Working on a Dream




Friday, October 22, 2010

5 Essential Elements for Leading

In the excellent book, Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner, is a plan that every leader should use as a guide if they want to be effective. 

-Above is chart that summarzes the main ideas and below are some of my thoughts- 

Model the Way: 
Before you can truly be a model for the team, it is vital that you first believe in what you are doing.  This may seem elementary, but far too many people are just punching into a "job" and hold no conviction about what they do everyday.  I believe there is a big difference between someone that has a CALLING verses someone that finds a CAREER.  And if you think about it, this means that leadership is not always about position either.  Let's face it, we both know far too many elected officials that have a position or a title -but are the quintessential follower. 

When you find a calling, then from that will spring a love for your job and you most likely will be a great model and enthusiastic about what you are doing.  Watch out, this will be contagious for your followers! 

Inspire a Shared Vision:
Leaders are people who can see a preferred future and then get others to see that same future.  This means that as a leader you will spend a great deal of time talking about that future with your key leaders. The idea here is to get your belief about the future -their belief- about the future.  This vision has to be SHARED or else you will have major difficulties.  A really important point is to take your time here.  Being enthusiastic is wonderful, but it can lead you to be too rash with others...getting "buy-in" may take some time.  So be patient. 

Challenge the Process:
This is one of the key differences between a leader and a manager.  According to John Kotter, a manager and a leader are both vital, but carry out different functions.  A manager's main role is to "control and keep things in order" while a leaders main role is to "challenge the status-quo, look to the future, and get obstacles out of the people's way." 

Think about it, how do people talk about war-time Generals?  During peace, they are busy mico-managing the troops, keeping everything in check, but on the battle-field they always lead the men into battle.  Why?  Because during the actual battle, nothing is predictable.  The General has to be ready to trust the men he maneged during the time of peace. 

As a leader, you must continually keep the "preferred future" in front of your people AND look for ways to accomplish that future.  This oftentimes, calls for change.  Whether it is in the staff or the organization itself, sometimes you simply cannot go forward with the same old same old.  So go ahead, and provoke thought and prod your team a bit.

Enable Others To ACT:
As you lead, it is imperative that you free up your team for action.  Thinking about the General analogy above, can you imagine if he took the approach that many leaders/managers do today?  Which is to talk about accomplishing goals and then micromanaging and stifling your workers.  This is one of the main failures of most leaders.  As stated above, as a leader, you MUST be intentional about REMOVING ROADBLOCKS out of the way of your workers. 

This means, you have to get out of your office and next to the people you lead.  Schedule a time to sit and listen to them.  And them DO something!  Whether it is one person that continually bring the team down or a computer that makes sending an email a ten minutes task...remove the problem and allow your group to work with maximum efficiency.

Encourage The Heart:
At the end of the day, it is one's belief in what they are doing that will be the underlying factor that separates a good worker from a great one.  As a leader, you must always keep in mind that leading is and always will be about relationships.  And here is something that I learned along time ago. People do not care how much you know -until they know how much you care.   A leader has to encourege the people they lead. 

So go ahead, Be intential.  Be creative.  Buy a card, send a flower, bring in doughnuts, treat the team to lunch, publically praise get the idea.  

*I hope you found this helpful, as always comments are welcome and if I can help in anyway possible -just ask.

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