Lending in the High Tech Age

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Feature during the initiative. These principles will help the team understand what's in bounds, what's out of bounds, and what the company is ultimately trying to accomplish as part of the engagement. The principles serve as reference points to ensure the initiative progresses as intended, and when tough decisions must be made, they provide guidance that ensures those decisions are aligned with project goals. Leadership Style Leaders who have the ability to see both the big picture and to focus on specific aspects of the execution plan are extremely valuable to the process. T he leadership style of the executive sponsor is another important characteristic that can help make change initiatives more productive and efficient. Leaders who have the ability to see both the big picture and to focus on specific aspects of the execution plan are extremely valuable to the process. They fully understand what the company needs to accomplish and can anticipate areas that might pose a challenge or require more analysis to help the project team avoid unnecessary pitfalls. The executive sponsor also plays a valuable role in motivating the team by identifying qualified people to solve problems and giving them the necessary ownership to solve them. And since many operational change projects involve working with external business partners, the executive sponsor can firmly establish the expectation that internal team members will work collaboratively with the external business partners and effectively communicate with them so the combined talent and expertise between internal and external teams is fully leveraged. Executive Presence E xecutive presence refers to a set of attributes that includes the ability to expertly orchestrate the change initiative and motivate team members by exhibiting core leadership skills, such as lis- 28 | The M Report tening, sharing, and challenging others. Highly respected by team members, colleagues, and others associated with the project, the executive sponsor leads by example and is able to command the attention and full engagement of the team, influence outcomes, and communicate broadly across the company. Executive sponsors with these attributes succeed because their example sets the tone for the change, directs appropriate action, and clearly articulates expectations for delivery. They are also deeply involved in establishing the rules of engagement for the change initiative and add value at every turn by shaping the direction of the project as it evolves, mitigating risk and remaining engaged throughout. In so doing, the executive sponsor quickly earns the confidence of everyone involved and, as a result, is able to effectively lead. Accountability T he executive sponsor who thoroughly understands the goals of the company and how the initiative supports these goals is also laser-focused on identifying any barriers that might negatively impact the initiative. This executive takes on accountability for helping ensure that anything that complicates, delays, or otherwise stands in the way of project success is identified and mitigated. Another area of accountability that an executive sponsor takes on is to help translate unclear or seamlessly arbitrary objectives that might arise into manageable, clear objectives with scoreboards. By doing so, the team is very clear about what is expected and very clear about the status of those objectives. Related to this, the executive sponsor is also accountable for defining and tracking the return on investment associated with the project. The executive sponsor will make sure the work that is done is value-added work that ultimately contributes to the overall company goals. He or she also promotes a culture that tightly manages defined return on investment (ROI) targets so all team members are tracking against the same standards. Risk Management W ith any significant company initiative, change is a part of the equation. The

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