You can’t lead without having an engaged audience or followers. And how do you get an engaged audience?
Whilst a lot has been written and even more spoken about leadership, we still have an issue of fair to poor leadership in many organizations.
Is this scenario because of we can’t develop leadership skills or we simply don’t believe leadership can’t be taught or, as adults we just can’t unlearn in order to re-learn new skills?
In today’s business climate, being sustainable i.e. having an ethically viable and profitable brand over long-term, should be one of the three key business priorities. The other two priorities stem from sustainability and are organisational sustainability and financial sustainability.
To deliver on making the business sustainable, strong and dynamic leadership is critical. Critical in order to have a brand that is respected and is engaged with its stakeholders.
In the journey of making a brand sustainable (and it’s not a program/project that will bear fruit in a year, mind you!) organisational leadership is critical and key to success.
Leadership, that has the emotional & intellectual maturity to, engage the organisation’s rank and file on a one to one in order to have a motivated group of followers who understand their role and appreciate the challenge is must- have. Well, that’s easier said than done!
To engage and endear themselves, leaders have to approach the staff at various levels using various methods. And leaders have to remind themselves that the ‘status and power they have and use to drive business socially’ is for the external world.
Not for staff.
Leaders need to have the ability to compartmentalize their behaviour between how they represent the brand externally and internally.
Without an engaged rank and file behind the leader, delivering the image projected externally becomes fraught with danger.
Thus, endangering the brand’s sustainability.
And without the brand being sustainable, the organisation’s sustainability and its financial sustainability simply fades out of the long-term picture.
- Top 10 Leadership Qualities According to IBM (themarlincompany.com)
1. Our leadership styles and
2. The organisational climate those styles had created
This post is not about the details of that workshop but more about the take-outs I, personally, had. Two take outs, specially, I believe are of value to anyone leading a team in any circumstances.
1. Empathy:Whilst there are many leadership styles, depending on the school of thought and particular model used, one key factor for a leader to be respected, as a leader, is empathy. Empathy for and with one’s team enables a leader to connect, first, on a humane level, and secondly, be able to understand the perspective of his team-mate. This helps greatly in understanding the effectiveness of the team-mate and aids in assisting the team-mate with regards to any issues and problems.
2. Situational: The leadership style used is purely situational. Depending on the task at hand, the objective to be achieved and the timeline, a leader uses the best leadership style, in his armoury, to get the job done efficiently and effectively.
With these two key factors, when leading a team, a third critical factor comes into play– EI– Emotional Intelligence. A lot has been written about EI and I’m not going to labour what is EI or how one should know one’s EI and thus use it in conjunction with the points mentioned earlier.
What I will highlight is the importance of EI when one is responsible for being a leader.
As a leader it is imperative that you know yourself i.e. you are aware of your identity, personality and the image you are perceived as. Knowing this enables you to regulate your interactions with another person as each interaction will have an objective. Many of us go into inter-personal interaction without a thought on this area. We act and each of these acts have an impact or an effect. We, through our behaviour, are the cause and in turn receive back the effect. Thus, if as a leader, you are unsure of your identity and self value, the input that you provide in an interaction, be it personal or professional, can be direction-less. Result– the effect is not as you desired!
Understanding your own EI starts with knowing one’s self. Knowing one’s values and one’s principles that those values create. This leads to a particular identity of self, which then one knowingly projects.
Having managed brands for over two decades now, let me assure you that the process of developing a brand identity, is not different from developing one’s personal brand. Today personal branding has become a buzz word. But at the core of it all, lies self-identification and a maturity in knowing and accepting one’s self. This is the cornerstone of EI in a professional setting.
Summing it up, whilst we will all attend various leadership development courses, in our career, the critical point is that of self-inflection that such a course creates.
Use the data provided (by the leadership survey) to reflect inward honestly. And in order to do that one has to have very high EQ. A self-inflection, if done positively can work wonders for the leader and for his or her team. It shows up practically immediately in the inter-personal interactions and in the work output. The change is tangibly noticeable.
So if you are leading from the front, start with some constructive feedback on your leadership and ensure you are grounded and part of your team.
- Criteria for Leadership: Inspiration, Courage, and Empathy (leadershipoutofthebox.wordpress.com)
- Business Leader Richard Zahn Says “Emotional Intelligence” is Critical to Leadership (virtual-strategy.com)
Just as shifting city and home and moving to a new place has its initial period of anxiety, change for an organisation in its business direction and operational processes, brings in anxiety, insecurity and with it a plethora of questions. This can and usually does affect the brand in the market-place.
Change in any form is uncomfortable for us humans. We are creatures of habit and habit breeds its own sense of comfort and discomfort. Take for example our daily work day routine. If one of the items in our daily ‘routine’ goes out of whack, we get irritated and are at a bit of a loss.
Business activities are managed by humans and thus when an organisation implements change from what it had done; it brings about a fair bit of response. Some good, some not so good and some downright harmful to the business. The ‘enthusiasts’ (or early adopters) latch on to the big picture that the changed direction portrays and willingly start to move forward in the new direction. The ‘yes sir/no sir’ (followers) go onto a ‘wait and watch’ mode to try gauge which way is the wind blowing. Lastly comes the ‘resistant brigade’! A group who clings on desperately to yesteryears and falls back on the achievements of the past years.
Each of these groups effect the brand’s identity in many ways:
1. Enthusiasts: In their eagerness to contribute to the new strategic direction rush into activity without deeply evaluating the ability of the brand to deliver on it and the long-term benefit (of the activity) to the brand and recruiting necessary manpower to deliver on the new mandates. Often the enthusiasts end up being the “Lone Ranger”—working long hours and alone leading to quick burnouts when operating at very high stress levels due to continuous delivery demands of tasks.
2. Followers: This group’s indecisiveness and inability to ask for clarity (and understanding) leads them to either do the work activity wrong or to take too long over it and thus deliver well after the timeline is gone. In effect, making the task inefficient.
3. Resistant Brigade: Often the largest group, these try to push back through the “this is how it was done” process with the intention that if continuous resistance can be applied by using defunct processes and bureaucratic red-tape then the enthusiasts would either burn their fire out or leave (attrition). All the resistance group succeeds in doing is (i) wasting critical time and (ii) damaging the brand image.
So, how do we manage to bring these groups to play ball together:
- Transparency: Line managers have to understand the change and explain, at length, how that change is beneficial (or required) and tie it back to the individual roles of staff and their function with regards to the effect it has on the brand’s identity.
- Top-down Leadership: Senior management has to have, in place, a support ‘team’ selected from rank & file (so as to assist in the detail work) to ensure successful delivery of key projects that would help to bring about the required change. This team should be provided written mandate as authority to put in place new processes and work flow to enable work flow change to take hold.
- HR in the Forefront: HR needs to be at the forefront in terms of evaluation of staff’s skills and capabilities to deliver on the new work flow. Planning for training and skills up-gradation become a priority.
- Deadline: An end target date for achievement of certain critical projects needs to be up in front. Critical projects that affect the brand identity (and image) should be selected from the pool of projects that is in active stage and be project managed through specific project teams.
What is the benefit of doing this?
- Easier management of key projects that achieve success– A holistic approach that identifies which are the critical projects and provides priority. This aids the organisation to have focus in their daily activity thus ensuring achievement of the planned revenue growth coupled with delivering the desired image.
- Putting in place a, small core team i.e. “the A-Team” so to speak that cuts across critical functions and champions the specific change management projects. This is the team on which senior management depends upon to take the brand forward internally.
- Getting efficient work flow processes in place which aid in forward planning of daily work.
Whilst change is never easy to manage or administer, the above are small steps which can help any organisation manage the daily process more effectively.
- Change Is Good: J Is for Justification (slalom.com)
Dec 31, 2012 has rolled around amidst all the cacophony that global crisis of all sorts created. Time continues its relentless march without missing a beat and we celebrate yet another New Year’s Eve tonight.
End of the year is always a period of introspection and resolutions. And I’d like to give my thanks to my readers for their support, comments, tips and their shares of the posts here. Many thanks. It’s heartening to know that you like the content that’s made available.
This end of the year post focusses on a snapshot of key learnings that has been shared over the year, on strategic business management, on leadership and, most importantly, on the importance of strategy that has continuity and community at its core.
Here’s a quick list of 4 key learnings each:
Strategic Business Management
- Manage your business division, unit or organisation as if its your own.
- Bring into your day-to-day management the ability to trust your team and to provide them clarity when required.
- Ensure clarity in all the business that you undertake– clarity in communication; clarity in the roles of the team members; clarity in the direction the business is to be taken.
- Communicate– Listen well and not just hear. Sometimes we miss critical communications due to noise created by simply keeping up with the ‘to-do’ list!
- Lead by example and not through position power.
- Be empathetic of your core team– understand their pressure points in order to assist them. Surround your weak areas with skills that others in your team provide.
- Use the Pause, effectively– Stop, now and then and check! Check how team mates are doing; Check for feedback on your leadership; Check for perception vs reality.
- Be grounded– Make time and roll up your sleeves and work at ground zero now and then to have a feel for what your team does in order to make you (their leader) look good.
Strategic Continuity & Community
- Involve yourself in developing the long-term strategy fully i.e. work the details. This way, the team,the organisation & you will have the entire strategy imbedded in your minds! This aids in the long-run, specially when key team members would have to be on ground for delivery, by ensuring your Ateam is on the same page and same line.
- Encourage community or the businesses eco-system to participate in the organisation’s strategic journey. Thereby you would ensure participation as well as consumption.
- Whilst developing strategic alternatives, never throw away the PlanB. Keep contingency planning a priority and remember Murphy’s law!
- In entering new markets, ensure strong relationships with key community circles, are present in order to create the positive perception that your organisation would need.
Signing off for this year, here’s wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year and may success & health be with you all through 2013.
I was going through some of my 2012 reading articles that I had liked and kept. One, in particular, stood out.
The headline says it all. Quite a provoking question!
Do we strive to be good at what we do at work, or is it all about having a skill that can be employed for any cause? And, therefore, we keep the ‘doing good‘ i.e. taking up a cause etc for the after work hours?
Well here’s the article from Fast Company. Have a read and I’d be delighted to hear your views on this, in here:
The changing business landscape has resulted in many an organisation scrambling to evaluate, understand and use resources it has in-house and competencies competitively. There’s no one-size-fits-all sort of model in order to do this. It’s a painstaking process but one that’s’ really worth it, if you want to ensure long-term success.
In this post I’m putting forth three tips that would help you evaluate, understand your resources and competencies and help you develop a successful, long-term strategy.
- Clarity: Provide clarity to your senior functional heads and their teams on what are the business goals and how the organisation can achieve it. Clearly identify what are the key competencies available and ask your senior team members to evaluate if those competencies can deliver the service of the organisation, in market, by the resource available. By providing clarity on what are the business goals and the competencies that (as a leader) you see, the entire organisation knows what areas are their key strength and how to support the same to have the competitive advantage.
- Understanding: Evaluate the competencies on the basis of:
- Is there competent human resource in key functions?
- Is there a culture of cross-functional team work in order to deliver on time and with quality?
- Is there a need to invest in specific technology?
3. Cultivating: A competency mindset that:
- No Silos–Thinks of individual business units as profit centers yet has line of sight with the organisational business goals and engages cross-functionally, in order to contribute to the same positively.
- Accountability with Empowerment: Identify and empower staff, behind key competencies and ensure understanding that the competencies are a corporate resource and not of an individual business unit. Hold them accountable for performance deliverables.
- Responsibility: Empower your functional heads by giving them the responsibility of getting them to identify what are the investment requirements and to what extent should each unit contribute to it.
As you go through the process of evaluation and understanding of the competencies and resources available, you would be able to identify where (in your business units) you need to push in resources in order to support the existing competencies. This would lead to the ability to deliver substantially in market and thereby building image and stakeholder loyalty.
- Ditch Your Strategy, Keep Your Vision (inc.com)
Does all organisations succeed in this? Yes & No!
Some organisations manage to successfully have in place work flow processes that enable individuals to literally operate robotically! Cost saving and some healthy margins are the reward for the organisation. But for employees? Well, that’s another post for another day. Some organisations simply lurch on day-to-day using a process that’s sort of a process and is simply just how the work is done.
For an organisation to successfully achieve its business goals, year in and year out, having a well thought through strategic direction is important. But more important is clarity of roles and functions that the team needs to have in order to deliver on those directions supplemented by clear processes.
However all of these come to nought if the attitude is not progressive and pro-active. No matter how good the systems and processes are it all boils down to a human emotional trait called ‘attitude’. Without the individual attitudinally looking to self-improve and set the benchmark bar higher, no amount of systems and processes can assist in obtaining the desired quality output.
So how can an organisation get a pro-active and progressive attitude within its team?
- Listen: We hear but do we listen? The corridor chats, the lunch catch-ups and after office tea chats amongst colleagues are reflective of the pulse of the organisation. Catch your key executives off-line and spend a bit of time in listening and understanding what the organisation is feeling.
- Empower: We always have accountability and hand in hand with that the responsibility. Whilst these two twins often are the single most reason for acute stress in us, what is lacking at times, is empowerment of the executive i.e. being provided the authority to be a decision- maker and be evaluated on that basis. Officially empower your best lieutenants and observe the progress that occurs.
- Clarity: Check, then re-check and then again cross-check. We’ve all heard that when we have data to analyse or financials to present. Similarly, provide clarity to key people of their role and function and the purpose or reason why it’s them and not others. Repeat as necessary until the recipient is crystal clear on the message you are sending and the result you want.
- Employee Engagement: The difference between ordinary and extraordinary (staffmotivationmatters.co.uk)
- Why Organisations Fail (cloudconversations.wordpress.com)