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Forum Named a Top 20 Sales Training Company by for Fifth Consecutive Year

March 24th, 2015 by Brian Hawthorne
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The Forum Corporation is once again pleased to announce that we have been named a Top 20 Sales Training Company by for a fifth consecutive year! This award would not be possible without the continued relationships of our exceptional clients and partners who work with us to help salespeople develop strategy-specific skills and improve their overall performance. compiles its annual Top 20 Sales Training Companies list to continually monitor the training marketplace for the best providers of outstanding service, and a proven track record for delivering superior sales training and improving the impact of the sales organization.

2015 - selected us based on the following criteria:

  • Industry recognition and impact on the sales training industry
  • Innovation in the sales training market
  • Company size and growth potential
  • Breadth of service offering
  • Strength of clients served
  • Geographic reach

In addition to our clients, we would also like to thank for this award.

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Old Goat Singapore – 3 Ways Business can Lead the Flock in the Year of ‘Yang’

March 22nd, 2015 by Cynthia Stuckey
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February 19 was the start of a new year in the Chinese zodiac. The year of the horse galloped on by, making way for the year of ‘Yang’ the sheep, goat or gazelle depending on which prophet you follow.

For some, Singapore may be seen as an old goat in Southeast Asia; an established economy fighting to remain relevant against a number of competitive newcomers in the region, with the year of ‘Yang’ possibly offering more head-butts and side-kicks to productivity rather than a lucrative golden fleece.

But if anything, Singapore is persistent and is no stranger to tribulation. The ways in which organisations and their leaders handle key challenges in learning and development will be key to their success and determine how they maximise value from their investments in the year of ‘Yang’.

Employee engagement and the role of middle-managers
Business leaders and HR managers in Singapore are becoming increasingly aware of the positive impact employee engagement has on staff retention, performance and profitability. Thus, greater emphasis is being placed on employee engagement as a key strategy to improve staff retention and increase productivity across business levels.

To truly embrace employee engagement and ensure it functions most effectively, it first has to become a business imperative driven by leaders throughout all levels of the organisation. For this to occur, HR must secure its seat at the 2015 board table to enable the successful integration of employee engagement, and other core HR strategies, into all business plans.

In Asia, engagement is a significant challenge as people leadership skills are weaker compared to strong technical capabilities and requires conscious development. To effectively engage employees, middle-managers are key and must also be engaged and accountable for their actions and responsibilities.

Successful implementation of strategic initiatives requires an engaged and accountable cadre of mid-level leaders who do the indispensible work of making the CEO’s vision a reality. To cope with the great recession, many organisations curtailed their investments in middle management development, leaving many with skill gaps in mid-level leadership. In the year of ‘Yang’, with emerging markets increasing competition in Southeast Asia and the focus on keeping pace intensifying, it’s the companies that focus on equipping their middle-managers that will lead the flock.

To successfully manage these challenges focused training of mid-level leaders is required so that they are able to become more involved in engaging employees on an individual level, while also working together with upper management to transform employee engagement into a company-wide commitment instead of a task purely delegated to HR.
Demand for leaders who inspire trust
Forum has produced global research to show a direct link between trust and engagement, which indicated that the more leaders inspire trust in their team the more energised and motivated they will be.  Based on our research, the way leaders build trust is through the way they communicate and behave. To remain competitive and high performing, businesses in Southeast Asia will need leaders that know how to build and maintain a climate of trust within their teams, something that is traditionally and culturally foreign to the region.

The four most effective tactics for inspiring trust are:

  1. Listening to employees and understanding their concerns
  2. Walking the talk – managers doing as they say and modelling positive behaviour
  3. Following through on commitments
  4. Encouraging employees to offer ideas and suggestions.

When trust is low, clarity is reduced and less focus put on accelerating strategic initiatives and promoting success. At the same time, navigating the complex inter-connectedness of today’s global business environment requires that we also work with ambiguity.  Organisations that figure out how to balance clarity and ambiguity will have a winning formula that leaders can use to drive results.

Skill gaps are widening
While the Southeast Asian market is experiencing high growth, Singapore is struggling to keep up with productivity. In the year of ‘Yang’, businesses will require a diverse set of skills to respond to fast changing market conditions and remain competitive. Companies will need to constantly modify and develop their leaders at all levels to ensure they close skill gaps to enable the workforce to increase productivity, while also balancing the needs of new talent entering the workforce.

Many companies have limited resources to work with due to a shortage of talent in Asia. To safeguard against this issue, businesses must establish clear career paths for all staff to retain and develop skills in line with the needs of the local market and business. This also means focusing on the careers of existing and older employees to ensure they are continually learning, growing and adding value, as well as mapping out attractive career pathways for newcomers.

Focus on talent development
Most learning and development occur at work, which highlights the need to sustain and embed learning into everyday work life. Not only training, but ongoing coaching will be essential in maintaining a highly engaged, intellectually stimulated and productive workforce.

Toward the end of 2014, the Singapore Government released the Continuing Education and Training (CET) 2020 Masterplan that supports efforts to restructure the economy, develop a career-resilient workforce and build deeper expertise in Singapore’s personnel, with increased involvement by employers in enhancing and valuing skills.

While initiatives like this offer positive support, the bottom line is that organisations have to be more proactive and structured in how they develop their people. Successful businesses devote time, energy and resources to advancing people and the organisations in which they perform. It is companies that implement leadership development that tightly aligns with the organisation’s growth that will not only endure but also get the greatest value from their investment in the year of ‘Yang’.

About the author:
Cynthia Stuckey is the Asia Pacific Managing Director of The Forum Corporation. Forum is a recognised global leader in linking leadership development and sales effectiveness training to strategic business objectives. For more information, visit:

This article was originally published in HRD Singapore on 17 March 2015 and is reprinted with permission from the publication.

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How to Retain the Best People and Develop a Healthy Pipeline of Talent

March 17th, 2015 by David Robertson
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People have a fundamental need to feel they are progressing, or they will leave. So a successful learning strategy is one where there’s visible commitment throughout the organisation to developing talent that is owned on three levels; by the company, manager and employee.

To address these three levels of ownership organisations can:

1. Create a ‘nurturing talent’ programme for all levels of leadership

This programme should help leaders understand their role in coaching and nurturing talent development and developing the leadership pipeline, and how this drives the business strategy. Leaders will learn to be learning partners for career development discussions and develop their coaching and feedback skills. This approach also identifies high potential talent where you may need to take an accelerated approach. This approach shows the organisation is willing to invest in developing talent and highlights the critical role of leaders in coaching and development.

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2. Show commitment to learning on an individual level

The organisation also needs to show its commitment to learning on an individual level by developing a ‘Developing my Career’ programme that encourages individuals to own their development pathway and clarifies the range of opportunities and support available. The programme should focus on the individual, help them clarify their needs and preferences and even include some detail of the leadership pipeline in the organisation.  In this session they would map opportunities to develop up, across and outside of the business with a clear line of sight to the company and personal goals.  They would plan career development discussions they want to have with their line leader.

3. Embed talent management into your culture

Include linkage to these talent programmes in the induction process and create a Talent Forum, a careers development intranet with access to learning tools and advice to reinforce the learning culture and enable learners to own and share experiences and skills.

You need to ensure that ‘talent management’ is a hard wired to your business. Embed it into the culture at every layer and the company’s commitment to development will shine through and your pipeline of talent will flow freely.

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Forum Named Top 20 Leadership Training Companies for the Sixth Year in a Row!

March 12th, 2015 by Brian Hawthorne
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We are once again thrilled to announce that for the sixth straight year, Forum has been named a Top 20 Leadership Training Company. As with any award, this honor would not be possible without the continued collaboration with our clients and the hard work of all Forum employees, facilitators and valued partners. compiles this annual list to monitor the training marketplace for the best providers of training services and technologies. Selection of the Top 20 Leadership Training Companies was based on the following criteria:

  • Thought leadership and influence within the leadership training industry
  • Industry recognition and innovation2015 - Seal_Content_Leadership_Small
  • Breadth of programs and range of audiences served
  • Delivery methods offered
  • Company size and growth potential
  • Strength of clients
  • Geographic reach
  • Experience serving the market

In addition to our clients, partners and employees, we would also like to thank for this award.

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Celebrating Women in Business – Part 1

March 6th, 2015 by Nithya Ramaswamy
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As we mark the International Women`s Day this Sunday we at Forum celebrate all women in business for their achievements. Often challenging, female leadership is on the rise and we would like to inspire and encourage all aspiring women by sharing insights from our very own senior female executives.

Launching today, we are starting our “Celebrating Women in Business” monthly series, where Forum’s female leaders will share their challenges and advice on succeeding in business.

Starting the series, Nithya Ramaswamy, Design and Development Consultant shares her personal and professional experience and lessons learned that shaped her career.

Nithya Ramaswamy, Design & Development Consultant, APAC

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

03.06.15 - Celebrating Women in Business.jpgI wanted to be many things. A doctor, a vet, a teacher, an actor, a lawyer, a pilot and the list goes on. I suppose I didn’t have a specific idea of what I wanted to be, but I knew that it had to be in the field of working with different people and helping them solve daily problems.

What, if any personal challenges did you face to get into business and a leadership role and how did you overcome these? What lessons have you learnt in your personal life which helped in business?

While I was born and brought up in Singapore, I come from a very traditional, orthodox Indian family where boys are seen as the pride of the family.  My parents, akin to many other traditional Indian families, always believed in raising girls to be pretty, well-mannered and educated to a point where they are able to fulfil their roles as supportive wives and mothers. Having a great job, furthering my education or being a business leader was never really expected of me.

This kind of narrow-minded thinking in a strange, unintentional way stirred up a burning desire within me to want to prove them wrong, and show them that I could do anything a boy is capable of. It was personally challenging as it meant being self-driven and achievement-oriented to get where I wanted. Watching my mum work extremely hard as a homemaker and not having the empowerment to make her own choices motivated me to work hard, have a sense of independence, and strive for recognition outside of home.

The biggest lesson in life for me is that you can do or achieve anything, only if you want to. Sheer determination to succeed and achieve your goals comes from within. Opportunities do present themselves if you work hard and plan ahead. Obstacles, setbacks, whatever discourages you – take that as a challenge, learn from it and bounce back up.

What, if anything, would you have done differently in your career to date?

I can say that I have made the most out of the opportunities presented to me, and am quite happy with the outcome. There are always times where I wonder if I should have made a quicker decision or should have done things differently, but I think it is all part and parcel of evaluating your options and choosing what you think is best at that point in time. What is important is to make the most of what you have at any given time, without compromising your values, and back yourself up.

Have you had a bad boss along the way and why was this person a poor leader?

Yes, I think no one is perfect, every boss has their strengths and weaknesses. But the ones who are poor leaders are those who acknowledge their weaknesses but don’t act to improve or overcome them. I had a boss in my earlier organisation who was a great motivator and extremely supportive of my projects and decisions. However, he struggled to give direct feedback about areas I need to improve on, and focus on my development needs. I am critical of the work I do, and therefore appreciate candid feedback on what needs to be better. Not having that kind of direct feedback made me lose interest in what I was doing after some time, and I decided to leave the organisation for a more challenging environment.

What’s the hardest business conversation you have ever had and what did you learn from it?

In my previous role as a Talent Development Manager in logistics organisation, which was male-dominated and where training and development was perceived to be a waste of time, trying to get the buy-in and managing up through impactful business conversations was a huge challenge. One of those hard conversations happened when I mustered enough courage to barge in to the HR VP’s office and present a business case to him on looking at training and development as an asset instead of a cost, and re-framing the role of our talent development and management function in the region.

It was a great experience as no one had attempted to have these conversations in the past as they had all assumed leaders who are engineering professionals will view these efforts with scepticism and had continued with the status quo. That one conversation spiralled into a series of conversations between our regional talent team and the senior leadership to take our ideas forward. The end result of these conversations was a keenness on the leadership team’s part to have my department engage in more strategic work and engage more frequently with the line. They tagged us as “Super Heroes” encouraging us to travel the region, explore where the talent development and management gaps are and to come back and make recommendations. What I have learnt from that is having courage to change the status quo and taking things in your stride, being willing to take baby steps to be the change you are seeking.

Who is your most admired female leader and why?

I think there are many women leaders I admire. Whether it is well-known leaders like Angela Merkel and Indra Nooyi or fellow women leaders whom I know personally as my family members, friends and colleagues that I work with, they are all extraordinary women leaders who stand by their values, communicate openly, and aren’t afraid to think innovatively or adapt their leadership style.

Do you think women make better leaders than men and what’s the reason for your answer? Are there some things that certain genders are just better at in business?

I don’t think that the effectiveness of one’s leadership can be accorded to one’s gender. We are all so diverse, and our personalities, upbringing, systemic and environmental factors, daily interactions mould us to who we are and what we are good at/not so good at. For example, we often hear that women are better at multi-tasking and men aren’t. Again, I have seen plenty of male leaders who are great at multi-tasking and I certainly find it hard to multi-task to be honest! Another perception is that women leaders are more micro-managing in their style whereas male leaders empower their staff more. Again from my experience, I have seen this can go either way. The key here is balance, whether one is a male or female leader. Getting the right balance by adapting and communicating according to the situation is the way to go, in order to be a better leader.

What are the strengths of women in business and how can women maximise these and build on them to get ahead? What are the weaknesses and how can they overcome them?

For a woman to become a leader, she has to fight harder against the status quo and stereotypes, and therefore has to be a lot more focused and determined. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s sums this up by saying, “Stop whingeing, get on with it, and prove them all wrong.”

By virtue of this, strong women leaders recognise these challenges and set a new standard by being more assertive and persuasive when they need to, and take a keen effort to build relationships and promote collaborative workplaces. Conversely, weak women leaders succumb to the status quo and stereotypes, and it is a downward spiral from there.

What is the one piece of advice you would give other women in business who are aiming to be senior leaders?

The advice I would give all women who aspire to be senior leaders is that success and balance go hand in hand. Don’t be afraid to make decisions and back yourself out, while reaching out to others for counsel and support, taking care in surrounding yourself with people whom you can count on. Balance is also about being authentic yet adaptable in a variety of situations, and having an unending curiosity to know more, acknowledge what you don’t know and keep at it.

How do you think leadership in the workplace will look different in 5 to 10 years’ time and how will these affect women? How is globalisation affecting this change?

Leaders, both men and women need to be a lot more adaptive to changes and be able to deal with ambiguity and various complex situations. Globalisation causes the workforce to work in flexible and untethered formats, keep learning on the job and collaborate across boundaries. Leaders more than ever need to recognise the changing landscape, think creatively with limited amounts of information and manage business dilemmas by engaging their employees regularly.

There is a long way to go for organisations world-wide in promoting diversity in leadership and enabling women to realise their leadership potential by providing development scaffolds through their leadership journey such as mentorship schemes and impactful leadership development programmes. There are many organisations that are starting to promote workplace flexibility and encourage the growth of women leaders in their leadership pipeline. Women leaders should take advantage of these efforts and continue to lead with a great degree of self-awareness and courage. Women leaders should also be mindful of the common stereotypes that exist around women leaders and avoid falling into potential role traps by casting themselves as victims.

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Time to move jobs?

February 25th, 2015 by Graham Scrivener
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The recent findings by the Institute of Leadership and Management survey revealed that over a third of workers in the UK will move jobs, which is a dramatic increase to 2014. This increase is certainly being driven by a more competitive jobs market but it’s equally being fueled by bad management, lack of training and development and poor career progression which is leaving staff de-motivated in their jobs.  As we know, people that are not engaged in their work are less productive and likely to move on. But often changing jobs is the last resort for a lot of people, forced upon them because there’s no other way to progress their career with their existing employer.
In today’s jobs market it’s ever more important for employers to spot when staff are stagnant and de-motivated. They need to know how to re-energise and retain them from the claws of the competition. It’s no good waiting for them to come to you, as by then they’re probably half way out the door. So what can you do to resolve any potential motivational issues before it becomes a problem?

1. Identification
When staff lacks enthusiasm there are certain signs to watch for – such as low levels of energy, missed deadlines, poor efficiency and feedback, and poor performance. But, by the time these signs are showing, staff may already be switching jobs.  Great managers understand what engages individual members and this knowledge allows them to spot any potential changes to climate that could affect motivation and resolve any possible issues before it threatens staff retention levels.

2. Engagementbusinessman over stretched
Being aware and responsive should also be followed up with regular engagement with members to learn about their drivers, goals and to clarify how the company will help them reach these. It goes beyond just telling people what to do or creating once-a-year performance plans. It requires ongoing communications to clarify expectations, to identify results for which the employee is responsible for, engage in joint expectation-setting discussions, and to keep the employee focused on the right outcomes. Clarify the link between the organisation’s strategy and the employee’s contribution and ensure that they know that they have the support they need to be successful. Do all this and the person will feel valued and will increase their sense of commitment and engagement in their work.

3. Action planning
There may be occasions when a manager realises that an employee is losing focus and they need to step in. On other occasions, an employee may come to them for help and clarification.  Regardless of who initiates a conversation, it’s important to identify the cause of the issue by sharing observations on what the issue could be or asking the employee to describe the specifics of what is going on. Typical examples of issues or challenges include work overload, conflicting priorities of stakeholders, and difficulty managing the requests of internal or external customers. Then work out ways to overcome the issue so enthusiasm for the job is restored. Some employees may be very clear about what needs to be done to refocus on the right outcomes; they simply need their manager`s concurrence and help. Whilst others need their manager to be fairly prescriptive about what they believe are the right outcomes and actions to focus on.

4. Sustainment
Regular performance reviews, informal conversations, coaching and mentoring are all key to sustaining a happy, motivated and productive workforce that wants to remain in the business.
It’s only natural that there will be times when staff are not as enthused about their job as normal but if you communicate and coach regularly, you will be able to rectify any underlying issue or challenge before it’s too late.

This is a summary of the Four steps to energising and retaining talent article originally published in Training Zone on 23rd February.

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Are Your Online Offerings Merely Engaging?

February 18th, 2015 by Nanette Miner, Ed.D
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In a course I teach on behalf of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) on adult learning theory, there is always a robust discussion regarding the difference between education, training, and learning – are they different? And if so – what is the difference?

Recently it occurred to me that the same type of precise definition is necessary when it comes to online learning, between the terms engagement, interaction, and collaboration.

Engagement might be considered the “level one” of online behavior.  Engagement includes things like highlighting phrases on the whiteboard, or having the bullets on your slides build one at a time.  Engagement captures people’s attention, keeps their interest, and keeps them from walking down the hall to fetch a cup of coffee. As a facilitator and it doesn’t matter if I have an audience of one or an audience of 100-my engagement techniques will probably not change.

Interaction would then be “level two” of online behavior.  Interaction requires a response of some type from the participants in the online event.  Perhaps they will raise their hand to offer a story, or give a green check to indicate that they have finished reading a case study and are ready to move on.  In the same course referenced in the introduction, there is a slide with the following statement:

7-10 days after training, we remember ______ of what was taught in a training class:

– 10 – 20%

– 20 – 30%

– 30 – 40%

Participants are asked to make a mark on the whiteboard to indicate what they believe the answer is, and then the correct answer appears via animation in the blank space of the statement.  In this case, again, the size of the audience really doesn’t matter as I’m simply asking for a response of some type.  It also doesn’t matter whether their answer is correct or not because the content is designed to “move on” regardless of how they answer, or how many people answer.

Collaboration is the pinnacle of online interaction (“level three”).  The size of the audience matters and the quality of their participation is crucial.  With collaboration you are expecting the participants to create the content in some way. For instance, you might provide five common objections that a salesperson encounters and ask the participants to work together to craft the five best responses to those objections.  Your five responses will certainly be better as a result of multiple people offering their input as opposed to asking each individual to craft their own response.  You might break your large group into smaller groups and, through the use of breakout rooms, task each group with brainstorming best practices for different aspects of the giving a presentation: opening a presentation, anticipating questions from the audience, using multimedia or technology in the presentation, and closing the presentation.

In addition to higher quality responses as a result of collaboration, the “next steps” are often dependent on the outcome of the collaborative work.  Until participants brainstorm best practices for giving a presentation they can’t go ahead and practice giving presentations.  Until the salespeople brainstorm the best responses to an objection they shouldn’t be making sales calls in which they might encounter an objection.

For online learning, it is crucial that the design and delivery of your offerings include collaboration. If a presentation is merely engaging or interactive, in all likelihood it simply could have been recorded and sent to the participants. Collaboration is the “realization” of the value of having participants come together simultaneously.

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How To Re-Energise Your Career

February 12th, 2015 by Graham Scrivener
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This article is a summary of Share Radio`s Career Clinic interview from 22nd January 2015.

Listen to the full interview here.

The beginning of the year is a time of reflection on our personal and professional life with many looking to change jobs. According to ILM research, a third of us will move on in our jobs this year mainly due to lack of development and poor management.

This is not necessarily a matter of being fundamentally unhappy with the organisation or career direction and it might simply come down to identifying what would make you more engaged and motivated to come to work. Some people will tend to look outside of  the organisation. UK government figures issued recently stated that there are 750 thousand job vacancies available – so there are opportunities. However our research tends to demonstrate that a lot of people want to stay where they are, look at developing that role and get more from it within their existing company. A lot of people are risk averse as well and not naïve to the fact that the grass isn’t always greener.

There is a number of diffGroup of Business People Working on an Office Deskerent tactics you can take. According to the context you are in and who you are as a person, the first thing is to recognise some of the signs around why are you dissatisfied about your job. There is a number of ways you can do it. The most obvious one is to go and talk to your manager and if they are a good leader, theywould be prepared to sit down and talk it through and give you feedback. Also, take time out to talk to some of your peers. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, there are also some great online self-assessment resources, such as MAPP, Mayers Briggs or Gallup where you can follow well-constructed surveys and the output of those will  show you what your real strengths are and what you really value in your work. These conversations and tools can really get you grounded and back to what it is that you really like about what you do.

Losing talented people and not being able to identify it quick enough is a key concern for organisations. Increasing pay is an easy fix; however looking at UK statistics pay isn’t the key driver why people change jobs. It’s about opportunities, development and the potential to grow. From an individual perspective, it’s all about fundamentally identifying what it is that drives and motivates you. You could be in an existing job thinking you are not getting very well paid, but research would show, and our experience at Forum would demonstrate, that if you just get a pay rise, the chances are that you will still leave in about 6 months’ time. If you are clear about what gets you out of bed in the morning, you will tend to find a career or even opportunities in your existing job that drive you.

From an organisation’s perspective, research shows that the most successful organisations are those where employees are motivated and engaged. So a lot of leading organisations are surveying their staff and talking to them to try to measure and figure out how happy their people are. This might sound soft and fluffy, but experience demonstrates that it’s a key indicator for the success of organisations. Good leaders are trying to look at their people and understand how they can get improved and developed opportunities and try to get ahead of the game.

It’s all about giving people opportunities.

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Down-under, East or West: Some Leadership Truths Transcend Culture

February 5th, 2015 by Colin Walter
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Whilst travelling in Australia a few years ago, I listened to a replay of an interview on ABC Radio with legendary and controversial ex-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Described as the “best Prime Minister Australia ever had” Whitlam was a remarkable character and leader who in many ways completely transformed Australia. A part of the interview which has stayed with me is where he describes some of the less popular “reform” paths he took Australia down.

Essentially Whitlam held that it was the responsibility of leaders to make tough, value-based decisions despite the opposition of their electorate, because it was the right thing to do. Further, and critically, that the understanding and support of the electorate would follow through the instructional/educational aspect of the outcomes of those decisions. Basically, training a nation through doing. Wow. Sounds a bit paternalistic depending on how you look at it, but it certainly is thought provoking.

Amongst Whitlam’s many quotable philosophies, this one really stands out for me as insightful commentary on leadership. Having worked across Asia for more than a decade now, first as a management consultant and then working with corporates from within a large NGO, the entities that I have found to be most successful, have been those with a similar approach to leadership.

What is this approach?02.04.15 - Lead By Example

  • Clear and visible commitment to values-based decision making
  • Clear and visible accountability for those decisions
  • Consistency – holding the line unwaveringly despite opposition
  • Commitment to doing the right thing over the desire to retain power

That these tenets of leadership are present across many geographies, both Asian and elsewhere, is significant. That cultures and the “way of doing business around here” varies dramatically from country to country is obvious and challenging. The significant part is that clear, visible and consistent leadership seems most often to transcend this national or local business culture.

Of the entities that I have worked with, the more successful and constructive corporate cultures, (regardless of country-specific cultural differences) have been those whose leaders create and maintain their internal corporate culture through steadfast example.

These leaders have:

  • A style of leadership  that is strong, visible and consistent
  • Systems and processes  that are unambiguous, supported by fair  performance and accountability frameworks
  • Created and maintain a culture that embodies these values through their leadership behaviour and  where the gap between actual and espoused is minimal or non-existent

All of which taps into an essential part of human nature — as a parent, I have found that my kids see beyond my careful rhetoric (the things I say) to my actual beliefs (the things I do). They download and imbed the latter. Fortunately, there are no damaging discrepancies so far, though I do have an unhealthy suspicion of rugby referees that I assiduously hide but suspect the kids are on to …

In the same, way leaders need to live their leadership or their people and cultures will download and imbed the real them. There are too many examples of purely rhetorical leadership breeding toxic corporate cultures.


For more insights into accountability in leadership, download Forum’s recent research article, “Creating a Culture of Engagement and Accountability.”

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The Future of Leadership and Learning: 2015 and beyond

January 26th, 2015 by admin
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These predictions have been collectively authored by Forum’s leadership team and subject matter experts:

Cindy Stuckey, Managing Director APAC; Graham Scrivener, Managing Director EMEA; Ellen Foley, Executive Consultant; David Robertson, Executive Consultant; Tom Rose, Executive Consultant, Viv Price, Executive Consultant; Nithya Ramaswamy, Design Consultant; Claudette Chagnon, Design Consultant; Ana Bedard, Design Consultant; Mark Edwards, ResNet  and Simon Fowler, Learning Technologist.

1. Widening of Key Skill Gaps

Based on economic growth, skill requirement gaps will create challenges for organisations globally.  Productivity pressures, higher growth and client retention/penetration, innovation of new product/services with more complexity and the expansion in new markets, as well as, increase of market share with many new competitors will be economic challenges companies will experience.  Thus, diverse sets of skills will be needed to respond to these fast changing market conditions.  Organisations and individuals will need to constantly modify and develop new skills in their leaders or the skill gap will widen.  This gap has been widening the past three years and we predict this will continue.

Effective businesses will devote time, energy and resources to develop their people and the organisations in which they perform. Optimising investments in people and organisational development means integrating the development of leadership skills along with the development of organisational practices that promote and reinforce the use of these skills in organisations.

2. Content Shifts from Classroom to Cubicle

Organisations that implement leadership development that tightly aligns with organisational development will get the greatest value for their investment—particularly as the traditional training composition of leadership development evolves. Face-to-face learning, while still vital, will be a premium and focus on delivering impactful experiences and only reference high level content or frameworks. Much content traditionally delivered in the classroom will be moved to the “Align” and ”Sustain” phases and be delivered virtually and on demand. Simulations will be integrated across the learning blend as they become more sophisticated and cost effective. Learning and development happens at work, which highlights the need to sustain and embed learning into everyday work life making learning quick bites, peer learning, online communities of practice, learning labs and other practical approaches even more important in leadership development going forward. Not only training, but ongoing coaching will be essential to maintain high engagement and intellectual stimulation of the workforce and provide leaders with the skills they need to succeed.

3. Employee Engagement Becoming a Business Imperative

Organisations have been attempting to address engagement at micro and macro level for years.  They invest in executing engagement surveys and monitor scores; however, overall little changes in engagement occurred in the past few years.   Organisations which find ways to executive strategies at a business unit level and develop their leaders to drive engagement are the ones who will experience the highest level of business performance. It will become a requirement to drive the organisation, business unit and leader level tactics to drive improved engagement.

Engagement will need to become a business imperative, driven at all levels of the organisation and integrated with all business plans.  Additionally, organisations must provide solid career paths for people, have the right rewards and recognition programs in place, solid feedback and performance systems along with measurement.

4. Shortage of Talent

The talent shortage that exists today will increase and become one of the most critical factors that will keep CEOs up at night.  To address the talent shortage, career paths that address the needs of the local market for excelled movement will need to be established, compensation will need to continue to evolve and become more complete – benefits like flexible time and working arrangements will need to be added, salaries will need to continue to rise even when productivity is not rising, development of internal talent with the required skills will need to occur and organisations will need to develop strong talent retention strategies to deal with the storage.

With new technologies, competitors, innovative products, changing customer needs/expectations, growth occurring in emerging and developing markets vs. mature markets and regulatory changes on a consistent basis having leaders at all levels will require global capabilities.  Predictive analytics will become the norm and organisations will be able reduce to turnover, improve talent forecasting needs, help inform competency requirements for the future, highlight who can be a high performer, reward ideas etc. This predictive data will inform talent strategies and help reduce the risk of talent shortages.

5. The Impact of Technologies

Leaders will access content and coaching through apps which will be regularly updated. Content will be multi-level and can be searched so the leader can work with frameworks, activities, videos, coaching guides and choose their level of detail etc. VILT and e-learning programmes will be the norm as platform bandwidth, capability and flexibility increases, costs reduce and more effective collaboration tools come on line. Every leadership toolkit will include the ability to capture videos of the learners experience and feedback and short ‘how to’ videos to demonstrate the right behaviours in action. Push and pull sustainment tools and virtual coaching will support individual practice and workplace application.

Organisations that develop creative ways to develop people in today’s time-compressed and global business environment will make big contributions to organisational success. While eLearning technology is a low cost way of deploying information, the challenge of translating knowledge into performance lies beyond the scope of current eLearning capabilities. Technology solutions that help people enhance their ability to apply new ideas to work will transform industry.

6. The Performance Management Revolution

Performance planning systems will evolve and the potential of no longer having employee’s evaluate themselves, eliminating the year-end review as we know it today and replacing it with quarterly assessments, and/or feedback submitted by peers at the conclusion of many projects or working assignments, along new rating systems using top box or other rating systems will be introduced and finally forced rankings will be replaced with a more strategic long and short term talent planning system.

The system will also change how development planning for individuals will occur and be managed.   In fact the revolution will take performance management and integrate it into the overall system that will include coaching, career development, feedback on regular basis that is focused on the development of individual, recognition and capability development.  While organisations have been attempting to integrate these various elements into a system, the next step is to optimise these management components into a system to get the most from your talent and to prepare your talent pro-actively.

7. The Rise of Self-Leadership

In the not so distant future everyone will be a specialist – guided by their own experience, preferences, expertise and passions. Self-leadership will be more important; leaders will create their own journey and be more self-directed and intentional in work choices.  Individuals will actively contract across different groups, teams and even organisations as required, finding meaningful work rather than waiting for work to come to them.  Leaders will need a strong virtual presence / profile and use it to promote themselves across their networks around what they are doing / have done and what they are looking for next. Individuals will own and manage their own ‘leadership profiles’ that showcase their experience, interests, availability and peer feedback. Leaders will use their profiles as a passport to attract and gain access to relevant project work. Then update their profiles to capture their experience.

8. Change of the Hierarchy

Project based organisational structures will start to replace hierarchies and project teams will select individual resources to join their teams as required based on their capability, availability and expertise.  Some project roles may be developmental and some may be operational or leadership focused based on the needs of the team. Organisations will need to support this fundamental change to the hierarchical structure and ensure that collaboration is supported, measured and incentivised as well as the outcomes. Everyone can be a leader depending on the needs of the project team and so everyone will need fundamental leadership skills.

Within project teams, leaders will be appointed by the team and be process focused rather than line focused.  Anyone could be a leader or a coach depending on the needs of the project team and it is expected that during the life of a project there could be a number of process leaders active at any one time. Roles will be dynamic, based on the need of the team. Individuals may work across a number of projects and in some they may have a leadership function and in others be a subject matter expert or process support, all depends on the needs for each team. Leaders will need to be agile and adaptable to allow them to flex their roles.

9. Growth through Collaboration

There will be a stronger focus on building leadership communities within organisations that are self-moderated and self-sustaining. Fundamental skill areas for all potential leaders would be collaboration, agility, adaptability, innovation, change, cross-cultural acumen and team-working. The business may also need to have a strong values system that has collaboration embedded at the core. Leaders will need to master these fundamentals and live the values, whether they are an individual contributor, a team member or a leader. More companies will use effective collaboration sites to organise their learning communities, showcase their curriculum and pathways and capture metrics and curate best practice.

Increased focus will be on organisational transformation at all levels. One of the main areas of focus will be language and credibility, empowering leaders to take the key transformational message and ‘make it their own’, adding context, meaning and ownership at their own team level. Working with middle and frontline managers to train and equip them to be the change agents of the future will see more transformation projects succeed.

Research and experience tell us that clarity and focus will accelerate strategic initiatives and promote their ultimate success.  Yet, navigating the complex inter-connectedness of today’s global business environment requires that we also live with the opposite of clarity, ambiguity.  Organisations that figure out how to balance clarity with ambiguity will have a winning formula that leaders can use to drive results.

10. The Evolution of Female Leadership

Women taking on leadership positions are becoming an emerging trend in many countries and organisations. Looking at the most extraordinary female leaders in the world, they are all authentic leaders in their own right and aren’t afraid to think innovatively or lead differently, yet female leaders continue to be pigeon-holed despite their leadership abilities and potential.  Female leaders, despite their capabilities and leadership strengths, are sometimes labelled with varying notions of polarity – weak vs. tough, emotional vs ruthless, masculine vs feminine, and the list goes on.

The future of female leadership holds the promotion of diversity and enablement in order to realise its potential by providing development scaffolds through their leadership journey, such as mentorship schemes and impactful leadership development programmes. The definition of leadership where leaders are not titles or roles waiting to be assumed but an ongoing journey of discovery where one is continuously learning by doing and reflecting, is the approach that will emerge  to increase the pipeline of female leaders in the years to come. Women in the workplace, aspiring to become leaders will need to take charge of their development, understand how to establish credibility, what the common stereotypes are and how to avoid falling into potential role traps by leading with confidence, adaptability and courage.



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