Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Leadership Equation

In an earlier blog I offered a means to measure the effectiveness of the leadership being provided in any organization.  I used the analogy of a rowboat and suggested that based on different surveys, productivity is likely no better than about 60% in most organizations.  And depending upon the impact of the negative contribution of the other 40% of employees, actual productivity may be as low as 20%.  In this scenario, getting just one of the four negative contributors to turn their oar to a positive contribution will improve overall productivity by 100% (from 20% to 40% overall).  Obviously the goal is to get all the oars in the water and pulling towards the same objective.  Only then is productivity maximized.

While there are various means of motivating employees, only one involves authentic leadership.  You may coerce, threaten, bully, harass or dictate as a means of 'motivation'.  But that only makes you a dictator, bully, tyrant or intimidator.  None of these lead; they all push.

What is needed is inspirational leadership.  This model provides effective and sustainable results that are reflected in the workplace by a positive environment and culture and ultimately improved productivity. 

This inspirational leadership model is defined in my Leadership Equation.  The value of the equation is twofold.  First is that you have an example to draw upon.  The second is that you have a means for analysis when things are not working out as anticipated.  The two are equally important.

The Equation has three components.  And only one part has to do with the individual leader.

First, the leader must have moral authority.  This authority can come from a variety of means.  In our democratic process, those whom we elect to political positions have a moral authority granted to them by society to lead and govern.  Those in corporations who are leadership roles have moral authority granted by virtue of the shareholders who approve of the Board of Directors and their subsequent appointment of the CEO.  Through delegation of authority, subsequent appointments of other leaders also have moral authority.

Sometimes moral authority is granted within a group.  The example of a jury speaks to this type of appointment wherein the group itself selects a foreperson to represent them.  This person thus has moral authority.

Under no circumstance can leadership be self declared.  Sole ownership is the exception. Any attempt at self declaration is not leadership but a coup and falls into the definition of dictator, regardless of how well intentioned their motives may be.  Consider the example of Alexander Haig, Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan.  Upon hearing of an assassination attempt on Reagan, Haig famously declared that he was in charge, his former military career training had kicked in.  The problem was that the U.S. constitution had already made provisions for succession in such a situation, and Haig`s role placed him 5th in that plan.  His self declaration was not only wrong but it became an unfortunate defining moment in his career, a moment that was viewed derisively, not in a complimentary way.

The moral authority of the leader may be challenged by others.  Sometimes consciously, sometimes unintentionally.  For example, a team member may have leadership desires and seek to influence the team.  Or the leader`s superior may attempt to exert influence on the team and bypass the leader.

Both of these situations must be addressed proactively.  If you are the leader and have the moral authority to hold that position, you must exercise your authority and confront these intrusions.  It is crucial that the team has one person and only one person that holds their focus. Without that focus you risk losing the impact of the moral authority that you already possess.

In my next blog I will discuss the other two components of The Leadership Equation.  Please join me.

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