Leadership: Shift From Straight On To Straight Up

Kate Nasser

Despite all the focus on employee engagement today, there are leaders who continue to act with leaders on the frontthe do it my way mindset. I see it in all size businesses from the well known Fortune 500 to the lesser known 20 million dollar privately owned companies.

As I speak with these leaders, it is clear they share one mistaken belief. They think that the straight on direct approach will more quickly propel the organization straight up.

Simple example that lost instead of won

Consider the leader who objected to the team summarizing what they were doing well, before exploring customer service and teamwork improvements. “We know what we do well. Let’s go straight to what’s wrong.” Team members’ heads lowered. Spirit sank. This straight on approach did not propel the organization up. It reinforced the blame culture that was stopping people from working together on improvements.

This leader’s emotionally unintelligent do-it-my-way straight on approach was driven by his belief that everyone is inspired like him to explore the negative.

“If you want people to unite for success, start with the positive.”

This straight on approach did not propel the organization up. It reinforced the blame culture that was stopping people from working together on improvements.

Complex example with disastrous results

An entrepreneur and leader of a 10 million dollar company wanted to take it to 20 million dollar mark. This leader hired an executive coaching firm to guide everyone to a success mindset. The executive coach mapped the strategy to the leader’s straight on approach.

Suddenly each employee was thrust into doing 360 degree evaluations of everyone and required to have necessary conversations with anyone they ranked low!

Morale plummeted. Teamwork disappeared.

Once again, the entrepreneur and the executive coach assumed that going straight on to the problems would take the company straight up to the 20 million mark. It actually lost money during the unrest and they had to rebuild morale to rebuild success.

“Leaders, switch off your impatience.”

“Shift to focusing on success through the employees.”

Leadership lessons for employee engagement

  • Straight on works better for those with power or very close to the reward. Positive engagement works better for most everyone else. Sales training and executive coaching often use this straight on approach with great success. Why does it work with the sales force and top leaders? Because commission sales reps and executives have an intense immediate connection to the reward. They feel the positive is nearby and are willing to charge through the negative to reach nirvana quickly.

Leaders, switch off your impatience. Shift to focusing on success through the employees.

The rest of the employees live the negative often without any feeling of a positive horizon. They don’t make the decisions. They don’t directly receive money for facing their weaknesses straight on. Thus when leaders announce, “let’s skip what you’ve done well”,  employees don’t reach upward; their morale slides down.

  • A positive learning culture gives employees the comfort to address the negative. Leaders, when you engage employees in identifying what they’ve done well, you give them the positive horizon that already drives you to improvements. Starting with the positive doesn’t breed laziness. It does not delay success. It inspires commitment. Here are 5 positive leadership moves to engage employees for success.
  • You can build initiative through the positive. High performance and success come from accountability – the practice of initiative, ownership, and follow-through. It doesn’t come from blame. If as leaders you always approach the employees about the negative, the employees recoil from blame. If you engage them in positive learning, you get accountability and success.

“Breed accountability, not blame.” 

Employees do not walk in your shoes or share in your perks. Understand what inspires them to drive to success and walk in their shoes. It is then you can charge to the summit together.

©2013 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc.  This post was written specifically for the SwitchandShift blog.  If you wish to repost or republish this, please email Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

Image credit: watiporn / 123RF Stock Photo


Recommended for you:

Welcome To The Smarter Side Of Super Bowl XLVIII

SAP Guest

by Dan Fleetwood, Group Director, Global Sponsorships, SAP

nfl footballThe game has changed. Advances in technology, the growth of social sharing and expanded media coverage have all set the stage to make Super Bowl XLVIII one of the biggest moments in sports history. With visualized social media analytics, next-level insights and powerful technology, SAP is transforming the way NFL fans experience the Super Bowl, helping them think faster, smarter and simpler about the biggest game of the year.

SAP’s social media analytics powered by NetBase technology will help fans keep their fingers on the pulse of Super Bowl XLVIII with easy-to-follow data visualizations that provide insights into social conversations throughout the NFL playoffs and culminating with a historic Super Bowl in New York City. Fans will be able to track which areas of the U.S. are talking about specific teams and monitor how those conversations shift over time as the make-up of the NFL playoffs shift and evolve.

These visualizations will shed light into how plays on the field drive corresponding spikes in social chatter. If a player returns a kick for a touchdown or a team forces a crucial turnover, fans will be able to see how overall social conversation shifts. There are always pivotal moments that come to define a Super Bowl; SAP’s social media analytics will let fans know just how big each moment is after it unfolds on the field.

SAP is also helping fans think smarter about Super Bowl XLVIII with insights that go above and beyond traditional game coverage. Videos from Hall of Fame Running Back, Super Bowl Champion and SAP Ambassador, Marshall Faulk, will provide fans a first hand look into what it’s like to play on the NFL’s biggest stage. Editorial features will highlight how advances in technology work to simplify and improve the overall Super Bowl experience, and SAP will use NFL data and statistics to help fans make Super Bowl predictions based on different in-game scenarios. From the results of opening coin toss; to each team’s time of possession, sharable stats will keep fans ahead of the game as they try to predict their Super Bowl winner.

As the Official Cloud Solutions Partner of the NFL, SAP has partnered with to bring fans an interactive Super Bowl experience in the heart of New York City. From January 29th – February 1st, fans can experience the Stats Zone with Insights from SAP on Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square. The Stats Zone will give fans a chance to track social media conversations around the NFL, relive historic moments, create their own custom fan avatar, and take a closer look at the finalists for Fantasy Player of The Year.

SAP also worked closely with the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee to create the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee Volunteer mobile app. The mobile app will enhance the volunteer experience and help volunteers keep track of important dates, locations and information all from their mobile device.

SAP helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From online to the sidelines, SAP is excited to demonstrate those same values in helping Super Bowl XLVIII Run Better.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


Recommended for you:

14 Things To Watch In 2014

Steve Lucas

Looking back on 2013, we saw Twitter go public, Snapchat gain legitimacy, Blackberry struggle, Apple release iOS7, two ‘new’ phones and iPad Air, Samsung release S4, Microsoft buy Nokia, crystal ball for software trends 2014Google release Glass, Microsoft/Sony renew their console wars, and Smart Watches make a (sort of) comeback. Things began showing up in the Internet of Things. We saw six second video sharing become sort of interesting. We learned the NSA pretty much spies on everyone, and apparently building a website to refer people to healthcare providers is really, really difficult (like REALLY difficult and should cost almost half a billion dollars).  We also saw some big flops – do you remember Twitter Music?

In the world of enterprise software and even specific to SAP, I’d like to think we saw the platform story get solidified – in-memory technology became much more of a disruptive force last year. The company as a whole began to gain momentum behind key messages like cloud and platform. Market trends like Big Data, Internet of Things, and real-time business contributed to the uptake and momentum of in-memory computing, as did our customer and partner requirements for more real-time systems.

Looking forward, some of the insights I’ve provided should be placed in the “no brainer” category, specifically things like data security and privacy (thanks NSA), cloud, Internet of Things, and Big Data. Not to be left out though are some critical topics, perhaps more nuanced in 2014 than ever before, including social, apps, devices (both new and old), and advanced analytics.

So…without further delay, here’s how I see all this playing out at the enterprise level in 2014:

1. Things will get a lot cloudier: It’s very clear that the demand for enterprise cloud applications now matches and possibly exceeds the supply of vendors providing these solutions. No matter what cloud camp people identify with, everyone seems to agree on that point. My one hope is that we see better integration between cloud applications and hybrid on-premise and cloud deployments in 2014.

2. The “Consistent Cloud” will be talked about: This will begin to happen in 2014, but won’t be fully realized. I am not talking about SAP by the way, I am talking about clouds in general. SAP made its bones in the world of Enterprise Applications by offering end to end integration. In fact it’s what draws companies to SAP still. But if you look across ALL business application cloud providers (SAP, SFDC, WKDY, ORCL, MSFT, etc.) it’s clear that customers want more openness and integration. So do we.

3. Google Glass, smart watches, and 3D printing/scanning: I felt compelled to talk about this. Why…I don’t know…but I put these three seemingly unrelated things in one bucket. Primarily because they are interesting but not (yet) transformative. I expect to see a LOT of manufacturing software demos of Google Glass with “terminator vision” (hint hint). I expect to see at least five major device manufacturers release smart watches. (And not sell any btw) I expect to see 3D Printing and Scanning become a bigger factor in accelerated design processes as well as offer custom tailored options specific to the individual consumer on products that are mass produced today. I don’t expect these technologies to have breakout years.

4. More things for the Internet of Things: The global proliferation of connected devices, (i.e. phones/tablets/etc.) along with our rapid approach to the point where the standard question in manufacturing will shift from “why should we” include a sensor in something to “why SHOULDN’T we” will drive IoT to unprecedented levels. As this march towards a connected everything world continues, expect to see apps upon apps upon apps emerge that weave these devices together in new ways we haven’t fully imagined. No place will that be greater than in healthcare…but I am still holding out hope that my thermostat and my window shades will one day be willing to talk to each other!

5. Smart machines, smart systems: Not just because machines will be sensor laden or connected online, but even in disconnected states we will see smarter machines with embedded predictive smarts. The ability for a machine to “decide” that its needs outweigh the needs of other machines on a network or part of a system will emerge and find common use. Two vending machines will be able to ask for replenishment and one will be able to supplant the other…all in real-time as part of a smart(er) supply route. Technology exists to embed databases inside devices (SQL Anywhere) as well as make smart decisions on a network in real-time (Event Processing) and of course, move systems from batch to real-time. All of this in concert will create smarter systems in 2014.

6. Smart cities: Yep. Sensors in garbage cans, intelligent traffic routing, mailboxes and parking meters. Ok parking meters are already there, but believe it or not, waste management for cities is right up there with parking and traffic in terms of cost. Of course, the cities aren’t smarter just because they have sensors…I am rapidly approaching the point where I tell you in-memory is important.

7. Security and privacy: Try to read a technology section of a news site and avoid an article about this…you can’t! 2013 forced us as consumers to contemplate the question: how secure and private is our data, really? We can expect to see new privacy protection policies, companies, and services in 2014…and more importantly we can expect people to become their own privacy and security advocates. Within 2014, you will see companies expanding the security capabilities of data platforms, mobile solutions and analytic products…and the Financial Services sector is the bellwether for these products. Keep a close eye on FS in 2014.  Also watch Healthcare as DNA sequencing becomes mainstream and policy around who owns the sequence (patient/provider/etc…) will drive new and emerging ecosystems and relationships of insurer/patient/provider.

8. Mobile is the first user experience for everything: Period. The mobile application development and security market matured significantly in 2013 and we will see most enterprise organizations accept this reality, along with the reality of employee demand and in turn shift their policies. However, this will only happen as end to end data security extends all the way through to the application on the device.

9. Some vendors will think it’s a good idea to introduce another mobile OS, even though that’s a terrible idea: I am fascinated by the mobile platform market. It has the trappings of the Windows, OS/2 and Mac OS wars. I love it…and while we already have iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry OS…someone out there just won’t be able to resist. Note that I didn’t say anyone would actually release a new mobile OS. The market is still fragmenting vs consolidating and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

10.  Growth in data visualization: There are just too many things producing a tremendous amount of data and I don’t think there is (yet) one magic bullet to make it easily consumable. Nor do I think the technology that enabled people to look at data 10 years ago will be the right thing to visualize massive amounts of information today. The convergence of mobile and cloud will play a big part in data visualization. But let’s not forget that while we can look at data in new and interesting ways, it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t act.

11. Predicting the future moves out of “nice to have” status: Companies like eBay can already predict sales by category each day, with mind boggling accuracy. Companies are investing massive amounts of resources into Data Science (i.e. Data Scientists). But Data Science to some degree has remained a dark art, not yet democratized. That will change in 2014. Companies will look to create scenarios where sales reps can ask smart questions of their CRM systems, like “what ELSE can I sell to this customer”. Organizations will move towards predictive maintenance as a core competency once they realize the potential cost savings that can be achieved.

12.  The rise of the Chief Data Scientist: Expanding on point number 11, Fortune 100 companies will not just make strategic investments in their data sciences organization, but will appoint a Chief Data Scientist if they don’t already have one. This Data Scientist will want to know if vendors speak the language of Big Data and companies like SAP will have to be experts in not just HANA, but Hadoop as well. We’ll also see Chief Data Scientists play pivotal roles with the Chief Strategy Office so long-term strategies can be data driven.

13.  SAP will focus on platform and developers: Now to be clear, this is SAP according to Steve…but nonetheless…it’s a simple message and solves 99% of what all our customers need. 2014 needs to be about simplicity. As for developers, it doesn’t matter what product you are talking about or which platform you believe in…this is the crowd to win in 2014. With all the points I have talked about prior to this one, it should be fairly clear that the “app economy,” which John Chambers often talks about, will be a massively impactful thing this year. I’d say above all else, this is something to watch.

14.  SAP HANA goes mainstream: With over 3,000 customers…the debate about the future of SAP HANA ‘should’ be over…but it won’t be. Certainly not because I don’t want it to be, but more because it’s our competitions only defense. For me it’s simple. Oracle is not the platform for the future of applications. SAP HANA is. There’s too much evidence pointing in that direction and the competition’s behavior indicates they are worried. Additionally, the technology momentum for SAP HANA is too strong. Reliability and scalability are the norm, leaving the focus on the bigger picture for HANA which is simplifying and reshaping the enterprise platform landscape.

That’s it for this year’s predictions. I think for next year I’ll plan to do 2,015 things to watch in 2015…just to see how long my attention span lasts.


This post originally appeared on SAP HANA and it was modified for this site.


Recommended for you:

5 Best Ways To Communicate With Millennials In The Office

JT Ripton

Let’s face it, different generations act differently in the workplace. As for millennials, the youngest communicating with millennialsgeneration currently in the workplace, there’s a specific way to speak to them. Millennials, often considered as the generation born between 1982 and 2000, have grown up around digital media. They’ve learned to have an around-the-clock connection to friends, parents, information, and entertainment. They often have high expectations, as well as a need for attention.

These traits shape who they are and affect how you should address them in the workplace. The following list offers the most effective ways to communicate with them in the workplace.

Be straightforward

Don’t sugar coat or dumb down what you need to say to millennials. They know what you’re doing, and they don’t appreciate it. They set goals and like to achieve them. They like to plan for how they want to experience their life. So, it helps not to treat them like they don’t understand the message you want to get across, even if it’s a tough one to hear.

If you want to reach them, make sure you recognize their intelligence. Even if they don’t seem to express the most knowledge of the specific work in your workplace, they still have a good sense of general knowledge, so you don’t need to dumb down anything for them. It makes them feel belittled. Present information in a way that feels fast paced, straightforward, and helps them feel like they’re making some the progress they want.

Be playful

Millennials really don’t have the same rebelliousness of anti-establishment baby boomers or slacker Gen Xers. Most of them believe in their parents ideals, at least to some extent. A lot of them do want to do the best they can by cooperating, though it may not always seem like it, since they still have the ability to challenge authority if they don’t understand something.

The kind of media millennials love usually combines something goofy, earnest, and confident. To get an example of this, just check out YouTube, Buzzfeed, and all the crazy memes out there. Basically, stay as honest and straightforward as you can, while also injecting a little whimsy into the way you express your messages to them.

Reward instantly

Millennials, despite their upsides, often want instant gratification. If they can’t see or feel how their work helps improve their lives, it’s hard for them to stay motivated. Especially when you want to implement something new, or make employees do anything that feels supplemental, it’s a great idea to offer something for their efforts (even something as simple as candy helps).

Use visuals

Millennials love visually rich messaging. It’s a quick and effective way to get any point across. Don’t have too many bells and whistles, though; most of them can see past fluff, probably better than any previous generation. For example, you could turn your business’s screen savers into an interactive billboard. Then, any time they look at their screen saved Lenovo computer, they can see messages from the entire company and write their own as well. It’s effective because it’s visual, immediate, and hands-on all at the same time — three important factors for the generation.

Make your own training videos, as most training videos can bore millennials to death. Offer photos and videos just as a way to keep your employees pleased and entertained at work when they take a break. It shows them you understand them, if you can do little things like this that they enjoy.

Don’t put a corporate spin on it

Millennials have grown up constantly seeing the negative side of huge corporations, particularly because of social media. Just about everything from terrible customer service to massive corporate scandals has appeared constantly on the Internet since it’s popularity exploded. And it’s always on the eyes of those viewing social media.

Millennials, sometimes against their favor even, can have idealistic and judgemental views. Because of this, communications from the top down that sound overly formal and completely business oriented can put off millennials. Provide open messages and allow for employees to ask questions and clarify the situation.

It seems as if time continues to exponentially change our experience of the world, and millennials are one of the first generations to make us think about this a lot. The better we can communicate with them, the more productive we can all be.


Recommended for you:

IT Redefines Business Evolution

Stacy Ries

Financial advisor talking to customer“New year. New you.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read or heard this phrase over the past few weeks as we’ve prepared to celebrate the start of a new year. As predictions and hopes for the future amass, we make resolutions to turn those expectations into reality. How long those resolutions actually last … well, that’s another story. It’s a natural cycle we all seem to go through year after year after year.

But when it comes to technology and the world of IT, there’s no cycle for us to circle around. Trends and events are happening in the marketplace so fast and furiously that business processes are now straight lines pointing steeply up.

As massive evolution and revolution occur in the marketplace, the role of IT is being transformed along with it. No longer solely a service provider, IT has now become a critical strategic enabler and trusted business adviser tasked with making tough decisions about the technology that will empower the enterprise.

The pressure is great, yes, but there’s no time to be a deer in headlights. Technological change is occurring rapidly, and you need to figure out how your enterprise will keep pace. You’ve probably already taken the first step and learned the “what” involved in this change – the mobile devices and apps, cloud services, Big Data analytics, and social technologies that shape the “third platform.” But the how aspect of this change proves to be a bit more challenging, which includes actually creating this technical foundation for the mobile, digital, and cloud applications that your business now requires to stay competitive.

“Help me help you”

Movie character Jerry Maguire understood the strategy behind customer centricity: To best serve your customers, your customers need to be an open book. Business users rely on IT to give them access to data that details everything they need to know about their customers so that they can ultimately deliver the most personalized experience possible. And they want that information not only instantly, but on any device they choose.

Before IT can help business users, however, it has to help itself. A trusted technology partner can lift some of the weight off IT’s shoulders and help to enable your organization to more easily adapt to market forces without creating big, disruptive changes. The right solutions can integrate your systems and bring together data transactions and analytics, which can help you to not only mobilize your workforce, but, in turn, also revolutionize the customer experience. A win-win? I think so.

Fight or flight

Let’s revisit this again: “New year. New you.” It’s actually the perfect phrase to describe IT right now, considering that IDC predicts the third platform will redefine 90% of IT’s roles over the next three to five years.

New IT organization roles around innovation are emerging. Those IT leaders who embrace this change and tap into the development and deployment of new innovations will win top positions in the marketplace.

To learn more about the predicted trends that will reshape the IT agenda, download the IDC white paper, IDC Predictions 2014: Battles for Dominance – and Survival – on the 3rd Platform.

Learn more about the future of IT

  • Check out the SAP IT Transformation Forum, a virtual space, to discover the keys to unlocking the creativity and innovation in your information.
  • Get all the information your business seeks in our Webcast Lounge. Learn all about analytics, data management strategies, and mobility.

Recommended for you: