13 Behaviors of Business Success

It takes twenty years to build your reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
—Warren Buffett, Chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

As Covey describes it, the 13 behaviors reflect both character and competence. This is valuable to understand because “the quickest way to decrease trust is to violate a behavior of character, while the quickest way to increase trust is to demonstrate a behavior of competence.”

Behavior #1: Talk Straight
What we say is true and forthcoming—not just technically correct. —Dell Inc.’s Code of Conduct  Straight talk is really about honesty. The ability and integrity to speak the truth with great clarity is essential for success today. Too much is happening too fast to be delayed by confusion or deception. Strong leadership is necessary to create a culture of trust. Straight talk from top management is essential for success.

Behavior #2: Demonstrate Respect

I try to treat people as human beings….If they know you care, it brings out the best in them.
—Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman, The Virgin Group
Demonstrating respect builds trust on all levels. Expansion into global markets brings exposure to new customs and manners that need to be understood and integrated. This creates the space for unparalleled innovation and collaboration.

Behavior #3: Create Transparency

Creating transparency involves telling the truth in a way that can be verified. This means not hiding mistakes and information. Leaders who come from a place of authenticity and transparency are rewarded with loyalty and trust.

Behavior #4: Right Wrongs

To be an effective leader, one must practice humility. Mistakes are expected in a dynamic, innovative company. And no one is immune from them. To admit mistakes and make restitution, when necessary, is a sign of great integrity.

Behavior #5: Show Loyalty

To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.—Steven M. R. Covey
To demonstrate and encourage loyalty, it is important to acknowledge the contributions of others and offer praise freely. Leaders who speak about people as though they were present and show respect for their privacy gain the trust of those who are present.

Behavior #6: Deliver Results

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
As a full participant in any organization, it is crucial to establish a track record of delivering results. However, it is also important to know what to deliver. This involves understanding how results will be implemented and making sure the results have value to the organization.
In a dynamic organization, individuals enjoy a lot more autonomy. Proactive behavior invigorates the system and moves the organization forward. It is good to underpromise and overdeliver.

Behavior #7: Get Better

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.—Alvin Toffler, American writer and futurist
A practice of continual learning is essential for the growth of both the organization and the individual. Improving skills and knowledge in your current area of expertise as well as learning through collaboration with other areas leads to exponential growth. Developing formal and informal feedback systems also supports learning.

Behavior #8: Confront Reality

Leaders need to be more candid with those they purport to lead. Sharing good news is easy. When it comes to the more troublesome negative news, be candid and take responsibility. Don’t withhold unpleasant possibilities and don’t pass off bad news to subordinates to deliver. Level with employees about problems in a timely fashion.—Jon Huntsman, chairman, Huntsman Chemical
When times are tough, confronting reality requires obligated courage. True leaders share the truth at all times and address the difficult issues directly.

Behavior #9: Clarify Expectations

When communicating within an organization, clarity of word and deed is very powerful. Effective communication and feedback are essential for ensuring that everyone understands what is expected. It is dangerous to assume otherwise.

Behavior #10: Practice AccountabilityBusiness success

Personal accountability fuels trust and mobilizes an organization for growth. Leaders must set the standard by holding themselves accountable. Then they are in integrity and can hold others accountable. Avoid blaming others when things go wrong.

Behavior #11: Listen First
I have found that the two best qualities a CEO can have are the ability to listen and to assume the best motives in others.—Jack M. Greenberg, chairman and CEO, McDonald’s
As discussed Chapter 3, truly listening is an art that takes intention and effort. But the value of this practice is significant. To understand someone, it is necessary to listen with your eyes, ears, and heart. Seek to learn what is important to others. This is the first step toward accessing the plethora of untapped wisdom in organizations.

Behavior #12: Keep Commitments
Stand up for what’s right, in small matters and large ones, and always do what you promise.
—Reuben Mark, chairman and CEO, Colgate-Palmolive
Covey calls this the “Big Kahuna” of all behaviors. It is a fundamental building block of trust and is essential for effective collaboration.
Behavior #13: Extend Trust
Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Great leaders demonstrate a propensity to trust. When members of an organization extend trust to others, it fosters a collaborative environment. Learn from those who break the bond of trust.

Business Success: Value of Trust

There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world—one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.

On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time. 
That one thing is trust.
—Steven M. R. Covey, Author of The Speed of Trust

 

Trust is a fundamental building block for organizations that seek to build a collaborative culture. Since power is dispersed and each area is interdependent, a breech of trust can undermine the integrity of the entire system.

trustAccording to Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, “Our market system depends on trust. Trust in the work of our colleagues and trust in the word of those with whom we do business.” Greenspan goes on to say that the honesty and integrity of a company are a function of the character of the chief executive officer (CEO). “If a CEO countenances managing reported earnings, that attitude will drive the entire accounting regime of the firm. If he or she instead insists on an objective representation of a company’s business dealings, that standard will govern recordkeeping and due diligence.”

In our complex business environment, trust is built through relationships. Specifically, our behaviors build or undermine trust. And our ability to communicate forms the foundation of those relationships. Margaret Wheatley and Byron Kellner-Rogers describe the importance of trust in organizations:

Relationships are another essential condition that engenders the organizations that we see. The forms of the organization bear witness to how people experience one another. In fear-filled organizations, impervious structures keep materializing. People are considered dangerous. They need to be held apart from one another.

But in systems of trust, people are free to create the relationships they need. Trust enables the system to open. The system expands to include those it had excluded. More conversations—more diverse and diverging views—become important. People decide to work with those from whom they had been separate.

In The Speed of Trust, Steven Covey discusses how trust is a new competitive advantage. In a business landscape where speed is essential, the presence of trust empowers leaders to eliminate many steps related to governance, due diligence, and so on. The organizations that depend on large volumes of data and employ Business Intelligence depend on the veracity or the data as well as the data analysts and architects.

Covey offers 13 behaviors that are based on enduring principles that govern success. They are based on personal credibility and integrity. And they apply to all areas of an organization as well as life in general.  Next week I will share some those 13 behaviors and my thoughts about them with you.

Feel free to share this blog with co-workers or friends and we always love your feedback in the comments section. 

Leadership Skills: Four Phases of Appreciative Inquiry

By asking positive questions, members of the organization begin to build a collective vision of what is possible. The future is designed through a self-organizing process that solicits the best from every member of the organization. The process generally consists of four phases.

appreciative inquiry
Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is based on the theory that “human systems are drawn towards their deepest and most frequent explorations.” This phase is characterized by interviews that are designed to determine the optimal capacity of the organization. In contrast to many discovery interviews that bring in outside consultants to uncover problems, the discovery phase is usually done in house with most members of the organization participating. It really becomes a “system-wide analysis of the positive core by its members.” As members of the organization are exposed to the possibilities expressed by other members, their level of appreciation and hope increases. The result is the discovery of themes and patterns.

Dream Phase

The dream phase guides participants into a transformational state by asking them to imagine what is possible for the organization. By tapping into the creative energy of the group, an imaginary future emerges for the organization. The dream usually contains “three elements: a vision of a better world, a powerful purpose, and a compelling statement of strategic intent.” As a result, participants feel a deeper connection and sense of shared purpose for their organization.

Design Phase

The power of the dream fuels the design phase. In a typical change process, the directive is top down and often met with great resistance. The design and strategy necessary to bring the dream into reality emerges out of the new system of cooperation, mutual respect, and shared vision. In most cases, participants enter the design phase with a desire to change.

Destiny Phase

Initially, the fourth phase was known as delivery because it was considered a more traditional stage of planning and implementation. However, after several years of working with the process, practitioners discovered that it felt more like a major transformation. Participants were realizing that their interpretation of the world has an effect on the process. As discussed in Chapter 2, their intention was creating their reality. So rather than focusing on planning and implementation, practitioners just let the participants guide the process. They completely gave up control. What seemed like a recipe for chaos turned into a perfect container for dynamic transformation and organization. Cooperrider and Whitney describe the Destiny Phase as follows:
Appreciative Inquiry accelerates the nonlinear interaction of organization breakthroughs, putting them together with historic, positive traditions and strengths to create a “convergence zone” facilitating the collective re-patterning of human systems. At some point, apparently minor positive discoveries connect in accelerating manner and quantum change, a jump from one state to the next that cannot be achieved through incremental change alone, becomes possible. What is needed, as the “Destiny Phase” of AI (Appreciated Inquiry) suggests, are the network-like structures that liberate not only the daily search into qualities and elements of an organization’s positive core but the establishment of a convergence zone for people to empower one another, to connect, cooperate, and co-create. Changes never thought possible are suddenly and democratically mobilized when people constructively appropriate the power of the positive core and…let go of accounts of the negative.
Appreciative Inquiry is successful because every member of the organization has an equal voice. This has the effect of breaking down common communication barriers and inspiring full participation. It does not require any exceptional knowledge. Each member is asked to share his or her view of past and present organizational competencies. “The focus is on achievements, assets, potentials, innovations, strengths, elevated thoughts, opportunities, benchmarks, high-point moments, lived values, traditions, strategic competencies, memorable stories, and expressions of wisdom.” The sharing of positive aspects brings the members into a sense of wholeness from which the insights, visions, and future dreams can emerge. Appreciative inquiry is based on the concept that every member has value in the process.

Business Success: Cultural Elements of Collaboration

For collaboration to flourish, the organization must take steps to create a collaborative culture. Evan Rosen (author of The Culture of Collaboration) suggests that there are 10 cultural elements of collaboration. Many of these elements are inherent qualities of an adaptive company:

Collaboration - Joined Hands1. Trust. Trust is a foundational feature of any team. Members who trust each other feel safe in sharing ideas. If people are afraid their ideas will be stolen or they will be criticized for mistakes, collaboration is difficult. Look for more discussion of trust later in the chapter.

2. Sharing. Some individuals resist sharing because they fear they will lose their value. It is important to demonstrate that by sharing, everyone’s value is increased.

3. Goals. Commonly created and shared goals are essential for vital collaboration.

4. Innovation. Collaboration stimulates innovation, which then fuels more collaboration.

5. Environment. The physical and virtual environment represents the nonverbal language of the company. Spaces that facilitate informal congregation lead to the natural sharing of ideas and issues. Virtual collaborative environments through technology advances are as important as real environments and are discussed in a later section.

6. Collaborative chaos. Chaos energizes the system. By facilitating the unstructured exchange of ideas, innovation flourishes.

7. Constructive confrontation. Respectful disagreement fuels the system to generate new ideas. When individuals feel safe to challenge each other’s ideas, innovation is unleashed.

8. Communication. Effective communication skills are fundamental to collaboration. Communication is the channel that builds trust while it facilitates inquiry and sharing.

9. Community. A sense of community is a natural outcome of collaboration. Shared goals, invigorating idea exchanges, and group problem solving build trust and community.

10. Value. Value from collaboration is realized in numerous ways. Companies have experienced business benefits, such as reduced processing times, shortened product development cycles, new markets identification, and more. There are also considerable cost savings realized through human benefits. When individuals feel engaged and valued as part of something larger than themselves, they have a more positive attitude about work. This leads to increased productivity, lower absenteeism, and more.

Stay tuned for more about implementing a culture of collaboration in your workplace.

Business Success: Principles of Dialogue Part 2

The past few weeks we have focused on communications and dialogue.  If you missed the articles, you can read them here.  Today we will finish up the practice and principles of dialogue. 

Business Leadership

The Practice of Suspending: “The Principle of Awareness”

• Suspend opinion and judgment, and the certainty that lie behind them.
• Acknowledge and observe thoughts and feelings as they arise without being compelled to act on them; avoid “shoulds.”
• Access your ignorance; recognize and embrace things you do not already know.
• Be courageous in the face of fear.
• Understand what is happening as it is happening; you do not hear and know by turning up the volume.
• Put on hold the temptation to fix, correct, or problem solve. Suspension allows us to inquire into what we observe.
• Question; one good question is better than many answers. Tolerate the tension to not knowing. Ask “What are we missing? What haven’t we said?”
• Resist holding onto positions that polarize. Be willing to expand the conversation to hold beliefs other than your own.

The Practice of Voicing: “The Principle of Unfoldment”

• Notice your reactions, suspend judgment, honor your intuition and cherish your choices. Listen to yourself.

• Be willing to be still.

• Be confident that what you are thinking is valid and relevant.

• Choose consciously before you speak. Ensure that what you say is related to you and not a directive to diminish, change, or dismiss the other.

• Be patient with your self and during silences. Trust the emptiness, the sense of not knowing what to say or do. Sometimes just beginning to speak without determining the words brings forth opportunity.

• In speaking you can create. Give yourself permission to voice what is in the moment.

Maintain the Relationship: Look for the Similarities in the Differences

• Clarify intentions.

• Acknowledge each participant’s uniqueness, perceptions, beliefs.

• Create a container, an intentional space for safe communication.

• Hear and understand me. Identify what you want.
• Even if you disagree, please don’t make me wrong. Support dreaming. No one gets to     be wrong.
• Acknowledge the greatness within me.
• Remember to look for my loving intentions. Deepen the listening.
• Tell me the truth with compassion.

• Attend. Pay attention, observe, be aware.

 Ask. Gather information, withhold criticism, be respectful, honor the self.

• Act. Authentically do something that is consciously determined to be the best of all. Offer support; provide feedback. Maintain connection even if you disagree.

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Business Success Skills: High Quality Relationships

High-quality relationships are the lifeblood of an organization that seeks to leverage complexity and emergent knowledge. Once a set of solid communication practices are in place, relationships begin to form. To use these relationships effectively, however, the dissemination of crucial information, such as the goals of the business and the knowledge needed to attain those goals, is essential. As relationships form through effective communication practices, a culture of mutual respect will emerge.business_relationship

Shared Goals

Traditionally, goals are shared within functional teams. The overall goals of the organization, however, are less well known. In an organization with a highly interdependent framework, each member of the organization must focus on the overall goal. Since the framework is designed to allow structure and process to emerge, the shared goal of the organization is the unifying force that empowers that emergence.

Shared Knowledge

Sharing knowledge goes hand in hand with shared goals for any organization using a highly interdependent framework. Knowledge shared between teams from different functional backgrounds creates connections that foster cross-functional support while reducing competition and conflict.

Mutual Respect

Highly interdependent organizations thrive on mutual respect. Effective communication practices as well as shared knowledge and goals go a long way to create a culture of mutual respect. Within a respectful dialogue, differences in opinions unleash energy and creativity. Problems are minimized when the involved parties feel respected. This behavior is best learned by watching those in positions of power.

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Business Success: High Quality Communications

High-quality communication comes in many forms, all of which play an important role.business leadership

Frequent Communication

Effective communication is necessary to exchange information in highly interdependent organizations. Frequent communications are important for building familiarity and trust, which leads to increased sensitivity and responsiveness.

Timely Communication

Organizations that thrive on turning information into knowledge understand that timing is everything. As speed to respond has grown in importance, delays can lead to waste and increased costs. Timely communication facilitates the smooth transition of information in highly interdependent organizations.

Accurate Communication

In an information-driven economy, accurate communication is essential. However, as an integral part of relational coordination, accuracy often suffers when organizations become more complex and greater speed is encouraged. Business Intelligence systems provide a solid framework to ensure accuracy.

Problem-Solving Communication

Highly interdependent organizational processes can run flawlessly until a problem arises. However, when members of these complex organizations face problems and are not skilled in dealing with them, conflict often arises, leading to blame and loss of communication. Organizations that focus on developing communication skills will benefit from the increased contacts and depth of connection.

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Seven Realities that Jeopardize Business Survival: Part II

In Information Revolution, Jim Davis, Gloria J. Miller, and Allan Russell discuss the

message-in-a-bottle “Seven Realities that Jeopardize Business Survival.” Each reality illuminates the need for new business models as well as styles of leadership. Here is Part II.

Business Reality 4: The Only Constant Is Permanent Volatility

This is a common theme but bears repeating: The company that is most agile and adaptable will gain and maintain a competitive advantage. Instead of just relying on past results to predict the future, companies need to tap into current trends through social networking, Web analysis, and employee feedback.

Business Reality 5: Globalization Helps and Hurts

Globalization presents many advantages, especially to small companies seeking a worldwide presence. Any company that is connected to the Web can strategically partner, outsource, or insource with relative ease. The downside is increased complexity when dealing with international languages, standards, and cultures. Strong communication skills are essential for navigating this terrain.

Business Reality 6: The Penalties of Not Knowing Are Harsher than Ever

In the new era of billion-dollar corporate scandals, personal accountability at the highest levels is not only prudent, it is now legally mandated. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was designed to systematize ethical behavior. In addition to the need for strong, honest leadership, information systems to handle this complex business data are essential.

Business Reality 7: Information Is Not a By-Product of Business; It Is the Lifeblood of Business

The seventh business reality is a direct result of the first six. Due to shrinking business cycles, level playing fields, changing rules, volatility, globalization, and the cost of ignorance, information has become the lifeblood of many businesses. Today, accurate, accessible, actionable information is necessary to compete in the global economy. There are strong pressures to achieve more results while spending less time and money. Companies need up-to-the-minute information about their customers, suppliers, competitors, and markets.

These realities also point to the need for new business models as well as for visionary leadership. With the complexity of business today, decisioning throughout the entire organization has to operate like a well-oiled machine. The sections to come expand on optimal organizational structures as well as the core competencies, or success factors, necessary to operate at this level.

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Seven Realities that Jeopardize Business Survival: Part I

In Information Revolution, Jim Davis, Gloria J. Miller, and Allan Russell discuss the “Seven Realities that Jeopardize Business Survival.”[i] Each reality illuminates the need for new business models as well as styles of leadership. business_survival_life_ring

Business Reality 1: Business Cycles Are Shrinking

In today’s Web-enabled economy, speed within all parts of the business model is the great differentiator. To accommodate changing markets and consumer preferences, product development and testing that used to take years has been shrunk to months or even weeks. Today, the first to market often enjoys the competitive edge.

This shortened cycle challenges managers to make decisions with less time for consideration or analysis. As a result, they must depend on a combination of accurate, actionable information and intuition. And their decision must be in alignment with the overall strategy of the company.

Business Reality 2: You Can Only Squeeze So Much Juice Out of an Orange

The goal of improving operational efficiency drove a majority of the investment in the last decade. Initially the returns were high and provided a competitive advantage. However, now that enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is available, the field has been leveled. The next step is greater innovation and agility.

Business Reality 3: The Rules Have Changed; There Is No More “Business as Usual”

The days of following a typical path to business success are over. The same factors apply: profitability, customer satisfaction, stakeholder value, and competition. However, the path to success is very different and is fraught with new challenges:

  • Mergers and acquisitions have hindered agility and cohesiveness.
  • Productivity advancements have increased expectations from both customers and management.
  • Advancements in IT have overwhelmed the abilities of some companies to manage and leverage the knowledge.
  • The technologies that were introduced as the key to success often failed because the human issues were overlooked.

Stay Tuned for Part II and come back for more business intelligence and change management focused blogs by The OLIVIAGroup! Feel free to comment with questions, insights, or additions to this post. To receive alerts when the next blog is published, click on the RSS feed at the right of the page to subscribe.

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[i]             Jim Davis, Gloria J. Miller, Allan Russell, Information Revolution (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006), xv.

Business Success: Morphing Current Businesses

Business Success: Morphing Current Businesses

Many traditional businesses are adapting their business models based on customer behavior. Amazon.com, the online bookseller, has grown into an Internet giant while many brick-and-mortar bookstores have closed. The publishing world has seen a change as authors enter the market independently using print-on-demand services.new-business-model

Many small businesses are now gaining access to world markets. And larger, more established retail businesses, especially those with a traditional catalog presence, are creating sophisticated shopping experiences for their customers on the Web.[i]

Why are Amazon.com, Lexus, and Disney partnering with lesser-known online companies to sell products? According to Wiredmagazine’s Ian Mount, the large companies are moving toward the manufacturing-as-a-service model to stay competitive. It has become necessary to compete with the small entrepreneurs who are producing and distributing products on demand. The production of products has become a commodity.  Because of the low cost of entry, anyone with a good idea can compete in this market.

New businesses that leverage this model are popping up everywhere, and many have global reach. Jeffrey Wegesin, a furniture designer, advertises his designs on the Web. Upon receiving an order, he contracts with an on-demand manufacturing service in New Zealand to create and ship each piece. He has no inventory or other up-front costs. His business is pure profit.

Designers of clothing, jewelry, robots, you name it! The model is inherently charming because of its efficiency and simplicity. Individual musicians and authors can market their goods without any up-front investment. With little more than a product idea and a good design, anyone can become an instapreneur.[ii]

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[i]             Bradley and Nolan, Capturing Value in the Network Era, 7-8

[ii]             Ian Mount, “Upside of the Downturn: 5. The Rise of the Instapreneur: Manufacture and Sell Anything in Minutes,” Wired (April 2008), 129