Linggo, Agosto 8, 2010

On the Final Thoughts: Dispelling the Myths of Organizational Leadership; included in the book" Mojo or Nojo- Where Are You Living?"

Let's start the year with the reflection of common myths that impede the effectiveness of organizational leadership in pursuing performance excellence. We also examine approaches that can help organizational leadership overcome these faulty assumptions to include truisms for accelerating and sustaining performance improvement. It is important to mention although these costly assumptions of organizational leadership are common failure points, they are not meant to serve as an exhaustive list.

Myth 1: The Primary Metrics of Effective Leadership are Strategy, Execution, and Results
Although I agree that leaders are responsible for strategy, execution, and results,I feel that this is incomplete paradigm that does not account for humanistic factors, the power of culture, and the greater good of society. I have observed that in the short run, leaders can deliver results without creating an environment of employee engagement, but this approach is not sustainable. It's somewhat like comparing the effectiveness of totalitarian versus democratic governments. The organization may succeed for the short term, but in the interim people will be trying to defect or hoping for the proverbial "Berlin Wall" to fall.

Truism 1: Perception Is Reality and Trust Is the Basis for Employee Engagement
Shelley Morisette and Mike Schraeder's article on leadership shares the finding of a survey on our perception of leadership. The authors include the actual rating list of effective leaders with the top 10 characterizing a very high ethos of trust and fostering solidarity . Leaders should solicit feedback proactively and build a diverse network of employees to serve on their personal board of directors to help them identify blind spots. Otherwise, they'll just continue to hear adulations from employees who do a good job of managing up.

The emergence of new generations in the work force, as highlighted by Izzy Gesell's article on dealing with generational workers, can create a barrier that further exacerbates the difficulty in creating employee engagement. Oftentimes a new product launch will fail because the market was not effectively segmented with a compelling value proposition;21st century leaders need to make a certain segment their "internal customer" to understand fully the unique needs and desired benefits of different generations and cultures.

Myth 2: Employees Understand Their Roles and Responsibilities in Achieving the Vision and Mission of the organization
Most of the organizations have taken the basic step of defining their strategy or mission statement collects dust from hanging on a boardroom wall. Steven Hacker provided a clear illustration of how companies foster "zombie-ism" by viewing their employees in the narrow functional role that they perform.Viewing employees as a "set of hands" or "technical skills" becomes self-fulfilling prophecy in that organization does not effectively win the hearts and minds of its employees.

Truism 2: Managers and Training Manuals Teach Function; Leaders and Behaviors Help Employees Learn Their Purpose
Leaders in the 21st Century must view their role as helping employee see the broader context of purpose and not merely their individual functions. A brilliant example of understanding purpose over function occured when NASA employee was asked to explain his job. Although the gentleman performed the function of sweeping floors and emptying trash, he responded by saying that his job was to put a man on the moon.

The responsibilty of creating an environment where employees understand their contributions in achieving the mission, vision, and values of the organization cannot be delegated. Leaders should use every opportunity to personally communicate and reinforce the purpose of the organization . For example, share the strategy with employees,start each meeting by talking about the mission first, and use communication to create an affinity to the values. Curt Coffman, the author of First Break All Rules, says "culture eats strategy;" therefore , leaders need to make certain they are listening actively to their employees to determine if the strategy is effectively deployed.

Thomas Koulopoulos' article stated that leaving innovation to only a small group of innovators overlooks the untapped innovation in the workforce. Leaders need to create an organizational climate that makes employees feel as if they are vital part of running the business. Leaders can help create this climate by holding town hall sessions that encourage open dialog, taking informal tours of the operations to
solicit opinions, and collecting everyone's input in the strategic planning process.

I suggest asking yourself the question " Are you developing a Mojo Organization?" Your answer will tell you whether you are a 21st century leader.

Myth 3: Human Resources Are Responsible for Hiring, On_ Boarding, and Employee Benefits
Large organizations create (also known as bureaucracies) to enhance specialization and improve efficiencies. An unintended consequence is the propensity of leaders to rely on the human resources function for managing an organization's most important resource- the employees. Several years ago I conducted a qualitative study of leaders in an organization to identify their personal behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes related to performance. The leaders from the top performing business units demonstrated a high discernment for selecting candidates and a strong gravitation to developing their leadership team. For example, one of the top performing leaders said, " the business unit with the best team wins!" On the other hand, the contrasting group (a euphemism for low performing leaders) tended to be more detached from the management of human capital. This group did not use analytical methods for hiring, was less likely to know the aspirations of their laders, and often did not know the names of employees working in their business units.

Truism 3: Effective Leaders Invest Time and Resources on Selecting, Maximizing, and Retaining Talent
One of the fundamental concepts of quality is that we cannot have quality outputs without the right inputs; therefore it is perplexing that leaders do not invest more time and effort on sourcing the best inputs, such as talent. Christine Robinson's article on a nationalistic culture helps us understand that cultural archetypes are a byproduct of the people who comprise the culture and mechnisms that reinforce morays or sanctions. In practical terms, if you want a culture of improvement, then select people who have innate ability to maximize a process.If you want to be a 21st century leader, you need to view your role as the architect of your organization's culture and this starts with the selection of the right inputs-talent. Every human is blessed with some unique talent and the key to success is finding talent that strengthens your organization's competitive advantage.

Call to Action
Let's start the year by focusing on the things that matter most-inspiring vision, creating trust. promoting dialog, and leveraging talent.

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