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Welcome to CoachTALK – a complimentary e-newsletter offering an eclectic, thought-provoking and aesthetic view of business and life. We hope it provides a peaceful but inspiring few moments for you on arrival.

   
 


A recent survey conducted over a five-year period by management researcher Jim Collins reported that “out of 1,435 Fortune 500 companies… only 11 achieved and sustained greatness - garnering stock returns at least three times the market's - for 15 years after a major transition period.” Identified as a trait common to all the exceptional leaders of these few organizations was “a paradoxical combination of deep personal humility with intense professional will.” In other words, this handful of companies was in the presence of truly effective leadership.

So, what are some of the other ideal qualities, outlooks and behaviors of exceptional leaders? That’s what we’re going to explore in this issue of CoachTALK.

I look forward to hearing that our feature story – Becoming a TRULY Effective Leader – will assist you in more closely identifying what you regard as ideal leadership and how you can more ably and completely cultivate your chosen style.

J.

 


     
 

First, understand that truly effective leadership is not a solo act. The success of an organization hinges on all levels of the company being inspired and motivated to work towards mutual goals. The truly effective leader understands how imperative it is to attract and develop individuals who are also strong leaders in their own right, able to make effective decisions and think strategically.

The best leaders also understand what’s required of them and they meet the challenges of their offices with great immediacy and proficiency. Charisma counts but, by itself, is insufficient to make someone a great leader. Communication is key. Letting people clearly know where they stand. Openly providing information especially in today’s uncertain business times. The ability to lead with calm and strength while mastering exceptional management skills is one of today’s greatest – and most rewarding – challenges.

Here's where exceptional leadership can begin:

1. Create then relentlessly pursue a unifying vision.
Present a compelling image of what your organization can aspire to do and what steps it must take to reach the heights you have foreseen. Create a sense of ‘wholeness’ around your ideal that will - through intelligence, optimism, discipline and commitment – lead to possibilities formerly unreachable.

2. Be clear on the difference between leadership and management.
The truly effective leader arranges for the growing, successful experience of the organization, transforming learning into substance and power. The mission is to envision and articulate the purpose of the business and guide the organization in a direction that will successfully accomplish its stated goals. Far beyond the scope of day-to-day management, effective leaders have a vision of the future and know how to communicate it. They create a framework for change and motivate others to head in healthy, profitable directions in order to accomplish the highest aims of the business.

3. Promote outstanding leadership around you.
Co-create and model flexibility and adaptability within your organization. Put aside your ego and judgment of others. Place people before strategy or profits. Engender and develop trust. Ask questions that invite initiative, enlarge accountability and result in big picture buy-in. Focus on the benefits of healthy corporate self-esteem and a high level of performance throughout the organization. Energize and motivate people so they can present breakthrough thinking and improved problem-solving capabilities. In short, create a platform for bringing out the best in people so they can achieve the highest level of performance.

4. Challenge your organization to support the leadership process.
Success hinges on high-level commitment to integrating effective leadership into the entire organization. Develop a high-performance environment through inspired, unified management. Motivate your team to powerfully demonstrate leadership by facing challenges and problems with courage, expertise and immediacy.

5. Be solution-minded and opportunity-driven.
According to Stephen Covey, “Effective leaders feed opportunities and starve problems.” The most successful leaders also think fully in the solution, act quietly and calmly but with determination while allowing people to experiment with new procedures and behaviors.

6. Be generous with praise, short on blame.
German metaphysician Johann von Goethe said, "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being." Consistently credit others for their good work. Accept part of the responsibility when results are less than desired. Your organization will grow and flourish if you have set high standards, articulated them clearly, praised the members of your organization as they begin to reach them, listened closely and responded to feedback.

7. Keep pushing your organization to breakthrough.
Pave the way for breakthrough thinking and communication that will bring about increasingly high levels of achievement.Focus on consistent, targeted effort and increased momentum in the desired direction. Keep the ultimate goals in front of your organization at all times. Never accept mediocrity. Translate the message of Lao Tzu into company-wide inspiration: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."


 


 
 

Writing and studying leadership has become a growth industry in recent years, yet our cities seem to have sunk deeper into crisis, our communities are in turmoil, our political leaders of both parties are repeatedly charged with ethical violations, and the world’s multiple crises demand the immediate attention they are not receiving.

It is plainly not enough to appeal to existing leaders, we need a higher quality of leadership among ALL of our citizens. Each of us needs to take to heart Viktor Frankl’s admonition that each of us must be responsible for our own lives, and for the life of our community and our world. We are questioned daily by life, which asks us whether we are willing and able to fulfill our potential and respond to the enormous demands we face as a society…

Organizations need both managers and leaders to survive. However, in the future, definitions of success will be based on a new form of leadership. The old structure that exalted control, order and predictability has given way to a nonhierarchical order in which all employees’ contributions are solicited and acknowledged, and in which creativity is valued over blind loyalty. In the organization of the next millennium, vision, communication, innovation, flexibility and inner directedness are prized. A new kind of leader has emerged, a leader who is a facilitator, not an autocrat; an appreciator of ideas, not a defender of them.




 


 
 

  • Generously identify and cultivate talent.
  • Invite curiosity and enthusiasm.
  • Genuinely work to eliminate fear and apathy.
  • Continually reinvent your workplace.
  • Persistently reduce resistance to change.
  • Develop confident attitudes and steer people towards productive self-reflection.
  • Make someone else’s solutions work.



 


 
 

A true leader does not seek followers, he wants to teach others how to be leaders. He does not want control, he wants the truth. He does not impose his leadership on others, nor does he take away anyone's autonomy. He inspires by love, not coercion. When it comes time to take credit, he makes himself invisible; but he is the first to arrive at the time of need, and he will never shrink away in fear. He is so passionate about your welfare that when you consult him for guidance, it is like coming face to face with yourself for the first time.

Menachem Mendel Schneerson



 


 
 

A Matter of Leadership

Question: I am the previous assistant to the director of a department. I promoted out of his department but am still within the same section. This director is very intense, demanding, has extremely high expectations. I hear from many of this director's staff about feeling micromanaged, unappreciated, not being able to satisfy this person. He and I worked very well together and still have a great working relationship. I feel the need to talk to him about how his staff feel about working for him but I'm not sure if this is appropriate. We are a very progressive company, working very hard on positive working relationships with each other. I hate to see how people view him because he is so hard working and dedicated. Is it appropriate for me to talk to him about this issue?
Lori

Answer: While authentic feedback can be invaluable, talking to your former boss about his shortcomings is a quite another matter. There are a number of things you’ll want to carefully consider before embarking on such a delicate mission. Many companies that would be described as progressive have policies in place that supply 360-degree feedback for their top management. This kind of process works because tough-minded comments come, by design, from all sides. If this is the case in your organization, there would be a natural avenue for supplying information to your former supervisor on the subject of his management style. If, however, there is no such policy and you have no evidence that this would be a totally welcome communication, be aware of the risks you’d be running to volunteer this kind of critique.

Before taking any such risks, I’d caution you to determine what your motive is in wanting to have this discussion with your former supervisor. You indicate that you worked very well with him and have a ‘great relationship.’ This would indicate that you, apparently, did not have overwhelming difficulty in working for him. If that’s the case, a more natural and safe course would be to coach fellow workers who still report to him on the strategies that were successful for you. Identify and share the tactics or attitudes that allowed you to be unaffected by his demanding, high-expectation, micromanaging style. After all, whatever you were doing earned you a promotion.

If you find through honestly assessing your motive that this is simply providing an opportunity to voice some things you held back from your time reporting to this director – DON’T DO IT. If, on the other hand, you establish that your motives are pure and you still believe it is important to have the discussion, be on the lookout for an informal time with this director that would allow for casual introduction of the subject. Be very careful to gently determine if the topic would be welcome. You might consider asking him if – now that you are out in the organization-at-large – he might find it useful to have some feedback. If he says ‘yes’ – set the boundaries immediately. Be aware that the truth is often painful. Even if he indicates that he wants to know what’s going on, he may, ultimately, take offense at the truth no matter how diplomatically offered.

It is always a great challenge to find gentle ways to discuss hard truths. In fact, sometimes the question arises - can I tell the truth without jeopardizing my career? The honest answer is, you don’t know until you try.

Brad Blanton, President of the Radical Honesty Network has some interesting things to say on the topic. He says, “Tell the truth. All the time. About everything…Sure, the truth hurts. But it inspires, too. People spend too much time calculating the risks that come with being honest - and too little time thinking about the rewards. I've been counseling businesspeople for more than 25 years. Only twice have I seen people get fired for speaking their mind. Most people who finally have the difficult conversations that they've been avoiding tell a different story: In the course of an hour, they were fired twice, they quit twice, but eventually they left the room with their position intact. And within a month, they had a promotion and a raise. Most leaders want honest communication - even if the message isn't something they want to hear. Radical honesty is addictive. Once people discover the truth, they fall in love with it.”

However, it’s one thing to be put in that position by your boss – quite another to volunteer for it. The final risk you’ll want to address is that such an act – even if it’s successful in some part – might alter that ‘great relationship’ you have with your former director. Weigh out the gains versus the losses and, in the end, understand that your biggest challenge is to determine if it’s really your place and in your best interests to voluntarily step up to such a tough job. In either event, you can be sure that you’re learning a lot by simply going through this thoughtful, honest self-evaluating process. That alone will hold you in good stead.



 

 
 



©2002 by Joyce K. Reynolds. Duplication with credits only please. Click here for easy access to all books referenced. For complimentary 20-minute Coaching session e-mail jreynolds@jkr.net or visit www.business-coach.org. Click here to send this newsletter to a colleague. Click here to Unsubscribe. Newsletter maintained by Web Factum, LLC.