Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Keep your chin up, soldier!

Anyone else sick of this rotten economy? In reading the news about how so many companies are cutting back, sales and marketing are often the first divisions to get cut. This has always mystified me. It reminded me of research that we did for a client at the end of 2008. This quote jumped out at me and, although it references IT specifically, you can also replace the word IT with "Sales and Marketing":

Why we are crazy to cut the IT budget
December 5, 2008 by Michael Maoz,

"The management in all ten companies describes their IT budgets, and the IT budgets of their peers, as facing cuts. Some have already frozen projects...IT budgets, which are already tiny as a proportion of a company's overall spend, is the right way to go. We need to invest in specific initiatives to excel, right now. The budget should be what the budget must be to grow and protect the business. I've never noticed an army cut its own supply lines or thin its ranks during a military campaign and win, have you?

In times like these, it pays to have a military-like mindset as to how to cope with today's realities while still being mindful of the future. And my research says that, if we can all stay calm in 2009, 2010 is forecast to be much brighter. So instead of freezing in place, make things happen! We suggest putting on your helmet and smartly marching forward!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Follow the Leader....

The new season of The Celebrity Apprentice has just started, and I admit it, I am an addict. Each season of the show introduces us to the most extreme versions of the personality types that we encounter in the real world. And when it comes to egos and idiosyncrasies, the Celebrity version turns the volume up even louder than what must of us encounter on a day-to-day basis.

While the show focuses on the leadership skills and abilities of the person who takes on the Project Manager role each week, what strikes me is the poor “followership” skills and abilities of so many members of these teams. Nothing derails a team like someone who cannot or will not be lead.

Many organizations spend a lot of time and money developing leadership skills, but where is the focus on being a good follower? These days, work is often performed in a highly projectized environment, where team members take turns leading and following. Most high-functioning project teams are made up of members who take turns leading and following. A leader on one task is often a follower on several others.

The ability to brainstorm and generate ideas as part of a team, constructively raise concerns and disagreements, take initiative appropriately, and effectively support the person with the ultimate responsibility for a task are skills that we can all spend some time cultivating. Any good leader knows that good followers are a critical success factor. And any good follower knows that their turn is coming up.