When it comes to studying leadership, the natural tendency is to focus on those leaders whose successes and achievements continue to inspire us and drive so many to emulate them in the hopes of replicating their accomplishments.
Of course, as much as it’s important for us to see what we can learn from those who understand what it takes to succeed at leadership, it’s also valuable for us to examine and consider what causes others to fail in the role of leading people towards a common goal or shared purpose.
To that end, I’d like to share the story of one leader whose example I hope will help us to appreciate one of the key challenges leaders need to address if they are to succeed in this role in today’s fast-changing, global environment.
When Albert* was promoted to head the division he had spent the past few years working for, he naturally jumped into the opportunity with a lot of enthusiasm and ideas of how he’d like the department to operate under his leadership.
Given how Albert was career-driven and had his eyes on playing a bigger role in the organization, he was determined to not only prove his ability to lead this department, but to get his former colleagues to view him as ‘executive material’, in order to support his efforts to move up in the organization.
In no time, Albert was sending out memos detailing new approaches he wanted his former colleagues to employ in order to ‘make things more efficient’ or to ‘make efforts more aligned with corporate policy’ as a way to prove his technical prowess.
He used team meetings to inform his direct reports of his interactions with various groups of executives and VPs to highlight his growing familiarity with those at the executive level in order to prove his comfort level with ‘playing in the big leagues’.
Of course, in his zeal to prove his ability to lead and step up into the executive circle, Albert ended up making a number of missteps which Click here to continue reading »”Why We Fail At Leadership”
The following is a guest piece by James O’Toole.
Increasingly, business consultants, scholars, and executives are coming to the conclusion that culture is the prime driver of organizational performance. Despite the prevalence of that point of view, however, there’s little agreement about what culture is or what it entails.
You can’t see it, touch it, or measure it, yet culture is said to explain why some companies fare better than others. The authors of the year’s three best business books on culture, one of which is a novel, explore the elusive subject from widely divergent perspectives, but all end up confirming that it is the single most powerful influence on how people behave in organizations. Click here to continue reading »”How Successful Leaders Use Culture To Influence Behaviour”
At the beginning of this year, I wrote a piece where I asked a simple question – will this be the year that we put our employees first? The question was inspired by the findings of a recent study that found that for leaders across the globe, the top challenge they faced was how to engage, retain, and develop employees under their care.
With the year now coming to an end, I thought I’d circle back to this question, and look at what I saw and experienced through my work with various executives, managers, and others in leadership positions to see if we did in fact address this concern facing so many of today’s organizations.
To start things on a good note, I did see leaders this year who clearly understood not only how to engage and motivate their employees, but also how to manage conflict in today’s faster-paced, connected world, how to foster an environment where our employees succeed and thrive, as well as how we can use our leadership to bring out the best in those under our care.
Unfortunately, I also saw leaders who tried to side-step any responsibility for the issues that currently plague their organization, with some even arguing how the problem was the fault of those their organization serves, and not a reflection of their leadership or contributions.
Even worse were those leaders I observed who told their employees of their personal commitment to the shared purpose that drove their collective efforts, only to turn around and abandon that personal commitment because things got ‘too complicated’, or because they were simply too busy to care about the impact their actions had on their leadership and with it, their credibility.
Now to be clear here – these aren’t bad people. But they are bad leaders. These are individuals who either lack the competencies to be an effective leader in today’s workplaces, or they are simply unwilling to take the initiative to truly understand the realities of those under their care. In both cases, there can be little doubt that they failed to Click here to continue reading »”Did We Succeed This Year In Putting Our Employees First?”
With the arrival of this last month of the year, I’ve been finding myself in a mixed state of mental exhaustion and reflection, which considering the work involved in bringing my first leadership book out into the world alongside my regular workload is quite understandable.
What’s interesting, though, is how many of the leaders I’ve spoken and worked with over the past year are also in this dualistic state. Unfortunately, for most of them, the mental exhaustion is far outweighing any notions of making efforts for reflection and review.
Indeed, I’ve seen many leaders shake their heads and admit with some frustration how their job has become so much harder than it used to be. Although I sympathize with the challenges they face, and the complexities that now dot the landscape of operating in this 24/7 global environment, the reality that we all have to own up to is that leadership is hard. And it’s meant to be hard.
As I’ve written before, leadership is not about you – it’s about the people you lead and serve [Share on Twitter]. That alone makes this job a difficult one because you are taking on the responsibility of combining the hopes, dreams, and ambitions of a diverse group of people and connecting it to something bigger than yourself.
But this has always been the key function of leadership – of how to rally the collective talents, experiences, insights and creativity of a group of people around a common vision or shared purpose that others want to help transform into today’s reality. Our collective history is replete with individuals we admire and try to emulate thanks to their successes in achieving goals that in their time seemed unimaginable.
And yet, in light of today’s faster paced, ever-changing business environment, it can seem almost impossible for us to Click here to continue reading »”Why Leadership Should Be Hard”
The following is a guest piece by Jesse Newton and Josh Davis.
If you’re trying to instill organizational change in your company, then you face not just a logistical shift, but a cultural challenge as well. Employees will have to think differently, see people differently, and act in new ways. Employees also need to continually reinforce the right habits in one another so that the customer experience is on their minds everywhere.
One method that can help is known as pride building. This is a cultural intervention in which leaders seek out a few employees who are already known to be master motivators, adept at inspiring strategic awareness among their colleagues. These master motivators are invited to recommend specific measures that enable better ways of working.
Pride builders in a wide variety of companies and industries tend to recommend three specific measures time and time again: (1) giving more autonomy to frontline workers, (2) clearly explaining to staff members the significance and Click here to continue reading »”3 Valuable Insights Leaders Can Learn From Neuroscience”