Leadership

Most leadership research focuses on trait and style, and on individual leaders rather than leadership.

Being authentic is an important part of being a leader, ie there is a consistency between words and deeds

In leadershipthere is a need to handle the inspiration tensions, such as

- showing your strengths and revealing your weaknesses

- being yourself but conforming enough

- get close but keep your distance

- be authentic but be prepared to be a role player

Furthermore, leadership involves having a "good sense for the situation and timing". They know what to say and when to say it, when to "pull back", when to "push ahead", etc; these characteristics are called situational sensing, ie leaders know when to conform enough and connect by

- reading the situation and knowing how to handle it best

- relating to people as they care about people and understand them

- managing the 'social distance' (know when they should be physically close or not)

- skilfully using similarities and differences to their advantage

- using their own major traits to an advantage, eg John Major and John Howard's ordinariness.

. Not realising the importance of trust in leadership. The characteristics of trustworthiness (Nicole Gillespie, 2012) include

- competency (having the knowledge, skills and experience to handle the job)

- benevolence (people expect leaders to have their best interests at heart)

- integrity (adherence to a set of clear principles, such as honesty and fairness)

. Not realising that most organisation with their structure, culture, processes, systems, etc kills leaderships as it makes people like clones and does not encourage differences, diversity, etc.

. Not appreciating that leadership can be dangerous and risky

"...when exercising leadership, you risk getting marginalised, diverted, attacked or seduced......their goal is to shut down those who exercise leadership in order to preserve what they have..."

Martin A Heifetz et al, 2002

. Both leadership (visionary and unleashing) and management is needed; with leadership (providing the inspiration) more important than management (providing the perspiration)

. Not realising that leadership is more than solving technical problems. Many managers are well-trained as technical experts but are very poorly trained in mobilising people to change their ways. For example, doctor are well-trained to handle technical problems, such as surgery, etc but are less effective in convincing people to change their lifestyles, etc to help solve their problem. Furthermore, people in positions of authority pride themselves on being able to solve problems that other people cannot. But in today's world it is getting harder and harder for managers to have the capability to provide answers; to handle this

"...the best they can do is to frame up the right questions, identify the key realities that need to be addressed, and then challenge people to take responsibility for tackling those problems..."

Ronald A Heifetz as quoted by Loren Gary, 2005

. Not realizing that leadership has no one magic formula and can involve facing novel situations that have no prescribed solutions, or precedents. Thus a major goal of leadership development should be to prepare leaders to anticipate the unexpected/novel. Encouraging someone to draw upon ideas, solutions, experiences and insights outside their regular world may be a useful strategy.

"...solutions to unfamiliar problems are unlikely to come from tunnel vision of organisations or industry norms. Leaders need to develop the ability to obtain outsights......we need to move from thinking about designing courses and curricula, to orchestrating experiences and opportunities...... we need to get beyond traditional business and economic disciplines, and draw upon other schools of thought, or intellectual traditions - such as those found in the arts, sciences and philosophy......this would lead to exposure of different styles of thinking and even promote the use of different parts of the brain..."

Chris Styles et al, 2009

Linked with this is involving people who will bring and an alternative experience base to the discussion, and make very different connections between observations, facts and perceptions. This could include artist, writers, technologists, military personnel, etc.

Furthermore, self-discovery often comes when we are taken out of our regular environments, so that our internal and external sensory abilities are heightened. Remember: most organisational problems are multi-faceted, touching a range of disciplines. Thus the aim should be to

"...develop leaders who can operate in different modes - the analytical, strategic, and able to construct and critique a sound business case, while also having the ability to be contrarian, constantly challenging the status quo, question orthodoxy, be willing to experiment. They will also need to be able to pick up weak signals, make fast adjustments, and it is on a continuous basis, knowing when the old rules no longer apply..."

Chris Styles et al, 2009

. Not realizing that leadership is an activity, not a position. Furthermore, the complexity of the challenges facing organisations, communities, etc is increasing and too complex, interconnected and messy for one person to have all the answers.

. Not realizing that there is a clear distinction between a leader and someone who has obtained a position of authority

"...leadership comes from the margins and from individuals counting themselves into the debate, not waiting for someone else, some other expert to fix the problem......the pursuit of authority and power will take someone to a very different place from the pursuit of leadership. Unlike the role of an authority, leadership inherently creates instability, at least initially. Whether it's the nation, a corporation or the local parents and citizens committee, few people are ever patted on the back for destabilizing the group; even fewer are thanked for asking questions that challenge or shamed those concerned. That is why leaders must understand that when power is challenged, it hits back ruthlessly. It's important to know that the attacks begin immediately and they begin personally......so 60% of the work you need to do is forging partnerships with those who support you and those who oppose you......You need to be patient too. Good leadership does not rush to impose a solution: it waits and sits with the complexity until the right direction becomes clear..."

Paul Porteous as quoted by Jackie Macken, 2004

. Need to understand the different focus of informal and formal leadership, ie

Focus of Formal & Informal Leadership

Formal

Informal

. Reporting structure

. Decision-making (rules & regulations)

. Business processes & policies

. Organisational development programs (training & leadership)

. Performance management

. Compensation & rewards

. Internal communications

. Councils & c'tees

. Organisational events

. Behaviour modeling by senior leaders

. Meaningful manager-staff connections

. Internal, cross-organisational networks

. Ad hoc gatherings

. Peer-to-peer interactions & storytelling

. Communities of interest

. Engagement of influencers

. Changes to physical plant, resources & aesthetics

(source: Jon R Katzenbach et al, 2012)

 

designed by: bluetinweb