GE’s Bill Conaty, retired head of HR, referring to GE’s famous, or infamous cutting of the bottom 10% says, “. . .We have evolved from being anal about what percent have to fall into each category. But you have to know who are the least effective people on your team–and then you have to do something about them.” GE’s Training, education and development programs are legendary. They too, have transformed.

©2011-2018 Richard S Lewine/RSL Consulting Group, LLC

A Good Idea is Not Enough to Ensure Success

This article originally appeared on The Exec Ranks blog.

I’m not the first person to suggest that understanding why anything is done should be the driving force in an endeavor. Well known names such as Steve Jobs and Simon Sinek come to mind as two important figures in our society who have declared why as a prerequisite for success.

Let’s transfer that concept to the arena of a business startup, or new product introduction, or move to larger quarters, or any number of other human efforts. Before working to articulate a vision, or formulate strategy, or try to figure out how to go to market, or build a system of goals, or hire the first person, the initiator of the effort would do well to determine the real WHY.

Getting Started

Start with WHY represented in a statement of Mission that is understandable to other people. Not a wall poster mission that one can buy, and not a one liner that says “we will be the best” or “exceed customer expectations.” Rather, infuse the Mission with the values, philosophy and purpose behind the decision to undertake the challenge, whatever it is.

Why is it important to you, the owner of the initiative, to make this happen? Why are you willing to overcome obstacles and meet the inevitable challenges that will arise? Why will anyone else be glad that you created the state, thing or condition that will result from your effort? If it is a business, why would anyone pay for the deliverable? Why will you be better off and why will someone else be better off, (not necessarily financially, but in a human way) if they partake of your offering?

The Challenge

“Good” ideas are all around us in never implemented form. A good idea is not enough “why” to ensure success. All of the above “whys” and more will determine how success will come and how it will be recognized. The criteria by which success is measured will be determined by the degree of clarity present in the myriad answers to the questions of WHY. This may be the greatest challenge of all.

Comments? You can contact me directly here.

The Renaissance of Pompano Beach: An RSL Consulting Group Update

Pompano Beach Florida is undergoing a renaissance.

RSL Consulting Group, LLC is on the front lines with City of Pompano Beach employees who are making it happen. Downtown Pompano is a multi-year, Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) project to revitalize and upgrade the downtown Pompano Beach area. (view PDF here) Pompano Beach is midway between Miami and Palm Beach, placed strategically to serve the needs of business and tourism for the whole East coast of South Florida.

South Florida at night, from space

Our Purpose

To support the growth and sustainability of small and midsize business as the backbone of the economy, through the discovery and development of the untapped potential of the people in these organizations.

Our Mission

To become and remain the “go to” resource for management, leadership and organization development for the SMB market in Southern Florida; the Palm Beach to Miami region. We provide our clients with proven methods and concepts that support the achievement of their personal and business goals.

How we became involved

We moved here in late 2015 from of Greenwich CT, bringing our expertise and 38 years of business consulting experience. . .and not much else. We didn’t know anyone in the area, so the first move was to join the Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce. This turned out to be the linchpin of our marketing strategy that enabled our growth and development in the region.

Meet Richard! February 28th, 2018

coffee and bagoals with richard lewine pompano beach south florida

Click for more info

As we got to know the business leaders in the community through our activity as an Ambassador for the Pompano Beach Chamber, we were welcomed as a potential provider of organization development solutions for the small and mid-size market.  Our expertise in the area of management development and organizational and personal  goal setting technology became known and sought after.

Early in 2017, the City of Pompano Beach City Manager responded to one of our emails and asked us to present our offering in a meeting with his Assistant City Managers and himself. We made our presentation and subsequently were awarded a contract for a pilot program. If it went well, we would be asked to continue with the process. On January 18th 2018 we kicked off our second group of middle managers in a 5 month management development program. Apparently, it worked!

What we have learned

We have learned about the regional needs for leadership and management development in the business and non-profit arenas through consistent networking at Chamber events and other venues. Our Purpose and Mission clearly define who we are for clients, prospects, vendors and the various communities we serve, including the people of Pompano Beach.

As we go forward in 2018, our commitment to delivering excellence and client satisfaction supports the continued growth of the City of Pompano Beach.

Richard Lewine - Pompano Beach 2018 - management, leadership, personal productivity, organization growth

Richard Lewine – President, RSL Consulting Group

Making A Strategic Vision Real

After a CEO and his or her leadership group has articulated a strategic Vision of the organization’s future, along with supporting strategy, an analysis of the organization’s current capabilities with respect to implementation of these strategies must occur.

Based on management’s assessment, the capabilities required for strategic implementation are then determined. The disparity between these two sets of capabilities will usually be caused by a group of “critical issues,” circumstances, systems, procedures, methods, policies, people, etc., which need to be modified, added or eliminated.

Addressing these critical issues begins the process of converting the strategic vision into operational goals that push the essence of the Vision down into the organization. This makes it possible for everyone to affect the ultimate outcome – realization of the Vision.

How to:

  1. The leadership group first clearly identifies those issues that must be addressed to move from the current situation to the required situation.
  2. Each member of the leadership group takes responsibility for their respective strategic categories.
  3. Critical issues in each strategic category are assigned to senior management with accountability for resolution.
  4. With great deliberateness, the leadership group begins the process of setting long range goals that precede the end point of the Vision, e.g. 3 years, 5 years, etc. These goals are drawn from the required situations which were determined earlier in the process. That is, these long range goals must be accomplished and the required situations must exist if the Vision is to be realized as presented. The critical issues are obstacles to be overcome in the process of achieving these goals.
  5. When the long range goals have been created, the group may more easily identify shorter term, annual goals, often represented by solutions to the obstacles in the long range goals. These shorter term goals are then handled in the normal goal setting process of the organization.

The two sets of goals described above are to be created within the guidelines established by the Vision with its supporting strategies; and governed by the philosophies, values and behaviors set forth in the organization’s statement of Mission. A constancy of purpose and consistency of performance will be ensured by frequent reference to the above two documents.

Richard Lewine is an Organization Development consultant in Pompano Beach Florida

Emmy Winning News Anchor Donna Jordan-Mitchell co-Facilitating Leadership For Women(R) Course in South Florida

12/05/2018 – Pompano Beach, FL

Across the country, women are speaking out in support of each other like never before. In reaction, the climate of the workplace is ripe for change.

A recent article in the New Yorker claims “The dramatic imbalance in pay and power has created the conditions for abuse. More and more, women are pushing for change.”

Donna jordan-mitchellJoining the push for that change, Donna Jordan-Mitchell, Emmy award-winning former WHIO news anchor, announced today that she will be co-facilitating a new Leadership For Women® course for women in business in Pompano Beach, FL.

Jordan-Mitchell is an Emmy award-winning television and former anchor/reporter for WHIO-TV, a CBS affiliate in Dayton Ohio, where she broadcast the evening news. Jordan won a regional Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Anchoring News in 1993 and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Writing in 1997.

Supported by the Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce, Leadership for Women® is designed to equip participants with the tools and skills to realize their potential and to build outstanding personal leadership qualities.

Donna’s co-facilitator, Richard Lewine is founder and president of RSL Consulting Group, specializing in organization development for small to mid-size business since 1977.

“Working with [Richard] required some real soul searching, and it was at times challenging, but the return was incredible. I have used the skills I learned in every aspect of my life. It was an outstanding experience.” said Mimi Kehan, one of Lewine’s former CEO clients.

The course runs from January 9th, 2018 to June 5th, 2018. Women in all fields and levels of leadership are encouraged to register.

For more information and to register, visit the official course web page.

Richard Lewine
+1 (954) 366-1158

Invest In Yourself

Over 35 years using the technology of goal setting to help individuals and organizations discover and develop their untapped potential!

Are you. . .

  • Working on your own in sales?
  • An entrepreneur with no one to talk to about your problems?
  • CEO of an enterprise with growing pains?
  • Falling off the performance wagon?

Do you. . .

  • want some guidance in setting goals for your future?
  • want someone to hold you accountable?
  • want to work with someone with an objective point of view?
  • want a confidant?

Identify your five greatest challenges and the goals you want to achieve to meet them. Then we’ll figure out how to measure your progress toward accomplishing them.  Go here to download this one page Win-Win document. Fill this out, call me at 215-872-6025 or email and we can chat about how I may be helpful to you.




Manage Systems. . . Not People

While working with a client on the clarification of a job description, the conversation turned to expectations of outcomes. “How much of what by when” type of outcomes along with the systems used to generate them. I observed that since we were actually in the midst of an all encompassing organization development project of which this task was just one element, now would be a good time to examine my client’s expectations of her management people.

As is generally true, discussions about managers and management are based on the assumption that managers are supposed to manage the people who report to them as described in the organization structure/chart. In my experience of over 35 years in this field of OD consulting, this has been the conventional wisdom. Let’s look more closely at how and why this is a norm that is fraught with landslides and potholes.

Individuals are just that, unique. Each of us is motivated by our own needs and desires. A manager is hard pressed to satisfy the needs of myriad individuals and “manage” them like a herd of cattle. The manager can, however, manage the systems that the people use to accomplish the goals of the organization. He/she can ensure the availability of required resources, provide training, education and development opportunities to help the people discover and develop their untapped potential. He or she can clearly communicate organizational requirements and expectations of performance, enabling the individuals to live up to their commitments in their domains of responsibility.

If the people in the organization have been effectively matched to their jobs, and the execution systems are designed appropriately, then the outcomes expected will be realized if the manager focuses on his or her obligation of managing the systems. 

My client got  it! The Job description now points to another document that clearly defines the organizational goals and the various systems and components that enable measurable criteria to be used in evaluating the effectiveness of the systems and the people who use them. 

Managing the complexity of organizational systems while developing people’s potential for improved performance is a daunting task. Let’s not add the burden of expecting one person to manage another. That unrealistic expectation is a predetermined resentment.

Achieve Organizational Transformation by Embracing Change and Complexity

transform your thinking for organizational transformation

Organizations are only as effective at delivering results as allowed by the people that constitute its dynamic existence. Organizations as entities, are nothing more than a container within which people of varying disciplines ply their trades. Organizations are only names on paper in a courthouse or law office. So, in order to achieve organizational transformation, you need only to focus on the people.

For an organization to deliver “better performance”, “enhanced results”, “more revenue and/or profits”, the people that are the organization must behave differently, perform differently, converse differently, expect differently. Without this change, the current state becomes the future state… everything remains the same.

The moment an organization leader becomes aware of his/her need for personal leadership development, that organization will begin evolving. The leader needs to evolve from her current state in order to lead her organization to the desired results. Only then will the organization begin its evolutionary journey. Even though the outcome may be complex, this journey will lead to a more effective organizational outcome.

Harvard’s John P. Kotter says that, “leadership is about coping with change; management is about coping with complexity.”

Evolutionary Transformation calls for a process that looks something like this:

1) Leader’s Personal acknowledgment that he/she must make some changes (prerequisite for success!). This leads to →

2) Vision building which then requires →

3) Strategy Formulation supported by →

4) Executable Goal Systems requiring →

5) Leader/Manager Development that produces →

6) Enhanced overall organizational effectiveness.

The outcomes of this process include organizational planning and leadership development at all levels which yield the desired results… evolving from what the organization is at the moment of the leader’s recognition of the organization’s current state, to the desired state at some predetermined time in the future.

See how an effective system of goals can transform an entire organization…

The Real Value of a Job Profile Evaluation

How one company changed the meaning of customer appreciation.

Of the questions I receive from prospects regarding our Profile Evaluation System for job matching, by far the most common is “How do I know it will work?”

Generally, it’s a difficult question to answer for someone who hasn’t experienced the value themselves. If a potential client is truly interested in the system, but has doubts about it’s effectiveness, I’ll often propose that we set up a Profile for them, in order to show them how effective profiling can really be.

If I can get them to sit down and run through our evaluation system (as a future employee would), I know they will be sold! A client of mine once called it “One of the most insightful hours in my entire career.

In truth however, it doesn’t really matter if it appears to work… What really matters is if it ACTUALLY works.

The following is a wonderful email I received from a long time client, who until not to long ago, was skeptical about our Profile Evaluation System. They truly gave a whole new meaning to customer appreciation.

Client Experience…

“Approximately one year ago we acquired another business.  The business was located hundreds of miles away and it was unlikely that any of the employees would be willing to move.  For that reason, we needed to hire several individuals, train them in a new application, and have them ready to man a help desk, all within three months.  Following our now ‘chiseled in granite’ policy, no offers were made until the individual had been Profiled and the Profile clearly showed the prospective employee met our standards.”

“After six months, we sent a questionnaire to all of our new customers and asked them for their appraisal of our efforts.  Below are a few of the comments we received. Of the almost 100 responses we received, there was not one negative comment.”

“I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all of the help and support that has received recently from your organization…
…Additionally, Jim was able to make the batch process run as a cron job.  This is something that no one at the ‘old  organization’ could ever do. Believe me, this accomplishment was no small feat.  Jim is to be commended!”

“I want to express my appreciation of the work that your organization is doing to fix/improve…
…I do not usually compliment vendors.  Being responsible for capital investment projects, finding competent vendors is difficult.  As far as your organization goes, I am impressed.”

“Much improved communication to your customers (us)”

“Identified issues with  software and proactively take steps to inform customers and correct the issue(s) in a timely fashion either through patch(s) or software releases”

“A HelpDesk who actually calls you back when they say they will and not getting a busy signal or voice mail”

“…has never told us ‘I don’t know what to tell you’ which was a standard line from before was the primary support.  I actually have a high degree of confidence now in support that I did not have before.”

“Don’t stop what you’re doing now . . . . Its such a good difference we don’t ever want to see anything resembling our old support.  We are judging others by standards has demonstrated and continues to display.  They’re a tough act to follow”

“These responses tell, far more eloquently than I could, how well our employees are doing.  One of the key reasons for hiring these individuals was because of what we saw in their Profiles.”

“If you would like to verify what you have read in this document is true, please ask Rich Lewine for my name and telephone number and call me.  I will be happy to talk with you further about our experiences.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

To have one the most insightful hours of your career… Click Here.

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