Monday, July 6, 2015

Today’s Managers or Tomorrow’s Leaders

Chaos. Uncertainty. Unpredictability. Constant change. These are all characteristics of the world in which we now live, and all indications are that the world of the future will be even more chaotic, more uncertain, more unpredictable, and in even greater states of constant and unprecedented change and flux. Such circumstances desperately call for new leaders. Indeed, “if there was ever a moment in history when a comprehensive strategic view of leadership was needed,... this is certainly it.” For almost a century, writers have attempted to describe leadership, and researchers have attempted to identify the defining characteristics of leaders. The outcome has been one very clear conclusion: “Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth” It is multidimensional and multifaceted—a universal human phenomenon that many know when they see it, but few can define clearly.

Opportunities exist in all aspects of our lives to exercise leadership and to make a difference in the lives of others and in the directions of groups and organizations. Leaders do not need to be appointed or even “invited” to exercise leadership; they do it because they “care more than others think is wise; risk more than others think is safe; dream more than others think is practical; and expect more than others think is possible” It is easy to obtain the title as strong Leader when you know in your heart you are doing right thing for the “good of all”. When I was working in a bank, my manager had bunch of clients who were more inclined to follow her wherever she used to get transfer. If people follow you, and you have all the pieces of the puzzle in place as described throughout this course, you will succeed.  Leaders do not abuse their power, but build trust by using it properly.  Trust fosters collaboration, which contributes to openly sharing information, which then creates a solid team who supports each other.  Trust is based on the respect and expectations of a leader who cares and acts with compassion in a most positive way. 

The traditional qualities that may have made a leader effective in the past no longer apply in today’s world, where employees span multiple generations and countless ethnic and regional backgrounds. In the past, management typically sets rules, policies, and procedures, and employees followed them. Today many organizations seek to have leadership quality in their managers to take full advantage of their employees’ talents and abilities and to make the best use of everyone’s time. It makes sense for those who best understand work processes and improvement opportunities to make the decisions. Therein lies the challenge, because we typically do not prepare new supervisors or operations officers for their new duties, which require a completely different skill set, as well as management and leadership abilities. It is often observed that even the most clinically competent paramedic can make the worst supervisor.

A friend of mine lives in high-rise of apartment in Kathmandu. One example of "teaching empolyees" was the general manager telling employees that the doors to the resident gym must now be kept closed at all times. For years, previously, the doors had been left open unless a resident wanted privacy and chose to close them. My friend asked one of the employees, "Why are the doors closed all of the time now?" The employee replied, "I don't know, the manager just told us to."

It's disrespectful to just give directives without letting people understand the reason(s) why. There might have very well been a good reason why the doors were now to be kept closed. Had the manager taken just a few minutes to share a reason why, the employees would feel better about them and would more likely keep the doors closed? If employees are following directives out of a fear of being "written up," they aren't in a position to provide great service.
This is the exact opposite of what good managers do to be great leader. A good manager would explain why the doors now need to be closed. And, if there wasn't a good reason why, they wouldn't force the change on a whim. After speaking to an audience, I often have a manager come up to me and say, “Seema, I really want to grow and develop as a leader, but the managers at all levels above me certainly don’t. What can I do?”

I give them two bits of advice. One is that you can’t change anyone or anything above you in the company. You can’t manage the corporation from your level up, so don’t even try. The second nugget I pass along came from Tony, who was in one of the audiences I’d just spoken to. He explained that he couldn’t do much about changing anyone above him so he had decided to become an “island of excellence” within his sphere of influence. He would get so good at what he was doing that something great was bound to happen. That’s the spirit! That’s what I’m talking about!

No one is as interested in your career as you are. No one is more interested in your future than you are. Take the responsibility of becoming an island of excellence within your present company no matter what anyone else is doing. We are all working for the future. I’m excited by the changing world in which we live because the future is rich with possibilities we haven’t even considered. Someone once said we don’t grow old, we become old by not growing. The ultimate threat to our future is stagnation. Continued personal and professional growth is essential to a tomorrow that will be better than today. The managerial moment of truth comes when you realize that, as the leader, you are the trigger for change in and for the organization. The people in the organization will pay the price in time, energy, and money to grow and develop in their jobs as they see you do the same as their leader.

As leaders, we are engaged in the effort to help our people climb over their walls. Personal and professional growth can’t happen in that kind of personal captivity. Our first order of business must be to climb over our own self-imposed barriers, then help others to grow beyond theirs. We never get rid of our self-imposed barriers, but we can discover they’re on wheels. We must simply keep pushing them further and further out.

Business is changing. Although this is hardly an original observation, what few realize is the extent to which and speed with which it is doing so. What are some of the more important factors driving this change? First, the way in which business is transacted is changing. Technology—the Internet, new methods of communication, faster and more customized manufacturing, and so on—is a principal cause, but not the only one. Second, the breadth of the playing field in which business takes place is increasing enormously. A tiny bookstore in a suburb of Manila can take a sale away from Borders. Third, consumer expectations are changing, and consumers are becoming much more demanding. At the same time, employees and their expectations are changing. They expect more from work and want to contribute in different ways. 

Another important factor is that interdependence is becoming greater and much more complex. A U.S. company may have a research laboratory in Bangalore developing prototype products for Australia. The interdependence goes beyond business relationships to encompass governments, nongovernmental organizations, and other parts of the citizen sector. Last, the pace of change has accelerated so rapidly that size is no longer a protective buffer. Multibillion dollar companies often see their competitive positions erode within months.

Leadership then is a hot area for management thinkers and writers, for good reason: in this new world, our organizations—commercial, not-for-profit, and government—need leaders with different skills and a richer set of them to lead us into the future.And I know what the successful leader of the future will be like. I am not guessing. I know.Let me explain. I know this not because I am brilliant or a prescient thinker or in possession of a time machine that can reveal the future, but because I have been unequivocally told this by the people who know. The people who know are the bright graduates of some of our best business schools who are entering the workplace and are very clear about the kind of person who can command their unquestioned allegiance.

The leader blazes a trail for others to follow. In doing so, there will be markers along the way. Knowing that the organization’s future rests on the success of the people on the team, the leader seeks qualities that will lift him or her above the timely and into the timeless, thus inviting everyone in the organization to do the same. The quality of leadership is not determined by the urgency or size of the task to be accomplished. Some of the greatest leaders I’ve ever observed or read about spent most of their time dealing with common details in order to achieve their vision. What made these people great was the uncommon way they dealt with everything in their lives, whether it was an ordinary detail or a major challenge. Here are 10 qualities I believe will be in the profile of tomorrow’s leader:

1.         Tomorrow’s leader will be a remarkable builder of team spirit.
2.         Tomorrow’s leader will be self-reliant and confident and will teach team members to do the same.
3.         Tomorrow’s leader be creative and not afraid to take risks.
4.         Tomorrow’s leader will understand the value of change.
5.         Tomorrow’s leader will be fair, not afraid to challenge or be challenged.
6.         Tomorrow’s leader will be open to new ideas and perspectives.
7.         Tomorrow’s leader will possess a far greater understanding of people.
8.         Tomorrow’s leader will be organized and adept at setting and working priorities.
9.         Tomorrow’s leader will be on a continuing high personal growth curve.
10.       Tomorrow’s leader will be in balance in his or her business and personal life.

Never be less than your dreams. Someday you may look back and ask, “Did I really build my dream or is it too late?” Let me assure you that it’s never too late. In business, we realize our dreams by building up internal and external customers. An organization is alive and vital when the leader helps people grow and climb over their walls.

Leadership is not about the leader, it is about how he or she builds the confidence of everyone else. Leaders certainly need self-confidence. (“Often wrong, never uncertain,” Gillette CEO Jim Kilts cheerfully described himself.) Self-confidence helps leaders persist through problems and triumph over troubles. But self-confidence is not the secret of leadership. Leadership involves motivating others to their finest efforts and channeling those efforts in a coherent direction. Leaders must believe that they can count on other people to come through—like a high school principal's faith that inner city children can learn and that her teachers can teach them. If the people in charge rely only on themselves as heroes who can rescue any situation, while focusing on other people's inadequacies, they undermine confidence and reinforce losing streaks. In contrast, when leaders believe in other people, confidence grows, and success becomes more attainable.

The ultimate reward is not the promotions, perks, and larger paychecks. As nice as those things are, the ultimate reward is the ability to go home at the end of a day and say to yourself, “I saw someone grow again today and I helped.” That’s what it’s all about as a leader. Seeing people grow is the only experience in business that brings your heart up into your throat. When your team members see their own growth along with your matching growth as a leader, their memory of you and the difference you made in their lives will be vivid and inspiring for years to come.

Hesselbein, F., & Goldsmith, M. (2006). Tomorrow's Leader . : John Wiley & Sons, Inc..
Clawson, J. (2006). Level Three Leadership: Getting Below the Surface (3rd ed.). : Pearson Prentice Hall.

Tichy, N. M., & Devanna, M. A. (1990). The Transformational Leader: The Key to Global Competitiveness . : John Wiley & Sons, Inc..