Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Three Essentials for Effective Leadership

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” –Frank A. Clark

Leadership is the ability to accomplish initiatives through others. To do that, you need teams. When a team shares the same values and vision, they gel better as a group.  However, with diverse thinkers, religions and so on, there must be effective management tools to keep people aligned. Below is a brief outline of three strategies to lead diverse teams and disperse silos.

1.                  Create a new mindset.
Part of the job of leadership is to engage people in
new conversations for what’s possible. Outdated mindsets create outdated conversations.  Outdated conversations can inaccurately predetermine what’s possible as well as what’s impossible.
While you may feel that having the same conversations year after year gives you a sense of comfort and familiarity with your company, that familiarity is likely holding you back. In the book “Risk Intelligence,” David Apagar says that “the biggest problem people have when faced with risk is that they know too much… [about] themselves.”  People tend to see themselves with presupposed limits and capabilities based on their knowledge and experience.

A change in leadership mindset will support a change in staff and managerial mindsets and it is the leader’s responsibility to affect that change. There are a few questions to ask that can drive these kinds of conversations. Some may seem counter-intuitive. For example, “For what kind of company do I want to work? In what ways is this company not the one I want to work for? And in what ways will I be responsible for making sure it happens?”  From this perspective, everyone is responsible for the success of the enterprise.   

2.                   Create a problem.
This requires a different perspective when viewing problems and may appear counterintuitive.  Yet, to create a platform on which people can stand together, leadership must create a problem for staff and management to solve.  This is not to say leadership is looking for problems to solve. Instead, leadership must galvanize the entire organization or team around the invention of a new product, service or innovative productivity process. Because the project has never been done and there is no blue print, it can appear as a problem.

Creating problems is a powerful strategy for bringing purpose to teams.  Everyone is focused on solving the problem.  When people have a problem to solve, it breaks down barriers and dissolves silos.  If the problem is larger than one person’s knowledge and experience, the skills and competencies of colleagues, suppliers and clients will be leveraged. Apple Computer demonstrated this with the invention of the iPod.

3.                   Allow people to fail.
With a problem to solve, an environment for accomplishment is fostered. Even though people will begin to galvanize themselves into action, they need to be encouraged to look outside the box at new and seemingly irrational actions. In the beginning, many ideas will seem like failures. They will appear too far outside of the company’s core competencies to make sense. While some of these products may not be doable, many of them could change the shape and nature of your company and consumer base once you figure out how to incorporate them. It has happened many times that yesterday’s failures end up as tomorrow’s breakthroughs.

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.

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