Teamwork

My Soapbox: Trust, Accountability, Empowerment: All that matters

Building relationships based on respect

People who have worked with me before have heard me on this particular soapbox quite a bit and for those I will suggest maybe they don’t need to read this particular blog. There will be nothing new here. That said, it is perhaps because I continue to hear stories from great talent I have met around the world that are working with people that still do not get it.

It is for these people that I write this blog.

Executives get busy and they get stressed. Markets start to squeeze and pressure mounts, causing many to revert to the old command and control techniques they used in prior decades. When the kitchen heats up, they forget the basics. I believe some need to be reminded of a basic principle that should be obvious to all: Organizations are successful when there is a strong relationship of respect among leaders at all levels.

Now, before I go further, let me be absolutely clear: effective leadership requires adapting your style from time to time to appropriately handle a given challenge. There are times for diplomacy, inclusion, and democracy (e.g., complex problem), and there are times for command and control (e.g., during an urgent crisis). However, underlying your leadership style, and regardless of the type of problem, the relationship of respect must prevail.

A relationship of respect requires three key elements: trust, accountability, and empowerment.

Every team that has worked with me over the past decade will have heard me speak explicitly of the three simple things that I feel are the most important elements of effective, increasingly global, teams. I sincerely hope that those that worked with me before that will see in this blog some of the elements of our team work that worked best even if we never put it to words.

Trust. Accountability. Empowerment.

You will notice that none of them involve bureaucracy, centralization, or added layers without added value! It also does not require being “nice”.


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Trust: We must build and maintain levels of trust across borders and business units, recognizing the unique strengths and backgrounds of each individual. In companies that are complex, especially with multiple business units and geographies, the absence of trust can cause money, time, and valuable resources to be wasted on duplicated efforts.

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Accountability: We must be a respectful organization and a collegiate one, but all of us must be held accountable as well. Accountability goes hand in hand with trust. When we all understand each other’s respective areas of responsibility and accountability, we create a culture of trust, and we can focus on the services and solutions we deliver and the goals we want to achieve without distraction.

It is important to note that accountability is as much about what is accomplished as it is about how it is accomplished. If you’re an a-hole, regardless of your delivery skills, people will find it hard to trust you and the relationship of respect will be difficult.

Empowerment-Zone.jpg.728x520_q85Empowerment: People must be allowed to make decisions and drive change without being micromanaged and without needing to get multiple approvals; they must be allowed to be leaders. Just as importantly, we must enable those whom we empower. Power without training is not a formula for success. Empowerment is about giving a person the ability to manage something tangible that adds value, but also about working with that individual to help him or her succeed.

Leadership is not easy, and successful teams are elusive to many people. But, with some basic focus on respect and these key principles, you will at minimum have the right foundation for success.

Be Well. Lead On.

Adam

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Ready. Aim. Do it.

A New Beginning

Every day is a new beginning. All of life provides opportunities for new beginnings. Whatever has gone wrong, or right, in your life, you can begin again.
Jonathan L. Huie

New beginnings can be nerve wrecking. You spend years building a team, finding the people you can trust to get things done and do so in a values based manner. You drive strategy and create value for shareholders. And you check off so many boxes, proudly getting to a point where you can finally rest and look at the great things you and the team created …. and then you move on to the next challenge.

YIKES!! So much for resting.

“Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time” Arnold H. Glasgow

If I’m honest with myself, I will admit that I will likely never get to truly resting until retirement (target TBD). The fact is, I love gnarly, complex, global challenges and am thankful I have found that in my new role.

Leaders at All Levels

Top 12 Quotes on LeadershipI am incredibly excited about this new adventure and will enjoy getting to meet the new teams around the world. One concept I have constantly addressed that I expect will be highly relevant here is the fact that everyone in today’s technology organizations must be leaders. From time to time, everyone will be called on to make decisions, act independantly, and respond to crises without time to go up the chain for days.

You can’t always wait for the guys at the top. Every manager at every level in the organization has an opportunity, big or small, to do something. Every manager’s got some sphere of autonomy. Don’t pass the buck up the line.
Bob Anderson

I blogged about this a while back with “Leaders at All Levels”

Chicago

Chicago

I LOVE Chicago, the place I have called home for so many years. And I love having the opportunity to give back to the community in which I love. Living in London over the past two years was an amazing adventure, the opportunity to more deeply explore another great city, and to work with colleagues in other European cities. While my prior role required that I moved to London for a while, I am confident that the relationships I built in Chicago will continue to grow. And, of course, I hope to see many of my friends from London throughout the year. Visit!!

As Marilyn Monroe said, “A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” So I expect my friends to trek on over to see me from time to time, share a lager or a cup of coffee, and warm my heart with their presence!

Let’s Go

Two great quotes come to mind as I contemplate the week ahead and my new adventure:

“If your work is becoming uninteresting, so are you. Work is an inanimate thing and can be made lively and interesting only by injecting yourself into it. Your job is only as big as you are.” George C. Hubbs

“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” Henry Ford

I’ve enjoyed my time to reflect on the good and bad aspects of my prior leadership role, and the opportunity to give back via non-profit and civic consulting. But it’s time to go back to corporate, tackle this new and exciting challenge, and meet a new batch of great people with whom I hope to build something great.

Be Well. Lead On.

Adam

Adam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections
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Adam at Sunset

This blog is a revision of a prior post.

My Soapbox: Take talent personally

Talent should be on the agenda and objectives of every leader at every level, every day, and in every organisation

Talent Matters.

I recently went on the soapbox when a conversation was started about forming a committee to work on ways to identify and develop strong talent. It’s clearly not because I do not find the goal relevant. In fact, I think Talent should be on the agenda and objectives of every leader at every level, every day, and in every organisation. That is the only way to be successful. Committees formed formally to focus on talent, regardless of intent, simply do not work without concerted action and interest from leaders with true desire to manage and grow talent. And, worse, the experience for those on such committess can be downright disheartening if they feel they are part of an academic exercise that in the end does not matter. Talent matters!

I want each of my leaders to feel excited thinking about what they are doing for their teams. What opportunities are we finding for them to stretch and be rewarded? To train them and coach them? To sell them for career enhancing roles with peers and other teams (or even other firms) even if it means losing a critical resource in our world? Talent matters!

I view every top performer in my team as a future CIO, CTO, or executive. I LOVE being able to share stories of individuals who worked with me at some point and rose through the ranks to take on major leadership roles around the world. Love it! And I firmly believe that the only reason I have been successful (or recovered quickly from failures) is because I try desperately to hire strong, develop well, and appreciate greatly. Talent matters!!

Anyone that knows me recognises that I tend to hate governance and I disdain committees. I frown on talking and planning talent development “initiatives” unless I see the signs of true interest and passion. Because a committee or initiative without passion is …. sadly, like many many many leadership teams in the corporate world … just bureaucracy.

Just my soapbox for the week. Thanks for listening. And, one more time, as I hope you’ll agree … Talent Matters!!

Be Well. Lead On.

Adam

I pledge to listen harder.
Adam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections

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Change Ahead

Yet another blog about Change!

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Building Airplanes in the Air

EDS (now part of HP of course) ran a fantastic ad campaign years ago that highlighted how they help businesses manage through periods of major transformation. My favorite was called “Airplane” and showed a team of employees working on building a new airplane in the air. Yep, I wrote that right. In the commercial, filmed reality show style, there are several people who are discussing their pride in what they do. What do they do? Build airplanes while the planes are actually flying. Despite being a bit awkward in post September 11 times, the ad has always been such a great metaphor for what so many of us in Technology leadership roles have to do.

Transformation is never easy to begin with, and is made even harder by the mere fact that business does not stop and wait for you to finish with your initiative. While building the future, you must still keep the present up and running. Like building an airplane that is still flying!

The only way you can be successful in an environment like this is by remembering these principles:

1) Surround yourself with good people.
I can’t believe I am quoting Oprah Winfrey in one of my blogs but one must admit she clearly knows how to lead and drive change. One of her popular statements was “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” I completely agree this is essential. People who surround themselves with positive people naturally become more positive. Likewise, surrounding yourself with depressing, negative people leads to adopting their attitude.

But your team members can’t simply be positive thinkers. You need talent! I worked with a manager once who truly seemed intent on only hiring people who were not as smart as he was. Perhaps it was ego, perhaps insecurity, but it seemed that he was always needed to make decisions, solve problems, and break impasses. His people were neither empowered nor enabled to drive effective change. If you hire down, your organization dies. Period. I strive to always surround myself with people who are complimentary. I know my strengths and weaknesses, so why would I hire someone with the same strengths and weaknesses?

Find people that are intelligent but flexible, driven but not mercenary, loyal but not naive. Your change will be more successful. In the airplane example, a pilot only needs one co-pilot. The rest of the crew know more about customer service, cabin safety, in-flight entertainment and dining. They speak with clients more regularly and can get a sense of satisfaction. The team is made better because there are lots of good people doing their part to make the whole better. That should always be our goal!

2) Think like the successful automakers do. When I recently tried to explain how I think Technology shops should run with respect to relationship between Service (run) and Change components I thought of Mercedes Benz, my beloved car company. The change teams at Mercedes, those designing new cars and features, get a lot of glory when the next big thing is announced. Yet most people buy Mercedes both because of the design and styling of the car AND the fantastic service experience of owners.

  • The Design team constantly thinks of service while designing: periodic service alerts, inboard monitors, quality control, etc. They do not sit in an ivory tower in Stuutgart making stuff up! They talk to Service, Sales, and others to seek out ideas for what comes next.
  • The Service team, while striving to deliver quality service when you visit for service, also continuously feeds back to the design team things that need to be improved. And sometimes they advise the customers on how features in newer models go even further to address certain issues. Service is frequently the best source for add-on sales and upgrades!

Think about it! What if everyone in Technology worked in this mutually beneficial relationship structure? Applications would be designed for performance, infrastructures would be built to last, and customers would have a better overall experience “driving” the best solutions for their unique needs.

If we never forget the important relationship between change and run, we can effectively manage “building planes in the air”.

3) Communicate with your customers
Think about the last time you were on an airplane, or perhaps even in a taxi. Often the pilot or driver will inform passengers at the very start of the journey of pending problems. Turbulence ahead! A lot of traffic in one particular area may delay arrival! The light above your seat does not work! But on United Airlines in particular, you are also greeted at the beginning of the flight with a video from the CEO. In his intro, he highlights changes being made, explains any temporary issues that may frustrate clients, and thanks them for their loyalty and patience.

How many of our internal clients would be shocked to hear such messages?
Dear Clients: 1) We are going through a period of change that will bring enhanced stability, service, and innovation to better enable your success. 2) We know there will be some times of disruption and instability in the current environment and of course we will do all we can to minimize impact. 3) Thank you so much for your patience and support. Please know that everything we do is to add value for you.

Don’t surprise your clients with change, or downplay the risk so significantly you lose credibility. Be honest. Be open. Be consistent. And, of course, if the change is not something that adds value, rethink doing it at all!!

Let me know what you think. How do you effectively handle major changes while still managing to keeps things going? How do you build airplanes in the air?

Be Well. Lead On.

Adam

This blog was originally posted Feb 2012. Reblogged Sept 2012.

Follow me on twitter http://www.twitter.com/alswhartonAdam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections

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Top Traits: Fun to Work With

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Defining the perfect employees

Let’s face it, for most people work is a means to an end. You work so that you can eat, keep your brain active, connect with other people, learn, or reach some apex in your ambitious plan to take over the world…. Whatever the reason, for very few people work is about finding intense joy and personal satisfaction every hour of every day. That is simply not reality. But, like any other required part of our lives, we can choose how we want to handle work. We can come in every day, do what is required, talk to nobody, and leave. Or we can bring a smile into the office, do our jobs and encourage others to do theirs, and try to bring fun into what can be otherwise mundane or stressful.

I worked with someone for years that was by far the very best at a particular function. This individual was 1)Both talented and hard working, and 2)showed a true pride in the products he created…..good so far, right? If you’ve read my two preceding “Top Traits” blogs, you’d say he is a perfect employee. But wait! This person was so depressing, so negative, and so, well, just not fun! There were days where despite the value I could get out of a conversation, I could simply not do it. It would drag me down into a depression instead of inspiring me to be better. Like the Dementor guards of the Azkaban prison in the Harry Potter movies, this kind of person can simply suck the soul out of a team, an office, or a company. Which brings me to my third top trait ….

… Trait # 3 – Fun to Work WithFun People

If you’ve done interviews, you’ve perhaps been asked to assess “fit” with the culture of your particular company. When I started my career, I thought those interviews were inappropriate. Fit translated into Golf Club network, family connections, and politics. But as I advanced, I realised more and more that fit can make or break a leader. A leader whose style is perfect at one place will bomb elsewhere. So, to be clear, being fun isn’t always going to make you successful. You still must deliver. This is my personal opinion and what I personally look for. I want employees that are fun to work with. Period.

What I like

There are some people that simply bring joy to the office. They bring smiles, jokes, the occasional cupcake or brownie …. They bring personality and just enough of themselves to break down barriers and create a culture of openness that makes work more rewarding.

I’m not talking about class clown, chronic joking, or distraction. I’m talking about balancing the “what” with the “how”. Say you have a complex team challenge that must get done in 24 hours. You have to work pretty hard to get it done and, especially as a leader, you can be a humourless tyrant and slave driver. Or you can be an inspirational and personable motivator. I’m choosing to be the latter.

I recently spent time with some of our colleagues managing technology in Europe. During the evening, we had a team dinner and drinks and I had the opportunity to get to know the Poland, Spain and Italy leaders. We laughed, joked, and had a really great time but occasionally someone would bring up a problem facing our firm and I would ask for a recommended solution. What amazed me is how smart the team was at coming up with ideas but at the same time they were having fun and enjoying being together. That’s the kind of team I want!

In short:

Don’t be a dud.

What I need to do as a manager to enable

Smile.

When I’m having a funk of a day, I either stay home or avoid meetings. Smiles are contagious, I truly believe that. So if I can’t bring a genuine smile to the office, I try desperately to avoid contact with people! We can’t expect everyone to be happy all the time, but as a manager I need to both set an example and reward those that also bring fun to the office.

Last week, I woke to yet another rainy London day and, frankly, I was disgusted. I was so sick of rainy weather that I knew I would be in a bad mood. I went back into my kitchen, made a huge breakfast with a large strong cup of java and read a low intelligence required novel. Then, I went to the office. I was later than intended but by the time I got to the office I was refreshed and able to deal with another grey day.

Solicit feedback from team.

Talk to your teams on a regular basis to determine what makes them happy. What motivates them and when they smile, ask them why they are happy. Find something that brings them joy and do that.

Support and understand that some people just have bad days.

Recognise that some people will have bad days. Support them. Make sure they feel comfortable detaching if necessary. Make them leave if you must. If they need help, try to get it for them. And reward those that bring joy to the office and perform with a positive attitude.

In short:

Don’t be a dud.

Let me know what you think. What do you view as top employee traits? How do you build the best teams around different types of team members? Are you working hard on something worth doing?

Be Well. Lead On.

Adam

Be sure to view all of the Top Traits:
Trait 1: Hard working AND talented

Trait 2: Pride in work product

Trait 3: Fun to work with

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Adam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections

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Top Traits: Pride in Work Product

Pride

Defining the perfect employees

I had a whole home audio system installed in my Chicago home a few years ago. I spent more than I have ever spent on audio equipment and hired a team of twenty somethings to install it for me. I remember when they came for the install and opened all the boxes. You honestly would have thought they were installing for themselves. They were so excited about the install, and kept telling me how I really got the coolest equipment out there. Their excitement was contagious. I truly felt like I was “the man” and could not wait until my first party. When done with the install, they beamed with pride and showed me the system, how to use it and some of the fun stuff. They also discussed potential upgrades coming down the road and ways I might consider expanding.

… Trait # 2 – Pride in Work Product

How often do employees show this kind of pride in the work they do? When you shop at a mall, or work with your local telephone company, do you get the sense that the people working with you are actually proud of the services they are providing? I’m doubting it! Definitely not the case with BT given my recent experiences with them, but I digress …. Shouldn’t you be proud of what you do? Pleased with your work and the value you bring? Nurses comfort people. Teachers change lives and prepare our futures. Your particular job may not be as obviously impactful but you’re driving value by helping clients either directly or indirectly. And if you have chosen to work at a particular place, you should have pride in what you do. My maternal grandfather was a garbage truck operator for almost 30 years. My paternal grandfather worked at the US Post Office for 25 years after serving his first five adult years in the army. Neither of them ever made very much money. But each had a pride in their work that was inspirational.

What I like

Steve Jobs - pride of productI want employees to show a sense of pride in what they do. In what they create. The best recent example of a leader that exuded pride in the products he offered was Steve Jobs. You just knew he thought that every product he allowed out the door was AWESOME! In my current role, I have a principle that I call “pretty red bow” that is based on pride of product and service. In short, I demand that my teams think about the entire package when building a new service. Not just the technology, which may be cool as ever, but the service, the support, the way it is sold and the training provided for users. You can build the very best mousetrap but if everyone thinks it is an appetiser with crackers and cheese …. Well, you get the picture. I want them to build a service, package it well and tie it up with a pretty red bow. Get it?

My favorite employees are the ones that call or email me to tell me when a client is really pleased, or even better, when no client has said anything but they know the service they have built will excite clients. The emails that show progress on solving a complex problem, the random drop by to my office to show me a prototype of a new collaboration tool, or the demo of a new “awesome” iOS application, this is what excites me.

If you do not feel pride in the work you do, why would your boss, your team, or your client?! If you don’t feel you can be proud of your work, perhaps you aren’t in the right field. Or perhaps you are simply not working hard enough to deliver something with which you can be proud.

What I need to do as a manager to enable

Provide. Praise. Promote.

  • PROVIDE. If you hire an employee and ask them to build a Bentley, then only give them a thousand bucks, a Bentley you will not get. Set guidelines that are achievable and provide your teams with the resources needed to be successful. The greatest morale killer in most technology shops today is the constant badgering on costs. We must provide opportunities for employees to shine. A great example of this within Aviva is our mobile apps competition. We’re encouraging people around the world to create prototypes of great new app concepts in friendly competition. We encourage all of the contributors and it is FANTASTIC seeing the pride of ownership among the teams that is evident in their submissions.
  • PRAISE. Give credit. Give credit. Give credit. Employees, especially those in service industries, operations functions, and technology, get PLENTY of complaints and abuse. When someone creates something amazing, you MUST acknowledge it. I have seen so many managers take credit for their team members work without adequately praising them. It is shameful. As I said with respect to all hard working and talented employees (prior blog), ensure those who show pride in their work and deliver excellence get the recognition they deserve.
  • PROMOTE. This should be easy for those of you with children as well as for those who remember when you were a child. Think about how proud a kid is when their artwork is displayed on the refrigerator or on the school bulletin board. Create THAT environment. Showcase the amazing products and services your teams have created. If they have pride, and it is deserved, their leaders should also be proud. And showcasing their products will encourage others to create great things as well. Be a “proud mama” or “proud papa”. You will encourage more people to take pride in their work. And when you take pride in your work, you do better work. Simple, right?

I’m proud of the folks working with me now and proud of the things we accomplished while I was in my prior roles. I will continue to seek out, provide for, praise and promote those around me who take pride in what they do. It takes all kinds to make a great team but the perfect employees demonstrate pride in work product. And I want the perfect employees along on the journey with me.

Let me know what you think. What do you view as top employee traits? How do you build the best teams around different types of team members? Are you working hard on something worth doing?

Be Well. Lead On.

Adam

Be sure to view all of the Top Traits:
Trait 1: Hard working AND talented
Trait 2: Pride in work product
Trait 3: Fun to work with

Follow me on twitter http://www.twitter.com/alswharton

Adam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections

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Service Desk and Support teams everywhere … YOU MATTER!

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This week, I had a very unique opportunity to be “on-boarded” twice. My new role is based in the UK however I have a base in Chicago and, at the end of the day, a US contract. Thus, my first day was in Chicago and my second day was here in London. As I reflected on my first two days, something struck me that I thought was worthy of mentioning here. Both days, my first significant contact was with Technology team members. Not the strategy or planning sessions, or beginning the challenging work with which I have been tasked. Those start tomorrow. Specifically, I am referring to the service desk and support guys that actually helped get me setup with my “kit”.

Think about it: the last job you started likely involved use of some end user technology, be it a phone, laptop, iPad, or otherwise. Before you began to work your first deal, draft your first work plan, or respond to your first company email, you were likely setup by someone in Technology at your company. And that experience may very well have established your impression of technology at your firm overall. Regardless of how small a portion of the technology budget is actually spent on end user support, this is sometimes the only part of IT to which the majority of your teams are exposed. And I have seen AWFUL on-boarding and support processes, including from large outsourcing vendors that claim to have expertise.

And as I reflected on this fact, I also considered the age old question of whether business and technology have an effective relationship and whether technology can actually drive and influence decision making. And I say “absolutely”. And, frankly, it starts Day 1. And thus, service desk and support teams everywhere must take note: you matter much more than you may ever think. Yes, you deal with some of THOSE clients whose major problem is that shortly after they learned to pose their thumbs they were given a computer with a plug and no instructions. But you also deal with the closet techies that yearned to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs before becoming actuaries. The one that built a program in DOS years ago before she decided to go back to law school. She was so proud of that program! The HR leader who admits to not knowing much about technology that simply begs for it to be as easy and user friendly as possible so she can help her clients recruit, train and retain talent so critical for the success of the firm. And yes, also that Finance major and banking strategist that spent 10 years in consulting before taking technology leadership roles and finding out how much he loved working with tech teams. For all of these users, you have the opportunity to frame their experience from day 1. And what a difference you can make!

Every five minutes you have with a CFO, you have the opportunity to represent your technology organization to an extent few others will ever have with that leader. You can listen to complaints and offer solutions. You can share their excitement talking about a new technology then work with the rest of the Tech org in finding ways to leverage that excitement for new solutions and services. You can make executives “happy” enough that perhaps the day we have a major sev 1 outage, they are stressed and concerned but not on the warpath. Because they know we care and that we realize the roll technology plays in generating revenue and sustaining profitability. You might just get them smiling right before they go to that special funding review meeting!

Like police officers in many urban centers, you don’t always get the glory. You are typically understaffed and insufficiently empowered. You get yelled at more than you get praised, and sometimes it may just seem that you have the most thankless job in Technology. But, goodness, YOU MATTER! And for me personally, you mattered this week. To Carey, Neel and Tom, a hearty thanks. You made my two days of on boarding easy and I can be productive from day 1 thanks to your help. You may never know just what that added productivity enabled for me, or for others. But you should know that it made a difference. You made a difference. And every call you take, every desk you visit, whether your clients say it or not, you continue to make a difference. And for those who do not, I say thanks.

Be Well. Lead On.

Adam

Adam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections
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Transitions: Thoughts as I leave Aon

Moving on from Aon

For many of you, my update on LinkedIn and Twitter will be the first time you are hearing of my departure from Aon. For the hundreds of amazing leaders that made up my wonderful Technology Solutions and Services (TSS) Team and for our strategic vendor partners, the change has been known for a while now. Leaving such an amazing company after a truly rewarding adventure has been incredibly difficult for me but I leave inspired by all we accomplished over the past several years. I have truly enjoyed the challenges Aon presented me and the TSS team. The opportunity to lead such an amazing group of talent has been humbling and exceedingly rewarding. I am thankful for having worked with Greg Case and his leadership team and to have been a part of the incredible progress made at Aon over the past five years. I will greatly miss my team and my many colleagues but will watch closely as the firm continues its path of success.

As I transition, I reflect on just how much we accomplished together, some of which I cannot publicly describe but truly astonishing given the fact that only 4 years ago, there was no Global Infrastructure organization.

* Having started with dozens of separate email systems managed by teams around the world, over 40,000 colleagues across all regions have now migrated to BPOS, Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite now called Office 365. These colleagues are now using Outlook to manage email and Office Communicator to chat with colleagues across the globe.

* All of heritage Aon’s offices globally have completed the migration to the new global network, uniting Aon under one network for the first time and allowing access to many of our global applications across regions.

* Over 8,000 colleagues are now using an improved, web-based, global remote access solution that provides a seamless experience around the world.

* All of our colleagues are now using our standardized Global Audio Conferencing solution, with toll-free dial in numbers available in over 40 countries.

* We have standardized organizational structures and begun the process of creating job descriptions for everyone within the TSS organization, enhancing opportunities for job sharing and cross-training, but also better supporting career conversations and talent management.

* Web conferencing with Cisco WebEx and Microsoft Live Meeting are now available with a web portal to manage all colleague conferencing needs.

* The majority of our office phones (over 70% of heritage Aon) are now utilizing Voice over IP technology to place phone calls, saving money and improving options and usability.

As I transition from Aon, I will be taking time to reflect on the past few years and taking a bit of time to help out in areas I previously could not. Passionate about supporting others and ever thankful about those who have helped me through the years, I recently formed ALS Professional Services LLC. Through this organization, I am providing technology, operations and organizational strategy advisory services to non-profit, civic and governmental organizations on a pro-bono basis. I am currently working with the Chicago Public School system and also supporting technology improvements for a local charity here in Chicago.

Will I be back to Corporate soon? Most likely! It’s in my blood. Am I happy to have this opportunity to take a brief hiatus and give something back? Absolutely!!!

I want to sincerely thank each one of my TSS team members for the passion, hard work, and commitment they brought to me, to our organization, and to Aon. I know personally how much each of them feels committed to their work and how time and time again they deliver with excellence. Every day I am deeply appreciative for the incredible team that we built, proud of the work we did, and confident in a bright and successful future for each of those I am leaving behind.

TSS was to me like a long-distance relay team. Everything we did, we did as a team. We worked that way because it made us stronger. When someone got tired we propped him up. As it should be, in the end the team was strong enough for me to leave the rotation. But I’m still on the other side of the field looking on. I’m still cheering. I’m still proud of how much value you are generating. How much goodwill. How much positive energy despite the challenges.

Keep running. Keep helping each other. Keep getting stronger.

Best,

Adam

Adam L. Stanley
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Adam at Sunset

Thanks TSS. I miss you already!

My 12 Favorite Quotes on Leadership

Search the net and you will find thousands of articles, books, and blogs about leadership.  And throughout the ages, men and women have written and spoken about leadership. So there is a treasure trove of quotes out there on leadership.  I still feel the best way to learn to be a better leader is to be a leader and that successes, failures, and time are the best teachers of leadership. That said, I’ve done my searching and found my top 12 quotes on leadership. I wanted to share them with you.

Top 12 Quotes on Leadership

Adam’s 12 Favorite Quotes on Leadership

12. “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.” — John Kenneth Galbraith

11. “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” ~ Nelson Mandela

10. “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”
— St. Francis of Assisi

9. “The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.” Eric Hoffer

8. “To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!'”
— Lao-tsu

7. “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

6. “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
— Stephen R. Covey

5. “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”
Colin Powell

4. “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

3. “Trust men and they will be true to you: treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. “Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there.” — John Kotter

1. “We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and are tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.”

— Admiral James B. Stockdale

Listening to what others have said and applying their basic ideas to your specific circumstances is like having a “cheat sheet” in your back pocket. Look at this list and see if any of them resonate with you. Do they look familiar to you as a leader or a team member working with a leader? Would your team, as in the comic below, laugh when discussing your leadership skills? Or are you gaining authority by giving it away, leading with trust, vision, and integrity.

Be Well! Lead On.

Adam

Leadership Skills - Does your team laugh at your leadership?

Leadership Skills - Does your team laugh at your leadership?

People aren’t picking up new skills fast enough? It might be your fault.

People aren’t picking up new skills fast enough? It might be your fault. Six questions to ask yourself

Today, I wanted to repress a blog from Blanchard LeaderChat. This is one of my favorite leadership blogs and the folks at Blanchard know their stuff. It resonates with me. I encourage you to follow them on Twitter at @LeaderChat or visit leaderchat.org to connect to their blog, newsletter or RSS feed.

Read this Blog – People aren’t picking up new skills fast enough? It might be your fault. Six questions to ask yourself. by David Witt, July 25, 2011 via Blanchard LeaderChat

Extract of blog – See if you you’ve covered these six basics to maximize learning and application.

  1. Energize learners.  Set the context for learning before anyone steps into the classroom.  What can people do to get up-to-speed on this subject?  What can they read, or who can they talk with, to become as excited about this topic as you are?
  2. Navigating the content.  Is the presentation learner friendly? Have you put together a good structure that includes breaking the content down into bite-sized chunks that people can easily digest?  Or have you designed this as a lecture type presentation where you will be doing all the talking and it will be a challenge just getting through the content—let alone actually retaining anything?
  3. Generate meaning.  Have you connected the dots so people see why learning this new content is important?  People need to see why they should take the time to invest in learning new skills.  Your job as a leader is to provide that meaning.
  4. Apply the learning.  What does this new skill look like in the real world?  Have you included some opportunities to practice the real life application of this new skill—or is that something you are leaving up to individual learners to figure out for themselves?
  5. Gauge and celebrate.  How will you measure if people are really doing something different with the content?  Don’t be vague on this point.  What is the business metric you are looking to impact?  ROI is something you need address at the beginning of a new initiative—not after the fact.
  6. Extend the learning.  How will you keep the initiative alive beyond the initial rollout?  New habits take time to develop and a lot of support in the early days.  What is your follow-up plan?  How will you ensure that skills learned in the classroom are applied back on the job?

So often, leaders get frustrated with their teams if they do not immediately pick up on new skills. Maybe it’s YOUR fault. What do you think?

In relationship,

Adam