Joke: Don't be irreplaceable; if you cannot be replaced, you cannot be promoted.
The ongoing problems in business leadership over the past five years have underscored the need for a new kind of leader in the 21st century: the authentic leader. Author Bill George, a Harvard Business School professor and the former chairman and CEO of Medtronic, and his colleagues, conducted the largest leadership development study ever undertaken. They interviewed 125 business leaders (half of them CEOs) from different racial, religious, national, and socioeconomic backgrounds to understand how leaders become, and remain, authentic. Their interviews showed that you do not have to be born with any particular characteristics or traits to lead. You also do not have to be at the top of your organization. Anyone can learn to be an authentic leader. The journey begins with leaders understanding their life stories . Authentic leaders frame their stories in ways that allow them to see themselves not as passive observers but as individuals who learn from their experiences. These leaders make time to examine their experiences and to reflect on them, and in doing so they grow as individuals and as leaders. Authentic leaders also work hard at developing self-awareness through persistent and often courageous self-exploration. Denial can be the greatest hurdle that leaders face in becoming self-aware, but authentic leaders ask for, and listen to, honest feedback . They also use formal and informal support networks to help them stay grounded and lead integrated lives. The family, friends, colleagues are always useful and ready to be used by an authentic leader.
The values of an authentic leader derive from your beliefs and convictions. But your real principles and values are those that remain alive after stressful circumstances. An authentic leader principles are values transposed into action . Having a solid base of values, you can develop your principles as a leader. For example, one value such as “care for people” can be transpose into a leadership principle: “creating a working environment that encourages respect for people and their contribution, offers security and the opportunity to reach the maximum potential for every employee.” One of the leaders duty is to inspire and motivate people he work with. But what is equal important for an authentic leader is to always remember what really motivates himself . Many leaders (especially young leaders) tend to measure their success with respect to exterior world. Career promotion, financial rewards, are all signs of recognition from the exterior world, but an authentic leader has to balance the need of other people recognition with his own values and principles, that offer the feeling of professional fulfillment. Leaders cannot succeed by themselves . Even the most talented need advice and support. Any leader needs the best team he can create, for support and consulting in difficult periods and for celebrating success when situation requires. Leaders need to be around people they trust., including their family, friends, relatives, mentors and colleagues. This “support network” is consolidated in time. To be a leader is a very stressful job, but authentic leaders do not try to avoid stress, they control it in order to maintain stability, so hard to achieve. That is why they spent as much time as they can wit family, friend, practicing sport, involved in community activities, etc. Successful leadership is not limited to having a loyal team that understands and shares your vision. A leader secret is to have and create leaders at every level of the organization.
Knowing expectations of both leaders and employees from each other is essential in a successful business. What expect leaders from their direct reports? Involvement - taking upon oneself the responsibility of both positive and negative aspects of the work. A good manager is usually involved in three different situations: when someone do not keeps his promises, when managing a conflict and in a crisis situation. New ideas. A leader must encourage and reward employees creativeness and consider direct reports’ ideas and suggestions. Be Collaborative. Collaboration and communication is critical within a company. Nobody acts individually, but is part of a team, of an organization, etc. Be ready to take initiative. Most people do not assume risks, do not like changes and untested ideas. Leaders expect their employees to assume risks and take initiative, and even reward this kind of behavior. Coach others how to become leaders. Too many leaders are interested only in their personal development and achievement. An authentic leader encourages employees to pay as much attention to their direct reports leading skills development as to their own. Be aware of everything (general news, important events, etc). Leaders expect their employees to be aware of everything happens both inside and outside the company. Reading news and being aware of latest events do not make employees more interesting but helps them understand better the real environment the company operates in, that significantly influences their own firm, market and competition. Anticipate – the power of anticipation is the key skill of a authentic leader. Consequently, leader encourage employees to anticipate and prevent risks. Develop oneself. Leaders expect their employees to develop continuously, not necessarily going back to courses but being open to new ideas and new people. Be a long run player. Is not enough to be efficient in times of company prosperity. It is crucial to be motivating and inspiring in the periods of crisis. What expect employees from leaders? Clear specifications concerning job and business direction. Each semester every manager must present and explain the team financial results, as well as registered progress due to operational and/or strategic initiative. Set goals and objectives. Every person in the company must know the objective his team or he as individual must achieve. Feedback is very important in relation with employees, because expresses leaders interest in direct reports’ development. Be fast and convinced when making decisions. The decision is useless unless comes in time. Be Mindful. Leaders expect to be permanent informed by its employees. That is why they should be available when an employee wants to talk to him and open to direct report’s needs. Be Honest in evaluation and rewarding. People expect to be rewarded according to their contribution to business.
When evaluating direct reports many managers write a lot without saying much. Evaluations have to be short, clear and list what boss likes about evaluated person, what must be improved and what is the next step to be done. An example is displayed above.
The 21 st century leader. The authentic leader Chapter XII It may be possible to drive short-term outcomes without being authentic, but authentic leadership is the only way to create long-term results…