Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Interview with Daniel McCarthy - The Man Behind "Great Leadership"

My guest this month is Dan McCarthy who is a fan favorite among HR and Talent Management professionals who regularly read his popular blog, "Great Leadership". If you haven't already seen it, I encourage you to check it out: www.greatleadershipbydan.com 


JS: What topics are most popular with your blog readers and why?

DM: Most of my readers are looking for very practical and effective ways to deal with people. It’s the stuff that they don’t teach in MBA curricula. It’s the same thing when I go out and talk to customers about their training needs, or coach senior executives. It always comes back to people issues.

Some of my most popular posts which still get lots of traffic are:

JS: From your perspective, what is the number one cause of leader derailment?

DM: According to CCL research, it’s problems with interpersonal relationships, difficulty building and leading a team, difficulty changing or adapting, failure to meet business objectives, and too narrow a functional orientation. Again, the one that consistently comes up with leaders I work with is the most is problems with interpersonal relationships, especially amongst the leader’s peers. These tend to be the leaders who get results but leave a scorched earth behind them. Eventually, it catches up to them, and they move on to repeat their act with another company looking for a silver bullet.


JS: If leaders could pick up one new habit, what should it be?

DM: I’d say having regular one on one meetings with their direct reports. I know it sounds like management 101, but I’m shocked at how many leaders just don’t understand the need to meet regularly with their employees. Their employees don’t get feedback, coaching, reinforcement, and the leaders are missing a huge opportunity to build relationships, coach, and keep abreast of what’s going on. Team meetings, emails, and written status reports are poor substitutes for F2F meetings, even if just for 30 minutes a week. “Lack of time” is a poor excuse – time is just an indicator of what’s important to a leader, and a leader’s #1 priority should be their people.

JS: What has been your best metric to use to measure the ROI of leadership development?

DM: I’ve been collecting leadership development over the years like some people collect rare coins. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Company performance. The ultimate measure, nothing else really matters. In most cases, consistent great company performance can usually be attributed to great leadership. And of course, lousy leadership is usually the root cause of business failures.

2. External perception of leadership. External perception can be measured by awards, such as CEO Magazine “Best Companies for Leaders” and hundreds of individual leadership awards (CEO of the Year, CIO of the year, CFO of the Year, etc…).

3. Internal perception of leadership. Internal perception can be measured in two ways. First, if you’re using 360 leadership assessments, you can maintain an aggregate score of a single “overall effectiveness” question, or run a report that aggregates the average score for all questions. Second, you can pull questions out of your annual employee survey pertaining to leadership and look for year over year improvement. You can also compare your leaders to other companies if you’re using questions provided by a third party vendor, such as Gallop or the Leadership Practices Inventory.

4. Succession planning measures. Keep tract of the number of key positions filled by internal candidates or the number of “ready now” candidates for each key positions (bench strength).

5. Individual Development Plan (IDP) progress or completion. Track the completion of development activity for key leaders and succession candidate pools.

6. Leadership development training measures. Use the basic Kirkpatrick measures, satisfaction, knowledge, behavior change, and business results. Easier said than done for the last one, but it works in some cases. For example, you would expect a decrease in turnover and improvement in sales after the implementation of a successful sales manager hiring or coaching program.

7. Finally, the easiest measure and perhaps the one that has the biggest impact on your funding and career opportunities: ask your key stakeholders. Regular meetings with your top executives and other key stakeholders will ensure you’re efforts are hitting the mark. These meetings are a great way to continuously assess current and future needs, communicate your accomplishments, and check for satisfaction.


About Dan McCarthy

Dan McCarthy is an expert in leadership and management development. For over 20 years Dan has helped thousands of leaders and aspiring leaders improve their leadership capabilities.

Dan is the Director of Executive Development Programs at the Paul College of Business and Economics, the University of New Hampshire (UNH). He is responsible for all administrative, fiscal, operational, and policy matters associated with the development, delivery, and marketing of Executive Development Programs at Paul College.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not represent the University of New Hampshire.

Prior to joining UNH in February of 2011, Dan was responsible for all aspects of supervisory, management and executive development, including succession planning at Paychex, Inc. Paychex was consistently named as a Fortune Magazine “Great Place to Work” a "Training Magazine top 125” training organization, and a Bersin “High Impact Learning Organization”.

Prior to Paychex, Dan was Director of Leadership Excellence and Culture Development for Digital and Film Imaging Systems at Eastman Kodak Company. He was responsible for talent management for approximately 150 executives worldwide, including succession planning, an executive talent exchange, and executive development programs.

He’s the author of the award winning leadership development blog “Great Leadership”the Great Leadership Development and Succession Planning eBook, and an influential voice in social media. He has recently begun writing for About.com as their Management expert.

He’s a member of the SmartBrief on Workforce Advisory Board, the CMED Advisory Board, and was named one of the Top 10 Digital Influencers in Leadership for the last two years. He is a regular contributor to Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, RadioINK, a national publication for radio management, HRExecutive Online, National Public Radio, Monster’s HR People, Human Resources IQ, SmartBrief on Leadership and Workforce, HR Republic, a leading HR publication in Asia, and other leading digital publications.

Dan also is a leadership development speaker, consultant, and executive coach. He’s consulted with companies on how to develop their leaders, and coached leaders from around the world.

He has a Master’s Degree in Human Resource and Organizational Development and an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. Dan resides in the Seacoast region of New England with his wife and two daughters.

You can contact Dan via email at danmccarth at gmail dot com and follow him on Twitter @greatleadership.

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