Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book Review - Leadership Brand: Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance and Build Lasting Value - Reviewer Professor M.S.Rao

“The authors lay out a straightforward six-step process of creating a leadership brand.” -The New York Times, September 4, 2007

What are the Details of the Book?

If you want to acquire authenticated knowledge on leadership branding, read this book.  If you want to develop human resources through leadership development programs, read this book. If you want to acquire tools and techniques to build your personal and professional brand, read this book. Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood’s authored book Leadership Brand: Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance and Build Lasting Value is divided into nine chapters with Appendix A outlining ‘criteria for a firm brand’ and Appendix B underscoring ‘firms with branded leadership’.

What is Inside?

This book outlines leadership code, provides the leadership development programs and its design. It draws out a blueprint to design and deliver leadership development programs to all levels of management. It outlines with examples of top global companies and the leaders who emphasized on LDPs.  It connects internal stakeholders with external customers and implores you to build your brand after taking feedback from customers.

The authors propose six steps for building leadership brand as follows: build a case for leadership brand; create a leadership brand statement; assess leaders against the brand; invest in leadership brand; measure leadership brand investment; and build leadership brand awareness to key stakeholders.

The authors highlight some of the global companies how they have branded leadership as follows: Wal-Mart – everyday low prices; Lexus – relentless pursuit of perfection; P&G – managing brands; McKinsey – analytical, smart strategists; Apple – innovation and design; Baxter Healthcare – entrepreneurial spirit; and PepsiCo – the next generation.

Training Design and Methodology: Enormous research has been done on how to train with impact. Here are some specific tips that will increase the impact of your investment in building leadership brand, as opposed to developing leaders: offer an integrated model for the experience; use a host of training pedagogies; design modules to follow the concept-illustration-action (C-I-A) rationale; and build recursive lessons (self-reflective and self-learning) into the training. Use a host of training pedagogies. Since adults learn differently from one another, different methodologies can and should be used. A mix of lecture, small group discussion, written case studies, live case studies, action learning projects, team presentation, video snippets, technology-based learning, simulations, assessment tools, and so forth can be woven into the training experience to ensure that regardless of each participant’s learning style, all will find some methods that work well. Bear in mind that with adult learners, the faculty should be talking about 60 or 70 percent of the time. If faculty allows their participation to fall below 50 percent of the talking time, participants are in a problem-solving session and wonder what the faculty adds; if faculty do 85 percent or more of the talking, participants are more likely to be listening than internalizing what is taught.

An effective learning specialist builds leadership brand by paying attention to the following: ensuring accountability to the senior line managers; linking the leadership brand to the firm brand; assessing leadership brand; tailoring the development of individual leaders into a leadership brand; creating leadership investments in training, work, and life that shape and develop the leadership brand; involving customer ideas and actions into internal leadership practice; helping leaders be accountable for their own development; and monitoring leadership brand.

Leadership Branding Takeaways
  • Leadership brand is the identity of the leaders throughout an organization that bridges customer expectations and employee and organizational behavior.
  • Firms with a leadership brand have an abiding and enduring reputation. When their corporate brand becomes intertwined with their leadership brand, the corporate brand endures and outlasts any single individual leader.
  • A leadership brand has both invisible fundamentals and visible differentiators of its won. A leadership brand is the identity of the leaders throughout an organization that bridges customer expectations and employee and organizational behavior.
  • Leaders must be able to adapt their fundamental skills to the strategies and goals of their own business. Building a leadership brand requires attention to both the basic and essential, and the advanced and differentiated elements of leadership.
  • To possess a leadership brand, leaders must think and act in ways congruent with the desired product or firm brand. As firm strategy evolves, so must leadership brand. This is why focusing on both the basics and the differentiators is so important.
  • Any brand will sink into oblivion without active management and promotion. Even a fortress like Coca-Cola (perennially the number-one brand in the world, according to the annual Business Week/Interbrand poll) can be vulnerable in a crowded, competitive marketplace. The same holds true for leadership brand. As valuable as it is to have solid individual contributors who get the right results the right way, an organizations’ leadership brand will be diluted and eventually die out if no one is actively furthering it.
  • Feedback is a gift. Because it is a gift, people want to know what you think of it and whether you plan to use it. If you violate this principle of thanking people for their gifts, you are less and less likely to get more gifts in the future.
  • There has been an ongoing leadership debate as to whether leaders are born (nature) or bred (nurture). Those leaning to the nature side of the equation believe that staffing decisions are the primary predictors of leadership success; those leaning to the nurture side suggest that more investment in training and development experiences will improve leadership. As noted earlier, a number of psychological studies lead to the conclusion that the correct answer is about fifty-fifty. Nature gives leaders predispositions, but with experience those predispositions can generally be adapted to any situation.
  • There are debates in the leadership profession about how much to build on strengths. Some argue that good leaders should identify weaknesses and overcome them; others argue that leaders should focus on strengths and master them.
  • Knowing to train on (content) is more important than how to train (delivery). Content deals with what to train; process deals with how to make sure the training experience delivers what you intend. A number of process choices are required to make sure that the training experience furthers a leadership brand.
  • Both horizontal and vertical training are driven by the strategy and firm brand, and both help embed the firm brand into leadership actions. However, the horizontal program focuses on the knowledge, skills, and values that leaders at different levels of the organization must be demonstrate to make the firm brand real; the vertical program focuses on how to implement corporatewide initiatives to execute the strategy.
  • Learning generally does not come from spending time with close friends, since the leader already knows what they think and do. But by spending time with new associates, the new leader may be exposed to new ideas and begin to accept new behaviors.
  • Investments in coaches and mentors should be made wisely. There are two types of coaching approaches. Behavior coaching occurs when the coach observes that helps shape a leader’s actions to be congruent with the desired firm and leadership brand. Results coaching occurs when the coach helps the leader identify desired results (often from a customer point of view) and then focus attention on what decisions to make to deliver those results.
  • Relationships outside work can be wonderful forums for experiences at work. Those who treat their children, friends, and associates with respect are likely to treat their employees, customers, and peers with respect.
  • An integrated approach to leadership investment would involve 30 percent training experiences, 50 percent work experiences and 20 percent life experiences.
  • When executives define firm and leaders brand and review the depth of leaders throughout the company against those standards, leadership is more than the person; it is the process, and it is focused not only inside but outside the organizations, the essence of brand.
  • We often fall prey to the trap of measuring what is easy, not what is right.
  • Leaders who make and keep promises build credibility, confidence, and conviction.
  • Develop a communications plan: any good communications plan should consider several important factors: what we want to communicate (the message); who should share the message (the sender); who should receive the message (the receiver); when the message should be shared (the timing); how the message should be shared (the process)
  • In a world of information ubiquity, the challenge is often turning information and data into insights and decisions.
  • Leaders at all levels of an organization can become producing leaders. They invest in the next generation by helping them build competence, authority, and information, and by giving them suitable rewards. These producing leaders create a leadership legacy and brand that endures beyond any individual leader.
  • If leadership brand is the bridge between the external customer and internal employee behavior, then HR practices represent the traffic on this bridge.
  • Who we are speaks louder and longer than what we do and may even overpower real character flaws. But what we do is what creates our enduring brand. Winston Churchill’s enduring brand highlights his ability to rally citizens to fight in major world conflicts; it largely ignores his personal difficulties. Jack Welch will be remembered for his ability to create enormous wealth through strategic clarity and organization disciplines; his early “Neutron Jack” image is largely forgotten.
  • Personal brand and signature strengths are not just for senior leaders-every employee has a personal brand. Tom Peters argues that everyone must become a brand and not just an employee.
  • Mercenaries, careerists, and egomaniacs are me-centered. Great leaders are you-centered.
  • Leadership inevitably involves conflict. One of the realities of any situation is what we call the 20-60-20 rule.  That is, about 20 percent of the people will immediately agree with your leadership decisions, about 20 percent will never agree, and about 60 percent will be open to being convinced.  Leadership is not for everyone. It comes with a price of visibility, accountability, conflict, and pressure for adaptability.
  • First and foremost, identify how you can add value for customers. A leader’s brand is the bridge between customer expectations and employee behavior. If you look at your calendar for the last few weeks, does it reflect your brand? Can you make specific time commitments to live the leadership brand you espouse? Can you translate it into decisions and choices you make?
  • The declaration of leadership brand forms the heart of a leader’s identity and reputation. It defines who the leader is, what the leader does, and how the leader wants to be treated by others.
  • Learning requires reflection on what worked and what did not work. If something did not work, then learners ask why not and how the lessons from this experience could transfer to another setting.
  • Leaders who invest in their brand constantly learn by asking what worked and what did not, synthesizing lessons into patterns and adapting insights to the next setting.
  • Rejection means that you are doing hard things. Never being rejected means never having tried. While the disappointment from rejection often creates personal pain, public embarrassment, and private angst, it can also be a source of strength. If rejection and disappointment can lead to clarity about what matters most and about your will to pursue a desired brand, you will find yourself a much more humble (by the rejection) and resolute (by the resilience) leader. You will also find friends who support you for who you are rather than for what you do. Resilience helps as you invest in new jobs, tasks, and life experiences.
  • Articulate your signature strengths to yourself and to others allows you to put words on your brand. Acting consistently and predictably according to your personal brand allows others to begin to define and identify you through your brand. When others relate to you and talk about you in a way consistent with your brand, it is more likely to endure.

What is the Recommendation?

Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood are the global authority on leadership branding. They authored this book based on their experiences with the corporate world unlike other authors who read, research and reproduce their books. Hence, this is a unique book on leadership with an emphasis on leadership branding. This book hits the bull’s eye on leadership training and branding. The ideas are well-punched. I have been impressed by this book and wrote a few articles on leadership branding including a book – Spot Your Leadership Style: Build Your Leadership Brand. The book provides visuals, images and assessments to ensure effective takeaways.  It is the best book on leadership branding. Buy this book to acquire tools and techniques to build your leadership brand brick by brick.  Keep this book on your shelf if you are interested in developing your talent and keeping them in the leadership pipeline. Read it again and again if you have a long-term vision to build your leadership brand. It is useful for leaders at all levels to build their personal brand, and for senior leaders and chief executives to build leadership brands for their organizations. You can gift this book to others who will thank you forever for your kind gesture.  I strongly recommend reading this book.

Leadership Brand: Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance and Build Lasting Value by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood (Harvard Business Review Press, August 13, 2007)

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Professor M.S.Rao, India
Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants India
Listed in Marquis Who's Who in the World in 2013
21 Success Sutras for Leaders: Top 10 Leadership Books of the Year (San Diego University) Amazon URL: http://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Leaders-ebook/dp/B00AK98ELI

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