admin on April 14th, 2009

Scott Kress is an accomplished mountaineer, keynote speaker and President of both Summit Training and Frontier Team Building.

Summit Training has worked with hundreds of Fortune 500 hundred companies over the past 12 years to develop and deliver experiential training programs across North America and overseas.

For 10 years Frontier Team Building has helped guide teams to a new frontier of effectiveness through innovative team building programs.

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admin on January 8th, 2013

The 8th and final competency separating merely good from great leaders is, according to recent research by Korn/Ferry Lominger, ‘Managing Vision and Purpose’.

To many people, the development of a company or departmental Vision and Purpose (also known as ‘mission’) seems like a light and fluffy assignment. Most organizations have a Vision and Purpose, but few use them to their full potential.

Vision and mission statements should be more than a plaque on the wall. When done right, and when genuinely understood by employees across the organization, they provide guidance in almost every decision made. They resonate with people’s values, connect their day to day work to the greater organizational picture and align individual efforts across divisions.

As always, the development and use of these tools is deliberate and conscious. You must lead the processes of crafting the mission and vision statements, and the processes of sharing them. You must help others explore the vision and mission to fully understand them, and to understand their roles in fulfilling them. You must be a change leader. This means, ‘walking the talk’, motivating and inspiring everyone (including the resisters), removing barriers and recognizing even the small successes along the way.

There are three related strategic concepts that organizations commonly express, including purpose (i.e., mission), vision and values.

• A mission statement describes the fundamental purpose of a group – why it exists and who it serves. It should be short, powerful and, usually, timeless in the sense that it fulfills ongoing needs of the clients. Mission statements may be renewed and refreshed, but the underlying purpose can remain valid for decades. For instance, a construction company might have the mission to “design and build safe, efficient transportation infrastructure for people with places to go.” Transportation methods may change from cars to trains over time but, in all likelihood, this company will always find a transportation “need” to be met with “safe, efficient infrastructure”.
• Values are important beliefs that are shared among the stakeholders of an organization. Values drive culture and priorities. Interestingly, organizations often seek to discover their shared core values, not create them, since adults usually walk into an organization with their basic values already formed. A clear understanding of shared values is very important to guide day-to-day decision making at every level within an organization.
• A vision statement paints a picture of your destination over the long term (usually about 3-5 years). It can describe what you want to achieve (your big goal) and, sometimes, who you want to become as an individual or team. It is ambitious yet achievable (unlike your mission, which is never quite completed). It represents the planting of a flag in the ground with the strong statement: this is where we are going. A vision statement does not tell you how you will get there (there may be many possible routes), but it provides the direction of travel. It provides inspiration and a call to action. It must be brief, powerful, passionate, easy to remember and easy to communicate to others. The construction company with the mission described in the first bullet might have a vision of “becoming the number one highway construction company in the country by 2016”.

Don’t skip this critical step and make sure you have a plan to fully utilize what you develop. Contact Summit to see what we can do to help.

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admin on January 4th, 2013

According to Korn/Ferry Lominger, the ability to build effective teams is a critical leadership competency. It has been proven time and time again that effective teams get more done and make better decisions than individuals working in isolation. It has also been proven that, just because you put a group of high performing individuals together, you are not guaranteed a high performing team.

Building an effective team is, once again, largely the job of the leader in the sense that he or she initiates, drives and monitors the process. Done well, this is a very deliberate and conscious process that involves:
1. Creating a vision of what high performance will look like
2. Creating an action plan to get there
3. Periodically reflecting to gage success, and
4. Making adjustments where necessary.

Since engagement and commitment of all members are fundamental prerequisites of good team work, the leader must seek to involve the team in all of the above steps. A leader who does this, connects to the powerful drivers of personal values, sense of purpose and autonomy.

As a leader, you can:
• Create and share your vision
• Know what inspires and motivates the team and each individual
• Promote innovation and creativity
• Make sure you understand each individual and their personal needs
• Move management and rewards from individual to team-based
• Build a strong foundation and positive relationships through team building activities
• Provide training for essential team skills such as communications, conflict management, change management, trust, time management, etc.
• Understand and leverage the diversity of personal styles in your team, and help team members appreciate their differences
• Engage a team coach
• Remove barriers to success

Give us a call to talk about building the performance of your team. We run sessions to teach leaders how to develop their teams, and to help groups of individuals understand how to consciously develop themselves into high performing teams.

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admin on December 17th, 2012

The sixth critical leadership competency identified by Korn/Ferry Lominger is ‘Strategic Agility’. Strategic agility is the ability to look into the future and to select the right strategy to lead to your long term personal, team or organizational success.

If you want to have a great future, you need to plan for a great future. Start by making time for strategic planning. Take it seriously. It is not just about extending your 3 year plan to 5 years along the same trajectory. The world is changing at an alarming pace. You need to respond thoughtfully and creatively in step with or, ideally, ahead of the changes.

To do this, bring together key people from across your organization for a strategic planning initiative. Perhaps launch it with a retreat lasting a few days. Remember, this is about creating and driving change. Don’t just focus on current issues, but look to the future. Re-visit your enduring mission and your core values. Create a compelling vision of where you want to be in 3 to 5 years. Use tools such as a ‘SWOT’ or ‘force field’ analysis to better understand current realities and trends in your environment. Identify your strategic priorities – your best bets – that will lead to your vision. Alternate between creative processes that will generate lots of new ideas, and critical processes that will narrow down the options, leaving only the best. Then identify actions that will lead to your ideal future. Create enough detail in your strategic document that it provides clear direction for the annual or quarterly departmental work plans that flow from it. If it lacks detailed actions, timelines and ‘champions’, it will not be implemented once you get back to the office.

Our strategic planning retreats help you develop direction and to create a plan. Do not leave this to chance.

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admin on December 13th, 2012

There is more to team success than leadership … team members do play a critical role … however, great leadership can make even a dysfunctional team great. How? Great leaders are very conscious in their approach and use what we at Summit Training call the “Deliberate Success” approach.

Deliberate Success involves developing yourself into the great leader you want to become, while simultaneously helping those you lead develop into the great team you, collectively, want to become. In both cases it consists of three simple (and deliberate) steps: Vision, Action and Reflection.

1. Create your VISION of success. This includes both a vision of the results you intend to get, and the values you intend to follow. Create a clear definition of success for your team and for yourself as a leader. It is not good enough to say you will be ‘high performing’ because that really has no meaning … or, rather, it can have any number of meanings. You need to be very specific as to the results and the culture that you want to have. You want effective interpersonal communication? Great. Explore and describe together what exactly that looks like in your work setting. After all, if you cannot define it, you cannot measure it. And, if you cannot measure it, you have no idea whether or not you are doing it. As Stephen Covey writes in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind”.

When you create a team vision, it is very important to involve all team members in uncovering and describing the ideal culture that reflects their collective values and goals. In the end, they will be motivated and committed to achieving such a vision.

2. Take ACTION. Make a deliberate, focused plan and implement it. These actions must be directly connected to your vision. Deliberate and specific actions are essential to success. You can just do what you do and hope for the best, or you can do the right thing and get your desired result. Make sure you schedule your actions. State what you will do, when you will do it, who you will do it with, why you are doing it and what you expect as results. Without this level of detail, there is a very high chance you will not follow through.

3. Reflect. Without reflection, it is easy to lose your way, to stray off course toward some “shiny object” that catches your attention. Periodically ask yourself if you are achieving what you set out to do. Is your vision still the right one for you? Are you being who you said you would be? Are your actions getting you the results you had hoped for? If not, why not, and what do you need to change?

Great leaders will take this very deliberate approach to building the foundation of a high performance team.

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admin on December 12th, 2012

Being able to build a plan and work your plan is the 5th critical leadership competency identified by Korn/Ferry Lominger. A plan keeps us on track and focuses our energy. It can keep us from flying off on wild goose chases that expend great amounts of resources but achieve very little.

The ability to plan is not always natural. As we can learn through a Myers-Briggs session, some of us are naturally good at planning and some of us are not. Yet, this is another skill that can be cultivated and developed.

People who are good at planning can uncover what needs to be done, who needs to do it, how long it will take and what resources will be required. This is a very deliberate process requiring complementary skills in many other of the ‘Big 8’ competencies.

Those who do not develop good planning skills often fly by the seats of their pants. They may seem very energetic and creative, but their results often do no match expectations. They are often tired and stressed.

To be successful, be systematic in developing your plan. First set clear goals about what you want to accomplish, including performance standards and measures of success. Break your goal into smaller tasks that must be completed. Identify the resources required including budget, equipment and human. Match people to tasks, train them if necessary and give them appropriate responsibility, authority and timelines. Monitor your progress, reflect on your process and make adjustments where necessary.

This planning process fits very well with our Deliberate Success Model which focuses on developing a Vision, creating a Plan and Reflecting upon the results.

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scottkress on November 27th, 2012

The fourth of the “Big 8” leadership competencies (Korn/Ferry Lominger) we’re exploring in this series is motivating others.

Once again, Dan Pink had tackled this topic in his book “Drive”. What motivates (and what does not motivate) others will surprise you. Marcus Buckingham also sheds light on this topic in his eye-opening book “First Break All the Rules”.

Motivating others is complex and challenging. Some of us are more naturally gifted at it than others, but it is a deliberate skill and we can all learn to be better at it.

Some of us feel that, just because we are self motivated, others will be as well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Leaders must build strong relationships with their team members and they must know how to motivate and inspire them.

Motivation is the use of external rewards to get a job started and completed. It is, in its simplest form, the “carrot and the stick”. Research has indicated that this carrot and stick approach only works well for simple tasks where thought and creativity are not required.

Inspiration, on the other hand, is a desire from within to do something you believe is worthwhile. You are not doing it just for a reward or to avoid punishment, but because you want to do it. As a leader, tapping into inspiration requires personal understanding of your team members. You must know people well enough to connect them to a compelling, shared vision, and to tie the task or challenge to personal outcomes that they find worthwhile.

Ultimately, a leader’s job is to make their team look good in the eyes of others and feel good about the work they do. When you facilitate them (as opposed to driving them) to achieve great results, you can tap into powerful forces of motivation and inspiration.

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admin on November 26th, 2012

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

We are exploring the “Big 8” competencies that separate good leaders from great leaders identified by Korn/Ferry Lominger. The third competency is innovation management.

Those who are skilled in innovation management are good at bringing ideas to life. They can facilitate others through the creative process, brainstorm effectively, select the good from the bad ideas and foresee how potential ideas will play out in the marketplace.

On the other hand, leaders who are unskilled in innovation management are unable to judge a good idea from a bad one and can’t predict which idea will best perform in the marketplace. They are often resistant to creative ideas, avoid change and stay in their comfort zones. They are unskilled at leading others through the creative process.

Being innovative involves understanding, selecting and following through.

You must understand your marketplace; what your customers want and what they don’t want. What will it take to bring non-customers on board? What is not currently being offered in the marketplace or is being done poorly by other players? If you do not have a clear understanding of your marketplace, there is a good chance you will not look in the right areas for innovation.

Once you have gone through a brainstorming process, you must be able to dig through all the ideas generated and select the best, most viable one. This will involve skill in dealing with ambiguity as there is no crystal ball that will point conclusively to the “right” idea. The key here is to select a good idea or direction and commit to it.

Once you have selected your idea or direction, innovation management involves bringing it to fruition. This is often where good ideas fail. Execution is key.

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admin on November 16th, 2012

In this series of blogs we are examining what separates good leaders from great leaders. The second specific competency among the “Big 8”identified by Korn/Ferry Lominger is Creativity.

Dan Pink speaks to the importance of creativity in his book, “A Whole New Mind”. Most of us are not particularly creative; creativity is often held down in our risk-adverse Western business culture. However, as the Western business world loses its hold on manufacturing and such commodity skills as computer programming and accounting, we need to move back to our creative and developmental mind sets. This will be critical if we are to remain competitive and continue to grow our economy in this century.

Creativity involves immersing yourself in the challenge, thinking broadly and examining multiple options. You need to facilitate effective brainstorming sessions which will utilize the best of each individual involved. You need to have an effective process to keep you on track. You must also implement your best ideas. Coming up with the idea is relatively easy; following through on it is often the hardest part.

We need to break free of our restraints and become more creative. We need to lead the way and create the future.

There are many ways to influence creativity. At Summit and Frontier we have developed a program called The Art of Team that utilizes abstract painting to help individuals and teams access their right-brain creativity. This is a great session to use just before a strategy or planning session or when brainstorming is required to find a new and creative solution.

We have also developed a decision making protocol that allows teams to move through a brainstorming session with purpose. It encourages all individuals to contribute, and keeps the process on tract so you get results.

Creativity is a key competency. How will you foster it in your team?

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admin on November 13th, 2012

In this series of Blogs we are examining what separates good leaders from great leaders. The first specific competency among the “Big 8” identified by Korn/Ferry Lominger is Dealing with Ambiguity.

According to studies, 90% of all decisions made by middle managers and above are ambiguous. The higher the position, the more ambiguity there is. It is rare to have all the information and know the perfect solution. Problems are often so complex and contain so many facets that it is impossible to have perfect clarity. Most people, given all the facts could make the right decision. However, this rarely happens. Great leaders are able to comfortably make more good decisions than bad with limited information, in less time, and with few or no precedents on how it was solved in the past.

To cope with this effectively: Take small incremental steps; Balance thinking with action; Broaden your horizon; Get organized; and Ask the right questions to define the problem.

To learn more pick up FYI – For Your Improvement by Lombardo and Eichinger.

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