Idea 27 - Leadership (50 Management ideas you really need to know)

Idea 27 -  Leadership

There are many intangibles in business, particularly once you leave the production department, but nothing quite as intangible -as leadership. What is that follow-me-through-fire magic that leads the way and lights up the troops? Consultants and academics would love to isolate it, distil it and sell it in bottles, but no one has done that just yet. It hasn't stopped them from trying and some believe that leadership is the next big frontier in management studies.

If there is a market in leadership, its price fluctuates. As the 1990s ended, the most admired CEOs had achieved rock star status and their companies' share prices (and their own pay) soared accordingly. The stock market soared too - these were the runaway 1990s - but a contemporary ten-year study showed that the stock of companies seen to have great leaders rose 12 times faster than those thought to lack them. Then stock markets fell, followed by the thudding, shameful collapse of Enron and WorldCom, and the trials and convictions of their celebrity bosses. The mood changed. Similarly high-profile (but more honest) chiefs departed companies like Walt Disney, Hewlett-Packard and AlG, and all were replaced by quieter, humbler types. General Electric's Jack Welch, the Mick Jagger of CEOs, retired some time before, leaving a space that investors and the media have yet to fill. Welch, incidentally, said he had only three jobs - finding the right people, allocating resources and spreading ideas quickly. Chester Barnard, writing in 1938, said the leader's job was to manage the organization's values and generate employee commitment.
Whether or not we see a return of the CEO as hero, the value of a directed, motivating leader is not in dispute. As markets and consumers change, and as organizations adapt accordingly, the skill set of the good leader will have to change too. Historically, organizations were led along military lines with the leader as general, issuing commands. In today's knowledge economy, what everyone calls 'knowledge workers' are not highly motivated by having orders barked at them. Warren Bennis believes that future competitive advantage will depend on creating the kind of social architecture that generates intellectual capital: 'And leadership is the key to realizing the full potential of intellectual capital'.
What makes a leader? Bennis, an industrial psychologist, suggests seven attributes essential to leadership: technical competence, conceptual skill, track record, people skills, taste (recognizing talent), judgment and character. You won't find many who lack the first three. But it is mastery of the other, softer skills that may distinguish the great leaders of the future. A leader is not a manager, Bennis insists. 'Managers do things right', he famously wrote. 'Leaders do the right thing.' While he doesn't believe in a single model for leadership, Bennis thinks that leaders must to be able to satisfy their people's expectations in the following:

People Want
Leaders Provide
To Help Create
Meaning and direction
Sense of Purpose
Goals and objective
Authentic Relationships
Reliability and consistency
Hope and Optimism
Hardiness (Confidence that things will work out)
Energy and commitment
Bias towards action, risk, curiosity and courage
Confidence and creativity

'Effective leaders bring passion, perspective and significance to the process. Of defining organizational purpose', Bennis adds, saying that every effective leader is passionate about what he or she is doing. Perspective is required because people want to know what happens after what happens next. And today's knowledge workers, who can easily get jobs elsewhere, want a sense of significance - they want to know that it all means something.
Going soft 'Authenticity' is one of the newer buzzwords in leadership studies. It boils down to being yourself, if you want people to trust you. If people sense that you are being guarded or secretive - not authentic – they wonder what you are really thinking. It makes them uncomfortable, less likely to give their all. Authenticity says that being open and vulnerable is not a sign of weakness. There has been an upsurge in authenticity training though learning to be authentic may sound like a contradiction in terms. Leaders who don't eventually get results will lose the confidence of their people. In the world according to Bennis, results-oriented leaders are like ace ice hockey players - they keep taking their shots. He quotes Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky: 'You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.' But they also create a climate that tolerates missed shots.

Like authenticity, 'emotional intelligence' is another hot idea associated with good leadership. Its popularity arose from a 1995 book of the same name by Daniel Goleman, who broke it down into four domains. The first two are personal, the others social: self-awareness; self-management (the ability to control emotions); social awareness (empathy and consideration); and relationship management.

Different styles There have been various taxonomies of leadership styles, some more detailed than others. Montreal-based academic Patricia Pitcher found three types, each with a very different makeup:

Ø  artists - imaginative, inspiring, visionary, entrepreneurial, emotional;
Ø  craftsmen - steady, reasonable, sensible, predictable, trustworthy;
Ø  Technocrats - cerebral, detail-oriented, uncompromising, hard-headed.

Each is best-suited to different demands, she said. If you want to build, get yourself an artist; to solidify your position, find a craftsman; and for a nasty job that has to be done, like downsizing, a technocrat will do nicely.
 Some are still looking for a dominant theory of leadership to appear. Booz Allen Hamilton consultants Owain Franks and Richard Rawlinson point out that leadership is no better on average than it was in the past, despite clear progress in marketing, production, finance and strategy. The absence of any accepted leadership theory - one with proven predictive value - is, they say, both a symptom and a cause of this failure, but they believe the time is ripe for one to emerge. And if it does? 'This will be the most important development in business management for the next 20 years.'

Reference: 50 Management Ideas You Really Need to Know

Book by Edward Russell-Walling

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