Archive for March, 2012

It’s All About Leadership

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

EVERY initiative, project, undertaking or achievement initially starts as a CONCEPT.  Anything of significance requires a TEAM to move from concept to reality.  To get a team to work together effectively requires mastery of the art of LEADERSHIP.

There are many different leadership styles.  There is a time and place for each leadership style, however in the long term, some styles are more effective than others.

John D. Halamka, MD emphasized 5 leadership characteristics in a blog post (which I have edited below).

  1. Informal authority – Build trust and mutual respect (vs. ruling by fiat).
  2. Loyalty – All for one and one for all
  3. Air cover – Be on the front line of the fight, not criticizing the troops from a distant hill.
  4. Good guys can finish first. (Work with integrity, honesty.   Don’t hurt your fellow humans to get ahead.)
  5. Ineffective emotion usually doesn’t work. (It diminishes you. Loudest is not right-est.)

It is also useful to think about MANAGEMENT and LEADERSHIP as being different constructs. Although we need to be proficient at both, the following definitions may help to distinguish between the two:

  • MANAGEMENT: Control mechanisms to compare system behavior with the plan and take action when a deviation is detected.
    LEADERSHIP: Achieving grand visions. Motivation and inspiration to energize people, not by pushing them in the right direction as control mechanisms do, but by satisfying basic human needs for achievement, a sense of belonging, recognition, self-esteem, a feeling of control over one’s life, and the ability to live up to one’s ideals. Such feelings touch us deeply and elicit a powerful response.”
    John P. Kotter, Professor of organizational behavior at the Harvard Business School
  • LEADERSHIP is the art of accomplishing more than the science of MANAGEMENT says is possible.”
    Colin Powell

Mark Leslie (former CEO of Veritas Software) says, “…effective entrepreneurial leadership is the ability to create a workplace culture that enables the employees in the company to excel…  It is not about command-and-control.  You attract the best and the brightest people and create an environment where they can use their intelligence and judgment to act autonomously… You have to get great people. You have to respect them, give them freedom.  You have to provide the mission and vision: Who are we and where are we going?  Most important, you have to share the rewards.”

Getting great people (and avoiding Bozo’s) is vitally important. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg‘s stated approach is to hire smart people, independent of available job openings, and then help them identify their top talents. He also aspires to full transparency and communication across business and product organizations: Every Friday afternoon Zuckerberg (along with COO Sheryl Sandberg) chats with employees during an hour-long Q&A session.

Barbara Corcoran has indicated that her ability to create an enjoyable workplace is a keystone of her leadership style. “I found the more fun I created in the company, the more creative and innovative it became.  You got innovation.  You got loyalty.  You got people who would recruit for you.”

Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter and Square) says, “Everything we do is about getting people to be more open, more creative, more courageous.”

Paul Levy has championed the idea of leader as coach, a steward of purpose who secures collaboration and commitment through a culture of trust, who protects team members from organizational rain.  He also suggests that transparency trumps tribalism and that the blame game should be jettisoned in the quest for betterment.

Max Depree exemplified servant leadership during his CEO tenure at Herman Miller, and Laurie Beth Jones taught us that when people learn that a leader really cares about their well-being, they will follow that leader anywhere.

It is truly unfortunate that so many “leaders” don’t “get” these basic leadership tenets (resulting in high employee attrition rates and / or sub-optimal performance).   Even worse, some try to serve up an insincere counterfeit by parroting leadership truisms.   Mark Leslie again says, “Values are not what you write in a handbook. Values are expressed every day in the way the company makes decisions…  Authenticity is at the heart of a company’s culture.  If it’s inauthentic, if you say one set of things, but don’t feel and believe those things, it won’t work.”

What about you?  What do you see as the hallmarks of a great leader?

– Tony Parham

Addendum:  See these 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Leaders from Inc. Magazine.

(Image from lumaxart, Creative Commons License)

@tonyparham Twitter Digest (2012-03-18)

Monday, March 19th, 2012