Global Executive Blog
of this blog is to share ideas, inspiration, tactics, tools, and sometimes levity to the awesome responsibility of being a
leader. In this blog the word “leader” is used in a broad context. The blog will focus largely on
leadership in the world of work; however what we will be discussing will have application in other life situations as well.
Whether a person has formal authority (title, position, etc.) or not, we all find ourselves, at least from time to
time, in a leadership role. Leadership is behavior not a title. Leadership is about relationships. In the
roles that we perform in our lives, if we influence people – we are, at least in that moment, a leader.
Perhaps what we discuss in this blog will be something that you can apply immediately to your situation or maybe
it will be “food for thought” to help you along on your lifelong leadership journey. Yes, a journey.
Becoming an effective leader is a lifelong journey.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Role of a Leader (part 1)
7:58 am edt
What’s the difference between a leader and a manager?
has been almost an age old quandary about the distinction between leadership and management. In our organizations we
have lots of people with the title of manager. And while they may have a manager title, if they are working with people
– their role with people is one of leadership. I believe the distinction “we manage things and lead people”
holds true. If we attempt to treat people like “things,” we invariably do not achieve favorable results.
While the “numbers” may improve in the short run, there is “fallout” with the people that will affect
long-term results, or the ability of the organization to sustain or improve its results time and time again.
is about “what” things are done, such as budgeting, controlling, organizing, problem-solving, etc. Leadership
is “how” we do management when we are working with people. The way we lead is a statement of our character.
example, in working with a call center team, work productivity was increased by over 160% (as measured by the amount of work
they were able to accomplish in a day, week, month, etc.) This productivity increase was accomplished by separating
the task that needed to be done from the people who were doing the tasks.
As the leader, I treated them with
respect, valued their opinions, and incorporated their ideas in the redesign of how the work was to be done. Metrics
were developed to measure progress and were updated on a daily basis. The team inspired themselves. They created
their metrics and updated their results every day. The results were reviewed by the team each day. Positive progress
was recognized daily. If the rate of progress stalled or declined, discussions were conducted with the staff gathering
their ideas as to what they thought they should do differently in order to produce positive progress in productivity.
The personal pride of the team members played a huge role in them inspiring themselves to increase their productivity gains.
has always fascinated me. I have been a lifelong student of leadership, practicing my leadership skills and evolving
in my abilities to influence people to get them to enthusiastically do what needs to be done for the common good of all the
team or organization constituents.
The leader of a team or organization sets the tone for what is possible.
It starts with his or her own beliefs which translate to their energy and enthusiasm towards achieving the goals or targets.
A leader’s beliefs and energy is contagious to the other people on the team or in the organization. If a team
is unmotivated, the leader needs to take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves “why.” Stephen R. Covey in his books and programs used to say something to the effect: “If we think the problem is out there (i.e. with the
employees) that very thought is the problem.”
I encourage you to think about your role as a leader, role-model,
and people influencer. Yes, we are all human, and have our human frailties. The world that we live in is changing
faster and faster – creating stress in everyone. The effects of stress are somewhat like the shape of a
bell shaped curve. Not enough stress causes inertia, i.e. we don't start moving or doing. Too much stress causes
dysfunctional behaviors and can also lead to inertia, i.e. causes us to stop moving or doing. For every person there
is some optimum level of stress that helps them be at their best. Yet – in today’s world more and more people
are over the top with too much stress – including leaders. In many communities and in many organizations –
people seem angry – most or all of the time. However when being in a position of leadership, formally or informally,
we need to keep our emotions in check.
As a leader, within eye or earshot of anyone who has anything to do with your
organization or knows someone who has something to do with your organization – you are on stage. The spotlight
is on you. All the people around you are watching what you are doing and listening to what you are saying. They
may not understand or agreeing with what you are saying – but still they are listening. Everything that a leader
does is being scrutinized, and evaluated. People are drawing their own conclusions and interpretations about what you
are doing and why you are doing it. Frequently the stories your organization stakeholders telling themselves about your
behavior and your motives are not correct or favorable.
I found the quote shown below in a book that I am reading
by Steven Chandler called “100 Ways to Motivate Others.” At the beginning of the book, Steven has a wonderful quote from another author by the name of Dale Dauten.
business is a game of numbers, real achievement is measured in infinite emotional wealths: friendship, usefulness, helping,
learning, or, said another way, the one who dies with the most joy wins.”
- Dale Dauten
I think the
quote from Dale Dauten pretty much sums up the role of a servant leader.
How are you helping the people in your organization
or on your team to be successful? What are you emphasizing in your life?
Monday, March 14, 2011
The Major Human Focal Point
8:21 am edt
The leader is the major human focal point within the team and in the
organization. All eyes and ears are on the lookout for the leader. People generally pay greater attention to what
the leader says and does – more so than they do with their peers or direct reports. Perhaps rightly so –
as the behavior of the leader has a significant impact on the lives of the people within an organization.
a leader is optimistic and positive, others in the organization will also be positive. Positivity increases the ability
of an organization to be adaptive and flexible, creative and innovative. If the leader is negative it will spread fear
and negativity throughout the organization. A little negativity on the part of the leader can have huge repercussions
within the organization. A leader may make what they think to be a causal remark. It may have a touch of disappointment
or frustration. Yet the people who hear it will tend to blow the remark of the leader way out of proportion and beyond
the context originally intended by the leader. Humans are generally wired for negativity. It is a human survival
reflex. It has been scientifically proven, repeatedly, that people who work in positive work environments outperform
people who work in negative work environments.
Monday, March 7, 2011
“Leadership has less to do with position than it does with disposition.” John Maxwell
12:42 am est
The leader sets and is largely responsible for the emotional tone of the team
and the organization. Leaders are also human beings with emotions, fears, frustrations, and worries. Many times
people within the organization forget about the humanness of the leaders. When the leader is present in view or within
earshot of anyone on the team or in the organization, the leader is always on stage. This would include anyone peripheral
to the team (i.e., someone who is not on the team or in the organization but has the ability and proximity to communicate
with someone on the team or organization. Leaders would be wise to remember that there is never anything off the record.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Becoming An Effective Leader
20:21:23Yes, becoming an effective leader is a journey. Becoming
an effective leader is a lifelong journey – a journey of trial and error. I think that I have always
been interested in leadership. I began my leadership journey well over a quarter of a century ago.
I am hard pressed to remember when I was not interested in leadership. Probably a lot of my interest
stems from my childhood, and being raised in an environment of self-employment. My father and grandfather
owned and operated a restaurant in Seattle, Washington.
10:27 pm est
When I got to college, I had the opportunity to work as a research associate with
Dr. Fred Fielder and Dr. Terry Mitchell at the University of Washington. It was a tremendous experience for me which has stayed with me throughout
my business career. The world of a leader is in continuous flux – continuously changing and evolving.
The people we lead are constantly changing, the circumstances or situations that we are in are constantly changing,
and we, ourselves, are continuously changing. The variables in which we operate are constantly interplaying
and the possibilities for variation are infinite.
When I first became a “boss,” I had the title and the
ego to go with it. However, early on it became rather apparent to me that I needed the people who I was
leading more than they needed me. If my staff did not like that way I was treating them, they would slow
down, accidently “drop something on the floor,” “forget” to follow the procedures, call off, and quit
(frequently without notice). And my customers did not care for excuses about being short staffed at the
time of their visit. A wonderful little book that describes my situation is “I Quit, But Forgot to Tell You” by Terri Kabachnick that describes the situation. Too bad the book came out over 25 years after I initially
needed it. However that does not diminish that fact that it is a good book.
My restaurant was the closest restaurant
to our regional headquarters (about 15-minutes away). Every day my restaurant was being visited by office staff members, and
60-minutes later a report was being given to my boss. Fifteen minutes after that, I would get a phone call
from my boss. Or if the complaints were really severe, I would get a visit from my boss. The
situation was causing stress for me, my boss, and my customers.
The only predictability to my work life was chaos, 16-hours a day, 7-days
per week; and increased pressure from the regional headquarters to improve on all dimensions and hit my numbers.
Increasing my hassling, nagging, pressure, and micro-managing my staff was not getting the job done.
The final motivation for implementing my change towards becoming a servant leader was when my boss’ boss called
me into his office to talk with me about my performance. I was expecting to be fired because he had just
recently visited my restaurant and he did not have a positive experience. He told me “Charles you
do a tremendous job of controlling your restaurant, but you are terrible at being a manager. When you are
not in your restaurant your people do not know what to do.” And this is what we and you are going
to do ___.” Something had to change, and that change had to be me.
was beginning of my personal transformation towards becoming a servant leader. I had to become more of
a teacher and a trainer. I had to explain to my staff more of the “why’s” and not just
the “what’s” and "how's." I needed to listen to my staff and understand their
frustrations. I needed to do something about relieving those frustrations and getting them the tools and
resources that they needed so that they could do their jobs. I needed to trust my staff more, and my hovering
and working all the time was sending a message of distrust. I needed to stop trying to do both their jobs
and my job – because I was doing a terrible job at both. I learned that when I started focusing on
my job and what I was supposed to be doing as a leader and manager, that rather quickly, my staff started doing a better job.
My job was to take better care of them and to keep the team focused on what we needed to accomplish together.
10 Summary Thoughts
There are many more things (activities, behaviors)
to add to above list, please check back for future blog postings.
- Get over my title and ego - focus on results.
- Learn what my people “need” in order reduce their job
frustrations and give them the tools and resources they need to be able to do their jobs.
- Stop doing the jobs of my staff.
- Do my own job.
- Understand the difference between
“needs and wants” (a future blog post).
- Work side-by-side with my staff to help coach and understand their barriers and frustrations.
- Trust my staff (a future blog post)
- Be a good listener, i.e. be a good
student of what the staff is telling me.
- Believe in the potential of the people on my team for positive growth.
- Focus on what we are trying to accomplish as a team.
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