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The Challenge The world of business is undergoing a global transformation. Economic pressure, social issues and political challenges are forcing a fundamental change on how business needs to compete to survive. This change is most evident at the front line of businesses where the current battles for productivity, cost, and survival are being fought. The Current Battle The role of the Front Line Manager (FLM) has significantly changed over the past 20 years. Evolved from the supervisor role the FLM has taken on additional responsibilities as a result of industry advances. The emergence of Strategic Human Resources (SHR) has added the responsibility for performance management, performance appraisal, training and development, and coaching. Flatter organisational structures have increased the accountability of the front line and driven delegation and team work to new levels. The emergence of the ‘knowledge worker’ coupled with employee's diversity has changed the profile of the front line. FLMs can no longer depend on the supervisory skill set laid down by Henry Fayol in the middle of the 20th century, instead they require a more robust and integrated set of skills. Enabling the Front Line In my experience of designing and delivering FLM programmes, at IMI and in other organisations, I have found the Management Effectiveness Cycle (MEC) has proven to be a very useful approach to enable FLMs to deliver business results in a short period of time. The MEC is a Front Line Management development framework that includes 6 core stages: Stage 1 – Understanding the role and context The FLM needs to be able to interact with both the people and the business, to understand exactly what the current situation is and to be able to diagnose current challenges. Stage 2 - Planning and goal setting Setting specific smart goals, that are directly related to the business and enable the employees to understand that by doing what it is they do, they are contributing to achieving the organisational goals. Stage 3 - Aligning goals and recourses The ability to produce more with the available resources maximises the return on investment. Aligning goals and resources requires a selection of skills including delegation, communication, versatility management, empowerment, innovation, and creativity. Stage 4 – Building an enabling culture Building an enabling culture is an ongoing process similar to the training of a marathon runner. By giving the person support and encouragement along the way to make sure that they are equipped and nourished to deliver the different stages of the long run. It is not standing at the finish line with a trophy. Stage 5 - Review and renew FLMs also need to look at how they can reinvest, redevelop and renew their energy and the energy of their staff. Providing feedback, performance management, energy management, innovation, observation, and assessment are the key enabling skills to review and renew. Stage 6 – Leadership In this model leadership sits at the centre of the management effectiveness cycle. This is not accidental. Leadership is the individual’s ability to create followership, so that people at the front line can look at the FLM and be inspired, motivated, and trust the FLM competencies, skills, and abilities. Leadership starts with an internal search, understanding your motivations, your values, your direction, your vision, your goals. Only once the FLM has mastered these skills can they look at how to inspire others. Ultimately, to successfully enable FLMs to deliver results, organisations must help them to blend the internal personal mastery with the external environment to inspire the followers to succeed. IMI is dedicated in helping organisations develop their Front Line Management to deliver bottom line results, to learn more about it check our dedicated FLM web site space. Derek Fox is an expert in management development, innovation and interpersonal communications. Derek has published a number of books including his bestselling titles in both Psychology (DISCovering your style and dealing with difficult people) and Presentation skills (Presenting without fear).  He contributes to journals and business publications such as: T&D Magazine, HR Ireland, People Management, and has published articles with the Sunday Business Post, and the Sunday Times.   [post_title] => In today's business the front line delivers the bottom line [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => in-todays-business-the-frontline-delivers-the-bottom-line-6 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 21:37:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 21:37:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23257 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2018-06-05 13:26:05 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-06-05 13:26:05 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_23259" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Does being an authentic leader mean wearing a mask or developing your authenticity itself? Does being an authentic leader mean wearing a mask or developing your authenticity itself?[/caption]   Authenticity is often characterised by the famous quotation from Hamlet, in which Polonius gives the following advice to Laertes: "This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man" - Hamlet, Act I, Scene III While this might be wise advice to Laertes, it is not universally applicable to leadership. The simple reason is that authenticity and authentic leadership are not one and the same. Unfortunately, some leaders believe that they simply need to be true to themselves in order to be an authentic leader. However, this is really only half the story. Simply being true to oneself does not recognise that authentic leadership is, at its core, a relationship with those around you. What we need to explore is how we should build upon the foundation of authenticity to develop as authentic leaders.   The Gold Standard The topic of Authentic Leadership has been around for quite a while. It has even been referred to in the Harvard Business Review as the “gold standard for leadership”. Without focusing too much on definitions of authentic leadership, it's generally agreed that authentic leaders are very self-aware and have a strong personal value-system. They also lead from a position of trust and connect with others at a very personal level. Organisationally they are mission-driven and adopt a long-term perspective. For authentic leaders, leadership is not a static ‘me and them’, a leader with followers. Rather, leadership is an on-going relationship that requires intent and effort. Authentic leadership is about authentic relationships. Building and maintaining these relationships requires more than just authenticity and good intent. It also requires a range of emotional intelligence skills. With this in mind, and as a means of moving beyond just authenticity, I’d like to propose three emotional intelligence skills that leaders should continuously develop and practice if they wish to grow as authentic leaders.   Developing Emotional Intelligence as a Leader 1) Broaden your self-awareness beyond yourself. Leaders need to increase their awareness of how others impact the leader’s own decision-making and emotional responses. Take time to reflect on the external triggers that invoke an emotional response. These might be particular people, situations or topics. Ask yourself, “are these responses serving me and others well?” 2) Develop more Empathy. The key to developing greater levels of empathy is to become a better listener. In addition to listening for facts, ask yourself, “how does this person feel about this?” Reflect back to the other person what you’ve heard them say: this clearly says to the other person “I understand you”. 3) Increase your range of emotional expression. In other words, learn to more skilfully share with others what you are feeling as well as what you are thinking. You are doing this already because “your body never shuts up” – in other words, you are always communicating with your body language, facial expressions etc. Being more skilful is not about acting or putting on a false image. The leader needs to be aware of how she "shows up" as a leader every day and how this impacts on others. So, to return to our friend Polonious, perhaps a better piece of advice might have been: “To thine own self, and others, be true” People will remember how you made them feel, long after they've forgotten what you said.  
billy-byrneBilly Byrne is an IMI associate on the High Impact Leadership programme. He is an executive coach, leadership development specialist and an associate at KinchLyons, Organisational Psychologists. Billy holds masters degrees in organisational behaviour and coaching. He is a chartered fellow of CIPD and Council Member of EMCC. To date he has completed sixteen marathons. For more on coaching and how it can impact individuals and the organisation as a whole, explore our IMI Diploma in Executive Coaching. [post_title] => To Thine Own Self be True: Leadership Lessons in Authenticity [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => thine-self-true-leadership-lessons-authenticity [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 11:12:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 11:12:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16052 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2016-09-28 11:32:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-28 11:32:28 [post_content] => Frances Ruane picFrances Ruane served as Director of the ESRI from 2006 to 2015.  She previously taught in the Dept of Economics at TCD, and earlier in her career she work at Queens University in Canada and at the Central Bank of Ireland and the IDA. In Ireland, her current activities include chair of the Interdepartmental Group on Making Work Pay for People with Disabilities at the Department of Social Welfare, membership of the Public Interest Committee of KPMG, and an Honorary Professor in the Department of Economics at Trinity College, where she contributes to the MSc in Economic Policy Studies. She is also a Research Affiliate at the ESRI and a member of the Royal Irish Academy.  
IMI: Based on your current work – if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business – what would they be?

FR: Look positively beyond the immediate.

  IMI: What does this mean? FR: After a period of rapid growth, the global financial crisis meant that Irish businesses had to concentrate on handling immediate challenges.  They managed that disruption well and this contributed to the strength of Ireland’s recovery.   But the focus on the immediate has left many businesses with legacy issues (debt burdens, under-investment in innovation, poor staff morale). And now businesses need to prepare for the medium term when we discover what is really meant by ‘Brexit means Brexit’.  Forward looking businesses leaders need now to ask: what could Brexit mean for my market and company? Where am I exposed to risk and how can I mitigate it?   [post_title] => "Look positively beyond the immediate" Six Word Wisdom from Frances Ruane [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => look-positively-beyond-immediate-six-word-wisdom-frances-ruane [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 19:52:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 19:52:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 12562 [post_author] => 71 [post_date] => 2016-10-25 10:26:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-25 10:26:33 [post_content] =>

Touching back on my last blog I mentioned that culture needs to become a strategic business priority (like sales, profit, etc.) and not just a HR priority.

boat with leader Source:

Leadership teams can start the creation of high performance cultures by implementing the following 6 steps:

1. Establish a sense of urgency

They need to make it clear that the current culture needs to change, articulate the vision and business case, and describe the opportunity (as John P. Kotter states in his book The 8-Step Process for Leading Change) in a way that appeals to the hearts and minds of people.

2. Develop a set of strategic beliefs

These are the beliefs senior executives have about their organisation’s environment that enables shaping business strategy e.g. Dell believed that customers would, if the price was right, buy computers from a catalogue rather than go to computer stores as the conventional wisdom dictated they would. They created a $7 billion business.

3. Develop a set of values

Values enable the organisation to act on its strategic beliefs and implement their strategy the right way. Values shape the culture of an organisation, define its character and serve as a foundation in how people act and make decisions. Dell’s values supporting its strategy and strategic beliefs include: Delivering results that make a positive difference; leading with openness and optimism and winning with integrity.

4. Capitalise on quick wins

Capitalize on and honour your cultural strengths and act quickly on any critical behaviour changes required.

5. Challenge those norms that get on the way of high performance

Norms are informal guidelines about what is considered normal (what is correct or incorrect) behaviour in a particular situation. Peer pressure to conform to team norms is a powerful influencer on people’s behaviour, and it is often a major barrier affecting change. It is always easier to go along with the norm than trying to change it…. Common samples of negative norms in some organisations: Perception that it is ok to yell at people, ignore people’s opinions, etc.

6. Role model and recognise the desired behaviours

As Gandhi wonderfully put it “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This empowers action and helps embed the desired culture you are trying to create. Behaviour is a function of its consequences. Behaviour that results in pleasant consequences is more likely to be repeated, and behaviour that results in unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated. According to B. F. Skinner and reinforcement theory “future behavioural choices are affected by the consequences of earlier behaviours”. The argument is clear; if you want people to be brave and challenge the status quo, you shouldn’t make them feel awkward or like difficult employees when they do. Furthermore, if want people to contribute at meetings make sure you actively listen to them and act on their suggestions and ideas.


On his famous article “On the folly of rewarding A while hoping for B” Steven Kerr argues that the way in which we reward and recognise people doesn’t always deliver the desired results. We all have being in situations where we are told to plan for long-term growth yet we are rewarded purely on quarterly earnings; we are asked to be a team player and are rewarded solely on our individual efforts; we are told that the way in which results are achieved is important and yet we promote people who achieve results the wrong / in a Machiavellian way. A friend of mine was recently at a hospital and he complained to the ward manager about the doctor’s bad manners and rudeness. The answer he got was “do you want to be treated by the best heart doctor in the country or a not so good doctor but with a really nice bed manner?”.

My argument is why can’t we have both?

Pedro Angulo is the Programme Director of the IMI Diploma in Strategic HR Management starting on 16th November 2016. Pedro is an Organisational Effectiveness Business Partner in AIB and Chairperson of the Irish EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council). He is a motivational speaker and regular presenter at HR, coaching, change and business conferences / events. _____________________________________ [post_title] => 6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 6-strategies-start-creation-high-performance-cultures [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
Billy Byrne

Billy Byrne

5th Oct 2017

Billy Byrne is an IMI associate on the High Impact Leadership programme.

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In today's business the front line delivers the bottom line
To Thine Own Self be True: Leadership Lessons in Authenticity
"Look positively beyond the immediate" Six Word Wisdom from Frances Ruane
6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures

Six Leadership Lessons I Learned From Running A Marathon

At the end of October, many thousands of runners will wind their way around Dublin city and suburbs as they complete the 42.2 kilometres of the Dublin City Marathon. For those who are running their first marathon one thing is guaranteed; they will be changed by the experience, not just on marathon day but during the long months of training that they will have put in. They will have learned new things about themselves, not least of which, that they are capable of pushing themselves physically and mentally to new limits once they put their minds to it.

(Photo source)

I ran my first Dublin Marathon in 2013. While I learned a lot about myself from running marathons, I also learned some lessons that translate into my work with business leaders. Here are my top six lessons that I believe are applicable to anyone in a leadership role.

  1. A big goal provides direction and purpose. Big goals are needed in order to provide direction and purpose. In this respect, a big goal acts as a compass. It helps provide an answer to question “is what I’m doing moving me towards or away from my overall goal?” A marathon is a great example as it is a very specific and measurable goal; the distance and date won’t change. A big goal also provides meaning and purpose. It’s something to work towards, little by little, step by step. There’s a big difference between saying, “I’m running” and “I’m training for a marathon”. Leaders also need to have big goals in order to provide direction for others. Without these, there is a danger of falling into an activity trap, being very busy but ultimately not achieving anything.
  1. Small goals are what get things done. Real motivation requires on-going feedback and intermediate goals. A marathon date that is six months away doesn’t provide sufficient motivation to get out of bed at 6am to run on a wet Sunday morning. Marathon training plans have weekly goals and other milestones along the way. Similarly, with long-term objectives, it’s important to have intermediate goals along the way. There’s little point in just setting a performance goal at the beginning of the year and then expecting miracles. There must be a sense of achievement and progress along the way. Intermediate goals also provide feedback on how you are doing. If you are leading the project then it’s your responsibility to identify these in order to motivate your team.
  1. Fail early and learn early. My second ever marathon was Paris 2014. I expected to do well and was hoping to build on the Dublin Marathon experience. Of course, it didn’t work out like that at all – I made a number of fundamental mistakes on the day and finished well outside my target time. Nevertheless, the lessons I learned I have put to use in every marathon since then and these have served me well. As a leader, it’s important to acknowledge that there will be setbacks, particularly in the early stages of projects. The first question you ask must be “what can we learn from this?” This is far more likely to drive performance than embarking on a blame game. Lessons learned early on in a project will help you to avoid bigger problems later on.
  1. Feedback is oxygen. Runners typically do some training alone. However, those who are striving for improved performance usually have a training partner who pushes them to do better. By pushing each other, both achieve greater levels of performance. This is important for leaders too. While leaders need to be independent and resilient, having peer support is vital. Having a peer who is willing to give and receive honest feedback and provide challenge is of enormous benefit in terms of improving one’s own performance. It is like oxygen, fuelling the performance of both leaders.
  1. Be uncomfortable. My coach always pushes me to a point where I am just outside my comfort zone but not so far outside that I become discouraged. Working at the edge drives your performance and continually increases the size of your comfort zone. The inverse is also true: spending too much time in your comfort zone causes it to shrink and negatively impacts performance. Just like a runner who loses fitness if they are not pushing their limits, likewise, a leader who is not pushing themselves and their team outside their comfort zone is likely to be ill-prepared for the next big challenge.
  1. Recovery and self-renewal is as important as activity. This is something that most marathon runners take seriously. They don’t train flat out every day and have rest days and recovery built into their training schedule. Unfortunately, in business, this is generally not the case. Recovery and renewal are often ignored, despite the fact that the research shows overwhelmingly that working long hours on a continuous basis reduces overall effectiveness. If a marathon runner had as little recovery time as many managers do they would most probably end up injured and miss the race.  For managers, the “injury” is more likely to be to their mental well being more than their physical well being. Recovery is not one-dimensional and should include physical and mental recovery.

Running a marathon isn’t on everyone’s bucket list. However, if you are in a leadership role, then you are (metaphorically) training for a marathon every day you turn up for work.


Billy Byrne is an IMI associate on the High Impact Leadership programme. He is an executive coach, leadership development specialist and an associate at KinchLyons, Organisational Psychologists. Billy holds masters degrees in organisational behaviour and coaching. He is a chartered fellow of CIPD and Council Member of EMCC. To date he has completed sixteen marathons.