Phil on May 31, 2011
Sometimes leaders just don’t understand what the true consequences of their decisions and actions are. Self sabotage by leaders comes about through ignorance, over confidence, omnipotent self belief and delusion. One only has to look at the musings of dictators as they come to the end of their terms in power to draw examples I rest my case with the current furore around FIFA. The problem is that rarely is an autocratic leader told the truth by subordinates. The confidence required to reach power can quickly become the confidence that ensures the fall from power.
Leaders need to have a trusted sounding board somewhere in their team such as Josh Bolten, George W Bush’s chief of staff, who always tried to encourage others to be frank in front of the president.”I took it as my role as chief of staff where an issue was truly presidential to insist that the disagreement be aired in front of the president in full glory. So I found myself needling cabinet officers and senior advisers and prodding them into taking the extreme form of disagreement that I knew existed outside the room to give the president a real chance to make a decision, and for the boss that I served.” The role of trusted adviser becomes essential when in a crisis.
However that sounding board has to remain enlightened and cannot become like the leader dizzy and deluded on power. True “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and yet when one truly reflects on the great transformational leaders of our time they are some of the most humble: Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela. All possessed self awareness and all possessed a deep understanding of humanity. Humble, yet their legacy is far more powerful and omnipotent than many of the organisational leaders made in our modern capitalist society.
I believe that self awareness in a leader is a rare talent. As people reach the upper echelons of power they begin to believe in their omnipotence they are constantly worshipped by their teams of obsequious followers who in themselves are dependent upon the leader to preserve their own social status. A study done by Coopers and Lybrand a few years ago indicated that when asked CEO’s indicated that only ll% of their employees believed they were taking risks to deliver any bad news up the chain. However, the middle managers felt differently. 33% said bad news in their company (Fortune 500) was a career limiting risk and 50% of lower level employees agreed with the middle managers
A leader who reflects on personal actions and decisions, one who rejoices in their teams achievements and not their own; a leader who empowers their people without pomp and ceremony; one who recognises the fragility and weaknesses of being human in themselves and all those around them is the real thing. For it is to them and only them that the true trust of followership is given.
Self awareness whether self-induced or externally initiated is key to keeping a leader straight and true for self-sabotage can easily slip into a leaders repertoire without it. And when it does there will inevitably be a fall as the leader arrogantly chooses the wrong path.
Posted in: Leadership, Leadership efficacy, Motivation, Organisational Change or Transformation, Uncategorized
Phil on May 24, 2011
A common fallacy is that leadership starts from the top. Leadership can start from anywhere and we have all been in organisations where one well led department succeeds far more than others. Great when you are part of that success but not so if you are without it. The leaders at the top of the organisation will shape the culture of the organisation and inevitably those leaders that reflect the bosses behavioural traits will succeed. But results cannot be ignored. Great leaders get great results and get noticed. Great results in the middle can cause an organisation to improve as a whole by it replicating and adopting those leadership practices throughout the organisation.
You most certainly can be an excellent leader within a mediocre organisation and get on providing you don’t become too much of a threat to the hierarchy. It is therefore a balancing act keeping the bosses sweet whilst maximising the effect of the team. Now really clever bosses will exploit good leadership to the benefit of the whole organisation and will endeavour to maintain the services of such leaders. Bosses who feel inadequate and threatened will sabotage such leaders. Walt Disney was a fine example of someone who truly valued good people and someone who enjoyed employing people who were better than him. Ronald Reagan built a fantastic team around him during his time as US President. Both shaped teams but both had great leaders below them.
Leadership doesn’t have to start at the top and that tardy excuse that I can’t be a leader in the middle of an organisation holds no truth. Leadership occurs wherever someone is responsible for inspiring and motivating others. The choice of that individual is how they do it? Well or badly; but the real ability of the successful leader is to balance the needs of superiors with those of the team whilst achieving outstanding results.
Posted in: Empowerment, Leadership, Motivation, Organisational Change or Transformation
Phil on May 12, 2011
Change management is a term all too frequently used in the modern business world. Most humans are averse to change as they naturally fear the unknown and prefer to remain within their comfort blanket. So how do you manage something that requires leadership to inspire and motivate people to move from their current comfortable position.
Change is all about leadership it is about vision and it is about the unknown. Managers deal in the real world of today and not the inspired and virtual one of tomorrow. Managers deal in targets and targets are difficult to set for an unknown in the future. Change cannot be managed it has to be led!
Posted in: Leadership, Learning, Organisational Change or Transformation
Phil on May 4, 2011
So you think you are a leader? Well how good a leader are you?
A good leader is dedicated, for to inspire and motivate a team you have to be. But how good are you at all the various sometimes unpleasant duties of leadership? For leadership is a duty and not a bauble to aspire to.
Moral courage is the primary characteristic for without it you walk by things that you really should own. And if you walk by, every single member of your team learns to walk by as well and n0 one owns the issue – so it festers . As a leader you must always have the moral courage to own an issue however unpleasant the consequences may be.
Honesty is critical to success as a leader and it is being honest with yourself and your team. Sugar coating only lasts so long and it is something that doesn’t always work particularly if it is over used.
A leader sets the example and if they are respected that example becomes the norm for the team. A leader who demands punctuality and regularly arrives late destroys their own leadership potential.
A leader is watched all the time they continually communicate. Leadership is not something you can switch off and on. A leader communicates even by ignoring someone or something and leaders have to be continually aware of how and what they are communicating.
Leaders must be the bearer of bad news. When it comes to delivering it to the team it is a task that cannot be delegated. If it is delivered honestly and compassionately the message is not distorted and the effects can be monitored and reactions controlled. If it is delegated a leader succumbs to the rumour mill and all its toxicity.
Leaders make judgements and decisions they don’t avoid them. But leaders can’t afford to make too many bad judgements otherwise they will erode their credibility.
Leaders need to deliver they cannot rest on their laurels leadership brings with it a duty to deliver regularly.
Leaders must show equality even when they don’t like team members they must treat them equally. One famous coach stated that he didn’t like his team all the same but he loved them all the same.
Being a great leader may bring rewards but it is far more about servitude and duty than ever it is about status and reward.
Posted in: Empowerment, Latest News, Leadership, Leadership efficacy