Here’s a key challenge for HR. Imagine a manager in your organisation has had their budget for next year cut significantly and they’ve spent a considerable amount of time and effort restructuring their department and the work flow to ensure that none of their employees have to be let go. They’re very proud of the way they’ve met their organisational demands while protecting their team. But they are then shocked when employee reactions to their changes are extremely negative. What on earth happened?
It’s seldom easy to achieve alignment around challenges in any business. Even agreeing what the challenges are can be far from straightforward. Companies are complicated places; the different stakeholders all have different agendas and are motivated by different norms and incentives. Sometimes a strong leader can through force of will create alignment among these warring factions, but in my experience a more consultative approach that respects the legitimacy of everyone’s position achieves better results.
Whitney Johnson, an investor in stocks, people, concepts, and dreams, and is a top business thinker, is the author of Dare. Dream. Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream. She is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review Blog.
I’m drawing a line in the sand and proclaiming that leadership, as we know it today, will become extinct. Those who want to survive must transform themselves into mentors whose sole purpose is to breed success in those they lead.
“One of the greatest moments in anybody’s developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide from himself but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is.” - Norman Vincent Peale
Robust reflection is a prerequisite to personal and professional development. To produce meaningful reflection, it takes sufficient time and conscious effort. From a leadership perspective, powerful and productive change cannot occur unless preceded by deliberate reflection.
It’s time that beliefs and theories about business catch up with the way great companies operate and how they see their role in the world today. Traditionally, economists and financiers have argued that the sole purpose of business is to make money—the more the better. That conveniently narrow image, deeply embedded in the American capitalist system, molds the actions of most corporations, constraining them to focus on maximizing short-term profits and delivering returns to shareholders. Their decisions are expressed in financial terms.
Failure is a great teacher but also a cryptic one. Deciphering ‘teachable moments’ from such experiences is no easy task to begin with and doing so while dealing with feelings of frustration, disappointment, demoralization, resentment, embarrassment, and even hopelessness, is even harder.
I have a begun to take issue with leadership development. Not the basic premise of it, but rather what it has unfortunately morphed into. The point of leadership development is to become better through process. It is meant to be a journey of discovery and struggle for a greater good. The unfortunate bit is it has become a check-box on a training card for many organizations and leaders.
Driving on the motorway recently, I pulled in for a burger. The outlet was quiet and the burger display board hidden. "May I have a burger?" I asked, puzzled. "Sorry, no burgers," was the reply, “there was a fire alarm yesterday morning and they didn’t deliver." If it happened the previous day, surely someone could have delivered burgers to the outlet by the next afternoon? No burgers equals no operation. My learning? Don’t make innovation your top priority for 2014; make the operation your first priority.
The underlying philosophy of servant leadership is important to grasp.
Though it may at first glance seem to be an issue of semantics, the distinction between a leader who serves and a servant who leads is a fundamental one. What separates servant-leadership from other discussions of leadership is that it takes the approach of leadership not being the end-all, but instead a vehicle for the service of others. As Robert Greenleaf pointed out, “The servant-leader is servant first….It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.”
In other words, for the servant-leader, leadership is a means to an end rather than being an end to itself.