Organisational Change Management Volume 2

Organisational Leadership

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According to Jack Welch, (2005), ex-CEO of GE, there are 8 main characteristics required for leadership in organisations. Leaders need to:

i) relentlessly upgrade their team using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach and build self-confidence

- evaluating to make sure the right people are in the right jobs, supporting and advancing those who are, and moving out those who are not

- coaching involves guiding, critiquing and helping people to improve their performance in every way

- building self-confidence by encouragement, caring and recognition. Self-confidence energizes and gives people the courage to stretch, take risks and achieve beyond their dreams

ii) make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breathe it

- as a leader, you need to make the vision come alive; to recognize and reward staff who support the vision, ie communicate constantly and reinforce with rewards

iii) get into everyone's skin, exuding positive energy and optimism

- leaders need to fight the gravitational pull of negativism; need to display a "can do" attitude to overcome the challenges

iv) establish trust with candour, transparency and credit

- trust happens when leaders are transparent, candid and keep their word. Furthermore, leaders establish trust by giving credit where credit is due. Leaders don't "kiss up and kick down"

v) have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls

- tough and unpopular decisions give rise to complaints and resistance. A leader needs to listen and explain clearly but move forward; do not dwell or cajole

vi) probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure the questions are answered with action

- every conversation about a decision, a proposal, or a piece of market information needs to be questioned by "what if" and "why not" and "how come". Furthermore, the questions need to unleash debate and raise issues that get action

vii) inspire risk-taking and learning by setting the example

- need to create a culture which welcomes risk-taking by freely admitting mistakes and talking about what has been learned from them

viii) celebrate

"...leadership is challenging - all those balancing acts, all the responsibility, all that pressure..."

Jack Welch as quoted by Jack Welch et al (2005)

. Successful leaders are those who can adapt their behaviour to meet the demands of their own unique situation, ie adapt your style to the needs of the people you are supervising. There is no one best style of leadership.

. Remember: leadership style involves at least 2 different behavioral aspects:

i) those that relate to the tasks required of the people being supervised

ii) those that relate to the behaviour of the supervisor

. Furthermore, a leader needs to expect the following from his or her staff, ie

- involvement (this involves delegation, accountability, responsibility, etc)

- generation of ideas (this involves being innovative and creative - remember: some of the best ideas sound crazy at first; many people have good ideas but are reluctant to speak)

- collaboration (involves shared communications; be willing for your area of responsibility to be negatively impacted in the short-term for the benefit of the whole organisation in the long-term)

- initiatives (be willing to be associated with an untested idea, particularly if it crosses functional or unit boundaries)

- development of leadership in others (many people are selfish about their own development and take less interest in their staff's development; need to take an active role in their staff's performance reviews and provide regular, useful feedback to them)

- a desire to stay current and be proactive (keep focused on events, eg world events, technology, government actions, etc that will impact on your organisation, customers, competitors, marketplace, etc so that any setbacks or opportunities can be anticipated, ie anticipate events rather than react to them)

- engagement in continuous learning (seek perpetual education and development from all arenas; accept demanding assignments so that one can learn)

- commitment to being a positive role model (display positive behaviours irrespective of the situation; be able to handle the "bad times" as well as the "good times")

. Thus leadership is an interactive process between leader and follower based on directive (telling people what to do and closely supervising the performance) and supportive behaviour (providing support for listening, offering encouragement and facilitating their involvement)


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