Thursday, 23 November 2017

The Sign of Authentic Leadership

There is a common thread in the hiring process.  Seek out the best candidate you can; train and equip them; and then get out of their way and allow them to perform to the best of their abilities.

Isn’t leadership easy?  Make the right hire and your job is done…

But in the real world, not every employee is a superstar.  Sometimes you inherit mediocrity; sometimes, despite your best efforts, you make a hire that is not so stellar.

It is for these circumstances that authentic leadership must step in.  I don’t mean that this leader is someone with the resolve to terminate mediocrity.  Rather, authentic leadership is that which is able to work with people of varying levels of talent, self- motivation and dedication to draw out the best of their potential. 

Jack Welch, former CEO at General Electric, was famous for his policy of firing the bottom 10% of his sales and management staff every year, regardless of their actual performance.  In my opinion, this approach takes no degree of leadership.  In fact it strikes me as an abdication of leadership.  All it fostered was an environment of fear and internal competition rather than cooperation and collaboration to the corporate good.

Authentic leadership exercises competencies that are both learned and those which are a reflection of character.  Today’s workforce looks for and responds best to the empathetic leadership model which is required when moving mediocrity towards greatness.

We are well to remember that not everyone is destined for the stars.  Indeed, the elite performers are amongst the top 10% of your staff, perhaps even less than this.  But the other 90% have much to contribute and this is where your leadership focus has the greatest impact.  The 80/20 rule may be true.  But it is the performance of the 20/80 remainder that is the difference between success and failure; between achieving your goals or not.

Leading a company requires courage, intellect, experience and no small amount of luck.  Leading people requires an additional dimension of your character that does not come easily to many. As is being revealed on a daily basis, many of those whom we have elevated to positions of influence and power have apparently lacked the fundamental character traits of authentic leadership.

My plea is that, in your leadership role, you are able to lead with the dignity of character that embraces and encourages everyone in your sphere of responsibility to reach their fullest potential.  And that they achieve this potential without intimidation; without harassment; and without fear or guilt.

Men and women of character must rise up and join the chorus that demands a higher moral and ethical standard in the workplace.  I am convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that this will only lead to a safer work environment which in turn leads to a more productive workplace. 

Your authentic leadership is the key! 

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