Friday, November 17, 2006

What is effective Leadership?

Pat Grove, my long time friends and mentor wrote this great piece. I trust you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Leadership is a well-used term that means many things to many people. At Pat Grove Coaching Academy, where we interpret management as 'Managing what is', we see leadership as 'Managing what isn’t'. It is about leading people to places that they would not go by themselves. We would like to share with you our way of looking at leadership and what makes an effective leader.

A metaphor I use in my workshops is, “what is the job of the fly half in the game of rugby?” There are many responses, pass the ball, kick the ball, run with the ball and my answer is always. ‘Yes these are all the things he does and his main job is to put the ball where it isnt.

The same with a leader - whose job it is to put the organisation ‘where it isnt.’

There are many components to a great leader and we we see them all based on the leader’s network of relationships, which to us is an organisation. Fundamental to effective leadership are relationships and, above all else, to become an effective leader, one must be trustworthy and build trust with others.

Effective leaders understand that trust is based on assessments of past actions. They are sincere and mean what they say. They 'walk the talk'. They are competent at what they do. Their employees know that they can do what they say they can do. They are reliable. They understand the fundamentals of making and keeping promises. They are clear in the requests and offers they make, they allow for negotiation of those requests and offers in the context of defined organisational priorities and then manage their promises effectively.

They know the difficulty of regainng trust once it has been lost so they make every endeavour to keep their promises. They also understand the possibility of there being a ‘breakdown’ and the promise not been kept from either side. A leader also understands that re-negotiation to keep the promise then clears the trust.

Since leaders manage what could be, in other words ‘what isnt’, they are able to design organisations that are capable of adapting to the rapidly increasing change of the business environment. Those organisations are flexible and focussed.

An effective leader recognises their organisation as a network of relationships and has the conversational skills to build those relationships. They know that the right conversation at the right time and in the right mood will build relationships. They know that the wrong conversation in the wrong mood will damage them. They have an understanding of language distinctions and the active nature of language and utilise these in the conversations that they have.

Effective leaders recognise that to manage what isn’t, they must interrupt their 'busyness' in order to reflect and speculate. They need to step away from the day to day pressures to see the forest from the trees. They also recognise that breakdowns present opportunities and that the bigger the breakdown the greater the potential for learning and transformations which ultimately opens the door for breakthroughs. Therefore, they do not punish mistakes but see them as opportunities for learning and growth.

An effective leader is able to anticipate or create shifts in the paradigms in which their organisation operates. They recognise that we are all unique observers and that there are many different viewpoints within their organisation. They are able to tap those views to generate paradigm shifts. They then have the conversational skills, trained in the language of action, to create new realities for people and to shift their organisation in ways that they adopt the new paradigm and make quantum leaps forward.

An effective leader has employees who personify the mission and values of the organisation. They are people who are fully committed to what the organisation stands for and wants to achieve.
They know that commitment comes from the heart, not the head and that personal commitment is an embodied ‘way of being’ and an emotional acceptance of a way of doing business. Therefore an effective leader understands how to tap into the fundamental mood of their organisation and to intervene and influence in ways that develop a mood of ambition a mood of success for the future throughout the organisation. They also understand the vital role that each individual’s emotional state plays in their ability to learn at any point in time. They know that certain moods and emotions enhance learning and they seek to establish that emotional context to enhance their systematic learning programs.

Effective leaders know that with increasing commitment and trust will come empowered staff. They understand that all of the great ideas do not come from one or a few people at the top of an organisation but that the majority can come from those who actually do the job. They recognise that through empowered staff, the organisation will become more efficient and productive.

There are many concepts put forward about leadership. Many of them provide similar concepts about what makes an effective leader - trust, relationships, vision and a new way of being.


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