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Monday, September 26, 2011

Change Doesn't Just Happen

When you think of leaders, several traits come to mind;
  • Dynamic
  • Compassionate
  • Intelligent
  • Risk Taker
  • Decisive
  • Communicator
and several others. One that you don't hear often is a catalyst.  Dictionary.com offers the following definitions for catalyst
  1. a person or thing that precipitates an event or change
  2. a person whose talk, enthusiasm or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic or energetic
Many organizations, like Ebsco are moving responsibility and accountability to the entire team.  The team members are moving into new territory.  In the past team members waited for someone to tell them what and how and then executed.  In the new organization the team members are moving into the role of determining the whats and whys.  They have the knowledge and want to participate but this is a new roll for them.  Effective leaders in this new organization must become catalyst.

Team members will be apprehensive in this new role.  I can assure you that they have a great deal to say but will be apprehensive to talk in this new situation.  The effective leader must be a catalyst, creating enthusiasm within the group and reassure them of managements support. 

The leader will need to address three situations within the group;
  • Create enthusiasm in all members to participate and assure them of management support
  • Offer the group specific topics and examples to start the dialog
  • Push the group beyond ideas into implementation
Individuals will need to be encouraged to participate.  This is a new role for them.  Leaders will need to assure them that their input will be utilized.  Team members need to feel confident they can speak freely.  Management must create excitement within team members that they now have a say in the organization. Beyond simply being engaged, team members must be excited and have passion for the opportunities in their new role.

After you have assembled a group of passionate team members they may need help starting.  This is a new role for them.  Management should offer examples of what they want from the team and give them examples of how they would tackle the situation.  Management must be cautious in providing too much guidance.  The examples provided should just give the team a spark on where and how to start.  Any more will be kill the individuals enthusiasm.

One of the biggest issues in any organization is taking a concept to reality.  The new group, when sparked will have several ideas and solutions.  In most cases they will have no idea on how to bring the concept into practice.  The leader will need to stress to the group they are responsible from idea to implementation.  The group may need some guidance on where to go to next,  The leader must be available to them and provide the resources they need to succeed.

 In participatory organizations leaders must shift their roles away from directing and become catalyst for action.  As the team begins accepting responsibility for the organization, leaders must focus on creating the environment for the team to succeed.  An effective leader will become the spark to ignite the talent and passion of the team.

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

LEADERSHIP How Do You Know When You Get There

Leaders always set goals.  People need to know when they have arrived. Goals tell us when we arrive.  Good leaders always paint a picture of what it looks like when we succeed. Most leaders are good at this. BUT  How many leaders can paint a picture of success in their role?  What is the picture when they have succeeded as a leader?  Ask ten leaders and you may get ten answers and I will differ with all of them.  I would like to propose my picture of what it looks like to succeed as a leader.

To paint the picture I think we first must look at common definitions that do not work.

A successful leader beats the competition.
Beats the competition at what?  What is the companies vision?  Is it to be the biggest?  Is it to have the best customer service?  Is the victory achieved by short term strategies and can't be maintained?  Beating the competition does not necessarily measure a successful leader.

A successful leaders meets or exceeds all goals.
Who set the goals, the leader?  Were the goals a stretch?  Do the goals align with the long term goals of the company?  Are the methods used to meet the goals sustainable or were they short term tactics?  Simply meeting goals, usually established by the leader spell true success as a leader.

A successful leaders achieves record sales for the company.
If the company has performed poorly in the past is record sales really a success?  If you cut costs and profits to obtain sales is that successful?  Sales only are not a measure of success.

A successful leaders achieves record profits.
You can slash payroll and capital investment for a year and achieve record profits, ONE TIME, is that a success?  If you raise prices and lower quality you can see a one time record profit but is that a success when all of your customers leave the following years?

A successful leader achieves record customer service scores.
If you throw payroll at the company you can increase customer service scores, but what about profit?  Even with satisfied customers, you can't sustain losses.

Looking at these common definitions it's clear that all of the above are factors to success but no single one measures success.  To say a good balance of all of the above spells success may be accurate but is very difficult to define.  The leader must establish the right combination of each will take the company to the intended destination. 

So how do we paint a picture of a successful leader?  How do we measure when we have achieved success?

To say one has achieved success as a leader.... the operation will continue and achieve the same results in the leaders absence as it would if they were there.

That's it, my definition for success as a leader. A successful leaders is the least needed person in the organization when it comes to day to day operations.  A successful leader effectively communicates his vision and culture to the entire team. Everyone knows where the company is going.  They train individuals to do their jobs. everyone knows how to do it.  They push things down through delegation.  Everyone shares the responsibility.  They instill ownership. Everyone takes responsibility. They encourage risk taking and individual thinking. No one is afraid to make decisions.  They create a motivating environment.  everyone is excited about the journey. they create team work so everyone shares in the process.
When a leader accomplishes this, the team takes off toward the vision usually leaving the leader in the dust.  What an exciting organization.  This allows the leader to sit back and observe the environment, looking for opportunities and hazards.  They can refine their vision and prepare for tomorrow.

A leader that has built his organization to be self sufficient without his input is the definition of a success.  Their team will be engaged taking ownership of the organization.  The leader will then have time to chart the next step for the organization. 

Funny to think that when you're needed the least, you have achieved success.

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