Monday, April 28, 2014

Influence Style Indicator Product Update and a Free Trial

Here at Discovery Learning, Inc. we are constantly working to improve and enhance our products because we recognize that even great stuff can be made better.  We also recognize that we don’t have all of the answers when it comes to product improvement.  Therefore we make a concerted effort to capture as much feedback from our customers and key users as we can and we use that information to help drive our product development cycle.

This week we are happy to announce the release of an updated version of Influence Style Indicator.  We have integrated feedback from ISI key users in the redesign process and are really happy with the results.

We have made Influence Style Indicator easier to administer and facilitate.  A common issue that was brought to our attention was the difficulty of printing off participant reports one at a time.  We are pleased to now offer batch report printing functionality which greatly reduces the time and input required by the assessment facilitator.  We have also revised the layout of the report page to make reading and understanding your individual report more intuitive.

We have also expanded our class leading normative data by adding new grouping capabilities.  Facilitators can now better contextualize their participant data by accessing our updated Facilitator Tools which now includes information regarding differences in age, gender and nationality.

In order to help get the word out about the updates to Influence Style Indicator Discovery Learning, Inc. is making a free trial available.  Upon completing the contact form you will have the opportunity to participate in the online version of the assessment.  After you finish a member of the DLI staff will contact you with your results.  This is the first time that we have made one of our assessments available for free on a trial basis and we are excited to be able to share Influence Style Indicator with the world.


Unfortunately the free trial of Influence Style Indicator has ended.  We hope that those who were able to participate had a great experience using the tool and participating in the subsequent webinar.  DLI will continue to run these types of events in the future.  We encourage you to follow our blog to stay up-to-date on when these events will occur.  Thank you again for your participation.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Driving Business Transformation: Invest More in Middle Management

Business transformation is becoming a hot topic for organizations as the world becomes an increasingly complex place to do business. In order to remain competitive and dominate their segments, businesses must be able to pull-off rapid systemic changes as well as a multitude of more minor adjustments. Regardless of the scale, all of these changes require a degree of organizational agility.

The concept of business transformation stands at the intersection of change management, effective influence and the ability to make tough decisions. As we look to develop organizational resources it must be through the lens of these concepts. Harvard Business Publishing’s 2013 survey of global professionals cited driving business transformation as the most significant goal of leadership development according to talent development professionals surveyed. But how do we prepare our organizations’ leadership to be able to address increasingly dynamic market places? 

The first step in this process is to rethink who we are investing in. Historically organizations have put dollars and resource into key talent development. Effective business transformation requires rapid organizational adoption in order to work and preparing only a handful of highly talented individuals is no longer sufficient. Instead organizations should look further down their organizational charts and go straight to the point of implementation. Investing in ongoing leadership training of middle management helps equip those managers to be more effective at rapid implementation of business transformation initiatives and ultimately equips them to be better advocates for workplace innovation.

According to Stephen G. Hasty, a KPMG partner and U.S. Innovation Leader for Advisory more than half of companies undertaking transformation fail to achieve the desired business result. We can think about traditional business transformation processes as a reverse bullwhip effect with one arm shaking wildly at the handle with the momentum slowing along the whip’s length until we reach relatively static tip. By investing in leadership development for middle management, organizations can effectively “choke up” on the handle and increase the effect of their efforts.

The second step of the process is to determine the content of our leadership development programs but first we must clearly identify the objectives. It is a safe bet that many C-Suite executives are including driving business transformation in the top of their lists for 2014 and beyond. But what are the qualities that define a successful business transformation leader? 

1. Change Management - Transformation by definition involves change. Middle managers who have had the opportunity to candidly assess their change management styles and preferences are better equipped to communicate and implement change initiatives to their direct reports and peers.

2. Decision Making - Business transformation requires effective leaders to make tough decisions often outside of their comfort zones. Middle managers as individuals have natural preferences for how they make decisions which today’s dynamic workplace doesn’t often oblige. Developing managers to be able make good decisions with limited information helps increase the velocity of business transformation.

3. Effective Influence - Business transformation success hinges on organizational adoption. Unless there is buy-in even great ideas can wither on the vine. Middle managers with awareness of their natural influencing styles and an understanding of how to adapt them to their audience are more effective at getting desired results.

Leadership development programs should focus content on these three attributes. Also by increasing the amount and frequency of leadership development programs targeted to middle managers organizations will be poised to drive business transformation by establishing these skills as intrinsic components of their organization’s culture.

Friday, April 11, 2014

How to Increase Your Influence in Five Steps

The ability to influence is one of the essential skills for leaders at all levels. It’s more art than science, and it can be tough to get your arms around. But the bottom line is that influence matters. And as we continue to morph (at breakneck speed) into an interconnected, interdependent, increasingly global workplace, it will only become more important.

Here are five tips on increasing your influence:

1) Understand your influencing style. It all begins with self-awareness. What’s your dominant style? Do you assert, convince, negotiate, bridge or inspire? Do you tend to apply the same approach to every situation
and individual? Understanding your natural inclination is a good place to start. If you’re not sure, consider taking a quick assessment like the Influence Style Indicator.

2) Take stock of your situation. Who are the critical stakeholders you need to win over to achieve an objective or overcome an obstacle? What influencing style might be more effective as you interact with them? For example, if you’re dealing with a hard-nosed CFO, consider using a convincing approach, which is based in logic, data and expertise. If you’re in a crisis situation where people are relying on you to be decisive and fast on your feet, an asserting style may be more effective. If you’re working cross-functionally
and need to win the support of a peer, a bridging or negotiating style may be the way to go.

3) Identify your gaps. Once you understand your natural orientation and the appropriate styles to influence those around you, figure out where you’re on solid ground and where you need to shift gears and use a different approach to be more effective.

4) Develop. After identifying your gaps, find ways to develop in those areas. It might be a workshop, coach or internal role model who is particularly strong in the style you’re trying to develop. For an added bonus, find a learning partner – someone with whom you can role-play to gain confidence.

5) Practice. Begin with small steps – low-stakes situations where you can test out your new influencing approaches. Target a person or situation where you’d like to achieve a certain outcome, think through the influencing style that will work best in that situation, and give it a try. See what works and what doesn’t. As you build your capability and confidence, move on to higher stakes scenarios.

Read the original article in Forbes here.

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