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: 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 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 has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” Read More >Greg 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: 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 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.Greg 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 email@example.com
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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.
“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.” Read More >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.
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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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 about this kind of leadership, learning the skills…and living it. Read More >JT 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 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 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. Read More >Robert V. Smith Articles
Managing people would seem to be just another discipline, just another area in which a body of knowledge, including theory, has been accumulated. This knowledge should form the basis for a set of discrete, definable procedures which if followed should yield the desired results. But "should" never occurs on any day of the week. If it had, there would be no need for my book.
If you want to become a mechanical engineer and are willing to invest 4 years and $100,000, there are a host of universities and colleges that will eagerly commit themselves to the task. I would say your chances of emerging with useful knowledge, assuming you graduate, are as high as 80 percent. After graduation, if I line up ten of you and direct you to analyze a machine with a problem, at least 6 or 7 will agree on the problem. If I make you all agree on the problem and ask for the fix, I may even get six of you to agree on the same fix.
The above can be done in many disciplines like accounting and nuclear physics. Don't try it in management of people. From what I have seen, the chance of getting even two of ten bosses to agree on the problem or on the fix is low.
The reason for this inability to agree is that management styles vary considerably and we are encouraged to pick one that suits ourselves, our personality or whatever. But who would recommend that a boss’s personality or style be taken down to a machine and used to determine what to do with that machine. "Hey stupid, don't pull that stunt. Just get yourself down there and try like hell to determine the problem using these specific tests and then determine the solutions based on this set of defined knowledge. It has nothing to do with you personally." But somehow when it comes to dealing with people, we want to superimpose our style and our personality, our likes and dislikes on the process. You dislike Phillips head screwdrivers, but you like flat head screwdrivers. I am certain that those feelings will not help you when you try to turn a Phillips head screw with a flat head screwdriver. The same is true for managing people.
The people management arena is strewn with hundreds of these EXCUSES, such as "I don't like to ---" or "I can't bear to ---". We have all heard them. The actions evaded range from not being able to get up in front of a group to not wanting to counsel an employee, from not wanting to terminate to not being able to provide succor in a time of need. The Excuses to justify these evasions range from personality to "I don't want to hurt someone" to "the moon was blue last night". There are also many people who would like to blame the sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, religious, consultants and others for their own management errors. Excuses will always be available to anyone who is looking for them, especially to those who enjoy the permissiveness of the "doing your own thing" vogue. But recognize that all of these Excuses are INVALID.
As with machines, Excuses will always limit your success with people, if not cause outright failure. Listen to yourself using them (we all do) and get as far away in the other direction as possible.
You must not decide what a person should be given based on what you have to give, only on what that person needs. Throw away your excuses and your management style. Use your common sense and the same logical, methodical approach required to solve technical issues.
THE NATURAL LAW
Believe it or not, the SCIENCE OF MANAGING PEOPLE IS THE SCIENCE OF LEADERSHIP, pure and simple, no more, no less. Whether or not the CEO or boss wants to admit it, the SHIP IS ITS CAPTAIN. This is what actually happens and the boss (CEO or lower) has no control over this. He/she can't stop it, modify it, wish or order it away. It is a natural LAW that operates inexorably and without regard for the human beings involved. The process that results WAITS FOR NO ONE. It just happens day in and day out.
Therefore, no matter what the actions are, the words, facial expressions, body language, verbal or written orders or policies, support for subordinates, habits, personality traits, inactions through silence, or other boss behavior, these are FOLLOWED by most juniors simply because the great majority of them are Followers. The subordinates become what the boss projects. If the boss works hard, they tend to work hard. If the boss has little knowledge of certain things, they have little knowledge of them. If the boss encourages, they will be encouraged. If the boss cannot bring him/herself to do certain things, they will not either. Followers clearly discern the implied Value Standards and set out to use them in their everyday routine. This sequence is a natural LAW, one that makes the boss either the subordinates' biggest ally or their greatest enemy or something somewhere in between.
The boss by virtue of appointment becomes the LEADER, whether great and fearless or tyrannical and unsupportive or whatever. It is the boss who decides how subordinates will act by Choosing his/her own actions. The boss can, of course, decide NOT TO DECIDE, the "what they see is what they get" or the "I was the one promoted so I must be OK the way I am" approach. The first quote represents a "to heck with the subordinates" approach, while the second is the height of arrogance. I don't mean to seem judgmental about this, but my true desire is to make crystal clear that each boss chooses what their subordinates will be led to do, consciously or unconsciously. That they will Follow the boss' lead has been preordained!!!
So! Do we really have a Choice on how we manage people? Do we get to choose a management style of our own? The answer is, the LAW dictates that we have no Choice. We can only choose how we make use of the LAW and this is a Choice of the Value Standards toward which we lead.
If we walk into a race track and the horses are in the middle of the race, I am certain we will all be able to agree on which horse is in the lead. It will always be the horse "in front" of the other horses, the "leader". The other horses are "following" the "leader". So leading implies being in a position Followers will try to attain. Two questions emerge.
- In what does the boss (CEO or supervisor) lead?
- What do subordinates look to Follow in a workplace?
Fortunately for us, these two questions are merely different sides of the same coin. The name of the coin is "Values". From the boss' view it is his/her leadership, while from the subordinates view it is what they Follow. It makes no difference which we analyze.
FOLLOWING OR LEADING
To start the discussion, recall that ninety percent or more of all subordinates are Followers, people looking to produce their behavior through copying that of others. This copying process is applied to Values as well as to actions. In the workplace, people want to find out as quickly as possible what is expected of them so they can meet those Standards and thus keep down the hassle, avert possible censure and keep the paychecks coming to feed themselves and their families. Conforming to peer pressure is also a part of this process. None of these are surprising revelations.
Remaining with the subordinates, how do they find out what's expected of them, what the Standards are for the different Values? The process is the same one used during childhood, the one which absorbs everything around them. After soaking up everything which is available, the brain's computer is used to sort out the "Do as I Say Not as I Do" events, consequences presented by management or peers, and other nuances.
Through this process, new employees can very quickly get to act like all the other employees. They check what is happening to others and what is happening on-the-job in terms of normal Values: attitude, cleanliness, industriousness, honesty, integrity, admission of error, knowledge, perseverance, fairness and all of the other ones. Their brain automatically performs computations and suddenly they know what the Standards are for each. They have, in effect, translated actual conditions into Value Standards.
So equipped, they begin to use these Standards to perform their work, STANDARDS for precisely the same VALUES all of us have. This is the Natural LAW. Followers do not use their own Value Standards to produce behavior in the workplace. Only non-followers do that and our goal is to make everyone into non-followers!!!
So, employees detect the workplace Value Standards and use them to decide how to carry out their work. If these Standards are high, we fly with the eagles, beat the competition most of the time and love our workplace. If these Standards are low or toward Bad Values, we walk with the turkeys, lose to the competition and generally dislike coming to work. Can the boss afford to leave this situation to the whims of chance? Can the boss take a chance on which Good or Bad Values and their Standards are utilized in the conduct of work?
The leader's only recourse is to commit to frequently and clearly communicating only very high Value Standards through the normal management actions of supporting, directing and developing. Actions speak far louder than words and the real truth is no one listens to words!! As children we didn’t understand the language of words and could only learn through the language of action, through what people do and their tone of voice and body language. This develops into a habit and is carried into adult life. Communicating Values is thus an action oriented process in which each boss must be proficient.
The boss’ actions range from one-on-one discussions to group meetings, from providing tools to training and benefits, from discipline to promotions and rewards, and from action or inaction when it's the employee’s day in the barrel to termination for cause. Both actions and inactions transmit Value Standards, the latter often being the loudest. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being best, these actions and inactions must repeatedly reflect 8-10 Standards for all Good Values if we expect to have EXCELLENCE in the workplace.
Carefully note the wide range of actions from which Followers extract Value Standards to use in performing their work. For high level bosses, what they personally say and do may constitute a very small part of a subordinate's sources. The leadership Value messages received by a person consists not only of the personal actions of their immediate boss, but also of what other people do to this person. "Others" includes staff, other bosses, peers and the rumor mill. Over the past few days, an employee may have received 200 messages on fairness, 100 on quality, 50 on industriousness and only 2 on humility, very few of which came directly from an immediate or more senior boss. The employee computes a new Standard for fairness using past data combined with the latest 200 messages and repeats this for each Value. If these Standards are low or reflect Bad Values, the bosses are in real trouble.
The Boss’ Only Choices
So the boss is the leader and leads in Value Standards, whether he/she wants to or not. Once appointed boss, he/she is the leader who will be followed and that’s the Law. The boss’ Choices are extremely limited. He/she can Choose the direction in which to lead, whether toward the Good or the Bad Value, for example whether toward humility or arrogance. The boss can also Choose the Standard for that Good or Bad Value from 1 to 10. Making the wrong Choice or Choosing not to make a conscious Choice is to Choose mediocrity or even anarchy with all of its attendant problems.
Leadership is simple. Unfortunately, it has been revered and placed on a high pedestal, out of reach to most of us common folk. If it was ever knowable, it has become less so over the years. There is some belief that it belongs to a previous heroic age and is incompatible with participative management. Some people also question whether concepts such as democracy and equality are compatible with leadership. Although I did for years share these concerns, they all disappeared as I developed and practiced the Whats, Whys and Hows of my book.
Changing Workplace Performance
Unfortunately, bosses tend to believe their job is mainly one of giving orders. This consists of Choosing the goals and the visions, directing actions by their employees to get there and then checking for the results. Bad results simply call for some form of re-direction.
But from the boss’s "leadership", their employees have already computed a set of Value Standards which they are using every day in the execution of their tasks. Let's call these the “HOW TO’S” of doing the job and admit that they will determine the success or failure of the employee's endeavors and that they emanate from the boss, not from the subordinate. “HOW TO’S” are how industriously, compliantly to rules, cooperatively, neatly, cleanly, creatively, safely, independently, resourcefully, confidently, qualitatively, compassionately, enthusiastically and similar standards.
So if the boss is unhappy with the results which subordinates are achieving, he/she must change the support and direct management functions so as to communicate higher Good Value Standards. Only after these changes lead subordinates to use higher Standards can the boss expect performance improvement. In effect, subordinates are always waiting for the boss to change before they themselves can change. An example may shed some light.
Bill joins the work force and soon is told by a foreman that the work cannot proceed because he must wait for a part. So Bill puts his hands in his pockets or sits down to WAIT. The foreman says nothing more. The next day it's waiting for a welder and so on. Soon, Bill gets the message that doing nothing is OK as long as there is a good Excuse. No matter that he could do something else or could figure out what's missing before starting a job and thus go to one that requires no waiting.
Bill probably didn’t believe he would be paid to stand around doing nothing. Likewise, Bill would not pay a plumber to fix his own sink if that plumber Chose to stand around doing nothing in Bill's house. But Bill as a Follower easily falls into becoming unproductive. What if Bill was a non-follower and used his own Value Standards to decide his actions? Would be doing a better job?
There may be a multitude of similar bad influences or low Value Standards being transmitted in the workplace. Bosses must be able to detect these problems and provide workable solutions to use in changing each and thereby improve the Standard being transmitted for each Value.
About the author:
This article is based on the book “Leadership Skills - How to Unleash the Power of People” by Bennet Simonton. Ben managed people for over 30 years, his last position being the executive in charge of 1000+ unionized employees responsible for overhauling the boilers, turbines and auxiliaries of fossil and nuclear electric generating stations for a large electric utility company. Ben now provides leadership coaching and training for executives, managers and supervisors. His book is available at http://www.bensimonton.com/
Managing people would seem to be just another discipline, just another area in which a body of knowledge, including theory, has been accumulated. This knowledge should form the basis for a set of discrete, definable procedures which if followed should yield the desired results. But “should” never occurs on any day of the week. If it had, there would be no need for my book. Read More >Bennet Simonton Articles
Leadership is the art of influencing people, which requires delegation to be effective. Delegation is the art or process of assigning specific duties and responsibilities to subordinates in an organization. Delegation comes in different forms and leaders must be familiar with these forms in order to make good delegation decisions.
One such form is what I call general delegation, which means leaders delegate responsibilities as a way of training the next generation of leaders in their organizations. This delegation is important because it helps preserve the mission and vision of the organization. Another form is crisis delegation, where the leaders delegate duties and responsibilities to subordinates when a crisis, such as when a leader is absent from the organization for a prolonged time (e.g hospitalized or attending to a sick relative). Therefore, leaders must delegate responsibilities and duties during times of crisis in order for the organization to continue operating. It is important to remember that, with the delegation of duties, the leader who delegates is still responsible and accountable for the delegated duties. Any mistakes or errors committed by subordinates when carrying out the delegated duties still rest with that leader.
When leaders delegate some of their responsibilities and duties, they benefit in some ways from the process. First, delegating tasks removes some of the duties from the leaders; subordinates perform these duties so leaders can concentrate in areas where the organization will benefit most, like the negotiation of contracts that benefit the whole organization. Second, by delegating tasks leaders can groom future leaders because subordinates will learn how the organization works at a higher level; when it is time for the subordinate to take over, they will have already learned the necessary skills for the positions. Third, delegation, when done properly, will raise the morale of subordinates in the organization because it will show them that the leadership believes that they can be trusted to do delegated work. Fourth, proper delegation also improves trust between subordinates and leadership which tends to lead to a cohesive organization. Fifth, when duties are delegated to subordinates, efficiency increases because duties are given to people whose skills match the delegated duties, thereby freeing time for the leader to concentrate on other important duties of the organization. For example, there is no reason for a leader to be keeping daily records of who is reporting to work when that work can be done by subordinates with expressed instructions to report the progress back to the leader.
Delegation is not always easy for some leaders; there are many reasons as to why they fear to do it. First, they are afraid of being outshined by the subordinates who performs the delegated work well. Because of this, leaders find it difficult to delegate. Second, some leaders fear that they will not be recognized for the work done by the subordinates and, thus, refuse to delegate. Recognition is important for moving up the leadership ladders in some organizations. Third, some leaders refuse to delegate because they fear that they will lose the trained subordinate to a rival organization that might use that subordinate to compete with the leader’s organization. Fourth, some leaders fear to delegate because they feel that something important has been removed from their responsibilities. As a result, they keep all their duties. Fifth, some leaders in organizations develop preconceived ideas about subordinates that prevents them from delegating duties and responsibilities to them. It is a sad situation, but it happens in some organizations and hinders the cohesiveness of the organization. In the long term, such thinking affects productivity. Sixth, the fear of being exposed as a leader who does not understand his/her job can cause a leader to limit the delegation of duties until he/she acquires the competence needed in the position. No leader wants to be exposed by subordinates for not understanding how the organization runs. Seventh, in some organizations, there is a shortage of staff shortage, so leaders keep all duties and responsibilities that pertain to their jobs. Eighth, some leaders fear that if they delegate responsibilities and duties to subordinates, they will lose control of them because they will know too much of what goes on in the organization, causing top leadership to ignores directives from the leader. What this kind of leader forgets is that those delegated duties eventually land on his/her desk for approval, which means such fear is unfounded. Ninth, in some organizations staff tend to be lazy, which makes leaders not want to delegate some of their responsibilities to them out of fear that they will not manage those duties well. Finally, inadequate training of staff also tends to make leaders fear delegating some responsibilities to subordinates because they think they will not do the delegated duties as per the instructions given.
To be effective in the delegation of duties and responsibilities leaders must do the following. First, they must give clear instructions on what should be done for the delegated duties and, when they are completed, to whom to report. Second, leaders must avoid over delegating their responsibilities because they might be perceived as over relying on the subordinates for the accomplishment of organizational duties. It might also affect the performance of subordinates. Third, leaders must always praise their subordinates when they successfully complete the delegated duties and tasks. Such praise tends to boost subordinates’ morale at the work place, thereby increasing productivity. Fourth, micro-managing the subordinates when duties and responsibilities have been delegated will increase mistrust because the subordinates will think that the leader does not have confidence in them to complete the assigned tasks. Therefore, leaders must at all times avoid micro-managing the subordinates to whom they delegate responsibilities and instead should monitor them from a far. Fifth, effective delegation requires leaders to provide adequate information on the duties and responsibilities of the delegated positions so that the subordinates will perform the duties efficiently. Sixth, when delegating duties, leaders must ensure that subordinates do not fear anything will happen to them if the delegated duties are not performed at an acceptable level. They must reassure subordinates that the failure to reach the acceptable level will be a teachable moment for them to improve as they repeat the same duties. Removing the fear will encourage subordinates to perform well without the fear of retribution. Seventh, for leaders to know how subordinates are doing in their delegated duties and responsibilities, they should always request feedback from them in order to monitor their progress. In requesting feedback, the leaders will know when corrections are needed or where more resources are required for better performance of the delegated duties and responsibilities. Finally, before duties are actually delegated, subordinates must be trained on them. Without proper training, subordinates will be hesitant to take up delegated responsibilities due to a fear of failure.
As a social function, delegation is based on the trust that leaders have in their subordinates that they will accomplish the delegated duties successfully. Yet it remains a calculated risk, as delegation does not guarantee success on the delegated duties. On the other hand, for leaders to be successful and effective in running organizations efficiently, delegation is necessary. Without delegation, leaders might be overwhelmed by duties that might be done well by subordinates’, thereby freeing time for them to concentrate on other duties that might benefit the organization.
*Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net
Leadership is the art of influencing people, which requires delegation to be effective. Delegation is the art or process of assigning specific duties and responsibilities to subordinates in an organization. Delegation comes in different forms and leaders must be familiar with these forms in order to make good delegation decisions. Read More >Dr. Obed Nyaribo, DBA Articles
Respected consultant, educator and author, Paul Thornton has a positive and stirring question he has asked throughout his career. “Am I helping individuals, teams and organizations to achieve their best performance?” He continues, “That’s what leaders do. They help people become more and achieve more than they ever thought possible”. This reoccurring question, along with 20 years of experience has guided Thornton to write his latest book, Leadership (Seeing, Describing, and Pursuing What’s Possible).
Composed of 17 short chapters, Leadership is a quick read and an interesting collection of leadership discoveries and observations by Thornton. This relevant and absorbing information is organized very well. The first 4 chapters lay the foundation for the entire book. Chapter 1 begins by offering a broad yet helpful definition of what leadership is. Like building blocks, the following chapters include a discussion of leadership context, desire, values and beliefs. Later chapters include Thornton’s guidance on existing Leadership models, leading organizational change, and leadership development. Each chapter concludes with a summary and the book concludes with a number of brief leadership case studies.
A major strength of Leadership is its ability to provide essential and basic leadership knowledge in a writing style that is easy to read and comprehend. Even though the author is a full-time college professor, he does not write like many academics who seem to be more interested in demonstrating their large vocabulary rather than imparting useful information to the reader.
If you desire to read a book about the real power of leadership in an effective way that “gets to the point”, Leadership needs to be on your bookshelf.
To read a weLEAD book review on Triangles of Leadership and Management by Paul Thornton, click here!
To read a weLEAD book review on Be the Leader – Make the Difference by Paul Thornton, click here!
weLEAD rating – highly recommended
Respected consultant, educator and author, Paul Thornton has a positive and stirring question he has asked throughout his career. “Am I helping individuals, teams and organizations to achieve their best performance?” Read More >Articles
Greg L. Thomas wrote this book deliberately to remind his readers of what principled-living is all about. I am reminded almost daily of the poor decisions made by others who unbelievably feel the correct way to treat others is through lying, cheating, corruption or deception. This is done by many individuals simply to move ahead in this world. Living by honest and ethical principles seems to be an out-dated way of personal conduct that was once an expected part of our culture. Sadly, intentionally hurting our fellow man has become socially acceptable in today’s modern world and our organizations. To many, the end results now justify the means… by whatever means are possible to gain an advantage.
The dictionary states that a “principle,” is an accepted or professed rule of action, or conduct. For example, a person of good moral principles accepts those morals as personally valuable, or a rule of conduct. This is exactly how Greg L Thomas describes the 12 Principles in his book. They are endorsed as “accepted professional conduct,” with positive results by using good moral principles.
As you read this book, you will discover the one clear undeniable fact… these principles are meant for each of us to live by if we truly want to become successful. We cannot expect others to follow us without first living by the principles ourselves, hence the name in the title, “personal leadership.” As the author describes in the book, personal leadership is about making yourself a better person by growing from the inside out and not allowing outside circumstances to determine who you are, or how you should live. By changing yourself first, you will have the moral right to coach and expect others to change and grow as individuals. I was truly captivated and intrigued throughout the whole book because Thomas uses many personal examples from his own life, as well as examples of past historical leaders to show how the principles apply. He discusses their struggles and how by living the 12 Principles they were able to overcome difficult obstacles. I even learned some interesting history about the ethics of my American forefathers!
Greg L Thomas gives you a blueprint on how to apply, (in order), all twelve principles. Pay particular attention to principles number ten and twelve. Principle ten is titled, “Know Thyself” and Thomas asks us to candidly take an inventory within ourselves. He encourages us to truly understand who we are on the inside, not who we think we are. Only by honestly answering this question and correcting any of our deficiencies, will we be able to live a life without duplicity. You will need to read the book in its original chapter order to appreciate why principle twelve is so powerful. You will soon discover… when reading this final principle why the other eleven principles are so deeply rooted within it, and the author.
I would not be exaggerating when I say that I felt Thomas’s passion as I read each individual principle and understood why they are so important to him. The enthusiasm comes through because he uses them himself to practice personal leadership. The last chapter was cleverly written because he demonstrates how much more powerful the first eleven principles can be when principle twelve is applied. As I mentioned earlier, the definition of personal leadership is about making yourself a better person, and inspiring others around you to become greater as well. Thomas writes this book to let the reader know how he has grown to become a “servant” leader”, and to outline how you too can become a dynamic leader of others as well. The question remains… can these principles be learned in the business world? I believe if we stop the “quick fixes” or the selfish “give me what I want” attitude that so many possess today, we can make our organizations, and our world a better place to live. Greg L Thomas hit a homerun with this book and I for one will continue to practice and teach these valuable principles of personal leadership.
Making Life’s Puzzle Pieces Fit
Using The Twelve Principles of Personal Leadership
Xlibris - 2009 (150 pages hardback)
Author Greg L. Thomas
weLEAD Rating – highly recommended
Greg L. Thomas wrote this book deliberately to remind his readers of what principled-living is all about. I am reminded almost daily of the poor decisions made by others who unbelievably feel the correct way to treat others is through lying, cheating, corruption or deception. Read More >Ken Altenbach Articles