Leadership is a wonderful opportunity. You have your hands on the controls of your organization. If you don’t like what is going on, then look in the mirror. You are setting the standard on what is expected, what is acceptable, and what is possible. If you ask for it, you can get valuable feedback from your employees, customers, and owners that just might change your perspective.
People are your organization’s most valuable resource. Many leaders say it, but too few leaders act like it. People are street smart. You can’t fool them very long. People don’t forget what you do or how you act, but they will quickly forget what you say unless it is contrary to your actions. The old saying is true – ‘Talk talks, walk talks, but walk talks louder than talk talks’!
You become isolated from the realities of working in your organization. People filter what they tell you. But, in a very short period of time you can get valuable input from all of your employees to recalibrate your perspective. This input will help you get a picture of how people view working in your organization compared to what you think or how you might want things to be. It is difficult for you to get straight-forward, objective feedback through the normal chain of command. Getting feedback that is politically correct or feedback that your people think you want to hear only serves to build your ego, not your business. Time is money. Any process, any practice, or any behavior that wastes your people’s time or contributes to non-productive energy wastes your money.
If you want to get a quick feel for what your people think, what frustrates your people, and what is being filtered in the communication to you, then commit to do a few simple exercises. The time it takes is minor compared to the insight you will gain.
Answer each the following questions with one of three choices -- good enough, needs improvement, or hurting us:
1) In the customer’s eyes we are leading all competition in understanding and addressing their future needs.
2) Our customers choose our products and services because we provide more value and higher quality than our competition does.
3) We are keeping our resources focused on the important things because we have very few distractions that divert key manager’s time.
4) I know that our processes are effectively aligned to support our vision, mission, key values, key business objectives, and results measures.
5) Our processes effectively integrate to get maximum, focused value from our resources.
6) We aggressively seek to compare and to learn what other organizations may do better than we do.
7) We put considerable effort into developing and retaining a skilled, motivated, productive, and happy workforce to achieve extraordinary results.
8) We routinely achieve results that meet or exceed our strategic and tactical business objectives.
Now ask yourself ‘how do I know’ for each question. What process do you have in place that measures and supports your answer to the above? How do you collect the information, validate the information, analyze the information, process the information, and manage by the information? Too many leaders have to admit that they do not have the key measures or processes to really support their perceptions to these questions. This is your first look in the mirror.
Next, go out to your people – all of your people. Give them a presentation and interact with them on a topic that is of interest to them. Ask each person attending to give you two suggestions right then on something they would do or change to make things better if they could take that action right now. You do not need to know who provided the recommendations unless your people elect to put their name on the paper. Collect the suggestions before they leave the meeting area. Read every suggestion and summarize them. You will gain tremendous insight on areas within which you need to think, reflect, and dig further. These suggestions will hit right in the heart of your organization’s culture, processes, people, and alignment. This is your second quick look in the mirror.
Make some changes immediately based on the input. Show your people you listen and changes can happen quickly.
Go out and ask all of your managers, supervisors, professionals, and as many employees as possible to list for you in writing the following. You may have to let the people submit this anonymously if there is questionable trust in your organization.
1) the top five roadblocks and barriers to getting things done
2) the first 3 changes they should make in their department
3) the first 3 changes they would make someplace else in the organization
4) the 2 things they would do immediately if they were king for a day in your organization and their action could not be undone
5) the top 3 concerns they have as an employee of your organization
6) a list of any perceived sacred cows or things that cannot be changed or touched
7) a list of any perceived double standards in the organization where people are not treated the same
Read and summarize all of the above. Categorize the input into culture, process, people, or alignment areas. This is your third quick look in the mirror.
Makes some changes immediately based on the input. Again show your people that you listen and changes can happen quickly.
Now you are armed with information to conduct a fast-paced, simulation exercise with a good cross section of your organization’s leaders, natural leaders, hourly employees, bargaining employees, and professionals. You will not personally participate in the exercise but will engage a facilitator that has run an organization at least as large as yours to challenge and drive your people out of their comfort zone during the exercise. Your focus during this exercise will be to watch the group dynamics, thought processes, contributions, and basic skills to address a difficult problem. In less than 2 days you will gain tremendous additional insight into keys of what makes your organization tick or sputter...
The purpose of the simulation exercise is to quickly be able to determine how well your people understand your environment, products, customers, processes, bureaucracy, capabilities, barriers to progress, and what it takes to get something done. Many times people will see and understand only a small percentage of what must be done to take on something challenging. Time is a crutch. Normally meetings are scheduled days or weeks apart but no new, substantive information is obtained. Precious time is lost. In the simulation exercise your people must make decisions and sequentially act on those decisions. They quickly learn that you may not have all the information you maybe need or want but that is reality. People will soon learn the value of teamwork, diversity, and collaboration when they are accountable for making something happen in less than a perfect situation.
Pick a problem that could be real to the group and one that they have not tried to address. For example, the price on an item must be reduced at the actual cost level by 30% within 4 years. Your people can reduce cost by cutting cost, increasing revenues upon which overheads are charged, or other permeations and combinations. An agenda should be developed to challenge their skills and their business knowledge. Divide your people up into small working groups. Each group will provide answers to each exercise. Then all participants will discuss the input received and explained from each group and agree upon one response that best represents their collective knowledge and thinking. Your people will quickly see that not everyone sees things the same and that collaboration is a powerful tool to move forward.
You should answer questions like the following first and then compare your answers to the answers your simulation participants agreed upon. Set specific times for the working groups to answer within the group, discuss with all participants, and then collaborate to agree on their best response to tasks like the following:
1) Describe your competitive environment and its impact upon your organization.
2) List the three most important competitive variables for your organization to increase revenue. Rank the variables in highest to lowest order of importance. Determine key milestones. State in months how quickly these significant milestones can be achieved for each variable.
3) List the three most important specific actions that need to happen for each of the top four ranked competitive variables to increase revenue. Rank the actions in highest to lowest order of importance.
4) Using the collectively agreed upon top four ranked specific actions, give two examples that demonstrate your organization has accomplished such actions in the past 12 months.
5) Grade your organization using school grades (A,B, C, D, F) on each of the following:
a. Having the knowledge of what it takes and the competency to execute to compete and beat the best
b. Focus and knowledge-based strategy to increase revenues
c. Energized commitment to total quality excellence
d. Timely, aggressive, and consistent challenge to status quo that delivers results
e. Enthusiasm for rapid change
f. Total team orientation and absence of different functional or personal agendas
g. Communication with understanding on needs, strategy, and plan
h. Management leads by example and eliminates behavior inconsistent with performing at customer-acknowledged excellence levels
i. Sense of urgency and ability to get results for competitive variable #1
j. Sense of urgency and ability to get results for competitive variable #2
k. Sense of urgency and ability to get results for competitive variable #3
6) Describe in five bullet points or less, each bullet point six words or less, the specific challenge to your organization presented in this simulation.
7) Provide the top three summary solutions (six words or less) of what needs to be done in order to meet the specific challenges.
8) List the top three barriers to these solutions
9) List the top five specific cost reduction opportunities and estimate the total dollar savings for each of the five opportunities. Rank the opportunities in importance from most important to least important.
10) To realize each opportunity, list the top three changes that must take place. Rank the changes in order of importance from most important to least important.
11) Make a pie chart to summarize the percentage of total cost reduction that would come from the special cost reduction opportunities. The initiatives must add up to meet the 30% reduction target and pie chart slices must add up to 100%.
12) Using the two biggest slices from the pie chart, prepare a top level project plan and time line, in three-month increments, beginning today, and indicate how much of your savings will be realized in each three-month period. The total savings must add up to the total saving projected on the pie chart for these two slices.
13) Group discussion on what was learned, what you did right, what you could improve, and action assignments.
This is your fourth look in the mirror. In an exercise like this, you would like more facts and more time. You will never have all the facts and you could always use more time. What is more important though is learning what and how your people think with what they know today. That is why all answers are short and concise. You get the point without the usual accompanying explanation, clarification, and caveats.
Don’t be surprised if the discussions get lively. Don’t be surprised to see suppressed feelings rise to the surface. Don’t be surprised to see a lack of knowledge, skill, and basic understanding of issues and solutions. Don’t be surprised to see right in the room some of your fundamental roadblocks and barriers to progress.
Seldom does a group of people get to work together on such a challenging and mentally stimulating exercise. Seldom do people at all levels of your organization get to appreciate what you do and the decisions you have to make as a leader. Seldom do you get the opportunity to get so much non-routine information and see your people under fire when decisions must be made and positions negotiated within short time periods.
It is time to reflect. Compare your answers to the simulation exercise with the answers of your people. What have you learned? Take time to think. Pull out your strategic and tactical objectives. Where do you have gaps in your processes? Where do you have alignment challenges? What do you need to adjust to address fundamental capability, training, hiring, behaviors, procedures, processes, systems, or approach? What performance measures do you need to put in place? What is your next step?
Take the challenge. The steps forward with your new information and perspective are fun and invigorating. Now you can see why it must be you. You have your hands on all the controls. Open up communication. Stop, look, listen, and learn together. Your people will be more ready to work together to get the important things done. You will be better able to lead and remove the roadblocks and barriers in their way. Your metrics will show your progress and encourage everyone. These and future looks in the mirror will pay tremendous benefits. Try it!
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About the author:
Rick Loghry is President of Actions Speak, LLC, a firm providing custom, affordable education and training focused on aligning culture, processes, and people to improve operating results. Rick has 30+ years experience working as a change agent to improve operations. Prior to starting Actions Speak, LLC, he was President of a Forbes top 500 privately held company. He holds a B.S. in Science and MBA from Rollins College.
Leadership is a wonderful opportunity. You have your hands on the controls of your organization. If you don’t like what is going on, then look in the mirror. You are setting the standard on what is expected, what is acceptable, and what is possible. If you ask for it, you can get valuable feedback from your employees, customers, and owners that just might change your perspective.Rick Loghry Articles
Despite the hundreds of books, programs and websites devoted to leadership, the truth is that leaders can't be trained. Leaders need to be developed. Hopefully this doesn't seem like a simple matter of semantics, because it isn't.
Let me illustrate this distinction. Leadership is more about WHO you are than about what you do or what you know. Two executives can do and say the same things but get very different results - even when they do and say those things to the very same person! Although what you say and what you do are important, effective leadership is even more dependent on HOW you do or say those things. This explains why the actions of those two executives can elicit such different responses.
You can train people about what to say. You can train people about what to do. You can even show someone how to do and say those things. But getting them to change how they go about doing things and getting them to change how they go about saying things is a whole other story.
Leadership is about who we are, and it's this "how" of doing, saying, and being that defines who we are. I think a good deal of "who we are" is captured within the competencies of Emotional Intelligence, developed and made popular by Daniel Goleman. There are 12 EI competencies, with five of them being the one's that ultimately affect our effectiveness as leader. These five competencies are:
1) Coaching and Mentoring - The ability to develop others
2) Inspirational Leadership - The ability to develop a compelling vision and to lead with it
3) Influence - The ability to utilize persuasion
4) Conflict Management - The ability to resolve disagreements
5) Teamwork and Collaboration - The ability to build and guide teams
Let's briefly examine each one of these competencies with respect to training vs. development as it pertains to leadership.
Coaching and Mentoring
As a professional coach, I know many professionally trained coaches. They've gone through a curriculum of coach training from an accredited coaching school. And yet, although they have the necessary skills and knowledge to be a good coach, a number of them are really rather poor at coaching. Conversely, I've come across associates who are reasonably good at coaching, yet have never had any formal coach training.
How is this possible? How is it that someone with great coaching skills is mediocre at coaching? And how is it that someone without any formal training is very effective at coaching?
The answer of course, is in HOW they apply their coaching knowledge and skills. In order to be effective as a coach, one must, at the very least, be aware of one's own emotions, have control of one's emotions, be empathetic, and have good judgment. The reality is that each of those traits must either be developed or be natural to a person. They just aren't things that can be "trained".
Leaders need to be inspiring. They need to instill pride, they need to hold and communicate a vision, and they need to inspire an organization and its people to aspire to excellence.
Here's the challenge… People aren't simply inspired by the right words. The right words spoken by the "wrong" person will have only a minimal effect. In order for a leader to move others to action, he or she needs to be someone who others admire and respect.
How does someone garner the respect of others? It's obviously through our words and actions, but once again, "how" we say what we say and do what we do determine the impact those words and actions will have. "Who we are" is something that can be shifted and developed, but it cannot be "trained".
Effective leaders are influential. We influence people by our words and actions, but of course, it comes back to how we're viewed by others and how we do and say the things we do. Honing and improving those abilities comes down to development and not training.
Conflict and challenges are inevitable in business, and a good leader has the ability to diffuse and resolve situations as they arise. In order to be effective in this effort, a leader needs to have the respect and trust of those involved. How we conduct ourselves during these times is important, but even more critical is how we've conducted ourselves in the past. Establishing "who we are" takes time and is not something that can be trained - only nurtured and refined.
In order for a leader to successfully foster an atmosphere of collaboration, he or she must be good at the previous competencies - coaching, inspiring, influencing, and resolving. Clearly this ability once more rests on things best developed and not trained.
Now that we've made a case for leadership development and one against "leadership training", we need to address how this development occurs. Here's what has to happen:
1. An objective assessment of one's competencies needs to take place. Since "how" we do and say things is habitual, we're generally blind to our shortcomings.
2. No one needs to be excellent in every competency in order to be an effective leader. Based on the objective assessment of our leadership skills, we need to focus on one or two areas to target for improvement.
3. Enlist the help of one or two trusted associates to help point out (in a loving fashion, of course!) when we fall back into old patterns.
By being mindful of your words and actions, and being persistent in your efforts to improve, you'll find that over time - there is no "quick fix" for what we're achieving - your effectiveness and impact as a leader will increase. Not only should we strive to develop ourselves as leaders, but need to work to develop those around us. Ultimately, a great leader is someone who develops other leaders.
About the author:
Michael Beck is a Business Strategist and Executive Coach. For more articles on leadership, personal effectiveness and personal productivity, please visit www.michaeljbeck.com.
Despite the hundreds of books, programs and websites devoted to leadership, the truth is that leaders can't be trained. Leaders need to be developed. Hopefully this doesn't seem like a simple matter of semantics, because it isn't. Let me illustrate this distinction. Leadership is more about WHO you are than about what you do or what you know. Two executMichael Beck 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
One Leader's Perspective
The greatest complement I have ever read was directed toward Thomas Jefferson. President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a White House dinner given to honor Nobel Prize winners throughout the Western Hemisphere. Kennedy looked out over the distinguished guests and stated that they were “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Thomas Jefferson was an original American patriot. His personal views on individual freedom and religious liberty has greatly inspired many political leaders around the world for over 200 years. We typically think of Jefferson as a man who achieved many outstanding accomplishments in his lifetime. Indeed, he is known as the 3rd President of the United States and author of the American Declaration of Independence. Less known are his other lifetime achievements, including Virginia State Governor, American Vice President, Secretary of State, Ambassador, architect, inventor, philosopher and founder of the University of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson demonstrated a lifetime of vast achievement and leadership, yet few know his life was also filled with great personal challenges. All of us face obstacles and difficulties on almost a daily basis. But very few people realize the adversity Jefferson faced during the prime of his life. Yet, some of his most significant personal and public achievements were accomplished during these times of great personal sorrow! In briefly examining his life we can better appreciate his leadership qualities. His personal endurance can provide a few valuable lessons for us today.
As is true of all great leaders, Jefferson was not a perfect man. Like all human beings, he had a number of individual flaws and weaknesses. Recent DNA testing has established the strong possibility that he may have secretly fathered children through a slave named Sally Hemings. However, one cannot read about his life without appreciating how much he shaped the civil freedoms and religious liberties we cherish in our modern western world. Throughout history men of great governmental leadership have been rare. Jefferson was not born to lead. Most who met him described him as shy and one who attempted to avoid a prominent role. He often remarked how his only desire was to be left alone to farm at his beloved home called Monticello. However, historical destiny would provide other opportunities for him. As we will see, he developed leadership by first experiencing and learning followership. Before he became an effective leader, he first became a practical follower!
Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743. He was the son of a Welsh farmer who owned a large plantation in the British American colony of Virginia. Thomas was blessed to receive a good education and strong moral teachings from loving parents. From his father and his rural surroundings he acquired a lasting interest in the sciences and in education. He also developed a love for Greek and Latin at a young age. As a young adult, he attended the College of William and Mary in the early 1760’s. Jefferson eventually received his law degree in 1767. After he began his law practice, an interest in politics led him to be selected as a delegate to the Virginia House of Burgesses. The House of Burgesses was a colonial legislative assembly under the authority of the British appointed governor. Three years later, at age 29, he married a wealthy widow named Martha Wayles Skelton.
Jefferson was a reserved person by nature and spoke in a very soft voice. He was never considered eloquent in speech and gave few public speeches in his career. By today’s definition we would not say he had charismatic leadership. But those who spent time with him found his conversations and personality engaging. One of his earliest recognized talents was skillful writing and prose. In his lifetime, Jefferson wrote over 18,000 letters. This talent would serve him well throughout his lifetime. By the 1770’s the American colonies felt unfairly dominated by Great Britain. Delegates from these colonies assembled as a Congress to discuss their grievances and future relationship with Great Britain and its king. Jefferson was chosen to represent Virginia at the 2nd Continental Congress in 1775. By the time of the 2nd Continental Congress, his previously published writings on the "rights of people from tyranny" had already caught the attention of many other delegates to the Congress.
At the young age of 33 years old Jefferson was asked to be the junior member of a committee whose task it was to draft the American Declaration of Independence. He served with two notable individuals whose senior status and outspoken manner made them prominent leaders in the Congress. They were John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Being a junior member of the committee, Jefferson resisted writing the draft and suggested that Adams create it. Reputedly it was John Adams who convinced the younger Jefferson to construct the document. He told Jefferson there were three reasons why he should write the document. Reason one was that Jefferson was a Virginian and Adams thought a representative from a southern colony like Virginia should “appear at the head of this business.” Reason two, Adams continued is that “I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much other wise.” Reason three Adams opined is “You can write ten times better than I can.”
Jefferson completed his draft in late June of 1776. He was about to learn a valuable lesson in followership. Being a talented young man and gifted in writing, he was naturally proud of his draft document. First his original draft was amended when both Adams and Franklin made alterations with their own handwriting on Jefferson’s draft. The committee presented it to Congress on June 28th of 1776. The debate on the Declaration began on July 1st and lasted three days. Jefferson sat and watched the Congress considerably alter his document as presented by the committee. The Congress cut about a quarter of the text, polished some of the wording, and made some substantive changes. Jefferson later wrote how painful and humbling it was to experience this debate. He felt his original document was “mangled” by the Congress. This was a powerful lesson in followership for Jefferson. Oftentimes the best efforts of followers may not be what are most needed or expedient for a given situation. Wise followers accept this fact and continue to make significant contributions to the organization because they want what is best for the organization rather than their own ego! Through this painful experience Jefferson learned about the difficulty of working with other powerful or dogmatic personalities. He learned about the value of building consensus and accepting rejection. Today Jefferson is rightly credited as the author of the Declaration of Independence, yet few people comprehend how he learned to be a follower within the Congress.
The American Colonies revolted and went to war. Jefferson was a legislator and Governor of the state of Virginia. In 1782, Jefferson became a member of the newly formed Congress of the United States, and in 1784 he was named the American ambassador to France. This decade of his life was one of tremendous accomplishment. As a legislator he had instituted many social reforms to protect individual rights and the use of private property. As a member of Congress he played a pivotal role in the establishment of a new nation. He was influential in guaranteeing that no one church would become the official state religion of the United States or receive state financing. He risked his personal life and wealth for the principles he believed in. His leadership accomplishments are impressive. However, they are all the more astounding when we realize what else was going on in his life!
This same decade of his life would also bring about a number of personal tragedies. In 1773 his father-in-law died. Shortly afterward his best childhood friend died suddenly leaving a wife and six children. The next year his first daughter Jane was born, but she would die 18 months later when Jefferson was 31 years old. In 1776, his mother died unexpectedly at age 57. One year later Jefferson’s first son was born and died within a few hours of birth. In 1781 a series of personal trials occurred. First, the British army invaded Virginia and captured his beloved Monticello. Jefferson barely escaped capture by the army. He broke his left wrist while being thrown from a horse. Also during this year, his reputation was damaged when his political enemies convinced the Virginia State Assembly to investigate his conduct as governor of Virginia. The very next year, his wife Martha died just a few months after giving birth to their daughter Lucy Elizabeth. On her deathbed she made him promise never to marry again. Jefferson was now only 39 years old and he kept his promise to Martha. Though he would live another 43 years, he never did marry again.
Most of us would certainly agree that Thomas Jefferson experienced many distressing personal trials during this 10-12 year period. But, sad to say, that was not all! At age 41, he witnessed the death of his daughter Lucy Elizabeth, who died of “whooping cough”. One year later, he stumbled while walking and broke his right wrist. It was not set properly and he suffered pain in this wrist for the rest of his life. During various times of his life he also suffered from prolonged migraine headaches that almost incapacitated him. Another worry he experienced was mounting debt problems for allowing his farm to deteriorate while he served his country in various roles. Remember, all these events were happening while Jefferson was involved in the leadership of founding and managing a fragile new nation. History has recorded all of his many achievements during theses very years when these personal trials were occurring in his life. Few understand what was going on in his private life. He suffered more distressing personal trials than many of us have. However, Jefferson is not remembered for his trials, but for his accomplishments as a powerful and effective leader.
Jefferson had a great leadership quality that set him apart from many others. He did not allow the difficult circumstances of life to crush his inner spirit or his desire to serve others who called upon him for help. Yes, like all of us he could become very discouraged. Upon the death of his wife he remarked to others that he even wanted to end his life. He certainly hurt, mourned, and experienced depression and sadness like most of us. Yet he was able to reach deep inside, shake off these natural emotions and go forward. Jefferson was a lot like another great political figure that arose in the 20th century. Winston Churchill shared this same quality with Jefferson. It is Churchill who roared…”Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”
Thomas Jefferson was able to endure great personal hardship in life because he was a man of purpose. He viewed life as an opportunity to explore the universe and gain knowledge about the wonderful world around him. He wrote the following statement in 1786 that revealed his zest for life even with all of its trials and obstacles. “Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures...Ever in our power, always leading us to something new, never cloying, we ride, serene and sublime, above the concerns of this mortal world, contemplating truth and nature, matter and motion, the laws which bind up their existence, and the Eternal being who made and bound them up by these laws. Let this be our employ.” It is obvious from his many writings and he had an enthusiasm for life, knowledge and exploration. Another positive leadership quality he possessed was an interest in manydiverse subjects and ideas. He was not obsessed with a single narrow interest, but had many individual interests. Those who met him were astounded at his interest and knowledge in all the sciences and humanities. Some of his numerous hobbies included gardening and practical household inventions. These hobbies helped to refresh his mind and add spice to his life. What a contrast to many leaders today who are so narrow minded or heavily focused on a single issue they leave their followers remarking that they “need a life”!
A reason Jefferson may have been able to overcome personal tragedy and hardship was his rather unique religious beliefs. He was not an eager supporter of the organized religion of his day. Yet it was Jefferson who refers to God three times in the American Declaration of Independence. Some have labeled him a “deist” and some of his political enemies even claimed he was irreligious. The truth is that Jefferson was a deeply religious man in a nontraditional way. He was a firm believer in religious freedom and rejected the traditional views and doctrines of most churches that existed during his time. Feeling that some had distorted the original teachings of Jesus Christ, Jefferson assembled only the words of Christ out of the four gospels and created a book now known as theJefferson Bible. This was the book he took to bed with him to end his day. In a letter he wrote to John Adams, he stated that he read this book for “an hour or a half’s...reading of something moral whereon to ruminate in the intervals of sleep.” Jefferson is not alone among great leaders who drew upon their religious principles or values during times of turmoil and instability.
Thomas Jefferson died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His final letters to fellow patriot John Adams and many other friends reveal a man who had mellowed and changed through a lifetime of experiences and personal suffering. Even his final years offer us a valuable lesson in leadership. Near the end of his life Jefferson renewed his friendship with the elder John Adams. For many years they had not been friends. After the revolution and founding of the United States both had become bitter political adversaries. On many issues they were on opposite ends. They grew apart and for many years never communicated directly. However, both leaders deeply understood an important leadership principle. Don’t make political or organizational differences personal! People are more important than programs. Friendship should transcend policy. Both men made an effort to renew their past association and truly became friends. In their later years it gave these two sages an opportunity to discuss their views and differences on political theory and philosophy in a 15 year long letter writing campaign.
Examining the life of Jefferson is a study of the qualities of great leadership. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to the purchase of Louisiana territory, he was willing to undertake personal risk and responsibility. In accepting the many poorly paid political offices he served, Jefferson sacrificed many years of productive farming and his wealth. He envisioned America as potentially greater than it was and did what he could to make the promise of America a reality. He dedicated his entire adult life to the pursuit of reason that government should serve its citizens and not be their master.
Thank you Mr. Jefferson!
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author:
Greg has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within the electrical distribution industry. Some of his positions have included being a National Sales Manager, National Marketing Manager and for the past 9 years that of Regional Sales Manager. He also has extensive experience in public speaking and has written articles for various publications. In August of 2000, Greg completed his studies for a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University. He is the founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
Brodie, Fawn, (1974) Thomas Jefferson – An Intimate History. New York: Bantam Books
Cunningham, Noble, (1987) In Pursuit of Reason – The Life of Thomas Jefferson. Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
Louisiana State University Press
Ellis, Joseph, (1997) American Sphinx – The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Alfred A. Knoft (Random House)
One Leader's Perspective The greatest complement I have ever read was directed toward Thomas Jefferson. President John F. Kennedy was speaking at a White House dinner given to honor Nobel Prize winners throughout the Western Hemisphere. Kennedy looked out over the distinguished guests and stated that they were “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that haGreg L.Thomas Articles
During the last week of the month of July 2002, much of the USA was transfixed with the rescue of miners beneath the earth in Somerset, Pennsylvania. For 77 hours the news media ran constant updates on the fate of 9 trapped miners. I was one of the people who found myself attracted to the story and its outcome for a number of reasons.
First, by coincidence, while they were trapped, I stayed overnight at a Hampton Inn in Somerset, PA during a business trip. I had chosen that night and location a week earlier only because it was right off the PA Turnpike. A number of TV reporters stayed at the same facility. Secondly, the event had all the ingredients of a great news story…tragedy, fear, tension, hope, triumph and a wonderful ending. There was something else inherent in this story that was covered sparingly by the news media. It is the outstanding example of leadership demonstrated by so many fine people. In this article I would like to examine the chronological events of the rescue and provide some lessons we can all learn from them. As we go through these events and review the lessons to be learned, ask yourself how they might apply to your business, family or community.
Wednesday, July 24th
A number of miners are working 240 feet below the earth mining for coal. The Quecreek mine they are laboring in is close to an older abandoned (Saxman) mine that has previously been flooded with water. Supplied with outdated maps and information, the Saxman mine is not expected to be adjacent to where they are digging. The miners accidentally break through the wall of the abandoned mine, allowing over 50 million gallons of water to rapidly flood their mining location. Nine of the miners are able to escape the waters out of the mine entrance by fleeing 1½ miles to the top. However, 9 other miners are left trapped. The waters quickly engulf the mine sealing the entrance and forcing the trapped miners to seek the highest point underground. They eventually gather together in a higher pocket of the mine, but the waters continue to swell, making the prospect of drowning a real possibility! They are virtually trapped and helpless with no possible way of escape. For a while they have radio contact with the other group of miners who escaped but they soon lose all contact. It will take a miraculous rescue to save them, or they are absolutely doomed to die. All they can do is hang on together and wait.
Leadership Lesson: These men had been trained in effective safety procedures. Because of their extensive past training they know what to do in an emergency! They gather themselves together in one location where they believe they have the best opportunity for survival from the rushing waters. These are individuals who understand the necessity of contingency planning. When an emergency strikes it is too late to “wish” I had considered this possibility before! They knew what to do because they had previously been taught to analyze potential situations like this and had mentally rehearsed how to respond this kind of a crisis. When the emergency occurred, they were almost able to respond instinctively and effectively. We too need to think and plan ahead for contingency situations. To ask the question “what if” is not intended to make one paranoid or over anxious, but to consider the possibilities that exist. Sometimes these possibilities are unpleasant but a leader knows the importance of at least mentally rehearsing plan “B” or “C” ahead of time in case plan “A” backfires.
Workers who escaped the mine inform those working on top that the tragedy has occurred. Without hesitation, it is decided that an airshaft pipe must immediately be sunk into the mine to provide fresh and warm compressed air. There is serious concern about hypothermia setting in since the mine and water temperatures are in the 55-degree range. It will also help stabilize an air bubble in the mine keeping the waters at bay from engulfing the miners. No one knows exactly where they are! However, the other miners who escaped know where the trapped miners were working. These miners who escaped offer valuable input on where they might be located.
Leadership Lesson: This is a time for immediate decision-making skills. The issue is life or death and there is no time to debate the merits of an airshaft. Remember that the most effective type of leadership in emergency situations is autocratic leadership by an individual who knows what to do and has the courage to demand it. There is no time for committee meetings, consensus building or impact studies. The most important decision of the entire rescue is made right here to get warm compressed air to the miners ASAP! The problem with many individuals is that they are autocratic in all situations, including non-emergency situations. By doing this they fail to use the needed talent and experience of others in making daily routine decisions. By always having an autocratic demeanor they alienate other highly talented people and make some big mistakes because they don’t listen to others well. Do you remember the example of the former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Guiliani? Before the tragic events of 9/11 he was harshly criticized for his overbearing leadership in guiding the city. However, during and after the events of 9/11, his autocratic style was exactly what was needed during a time of extreme emergency and urgent decision-making needs. There is a difference between the rare emergency response needed in times of crisis and the most effective response in typical situations. Want to be a highly effective leader? Know the difference!
Bob Long has just gone to bed. He gets a phone call about the disaster. Bob is an engineer for CMI engineering in Somerset, PA. Bob has $60,000 worth of military grade high-tech surveying equipment in the back of his Chevy Blazer. He is told, “We need your GPS stuff down here right now!” It is Bob who will decide exactly where this 6” airshaft will be located. Bob uses his laptop computer and a sophisticated Global Positioning System to communicate with a satellite and determine the coordinates of the mine location. At 1:15 AM on Thursday morning, Bob drives a stake into the ground at the precise spot they will drill. It is believed to be directly over the area of the mine where the trapped miners would have gathered together. It is in a farm field right off an access road near the highway. However, an error of a few feet either way might miss the tunnel pocket entirely. Since it takes hours to drill a 6”diameter hole 240 feet into the earth, they don’t have the time to poke around until they find the right spot. The drilling begins with not only the 6” airshaft, but with other shafts intended to pump water out of the mine and lower the water level. Rescuers have requested a special 30” diameter drill to be sent from West Virginia to drill a rescue shaft.
Leadership Lesson: Bob Long is a real hero. He has the training, skills and tools needed to get the job done right the first time! But he doesn’t act alone. First he must find out from others where they truly believe the trapped miners have taken refuge. He must use all the skills he possesses to set up the equipment correctly, take the right measurements, enter the correct input on his laptop computer, double check his measurements and analyze the results. Then he must decide, and accept the responsibility for his final decision. This is not the time to wish he had taken that “other” class last year or bought the new laptop a month ago. It is a time to focus, use all the skills at your present disposal, and get the job done. He does his job well, drives in the stake where the digging is to begin and totally accepts the pressure this task has required. Too many individuals suffer from analysis paralysis and become ineffective because they won’t make the difficult decisions. They will often find 100 reasons why they can’t. Effective leadership requires using all the tools presently at your disposal, making the decision and accepting responsibility for it. For more information on “analysis paralysis” read our weLEAD March 2002 Tip of the Month located here!
Thursday, July 25th
After a few hours of drilling, the 6” airshaft is dug and the pipe is sunk into the ground. The miners are reached and are in the location where they were expected to be! The shaft begins pumping warm compressed air into the ground. The miners tap on the shaft to let the rescuers know they are still alive. The taps continue until about noon. But with so much drilling going on it is very hard to hear them.
Leadership Lesson: The miners communicated back to the rescuers that they were alive and appreciated the effort to help them. They banged on the pipe and on the ceiling to communicate they were still alive and in need of rescue. Great leaders seek and desire communication from others. Remember that communication is a two-way street and it is far more than simply the expression of words. Communication is also expressed in our gestures, facial features, personal demeanor and how we react to events. Yet, the most important words a leader can give to someone who is struggling on the job, at school or at home is “I care, and I am here to help.”
A 30-inch-diameter drill arrives from West Virginia to drill a shaft wide enough to drop a rescue cage and pull the miners to the surface. Drilling begins in the evening and is expected to last 18 hours to reach miners if all goes well.
Friday, July 26
Unfortunately, all does not go well! After drilling down only 100 feet the bit on the giant drill breaks while drilling through hard dense rock. This temporarily halts all digging efforts. This is a discouraging blow to rescue efforts. Workers attempt to remove the bit with a tool that was supposed to grab it and twist it loose, but the shank of the bit was stripped and it wouldn’t budge. It would end up taking 14½ hours simply to get the broken bit out of the hole.
Drilling begins on a second rescue shaft while workers try to get the broken drill bit out of first hole.
Leadership Lesson: Life is full of disappointments. Sometimes the best efforts and finest motives of leaders still must confront large problems. But leaders don’t give up or quit. They reach deep down to solve difficult problems and overcome obstacles. Don’t ever forget the classic short commencement speech given by Winston Churchill where he powerfully told a graduating class only a few short words that included…never give up! Leaders also step out of the box and look for creative solutions to problems. In this case, if the first rescue shaft is halted, start another one. As it turned out, it is now believed by some observers that this may have been a blessing in disguise. It is possible that if the 30” drill-bit had not broken, and the miners had been reached this early, it may have created suction or flooding of the mine pocket because not enough water had yet been pumped out! Leadership requires imagination and flexibility when plan “A” is often thwarted.
U.S. Navy personnel arrive with hyperbaric pressure chambers in case rescued miners need decompression to avoid the bends. It is also later planned to have 9 EMS vehicles ready to drive the miners for medical care and 9 helicopters ready to fly them to medical facilities if necessary.
Saturday, July 27
While the drilling continues, crews begin reviewing and practicing underground rescue procedures they'll perform if the trapped miners are found alive.
Leadership Lesson: Notice the advance planning and strategy. People are not simply standing around and wringing their hands. Leaders are thinking one, two, and three steps ahead! What if the EMS vehicles are too far away from the right medical facility? We will use helicopters. What if the miners have the bends? We will have hyperbaric chambers on site. What if we find the miners are in “such and such” condition or situation? We will have rescue crews practicing procedures beforehand for most any contingency. The same holds true for any leader. We must think one, two, three steps ahead of where we are right now. How do we do this? It is easy if we have a vision. The vision in this mining crisis was to bring the miners out alive. This vision naturally led to a number of questions that begged for real solutions. The same is true for us and if you struggle to think or plan ahead it is probably because you really don’t have a well-defined vision for yourself or your organization.
After contact with family members, Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker tells the media that the original first escape shaft has been drilled to a depth of 214 feet. This is just 23 feet from where the miners were thought to be located. Also by this time, shaft No. 2 was at a depth of about 190 feet.
The drill breaks into chamber pocket where the trapped miners are all huddled. The rescuers lower a phone and contact the miners.
Gov. Mark Schweiker announces to the world that all nine miners are alive.
Leadership Lesson: There was great sensitivity throughout this event to keep family members constantly informed and notified about achievements before the media or general public was informed. Communication with family was a high priority. Today’s leaders are expected to be sensitive caring individuals who treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve. It is insensitive and selfish to seek or grab attention, or to be the first to “break the news” without considering the people who have the right to hear it first. Think how many recent corporate workers have discovered their fate on television news or in the newspaper rather than hearing it directly from the so-called leaders of the corporation. I am sure this rescue operation was far from perfect. I am also sure there were some strong egos demonstrated by some of the rescue team. But overall, this entire effort reflected a model of servant leadership as everything and everyone took a secondary role to keeping the miners alive, bringing them out of the mine and comforting their families during the long wait.
Sunday, July 28
The rescue cage is lowered into the mine. Randy Fogle is the first miner pulled from the rescue shaft and the rest of the miners come in 10-15 minute intervals. The other miners in the order of their rescue include Harry "Blaine" Mayhugh, Thomas Foy, John Unger, John Phillippi, Ron Hileman, Dennis J. Hall, Robert Pugh Jr., and Mark Popernack. A statement by miner Harry Mayhugh during a press interview highlights my final leadership lesson. He was asked the following questions and gave the following replies…
Q: How were you guys holding on?
MAYHUGH: “Snuggling each other. Laying up against each other or sitting back to back to each other, anything to produce body heat, you know.“
Q: How -- who was it that really kept you together?
MAYHUGH: “Everybody. Everybody had strong moments. But any certain time maybe one guy got down and then the rest pulled together, and then that guy would get back up and maybe someone else would feel a little weaker, but it was a team effort. That's the only way it could have been.”
Leadership Lesson: Teamwork is what real leadership is all about. It took a large team of individuals to make this rescue successful. Each had their own unique skills and talents to offer. What if there had been no one like Bob Long and his GPS equipment available? What if there had been no one to operate the big 30” drill? What if there had been no one to drill the 6” airshaft? What if there had been no one to connect pumps, or electrical systems, or administrators, planners, or medical personnel? Teams wisely rely on the collective talent they possess to achieve great things. Great leaders know their own limitations and put together teams to create an unlimited synergy for success. The miners were a team. They worked together, struggled together and were willing to die together by even tying themselves up as a single team. The miners knew they were in this situation together. They huddled together for comfort, strength and encouragement. They relied on each other for emotional support. Individually they would become discouraged and weak. But, together they encouraged each other and were hopeful. The lesson here is the remarkable power of teamwork. Here is an undisputable fact… a team of determined individuals committed to a great cause is far more than the sum of its parts! This is a vital lesson for modern leaders to ponder. If you think about it, no single individual stood out as the leader during this entire crisis. Yes, the governor was given a prominent TV presence, but even he would admit that he was not the single leader. Why? They were a team…all leaders…all-pulling toward achieving the same vision and goal…each playing their vital part.
The mining accident in Somerset, PA concluded with a positive and happy ending. A nation watched, prayed and rejoiced to see the successful conclusion. The entire event was a fine example of leadership in many different dimensions. People know how to pull together and demonstrate leadership in tragic emergency situations. We have seen this recently in the World Trade Center disaster and in this mining rescue. Mankind has been occasionally able to do this for thousands of years in virtually every culture. Yes, many fine people seem to almost instinctively know how to do this in rare or catastrophic situations.
But a truly great people will learn how to make this kind of leadership part of their culture every day!
Why not start today?
Comments to: email@example.com
About the author:
Greg has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within the electrical distribution industry. Some of his positions have included being a National Sales Manager, National Marketing Manager and for the past 10 years that of Regional Sales Manager. He also has extensive experience in public speaking and has written articles for various publications. Greg has a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University where he presently serves as an adjunct faculty member teaching courses in management. Greg is also the president and founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
During the last week of the month of July 2002, much of the USA was transfixed with the rescue of miners beneath the earth in Somerset, Pennsylvania. For 77 hours the news media ran constant updates on the fate of 9 trapped miners. I was one of the people who found myself attracted to the story and its outcome for a number of reasons. First, by coincidence, while they wereGreg L. Thomas Articles
“This is boring,” Ty muttered as he sat through yet another management training session. “I could be showing my new team member, Jeff, how to do the social networking piece of our project,” he mused. Happily ignoring the trainer, Ty thought, “Now THAT would help the company, not to mention Jeff. And, I want to learn that new technology—this session needs to hurry up and end.”
The 1980’s brought about radical organizational transformation. According to Breda Bova, Associate Dean, University of New Mexico, and Consultant Michael Kroth, the traditional organizations our fathers worked for were going “haywire with corporate downsizing and massive layoffs.” Careers began to transition from working a lifelong job in one establishment to continuously changing jobs to learn new skills. Due to this fundamental change, some organizations today are at a loss for how to retain and develop top talent for taking over the business. Succession planning is definitely impacted by this seismic organizational shift.
Succession planning in today’s organizations includes retaining and developing the next generational leaders—Generation X and Generation Y. Gen X and Gen Y pose unique challenges for organizations’ older generational leaders: they ask questions; remain independent; and readily change jobs for personal and professional skills development. Richard Sayers, Director at CABAL Human Resources Group, believes they act as free agents characterized by a desire to have a “portable career…and even greater degrees of personal flexibility, professional satisfaction and immediacy.” If organizations acknowledge these characterizations, there is an opportunity for retaining and developing this next set of knowledgeable leaders by offering access to credible sources who know relevant information.
Many Gen X and Gen Y’s are technology-adept individuals who live and breathe constant access to global and cultural information. They are interested in accessing people, whether leaders, peers, subordinates, gurus, or techno geeks, to learn and apply new and relevant information that advances their skills and knowledge base. According to Sayers, they are “motivated by a desire to enhance professional skills and thus marketability to future employers.” It is an ongoing learning process known as “continuous learning”—a motivator and way of life for Gen X and Gen Y.
For an organization, cultivating a continuous learning environment in order to develop the next generational leaders includes designing programs that embrace both appropriate learning styles and accessibility to leaders in the organization.
There are three types of applicable learning styles according to Bova and Kroth:
1) Action learning: Learning by doing;
2) Incidental learning: Spontaneous learning with no specific outcomes; and,
3) Formal training: learning in a classroom setting.
For Gen X and Gen Y, action learning is attractive because it deals with real problems and solutions and implementing actions. Incidental learning is also powerful due to some of the possible outcomes of “increased competence, increased self-knowledge, and improved life skills” as noted by learning theorist Craig Mealman. However, formal training is not as attractive to Leadership Next because of their time and space orientation.
Cultivating a continuous learning environment for Leadership Next also requires accessibility to leaders in the organization—people who know information, have applicable job skills and portray leadership traits. As mentors, teachers and even “disciplors,” these are leaders with the ability to transfer leadership learning to Gen X and Gen Y. According to author Chip Bell, mentoring is “a process where one person helps another become successful by providing understanding of the informal systems involved in an organization. Mentoring is not about power, it’s about learning.” Shelly Cunningham from the Talbot School of Theology defines discipling as “the process of following another person or way of life while submitting to the group leaders’ discipline; also the adoption of the philosophies, practices, and ways of life of the teacher.”
Why would Leadership Next agree to mentoring and discipling in a leader-follower context?
They may not, unless today’s leaders mentor and disciple based on action and incidental learning techniques. If leaders apply innovative learning techniques and provide relevant skills training, Generation Next may very likely be enticed to stay and build their professional repertoire. If leaders do it right, protégés will carry on the organization’s legacy. David Clutterbuck, mentoring consultant, suggests a sponsorship approach; “The modern version of a sponsor is an informed senior manager, who takes on the long-term responsibility for balancing the career needs of talented individuals against the evolving needs of the business.”
How do you start a Mentoring and Discipling Program?
Do not be “mind-boggled” with the amount of knowledge your protégé knows and can instantly access. Keep an open mind, value what they know, but challenge their thinking. As confident as they appear due to facts, introducing inter-personal or real-world scenarios helps them expand their horizons and value new insights. Michael Shenkman, Founder of the Arch of Leadership, suggests “a mentor has to be willing to risk the hurt, the insult, even the parting of ways in order to bring to prominence the kinds of attitudes and orientations that go into creative leading.”
- Develop the plan together and provide a network of experienced leaders:
They know what they want; they don’t always know what they don’t know. Gen X and Gen Y like collaboration, transparency and openness. Plan together, and make the plan relevant, personalized, challenging, and rewarding. Stand in the gap between what they need to know and who they need to get it from by having a network of mentors or senior leaders available for introductions as needed. With these introductions, be prepared to transition your protégé to the next mentor or “disciplor” as they soak up leadership knowledge and experience. As Shenkman says, “the mentor lets the protégé experience the full force of leading, even to the point of failure.”
- Create an innovative learning experience:
Try e-Mentoring: e-Mentoring provides tools and technology to help bridge the relationship between mentors and mentorees in distant locations. Search on “e-Mentoring” and several website links are returned targeting specific industries or age groups. According to Sayer, Gen X and Gen Y “want the flexibility and freedom to access professional development on their terms; when and where they require it.”
Build a virtual community: Gen-X and Gen-Y live in a virtual world and community acceptance is important. Developing a virtual community for your organization could be a “learning incubator” for new protégés. Think about allowing a team of Gen-X and Gen-Y’s to work with advisors and subject matter experts to design and develop it. Klaus Nielson of the University of Aarhus in Denmark believes “collaborative learning…in the workplace plays a significant role in learning transfer.”
Think entrepreneurial: Get creative and be innovative by having the Gen X and Gen Y’s help develop a rotating internship program across the organization. Create discovery programs and social learning practices rich in media and knowledge. Bova & Kroth quote Davenport as saying “organizations are becoming increasingly sophisticated in creating and utilizing knowledge management repositories, supporting communities of practice, and facilitating the transfer of learning.”
Are you ready for Leadership Next?
About the author:
LISA R. FOURNIER is a doctoral student in the Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL) program with the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship at Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Lisa, an entrepreneur and innovator with over 20 years of start-up experience, also works with Idea Evolutions LLC, a coaching and consulting company serving entrepreneurial leaders. Lisa’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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“This is boring,” Ty muttered as he sat through yet another management training session. “I could be showing my new team member, Jeff, how to do the social networking piece of our project,” he mused. Happily ignoring the trainer, Ty thought, “Now THAT would help the company, not to mention Jeff. And, I want to learn that new technology—this session needs to hurry up and end.”Lisa R. Fournier Articles
Teamwork, Productivity and Creativity. We have long paid these particular leadership concepts a lot of lip service, never more so than now, as insurance companies, banks, communications companies and hospitals struggle to do more with less. Alliances and mergers, for example, so prominent in today's business setting, are the very essence of teamwork. But there is a big gap between talking about this kind of leadership, learning the skills…and living it.
Well intentioned chief executive officers ask themselves: "I've set up incentives for creative problem-solving, used specific measures in assessing performance, initiated training in team approaches, yet I'm still not seeing an impact on my bottom line. What am I overlooking?"
More often than not, the answer is….their own behavior. For several decades, executives have sought to improve performance, especially that of their staff; but what about their own performance? Why is it so difficult to make changes?
First, many decision makers do not have an appropriate understanding of how to recognize and measure leadership performance. Secondly, the right behavior is not rewarded. Executives know they can and should improve their own behavior, but are not held accountable for achieving these improvements. Nor are these changes rewarded. When performance is tied to achieving results and executives are rewarded for these changes, only then will changes occur.
How can we Measure Leadership Performance?
Leaders treat people with care and respect. They are people willing to take risks to improve a situation, and seek creative solutions along the way. Frequently they are the quiet success stories that are rarely spotlighted.
Leadership can be measured and rewarded using the leadership performance criteria of Teamwork, Productivity and Creativity. Let's examine this Performance Management process briefly.
Measure and Reward Teamwork
Be a caring friend: Leadership begins with Teamwork, and teamwork begins with caring and respect. Start simply. Have fun together. Get to know each other. Become friends. Do what you can to help each other, whether it be a colleague, staff member, customer or supplier.
Example: An unidentified $2.88 charge continued to be billed on the AT&T/Qwest telephone bill, month after month. During a call to AT&T, the customer questioned this overdue charge, and refused to pay until it was explained. The representative listened carefully, put the customer on hold while she contacted the local carrier, came back on the line, explained the delay and asked for patience. When she returned, she requested that the customer call the local carrier and explained why she could not help further.
The Qwest (local carrier) representative listened to the customer's story and took the initiative to erase the past due balance, stating that it was more trouble to find the source of the problem. A win-win agreement was achieved.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Negotiating process
Measure: An agreement
Be respectful and build communication bridges: Learn how to speak respectfully and avoid roadblocks. Some roadblocks include: giving orders ("Don't write like that"), belittling ("That's silly"), reassuring ("You'll get over it"), denying ("You can't still be angry"), or giving solutions ("This is how you should handle it"). The effect of these roadblocks is that people learn not to come to you with their problems.
Example: Melissa, eight years old, was adopted from the streets of Calcutta, India in 1988. When she arrived in America, she spoke no English, had never been to school, and had lied and stolen to survive. Over the next five years, I loved and parented her as best I knew.
During her first year of school, her confidence and successes developed. In the following years, she commented that she 'didn't like school' and eventually refused to attend. By the time she was 12 in 1993, her behavior worsened. She ran away from home and school.
How could I build trust and influence the then-withdrawn Melissa to share her thoughts and feelings? The key to success was "getting acquainted", the second step of the negotiating process. I was determined to treat the now-teen Melissa with dignity, respect and tolerance. Instead of: "Put on your coat", I explained, "The forecast is for snow. You might think about…"
When I forgot to use this approach, she became defiant. I admitted my own mistakes, was patient with her mistakes, suggested alternative behavior and reasons why, and praised our smallest achievements. Most important were the humor, talks and laughs we shared. Gradually she shared her feelings and problems were resolved.
In corporate management, this function is known as counseling, mentoring, and building trust through fun, sharing and humor.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Negotiating process
Measure: Getting acquainted (talking)
Reward: Praise, fun
As a suggestion, make teamwork part of your performance criteria, and measure yourself by attempting to achieve an agreement though the process of negotiating-- illustrated by a handshake, a kind word, a smile, a hug or something in writing, and rewarded by praise or fun. Talking in terms of explanations, descriptions, experiences, and humor is the basis of developing relationships.
Measure and Reward Productivity
First let's examine what we mean by productivity, since it can represent different things to many people. Productivity includes structured processes, and knowing and understanding such processes; and specific productivity techniques and tools, including streamlining and simplicity.
The common processes in the managing function include planning, designing (life cycle), negotiating, and creating. The planning process, for example, has a specific set of steps, each of which results in a written document. These documents--which also serve as measures of quality--generally include:
* Organization charts which identify function and sometimes the name of one responsible person
* Work breakdown structures which break down the work to be done into systematic tree-like structures
* Schedules, both master and detailed
Various types of reviews and tests are quality measures of the design-build life cycle which is integrated within the planning cycle. Nested within the latter is the writing cycle since most, if not all, of management and planning efforts result in a document of some kind. These processes are integrated, occur frequently, and constantly cycle.
Learn the Correct Processes: Some common processes in management include: the planning and controls process, known by various names; the life cycle or design-build process; the writing process; the creativity process; and the negotiating process. These are the same whether one builds airplanes, runs a hospital, or manages a bank. The difference is in tailoring.
Example: During the beginning of a facility relocation project at The Boeing Company, team members had limited understanding of the project and were unclear about details of work to be done and team member responsibilities.
A statement of work, or a project description document, was developed and used as a discussion document during the kick-off meeting to introduce the major details of the project to the team members. This document served to increase common understanding and minimized miscommunication by the project team.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Planning process
Measure: Statement of work
Result: Improved understanding
As a suggestion, make productivity (including processes) part of your performance criteria and reward yourself for learning and using the right process measures.
Measure and Reward Simplicity
Examples of some productivity tools and techniques include: mind-mapping, doing all the same function at one time, being selective with perfection, putting it in writing, having more than one use for something, streamlining and simplicity. Not surprisingly, everywhere people speak of their frustration with complexity-- complexity in writing, methods, excessively large teams, duplicate resources. Then, why not measure and reward simplicity?
Example: At The Boeing Company, a supervisor simplified the training schedules, eliminated abbreviations to improve clarity and communication, reduced schedules to one format, used an easier graphics software tool, enabling the preparation of schedules in under one hour instead of two days, and surfaced numerous existing meeting rooms that were available for use and were previously unused. This eliminated the problem of double-booking meeting/training rooms.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Writing process
Measure: Something written, clearly and simply
Result: Increased understanding, efficiency
Reward: Praise, personal growth
As a suggestion, make productivity (including simplicity) part of your performance criteria and reward yourself for all types of productivity. Examples of simplicity in productivity might include the size of a document, the clarity of writing, the size of teams, the number of resources used, and the types of rewards offered.
Measure and Reward Creativity
A leader could be defined as a person:
- willing to take risks
- who is productive, efficient and has personal standards
- who is a caring, respectful team player.
Leadership is not the same as management, and has nothing to do with status or title. Anyone can be a leader, if they have the courage to make changes.
Be creative and take risks. Admitting/forgiving mistakes build trust.
In the trial and error process of making improvements, leaders must take risks, be kind, tolerant, and admit (and forgive) their own mistakes. Lewis Lehr, former chairman and chief executive officer of 3M Corporation states: "I am tempted to say that innovation at 3M works in spite of top management".
Example: When the once- rebellious Melissa was asked what contributed to her willingness to be creative in terms of cooking and tasting new foods, developing school reports, and making creative gifts, she commented: "It was 'talking', in terms of explanations, demonstrations, and praise, and that it is all right for us to make mistakes because that is how we learn".
Therefore key points are:
Process: Creativity process
Measure: An idea
Reward: Fun, praise
As a suggestion, make creativity part of your performance criteria and reward yourself for all types of creativity and results. Admitting and sharing mistakes build trust. Creativity, humor, and fun reduce tension, promote trust, and help build friendships in the journey towards teamwork. Reward yourself with something fun when you achieve your own goals.
Assessing and Rewarding Our Own Performance
Many organizations and executives are seeking ISO certification and Baldrige criteria performance assessments to determine how well their corporations are doing in terms of quality. While quality seems to vary, the area that most needs strengthening is leadership.
What's the answer? Consider using a leadership performance criteria that will discourage bureaucracy, cronyism and empire building, and measure your own performance. Reward yourself for your achievements. Explore using simple, yet fun rewards such as time off, free time, favorite work, fun, praise and recognition. If you find it difficult to reward yourself and have fun, perhaps you might start working on changing your own behavior.
Large staff and budgets erode morale. When there is a performance management system in place that rewards executives for teamwork, productivity and creativity-- and top managers exemplify this in their own personal practices--organizations will surely succeed. And learning teamwork by having fun and building trust is the best place to start.
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Teamwork, Productivity and Creativity. We have long paid these particular leadership concepts a lot of lip service, never more so than now, as insurance companies, banks, communications companies and hospitals struggle to do more with less. Alliances and mergers, for example, so prominent in today's business setting, are the very essence of teamwork. But there is a big gap between talking aboutJT Carr Articles
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creSmith, Robert V. Articles
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creative and entrepreneurial author—a man who served in roles as actor, breeder of rare chickens, director, gardener, lyricist, merchant, movie producer, philatelist, photographer, playwright, printer and newspaper publisher, salesman, theater manager, window dresser, and, of course, celebrated author. Enter The Way of Oz: A Guide for Wisdom, Heart, and Courage and its roadmap for leadership development and travels down the yellow brick road of life.
Now, imagine the characters of Oz bearing special symbolism for learning, loving, serving, focusing on the future, and humility. You might imagine the associations: the Scarecrow for wisdom and learning, the Tin Woodman for heart or loving, the Cowardly Lion for courage and service, Dorothy for leadership and a focus on the future, and the Wizard for humility and related virtues. For the purposes of this short essay let’s focus on Dorothy and her character as a metaphor for a future focus and leadership. At end we’ll see how a focus on the future and leadership are tied inextricably to the characteristics imbedded of the other major players of the Wizard of Oz masterpiece.
Dorothy in The Way of Oz is the leadership person—the character with a focus on the future—the character who brings out the best in others through understanding, heart and her own courage—all cast in a spirit of kindness and service. And, with Dorothy’s savvy about personal and institutional planning, diversity, sustainability, scientific and political understanding, and personal responsibility—she is a character who makes significant differences in the lives of others—men, women and creatures alike! Dorothy in The Way of Oz also knows how to detect and deter life’s wicked witches, both of the internal (e.g., self-doubt, imposter syndrome) and external (e.g., aggressive, manipulative and envious co-workers, friends or family members) varieties.
Through The Way of Oz, we learn about Dorothy’s approach to personal planning, involving integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, selective volunteerism—all while drawing on the wisdom of teachers and mentors, and connecting learning and wisdom through caring and service.
The 21st Century Dorothy also understands institutional strategic planning and its components: vision, mission, environmental context, goals and objectives (directed through implementation strategies and articulated challenges), group oversight and shared understanding, and benchmarking integrated with periodic reporting and results-driven revisions of plans.
In The Way of Oz, Dorothy accentuates the best in colleagues and institutions through her understanding of the mosaic model of diversity and the importance of science and political insight for developing policy and actions related to sustainability. She is also wise in her comprehension of secular democracies and their power to serve our worldwide community.
On the “personal responsibility front,” Dorothy of The Way of Oz is empowered by determination, persistence, priority consciousness, critical thinking, and complex reasoning—all with ethics in the lead. She is also able to manage life’s time—systematically and sensibly.
Our modern Dorothy’s focus on the future is powerful because it is cast through an archetypal story written by a man who, despite his foibles and frailties, knew how to relate to others in unique ways. In other words, Frank Baum made a difference and The Way of Oz can make a difference in many peoples’ lives—particularly in the area of leadership development.
Thus, the Way of Oz approach to leading, involving personal planning, integrated learning and scholarship, personal environmental scanning, and selective volunteerism, fortified by organizational strategic planning, an understanding of diversity, science and political insight to guide decisions about sustainability, and personal responsibility—all with ethics in lead—prepares one for a life of personal and professional fulfillment. These elements of the Way of Oz and the new book of the same name—enriched by the creative graphics of Dusty Higgins and video content portraying leadership roles of students, faculty, and staff in universities as one segment of society—can make a significant difference in lives of seekers and future leaders of our world community. Many have found—in these thoughts—the true magic of The Way of Oz. Consider joining us!
Below are the main characters in The Way of Oz as conceived by Dusty Higgins. See if you can identify them all?
About the author:
Robert V. Smith serves as Provost and Senior Vice President at Texas Tech University (TTU). He has oversight responsibility for fourteen colleges and schools, along with the libraries and several other academically related units and programs.
He is the author or co-author of more than 320 articles and nine books. The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage (Texas Tech University Press, 2012) is available in hard cover, paperback, and electronic versions in all electronic formats. You can find out more about Robert Smith and his book at http://www.thewayofoz.com/index.htm
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Think about Oz and the love you may have for the 1939 movie or the 1900 book portraying the story of the Wizard of Oz. Or, you may have read one or more of the thirteen Oz sequels written by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). But, few realize that there are a set of lessons for developing leadership abilities based on the story’s content and the history, life, and times of the story’s creativeRobert V. Smith Articles
If the organization provides safety and security for employees, then employees will provide the organization with their brawn. But what about the brain? That is a different issue.
Money buys employees’ brawn: at least you can see them at their desk by 8:00 a.m. and see them leave at 5:00 p.m. You observe them walking the halls with papers in hand, working at their computers, talking on the telephone, and in other ways physically doing their jobs. They appear to be working hard and the employer pays for the fundamental tasks the employee was hired to do. But, is the employee’s brain engaged? Is he satisfied with his current level of production and on autopilot? Is she just going through the motions to get a paycheck?
In production jobs where people are hired for their brawn, brain engagement is not a major issue. However, it is a different story for people with information jobs. People who are paid to think need reasons to keep their brain engaged and keep it from wandering into La-La Land: thinking about the weekend, plotting how to get even with the person in the next cubicle, or surfing the Internet for wakeboards. Brain engagement of employees is a clear leadership challenge.
The brain has many levels of intellectual and emotional involvement and employees decide on an hourly basis how much of their brain they will share at work, how much creativity they will give to solving problems, and how much they will flex to get along with co-workers. The amount of brain effort they choose to give is called discretionary effort.
Some employees only engage their brains to do their jobs just to the level so they won’t get fired. Little if any discretionary effort comes from these employees and they may never choose to change their engagement preference. However, if an organization increases the invitation to be engaged, most employees will respond in a positive way.
To better engage employees, organizations can employ a variety of methods such as offering monetary rewards, giving opportunities for personal development and education, recognizing employees for outstanding accomplishments and achievements, extending the leadership of a team assigned to a plumb project, etc. The ideas for engagement are numerous and once the organization has matched their method with the employee, the level of an employee's intellectual engagement and the amount of discretionary effort they choose to give will increase.
Discretionary effort equates with energy at work. There is a difference in the level of effort and energy one is capable of bringing to an activity or a task, and the effort required only to get by or make do, which requires little discretionary effort. It is the difference between the minimum acceptable versus the maximum level of energy and discretionary effort an individual is capable of giving and is related to the integrity and trust between an employee and the organization.
This places the level of employee engagement and discretionary effort squarely on the shoulders of leadership. To engage your employees and earn discretionary effort, use this checklist:
Give your employees stimulating tasks. This gives them positive expectation and a sense of excitement to come to work. It engages their creativity, improves their brain activity and increases the pleasure of working.
Assign employees to find answers to tough problems. This honors them by showing you believe in them and their abilities. Human nature will make them knuckle-down and bring you solutions.
Make employees accountable with deadlines and midpoints. Just like a teenager secretly appreciates the enforcement of rules, deep inside people feel good when they meet deadlines with integrity.
Explain the organizational vision and mission and ask them if they can align personally with the objectives and goals. Just like in a sales process, you can uncover and overcome their objections to business strategy and in the process and discussions, make them a more loyal employee.
Take note of their completed tasks in their performance review and see if their completed responsibilities support the goals and objectives of the department. This audit will help you determine if they have inadvertently veered off target.
Provide team building activities and relationship training so employees can intelligently solve problems, resolve minor conflicts and understand how to collaborate.
Reward them and recognize them for their contributions. Rewards and recognition give employees a sense of self-esteem and individual pride increases when they are thanked for their contributions in front of their peers.
Teach managers how to be relevant to the employees. Relevance means you matter. Because some managers underperform, they do not matter to the employee and worse yet, get in the way of employees performing at high levels.
The fundamental building block to effective work production and customer satisfaction is employees who are engaged and excited about their jobs. Their brains are fully engaged and they willingly give discretionary effort. Their energy is directed toward task completion, solving complex problems in innovative ways, and ensuring happy customers.
They seldom visit La La Land.
About the author:
Karla Brandau is CEO of Workplace Power Institute. She offers keynotes, workshops, and retreats to move your organization forward in the chaotic environment of the 21st Century. You can contact Karla at firstname.lastname@example.org visit her blog at www.FromTheDeskofKarlaBrandau.com
*image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
If the organization provides safety and security for employees, then employees will provide the organization with their brawn. But what about the brain? That is a different issue. Money buys employees’ brawn: at least you can see them at their desk by 8:00 a.m. and see them leave at 5:00 p.m. You observe them walking the halls with papers in hand, working atKarla Brandau Articles
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