Developing Outstanding Leadership - Human Capital Feb 2009


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Developing Outstanding Leadership - Human Capital Feb 2009

  1. 1. 36    humanCapital I DECEMBER 2008 LEADERSHIP Developing Outstanding & High Performance Leadership By Prof Sattar Bawany A s companies strive to search for and develop talent, there is considerable debate on what separates a leader from the rest of the corporate pack. Are leadership qualities intrinsic to an individual or can they be taught, developed and nurtured over time? Leadership is defined as an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes. Thus leadership involves people in a relationship, influence, change, a shared purpose, and taking personal responsibility to make things happen. Most of us are aware of famous leaders, but most leadership that changes the world starts small and may begin with personal frustrations about events that prompt people to initiate change and inspire others to follow them. Organisations need leaders to visualise the future, motivate and inspire employees, and adapt to changing needs. Jack Welsh of General Electric is one of the best-known examples of a business executive who combines good management and effective leadership. He understands and practices good management such as cost control but is a master leader, actively promoting change and communicating a vision. The Leadership Challenge The biggest challenge facing leaders today is the changing world that wants a new paradigm of leadership. The new reality involves the shift from stability to change and crisis management, from control to empowerment, from competition to collaboration, from uniformity to diversity, and from a self-centered focus to a higher ethical purpose. In addition, the concept of leader as hero is giving way to that of the humble leader who develops others and shares credit for accomplishments. These dramatic changes suggest that a philosophy based on control and personal ambition will probably fail in the new era. The challenge for leaders is to evolve to a new mindset that relies on human skills, integrity, and teamwork – the hallmarks of an Outstanding & High Performance Leadership. High Performance Leadership – Is it an Art or Science? It is an art because many leadership skills and qualities cannot be learned from a textbook. Leadership takes practice and hands-on experience. Learning about leadership research helps people analyse situations from a variety of perspectives and learn how to be effective as leaders. Practical Leadership Advice for Challenging Times Like These
  2. 2. DECEMBER 2008 I humanCapital    37 Leadership is a science because a growing body of knowledge and objective facts describe the leadership process and how to use leadership skills to attain organisational goals. One of the most important aspects of the new paradigm of high performance leadership is the ability to use human skills to build a culture of performance, trust, and integrity. DBMs recent global study compared derailed executives with executives who successfully arrived at the top of the company. The successful executives had good people or relationship management skills; the best leaders are deeply interested in developing others and are emotionally intelligent. Human skills are increasingly important for leaders in today’s knowledge driven economy. Leadership means being emotionally connected to others. Where there is high performance leadership, people become part of a community and feel that they are contributing to something worthwhile. Unfortunately, attempts to achieve collaboration, empowerment, and diversity may fail because leaders and employees have beliefs and processes stuck in the old paradigm that values control, stability, and homogeneity---rather than people. Like a captain of a sporting team or a general of an army, leaders need to innovate, inspire, excite and provide a clear vision to others. They hold and believe in a vision and just as importantly, have the self-belief and conviction to communicate it to others. Furthermore leaders do not have definitive characteristics. Some inspire and organise, whereas others are strategic or tactical, spot opportunities or protect against disaster. Developing High Performance Leaders DBM believes that with enough training, those with leadership potential can be developed into outstanding leaders. However there are things that cannot be taught. This is the difference between skill and talent. Confusing the two can set up the manager for disappointment. The events of September 11th showed the world how the firefighters of New York were humble leaders, dedicated to the greater good rather than their own personal advancement. They ran into the twin towers to save others. Humility is important for good leadership because it places the focus on getting the job done rather than self-aggrandisement. Self-awareness is perhaps one of the most difficult leadership skills to learn and yet it is the one that often has the most impact. As leaders rise through the ranks of an organisation, their profile becomes more visible to employees and their increased power can have subtle and direct ramifications. A strong management team underneath the leader can help formulate business-related questions but often the leader needs to ask questions of themselves, such as: • Which areas of the business get the most time and attention and is that the right amount? • To what extent do they‘walk the talk’of their corporate mission, vision, strategic goals and values? • Is the level of communication sufficient in the business for employees to perform‘above and beyond?’ • Does my decision-making strike the right balance between the needs of employees and the business, and what is my record of success? Aside from internal reflection, aspiring leaders also need to focus outwardly. One of the best ways to do this is to observe leaders within your organisation who have traits you would like to model and who have nurtured their careers to achieve the success you desire. In observing these people, list three behaviours or things they have done which you admire, three ways you describe their leadership style and three things your company values in a leader. In compiling this list, speak with others in your company to get an understanding of the qualities they are looking for in leaders. Armed with this list, you can then compare it with your assessment of yourself to identify areas for development. Formulating a Plan With the knowledge of what you need to develop, the next step is to formulate a plan to help you get there. High Performance Leaders use intellectual as well as emotional capabilities and understandings to guide organisations through a turbulent environment and help employees feel energised, motivated, and cared for in the face of rapid change, uncertainty, and job insecurity. Leaders can expand the capacities of their minds and hearts through conscious development and practice. As executives rise to leadership positions, the complexity of people management grows considerably. Leaders need hard skills, for example, how to write a sales plan, and soft skills – sometimes referred to as Emotional Intelligence. Research by the Danial Goleman’s EI Consortium indicates 85 per cent of leadership competencies relate to how you tap into and manage your emotions and the emotions of those around you. According to Daniel Goleman, characteristics such as self-confidence, empathy and conflict-management are examples of emotional management skills needed in a leader. Traditional organisations have relied on fear as a motivator. While fear does motivate people, it prevents people from feeling goodabouttheirworkandoftencausesavoidancebehaviour.Fear
  3. 3. 38    humanCapital I DECEMBER 2008 can reduce trust and communication so that important problems and issues are hidden or suppressed. Leaders can choose to lead with love instead of fear. Love can be thought of as a motivational force that enables people to feel alive, connected, and energised; as feelings of liking, caring, and bliss; and as actions of helping, listening, and cooperating. Each of these aspects of love has relevance for organisational relationships. People respond to love because it meets unspoken needs for respect and affirmation. Rational thinking is important to leadership, but it takes love to build trust, creativity, and enthusiasm. In developing leaders, organisations are increasingly addressing hard and soft skills development concurrently. In practice, they may require you to complement postgraduate study, such as an MBA, with an executive coaching programme that is tailored to your individual’s needs, as well as those of the company. These programmes range from accelerating the personal development of ‘high-potentials’ to supporting the induction of a senior executive to a more senior or different role. Coaches are also used to clarify career paths, enabling individuals to take responsibility for managing their own careers. Blended learning solutions that combine personal assessment, skill-building and coaching to generate a new solution are the way of the future. These types of solutions are generally transparent and focus on improved networking skills, business process integration, systemic and strategic thinking and innovation. Companies at the forefront of this type of employee development often integrate the process into a wider context of succession planning – one of the most beneficial and valuable exercises the modern corporation can undertake. Article by Prof Sattar Bawany, Head of Transition Coaching Practice at DBM Asia Pacific. DBM is a leading global human capital management firm providing career management, executive coaching, and talent management solutions to private and public companies, not for profits and governments. Website: Email: Conclusion The world is changing faster today as a result of technology. Rapid technological changes, a globalised economy, changing markets, and e-commerce create more threats as well as more opportunities. Advancedinformationtechnologyimprovesproductivity,customer service, and competitiveness, but because technology changes so rapidly, leaders must adopt new ways of doing business. The Internet and e-commerce have increased domestic and international competition and challenged organisations to deliver goods and services rapidly. Basic management skills of process, control and communication are still needed and will probably continue to be taught in the traditional way, in classrooms or through mentoring. But in order for managers to become outstanding high performance leaders, there needs to be a different and more scientific approach to management development, one that shows measurable results and ultimately has a positive impact on the bottom line. For Singapore’s budding leaders to compete with the world’s best, senior managers need to embrace the latest techniques of high performance leadership development. The price of not doing so will create plenty of managers, but very few leaders. The successful executives had good people or relationship management skills; the best leaders are deeply interested in developing others and are emotionally intelligent.