Convergence: A Business Force Multiplier

The official Department of Defense definition of “force multiplier” is: “A capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increases the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.”

Convergence

When these four business components converge, they create a business force multiplier:

Leadership

Alignment

Passion

Skills

The kind of leadership I’m talking about consists of leaders with a belief system that helps create a high-performance DNA. These are leaders who get the right brain chemistry happening so their people are willing and able to innovate, think more like a CEO and bring authentic, straightforward feedback to leaders, when and where it’s needed.

Alignment refers to organizational alignment on the right things, e.g. markets, mix, strategies, etc. This starts at the top with executive alignment and cascades through all levels of the organization.

The passion I’m talking about is both individual and team passion that is connected to the organization’s purpose.

Skills refers to having the right skill sets in the right places from the front line to the boardroom.

If one of these four business components is missing or weak, you may still be successful, but you’re probably leaving something on the table. It’s not convergence and you lose the force multiplier impact. For example, you might have:

Leadership with a belief system that unknowingly hinders performance and creativity

Alignment on the wrong things

Passion contrary to the organization’s purpose

• A lack of skills in crucial areas

On the other hand, when these four are strongly in place, you’ll have a culture where more people think and care like a CEO and passionately execute the mission. They’ll do it because they want to, they’re allowed to and they’re equipped to.

Once again, the good news is this is largely within the control of leaders.

Mini Self-Assessment

1. How would you rate your organization on the convergence factor (1 being poor and 5 being good)?

2. What would your workforce say?

Convergence My Perspective Workforce Perspective

Leadership with the right belief system

1

2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5

Alignment of vision, mission, markets, etc.

1

2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4

5

Passion of individuals and teams connected to the organization’s purpose

1

2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4

5

The right skills in the right places, frontline to boardroom

1 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4

5

How Mission, Vision, Values Statements Can Backfire

Many organizations have written statements around vision, mission and values. The real question is, what percentage of the time do those statements actually drive a decision in the boardroom, guide a conversation in the hallway or shift interactions with customers? People look closely at the behaviors of leaders and then decide, often subconsciously, if those statements ring true.

Once you have a belief system that is intentionally helping, instead of unintentionally hindering, you’ve won half the battle.

When leaders appear to violate those values, even if it’s unintentional, it can take people back to the crying wolf syndrome. Or worse yet, the values statements become monuments to hypocrisy that really mess with the organization’s culture. Putting your DNA, your belief system, your culture, in writing can be a powerful force for clarity, alignment and performance. It can also backfire if it’s not completely true and perceived to be true. An authentic question for leaders to ask themselves when creating or reviewing these statements is, “Do we really believe this stuff from the heart?” If leaders don’t, the workforce won’t.

Transformation: Strategic, Tied-to-Leadership Compensation

Culture transformation must be an all-in corporate strategy, valued at least as highly as any other strategy. In business, we “treasure what we measure,” so culture should be part of leaders’ compensation plans, starting at the top. Otherwise, it will either go by the wayside or become simply another flavor-of-the-month program, causing even more damage.

Just “managing to the Scorecard” (or other tools), can lead to fear-induced behaviors to “make the numbers.” This can make you look good on paper, but frequently does little to affect substantive change. This shift must come from a heartfelt, passionate belief within every leader.

This culture shift takes courage, creativity, humility, teachability, persistence and skills. Once created, the rewards can be huge.

Where to Start? Define the Belief System

To transform a culture, you must first know which beliefs and values are moving you toward your desired outcome and which are pushing against it. Sadly, this fundamental key is all too often ignored but is crucial to true transformation. A good mantra might be, “Keep what is helping. Everything else is open for consideration and/or change.” This takes courage, humility and a willingness to see truth and respond authentically.

Authentic answers to three questions may tell you how ready you are to take on this culture shift and predict your likelihood of success. If you struggle identifying the beliefs, keep digging, because they are present and they are part of what’s driving many of your business metrics, intended or not. These questions assume you have defined your future state, i.e. the vision of what better looks like. From there, ask and document the answers.

1. What beliefs are driving the behaviors that are limiting performance?

2. Are those beliefs still valid, given the future you are trying to create?

3. If they’re not, are you willing to hear truth and do whatever it takes to solve the real issues?

Also document the beliefs and values that are helping, that you want to keep. You can adapt the familiar Force Field Analysis tool to work with beliefs and values, to strengthen what’s helping and reduce or eliminate what’s hindering.

Conclusion

Once you have a belief system that is intentionally helping, instead of unintentionally hindering, you’ve won half the battle. The other half is determining what types of knowledge and skills leaders and the workforce need to strengthen in order to produce the behaviors that align with where you want to go.


About the Author

Michael CliftonMichael Clifton is an exceptional business coach, facilitator, speaker and trainer. Throughout more than 30 years, 20 countries and 150 companies, he has solved people issues to improve business performance.

Michael shows executives how to stop chasing symptoms and only tweaking performance around the edges. His practical tools get to root causes, produce real transformation and immediate business results, and change people’s lives. His industry experience includes software, manufacturing, hi-tech, healthcare, retail, electronics, food service, insurance, construction, education, banking, government, financial services and more. His clients include Microsoft, Starbucks, Boeing, Merrill Lynch, Cornel University, Eddie Bauer, The World Bank and many others.

Michael brings a strong dose of compassionate reality to the business table.

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