Leading Globally: Understanding Performance Orientation

“As you consult with us this month, you will find that our culture tends to work-to-live rather than live-to-work”. “This statement provided me with a very helpful orientation during a recent project in eastern Europe.

Culture affects how we think, how we act and how we lead. As a result, understanding cultural norms and differences provide us with the means to lead and work more effectively. This week’s blog is the first of an eight part series which will focus on developing global leadership skills. It is derived from the seminal work on global leadership commonly called The GLOBE Leadership Study. It assessed 62 different countries and identified important cultural and leadership norms. The results of this massive research project provide us with a goldmine of information which helps us understand cultural differences. I will begin this series by reviewing performance orientation and learning how we can identify and appropriately respond to it. At the bottom of this blog you will find a chart which provides specific high/mid/low performance orientation results for the 62 countries in this study.

PERFORMANCE ORIENTATION

“Performance orientation reflects the extent to which a community encourages and rewards innovation, high standards and performance improvement” (The GLOBE Study, 1004, p. 239)

The chart below provides a simple contrast of differences between high and low performance orientation cultures. As you review these lists, think of different cultures or individuals that you interacted with and determine when you have seen these dynamics at work.

Performance Orientation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is important to state that this information does not measure good nor bad performance orientation. Rather, it identifies differences, each of which bring a host of advantages and disadvantages. As we begin to identify and understand cultural differences, here are three ways we can apply this information.

1. We can view this as a means to understand an individuals behavior. Interpersonal conflict can stem from differences in performance orientation.

2. We often use this to evaluate a leaders performance. How we define success determines how we evaluate effective and ineffective leadership.

3. We can use it to interpret organizational cultures. Understanding the driving forces behind ‘The way things are done around here’, a common term which describes organizational culture, helps us live and work more effectively in that culture.

Here are some tips from the GLOBE study which will help you work effectively with cultures of high or low performance orientation.

Performance Orientation Tips

 

 

 

 

 

I invite you to provide your insights and experiences below as you consider your experiences dealing with individual, leadership or organizational differences in performance orientation.


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Performance Orientation Country JPG

Jeff Suderman is a professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and their FutureReadiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman

Reference

House, R., Hanges, P.J., Javidan, M, Dorfman, P.W., Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

The Problem with ‘7 Steps’ and ‘3 Things’: Embracing Complexity

My news feed is filled with articles that provide easy answers. Do these headlines sound familiar?

  • Seven steps to solving workplace conflict
  • Three things which will change your life
  • Four ways to raise healthy children
  • Five ingredients that will change your diet
  • You won’t believe #9!

Unfortunately, catchy headlines work! I often delve into these articles only to be disappointed with their content. I fear that this editorial trend is creating a culture of over-simplified solutions based on pop-culture principles. The core problem with catchy headlines is that most of the promised solutions trivialize complexity.

In his seminal book, The Fifth Disclipline, Peter Senge reminds us that the complexity of our daily interactions are increasing. As a result, he proposes that effectiveness requires that we identify the structures which underlie complex situations. This is called systems thinking and  requires us to evaluate how different parts interrelate over time and how they relate to other systems. For example, disciplining an employee for tardiness is ineffective unless it considers related factors such as the impact of their special-needs child or an addiction problem. Addressing an issue like this requires that we evaluate the individuals system.

These questions may help you as you seek to identify and assess the systems which are at work in your complex world.

  1. Do we thrive amidst rules or principles? Catchy headlines tend to rely on rules. I believe success is derived from being principle driven versus rules driven. However, understanding principles take work.
  2. Do successful people or organizations adopt or adapt? What works in one place doesn’t always work in another. Successful people learn from others, but they always adapt these lessons to ensure they fit their own situation. Adapting requires that we identify the principles of success rather than duplicating someone else’s practices (see #1!).
  3. Are people or organizations like gears or snowflakes? A colleague recently referred to his clients as snowflakes. They all appear similar from a distance, but when viewed closely, every one is unique and different. The snowflake embodies the concept of complexity and why we should challenge easy answers.
  4. Is your environment changing (open) or unchanging (closed)? Rules and prescribed solutions work when there is little change in an environment. However, there are very few closed systems in our world! When you acknowledge your changing environment, you will be forced to look for patterns over time, see the big picture, identify complex interactions, and validate your understanding of ‘what causes what’ (Hughes & Beatty, 2005, p. 74).  

I was tempted to title this blog, “The one thing your MBA didn’t teach you”, but I had to follow my own advice! Successful people are able to synthesize complexity and that cannot be accomplished in ‘seven steps’ or by doing ‘three things’.


 

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Jeff Suderman is a professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and their FutureReadiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman

 

Hughes, R., & Beatty, K. (2005). Becoming a strategic leader your role in your organization’s enduring success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

“Me the People”: It’s time to change our metaphor

“The crisis of US congress is an issue of followership and not an issue of leadership”. Barbara Kellerman

I am not a political person but my world is filled with political stories the day after American mid-term elections. As a Canadian living in the US, it has been interesting to watch the election from the sidelines. There were two troubling themes that I identified as I observed this ebb of the election cycle.

A Less Perfect Union

When the American constitution was established, it used some beautiful words – “to form a more perfect union”. My television was filled with commercials which focused on the opposite of this. The predominant messaging was on what another candidate or party was not. This negative campaigning has subtly shifted our focus away from becoming a “more perfect union”.

The day-time counselor Dr. Phil has helpfully dubbed this as ‘laddering’: the need to push someone down the ladder in order generate self-importance as you rise up the ladder. When you see someone ‘laddering’, you see someone who is weak. You also see someone who puts their needs ahead of the needs of others.

In decades past, politicians were called public servants. I once asked a high ranking politician why the word servant was in his title. He was strangely quiet. He had obviously not considered the implications of his role of a servant. Otto Scharmer summarized this perfectly when he reminded us that, “Our society must move from ego-system to eco-system economics. This requires that we shift from ego-system silos to eco-system awareness that  considers others and includes the whole”. It’s time to refocus on a “more perfect union”!

Me the People

This republic was founded on the premise of “We the people”. As I observe our political reality, it appears that ‘We the people’ has shifted to ‘Me the people”. We have quietly turned politics into a battlefield. If it is a battlefield, we must understand the implications of such a mindset. Abraham Lincoln clearly reminds us of these implications when he said, “A house divided against itself it cannot stand”. Battlefield politics moves us away from our goal of a becoming a more perfect union. Battlefield politics which focus on me instead of we have caused us to lose our way. Our strength is best found in our collectiveness, not our individuality. It’s time to put the we back into “we the people”.

A Plea for Change

Change is facilitated when we begin to look at an old thing in a new way. If we believe that the battlefield metaphor is inadequate then we must replace it with another. If it were my choice, I want to picture America as a body. A rudimentary study of the human body reveals incredible complexity, diversity and interdependence. I want to live in a nation that acts as my body acts – cooperatively, efficiently and with purpose.

If America wants to be a nation that leads nations, we need to change our metaphor. In fact, We the People, are responsible to make it happen.


 

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Jeff Suderman is a professor and consultant who serves in the field of organizational development. He is not political but knows a problem when he sees one. And he knows that it is time for “we the people” to reclaim our quest to becoming a “more perfect union”. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman

The Best of: Summarizing the 2014 ILA Conference

My first participation in the International Leadership Association conference was a very enjoyable experience. Three full days of presentations (with too many options to count)  would appeal to any individual with interest in the broad field of leadership. The presentations were a good mix of practitioners speaking about real-life application of leadership as well those who research and provide insights about emerging leadership issues.

Thoughout the weekend I tweeted and blogged my favorite quotes from the sessions I attended. Here is a summary of my top 15:

  1. The crisis of US congress is an issue of followership and not an issue of leadership. Barbara Kellerman
  2. Followers are the gem cutters of leadership, coaxing out its full brilliance. Ira Chaleff @followercourage
  3. Leadership studies and leadership programs are not necessarily leadership development. Susan Komives @SusanKomives
  4. Vitamins are to people as values are to organizations. Bernie Jaworski
  5. We live in an era of organized irresponsibility.  Otto Scharmer @ottoscharmer1
  6. What happens at the beginning of any creative process? Nothing! Creativity requires that we create space and wait for something to emerge. Otto Scharmer
  7. We need to move beyond seeing people as hired hands to seeing them as hired hearts. Kathleen Patterson
  8. The lines between organizational culture and organizational brand are merging. Steve Trainor
  9. Its time to legitimize the term follower. Ronald Riggio @ronriggio
  10. The success of an intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener. Bill O’Brien
  11. It is easier to recognize the quality of leadership in the behavior of their followers than it is in the behavior of the leader.  Kevin Lowe [Read this again – this is an amazing quote]
  12. Effective leaders of change must serve equally as agents of change and protectors of continuity. Samuel Wilson
  13. Our society must move from ego-system to eco-system economics. This requires that we shift from ego-system silos to eco-system awareness that  considers others and includes the whole. Otto Scharmer
  14. Succession planning often results in the selection of a weaker representation of yourself. Peter Drucker
  15. Courageous followership is the courage to stand up for leaders when they are right and stand up to them when they are wrong. Ira Chaleff

While the event is titled ‘International’, the actual content had a much more North American slant than I would have preferred. This event will be held in Europe next year so I’m sure this will improve. My conference highlight was the attention given to the importance of effective followership (my blog the week of ILA happened to focus on this – What if Everything Rises & Falls on Followership?). I believe that followership is a topic that will dominate leadership literature for the next decade or two. While I have very few negative comments about the conference, one would be related to the extremely heavy emphasis on the concept of mindful leadership (a somewhat self-evident concept to me). I had to laugh at the amount of conversations that I had where people used the phrase, “in my dissertation/book…”. It appears that the practices of servant leadership are still emerging. Or perhaps I’m just insecure because I haven’t written a book 😉

Details about next years conference in Barcelona, Spain can be found here (October 14 – 17, 2015). Those who wish to submit presentation proposals can do so here by February 1, 2015. #ILABarcelona

More detailed overviews of each of the days can be found here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3.


 

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Jeff Suderman is a professor and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and their FutureReadiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman

 

14 Leadership Lessons: Quotes from the final day of the International Leadership Conference – San Diego

It was a great conference! Here is the final installment of quotes from our speakers.

  1. Followers are the gem cutters of leadership, coaxing out its full brilliance. Ira Challef
  2. We need to move beyond seeing people as hired hands to seeing them as hired hearts. Kathleen Patterson
  3. Over 94% of execs and 88% of employees believe a distinct culture is important to success. Deloitte
  4. Organizational culture is molded out of what we see, say and do. Steve Trainor
  5. The common understanding of organizational culture, ‘the way we do things around here’, needs to shift to ‘why we do the things we do around here’. Steve Trainor
  6. Without objectives, goals, strategies and vision, culture is dead by dinner. Steve Trainor
  7. The lines between organizational culture and organizational brand are merging. Steve Trainor
  8. The term ‘leaderful’ defines an individuals leadership behaviors that everyone sees. Myra Dingman
  9. A servant leader influences people with selfless behaviours, giving credit rather than taking credit. Deloitte Apex Program via Kathkeen Patterson
  10. Servant leadership is doing the right things at the right times for the right reasons. Kathleen Patterson
  11. If organizations are to affect deep and lasting change, every individual in the organization must be willing to change. Porras
  12. We are all followers first. Rusty Ricketson
  13. A problem with using situational leadership is the particular leader style to be employed is based on the leaders ability to accurately determine the followers developmental level. They may be wrong! Rusty Ricketson
  14. Leader style sclerosis is the hardening of the categories: where we can only practice our preferred leadership style. Rusty Rickertson

20 Leadership Lessons: Quotes from day 2 of the International Leadership Conference – San Diego

Here is a summary of the quotes I enjoyed from day 2 of the ILA conference (November 1, 2014).

  1. Our society must move from ego-system to eco-system economics. This requires that we shift from ego-system silos to eco-system awareness that  considers others and includes the whole. Otto Scharmer
  2. We live in an era of disorganized irresponsibility.   Otto Scharmer
  3. The success of an intervention depends on the inner condition of the intervener. Bill O’Brien
  4. What happens at the beginning of a any creative process? Nothing! The creative process requires we create space for something to emerge. We have to hold open the space for something to be born. Otto Scharmer
  5. In 1964 Peter Drucker reminded us that we have a moral and civic responsibility to contribute to the betterment of society. Responsible leadership is not a new idea!
  6. Succession planning often results in the selection of a weaker representation of yourself. Peter Drucker
  7. Trust is congruence between what you say and what you do. Peter Drucker
  8. Establishing and building relationships requires mutual relinquishment of control. Michelle Bligh
  9. Vitamins are to people as values are to organizations. Bernie Jaworski
  10. The best way to predict the future is to create it. Peter Drucker.
  11. Courageous followership is the courage to stand up for leaders when they are right and stand up to them when they are wrong. Ira Challeff
  12. We need to legitimize the term follower. Ronald Riggio
  13. Definition: Following is a particular form of behavior that involves recognizing and granting legitimacy to another’s influence attempt or status. Derue and Ashford
  14. It is easier to recognize the quality of leadership in their followers behavior than it is in the behavior of the leader. [Read this again – this is an amazing quote] Kevin Lowe
  15. Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. Niels Bohrs
  16. The emerging organization is an ecosystem. It is scalable and will expand and contract in response to the market. Philip Foster
  17. Understanding the connection between personal troubles and social forces leads to social and individual change. Carmela Nanton
  18. Compulsive modernization is the insatiable desire to change and grow. Samuel Wilson
  19. The liquid state of modernity is corrosive to continuity. Samuel Wilson
  20. Effective leaders of change must equally serve as agents of change and protectors of continuity. Samuel Wilson

There is one more day to go so stay tuned for the summary of Sunday’s sessions!