Don Khouri Blog

Develop Your Team Members and Develop Yourself

Posted by Don Khouri on Mon, Mar 08, 2010

Develop Your Team Members.  Bob Reynolds, the former Vice Chairman of Fidelity, in an address to senior executives said, "I see it as a failure of our company when we need to hire leaders from outside."  It was a message to all of us in the room that part of our job was developing the next generation of leaders.  As a leader, a big part of your job is doing exactly that.  Block the time to do it!

Here is a five step process you can follow with your team members to begin the leadership development process.

  1. Identify with each person their strengths, and one specific area for improvement. 
  2. Look for assignments that will leverage the strengths and help stretch the improvement opportunity.
  3. Help them find the right resources to support those areas -- training, articles, other mentors.
  4. Be a coaching leader.  Provide timely positive and constructive feedback, be supportive, and spend time with them to encourage their growth.
  5. Monitor by discussing progress in your 1:1s and observing yourself.

Develop Yourself.  "Of all the things thapersonal development can have an effect on your future, I believe personal growth is the greatest. We can talk about sales growth, profit growth, asset growth, but all of this probably will not happen without personal growth." -- Jim Rohn.

So here is a process you can follow to work on your own self development:

  1. Clarify and fully understand the organization objectives so that whatever you do aligns with those objectives.
  2. Gather information.  Ask for feedback (manager, peers, associates) on what is going well, and what you can do to improve.
  3. Based on the feedback, set 1-2 goals for improvement -- leverage your strengths, improve your weaknesses.
  4. Get a team in place that you can rely on to help you monitor progress on your own goals. 

A good executive coach can help you with this process.

Don's Coaching Questions:

  • How much time are you spending weekly on staff development?
  • How much time do you spend relfecting and on personal development?
  • How can you ask for feedback on how you are doing as a leader?

leadership development


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Tags: productivity, leadership, Fidelity, technology

What I Learned at Fidelity Part 6 -- "No" Is Not Acceptable

Posted by Don Khouri on Tue, Feb 16, 2010

It might be one of the first words we learn and perhaps one of the most powerful ones, however, the right answer is never a simple "no".  Anything is possible with the right amount of time and resources.  So, rather than start off with no, explain what you will need to make it a yes.  This is a similar concept to one of my earlier blogs, Say What You Can Do.

At Fidelity, there is a culture of figuring oucreative, no is not acceptablet how to do it, whatever it is.  As a software solutions provider, my teams knew it was never acceptable to tell our customers, "no, we can't do it".  Rather, it was a discussion about priorities, or a trade-off between time and other factors.  A good software project manager will prioritize the following items as part of the project start-up process:  time, quality, cost, and functionality. 

For example, Iwhen we were converting the payroll system at Fidelity, it became evident that there was no way we could deliver all of the requested functionality in the required time frame.  In this particular case, quality and time were the most important factors.  So, we got creative, and identified the core parts of the system that needed to be delivered initially, and agreed with the business sponsors on a phased approach for the less critical functionality. 

When you take this approach with your business customers, you will create an environment that opens up dialogue, builds credibility, and fosters strong partnerships.

Don's Coaching Questions:

  • What issues are facing you right now that seem like "no" is the right answer?   What can you do?
  • How clear is the relative priority of time, quality, cost, and functionality on your current projects?
  • What three things can you do to create a culture of creativity with your team?

Tags: productivity, relathionships, Fidelity, technology

What I Learned at Fidelity Part 5 -- Adapt to Change

Posted by Don Khouri on Wed, Feb 03, 2010

There is only one constant at Fidelity -- Change.  Change is what allows the organization to stay fresh, innovative, and entrepreneurial.  The speed of change is increasing, and that is fueled by technology.

Successful leaders anticipate change, embrace change, and influence change.  You can either manage the chanChange, adapt to change, technology leaders changege or allow it to manage you.  When you see it coming, ask questions, understand it, offer your input, and provide pertinent information that will help make the change better (for you, for your team, and for the organization).  I used to love the idea of change at Fidelity, whether I was initiating it or responding to it, because it was an opportunity for me to share what my team was doing, how they were contributing, and it was usually a way for us to better align with the company. 

As Spencer Johnson writes in his book, Who Moved My Cheese? "be ready to change quickly, and enjoy it again and again."  You may not always agree with the change, and that is ok too.  Take the opportunity to share your thoughts in a constructive way.  The change champions will appreciate your input.

How do you anticipate change?  To answer that question, ask yourself the following:  What do you notice in environment that is different -- people, conversations, meetings?   What is different about it?  Trust your instinct, notice your observations, and use this information as a signal to get involved.

Embrace Change.  Your involvement will allow you to keep abreast of what the change is all about.  In fact, the change will probably change, so staying current will help you adapt during the change.  Those that get stuck in the old way of doing things, although easier in the short-term, are at a disadvantage.  They miss the opportunity to improve how things work, and often more importantly, are viewed by the organization as a dinosaur.  This is a difficult stigma to overcome.   

Influence change.  Now that you know change is inevitable, there is no reason that you cannot be the one to advocate for the right change.  What can be improved?  The Japanese concept of Kaizen tells us to make small incremental improvements every day. 

What I Learned at Fidelity


Take a quick look at this video and think about which character you are most like.
         Change Management


Don's Coaching Questions:

  • What is changing in your environment?
  • What needs to be changed in your environment?
  • What can you do to influence the change?


Tags: productivity, leadership, Fidelity, technology

What I Learned at Fidelity, Part 2 -- Build Strong Relationships

Posted by Don Khouri on Mon, Dec 21, 2009

This is the second in a series of blog entries about What-I-Learned-At-Fidelity-Investments-About-Being-a-Leader

Building strong and strategHandshake, relationships, productivityic relationships is a critical skill in furthering one's success; one that I encourage you to learn and executive effectively.  It is an especially vital and important skill for leaders to acquire.  One technology executive shared the following words of wisdom with me; I have never forgotten them.  "When you have strong relationships, big issues become small ones, and when you have weak relationships, small issues become big ones."

Being partial to small issues, I recall an instance when we were experiencing a system outage and not providing the service our customers were accustomed to receiving.  Certainly a serious issue, however, it was an easy phone call to those customers with whom I had built and fostered strong relationships.  They understood, trusted me and my team to solve the issue, and gave me the time and latitude to do that.  For those where my relationships were not as strong, the trust was not as high, and I had to spend more time explaining our action plan, providing status updates, and communicating our progress.

It takes time and planning to build relationships.  It may be easy to focus on the "work" and put relationships to the side, however it is part of your job as a leader to develop these relationships both for your benefit and your team's.  Block time on your calendar, reach out to those that are important, and spend formal and informal time building critical relationships.  In addition, fostering relationships is equally important in order to keep them strong and vibrant, and also takes planning and a commitment of time.

When I worked with a company in Paris developing payroll software, I learned that, "in the US, the work is the goal and the relationship is the tool.  In France, the relationship is the goal, and the work is the tool."  Perhaps we should consider moving a little closer to the middle of this spectrum. 

One of my managers was masterful at building strong relationships with both business partners and peers. The strength of his relationships enhanced his credibility and the respect that those individuals showed him.  It made his job easier and it made my job easier.  I try to carry this lesson with me and make time to focus on, build, and foster relationships.

Think about some of your current challenges.  Think about what is going well for you.

Don's Coaching Questions:

  • How does the strength of your relationships play a role in your challenges and in what is going well? 
  • What are three key relationships you could improve upon?
  • What can you do to begin to re-build, and/or foster those relationships?
  • What impact will these stronger relationships have on your work?

Tags: productivity, leadership, relathionships, Fidelity