LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: YOUR ROLE AS LEADER
So what does it take to be an effective leader today? The essence of leadership is still character. The essence of character is integrity, passion, curiosity, daring and a guiding vision, without which a leader doesn't know what he/she wants to do or where he/she wants to go. Unlike the old command-and-control style, those who want to be leaders in the 21st century will have to be highly flexible and have a broad range of skills. In order to lead and keep great people, leaders must be articulate, energetic, empowering and be capable of building consensus. They must be willing to inspire and develop a personal approach that lets them tap into the endless source of ideas, innovation, know-how and knowledge of the people they lead.
Awareness a key to a leader’s success:
Better awareness of self, others and the world outside your particular organization is a key attribute to being an effective leader. Self-awareness is about the most important “emotional competency” required in developing a successful career – especially for leaders. So important and vital is awareness of self that an individual who is unaware of his/her strengths, competencies and blind spots or how he/she impacts others most likely will not become all that they can be… or create disasters, which can negatively impact their careers and organizations.
Effective leadership development is contingent on the individuals' ability to accurately assess them self. The development of self-awareness is an integral part of management development as well as personal career development. To reach full potential as a leader or individual, you need a good handle on where you stand. It is wise to head the dictum: “Know Thyself.”
A key benefit to knowing yourself is the by-product of gaining an understanding of others. As you gain the knowledge of your strengths, personality type, how you learn and process information and knowledge, you will then begin to realize how much the same and at the same time, different we all are. You will gain a greater appreciation of the complexity of individuals and organizations. We can gain awareness of self and others by using various assessment instruments and by effectively listening to and asking for feedback from others. You can’t learn while you’re doing all the talking. Listen to learn!
Awareness of what is going on outside your organization can be obtained by reading, networking, attending conferences, traveling to new places, being involved in your community or in industry related organizations. Quite often these venues provide interesting new information and knowledge which can be applied to your career and the operation of your business.
Alignment, (focus) a key role of leadership
Alignment means the leader must ensure that individuals are focused on, evaluated and rewarded for the production of results which support the overall direction of the enterprise. Such alignment does not occur automatically. Leaders have to carefully and continuously ensure that processes, systems and communication is in place which enhances the possibility that all stakeholders are moving in the right direction.
Leadership creates the vision, mission, culture and the strategies to ensure all are accomplished. Imagine two railroad tracks with many crossover switches. On the right is the “operational track” which defines tasks, tactics, goals and organization business objectives. This is the track that most organizations ride all the time. On the left is the “cultural track” which defines the organizational values and the behaviors people should use to achieve overall strategy of the organization. This is the track that is always there but many organizations don't pay to much attention to it. As the organization drives for success, all individuals need to continually switch tracks using both operational and cultural information to get to their destination. This is a picture of “alignment in action.”
Eight steps for the leader to use in attaining alignment:
1. Identify and articulate the corporate mission and vision.
2. Identify and describe key business/operating goals.
3. Identify and define key cultural values and behaviors.
4. Establish agreement on strategies needed to attain organizational goals.
5. Establish agreement on tactics required to support the organizational strategies.
6. Establish performance goals needed by all stakeholders at all levels.
7. Establish how results will be measure.
8. Balance the rewards to reflect progress in both tracks.
Leaders must keep the overall picture in focus by understanding that people view it through various filters and lenses. Continuous “fine tuning” is required if all are to see the same future and understand their roles in achieving it.
Behavior is a key role of leadership
“Your actions are so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying,” observed Ralph Waldo Emerson. Every time a leader sends a message, he or she is providing “two” mes¬sages: One is the content (what the leader wants done) and the other is the process or style (how the leader conveys it). The latter is at least as important as the former, be¬cause it provides the cultural context for the recipients.
No matter what the nature of your organization, few people in it believe what they see and hear. They mainly believe what they see. There is no more powerful shaper of behavior in the organization than the behaviors of those in leadership positions. Above all else, the leader is an exemplar. Caution: As a leader you are continuously swimming in a fish bowl for all eyes to see.
As a leader – Model the Way – Set the Example! Leaders establish the behavioral realities of the workplace. Above all else, they establish and embody the “real” values of the organization and, by extension, its relationships with customers, suppliers and partners. When leaders demonstrate in their own actions that customers are the number one priority (i.e., leaving an internal meeting because a customer is on the phone), employees will reflect that in their innovative service and proactive contact.
Eight behaviors exemplifying sound leadership:
1. Leaders are accessible and responsive
2. Leaders accept prudent risks
3. Leaders beliefs are reflected in their behaviors
4. Leaders accept personal accountability
5. Leaders invest others with trust
6. Leaders share credit and victories
7. Leaders allow the freedom to fail
8. Leaders are continuously developing others
Visioning or painting a picture of the future is a key role of a leader
Without a vision of the company’s future, people will focus on what the company is today. Their decisions and actions will perpetuate the current state of affairs or, worse, yesterday’s state of affairs.
When leaders provide as clear a picture of the future – clarifying ambiguity and painting in as much detail as possible – that picture of the future becomes the template that employees can use to guide their daily decision making. Is this supplier consistent with that quality goal? Does this policy with customers help us to achieve that market penetration? Will this pricing policy help us to achieve the image we’re seeking?
The lack of a clear vision and strategy means that every wind and tide will affect the course of the organization. Competitors, economic conditions, governmental regulations and societal trends will have more of an influence than they should, rather than simply being conditions to deal with on your way to your desired future. With a clear vision employees will perceive these events for what they are and remain focused on the direction set before them.
To paint a clear vision of the future, answer the following six questions:
1. What will the enterprise look like, structurally?
2. How will the organization interact with its customers?
3. What are the primary goals and measures of success?
4. How will the organization interact internally?
5. Which performance measures will be most valued?
6. How can individual stakeholder’s best contribute to the goals?
In other words, where are we going, how will we get there, how will we know that we’re making progress, and what is my role during the journey? Paint with bold strokes and vivid colors. If you make a mistake, correct it. Even great painters are constantly improving what is on their canvas.
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About Ingbretsen Consulting LLC:
Coach and author Roger Ingbretsen is a certified executive coach and organizational developer, providing organizational and career guidance to professionals, managers, supervisors and all individuals looking for "real world" career development and business information. His entrepreneurial approach will help you learn how to plan, lead and succeed in your career. Roger is the creator of the “Leadership Development Coaching Experience©” and author of the personal development reference eBooks, “Plan Your Career Now: The Survival Guide for the American Workplace” and “Master Your Career: Proven Strategies for Career Success©.” To know more and claim dozens of Rogers free articles go to www.ingbretsen.com or call 509 999 7008.