"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place. " -George Bernard Shaw
What is not being communicated can kill your business, your reputation, or your people. An exaggeration? Let’s examine some of the major calamities from the distant and the recent past. Most of them, if not all, have one common denominator: the absence of a climate of open multidirectional communication.
It is April 15, 1912. A marvelous-designed and once-thought-to-be “unsinkable” vessel strikes an iceberg and sinks in the North Atlantic Ocean, killing 1,502 people. Go back a few years before this tragedy and you will find another “iceberg” that struck the vessel. During a corporate meeting, engineers were attempting to communicate a number of mechanical flaws and the unsatisfactory safety capacity to senior-level management.
Did they listen? You guessed it. Management didn’t and, eventually, the engineers gave up. One of the authorities stated that during the meeting, “the first-class cabin carpet color was discussed for hours and the lifeboat capacity was given just 15 minutes.”1 The name of the ship? Again, you guessed it, the Titanic.
Paradoxically, while history normally refers to the physical iceberg in the North Atlantic as what caused the Titanic to sink, the “iceberg” of corporate communication restrictions also contributed to the catastrophe.
An isolated case? Not even by a stretch of the imagination.
Let’s review both the Space Shuttle Columbia accident of February 2003 and the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Besides the physical causes of these fatal accidents, the investigations revealed communication breakdowns in both instances. Let’s briefly examine the Space Shuttle accident. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report stated that, “…organizational barriers [in NASA]… prevented effective communication of critical safety information and stifled professional differences of opinion…”2
Similarly, after the BP Oil Spill, the White House Oil Spill Commission said that, “bad management and a communications breakdown by BP and its Macondo well partners caused the oil disaster…”3
The list of calamities goes on. Senior managers and executives who did not listen to employees attempting to alert leaders about flaws in a strategy; medical doctors who didn’t pay attention to nurses’ observations, as they were trying to save patients; CEOs and senior executives enamored with their own idea of a new product which failed, despite the marketing team’s attempts in communicating the risk associated with their concept and…well…you get the point.
How humble, sagacious, or wise do managers, senior executives, and professionals in general have to be in order to listen to people with information that can save their organization, save their reputation, and save lives? How many more industrial disasters, oil spills, financial crises, medical errors, space shuttle accidents, and other catastrophes have to take place for leaders to take their people’s input earnestly?
Courageous and focused leaders know that it is best to leave their egos behind and listen to their people, even to the unorthodox or nonconformist employees, since many ideas which can improve the organization, can come from such individuals. The very best managers, in fact, want to hear the bad news. What’s the use of a manager, anyway, if he/she cannot or will not tackle issues? The best leaders want to know what’s wrong, not only what’s right, so they can support and empower subordinates.
Again, what is not being communicated can kill your business, your reputation, or your people. The flow of information is like breathing. Open the lines of multidirectional communication, and the organization will live. Close those lines of multidirectional communication, and you will suffocate the organization. So please don’t let the postmortem read, “Traumatic corporate communication asphyxia caused by management’s restraint of communication flow.”
The “I-know-best” attitude doesn’t work. That is true today more than ever. Modern businesses, organizational dynamics, changes, and conditions are extremely complex. Managers and senior executives cannot be everywhere at the same time, and getting input from other staff members and supervisors means multiple eyes and multiple brains aiming at the same goal: to solve problems.
These leaders are brave enough to make clear that no one will be chastised for speaking the truth. They ask staff members and subordinate leaders the hard questions. Here are some of them:
- What am I missing?
- What can I do better?
- How can I support you?
- What risks am I ignoring?
- Can you give me a real sanity check?
- What are the weaknesses of my strategy?
- Are we getting input from the key experts?
- What have your people heard from customers?
- What can we learn from the last project?
- Do you find our vision directional, inspirational, and memorable? What do your people say? How do you know?
- Did I identify the right assumptions supporting my strategy?
- What have we learned from past mistakes that we are not applying now?
- Who are the stakeholders who may be affected by this decision? What do they say? What systems do we have in place to capture their opinions? Who is replying to them? How frequently?
To get the full benefit of the answers to the questions above, make it safe to approach you. Don’t shoot the messenger or the employee trying to make a recommendation or attempting to report a grave matter.
When leaders cannot or will not listen, employees give up and rumors spread: “Don’t even try to go to the boss with that problem!” “Why are you going to report it? Do not even bother – he will not handle it!” or “The last time I offered an idea to increase sales, the boss told me it was just impractical.”
Results? Employees will see problems, but will not report them. They will have ideas, but will not offer them. In addition, you can kiss trust goodbye. Game over! Who loses? You and the organization!
Open communication should apply to all, to include those with different, untraditional, and even unpleasant points of view and ideas. It is easy for leaders to limit their communication to an inner circle of agreeable and, somewhat, ego-booster subordinate leaders.
Have you noticed how these circles can be characterized by much disingenuousness and craftiness? Even worse, when leaders only listen to those who agree with them, they don’t get the whole picture of what is really happening and what is likely to happen – just an ambivalent notion. The results? Calamities!
I can hear comments, “But that’s hard; it takes courage.” My reply: Of course. What can you expect? When managers and senior executives accepted their roles and titles, they committed themselves to make the tough calls in pursuit of continuous improvements. Sometimes that requires the necessary courage or intestinal fortitude to put egos aside and do the hard right, not the easy wrong.
So insist on candor and openness; otherwise, the communication will not be effective and, consequently, you will not get the benefits associated with a candid and multidirectional flow of ideas and information.
Did I say, “benefits”? You bet. What benefits? Plenty! Here are some of them:
Making interdisciplinary connections, comparing perspectives, clarifying conclusions, defining problems, exploring arguments, finding major safety or security issues, evaluating actions and policies, exploring consequences and implications, appraising assumptions, identifying apocryphal stories that others have believed for months or even years, making predictions, and finding grave information that can prevent disasters – just to mention a few.
Given the complexities of modern organizations and their conditions, we all can benefit from each other’s input and observations. There is no quintessential thinker. By nature, we are egocentric thinkers. Resist that temptation. People don’t naturally value the input or opinion of others. Furthermore, we do not understand the restrictions, flaws, and shortcomings of our own reasoning or opinions. Critical thinking authorities, Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder, have brilliantly addressed this conundrum. They say, “We do not naturally recognize our egocentric assumptions, the egocentric way we use information, the egocentric way we interpret data, the source of our egocentric concepts and ideas, the implications of our egocentric thought. We do not naturally recognize our self-serving perspective.”4
"When all think alike, then no one is thinking. " -Walter Lippmann
The “I-know-best” approach doesn’t work. Modern business and operations are not only complex, but super complex. With gazillion pieces moving simultaneously at various levels, and across various time zones, how could possibly managers see and control all operations, procedures, and projects? While senior leaders can’t, supervisors at various locations are able to provide oversight. Besides, senior leaders may see operations, but from an airplane, whereas supervisors see them on the ground.
Let them be your eyes and ears and let them come to you with information, however distasteful. Be open to new ideas and information. Seek different points of view. Reward those who frankly communicate and find flaws in your strategies, points of view, and choices, not the yes men/women. The former will save your organization, the latter will only save your ego, but only for a short time.
Let’s face it. Most issues in our organizations are the result of poor decisions and poor decisions are the result of poor communication. Open the lines of communication in all directions. Keep them open and ask good questions. Remember: “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell a man is wise by his questions.”5
No management task is complete without effective communication, and effective communication means open multidirectional communication.
Here are other questions to mull over:
- Have you assigned a sounding board? Who is that trustworthy and seasoned professional who can and will verify the validity of your ideas?
- Do you talk about creativity, but at the same time ignore or even chastise employees who have different ideas? Innovation is directly proportional to the work atmosphere. If people feel accepted and free to express what they are thinking, you will get ideas and solutions.
- Do you tolerate failure? Nowadays it is best to establish an environment where people can learn, instead of feeling they are walking on eggshells.
- Do you reward those who speak out or berate them because they are “not getting with the program” or because they are not a good “cultural fit”?
- How does communication flow in your company -- from the top down? Both ways? Is it really omnidirectional?
- When was the last time that someone pointed out flaws in your strategy or project?
- When was the last time that one of your employees had the intestinal fortitude to stop you from making an injudicious decision?
Reflect upon your answers. Determine if you need to focus more on an open multidirectional communication climate. Above all, be brutally honest with yourself. Can you?
1. Rob Bogosian and Christine Casper, “The Leading Cause of Corporate Calamity Is Leaders Who Don’t Listen,” Entrepreneur, May 19, 2015, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246376 (accessed: April 25, 2021).
2. Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report, Volume I, August 2003, Executive Summary, https://history.nasa.gov/columbia/Troxell/Columbia%20Web%20Site/Documents/Congress/House/SEPTEM~1/executive_summ.html (accessed: April 25, 2021).
3. The Guardian, “BP Oil Spill Blamed on Management and Communication Failures,” https://www.theguardian.com/business/2010/dec/02/bp-oil-spill-failures (accessed: May 16, 2021).
4. Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, (Foundation for Critical Thinking, Seventh Edition, 2016), 21.
5. Naguib Mahfouz, 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Jose Marrero is the Director of Special Projects and also teaches Applied Leadership and Communication in the Economic Development Department, Columbus Technical College. The seminars that he designs, develops, and delivers focus on achieving long-term results in the workplace. His four-decade professional career, three of which spent serving in the US Army, includes assignments such as: Teaching at the United States Military Academy, West Point; Commander on multiple occasions; Strategist at the Strategy, Policy, and War Plans Division in the Pentagon; Operations Officer at various levels; Chief of Staff; Military Advisor to a US Ambassador; and Senior Analyst at the White House ONDCP, Washington, DC - among other regular and special assignments. Above all, Jose has proudly led Soldiers to perform meritoriously under uniquely difficult and challenging conditions. He is a member of the International Foreign Language Honor Society (Phi Sigma Iota) and earned a Master's degree from Vanderbilt University.
Critical Corporate Communication: What Is Not Being Communicated Can Kill Your Business, Your Reputation, or Your People
"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place. " -George Bernard Shaw What is not being communicated can kill your business, your reputation, or your people. An exaggeration? Let’s examine some of the major calamities from the distant and the recent past. Most of them,Jose Marrero Articles
Authentic leadership is a concept both highly revolutionary and extremely practical. It values personal virtue above selfish interests and emphasizes the importance of a leader’s words matching their actions. So why are there so many critics of a leadership style that has as its very foundation a focus on morality? Bill George, a senior fellow at the Harvard Business School and author of Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets of Lasting Value and True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, introduced authentic leadership in 2003 in the wake of such corporate scandals as Enron, WorldComm, Tyco, and Freddie Mac. George offered the antidote to morally-challenged corporate leaders, authentic leadership.
As it happens with innovative concepts that provide answers to complex moral questions, critics of this theory soon emerged objecting almost entirely based on the word “authentic.” After all, what does it really mean to be “authentic?” Following an exhaustive dictionary and thesaurus evaluation, the following represent the most common synonyms: genuine, real, true veritable, reliable, dependable, trustworthy, authoritative, faithful. So again, I ask, why the issue with George’s use of the word “authentic” in describing leadership? Answer: key critics of authentic leadership tend to conflate the word “authentic” with the impulse individuals possess to say or do everything on their minds.
However, demonstrating sound judgment in knowing when to say or not say what’s on your mind isn’t inauthentic, it’s wise. But what are the keys to seeking an authentic leadership style? Though not a comprehensive list of authentic leadership qualities, the following represent tangible methods any aspiring authentic leader can employ.
Self-regulation is one of the foremost keys to developing this leadership style. Embracing one’s unique personality and experiences is as authentic as demonstrating self-control when dealing with personal relationships. Ultimately, both qualities begin with effective self-evaluation.
Self-evaluation is extremely difficult but mastering such a discipline is a key component to authentic leadership. The process of self-evaluation benefits both the individual personally and the organization as a whole.
Self-evaluation alone does not a good leader make. Leaders need people, good people, people upon whom they can rely for advice and various levels of support. The best authentic-leaders create an inner circle comprising of individuals with skills that fill gaps in their leadership styles and challenge them to strive for a better sense of purpose.
Personal Values and Ethics
Possessing a genuine sense of personal values and principles will help the authentic leader better guide both the process of self-evaluation, but also interaction with other individuals within the organization. They provide the moral compass with which to follow when no one else is looking and the framework through which all decisions are made.
Authentic leadership is NOT a filterless representation of what you really think. That’s called stupidity. On the contrary, this style of leadership requires character, hard work, reflection, and a lot of self-control. Employed correctly, authentic leadership provides a moral basis for adapting one’s leadership style to any challenge, and a rich environment in which other aspiring leaders can grow.
Authentic leadership is a concept both highly revolutionary and extremely practical. It values personal virtue above selfish interests and emphasizes the importance of a leader’s words matching their actions. So why are there so many critics of a leadership style that has as its very foundation a focus on morality? Bill George, a senior fellow at the Harvard Business School and author oKyle Kramer Articles
More than a century of research indicates that there is almost an endless list of leadership definitions without unanimity, including over 90 variables for consideration (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019; Winston & Patterson, 2006; Yukl, 2013). Over time, most researchers have come to a consensus that leadership is a complex process of influence toward a collective task (Hickman, 2015; Northouse, 2019; Yukl, 2013). In the same manner, there seems to be just as many leadership theories that have evolved over time. But, which leadership theory is the most effective for organizational transformation? What is the role of the leader and follower within the leadership theories that are beneficial or detrimental? Researchers from all over of the world have been trying to aggressively answer these questions in a plethora of studies for many years.
Through research findings, the theory of transformational leadership has become the rage in recent times. Setting challenging expectations, transformational leaders motivate followers through an exceptional form of influence to do more than originally intended or thought possible (Bass, 2008, Northouse, 2019). Much attention is given to the needs and motives of followers while the leaders strive to assist followers in reaching their fullest potential (Northouse, 2019). In the end, the leader and follower may transform from within having stronger moral values (Northouse, 2019). For example, Gandhi did transform millions of people while raising their hopes and demands, and at the same time, was changed himself. In addition, a series of studies reflected four factors of transformational leadership including idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Christie, Barling, & Turner, 2011). With a strong sense of moral values, transformational leaders use the four factors to create organizational turnaround.
Four Factors of Transformational Leadership
1. Idealized influence
2. Inspirational motivation
3. Intellectual stimulation
4. Individualized consideration
An emotional component of leadership known as charisma is a factor among transformational leaders. Transformational leaders lead by example through actions such as exhibiting bravery by taking risks and making difficult decisions. There is a great deal of trust from the followers, and the leaders are very respected (Northouse, 2019). Charismatic is a word often used to describe a transformational leader and one of the reasons why followers are inclined to support the vision and mission set forth (Bass, 2008). Have you ever experienced a charismatic leader who had high moral standards and led others through a positive change effort? To be part of such a change can be invigorating and spark the passion to achieve at a high degree of success.
Challenging individuals in a risk-free environment, while clearly communicating the expectations to generate commitment toward a shared vision is the role of inspirational motivation (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019). Implementing the concept of a true team is enhanced within the theory of transformational leadership. Followers are influenced to achieve more than they could ever think possible as part of a team instead of in their own self-interest (Northouse, 2019). A leader who creates such a risk-free environment and promotes the team concept adds a bit of healthy competition to the organization is positively effecting change within an organization.
Leaders who encourage followers to be innovative and challenge the beliefs and values of the followers and self, provide intellectual stimulation and empowerment (Northouse, 2019). The leader enables followers to question organizational assumptions and discover ways to problem solve individually and within teams. Support is given to the followers as they try new approaches and develop ways to solve organizational issues. Careful problem solving is promoted through intellectual stimulation within a risk-free environment (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019). An example of this type of leadership is a school principal who promotes teacher efforts to develop unique ways to solve barriers for students, so the students may reach a level of proficiency in core subjects such as reading or math.
A leader who finds personalized ways to engage with followers exhibits individualized consideration. Listening to the individuals needs and acting as a coach for the purpose of assisting followers to reach their fullest potentials are traits of a transformational leader (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019). Through a supportive environment, new learning opportunities are created, two-way communication is encouraged, and tasks are delegated (Bass, 2008). Recognizing qualities in others despite cultural differences builds trust and empowers followers to achieve and the basis of individualized consideration a transformation leader implements with fidelity (Bass, 2008; Greenleaf, Spears, Covey, & Senge, 2002).
Relevance to Organizational Improvement
As a school district executive administrator in one of the largest districts in the nation with approximately 96,000 students, strategically placing transformational leaders within the organizational structure has proven effective. There is a direct correlation between the school principal and student achievement, and this correlation is significant when implementing themes or theories of leadership (Crum, Sherman, & Myran, 2010; Shaw & Newton, 2014). Moreover, significant relationships exist between school leadership and learning, as well as specific principal behaviors producing a direct relationship with teacher’s career decisions (Boyd et al., 2011; Nettles & Herrington, 2007). Knowing the research of the impact of a school principal within the organization of a school, the school principals exhibiting the four factors of transformational leadership were placed in the most struggling schools in the school district. Within four years of implementing this organizational change, there has been a significant decrease from 22 struggling schools according to the state accountability system to one struggling school. Students within these schools now have a greater chance of graduating high school because of the significant increase in proficiency and growth in core academics. The school principals within these schools created an environment where both students and teachers achieved far more than ever thought possible.
Value to the Field of Study
Transformational leadership has several positive implications for a variety of organizations. Because this leadership style has a large emphasis on focusing on followers’ needs and providing a sense of empowerment, the style has a strong intuitive appeal (Bass, 2008). Followers’ perceptions of a leader with transformational leadership factors enhance organizational outcomes. Furthermore, transformational leaders place a strong emphasis on morals and values. For example, as previously mentioned, providing students in the struggling schools opportunities to demonstrate proficiency is our moral and ethical obligation to the students and community. In this case, not only did the teachers have an opportunity for growth, the students did as well.
In conclusion, transformational leadership promotes high levels of goal mastery within organizations. The transformational leadership factors of idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration, when perceived by followers, lead to commitment to the leaders’ vision and mission. These factors when exhibited by a leader can lead to greater performance by both the leader and follower that goes well beyond what is expected. Is it the moral obligation of a leader to promote growth among followers while empowering and supporting efforts toward achieving challenging goals? Transformational leaders would say, yes, it is the moral obligation of a leader to promote the growth of others for the good of the organization.
Bass, B. M. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research, & managerial applications (4th ed.). New York, NY: The Free Press.
Boyd, D., Grossman, P., Ing, M., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2011). The influence of school administrators on teacher retention decisions. American Educational Research Journal, 48(2), 303–333.
Christie, A., Barling, J., & Turner, N., (2011). Pseudo-transformational leadership: Model specifications and outcomes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44(12), 2943-2984.
Crum, K. S., Sherman, W. H., & Myran, S. (2010). Best practices of successful elementary school leaders. Journal of Educational Administration, 48(1), 48–63. https://doi.org/10.1108/09578231011015412
Greenleaf, R. K., Spears, L. C., Covey, S. R., & Senge, P. M. (2002). Servant leadership: a journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness (25th anniversary ed.). New York: Paulist Press.
Hickman, G. R. (2015). Leading organizations: Perspectives for a new era (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Nettles, S. M., & Herrington, C. (2007). Revisiting the importance of the direct effects of school leadership on student achievement: The implications for school improvement policy.
Peabody Journal of Education, 82(4), 724–736. https://doi.org/10.1080/01619560701603239
Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership theory and practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Shaw, J., & Newton, J. (2014). Teacher retention and satisfaction with a servant leader as principal. Education, 135(1), 101–106.
Winston, B. & Patterson, K. (2006). Integrative definition of leadership, International Journal of Leadership Studies, 1(2), 6-66.
Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
More than a century of research indicates that there is almost an endless list of leadership definitions without unanimity, including over 90 variables for consideration (Bass, 2008; Northouse, 2019; Winston & Patterson, 2006; Yukl, 2013). Over time, most researchers have come to a consensus that leadership is a complex process of influence toward a collective task (Hickman, 2015; NorthouShanna M. Flecha Articles
To better comprehend the association between Leadership, Spirituality and Sense of Happiness or satisfaction with regards to the working environment, I propose the concept of visionary leadership which is broadly utilized as a part of contemporary discourse of leadership. Visionary Leadership can be identified as an inclination to see higher spiritual powers behind the occurrence of every other event. Visionary leaders look for a relationship of events with these spiritual forces. They may or may not find themselves to be involved in such events but they may believe in the idea of alignment of events with the transcendent forces.
Visionary leaders have the vitality, drive and determination to get things going and lead others do likewise. They have an inner motivation and the ambition to achieve big. They believe in their motivation and their capacity to think for big goals.
Some of the great world leaders including President George Washington and Winston Churchill mentioned the assistance they got from a ‘guiding hand’.
Winston Churchill said: “... we have a guardian because we serve a great cause, and we shall have that guardian as long as we serve that cause faithfully.”
It is reported that the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat had been visited by Mohammed who told him to maintain peace in the Middle East, which he sought after with determination.
Below are some of the quotes from famous business leaders regarding the idea of visionary leadership and its spiritual connection:
"A leader's role is to raise people's aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there." — David Gergen
"The companies that survive longest are the ones that work out what they uniquely can give to the world — not just growth or money, but their excellence, their respect for others or their ability to make people happy. Some call those things a soul." — Charles Handy
"A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done." — Ralph Lauren
Visionary leaders comprehend that spirituality in the work environment setting is tied in with discovering the reason and meaning, past one's self, through the opportunities related to the work. Uncovering these purposes would incite significant sentiments of prosperity, a satisfying conviction that one's work makes an extraordinary or potentially noteworthy contribution.
It might empower a feeling of association with others. Visionary leadership is more than coordinating and directing the followers or people under the effect of leadership. Driving from inside is a method for concentrating on our internal knowing and our natural qualities and strengths. One way of releasing this rich source of knowledge can be by a plan of action to our strengths. Times of emergency and crisis may likewise prove to be the times of enlightenment with the potential for change and development. It may prove to be the time when we start to scrutinize our deeds, needs and the way we live and work.
Major life occasions which may be painful at times, for example, the loss of a friend or family member, separation of one's family, sickness or injury, may be perceived as opportunities as much as difficulties. Events like these, have a tendency to deliver a need to incite meaning, and the bits of knowledge that develop after it are vital to how we rise up out of them. In the similar context, encounters like near-death experience or such revelations may likewise have that power of such transformation. Visionary leaders may comprehend that with the end goal for them to ingrain a sense of meaning and satisfaction.
Following are the three kinds to happiness that we can experience as proposed by Martin Seligman (credited as the father of Positive Psychology):
1) pleasure and gratification,
2) embodiment of strengths and virtues and
3) meaning and purpose.
The "pleasurable and gratification" is what we encounter when we work on activities that makes us feel enjoyable, for example, purchasing of new things, recreational activities with our family members, sharing quality time with friends and family members or going out on holidays. The life of commitment and engagement is tied in with utilizing our qualities and strengths in the everyday events.
It may come through profound commitment in any action that one may find challenging, which could be a part of one's professional or family life. A life with a meaning is developed when we start utilizing our qualities for the goal of achieving something that is bigger than one's self.
"Meaning and Purpose" originates from serving others and may incorporate taking care of the family, helping other individuals, volunteering works, etc. Visionary leaders can help their supporters to these ways of attaining happiness or satisfaction, however the first path that is provided by Seligman can be accomplished outside the work environment and we, normally, know how to achieve it, while the second path has been a part of the work plan for more than 50 years. It is, however, with the third kind (meaning and purpose) with which the leaders may experiment by opening the opportunities to significant and meaningful work.
A manuscript studying more than 150 studies demonstrates that there is a similarity in relationship between spiritual values and leadership efficiencies. Qualities that have for quite some time been viewed as spiritual ideals, for example, empathy, meditation and contemplation, have been shown to be identified with success in leadership.
In a similar way, the practices that are traditionally been associated with the concept of spirituality, and are practiced in everyday life, for example, offering of prayers, etc. have been proposed to be associated with the effectiveness in leadership. In many spiritual practices, emphasis has been put on the application of beliefs like prayers, and it has also been found to be a part of crucial leadership skills including, gesture of respect for others, exhibiting equal or fair treatment, expression of concern, listening and recognizing the work done by others, etc. Spirituality may be utilized as a model or framework for organizational values. In the model being proposed here, the spiritual values may not exhibit an immediate co-relation but it can be perceived as something that enable a channel through which, the other values may found to be aligned.
About the Author:
Vedang R. Vatsa is an initiator and the one who get things done. He developed his skills and worked with some eminent clients on his own. He likes to travel far up to the mountains and deep down to the beaches with an aim to explore the mighty possibilities of reality. He loves to discuss ideas with people and appreciate an honest feedback.
Connect with him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vedangvatsa/
To better comprehend the association between Leadership, Spirituality and Sense of Happiness or satisfaction with regards to the working environment, I propose the concept of visionary leadership which is broadly utilized as a part of contemporary discourse of leadership. Visionary Leadership can be identified as an inclination to see higher spiritual powers behind the occurrence of every otherVedang R. Vatsa Articles
Communication concepts in the leader-follower relationship are important because they provide a clear presentation of some helpful techniques about how individuals can evaluate their own communication abilities. Most importantly, one can improve his or her own communication skills by adhering to developing and earning trust by acting, thinking, and decision making in the right manner, learning how to gather information, being open to dialogues, developing effective skills, and being able to read between the lines. These are essential, fundamental tools that are necessary in global environments and cross-cultural communication, because of the roles they help leaders develop as they are striving to become more successful as they embark on a journey of effective leadership.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION?
In order to improve communication with respect to the leader-follower relationship, one should observe the following prerequisites:
i. Maintaining trust: One should be aware that people are likely to forgive many things where trust exists as opposed to where there is no trust. In addition, great leaders also demonstrate the need to get personal as far as communication is concerned. The essence of getting personal is to help an individual be truthful as much as he or she can. Getting specific is another rule of thumb if one is to improve his or her communication because it removes ambiguity (Myatt, 2012). This calls for the need for one to learn to communicate with clarity based on simplicity and conciseness.
ii. Learning techniques to gather information: Learning how to gather information while transferring ideas, aligning expectations, inspiring action, and spreading the vision is another significant aspect to improving one’s communication. An individual can improve his or her communication by developing a ‘servant’s heart’ through focusing on contributing to the overall communication matter than just receiving. It is apparent that one is able to improve his or her communication when he or she seeks to contribute to the overall communication subject more than just receiving information from other parties. In addition to this, one has to have an open mind in order to improve his or her communication. An inflexible mind is a toxic factor of new opportunities for leaders and thus a leader-follower relationship must ensure that individuals are open to dissenting and opposing positions (Myatt, 2012). An individual who wants to improve his or her communication must also be open to new ideas and dialogue to demonstrate the willingness to engage in a discussion with an open mind. The foundation of morality is through empathetic engagement in all aspects while influencing followers towards the attainment of common goals.
iii. Developing effective listening skills: Listening is very important in the process of improving communication since through active listening actual understanding of what has been said is achieved by leaders and their followers. Listening also plays a vital role in ensuring that the leader gives effective and the right feedback in response to what has been heard and understood. Besides, listening ensures that the leader is put in the mindset of serving his or her followers. Thus, the author of this popular press magazine is convinced that developing effective listening skills is an important technique for helping an individual to improve his or her communication (Myatt, 2012). In addition to effective listening, empathy is another fundamental communication technique in the leader-follower relationship. Effective leaders must demonstrate that they care about their followers by avoiding prideful arrogance and ego. Also, they must demonstrate emotional intelligence by being in a position to diagnose, understand, and manage emotional cues based on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skill. This should be coupled with the ability to possess a personal understanding which includes the ability to deal with emotions, general performance, as well as the ability to demonstrate self-control, trustworthiness, adaptability and ability to lead others (Patterson et al., 2007). Hence, an individual can improve his or her communication by taking responsibility and accountability as a virtue that connects ethics and integrity.
iv. Reading between the lines: The ability to read between the lines is another essential communication technique in the leader-follower relationship. This allows an individual to reflect upon their ideas and thoughts in the conception stage before they present them to their followers. Ultimately, this ensures they become aware of the implications of their ideas, opinions, and thoughts to their followers. As such, an individual can evaluate his or her communication by determining whether he or she reflects upon their communication content before conveying it to their followers. An individual must be reflective of their thoughts and ideas in order to challenge assumptions (Lokhorst, 2016). This is an imperative initiative since it allows leaders to think strategically by conducting an evaluation of their business model, organizational and staff structure, and customer base.
THE ROLE OF A LEADER IN GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTS AND CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION
All these communication strategies are essential in global environments and cross-cultural communication in the following ways:
First, effective communication entails the ability to communicate across cultures through appropriate ethical language while respecting others. Ethical concerns also contribute to the challenge of leadership in global working environments. Managers are expected to possess the ability to communicate effectively across cultures through using appropriate ethical language. This should be accompanied with respecting viewpoints of people from different cultural groups in the workplace. The shifting scope of businesses’ operation from local and regional contexts to increasingly global contexts requires successful leaders to possess attributes such as cultural flexibility, emotional intelligence and economic competence, collaboration and control, and effective control (Myatt, 2012).
Employing ethical principles in global working environments also includes the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment, navigating cultural, linguistic, and economic differences, operating in an insightful manner at a personal level, and providing honest information to all stakeholders in the leadership context. This, therefore, makes the leader communication styles imperative.
These communication strategies also enhance co-existence and positive relationships. This is by ensuring that leaders develop emotional intelligence and cultural flexibility, as well as fostering an environment that motivates followers by providing incentives and other necessities to achieve a desired goal (Lokhorst, 2016). The global working environments require the practice of embracing multiplicity or a mixture of individuals from a wide range of cultures, ethnic groups, religions, genders, and sexual orientations among others. Leaders are also expected to meet technological, economic conditions, labor conditions, and social and cultural standards. This is through understanding ethical concerns, customer needs and motivations, information, and choice available to the workforce, addressing globalization, and corporate governance concerns (Patterson et al., 2007). Those who want to improve their communication with respect to leader-follower relationship need to maintain continuous leadership skill development. This is vital in global working environments and cross-cultural communication.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
The communication strategies discussed provide invaluable lessons about leadership with respect to leader-follower communication relationships. To begin with, the changing nature of business operations from local to global environments has led to the evolution of the concept of leadership. The speed of change in all spheres of life demands an entirely different leader to lead in global environments and cross-cultural communication contexts. The leader must strive to adapt rapidly to change and be engaging in constant skill development to lead others to the desired direction. In all these, cultural flexibility is a fundamental leadership competency in global environments. It entails the need for one to demonstrate the ability to be willing to submit to another cultural way of life without feeling anxious or alien-like feelings. In the leader-follower relationship, emotional intelligence is one of the communication imperatives. One must, therefore, demonstrate a deeper understanding of their emotions, weaknesses, strengths, drives, and reactions to problems to know how to handle themselves in different situations. This is particularly important when interacting with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Of ultimate importance in improving communication with regard to the leader-follower relationship is the ability to read between the lines. This is an essential communication technique in the leader-follower relationship because it allows an individual to reflect upon their ideas and thoughts in the conception stage before they present them to their followers. This is the most important stage for if the leader does not get it right here it will not carry over well to the followers.
How you start a project could very well be how you end one.
In essence, the beginning is the end.
Lokhorst, J. (2016). The secret to successful organizational change. Outcomes Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.christianleadershipalliance.org/about
Myatt, M. (2012). 10 communication secrets of great leaders. Forbes. Retrieved January 11, 2017, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/04/04/10-communication-secrets-of-great-leaders/3/#1be23a634c91
Patterson, K., Dannhauser, Z., & Stone, A. G. (2007). From Noble to Global: The Attributes of Global Leadership. Servant Leadership Research Roundtable. Retrieved from https://www.regent.edu/acad/global/publications/sl_proceedings/2007/patterson_dannhauser_stone.pdf
Communication concepts in the leader-follower relationship are important because they provide a clear presentation of some helpful techniques about how individuals can evaluate their own communication abilities. Most importantly, one can improve his or her own communication skills by adhering to developing and earning trust by acting, thinking, and decision making in the right manner, learningPriscilla J. DuBose Articles
Effective leadership necessary to drive an organization to success is a hot topic in the business world today. What is effective leadership? Is leadership an intrinsic quality or learned behavior? What are the essential components of effective leadership? These questions and a variety of leadership theories have fueled a library of books on leadership and spurred the development of leadership certification programs around the world.
Though there may be some discrepancy on the definition and components of leadership, it is a widely accepted philosophy that the success of the organization hinges on the presence of effective leadership. Fortune 500 companies and even small businesses focus heavily on the quality of leadership and how it impacts success. They spend countless hours in search and interview and devote significant funding to securing maintaining effective leadership. But, what is effective leadership? Assemble any group of professionals, and no doubt they could come up with a variety of definitions and numerous components of effective leadership.
It is developing the ability to read people, convey respect and value, secure buy into the group goal, and to inspire people who have facilitated my success as a leader. Through my experience, I have isolated three components that must be consistently present in a leader’s skill set for him or her to demonstrate effective leadership. Note that though important and having the potential to provide significant insights, possessing a leadership credential is not included in these three components.
Three Necessary Components for Effective Leadership
- Convey value and respect
- Inspire through empowerment
- Lead by example and radiate integrity
Convey value and respect. A leader’s ability to secure buy-in and drive change is contingent upon his/her ability to convey value and respect. When a leader convinces his charges that they are valued on an individual level and that they have the leader’s professional and personal respect, the strength of the leader grows, as does his potential. Individuals who feel valued and respected are free to openly contribute and provide alternative insights without fear of condemnation or ridicule. Value and respect tend to make individuals feel empowered and collaborative. They see themselves as contributing team members.
As a high school principal, I had a teacher once who was anything but a contributor. He was an outstanding math teacher but certainly was not collaborative in any sense. After watching for a few months, it dawned on me that he appeared to be intimidated by his colleagues for whatever reason. He did not speak up at department meetings, did not participate in faculty meetings, and certainly did not volunteer or accept a school initiative assignment. He was punctual, met all deadlines, and conducted his class above and beyond expectations, but something vital was missing. I knew that Mr. Greene could be a real contributor since I could see the out-of-the-box thinking and gregarious personality evident in his teaching.
At the start of the next school year, I decided that I would change the out-of-the-classroom MO that characterized Mr. Greene. Sometimes the direct approach is the best when tackling a problem, but then, other times, an indirect approach is most effective. The faculty assignment for that year was to serve as a model teacher for one week, wherein teachers randomly came into the selected teacher’s classroom to observe. After the observation, teachers who visited were asked to write reflections of the observation. I selected teachers whom I knew to be masters of instruction and in particular, student-centered instruction. Mr. Greene was among the 12 teachers selected for the year.
As I expected, the reflections on Mr. Greene’s instruction were insightful and full of commendations. Apparently, he was a well-kept secret to his colleagues. At the close of the week when all of the reflections were viewed and discussed by the faculty, Mr. Greene became quite a celebrity. It was amazing to see not just the pride that bloomed from a non-contributor but also the igniting of a spark that within the next 18 months developed into a raging inferno.
Faculty members begin to stop Mr. Greene in the hall or lounge to discuss what they should or should not do in class. He was asked by some teachers to observe them and make suggestions. He even volunteered to co-lead an instructional strategy seminar at the system education conference. It was obvious that he was greatly impacted by feeling valued and respected by his colleagues. During the second term, I asked him if he’d take a part-time instructional coach position, and he gladly accepted. That was just the beginning. Later, he chaired or co-chaired the school improvement and school inspection committees and became a regular contributor in nearly every campus initiative.
Though I orchestrated the assignment out of necessity for growth for the entire faculty, Mr. Greene was secretly my project target. The success of my project was quite simply because he felt valued and respected. I saw the same result to lesser effects on others that year. I was overjoyed to see the transformation. Simply put, I isolated Mr. Greene’s strong suit and drew attention to it. Mr. Greene had been a diamond covered in dirt. We just washed off all the dirt and what a prize showed through. The impact on Mr. Greene and the organization was amazing.
Inspire through Empowerment. Effective leaders build confidence and inspire a desire to make a personal contribution to the common goal, ultimately impacting organizational success. After all, the ability to inspire others defines true leadership; however, inspiration is difficult, if not impossible, unless those who are led feel empowered, competent, and valued. Leaders who overlook the significance of empowerment will struggle. Sure, they may lead a qualified team, but leadership that develops leadership goes further, as it increases organization and individual productivity and potential.
Empowerment works to develop potential and facilitates the growth of a collaborative network of professionals, each contributing by their unique skill set as it blossoms. Empowerment provides an avenue for individuals to develop confidence, take chances, and feel valued. Successful leaders embrace the opportunity to build collective potential by building individual confidence. They build success within the organization by inspiring individuals to personal and professional growth. An individual who is competent and will take risks and make mistakes, but in doing so will increase the strength of his skill set.
Without empowerment, leaders simply convey direction. Leadership without empowerment is akin to simple management in which individuals work within the bounds of a prescriptive arrangement and complete assigned tasks. In this arrangement, individuals are responsible for output, not input. The ability to inspire through empowerment people propels individual and organizations to great heights. By empowering employees, leaders develop contributors, take advantage of a diversity of skill sets, and develop ways of thinking and problem solving—thus, strengthening the organization.
Empowerment is achieved through ACT.
- Accept that they may make mistakes
- Convey trust
- Target the known skill set of your employees
Allowing employees to make mistakes without fear of termination or terminal condemnation provides them with a freedom to fail. In theory, failure over time will diminish as skill sets and experience increase. If employees know that they have the leader’s trust to freely make decisions, undertake initiatives, problem solve, and direct activities within their purview, they will do so and will grow professionally. This builds confidence, builds the individual skill sets, and creates a working environment that can function in the periodic absence of the organizational leader. Keep in mind that targeting employees who have potential and a skill set that matches their assignment is vital in achieving the intended outcomes of empowerment.
Lead by example and radiate integrity. Exhibiting a high level of integrity garners respect from others. Leading without the respect of others is like going to battle without a plan. Employees constantly critique the integrity of their leader. You can bet they are watching to see consistency in dealing with employees and honesty in all actions—and casting a critical eye for favoritism or other deviation from organizational policy. They are watching to see if organizational policies apply to all, even the leader. They pick up on even small dents in the honor of the leader. Employees watch actions, interactions, and reactions of the leader.
Leaders have many responsibilities, but among the most important is establishing and maintaining a mutual trust and respect with those he or she leads. Employees who respect the leader will be far more likely to take direction and embrace the leader’s vision. Displaying only behaviors that are aligned with the highest level of integrity, and acting, interacting, and reacting in a professional and honorable manner will allow the leader to set the groundwork for effective leadership.
Loss of or lack of integrity destroys respect for the leader. Employees may show respect, but showing respect does little for building the organization. Leaders must strive to BE respected if they are to be effective leaders. Possessing a high level of integrity is the only way to ensure respect. If the leader operates in such a manner as to treat all employees fairly and by the organizational policies, an atmosphere of predictability is created. Employees find comfort in predictability.
The survival and potential productivity of an organization rests heavily on effective leadership. Possessing a clear understanding of the components of effective leadership can enable a leader to develop leaders within the organization and increase organizational productivity. The development of an effective leadership style takes time, experience, and dedication to incorporating these three vital leadership components into a leader’s skill set. Without even one of these vital components, a leader cannot achieve the coveted status of a truly effective leader.
Author Note: Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Katherine Bradley, Ph.D., 950 E. Main Street, Suite 607, Cartersville, GA 30120.
Dr. Katherine Bradley earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Mercer University in 2009. Dr. Bradley’s experience includes 30 years in the education arena, working in private, public, parochial, single-gender, coeducational, domestic, and international environments. She has served in school leadership positions for 10 years and is currently serving as an educational consultant and co-founder of Leadership Leaders LLC, a leadership consulting firm in Georgia.
Effective leadership necessary to drive an organization to success is a hot topic in the business world today. What is effective leadership? Is leadership an intrinsic quality or learned behavior? What are the essential components of effective leadership? These questions and a variety of leadership theories have fueled a library of books on leadeDr. Katherine Bradley, Ph.D. Articles
Leadership is the art of influencing people, which requires delegation to be effective. Delegation is the art or process of assigning specific duties and responsibilities to subordinates in an organization. Delegation comes in different forms and leaders must be familiar with these forms in order to make good delegation decisions.
One such form is what I call general delegation, which means leaders delegate responsibilities as a way of training the next generation of leaders in their organizations. This delegation is important because it helps preserve the mission and vision of the organization. Another form is crisis delegation, where the leaders delegate duties and responsibilities to subordinates when a crisis, such as when a leader is absent from the organization for a prolonged time (e.g hospitalized or attending to a sick relative). Therefore, leaders must delegate responsibilities and duties during times of crisis in order for the organization to continue operating. It is important to remember that, with the delegation of duties, the leader who delegates is still responsible and accountable for the delegated duties. Any mistakes or errors committed by subordinates when carrying out the delegated duties still rest with that leader.
When leaders delegate some of their responsibilities and duties, they benefit in some ways from the process. First, delegating tasks removes some of the duties from the leaders; subordinates perform these duties so leaders can concentrate in areas where the organization will benefit most, like the negotiation of contracts that benefit the whole organization. Second, by delegating tasks leaders can groom future leaders because subordinates will learn how the organization works at a higher level; when it is time for the subordinate to take over, they will have already learned the necessary skills for the positions. Third, delegation, when done properly, will raise the morale of subordinates in the organization because it will show them that the leadership believes that they can be trusted to do delegated work. Fourth, proper delegation also improves trust between subordinates and leadership which tends to lead to a cohesive organization. Fifth, when duties are delegated to subordinates, efficiency increases because duties are given to people whose skills match the delegated duties, thereby freeing time for the leader to concentrate on other important duties of the organization. For example, there is no reason for a leader to be keeping daily records of who is reporting to work when that work can be done by subordinates with expressed instructions to report the progress back to the leader.
Delegation is not always easy for some leaders; there are many reasons as to why they fear to do it. First, they are afraid of being outshined by the subordinates who performs the delegated work well. Because of this, leaders find it difficult to delegate. Second, some leaders fear that they will not be recognized for the work done by the subordinates and, thus, refuse to delegate. Recognition is important for moving up the leadership ladders in some organizations. Third, some leaders refuse to delegate because they fear that they will lose the trained subordinate to a rival organization that might use that subordinate to compete with the leader’s organization. Fourth, some leaders fear to delegate because they feel that something important has been removed from their responsibilities. As a result, they keep all their duties. Fifth, some leaders in organizations develop preconceived ideas about subordinates that prevents them from delegating duties and responsibilities to them. It is a sad situation, but it happens in some organizations and hinders the cohesiveness of the organization. In the long term, such thinking affects productivity. Sixth, the fear of being exposed as a leader who does not understand his/her job can cause a leader to limit the delegation of duties until he/she acquires the competence needed in the position. No leader wants to be exposed by subordinates for not understanding how the organization runs. Seventh, in some organizations, there is a shortage of staff shortage, so leaders keep all duties and responsibilities that pertain to their jobs. Eighth, some leaders fear that if they delegate responsibilities and duties to subordinates, they will lose control of them because they will know too much of what goes on in the organization, causing top leadership to ignores directives from the leader. What this kind of leader forgets is that those delegated duties eventually land on his/her desk for approval, which means such fear is unfounded. Ninth, in some organizations staff tend to be lazy, which makes leaders not want to delegate some of their responsibilities to them out of fear that they will not manage those duties well. Finally, inadequate training of staff also tends to make leaders fear delegating some responsibilities to subordinates because they think they will not do the delegated duties as per the instructions given.
To be effective in the delegation of duties and responsibilities leaders must do the following. First, they must give clear instructions on what should be done for the delegated duties and, when they are completed, to whom to report. Second, leaders must avoid over delegating their responsibilities because they might be perceived as over relying on the subordinates for the accomplishment of organizational duties. It might also affect the performance of subordinates. Third, leaders must always praise their subordinates when they successfully complete the delegated duties and tasks. Such praise tends to boost subordinates’ morale at the work place, thereby increasing productivity. Fourth, micro-managing the subordinates when duties and responsibilities have been delegated will increase mistrust because the subordinates will think that the leader does not have confidence in them to complete the assigned tasks. Therefore, leaders must at all times avoid micro-managing the subordinates to whom they delegate responsibilities and instead should monitor them from a far. Fifth, effective delegation requires leaders to provide adequate information on the duties and responsibilities of the delegated positions so that the subordinates will perform the duties efficiently. Sixth, when delegating duties, leaders must ensure that subordinates do not fear anything will happen to them if the delegated duties are not performed at an acceptable level. They must reassure subordinates that the failure to reach the acceptable level will be a teachable moment for them to improve as they repeat the same duties. Removing the fear will encourage subordinates to perform well without the fear of retribution. Seventh, for leaders to know how subordinates are doing in their delegated duties and responsibilities, they should always request feedback from them in order to monitor their progress. In requesting feedback, the leaders will know when corrections are needed or where more resources are required for better performance of the delegated duties and responsibilities. Finally, before duties are actually delegated, subordinates must be trained on them. Without proper training, subordinates will be hesitant to take up delegated responsibilities due to a fear of failure.
As a social function, delegation is based on the trust that leaders have in their subordinates that they will accomplish the delegated duties successfully. Yet it remains a calculated risk, as delegation does not guarantee success on the delegated duties. On the other hand, for leaders to be successful and effective in running organizations efficiently, delegation is necessary. Without delegation, leaders might be overwhelmed by duties that might be done well by subordinates’, thereby freeing time for them to concentrate on other duties that might benefit the organization.
*Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net
Leadership is the art of influencing people, which requires delegation to be effective. Delegation is the art or process of assigning specific duties and responsibilities to subordinates in an organization. Delegation comes in different forms and leaders must be familiar with these forms in order to make good delegation decisions. One such form is what I call gDr. Obed Nyaribo, DBA Articles
On June 18,1940, Winston Churchill, the newly elected British Prime minister, addressed the House of Commons regarding the Battle of France and the impending Battle of Britain. The United States would not enter into the war for another six months, leaving Britain to stand alone against the Nazi war machine. Churchill’s speech was not only intended to address the House, but was also broadcast on the BBC to the British public. Many have considered this to be one of the greatest speeches ever given in the English language. What is it about this speech that makes it so powerful?
The Great Visionary
In order to study the importance of this speech, we must study the events which had occurred leading up to it. Only two weeks prior to Churchill’s speech, the British navy, along with a fleet of private fishing boats, completed the evacuation of British, French and Commonwealth troops from Dunkirk before they were utterly crushed by the advancing Nazi forces. Only having held the office of Prime Minister for six weeks, Churchill needed to calm, inspire and motivate not only the British military, but the people as well. So as we look at the speech, I will attempt to break down the speech into some key elements he used to achieve his goal.
Throughout most of the 36 minute speech, Churchill spoke very directly and very logically about the events in France. He opens the speech by placing blame for the “colossal military disaster” (Churchill, 1940) squarely on the French High Command, but holds in a more subtle way, the House of Commons and the Parliament at fault as well. At the same time, he tells the British people that he does not want to dwell on this, but must look to the future. In fact he speaks of the future several times during the course of the speech. “Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future” (Churchill, 1940). To this he immediately follows up with facts and figures regarding the number of troops rescued from the shores of Dunkirk, including British, Canadian and French troops. In fact, during most of the speech he refers to facts and figures regarding their ability to defend the Island from any possibility of invasion. During the entire speech, Churchill always spoke in truthful yet positive terms, then telling the British people that it is business as usual, “Those who are not called up, or else are employed during the vast business of munitions production in all its branches-and their ramifications are innumerable-will serve their country best by remaining at their ordinary work until they receive their summons.” (Churchill, 1940). At its heart, one can see the British wartime slogan “Keep Calm and Chive On”. During his address, Churchill never tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the British people by diminishing the strength of the German military forces, but also insisting that Britain will prevail. When placing Churchill into the role of a modern business leader, Caroline Longstaffe writes “Churchill’s approach would be firstly to explain the current realities, then inspire the team by offering them a vision for how things could be, then tell them how to achieve this and finally mobilize them into action” (Longstaffe, 2005).
The Great Orator
Winston Churchill was a visionary leader, of that there is no doubt. To be a great leader, he also had to be a great communicator. He had not only a keen grasp of the English language, but understood how to deliver his message. If one looks at the final typed transcript of the speech and how it is setup, it is written in a blank verse format, with five-line paragraphs of indented type, “a form the Churchill Archives Center's director, Allen Packwood, compared to the Old Testament Book of Psalms, regarded by many literary scholars as one of the seminal influences, with Shakespeare, on Churchill's literary and rhetorical style” (Burns, 2010). One can read the words, but this does not compare to listening to Churchill himself give the speech. To listen to the tempo and rhythm he uses, perhaps calculated to calm the people. Even though this is dire news, it is given so as to not incite panic in the British people. One important thing to note as it pertains to leadership communication is that, like all of his speeches, he wrote this speech. Unlike modern politicians, there were no speech writers during this period. The words are his, and because of this, he believes his words and is sincere in his message. In order to convey a positive ethos, a leader must be sincere, using their own words, style and tone to convey their message, even if that message is not necessarily a good one.
A Man of Purpose
Sir Winston Churchill’s Finest Hour speech had vision, which he conveys to the House of Commons and the British people with a sincerity that all leaders should strive for. Along with those qualities, his speech also had purpose. In the final four sentences, Churchill states, “Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour” (Churchill, 1940). He makes no bones about what failure means, but that if everyone does their part, the Empire will endure. Those future historians will look back and say that despite overwhelming odds, Britain prevailed. She prevailed because her people never lost hope, kept calm and chived on. All leaders, whether in the corporate world or the political arena, should aspire to this kind of honesty and sincerity.
Burns, John F. (2010, June 18) Seventy Years Later, Churchill's 'Finest Hour' Yields Insights. The New York Times, p A8(L).
Churchill, Winson (1940, June 18), Finest Hour Speech, Address to the House of Commons, London England
Longstaffe, Caroline (2005) Winston Churchill, a leader from history or an inspiration for the future? Industrial and Commercial Training 37(2/3), 80-83
On June 18,1940, Winston Churchill, the newly elected British Prime minister, addressed the House of Commons regarding the Battle of France and the impending Battle of Britain. The United States would not enter into the war for another six months, leaving Britain to stand alone against the Nazi war machine. Churchill’s speech was not only intended to address the House, but was also broadcastKevin Marosi Articles
The demands on leaders can be many and they are often pulled in multiple directions at once. Having employees that work for you helps you to get things done and takes some of the burden off, but it also brings with it a great responsibility and new set of expectations and needs. Employees need things from their leaders and it is not just more work.
Here are six things that I believe all employees need their leaders to be.
Everyone wants to know where they stand and how they are doing. If things are great sing their praises; if things aren’t great let them know. No one likes surprises and or wants to have to guess. Feedback is an ongoing activity not just a once a year activity that occurs with annual reviews or when there are complaints.
You may not be able to tell your employees everything but be as honest and transparent as you can and if you can’t share information let them know why. Why goes a long way.
Going hand in hand with honesty you need to be a communicator and able to provide feedback, information and direction. Employees want to know what is going on, what is coming up, what to expect and what is expected of them. Information is everything and no one wants to feel like they are in the dark.
Obviously you have to be committed to the business and organizations goals but it doesn’t end there; you have to be committed to your team and people individually.
You have to set the direction for your team and be committed to it while balancing the goals of the organization and aspirations of your team members all while being committed to helping them achieve them.
The workplace can easily become negative. Remember we spend more time with the people we work with than our own family so there is bound to be some strife. Work can also be hard, that is why it is called work.
Deadlines, demands and sheer volume will take its toll. You need to remember that your employees are people; they have lives outside of the office and no matter how we all try to separate the two, when things are hard in our personal lives it makes it hard in our professional life as well. Try to know and understand what your employees are faced with and potentially going through.
The key is to be able to take a positive approach to working through things and not letting negativity permeate the workplace.
Employees want you to be confident; even if you don’t feel confident you need to project confidence. Knowing that the person at the helm can steer the ship or at least believes they can, instills confidence in the crew. Everyone knows leaders don’t have all the answers and can’t solve all the problems but if they know you have the confidence to try and find the answers and help solve the problems it will instill confidence in them. This leads us to the last thing on my list.
We all want to be inspired but inspiration does not always come easy; a fire needs a spark. We all have to do those things that we would rather not do, but what makes that easier knowing you get to do the things you really enjoy.
Find out what your employee’s strengths are then leverage them. Also find out what their goals and aspirations are, encourage them and help them however you can. Take a genuine interest in them beyond just being their boss. No one wants to feel like they are just a means to an end.
Finally remember that your employees are always looking at the way you handle things and how you lead. Let your leadership be inspirational because you may be helping to create future leaders.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The demands on leaders can be many and they are often pulled in multiple directions at once. Having employees that work for you helps you to get things done and takes some of the burden off, but it also brings with it a great responsibility and new set of expectations and needs. Employees need things from their leaders and it is not just more work. Here are six thingsAnthony T. Eaton Articles
Gaining traction in 2015 is more than just being in the game, but adjusting organizational mindset and culture to perform better this year while concurrently advancing their organizations to the future is not unprecedented. Strategic leaders use an array of techniques to lead, manage, and innovate in their organizations. But advancing a concept beyond kitchen table pontification or the board conference room sessions requires strategic leadership, strategic planning, but more importantly strategic thinking. Strategic thinking refers to cognitive processes required for the collection, interpretation, generation, and evaluation of information and ideas that shape an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage (Hughes & Beatty, 2005). Strategic thinking is an intrinsic process whereby a person discerns, envisions, and formulates his ideas into the components necessary to accomplish a notable task.
The top management team at Apple demonstrated a successful track record of strategic thinking in innovation and technology. Kluyver and Pearce (2012) highlight Apple as one of the most innovative companies in the world. In a survey of executives around the world for Business Week, Apple has been ranked at the top of the most innovative companies rankings since 2005 (Einhorn & Arndt, 2010). Strategic thinking focuses on finding and developing unique opportunities to create value by enabling a provocative and creative dialogue among people who can affect an organization’s direction (CFAR, 2001).
Although strategic thinking and strategic planning work well together, they each possess unique attributes. Yukl (2012) describes strategic planning as being facilitated by a comprehensive, objective evaluation of current performance in relation to strategic objectives and compared to the performance of competition. Whereas strategic thinking serves as the input to strategic planning; good strategic thinking uncovers potential opportunities for creating value and challenges assumptions about a company’s value proposition, so that when the plan is created, it targets these opportunities (CFAR, 2001). According to Almani and Esfaghansary (2011), strategic thinking is different from strategic planning because strategic planning seeks the one best way to devise and implement strategies that would that enhance the competitiveness of an organization or unit within it. Strategic thinking serves as the central ‘ingredient’ in preparing for any task. The point being made is strategic thinking begins with exploration of the environment, an intuitive, visual, creative process that results in a combination of emerging themes, issues, patterns, connections, and opportunities (Sanders, 1998), whereby strategic planning is the creation of a unique position involving a distinct set of activities (Montgomery, 2012).
As we examine the attributes of strategic thinking, it has two major components: insight about the present and foresight about the future (Sanders, 1998). Traditionally, successful leaders are carried by style, driven by motivation, or interlace in leadership style and motivation as a powerful source to make things happen. When we consider what it means to be a leader in the twenty-first century and how leaders will impact the major changes that lie ahead, strategic thinking is an influential capability. The focus of strategic leadership rest in individuals and team who think, act, and influence in ways that promote the sustainable competitive advantage of the organization (Hughes & Betty, 2005). We use the term strategic leadership because it connotes management of an overall enterprise, not just a small unit; it also implies substantive decision-making responsibilities, beyond the interpersonal and relational aspects usually associate with leadership (Finkelstein et al, 2009). According to Finkelstein et al, the global furniture company IKEA would not look the way it does today if not for the philosophy and values of its founder and long-time CEO, Ingvar Kamprad. Wayne Gretzky, recognized as the world’s best hockey player, says that the key to his success is that he doesn’t skate toward the puck, but instead tries to anticipate where it’s going and get there ahead of it (Sanders, 1998). The same thing could be said about great leaders, they anticipate where change is going and make sure their organizations get there first (Sanders, 1998).
5 Keys to Remember to Transform into a Strategic Thinker
Hughes and Beatty (2005) asserts one of the challenges to developing your strategic thinking id that historically organizations have tended not to encourage and reinforce the two complimentary sides of strategic thinking with anything like equality. Cultivate your strategic thinking in 2013 with a conscious effort to tap the aspects of strategic thinking (Hughes & Beatty, 2005):
1. Scanning – involves assessing where the organization is. This involves examining the organization’s current strategic situation, and it includes an analysis of the opportunities and threats in the industry as well as the strengths and weaknesses inside the organization (Hughes & Beatty, 2005).
2. Visioning – represents a view of what the organization (or a department, group, or other unit) can and should become. Andy Stanley (1999) suggests vision weaves passion, motivation, direction, and purpose into the fabric of the leader’s daily life.
3. Reframing – involves the ability to see things differently, including new ways of thinking about an organization’s strategic challenges and basic capabilities (Hughes & Beatty, 2005). It involves questioning or restating the implicit beliefs and assumptions that are often granted by organizational members (Hughes & Beatty, 2005).
4. Systems Thinking – Effective strategic thinkers are able to discern the interrelationships among different variables in a complex situation (Hughes & Beatty, 2005). The basic premise of systems thinking is to habitually review the best logical approach to all situations, current and future (Hughes & Beatty, 2005).
5. Focus – Aubrey Malphurs (2013) advises that “focus” literally means to focus your attention on a specific interest or activity, see clearly with an objective or object in mind or pay particular attention to a place or thing. Focus for a leader (at any level) looks something like: building a plan to remain focused on, delegating the tasks related to the plan and encouraging those around you to do things with an eye always on the goal; this way…everyone will be focused (Malphurs, 2013).
No matter how much the world continues to change, the strategic thinker will be the key player in organizations around the world. Adopting strategic thinking as a lifestyle leadership attribute will serve leaders as an attuned compass that will facilitate their journey into leading people and organizations down the road through the future. Strategic thinkers are continually wanted to assist organizations with managing challenges, progressing beyond its current status, innovation, and the competitive advantage in their industry.
About the Author
J. K. Smith is an independent consultant and doctoral student at Regent University’s School of Business and Leadership. He earned a M.A. from Liberty University, a B.S. from Excelsior College, and a B.A. from Southwestern College. He is a decorated combat veteran and retired from the U.S. Army.
*Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Strategic Thinking Gaining traction in 2015 is more than just being in the game, but adjusting organizational mindset and culture to perform better this year while concurrently advancing their organizations to the future is not unprecedented. Strategic leaders use an array of techniques to lead, manage, and innovate in their organizations. BuJ. K Smith Articles
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