Leaders provide their team with the tools, advice and encouragement to tackle and solve problems. People flourish when they feel respected and secure in their roles. People who feel they have permission to solve problems become more creative and are able to overcome insurmountable difficulties.
Leaders are agents of change when old ideas no longer work and new ones are needed!
• The way to overcome resistance to needed change is to first engage with other’s attitudes or mindset before the change is introduced. When a leader has first worked to create a fresh positive environment of “creative thinking”, we prepare others to support rather than resist needed changes.
Leaders & Followers
• Both exist with each other. Leaders are also followers in some areas while followers are leaders in certain areas.
• Neither can function without the other. Leaders need followers and followers need leaders.
• Both are conditioned by their thinking process and individual behavior.
Common Leadership Mistake
A common mistake of leaders is to launch an idea or mission before spending enough time developing support and overcoming resistance. This may require the time needed to educate and build consensus with the followers. If this is not done first… resistance will slow or derail the mission.
Four levels of leadership participation
Good leaders recognize there are four levels of participation in decision making and will use all four depending on the circumstances and time available to make a decision. A leader who uses only one or two of these levels may be prone to poor decision-making.
• Autocratic decisions: Decision is made alone without asking for opinions or suggestions of people. Followers have no direct influence on the decision. Will cause alienation of followers if used often! Considered the most effective in crisis or emergency situations.
• Consultation: Followers are asked their ideas and opinions, then the decision is made alone after seriously considering their concerns and suggestions.
• Joint Decision: Leader meets with others to discuss problem and make decision together. The leader has no more influence over the decision than any other participant.
• Delegation: Leaders give an individual or group the authority and responsibility for making a decision. Leader usually specifies the limits in which the decision must fall.
Continuum of Decision Procedures
• Autocratic – no influence by others
• Consultation – little influence
• Joint Decision – equal influence
• Delegation – high influence
Benefits Of Allowing Greater Influence By Others
• Increase the quality of decision because others have information and knowledge the leader lacks.
• Greater influence = greater commitment by others. Provides a sense of ownership.
• Develop decision-making skills of other by giving them experience to analyze problems and evaluate solutions.
• Encourages “team building” and conflict resolution among participants.
• Encourage others to express their concerns.
• Describe a proposal as tentative.
• Record ideas and suggestions
• Look for ways to build on ideas and suggestions.
• Be tactful in expressing a concern about an idea or suggestion
• Listen to dissenting views without getting defensive or visibly angry.
• Try to utilize suggestions and address the concerns of others instead of ignoring them.
• Show genuine appreciation for others.
• Use symbols to build teamwork and pride.
Leaders provide their team with the tools, advice and encouragement to tackle and solve problems. People flourish when they feel respected and secure in their roles. People who feel they have permission to solve problems become more creative and are able to overcome insurmountable difficulties. Read More >Greg L.Thomas Tips
As we enter the 21st century there is a growing awareness of the importance and need for leadership. A wide recognition of the critical need for leadership is so prevalent that many universities now offer graduate programs in its study. It appears that the study of leadership has come of age and is finally receiving its proper recognition. There are literally dozens of various definitions of leadership. We will simply provide one that we feel effectively defines organizational leadership in virtually all situations.
Leadership is the ability to articulate a vision, to embrace the values of that vision, and nurture an environment where everyone can reach the organizations goals and their own personal needs.
Effective modern leadership is a skill comprised of many different traits or qualities. Some of these qualities include vision, a mission, values, commitment, motivation, and consensus building. The lack of any of these important traits or qualities may greatly reduce the effectiveness of a leader. Here is a very brief definition of these qualities. Each one will be individually covered in greater detail in future weLEAD "leadership tips" in this section of leadingtoday.org.
Vision: This is the meaningful articulation of the mission of the organization in such an appealing and intuitive picture that it vividly conveys what the organization can be in the future. Vision instills a common purpose, self-esteem and a sense of membership within the organization. Traditionally, vision has come from the top management of the organization. Many leaders are now also beginning to see the value of creating the vision with those who are closer to the work environment and the customer.
Mission or Mission Statement: This typically describes the purpose of the organization and outlines the types of activities to be performed for constituents and customers. It should also mention what unique value or services the organization offers as a byproduct of its work. Mission statements typically contain at least three components. First, a statement of the overall purpose or mission of the company is declared. Secondly, a statement that indicates the values that employees are expected to maintain and commit to in the decision-making process. Third, a declaration of the major goals that management believes is essential to attain the mission. These goals should be consistent with the philosophical values that employees are expected to maintain.
Values: These are the guiding principles that state how the employees, beginning with management, intend to conduct their business and their behavior. These values will determine what kind of an organization develops and they become the foundation of the organizations culture.
Commitment: This is an employee's emotional investment to extend great effort toward the implementation of a decision, outcome or goal. Successful leaders need to be committed individuals and to solicit the commitment of others to achieve established goals, and the mission.
Motivation: This is the ability to provide an incentive or reason to compel others into action or a commitment. Since all individuals are different, successful leaders know that diverse people respond to different motivators. A wise leader also knows that money is not the strongest long-term motivator and cultivating an environment of fear is the least effective long-term motivator.
Consensus Building: This is the ability of a leader to build an agreement among differing individuals within a group. A consensus usually occurs when various members of a group agree that a particular alternative is acceptable though it may not be the first choice of each member. Consensus building can create a greater degree of commitment among group members than a decision make by a simple majority. However, consensus building requires additional discussion time and sometimes may not be possible. Eventually the leader may need to take the initiative and affirm that the group decision has been made to begin implementation.
A valuable purpose of leadership in our modern age is to provide vision, direction and motivation for a team of individuals to accomplish a task or mission that otherwise could not be accomplished by a single individual. Other members of the group, team or organization are called "followers." Followers are those who subscribe to the vision and guidance of the leader. The study of followership is also of growing interest. However, don't be confused by the term followers or followership. This term should never be used in a derogatory or negative setting. Followers may also exhibit leadership qualities in order to achieve their own tasks and individual roles. Followership is such an important responsibility that a great many of today's most effective leaders first learned to be good followers before they acquired the skills, opportunity and experience to lead others. In other words, learning and appreciating the skills of followership are often the reason an individual has gained the experience and necessary knowledge to become a leader.
Wise leaders are beginning to understand that it is their responsibility to develop followership by encouraging the followers participation in goal setting and objectives. Modern leaders are viewing followers as partners in the enterprise who should be encouraged to pursue innovation and given the ability to do their job.
There is very little evidence that the so-called "naturally born" leader really exists. Continuing and ongoing studies are showing that the concept of a "natural born" leader has little merit. One reason for this error may be that people often mistake charisma for leadership. It is true that some leaders possess a great amount of charisma. However, many leaders do not. In reality leaders are not born, they are forged by many factors. Some factors that often forge effective leadership traits are education, preparation, experience and opportunity.
Why is leadership important to you? It is important because the development of positive leadership skills can have a beneficial and powerful impact in virtually every area of your life! Acquiring, understanding and exhibiting leadership skills can have a constructive influence within your workplace environment, within your community and in your personal relationships with others. We encourage you to take advantage of the vast amount of knowledge now available within the growing study of leadership.
For weLEAD, this is Greg Thomas reminding you that it was Harry S. Truman, who once said,
"Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better."
As we enter the 21st century there is a growing awareness of the importance and need for leadership. A wide recognition of the critical need for leadership is so prevalent that many universities now offer graduate programs in its study. It appears that the study of leadership has come of age and is finally receiving its proper recognition. There are literally dozens of various definitions of leadership. We will simply provide one that we feel effectively defines organizational leadership in virtually all situations. Read More >Greg L.Thomas Tips
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. Read More >Greg L.Thomas Tips
"I know that many times I have to remind employees to put principles above personalities. That we are here to work on a project and the fact that you may dislike a co worker should not come into play.
But sometimes that is easier said than done. How do you deal with employees who want to have a confrontation instead of a conversation. Unfortunately, dismissing one or removing one from the team is not an option."
Answer: Primarily, never forget that we lead people! We don't lead organizations… but people. The
word "organization" is a created term to refer to a group of individual people who have a shared
interest or purpose. We may work for an organization, or serve an organization, but ultimately it is people we are leading. The reason I mention this is that many authors and consultants speak of rebuilding or changing organizations as if they are dealing with a single individual. In truth, if we are interested in growing or changing an organization, we must change the people, one-by-one, who collectively are the organization.
I am a firm believer in the principle of “cause and effect.” This problem you describe exists because our historical business culture rewarded competition within the workplace environment. People were rewarded and promoted for making their co-workers look inept and inferior to them. The people who traditionally got ahead were the “politicians” who worked hard to diminish the value of everyone else in order to make themselves look loyal and valuable to the organization. Confrontation was viewed as an admirable trait that showed everyone who was “in-charge” and was potential managerial or executive material.
When this kind of a culture exists, a large part of everyone’s positive mental and emotional resources are wasted playing “got-ya” in an effort to allow the egos of some to make themselves appear superior to others. This problem has been modeled in government, business, and many religious organizations for hundreds of years.
Culture is never an easy thing to change. It takes time, energy and persistence. But, here are some things you can do.
1. Lead by example. Don’t participate or play the game of “got-ya.” When this is done in your presence, let it be known by your look and gestures that you are not impressed by this kind of self-absorbed behavior. Whatever you do… don’t laugh at putdowns, or do anything that openly or even subtly encourages this kind of behavior. If it continues…
2. When an individual does this in a group, or to you personally, say with a smile on your face, “Greg, this kind of an attitude is not important or relevant. The question we should be addressing is what is wrong, not focusing on who is wrong.”
If the behavior continues make statements like, “This approach of making everything personal is not helpful to our team. I would appreciate it if we could focus on genuine problems and not the people you differ with. If it continues…
3. You need to address this issue “one-on-one.” No one ever said that leadership is easy. Sometimes you must address issues head-on, and for the sake of the organization you need to be frank and pointed. Let the person know that their behavior is not professional, mature or productive in the workplace. To see how to correct a co-worker effectively read this leadership tip.
4. If it continues… there are a number of options you need to consider. Is there another supervisor or executive who can also approach this individual with a similar message to reinforce what you said? Are the individual’s contributions so important that everyone else can endure his or her behavior? Is the behavior so divisive and harmful to productivity that the person needs to be employed elsewhere? If you get to this point, these are serious questions that must be answered.
If you are a manager or supervisor never… ever… promote a person who demonstrates this kind of behavior. If you do, it sends a loud message throughout the organization that being a jerk who criticizes and confronts everyone else is what it takes to get ahead in this company. Be assured of this fact. You will inadvertently reinforce a culture of negativity and politics in the organization and this is destructive. If the person is extremely talented and otherwise promotable, let them know that it is this trait that is holding them back. Document it on their annual review.
If you address this problem with skill, patience and dignity you may help that person to see how harmful their behavior really is. The truth is they are very insecure and lack a real sense of self-worth! They mask this to the world by confrontational behavior. You may help this individual grow to another level and at least modify their attitude and behavior. But remember that you can’t change their behavior… you can only point out to them how they come across and hurt others. Only they can change themselves.
If you have a challenging question you would like our consultant to discuss, please email your question here. We will be happy to keep your question anonymously.
* The advice and counsel offered by the consultant is based on the limited information provided by the questioner. No two situations are exactly the same, and the consultant makes every effort to provide helpful and educational counsel based on the information supplied.
About the author:
Greg has an extensive thirty-five years experience in public speaking and has spoken to hundreds of audiences worldwide. Greg has a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University, where he also has served as an adjunct professor teaching courses in business management and leadership since 2002. His first book, 52 Leadership Tips (That Will Change How You Lead Others) was published in 2006 by WingSpan Press. His second book, Making Life's Puzzle Pieces Fit was published in March 2009. Both are available at amazon.com. Greg is also the president of Leadership Excellence, Ltd and a Managing Partner of the Leadership Management Institute. Leadership Excellence, Ltd. effectively builds individuals and organizations to reach their highest potential through enhanced productivity and personal development using a number of proven programs. He is also the president and founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
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 at the weLEAD website.
“I know that many times I have to remind employees to put principles above personalities. That we are here to work on a project and the fact that you may dislike a co worker should not come into play.
But sometimes that is easier said than done. How do you deal with employees who want to have a confrontation instead of a conversation. Unfortunately, dismissing one or removing one from the team is not an option.” Read More >Tips
1. High energy level and stress tolerance.
These traits help the leader to cope with the hectic pace, long hours and constant unrelenting demands of others. Effective problem solving requires the ability to be calm and focused rather than one of panicking, denial or fault-finding.
This is not vanity. It is simply the belief that you have the ability to do a task well. Leaders with self-confidence are more likely to attempt difficult tasks and set challenging expectations for themselves. They are more persistent to solve problems. Their optimism affects others and is likely to increase commitmentby others to the task.
3. Strong internal locus of control orientation
People with a strong internal locus of control believe their lives are more determined by their own actions. People with a strong external locus of control believe events are determined by chance or fate and they can do littleto change their lives.
Rotter Personality Scale
3. Strong internal locus of control orientation (continued)
Leaders with a strong internal locus of control are more future-oriented, plan proactively, are more flexible, adaptive, and innovative in response to problems than someone who dismisses them as bad luck or uncontrollable. When setbacks occur, they are morelikely to learn from them.
3. Strong internal locus of control orientation (continued)
locus of control scale developed by Julian Rotter
Example of testing. What is your answer?
a. Leaders are born, not made
b. Leaders are made, not born
4. Emotional maturity
Leaders with emotional maturity are less self-centered, and aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. They are oriented toward self-improvement rather than denial, blame or success fantasies. They have stable emotions, not mood swings and maintain more cooperativerelationships with others.
5. Personal integrity
A leaders behavior must be consistent with espoused values. It determines whether people will perceive him/her as trustworthy and credible. Without trust it is difficult to gain commitment and cooperation from others. Integrity includeshonesty, keeping a confidence and accepting responsibility.
6. Socialized Power Motivation
There are two types of power motivation.
Those with a personalized power orientation gain power to aggrandize themselves and satisfy their strong need for esteem and status. They tend to exercise power impulsively and have little inhibition and self-control. They seek to dominateothers by keeping them weak and dependent.
6. Socialized Power Motivation (Continued)
Leaders with a socialized power motivation desire power for the benefit of others. They are less egoistical and defensive. They are less materialistic. Their strong need for power is to build up the organization or others to be successful. They tend to use more of a participativecoaching style of behavior and take advice from others.
7. Moderately high achievement orientation.
These are leaders who have a need for achievement, desire to excel, drive to succeed and willingness to accept responsibility. They have a strong concern for completing objectives and act decisively to solve problems. These are the goal setters and organizers. They are more prone to deadlinesand action plans.
8. Balanced need for affiliation
This is the need to be liked and accepted by others. Either extremehas negatives.
Those with a high need for affiliation put friendships over tasks. They avoid conflicts rather than confront genuine differences. They show favoritism to friends and allow specialexceptions to rules. This often leaves other followers feeling weak, irresponsible and confused about what they should be doing.
8. Balanced need for affiliation (Continued)
Those with a low need for affiliation tend to be loners who doesnt socialize well. They are usually unwilling to work at developing close interpersonalrelationships with others. May be perceived as lacking confidence or warmth.
The key is a balanced need for affiliation!
The following guidelines are recommended for a leader to do an honest self-analysis and gain personal insight to monitor your own behavior. These guidelines are the result of trait behavior research.
Discover your strengths and weaknesses.
Be receptive to feedback from others about both your positive and negative behavior as they perceive it.
Dont fear assessment tests or evaluations. They are designed to help.
What key skills and traits do you have?
Develop relevant skills that you lack.
Effective leaders value continuous learning and self-development.
Make a real effort to develop needed skills.
Take classes or workshops to grow.
Seek challenging assignments to broaden your skills.
Remember that a strength can becomea weakness!
A strength in one situation can later become a weakness when the situation changes.
Example being autocratic in a crisis
People tend to emphasize a strength that brings early or repeatedsuccess.
Confidence can become arrogance, innovation can become recklessness, decisiveness can become rashness, global vision can become lackof focus.
Compensate for weaknesses
Look for associates who have the strengths you lack. Ask for help!
Delegate or establish a team to help you in areas of your weakness.
Dont give up on these areas develop them to your fullest extent.
Balance your extremes and excesses.
Learn to temper one trait against another
- self-confidence vs. timidly unresponsive to others
- high need for power vs. empowerment
- task oriented (head) vs. people (heart)
- risk taking vs. prudent caution
- efficiency vs. flexibility
1. High energy level and stress tolerance.
These traits help the leader to cope with the hectic pace, long hours and constant unrelenting demands of others. Effective problem solving requires the ability to be calm and focused rather than one of panicking, denial or fault-finding. Read More >Tips
In just about any book on management or leadership and you will eventually come across the term ecosystems. It may not sound very exciting but is essential in understanding the complexity of modern organizations! The concept of ecosystems in an organization stems from a biological model. In nature, an ecological community coexists together within its environment. Many things can affect the ecosystem. For example, conflicts between species can influence an ecosystem. The introduction of an outside species can alter or change an ecosystem. Moore uses this analogy to define a business ecosystem as "an economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals." This is in concert with an understanding of general systems theory. The bottom line is that otherorganizations and institutions within our society do influence today's businesses and their environment. Rapid changes in science, technology, knowledge and changing social norms compound these influences.
Galagan defines a business ecosystem as a "system in which companies work cooperatively or competitively to support new products, satisfy customers, and create the next round of innovation in key market segments." I believe the five competitive forces as presented by Michael Porter help to define at least part of an ecosystem we face in the business community. These forces shape and influence competition within most industries. They are:
1) The risk of new entry by potential competitors
2) The degree of rivalry among established companies
3) The bargaining power of the buyers
4) The bargaining power of the suppliers
5) The threat of substitute products
These many competitive influences make the role of leadership more complex and challenging. It is important to understand the linkage between an organization as an ecosystem and leadership strategy. I will discuss what I believe are major linkage qualities.
A leader attempts to motivate other workers into action toward a goal or various goals. Leaders can do this by providing vision, and explaining how the purpose of each activity is designed to dovetail into the larger picture of an overall strategy. In other words, their role in the organization is important and valued by the entire organization. Providing direction by conveying a clear vision of what is necessary to get a task completed and how to proceed in that direction is vital. Acquiring and using your analytical skills is essential since an ecosystem can change quickly. Culture also plays a major role in the linkage between ecosystems and leadership strategy. An organizations goals and values will be under constant attack both internally and externally. Its culture must be cohesive to withstand negative pressures and influences from many directions. Leadership strategy must include the objective of gaining and sustaining the active support of the organization's people and resources.
Complementing sound internal analysis is the creation of an effective feedback loop structure. You need to know how decisions and actions are affecting various parts of the organization. A superior feedback system is essential to success. In an open system, the external environment intermingles with the internal environment. Jennings and Zandbergen comment that a system functions properly "when a variety of negative and positive feedback loops are in place." However, they admit a problem exists for the leader. The problem is that these "effects through feedback may take a long time or be indirect." In other words, the effects may take place in only one area of the ecosystem before they are felt elsewhere. As Hill & Jones emphasize, the feedback loop should indicate to leaders that strategic planning is an ongoing process. The execution of a strategy must be monitored to effectively gauge if activities and objectives are being achieved. Furthermore, Hill & Jones add that as the feedback loop passes back to the corporate level it "should be fed into the next round of strategy formulation and implementation." Rummler contends that organizational outputsare produced through processes. Using the analogy of an "x-ray", he stresses that critical performance variables include "job responsibilities and standards, job design, feedback, rewards and training."
Good leaders must provide motivation by rallying the willingness of subordinates to work toward the corporate goals and objectives. Rewards rather than punishments should almost always be used to achieve this within the organization. Developing a mutual trust and respect for each other, including the organizations shared values, enhances this motivating principle. Another linkage is both honesty and openness in communication. Many leaders will find that sustaining continued effectiveness might be very difficult. Many subordinates may have been successful for many years, almost to the point of being taken for granted. A sudden change in the ecosystem may necessitate a change in strategy and this may cause confusion or discouragement among formerly contented workers. Understanding an ecosystem teaches us that we must continually grow, adapt, change, and become stronger to survive. Dealing with rapid change is difficult. Nevertheless, we must never be satisfied with our current level of achievement. Often a new leaders first job is to create an integratedattitude that fosters cooperation, harmony and effective results among the stakeholders.
I believe strategic planning is essential for success in any modern organization. Here are some of the reasons why. Strategic planning provides a vision of the organizations goals and mission. It analyzes the external environment to identify threats and opportunities for the organization. The strategic planning process helps the organization to select strategies to build on its own strengths, and correct or minimize its weaknesses. This allows the organization to take advantage of external opportunities and to counter external threats. This process can assist the organization in creating a strategy implementation process that designs appropriate structures and control systems to put its chosenstrategy into action. If we dont chose and implement our own strategy, we will become a victim of someone elses!
In contrast, the lack of strategic planning places the organization's future at risk for failure. It often times will lack a clear delineation of its goals and mission. It is not prepared for external threats to the organization and is not often prepared to take advantage of opportunities. It does not often recognize its own strengths and weaknesses and is not in a position to select strategies to deal with these important internal matters. The end result of no real organizational strategy or a misguided strategy will most likely lead to failure. In essence, the lack of a leadership strategy places the organization in the role of a victim in a changing ecosystem. Using an analogy from nature, who wins when a slow moving caterpillar walks into the path of a preying mantis?
Another important linkage is the example of ethics demonstrated by the leadership of an organization. Hill & Jones place the importance of values in a succinct manner. "The values of a company state how managers within the company intend to conduct themselves, how they intend to do business, and what kind of a business they want to build." This is true for both modern business and the military. Business decisions do have an ethical component that can effect strategy! Hill & Jones continue by stating that "the purpose of business ethics is not so much to teach the difference between right and wrong as it is to give people the tools for dealing with moral complexity, tools that they can use to identify and think through the moral implications of strategic decisions". More than ever, in a rapidly evolving ecosystem, leaders must deal with complex moral decisions that do have an impact on the organization's strategy.
Regarding ethics, a leadership strategy should attempt to establish a climate that emphasizes the importance of ethics. Creation of this climate should include three steps. First, top managers or officers must use their leadership role to incorporate an ethical dimension into the values they want to stress. Secondly, for a business, these ethical values should be incorporated in the company's mission statement. For the modern military, it is incorporated in a code of conduct. Third, these ethical values must be endorsed and respected. A sound leadership strategy should include incentivesystems that highlight the importance of respecting and acting upon ethical values in strategic decision-making.
The linkage between an organization as an ecosystem and an effective leadership strategy is a process. A leader can shape an organizations culture in many ways. The leaders personal influence can be demonstrated as part of a strategic leadership team and modeled individually. This influence can occur primarily through a combination of socialization tactics. These can include unique myths, stories, rites, ceremonies, and organizational rewards. Leadership strategy should encourage an adaptive culture that allows for innovation and rewards initiative for lower and middle-level managers. This can result in a greater ability to exploit new opportunities. A leader also understands that excellent organizations create an incentive system that motivates and reinforces desired behaviors. Rewards for individuals may include piecework plans, commission systems, bonus plans and promotion. Rewards for groupsmay include a group-based bonus system, profit sharing system, employee stock option plan and organizational bonus systems. By the way, dont forget the most basic need all of us need in the workplace. It is respect, dignity and appreciation for a job well done!
A good leadership strategy should make an investment in the business to become a learning organization. Learning organizations are those that are structured to learn rapidly and use additional knowledge to become even more effective. In this environment the desire to learn is encouraged and proper resources are allocated for training and education. The values of learning are embedded into the culture. A leader's strategy can encourage a culture that accepts reasonable risk taking by cultivating values that tell subordinates they should perform their jobs in creative and innovative ways. Leadership can have a powerful impact on an organizations culture. John Masters, the President of Canadian Hunter has stated, Leadership committed to excellence, the proposition of team work, team support by management and values are essential to team management.
In conclusion, the effective linkage of an ecosystem and leadership can be difficult. A leader must recognize there are numerous environmental influences and attempt to control them. The leader must gain an expansive knowledge of human psychological, social and physiological needs. The leader must understand the broad spectrum of organizational development. This is a lot to require from any one individual or small group of individuals! For this reason, I believe this linkage should be a sharedleadership approach tapping into the skills and talents of many.
About the Author:
Frederick Weiss has over 20 years of management experience including 14 years at an executive level. Mr. Weiss is the Vice President of Finance & Administration at Vita-Mix Corporation, a privately owned manufacturing company. He has been a driving force in changing the culture of Vita-Mix from a small-family-leadership style to a professionally managed company during its growth from $5 million to over $60 million.
Galagan, P. (1997) Strategic planning is back. Training and Development, Vol. 51, 04-01-1997
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In just about any book on management or leadership and you will eventually come across the term ecosystems. It may not sound very exciting but is essential in understanding the complexity of modern organizations! The concept of ecosystems in an organization stems from a biological model. In nature, an ecological community coexists together within its environment. Read More >Weiss, Fred Tips
This month we recommend a time management system to help you organize your life and manage your time more effectively. By doing this we will reclaim more time to demonstrate leadership in other vital ways. The key to achieve this is to establish a Master List, Master Calendar and Master File.Thomas, Greg L. Tips