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Our Founder Featured in NAWBO One

IMG_4412What does it mean to be a leader? Amy Franko, our Founder and President, shared her insights with NAWBO One, a publication of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

In this profile, Amy talks about her own experiences, as well as where she sees women leading the way.

See the full feature on NAWBO One.

On Monday, Sept. 19, Amy will present “Leading with Impact and Influence” at the NAWBO Women’s Business Conference in Columbus.

Learn more about the conference.

Strategies for Standing Out in the Sales Field

light-bulbs-1125016_1920 pixabay freeConsider the habits needed to cultivate self-leaders and stand out in the sales field. One of the primary building blocks of leadership identity is your leadership brand.

There are literally millions of sales professionals in the world. You need to ensure that you’re one that your customers and prospects know, remember, respect and trust.

In an article for Training Industry, Amy Franko explores strategies for standing out in the sales field by building a leadership brand.

Read more.

 

Survey Says: Women Leaders Drive Corporate Profits

CompassBy Amy Franko

For the last decade, leadership development for women has been a focus of mine—both in my career and personally. Whether I’m delivering a corporate program or serving in a volunteer capacity on the Board of the Girl Scouts of Ohio Heartland Council, I love to make a difference by empowering emerging leaders with the tools they need to succeed.

The women I meet are smart, savvy and driven. So I wasn’t surprised when I saw the results of a recent study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics. It reveals that gender diversity in business is profitable.

In fact, “the results suggest that the presence of women on corporate boards and in the C-suite may contribute to firm performance. The impact is greatest for female executive shares, followed by female board shares; the presence of female CEOs has no noticeable effect,” the report says. “The estimated magnitudes of these correlations are not small: For profitable firms, a move from no female leaders to 30 percent representation is associated with a 15 percent increase in the net revenue margin.”

Yes—15 percent. That’s a significant boost. Here’s why, according to the report. “The positive correlation between the presence of women in corporate leadership and profitability could reflect the existence of discrimination against women executives, which gives nondiscriminating firms an edge. Alternatively, it could be that the presence of women contributes to superior performance via functional diversity.”

The bottom line is that diversity and nondiscrimination can pay off.
Unfortunately, even as recently as 2014, too few organizations were making gender diversity in the C-suite and the board room a priority. Of the firms surveyed by Peterson, about half had women in leadership positions, and 60 percent had no female board members.

What’s the reason behind the gap? Why are women in corporate leadership positions relatively scarce? The report cites a few reasons:

• At the firm level, the size of the company and the size of the board are robustly correlated with the presence of women on boards and in the C-suite (though not as CEOs).
• The results also suggest that a set of national characteristics—including high scores on math assessments, concentrations in degree programs associated with management, and the ratio of female to male income, which could be interpreted as indicators of institutional openness to women’s success—is robustly correlated with these outcomes.
• The results also point to other correlates that could be overlooked, including discriminatory societal attitudes, the importance of paternity as well as maternity leave, and openness.

You can read a story in CLO Magazine here.

Take a look around your office. Are women represented at leadership levels? If not, consider advocating for leadership development programs targeted to women. Contact us for help.

In the meantime, I invite you to watch this short video about transforming your leadership presence.

Impact CEO to Talk Mentorship in Twitter Chat

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Looking to strengthen your leadership abilities through mentorship? Spend an hour with Impact Instruction Group’s CEO, Amy Franko, on Twitter next week.

Amy will be the special guest on #BizGalz chat Monday, March 14 at 1 p.m. ET. BizGalz is a global community of women challenging limitations and making big changes.

We hope you’ll join us for an engaging chat!

Manager or Coach? Strike a Balance for Best Results

Canva 1xuse blog 030316

By Amy Franko

Athletics have always played an important role in my life.

As an adult, running is my passion. I’ve been honored to “give back” through this sport I love by volunteering as an assistant coach for the Girls on the Run program. Girls on the Run teaches life and leadership skills within the context of a running program.

We’re gearing up for the next running season, and it gives me an opportunity to think about the practice of coaching. It’s a term that made its way from athletic fields to business offices decades ago with the introduction of executive coaches. Lately, however, we hear more about a coaching approach being leveraged within business on a daily basis. And coaching is often celebrated as being superior to the practice of “managing.”

So will managers go away to be replaced by coaches? Some trend reports say yes.

But I don’t see this as an “either / or” proposition. There’s no getting around the fact that there will always be projects and issues to manage. Today’s leaders will need to both manage and coach.

Easier said than done, I know. As a leader, it’s difficult to avoid getting sucked into managerial minutia. And then the coaching gets pushed to the back burner. The key is continually rebalancing our priorities.

Effect on the Sales Team

From my experience, one place this happens more than others is within sales organizations. Pressure to produce in sales is always strong, and it’s not unusual for top performers to be elevated to leadership positions, without receiving any leadership training.

Take for example one of my acquaintances, who is a sales representative and serves as an individual contributor on his team. For years he had a great boss; a manager who trusted his people. That manager made time for each of the 10 members of his team individually, and kept up through regular team calls, too. He was eager to help them grow, and looked for development opportunities. The team was happy, and successful, too. The manager struck a beneficial balance between coaching and managing. But then that manager left the company for a different opportunity. Enter the new manager, who has no previous leadership experience. All coaching-related activities for the team were pushed to the side. And yes, productivity has declined, as has team engagement.

It’s a frequent scenario. Individual contributors who are meeting and beating their number are promoted to leadership. There’s an automatic assumption that because they know how to sell, they also will be stellar in a leadership role.

But there’s a gap. As an individual contributor, a person is responsible only for himself. When promoted, he becomes responsible for eight to12 others as a frontline leader. He probably doesn’t have individual customers—he’s now leading team. A mindset shift must take place.

How can that be turned around? Upskilling sales leaders to become coaches and mentors is as important—if not more important—than focusing on individual contributors. Like many frontline leaders, sales leaders are often under-invested in, despite the fact that they have the most direct access to those who generate revenue for the organization.

Make sure you have curriculum and performance resources that specifically address the sales leader and empower them to coach individual contributors.

A Matter of Time

One tactical way to start addressing this issue is for sales managers is to know where their time is currently invested and where it’s wasted. Track a typical week in the life, and write down everything you’re doing– capturing a snapshot of your time. Then analyze.

You will likely be surprised at what you find.

What is your time being dedicated to? Meetings? Individual contributor tasks? Leadership tasks? Next, categorize the tasks so you can understand the balance. For example, do you just spend a small percentage of time coaching, but 50 percent of your time in meetings? Look for opportunities to delegate, outsource or delete any non-productive tasks.

The reality is a lot of us are busy, but not necessarily productive.

Try one of these tools to help track your time and boost productivity. Or, you can be like me, and go decidedly low-tech. I keep a good old-fashioned tracking sheet for my activities.

High Priority

As someone in leadership role, you must make conscious decision that you want to devote time to coaching your team and make it a priority.

Make it meaningful. Look at ways to better prioritize your week to allow meaningful time to coach. It’s mindset and skill. Then think about what will happen if your whole team analyzes how much of their time is being invested to move business forward. Help them analyze and reprioritize, too. (That’s coaching!)

It takes teamwork. Sales, especially, is seen as an individual sport. My old boss used to say that sales people are “coin operated.” There’s some truth to that statement. They most likely are “Type A” folks, mainly focused on their piece of the pie. But as a leader, you need your contributors to perform individually, as well as a team. Help them understand there’s something bigger at stake. That’s how you build a more cohesive team.

Mind the gap. Determine where skill gaps exist on your team. It’s your job to advocate that they get the training they need to advance and be their best. On the flip side, when you see a team member with a notable strength, give them the opportunity to model for the rest of the team. Not all the coaching has to come directly from you. Peer-to-peer coaching is a beneficial option, too.

Individual empowerment. It’s important that the team members can articulate their greatest opportunities, challenges and obstacles. Part of the coaching process is encouraging others to make those realizations themselves, so that you’re not saying, “I’m the expert, and I have all the answers.” Rather, help them shine the light and let them share their ideas. Ask them how they see themselves making goal and what solutions they recommend for their challenges. By doing that, you have turned the conversation around and empowered your team to be creative problem solvers. As the coach, you can help to refine solutions or remove obstacles.

Let it go. A word of caution: you might think you have the better answers. (And you very well might.) This is the time to embrace your self-awareness and allow your team to develop ideas and implement them. If it doesn’t work? They will learn from their mistakes, just like you did. As the coach you have to step back and allow them to try even though they might fail. Risk, after all, is integral to growth and learning.

This quote from Sir John Whitmore sums it all up well.

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them learn, rather than teaching them.”

What will you do today to incorporate more coaching into your routine and unlock your team’s potential?

 

How Our View of Risk Correlates to Business Growth

A Recap of the 2016 Columbus Chamber Annual Meeting Keynote Address by Mark Kvamme

canva 1x use blog 021116By Amy Franko

Midwest nice.*

The Midwest is full of nice, well-intentioned, and welcoming people. It’s why I love being from the Midwest, from Ohio, and making Columbus my home.

But does this mindset hold us back? Make us less willing to take a risk? Does it make us less of an entrepreneurial region?

These were the questions we grappled with this morning during the Columbus Chamber’s annual meeting. Mark Kvamme of Drive Capital shared his insights on risk and how we can move forward as a city, region, and state.

This post shares some of my key takeaways from his talk.

  • “Do you view risk and failure as a badge of honor or a scarlet letter?” Mark’s perspective is that areas of the country like Silicon Valley view risk and failure as a badge of honor, something to talk about openly and with confidence. Whereas, here in the Midwest, it’s often seen as the scarlet letter, something to be feared and avoided.
  • What makes the Midwest, and specifically Columbus, unique? One of our gems is that our well-known community business leaders willingly and excitedly invest their time in talking with, mentoring, and cheering for our region’s up-and-comers. That’s almost unheard of anywhere else, and truly representative of what makes this a supportive environment in which to succeed.
  • Believe. You have to believe that deep down, you’re in the perfect place, that you live in the greatest part of the country in which to do business. Mark shared that Columbus is within one car drive of 60 percent of the country’s GDP.
  • Our degrees of connection are even closer that we think. We now have only 3.5 degrees of separation from practically any person on the planet. The barriers to connectivity are lower than ever, and we can leverage that connectivity for the greater good.

And finally, one point that I see from a different perspective.

It was mentioned that Columbus is often seen or labeled as the next “Silicon Valley.” From my perspective, while I want for Columbus, and Ohio, to thrive, I also want our city to stay true to what makes us unique, our Midwest Nice. It has a place here, and we need to leverage that into our own uniqueness, while not allowing it to hinder smart risk. In the words of one of my favorite athletes, Skylar Diggins: “You Do You.”

Let’s do us in a way that helps us to shine.

* Credit to Mark Kovacecvich of Improving for that phrase!

The Leader’s Network: Elevating Relationships and Results (Webinar)

canva 1x use - webinar blog 020116What is social capital? It’s the value created and leveraged through your network of strategic relationships. Research shows that successful organizations and individuals who “get it” place a high value on social capital and they purposely cultivate it, knowing that it has real benefits – tangible and intangible, personal and professional. In this presentation to the CPCU Society, Impact Instruction Founder and CEO Amy Franko delivers a simple formula and real life examples for successfully forging lasting strategic relationships.

Watch it now.

5 Training and Development Trends

How Does Your Learning Organization Compare to ATD’s State of the Industry?

canva 1x use atd blog 012016By Amy Franko

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.” Indeed it is.

As learning leaders, we need to keep our finger on the pulse of changes in the industry so we can better help our organizations meet business objectives and retain top talent. One of the best ways to do that is to read the ATD State of the Industry Report. It’s been my go-to resource for years.

For those unfamiliar, the ATD State of the Industry Report is an annual review of workplace learning and development trends. It assesses how the profession performed as a whole and how companies are investing in resources, as well as content and delivery trends.

After reviewing the latest edition, I took some time to outline the major trends and investments, as well as my perspectives on how you can leverage these trends within your organization.

Some initial thoughts:

  • The report presents data in three groupings: consolidated (all organizations participating in the survey), ATD BEST Award winners, plus organizational size/sector. This article focuses on the consolidated figures.
  • The data points used in this report are from 2014; they’re reported by ATD as the 2015 report.

Trend #1: Learning investment per employee has increased for three years running, and is well above pre-recession investment.

Organizations are investing annually on average $1,229 per employee in formal learning. This increase over the past three years signals that organizations realize they must invest in their people in order to remain competitive and retain their best talent. Learning leaders must align investments to overall business strategy, plus be prepared to estimate and demonstrate ROI.

Trend #2: The number of hours that employees are spending in formal learning is on a consistent rise, since 2011.

The average number of formal hours used annually per employee is 32.4, a steady increase since 2011. This number however, hasn’t reached pre-recession levels (in 2007 the figure was 37.4). ATD’s research doesn’t track informal learning hours, so while organizations are making more formal hours available, employees are still learning on their own time and in informal settings.

More than ever, employees view their learning paths as jungle gyms and not ladders. This means they’re taking advantage of learning outside the workplace, with access to options like Lynda, Treehouse, Coursera, TED Talks, and Udemy. To get a full picture of their employees’ learning paths and engagement, leaders should be leveraging new technologies such as the TinCan API to track informal learning as well as formal learning.

Trend #3: When determining the value of your overall learning investments, it’s important to calculate the hours used versus hours available, plus measure reuse ratios.

ATD’s research analyzes the number of learning hours that organizations make available, the number of hours used by employees, plus the reuse of those available assets.

For example, if an 8-hour formal learning experience on leadership is offered and 100 people participate, that indicates 800 hours used by the organization. To calculate your reuse ratio, use this formula:

# used
__________________________

# hours available

The greater the number, the higher the reuse ratio for that initiative or learning experience. In addition to evaluating outcomes and behavior change, usage and reuse metrics are another lens with which to determine value. Estimating these calculations before making a training investment is also helpful, especially with very specialized topics or smaller audiences.

It’s important to note that ATD BEST recipients (ATD’s award winners for best-in-class learning organizations) have nearly twice as many learning hours available and a 50 percent higher reuse ratio, versus the other organizations surveyed for this research. Bottom line? When available learning is leveraged and applied, organizations increase their probability of higher performance, and the learning function is likely to be perceived as more valuable to the business.

Trend #4: Leadership development content tops the list.

The research survey ranks content distribution by various areas, as well as by sectors. In the aggregate, leadership development/managerial content ranked at the top, with 13 percent of the distribution. Industry-specific and mandatory/compliance rounded out the top three.

In years past, leadership ranked much more near the middle of the pack, which tells me that organizations truly see the need to develop both today’s leaders as well as tomorrow’s leader. In fact, front-line leaders are one of the least-invested in groups, the “forgotten middle.” I share some ideas on how to develop front line leaders in this article.

Trend #5: Instructor-led classroom still represents the largest investment in formal learning (but decreasing), and technology-based learning (in its many forms) is growing.

Instructor-led classroom still represents 51 percent of formal learning opportunities. While that has decreased over the past several years, I believe it has tremendous value for the right situations, as well as for developing relationships and engagement. Organizations that smartly deploy classroom-based learning with other delivery methods are typically positioned for the best results from those investments.

Technology-based learning (in all of its various forms) is on a growth trajectory, representing 41 percent of overall investment. An important trend to note is that while mobile learning is growing, mobile learning initiatives are still in their beginning stages, representing only 2 percent of overall expenditure. At this point in time, mobile learning for informal and independent development looks to be a more common usage of the platform (see trend #2).

Three key trends I’ve seen with our clients when it comes to technology based learning:

  • Virtual classroom is on the rise.
  • Micro-learning design is a trend that has taken hold and will continue to grow.
  • Personalization is becoming more important than ever, especially in terms of engagement, relevance, and application on the job.

Trend #6: Closing skill gaps remains a top priority.

According to ATD, a 2015 worldwide survey of 1,373 talent development professionals determined that “closing skills gaps was one of the top priorities for talent development functions across all countries.”

The skills gap conversation isn’t new; in fact, it’s a topic in almost every learning conversation I have, regardless of industry or role. Not only closing skill gaps, but closing them more quickly and with long-term sustainability in mind.

To this end, more clients are taking a deep dive into their leadership and mission-critical roles, to develop multi-year plans that combine onboarding (first 90 days) and ongoing learning (first 1-2 years). This helps them to take a strategic view on the most important skills for the short term, while taking into account the long view on learning and engagement. This important process helps learning leaders to assess and prioritize learning requirements, prior to making investments in training deliverables.

In this ATD webinar, we share more on our process for developing strategic learning plans and closing skill gaps.

So, where does your organization stand? Are your learning programs keeping up with best practices? When considering the industry-wide trends from ATD’s research, these points can help you to identify which trends are most affecting your organizational goals, and as a learning leader where you can prioritize your efforts for 2016.

Impact Instruction is here to help you advance your learning development program. Contact us to learn how we can get started.

Building Teams that Go the Distance

extra mileTrue, long-term success comes from teamwork, not from individuals alone. This African proverb sums it up well:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”

If your organization is like most, you’ve developed some big goals for 2016. You want to go farther, accomplish more objectives faster and increase your revenues. The list goes on. But how will you get there?

In this article on the Switch and Shift blog, I outline six strategies for building teams that go the distance.

Read the full article on Switch and Shift.

And best wishes for a happy and successful New Year!

Your Leadership Habits

logo_block-FINIt was Aristotle who said that we are what we repeatedly do. Our seemingly small actions, performed day in and day out, eventually create who we are.

They are also known as habits.

To help you take the next steps in creating lasting leadership habits, our Founder and CEO Amy Franko shared a simple, three-step plan you can practice.

This article is the fifth and final post in a series on creating leadership identity on the Association for Talent Development blog. Read it here.

And be sure to check out the other articles in the series.

Building a personal brand
Leading through your actions
Leading through your visual and verbal presence
Leadership response