Sunday, 10 June 2012
You only get out what you are willing to put in.
Inspirational leaders model and nurture future leaders. This task is critically important to the ongoing health of an organization and inspirational leaders instinctively demonstrate this capacity because they themselves have often been the beneficiary of this coaching.
Unfortunately you will find situations in every company in which this process is not practiced. Typically the reason is that the individual in the role of ‘leader’ is ill equipped for the function and is therefore intimidated by those who, by virtue of experience, skill or character, are superior in leadership competence.
Nurturing and modelling can take on several activities. A primary method is by delegating responsibility and authority for some functions. Note however, that accountability cannot be delegated in this model. To delegate accountability is tantamount to abdication of responsibility and, by definition, is inconsistent with leadership.
Delegation in this model is aligned with the quality outlined in the previous chapter that encouraged risk taking even if it results in failure. That is another reason why accountability cannot be delegated.
Modelling can be demonstrated by the LBWA principle…Leadership by Walking Around.
Twenty years ago, Ken Blanchard wrote the book “The One Minute Manager” in which he talked about ‘managing by walking around’ or MBWA. (1)
The same principle can be applied for developing leadership qualities in your staff. Leadership by walking around is your opportunity to engage your team members without focusing on specific results of the day. The opportunity to casually share your vision and to have those ‘blue sky’ conversations builds confidence and rapport and goes a long way to keeping the team members willing to follow.
These are especially good times to catch someone doing something well and to add inspiration through your recognition of their efforts. A team member who is truly appreciated is one who is more fully committed. In today’s environment where opportunities for promotion or significant increases in compensation are restricted, an environment that recognizes and acknowledges individual contributions is one which is more likely to attract and retain quality personnel and to have them contribute at a high level.
Nurturing and modelling can never include coercion of any sort. This includes threats, slander, physical or sexual harassment, or any kind of behaviour intended to force someone into a particular response. It may seem self-evident, but in fact we have a different definition for this approach or style. Words like bully, dictator or tyrant more appropriately define this type of person.
This is not to suggest that some things are not accomplished using these styles. But given that the 'willingness to follow' has now been replaced by either pushing or pulling, the inspirational leadership model is not active.
If you are not certain that the model has changed, just look at the tracks left by the heels that were dug in to resist. They will have left enough of a record to convince even the most sceptical critic that something inappropriate has taken place.
Ideally, your modelling and nurturing is not forced. Rather it should be the natural outflow of your daily behaviour and activities. If you are not choosing to demonstrate the characteristics of leadership, you are modelling some other style. And the probable outcome is that you are alienating your staff, not drawing them into the team objectives that you have established. If the qualities are not part of your DNA, your insincere approach to the leadership model will ultimately become exposed. We will discuss the consequences in the next blog.