Let me be so bold as to say that you will never find or be the perfect leader. To be human is to make mistakes. But I hope we all strive to continuously improve our intrapersonal, interpersonal, technical, and managerial skills. This inevitably leads to a happier and correspondingly more productive workforce. The aim I believe is to transition from being a boss (driving the employees and inspiring fear) to a leader (coaching the employees and inspiring enthusiasm).
I have had the pleasure of reporting to a wide range of different leader personality types and behaviors. From experiencing an uncommunicative but skilled boss (let's call him Mr. A) who operated in a clique of yes men (and maybe he still does) to a leader (Dr. B) who had less technical knowledge but whose door was always open for communication of any of my concerns. I much preferred the latter. Permit me to delve further into my personal experiences with Mr. A and Dr. B.
Mr. A rose to stardom in his organization very quickly. He was technically adept and his reputation was his performance on the job, especially with regards to writing reports. Therefore Mr. A was promoted very quickly through the ranks and inevitably attained supervisory responsibilities. It was around this time that, myself, a fledging engineer joined this organization and fell under Mr. A's responsibility. But I was in disagreement with Mr. A's attitude towards me. He often insulted me in the presence of other personnel and was never willing to share his knowledge. He bad-mouthed the performance of others, even those under his supervision. Those who agreed with Mr. A's views were absorbed into his clique. I became one of those who were left to fend for myself and learn the engineering skills I needed on my own. I subsequently left the organization, mainly because of Mr. A.
As a mechanical engineering researcher later on in life, I was supervised by Dr. B. For any researcher performing doctoral studies, there comes a transition point where the knowledge of the researcher may exceed that of the supervisor in a particular research area. For some it comes after 2 years of study, for others never. For me, it occurred after 6 months of study. This placed a lot of onus on me to ensure that I was on the right track in my studies. There were times when I felt the doctoral study was directionless. However, I would not have traded that experience for anything else in the world. Mainly because of the outstanding leadership qualities of Dr. B. He catered to my administrative and psychological needs. He was there to offer his support when I encountered personal obstacles at the university. There was nothing that I couldn't talk to Dr. B about. Dr. B always made it a point to inquire about the well-being of my family and wife. I subsequently graduated from the university in a period of time that was 1 year earlier than the average time taken for a doctoral researcher in that region.
The perfect leader may be in the eyes of the beholder. To the ones in Mr. A's clique, he was probably the perfect leader. I have never spoken to Mr. A since but those who presently work under him report of his dictatorial ways. I have heard stories of him personally monitoring, on a daily basis, the time his employees enter and leave the compound. I guess he has decided to further improve his skills into being an excellent spy. I regularly maintain contact with Dr. B, and we intend to collaborate in the future on research activities. Dr. B still inquires on the well-being of myself and family.
I am not exempt from blame in the scenarios I have described, especially with regards to interactions with Mr. A. I was often rude to him and this was in retaliation to his attitude. Perhaps I should have been more tolerant of his ways and mannerisms. By doing this, I would have performed better in my job then. But I thank him because I strive on a daily basis to not be like him. For if I never experienced his type I would not know how it feels, for example, to be ridiculed as an employee in the presence of others. I also need to consider Mr. A's turmoil as he was put into a position of supervision at an early stage of his career. I don't know how this can affect a person's psyche and the added expectations that are placed on one by his organization.
I do know that I have and will continue to make mistakes as I try to be a leader. I basically strive to do the things that I deemed as positive from Dr. B and avoid doing what was negative from the experiences with Mr. A. My personal experiences have confirmed that leaders are not specific to developed or developing nations or the degree of education they have attained.
Leaders are found throughout the spectrum of companies, organizations and all walks of life. Is it the case that leaders are born, do they emerge over time, or is there a bit of both? I don't know. However, it is often the power hungry that rise to the organizational/corporate top quickly. They are the ones that lack the skills required to keep a group or workforce happy. And I strongly believe that an employee's happiness is directly related to his/her productivity.
About the author:
Dr. Chris Maharaj is the Assistant Professor of Design and Manufacturing at the The University of Trinidad & Tobago, O'Meara Campus, Trinidad. Chris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
*image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net
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Let me be so bold as to say that you will never find or be the perfect leader. To be human is to make mistakes. But I hope we all strive to continuously improve our intrapersonal, interpersonal, technical, and managerial skills. This inevitably leads to a happier and correspondingly more productive workforce. The aim I believe is to transition from being a boss (driving the employees and inspirDr. Chris Maharaj Articles
"For what we've discovered, and rediscovered, is that leadership isn't the private reserve of a few charismatic men and women. It's a process ordinary people use when they're bringing forth the best from themselves and others. Liberate the leader in everyone, and extraordinary things happen." — James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations
Leadership is a verb, not a noun. Leadership is action, not a position. Leadership is defined by what we do, not the role we are in. Some people in "leadership roles" are excellent leaders. But too many are bosses, "snoopervisors," technocrats, bureaucrats, managers, commanders, chiefs, and the like. Conversely, many people who have no formal leadership role are excellent leaders. In today's fast changing world, we all need to be leaders.
To lead is to show the way by going in advance. To lead is to guide or direct a course of action. To lead is to influence the behavior or opinion of others. We all need to be leaders, regardless of our formal title or role. This starts with inner self-leadership and moves outward to influence, guide, support, and lead others. The process of becoming a leader is the same as the process of becoming a highly effective human being. Leadership development is personal development. Leadership ultimately shows itself in what we do "out there." But it starts "in here."
It would be easy if we could all become leaders by following a simple set of steps. But the journey of personal growth means finding our own way. There are, however, critical areas of personal development based on timeless principles. The distance we need to grow along each leadership dimension will differ for each of us, but defining and continually growing along each of these paths is the way of the leader.
Strong leaders are well-rounded and constantly expanding their personal leadership across these key areas:
*Choose Not to Lose. Whether we choose to focus on our problems or our possibilities is a key leadership issue. When we are faced with obstacles and failure, those who can overcome adversity and learn from their experiences, turning them into opportunities, are the ones who will be truly successful.
*Focus and Context. THE CORE OF MY BEING: This is central to our growth along all the other dimensions. Our Focus and Context is shaped by three vital questions: Where am I going? (my vision); What do I believe in? (my principles and values) and; Why do I exist? (my purpose or mission).
*Responsibility For Choices. IF IT'S TO BE, IT'S UP TO ME: Leadership means accepting responsibility for our choices in life. Leaders realize that life accumulates, that choice more than chance determines their circumstances. They refuse to succumb to the "Victimitus Virus" ("it's all their fault" and "there's nothing I can do").
*Authenticity. GETTING REAL: Leadership isn't just what we do, it's something that we are, which then drives what we do. Genuine leadership comes from within. It's authentic, and based on honesty, integrity, and trust. We must ring true to ourselves by exploring our inner space, gathering feedback on our personal behavior, and ensuring consistency with our stated values and principles.
*Passion and Commitment. BEYOND NEAR-LIFE EXPERIENCES: Successful people are energized by a love for what they do because it brings them ever closer to who they are. They overcome apathy and cynicism, develop a burning commitment to their cause, and with discipline achieve their dreams and desires.
*Spirit and Meaning. WITH ALL MY HEART AND SOUL: What is the purpose of our work? Of our lives? Material success alone is not enough. Leaders seek within — and find something more. In what is too often a mad dash from cradle to grave, we need to take time — in work and life — to nourish our inner selves.
*Growing and Developing. FROM PHASE OF LIFE TO WAY OF LIFE: The popular goals of security, stability, and predictability are deadly. The closer we get to these dangerous goals, the more our growth is stunted. True and lasting security comes from constant growth and development, based on regular R&R (reflection and renewal).
*Mobilizing and Energizing. PUTTING EMOTIONS IN MOTION: Leaders don't motivate with rewards and punishments. Whether at home or in the workplace, they energize people to motivate themselves. Highly effective leaders boost the energy of others with their passion and appreciation. They engage people's hearts as well as their minds. They get them involved and participating. They actively nurture the "being" or culture of the group, not just the "doing."
The more the world changes, the more leadership principles stay the same. Leadership principles are timeless. And they apply to all of us, no matter what role we play in society or organizations.
About the author:
Jim Clemmer's practical leadership & personal growth books, workshops, and team retreats have helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide improve personal, team, and organizational performance. Jim's web site, JimClemmer.com, has over 300 articles and dozens of video clips covering a broad range of topics on change, organization improvement, self-leadership, and leading others.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
"For what we've discovered, and rediscovered, is that leadership isn't the private reserve of a few charismatic men and women. It's a process ordinary people use when they're bringing forth the best from themselves and others. Liberate the leader in everyone, and extraordinary things happen." — James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge: How to KeeJim Clemmer Articles
To communicate effectively, we must be thoughtful and look closely at the unique attributes, attitudes and behaviors of people before making predictions about them. In other words, we must listen and understand from where the other person is coming.
Many of our communications are habitual as we hardly pay attention to our communication behavior. However, when we face a new situation, such as a cross cultural encounter, we seek clues to guide our behavior. As we become comfortable in the new situation, we revert back to more habitual communications, and are no longer mindful of the other. We often categorize people with whom we communicate based upon physical and cultural characteristics, or their attitudes and beliefs. The problem with categorizing is that it creates blinders in us that prevent us from truly hearing and knowing the people with whom we are communicating.
To improve the effectiveness of our communications with all people, in particular, people of other cultures, we need to be aware of how we communicate – we must be mindful. Awareness of our communications and the related competence can be described as a four-step process: 1. unconscious incompetence – we misinterpret others’ communication behavior but are not aware of it; 2. conscious incompetence – we are aware that we misinterpret others’ communication behavior but choose not to do anything to change; 3. conscious competence – we are aware of what we think about communication behavior and modify our behavior to make the communications more effective - we become mindful of our communication behaviors; and 3. unconscious competence – we have practiced the skills of effective communication and it becomes second nature to us.
Cultural Considerations in Communications
Low and High Context Cultures
Some cultures are low context and some are high. This refers to the communication process. A high-context communication process is where most of the information being communicated is in the physical context or in the person and not in the message. A low-context communication process is where the information being conveyed is in the communications – clear and direct. The United States is a low-context culture, where communications are direct and complete. We have sayings such as “get to the point” or “say what you mean” that clearly demonstrate the low-context. On the other hand, Japan, China and Korea are high-context cultures where people make a greater distinction between insiders and outsiders and where the individual communicating expects the hearer to know what is bothering him without being specific. There are advantages to high context cultures in that people raised in high-context systems expect more of others than do the participants in low-context systems. For us low-context communicators, we want things clear and out on the table, and we get annoyed by communications done in an indirect fashion.
The point here (and I will get to the point for us low context people) is that it is important to understand the form of communications that predominates in a culture in order to correctly interpret and understand the behavior of those with whom we are communicating.
Monochronic and Polychronic Cultures
A monochromic culture is one where people have involvement in one event at a time. A polychronic culture is one where people are involved in two or more events at the same time. In extremely monochronic cultures, people focus on a single task or project and see anything outside of the task or project as an interruption. Conversely, in more polychronic cultures, people have involvement in several activities, moving back and forth between them easily. In a polychronic culture, an unexpected customer dropping in would be considered part of the normal flow of tasks and not considered an interruption. In Arab nations, it is common for a leader to have several people in his office discussing and working on separate and unrelated tasks.
For us monochronic Americans, we have our agendas and work through each item, one at a time. It would be a large distraction to be in an office where we have business to discuss with someone and there are five other people transacting different business, and all happening at the same time. Again, the point here is that it is important to understand the predominate mode of operation in the culture in order to correctly interpret and understand the behavior of those with whom we are communicating, so we can adjust ourselves.
Most Needed – Organizational Glue and An Environment of Trust
Edward Hall says that culture is communications and communications is culture. Whether a husband-wife relationship, a friendship or in an organization, success is dependent in large part by the effectiveness of communications. As can be seen above, adding a cross cultural dimension makes effective communications more challenging.
What can leaders do to encourage effective communications? First, they can make sure that their organization has in place a core ideology which brings its people together – the glue that holds its people together. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book, “Built to Last,”, define the core ideology as “that which provides the bonding glue that holds an organization together as it grows, decentralizes, diversifies, expands globally and attains diversity.” The core ideology is made up of two things: core purpose and core values. The core purpose is the fundamental reason for being – the importance people attach to the organization’s work. It is the organization’s identity. Core values are those essential and enduring tenants that have intrinsic value for and are important to the people inside the organization. The core ideology holds the organization’s people together, like glue, no matter from what culture they are, by unifying people toward the achievement of the organization’s purpose.
A second thing leaders can do is to create an environment of trust. Trust is the first and foremost leadership attribute, as determined in the GLOBE Study of 17,000 people in 62 countries. Trust comes from being in relationship, where people see us in action and see that we are not in this leadership thing for ourselves, but that we are pursuing a higher purpose. It is determined by the leader’s communicative and supportive behaviors, as the amount of information received about the job and the organization helps build trust in top management and direct supervisors. Trust takes a long time to build, and it can be lost in a moment by one significant and selfish act. People watch leaders. People are looking for leaders who do what they say they will do – this is integrity. They look for leaders who do the right thing at the right time for the right reason, as stated by . Bruce Winston in his book, “Be a Leader, for God’s Sake.”
Trust theory has established that leader behavior has a great deal to do with creating a culture of trust. It has also established the importance of trust in organizational effectiveness. An important role of the organization’s leaders is the establishment of relationships characterized by confidence, trust and reliance. As determined by Jeffrey Cufaude in his 1999 article entitled “Creating organizational trust”, the following factors are associated with a culture of trust in an organization: the depth and quality of personal relationships; clarity of roles and responsibilities; frequency, timeliness and forthrightness of communications; competence to get the job done; clarity of shared purpose (core ideology); direction and vision; and honoring promises and commitments.
Edward Hall concluded that his many years of study convinced him that the real job is not understanding the culture of another, but that of your own. Culture has a huge impact on how we live our lives. If we are to relate effectively with people from other cultures, then we must know how our culture impacts us. One of the most effective ways to learn about ourselves is to take seriously the cultures of others. By doing this, it forces us to pay attention to the details of our lives and what differentiates us from others. It gives us a sense of vitality and awareness. It keeps us continually learning and growing as people. Effective communications results when we walk in the shoes of another. This means making ourselves vulnerable with other people, something people are more willing to do when they work in a culture of trust.
(In writing this article, I relied heavily upon the works of William Gudykunst and Young Kim entitled “Communicating with Strangers,” Edward Hall entitled “The Silent Language” and W. Howell entitled “The empathic communicator.”)
About the author:
Paul Dumais is Director of Asset Management and Investment Planning at Iberdrola USA, a family of electric and gas utilities serving customers in New England and in the State of New York. He is second year student in the Doctorate of Strategic Leadership Program in the School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship at Regent University. Mr. Dumais holds an MBA from the University of Southern Maine. He lives with his wife Kathleen in Webster, New York and may be reached for comment at email@example.com
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
To communicate effectively, we must be thoughtful and look closely at the unique attributes, attitudes and behaviors of people before making predictions about them. In other words, we must listen and understand from where the other person is coming. Many of our communications are habitual as we hardly pay attention to our communication behavior. However, when wPaul Dumais Articles
In my many interactions with business owners and senior managers over the years I would maintain that the single greatest challenge facing most of us tasked with the oversight of a business or organization is leadership and specifically, our understanding how to motivate our people. Getting them to do the things we want done, how we want them done and when we want them done is always a challenge. Most of us hate this part of our role as leaders and are very creative in finding ways to avoid it. Of course this might be why morale and retention are such major issues in the American workplace and why turnover and job dissatisfaction are at all time highs. I am strongly of the opinion that people can amaze and astound you with what they can accomplish, but this never happens by accident and never happens in an environment where we are discouraging innovation and where we withhold our trust. Expecting our people to soar when we dissuade them from spreading their wings seems like an expectation just waiting to go unfulfilled. People, our staff in other words, can take us anywhere we choose to go but only if we encourage them to push the limits, only if we promote initiative and only in an environment of trust.
One of the most common complaints I hear from business owners and from senior managers is that our people have no initiative and have to be constantly pushed and prodded to do the things we ask. Initiative is one of those incredible behaviors that we just never get enough of but it is also one of those things that has to be nurtured so when I hear a business owner or senior manager within an organization complain about a lack of initiative from his or her staff members, I immediately want to understand why this is the case and what are we doing as leaders to cause it. As leaders we are entirely responsible for the work environment and if our staff members are unwilling to go that extra mile and unwilling to challenge convention and reach a rung or two higher, then we as leaders have done or said something (much more than once) to discourage this most desirable of human behaviors. Only people who are confident and who have been encouraged will expose themselves by pushing beyond our expectations or by suggesting a better path. If the majority of our staff is unwilling to take that leap, then we as leaders have failed.
As leaders, tasked with delivering the broad expectations of the organization, it is certainly reasonable for us to approach our job, our every effort, with a sense of urgency. Very literally, we are responsible for each task, every procedure and all efforts that make up our areas of responsibility. The pressure that comes with this accountability is significant. Trusting others to complete these tasks is a frightening prospect for many of us but the impracticality of our doing everything ourselves requires and in fact demands that we bite that operational bullet and delegate effectively. This is the very essence of leadership; our moving the masses toward the accomplishment of our goals and hopefully beyond. To whatever degree we are able to do this will determine our effectiveness and success as a leader.
Human beings are a challenge. They are unpredictable, they suffer mood swings and it is difficult knowing what you will get from individual to individual, from day to day. They are tough to understand and with so much on the line in our own efforts, it is difficult to trust them to do the things you ask them to do. As difficult as it might seem, trusting in your people is exactly what I am going to ask you to do.
That initiative we had talked about earlier is an indication of confidence and I can promise you that if you have not created an environment of trust and empowerment, your people are not going to think about showing much initiative. It is never about you actually coming out and saying you don’t trust your people but your micromanaging them and monitoring their every action, step and inclination will communicate that lack of trust just as surely as you bellowing it at your people at a weekly staff meeting. People who feel under a microscope never feel trusted, never feel confident, and as a very direct result, rarely show initiative. A lack of initiative is a sure sign of a leadership structure that is stifling, repressive, hostile, and untrusting or any combination of these. A work environment that is lacking in trust is one that will always underachieve, always suffer turnover, and one that is dysfunctional at the top. The saddest aspect in this is that many of us will defend our position and our lack of trust by blaming our staff members. “They just don’t get it” or “This is so important that I just can’t trust them to deliver the results I am looking for”. No matter how you wrap that, it is wrong and like a coach blaming his team for the loss, you are blaming your people for your failure as a leader. Your micromanagement is destructive to your team and denies your team members the growth that comes with ownership and success. If your people are lacking the skills to succeed, then I would suggest that you train them but denying them the opportunity to grow and improve and get in the game is a sure-fire way to develop a culture of underachievement, low morale and lack of initiative. Unfortunately, some will fail, but when appropriately trained and armed with our reasonable expectations, most will succeed and strive to exceed our expectations. Showing faith in our people (even if we don’t really feel it) is a great way of showing confidence in them and encouraging their very best effort in every undertaking.
I recall a situation in a large organization I was working with, where the senior manager was blessed with a highly experienced and capable staff. This particular manager came from an unrelated field and I am guessing as a result, felt insecure in his ability to properly manage the areas with which he was tasked. His approach was to question, double check and re-verify the minutia of the things his staff did on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. It is certainly commendable for any manager to approach their areas of responsibility with a sense of urgency but in this case the manager’s insecurity and intense attention to the details was perceived as a lack of trust. Senior staff, with from ten to fifteen years on the job, are not used to being audited and double checked on a daily basis and the actions of this manager took a highly motivated and capable team and turned them into a defensive rabble, more concerned with their own ‘i’s’ being dotted and their own “t’s” being crossed than with the broad organizational priorities and goals as well as being more concerned about making mistakes than with innovation or initiative. Trust is a very powerful thing that gives our people the confidence to move forward and to grow. A lack of trust makes most of us unconcerned with what is going on in the next cubicle and wondering about what we have done wrong.
Leading is tough, there is no doubt about that, but in any business, in any organization there is nothing more powerful, nothing more cost effective or reliable than motivated, appropriately trained staff, who are well led and encouraged toward success.
Leaders lead with a stubborn insistence toward accomplishment and an undying faith in their people. You can trust me on that.
About the author:
Brian Canning is a regular contributor to weLEAD and a business analyst working in the federal sector. For the past thirty years he has worked in the automotive repair industry, most recently as a leadership and management coach with the Automotive Training Institute in Savage, Maryland. After serving as a tank commander with the 1st Armored Division in Europe, he started his career as a Goodyear service manager in suburban Washington D.C., moving on to oversee several stores and later a sales region. He also has been a retail sales manager for a large auto parts distributor, run a large fleet operation and headed a large multi-state sales territory for an independent manufacturer of auto parts. His passions are history, leadership and writing.
In my many interactions with business owners and senior managers over the years I would maintain that the single greatest challenge facing most of us tasked with the oversight of a business or organization is leadership and specifically, our understanding how to motivate our people. Getting them to do the things we want done, how we want them done and when we want them done is always a challengBrian Canning Articles
Most professionals know they must network in order to achieve long-term business success. I remember as far back as high school being told by my guidance counselor that I needed to "meet a lot of people and build a network." That was great advice back then and even better advice today.
It's critically important to participate in the public arena and interact with the people who could become your clients, provide you with valuable information or help you further your causes and beliefs.
While they understand the importance of networking, many professionals do a lousy job of it. It's easy to show up at an event, grab a drink, eat some free hors d'oeuvres, say "hi" to a couple people, then go home and pat yourself on the back for being involved in the community.
Unfortunately, that's not networking. It's merely socializing.
There's nothing wrong with socializing. In fact, it's generally a good thing, but it's not efficient. In order to convert socializing into networking, you need to have a three-tiered goal planted in your mind before you even enter the venue where networking will take place.
I call it "goal-based networking," and here's how it works:
"I will get a direct opportunity"
This could be a new client, an invitation to join a prestigious organization, a job offer, a promise to donate money to your pet cause. While Goal #1 is ideal, it unfortunately doesn't happen at most networking events.
"I will get a solid lead on a direct opportunity"
This is almost as good as the first goal, because it moves you closer to what you really want. Goal #2 should happen at the vast majority of networking events you attend. If it doesn't, you're not meeting enough people or not asking the right questions.
"I will meet new people and learn valuable information"
This is the bare-bones minimum goal that you should achieve at every single networking event you attend.
Make a commitment to network more and remember to think about these three goals before walking into your next networking event. Setting these goals consistently over a long period of time will maximize the return from your investments in networking. That means you increase your public profile, connect with the right people and become that person who always seems to know about business happenings long before your colleagues do.
About the author:
Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.You can learn more and follow his "Business Motivation Blog" at www.JeffBeals.com
*image courtesy of posterize/freedigitalphotos.net
Most professionals know they must network in order to achieve long-term business success. I remember as far back as high school being told by my guidance counselor that I needed to "meet a lot of people and build a network." That was great advice back then and even better advice today. It's critically important to participate in the public arena and interact withJeff Beals Articles
In an interview, comedian Joan Rivers was asked how she stayed so thin and trim and the interviewer said, “Do you do a lot of exercising?” “Oh, my Lord no,” said Rivers. “If God had intended me to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the ground.”
When actress and screen writer, Mae West, was asked about dieting she said, “I never worry about diets. The only carrots I’m interested in are the carats in a diamond.”
Hungarian born American film and stage actress, Zsa Zsa Gabor said that she never hated a man enough to give him back his diamonds. And she received diamonds from 9 husbands.
Diamonds have been considered precious for centuries. Geologists say diamonds were formed billions of years ago deep inside the earth by tremendous heat and pressure. They have literally been around since the beginning of time and they will last through eternity. As the title to a popular James Bond movie states, Diamonds Are Forever, literally.
Even though they have been around forever, diamonds are rare and they are hard to find. They come to the surface of the earth during volcanic eruptions in a bluish substance called kimberlite.
To find these rough diamonds, you can search in the marshes, ponds, streams and lakes near volcanos that have erupted, or you can dig deep mines to find rough diamonds still inside the earth. However, you have to process about 22 to 100 tons of kimberlite to find one diamond. This makes a diamond very precious.
Each stone is unique and it takes a skilled technician to cut and polish the rough stone into the beautiful diamond that sells for thousands, even millions of dollars.
Application for the Charismatic Leader
Charismatic and savvy business leaders are rare. They are hard to find. Charismatic leaders are unique, each having their own facets of strength. They are precious because of the value they add to organizations. They become skilled technicians as they form, develop, and polish people into productive teams.
The four qualities of diamond you can put into your life to become a more charismatic leader are:
1. Diamond Hardness: Diamond is the hardest natural substance in nature. It is four times harder than the next hardest substance. It can cut through any other natural substance so it is used extensively in industry for drilling and polishing.
As a charismatic leader: When I ask you to emulate the hardness of diamonds, I DO NOT want you to be hard to get along with, I DO NOT want you to be hard on people; I DO NOT want you to be hard on yourself.
I do want you to equate the hardness of a diamond with being HARDY – self-determining and self-reliant. And TOUGH – tough enough not to fracture and break from the economic pressures faced in organizations today; tough enough to tell the truth; tough enough to cut through problems to solutions.
2. Diamond Clarity: Diamond has greater clarity or transparency than any other solid or liquid substance. The greater clarity in a diamond, the greater the value.
As a charismatic leader: We are going to translate this into clarity of purpose. The clearer you are on the goals of your organization, your own department or team, the greater impact you’ll have on daily productivity because work will be tied directly to results. Daily efforts bring you and your employees closer to successfully executing your organizational stewardship.
Clarity for your organization, department, unit or team comes from goals setting and time management processes. Do not feel this work is insignificant but give it the time it deserves.
3. Diamond Melting Point: Diamond has the highest melting point of any natural substance: 6422 degrees Fahrenheit.
As a charismatic leader: When it comes to relationships, have a high melting point and give others the benefit of a doubt. Work to raise the melting point of discussions and disagreements. Model for your employees the ability to Pause, Think, and then ACT. Not the reverse order: Act (often inappropriately), then pause and think. Your goal is to replace meltdowns with dialog.
4. Diamond Conductivity: Diamond conducts heat better than anything – five times better than the second best element that conducts heat, silver.
As a charismatic leader: The “heat” you need to conduct is positive energy and a belief in the future. On a daily basis I encourage you to be the conductor of optimism and hope. If you can be a positive leader, you will be as a beacon of light in the darkness.
These four qualities of the element diamond are fundamental for you to emulate in your leadership career. Master them, and your employees will WANT to follow you as they give you discretionary effort, a prize to be cherished by any leader.
About the author:
Karla Brandau is CEO of Workplace Power Institute. The Workplace Power Institute helps organizations be more competitive in the global marketplace by removing blocks to organizational productivity and improving collaboration. For more program information visit the web site: www.WorkplacePowerInstitute.com.
In an interview, comedian Joan Rivers was asked how she stayed so thin and trim and the interviewer said, “Do you do a lot of exercising?” “Oh, my Lord no,” said Rivers. “If God had intended me to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the ground.” When actress and screen writer, Mae West, was asked about dieting she said, “I never worry about dKarla Brandau, Workplace Power Institute Articles
For management writer Peter Drucker, leadership is having followers who "do the right thing". For political historian James MacGregor Burns, leadership is a "calling". For US president Abraham Lincoln, leadership is appealing to the "better angels of our nature". Leadership is also a matter of making a difference. It entails changing a failed strategy or revamping a languishing organisation. It requires us to make an active choice among many plausible alternatives, and it depends on bringing others along, on mobilising them to get the job done.
Leadership is at its best when the vision is strategic, the voice persuasive and the results tangible.
In the study of leadership, an exact definition is not essential; but guiding concepts are needed. The concepts should be general enough to apply to many situations, but specific enough to have tangible implications for what we do. Four frameworks are particularly valuable for company leadership. Their focus is on the individual capacities that have the greatest impact in the broadest circumstances.
The three-part story
Leaders such as Martin Luther King, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John XXIII, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alfred Sloan and Nelson Mandela had an immense affect on society. Our experience in the present century will long reflect what they achieved in the past century. What is the common thread that explains their legacy?
For academic Howard Gardner, the answer lies in their consistent use of a three-part account. Whether with a few supporters or in front of a nation, great leaders consistently offer their vision of both what should be and how it should be achieved. Moreover, they always include a third element: all honour to the people who will build that future. Nelson Mandela, for instance, demonstrated this kind of leadership by declaring that the people of South Africa would create a multi-racial, democratic nation; they would do so through the peaceful transformation of South Africa; and both the black and white people of South Africa would get them there.
The teachable point of view
During nearly two decades at the helm of General Electric, Jack Welch has built one of the leading producers of everything from toaster ovens and jet engines to television programmes and financial services. He transformed a company worth Dollars 12bn in 1981 to one valued at Dollars 560bn today.
When asked to reveal the secret of his success, Welch says it is certainly not knowing which alloys to use in engines nor which shows to broadcast on Mondays. It is, rather, knowing how to pick the right leaders for making those products and then ensuring that the chosen ones master their growing responsibilities and changing markets. And for this, argues academic Noel Tichy, you must have a "teachable point of view", a message that defines what you want the company to achieve and how it will do so, and both must be conveyed in a form that others can readily learn and teach in turn.
The other intellect
Many managers will have known brilliant colleagues who had every answer but no respect. Cognitive intelligence is a prerequisite for most responsible positions, whether a Nasa flight director or an investment bank manager. What distinguishes those who move up to those positions is a capacity that writer Daniel Goleman has called emotional intelligence. It amounts to the following: if you are self-aware and self-regulating, empathetic and compassionate, and skilled at bringing out the best in people around you, you will hear what you need to know and inspire what they need to do.
The 70 percent solution
Some institutions are notorious for deplorable leadership; others are legendary for their excellence at the top. The US Marine Corps is renowned for its leadership abilities and offers insights into what is essential in business. The Marine Corps prepares is commanders to:
* seek a "70-per-cent" solution rather than a 100-per-cent consensus;
* avoid indecisiveness, a fatal flaw that is worse than no decision;
* clearly explain a decision's objectives and then allow subordinates to work out the details;
* tolerate and even encourage mistakes when they generate better performance next time;
* prepare everybody to lead, including those in the front line.
Business writer David Freedman and former McKinsey consultantsJon Katzenbach and Jason Santamaria argue that although companies march to different drummers, their leaders will do well to adapt the best of what the Marines have already discovered.
Without John F. Kennedy's persuasively articulated vision, human beings would not have walked on the moon in 1969. A powerful vision is a precondition for leading a company or country at any time. It is a persuasive picture of where you want to go, how you want to get there and why anybody should follow.
Herb Kelleher formed Southwest Airlines in 1971 to make flying affordable and the company profitable, and that vision has guided the company ever since. The airline still has some of the lowest ticket rates and highest profit rates in the business, reporting a net income of Dollars 474m in 1999 on revenue of Dollars 4.7bn.
Not only should chief executives articulate a strong vision, but they must do so in the face of new pressures: intensified competition and less time in which to achieve goals. Before AT&T's deregulation in 1984, for example, the chief executive was virtually assured of last year's earnings plus six per cent in the following year. The current chief executive, Michael Armstrong, is not even assured of his job next year. Professional investors and stock analysts are turning up the heat and the internet is requiring rapid-fire action. Wall Street and the City expect people at the top to understand where the market is going, pick a strategy for succeeding in it, and rally a reluctant workforce to master it. Michael Armstrong has to reduce costs and create innovation, but money managers and stock analysts also expect him to divine and shape his future better and faster than anybody else in business.
Vision and strategy are therefore essential, but they have been joined by new critical capabilities:
Leading out: As companies increasingly outsource services, use joint ventures and construct strategic alliances, they require managers who can lead out, not just down. In other words, the skill of sending work downward to subordinates is being supplemented by a talent for arranging work with partners. Such lateral leadership is essential for achieving results when you have no authority to guarantee them. And managers are requiring more of that every year: recent surveys of managers report annual outsourcing expenditures growing by 15 per cent or more.
Consider a senior US manager in a telecommunications company who was responsible for developing outsourcing contracts worth Dollars 1bn for information services. Company executives told him that cutting service costs and reducing management distraction were the purpose and left him to identify which services could be outsourced. He then had to contract the right outside partners to provide the services and convince sceptical internal managers that the deal would deliver what they wanted.
Lateral leadership requires strategic thinking to understand when and how to collaborate for competitive advantage; deal-making to secure the right arrangements with outside companies and ensure they provide quality service; partnership governing to oversee and develop the collaborative contract; and change management to spearhead new ways of doing business despite internal resistance.
Leading up: As companies have decentralised authority, they have put a premium on a manager's capacity to muster support from above as well as below. Managers must be able to lead their own bosses. If superiors lack data, managers should ensure they receives what's needed.
Consider a brokerage manager who could see the potential of the internet, but whose boss and board remained sceptical. He laboured to persuade them that online trading would come to dominate the trading market, even though it meant cannibalising their existing franchise and incurring momentary losses. He prevailed, and his company became one of the industry's largest.
Upward leadership depends upon followers who are ready to speak out, solve problems and fill the breach. But it must also be executed with subtlety and verve. If done in an unsubtle way, it may prove little more than a career-shortening move for those who try it. Yet the middle manager who fails to handle things firmly may never be noticed by the very senior managers who are most in need of help.
Moving fast: The widespread adoption of the web has increased the availability of information to buyers and sellers and reduced the costs of transactions between them. Whether building a new internet company or an online capacity in an established enterprise, acting decisively can be essential in quickly changing markets. So too is an ability to revamp the business model and redeploy assets to take advantage of competitive changes before others do.
Consider eBay, the world's largest online auction site. It was the first mover in its market, and when Amazon.com and others subsequently began competing in the auction market, chief executive Meg Whitman incorporated some of their features - such as password retrieval and fraud insurance - on eBay's website. She also added new features, such a way for buyers to look for items in their own city and to be notified when an item they desired became available for bid. EBay today has attracted 16m registered users and holds 90 per cent of the online auction market. Whitman's swift actions helped create a market valuation of Dollars 14bn.
How to build leadership
Some managers have a head start in acquiring leadership capacities, but everyone can improve. It is a learned capacity, albeit one that for many proves very difficult to master.
A first step for building leadership is to identify those whose leadership skills will need to be developed during the years ahead. Senior executives may decide it is only the managers of major operations who should be included, but they may conclude instead that it should be virtually everybody with responsibility. Middle managers will probably want to involve anyone reporting to them.
Managers can begin by engaging those closest to them in a leadership debate, and asking them to do the same with their associates. They can discuss their moments of both success and setback; ask them to synthesise lessons from their own leadership experiences; provide them with personal coaching and individual mentoring; and change the business culture so they can make decisions without acute fear of failure.
An explicit leadership development programme may also help. Abbott Laboratories, a Dollars 13bn revenue US healthcare manufacturer with 57,000 employees, brings groups of 35 high-performing, high-potential directors and vice presidents together for three weeks of leadership development over nine months. Participants examine the leader's role and responsibilities at Abbott, they consider alternative leadership approaches and they receive feedback on their own leadership style and impact.
DuPont, with revenue of Dollars 27bn and 94,000 employees, has created its own "knowledge intensity university", a set of programmes for training managers in how to identify expansion strategies, create a culture of urgency and allocate resources to encourage rapid growth.
One programme for top executives of product divisions and global businesses is designed to help them identify the best methods for bolstering business. A second programme for top management teams helps them specify, test and implement the best "growth engines" for business. Both programmes include week-long learning events with an intensive focus on strategic alliances, e-commerce and change leadership.
Ford Motor Company has annual sales of Dollars 162bn and employs 365,000 people. To accelerate the formation of its future leaders, it runs a "new business leader" programme for 2,000 managers every year. Participant teams identify ideas that could help transform the company's way of doing business, design a course of action for implementing the best proposals and develop a "teachable point of view" for advocating them.
One of the most effective ways of instilling leadership in such programmes is to examine what other leaders have done in times of crisis. By looking at others' experiences, managers can better anticipate what they should do when faced with leadership challenges. It teaches strategic thinking and how to act decisively.
It can be particularly powerful to walk historic battlefields or recall critical decisions. Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, for example, describes how two climbing groups, simultaneously nearing the summit of Everest, were hit by a violent storm. It is useful to ask what went right - and why so many things went so terribly wrong - for the leaders of the two teams as they desperately sought safety.
Eight climbers (including both team leaders) never found shelter. In asking how their decisions might have gone differently, how their leadership mattered, and what we might do to reach our own summits more safely, we can deepen our own commitment to preparing ahead and instilling responsibility for when it is really needed.
The British explorer Ernest Shackleton's journey to the Antarctic presents another useful illustration of leadership in a crisis. Shackleton set out in December 1914 with a team of 28. His ship became trapped in ice and although it appeared that everyone was doomed, Shackleton's exceptional perseverance, ingenuity and leadership led them all to be rescued 21 months later. In Leading at the Edge, Dennis Perkins suggests several enduring lessons to be taken from Shackleton's saga:
* Keep sight of the ultimate goal but focus on interim objectives. Shackleton was driven by the safety and survival of his men. When morale plummeted at one point, Shackleton organised a trek to cross 314 miles of ice floe to an old food cache. The trek failed, but the collective endeavour restored the crew's life-sustaining spirits.
* Engender optimism. As a way of maintaining morale, Shackleton openly planned the team's next expedition - to Alaska.
* Minimise your perquisites. Ten of the 28 castaways were forced to use inadequate sleeping bags after the ship sank. Shackleton assigned these bags by lottery, except for one that he assigned to himself.
* Risk nothing needlessly, bet everything when essential. When Shackleton's marooned crew finally reached an inhospitable island at the edge of the Antarctic, they stood on land for the first time in 497 days. Yet the island offered no respite. The nearest help, South Georgia Island, still lay 800 miles across one of the most daunting oceans in the world. With few navigational aids, Shackleton set out with five others in a 22-foot craft. Eighteen days later, in one of the greatest feats of steerage and survival ever, he landed their tiny boat on South Georgia. L
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About the author:
Michael Useem is professor of management and director of the Center for Leadership and Change at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
He is the recipient of the Helen Kardon Moss Anvil Award for Teaching Excellence in the Graduate Division, 1992; Graduate Division Award for excellence in teaching, 1992-95, 1998; and the Miller-Sherrerd MBA Core Teaching Award, 1993-99. He has served as consulting editor for Leadership Quarterly, 1992-98; corresponding editor for Theory and Society from 1981 to the present; on the advisory board of Liberal Education (Journal of the Association of American Universities and Colleges) from 1990 to 1998; and on the editorial Board, IRQ: A Quarterly Journal of Investor Relations and Corporate Value, 1997-present.
Professor Useem also serves as a consultant for companies such as Astra/Merck; Bell Atlantic Corporation; CARE; National Policy Association; National Research Council; United Nations; World Education, and many other organizations. His research areas include organizations and management; leadership and governance; corporate change and restructuring; institutional investors; company social and political programs; education and employment; and the organization of development programs. Current projects include work on company leadership in a globalizing equity market; leading organizational change and restructuring; and the lessons of leadership during periods of challenge, stress, and uncertainty.
Representative publications include "The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All," "Investor Capitalism: How Money Managers are Changing the Face of Corporate America," and "Executive Defense: Shareholder Power and Corporate Reorganization."
* Freedman, D.H. (2000) Corps Business, New York: HarperBusiness.
* Gardner, H. (1995) Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership, New York: Basic Books.
* Goleman, D.P. (1997) Emotional Intelligence, New York: Bantam.
* Gardner, J. (1993) On Leadership, New York: Free Press.
* Katzenbach, J.R. and Santamaria, J.A. (1999) "Firing Up the Front Line", Harvard Business Review, May-June.
* Krakauer, J. (1997) Into Thin Air, New York: Villard/Random House.
* Perkins, D.N.T., with Holtman, M.P., Kessler, P.R. and McCarty, C. (2000) Leading at the Edge, New York: American Management Association.
* Tichy, N.M. (1997) The Leadership Engine, New York: HarperBusiness.
* Useem, M. (1998) The Leadership Moment, New York: Times Books/Random House.
Article Copyright: The Financial Times Limited
Reprinted by permission of the Financial Times
Permission received by weLEAD Incorporated
For management writer Peter Drucker, leadership is having followers who "do the right thing". For political historian James MacGregor Burns, leadership is a "calling". For US president Abraham Lincoln, leadership is appealing to the "better angels of our nature". Leadership is also a matter of making a difference. It entails changing a failed strategy or revamping a languishing organisation. ItMichael Useem Articles
Our colleges and universities administer an “anti-leadership vaccine,” according to John Gardner (Greenleaf, 1969). Robert Greenleaf, the father of servant leadership, agrees and adds that we have the misfortune to live in the age of the anti-leader. We’ve done a good job of educating cynics, critics and experts—the technical specialist who advises the leader or the intellectual who stands off and criticizes the leader, but no one wants to educate the leader himself (Greenleaf, 1969). And yet the leadership crisis looms. “We give every appearance of sleep-walking through a dangerous passage of history,” writes Gardner (1990); “we see the life-threatening problems, but we do not react. We are anxious but immobilized.”
With an increasing awareness of that leadership crisis, more voices are calling for universities to become involved. The Kellogg Foundation’s “Leadership reconsidered: Engaging higher education in social change” (2000) declares that higher education has the potential to produce future generations of transformative leaders who can help find solutions to our most vexing social problems. With the help of Synovus, and other businesses following their lead, Columbus State University is accepting the challenge through a commitment to develop servant leaders—leaders committed to the ethical use of power and authority who want to help others grow.
The CSU Servant Leadership Program, now in its third year, seeks to help students develop the knowledge, skills, and spirit of servant leaders through both academic and experiential learning. Stipends, which are provided mainly by Synovus, are available for a limited number of entering freshmen. In return for the stipend, students participate in an academic seminar for one-semester-hour of elective credit each semester, engage in community service through non-profit agencies, and participate in mentoring as both a mentor to an at-risk child and as a mentee. Personal development assessments, conferences, retreats, and social events are also integral parts of the program. The stipends are renewable for a total of eight semesters. The program now includes 12 juniors, 13 sophomores, and 15 freshmen.
High school seniors who have demonstrated potential in the areas of service, leadership, academics, and commitment to the development of self and others are recruited during the Fall each year. Interested students submit applications by January 31, and the selection process takes place during February and March. Each new year begins with an Orientation Retreat on the Friday before Fall Semester classes begin. Evaluation of the program continues on an on-going, continuous, cyclical basis with year-end evaluative reports completed during May and June each year. Results, collected both quantitatively and qualitatively, suggest that the program is a quadruple-win benefiting the university, the community, collaborating businesses, and the students.
From the university’s perspective, good students are being attracted to the program and retention rates are high. No strict standard exists for SAT minimum scores, and selected students’ scores have ranged from the 900’s-1300’s. The program does require that students maintain an overall B average, and only three have been lost for academic reasons. About half of the students are on the Dean’s List each semester, and the overall GPA is about 3.5 each semester. Servant leadership students are becoming very active on campus and now fill about half of the new positions in student government.
Our servant leadership students are also making a positive difference in the community as they complete 6-8 hours per week of community service through 24 different non-profit agencies. They give thousands of hours of service each year, and agency directors give them high praise. Each student mentors a young child in the public school system who is deemed to be “at-risk” by teachers. “Karen absolutely made the difference for LeAnn; she turned her around,” a teacher recently declared in describing the value of the mentoring relationship. “LeAnn became a child who believed she could read, and she made amazing progress.” The effect on the college students is perhaps even greater than on the little children. “This experience opened my eyes in a way that nothing else could,” wrote one servant leadership student. “Thank you for making my freshman year the greatest year of my life,” wrote another. The program participants are learning that it truly is in giving that we receive.
The program is funded entirely through local means. After the final report was presented from a task force commissioned to explore the development of a formal leadership program in 1998, the CSU administration secured funding through a local foundation. At the same time, collaboration was established with the Pastoral Institute, a local counseling and educational center. Through the Business Resource Center and The Center for Servant Leadership, which are divisions of the Pastoral Institute, businesses contribute stipend money for students involved in the program. Synovus has been the principal supporter.
Not only does Synovus give generously for stipends, this locally-founded company, listed among the best places to work in America, supplies mentors for the CSU students. Synovus is the holding company for Total System Services, one of the largest credit card processing centers in the world, and for Columbus Bank and Trust Company, a locally founded bank. Executives from the Synovus family of businesses are matched with servant leadership students in mentoring relationships for several reasons. First, the arrangement puts the CSU student, who mentors at-risk children, in the uniquely important position of serving as a bridge between those in the mainstream of the social order and those in danger of being left out of society. The relationship also helps our college students to access wise advice and practical help from an adult who is seen as an exemplary servant leader, and, in turn, Synovus benefits by being able to introduce our fine students to the career possibilities available with their companies. Ultimately, we all benefit, say executives at Synovus, as young people who subscribe to the servant leadership philosophy and who have been educated in servant leadership principles, skills, and attitudes are attracted to Columbus and stay here to make a better quality of life for everyone.
The world needs young people who want to learn to serve instead of rule, who will not gain advantage for themselves by setting individuals or groups against one another, who will not use political patronage to further their own ambitions nor vindictive measures against those who oppose them, who will not exploit the public trust or the public treasury for their own gain, who want to see institutions called back to their primary mission of service and groups move toward goals that are in the best interest of the whole. It is this need that the Columbus State University Servant Leadership Program addresses. Through hands-on experience in needy areas, and through learning about themselves and their community and about leadership research and theory, university students are developing responsibility for their community, a sense of engagement, and the knowledge that service is a mutually beneficial thing. We are learning together to serve as we lead and to lead as we serve.
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Dr. Mary Sue Polleys holds a B.A. in Speech and Education from Mercer University, an M.A. in Speech Communication from Auburn, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Auburn. Having taught in corporate settings and public and private schools, she has also served for almost nine years as Chair of the Muscogee County School Board, which oversees a public school district of 32,000 students and 5,000 employees. She serves on the faculty of Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia, as Director of the Servant Leadership Program.
Technical assistance from Ms. Angela Johnson, Columbus State University
Astin, A. W. & Astin, H. S. (2000). Leadership reconsidered: Engaging higher education in social change. Report for the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Battle Creek, MI.
Gardner, J. (1990). On leadership. New York: Free Press.
Greenleaf, Robert K. (1969). The crisis of leadership. In Don M. Frick & Larry C. Spears (Eds.), On becoming a servant leader. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
College Students as Emerging Servant Leaders: A Collaboration between Columbus State University, Synovus, and Others
Our colleges and universities administer an “anti-leadership vaccine,” according to John Gardner (Greenleaf, 1969). Robert Greenleaf, the father of servant leadership, agrees and adds that we have the misfortune to live in the age of the anti-leader. We’ve done a good job of educating cynics, critics and experts—the technical specialist who advises the leader or the intellectual whoMary Sue Polleys, Ph.D. Articles
Perhaps the most important quality that sets a leader apart from a mere manager is the ability to construct and articulate a vision. Leaders use vision to establish and interpret a hopeful image of the future. This visual picture must be persuasive, attractive and desirable to everyone on the team. The need for vision is important for organizations, group activities and family relationships. Leadership is enhanced by the ability to visualize both the challenges of today and the aspirations and hopes of a better tomorrow. To be most effective, this vision needs to be communicated so clearly that everyone is able to mentally grasp it and picture themselves living in that future. Vision needs to be possible and believable, but it also needs to be challenging and have an unrestricted feel to it. For example, a part of the MicrosoftÒ Corporation’s vision has been “a computer on every desk and in every home.”
Providing vision is always an important need for a leader. However, it is even more important during times of stress or crisis. During times of great difficulty, people especially need a positive vision of meaning and hope. When either an individual or an organization is in a state of confusion and in despair, they are most receptive to an optimistic illustration of a mission or purpose! How can leaders provide this kind of a visionary message? It is only possible to those who take the time and effort to discover the most fervent desires and deepest values of their supporters. Experienced leaders realize there is more than a single desire and value to be discovered. In reality, the future often announces itself from afar. For most, the noisy clutter of today drowns out the timid sounds of events to come. For the leader, focused attention on these weak timid sounds provides the seeds of vision for a better tomorrow. When communicated clearly, a vision helps people to overcome their perceived defensive positions and self-limitations to discover something bigger than themselves. It inspires them to desire membership within a group and to accept a degree of self-sacrifice. I believe author and management consultant Peter Block defines vision in a majestic way as:
“Our deepest expression of what we want. It is the preferred future, a desirable state, an ideal state, an expression of optimism. It expresses the spiritual and idealistic side of human nature. It is a dream created in our waking hours of how we would like our lives to be.”
In the past, an organization’s vision was typically developed and established by a single individual such as the president or CEO. A single leader exclusively created a vision and then persuaded others to accept it. In recent times, many are now seeing the wisdom of developing a vision that incorporates the aspirations of more than one individual or a small elite group of individuals. In our modern cultural climate, no amount of oratory skill or personal charisma can sell a limited vision that reflects only one leader’s views. Vision isn’t about wildly claiming to know the future. It is about discovering the hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow and providing the motivation to get there. Leadership recognizes that even the seeds of imperfectly formed images expressed by others can also help create a new vision.
Once a vision is congealed, how does the leader convey the mission and inspire others onward? Most people would say the answer is to provide stirring oratory or charisma. Yet these powerful tools are not absolutely necessary for visionary leadership. For example, Thomas Jefferson was a poor orator and public speaker. Yet he used his polished writing skills and personal warmth to motivate others. Other powerful tools include the use of symbols and stories to communicate a vision. Another power tool is to frame a common experience that followers can all relate to. The famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King framed the experience of the March on Washington in 1963 to his followers. King framed the event by inspiring his listeners to feel that history was being made in their very presence.
Another recognized way for the leader to communicate vision is to express it as often as possible with vivid imagery that includes slogans or colorful emotional language. Take the time to explain just how the vision can be achieved and exhibit a personal example of optimism and confidence. As others move toward acceptance of the vision, express confidence in their attitudes and skills. Catch them doing something well and help them to develop self-confidence. As an example, provide easier tasks in the early stages of a project to promote increased confidence among co-workers or followers. As a leader, remember to celebrate the successes and milestones of achievement toward the vision. This helps to generate enthusiasm and excitement since everyone appreciates recognition and rewards.
Finally, as a leader you must lead by personal example, modeling the values you expect of others. Nothing erodes a vision more quickly than a hypocritical leader who violates expected standards and values. Your example should also include the desire to give others the authority and empowerment they need to do their jobs and get them done effectively. Remember, empowering means to provide the resources others need to carry out the tasks assigned to them.
In conclusion, consider the importance of your own personal vision. Outside of the business world we also need to maintain a vision within our families and our personal lives. Take the time to ponder your own personal vision! Write it down as your very own mission statement and refer to it often. As an individual it will give you the optimistic inspiration for a better tomorrow and it will provide you with a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
For weLEAD, this is Greg Thomas reminding you that it was Martin Tupper who once said,
“It is sure to be dark, if you shut your eyes!”
Perhaps the most important quality that sets a leader apart from a mere manager is the ability to construct and articulate a vision. Leaders use vision to establish and interpret a hopeful image of the future. This visual picture must be persuasive, attractive and desirable to everyone on the team. The need for vision is important for organizations, group activities and family relatiGreg L.Thomas Articles Tips
When we drain power from a car battery it runs down. If we do this long enough, the battery will eventually become totally dead. In physics we call this “entropy”, which means that anything left to itself will eventually disintegrate until it reaches its most elemental form. Entropy happens when there is neglect. Neglect your body, and you will deteriorate. Neglect your car battery, and it will eventually die. Anything that is not attended to and renewed will deteriorate over time. That is why we have an alternator in our car. The alternator recharges the battery. It combats entropy. All things need caring for—and your employees are no exception. Nothing neglected will remain productive over time.
Employees are like car batteries. If you are always taking from them, but never “charging them up” emotionally, eventually they will run down. Stephen Covey and others use the metaphor of the Emotional Bank Account (EBA). Negative actions and neglect can become withdrawals against a person’s EBA. On the other hand, courtesies, celebrations, and affirmations are deposits to the EBA. If there are a lot of withdrawals, and few or no deposits, a person’s EBA will become so overdrawn that the relationship will become bankrupt.
Effective leaders understand this concept and recognize the importance of giving encouragement and positive feedback on a regular basis. Such feedback should not be manipulative in nature, but should flow from a genuine appreciation and belief in their people. Effective leaders are obsessed with finding something good about an employee. They are very alert to opportunities to celebrate the achievement of others. These acts of encouragement are a real key to releasing the potential in people and promoting the use of their gifts and talents.
Few employees receive more affirmation from superiors than Southwest Airline employees. Southwest Airlines is recognized year after year by Fortune magazine as one of the best companies to work for in America. They are also famous for recognizing employees and celebrating their achievements. One token of this is a giant T-shirt hanging in the headquarters building of Southwest Airlines at Love Field. Imprinted on the shirt is this message:
“How many Southwest employees does it take to change a light bulb?” At the bottom of the shirt is the answer: “Four. One to actually change the light bulb and three to design the T-shirt to celebrate it!”
Southwest Airlines says that it uses thousands of small gestures to send big messages. The halls of their corporate headquarters are literally covered from floor to ceiling with photos, plaques, certificates, awards, honors, and various memorabilia that capture the spirit of their culture. Some have even accused Southwest executives of constructing more office space just so they could gain additional wall space in the halls to hang photos of employees and their families.
In the fall of 1999, I was selected as the Honor’s Seminar faculty member at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. I had proposed teaching a course entitled Personal and Organizational Leadership, with an emphasis on studying the top companies on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list. That year Southwest Airlines was the number four company on the list.
Toward the end of the semester the class took a field trip to visit the number one and number four companies on the Fortune 100 Best list (Synovus Financial and Southwest Airlines). Southwest had donated four round-trip tickets for our trip. We also used two round trip tickets from my Southwest Airlines frequent flyer program. We still had to buy tickets for one leg of the trip. I called the Southwest Airlines reservation number and got a very nice and helpful young lady on the line. I explained that making the reservations would be complicated since we had frequent flyer miles, free tickets from Southwest, and we also needed to buy tickets for one leg of the trip. However, I didn’t know which flight to buy, since we wanted to purchase tickets for the least expensive flight—applying the free tickets to the more expensive flights.
She searched diligently to find the least expensive flight of the trip. There was just one problem. That flight did not have enough seats left at the rock bottom fare. We needed two additional seats at that fare. She suggested that since I was working with the executive office at Southwest to arrange our tour that I should call and ask if they could authorize her to sell all the tickets at the lowest fare!
I was so impressed with this reservationist and her attitude of service. She had worked almost a half-hour to book all the flights and now she would hold the two seats until I asked the executive office to release the seats at the lower fare! She was truly working to save us money and I really appreciated that. I got her name and phone number. I discovered that she was working at a phone center in Oklahoma. I thanked her and hung up.
I then called the executive assistant to the executive office at Southwest and told her the situation. She said there would be no problem lowering the fare for the two seats and that she would take care of it immediately. I gave her the reservations’ name and phone number. Then I mentioned that the reservationist had done an outstanding job helping me. I suggested that someone should mention this to her supervisor.
About ten minutes later my phone rang. It was the reservationist in Oklahoma. She sounded very excited and said, “You can’t believe what just happened to me! I just received a call from Colleen Barrett. She personally thanked me for giving you such extraordinary service!”
For those who don’t recognize her name, Colleen is the Executive Vice President of Southwest Airlines, and the Chair of the corporate Culture Committee. Within five minutes of my suggesting someone should recognize the fine work of this reservationist, the Executive Vice President of Southwest Airlines—a company of over 29,000 employees—had made a personal call to express her appreciation to the reservationist! I can tell you for certain that this reservationist received an incredible deposit to her Emotional Bank Account that day! This affirmation was like a powerful charge to her battery.
Such small gestures certainly do send big messages at Southwest. They can also send big messages within your organization. Do you look for opportunities to celebrate employee accomplishments, both great and small, or do you focus on finding fault and criticizing? Are most of the transactions you conduct with your employees considered “deposits” or “withdrawals” to their Emotional Bank Accounts?
Too many organizational cultures are still driven by criticism, fear, and punishment. (The floggings will continue until morale improves!) Celebrations and affirmations inspire, motivate, and reenergize people. Isn’t that what effective leadership is all about? Are you a “battery drainer” or a “battery charger”?
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About the author:
Dr. J. Howard Baker is Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Last year Dr. Baker taught an Honors Seminar at ULM, which included a field trip to the top servant leadership companies in America. Dr. Baker has been a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator for seven years, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their facilitator for four years. During the summer he offers a graduate and undergraduate course at U. T. Tyler in personal and organizational leadership. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington.
When we drain power from a car battery it runs down. If we do this long enough, the battery will eventually become totally dead. In physics we call this “entropy”, which means that anything left to itself will eventually disintegrate until it reaches its most elemental form. Entropy happens when there is neglect. Neglect your body, and you will deteriorate. Neglect yourDr. J. Howard Baker Articles
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