Thursday, February 26, 2009

More management lessons.

The greater the amount of choice people have in any situation, the greater the need for leadership. My experience pointed to four value-driven influences on a manager’s effectiveness as a leader:

- the manager’s commitment to the company’s goals (which depends on their clarity and congruence).

- the manager’s understanding and appreciation of subordinates' values, needs and expectations.

- the subordinates respect for the manager’s values and competence (otherwise known as “charisma”).

- the manager’s personal effort and capability.

I found the secret to developing effective leaders was to create conditions where people could find out where their natural leadership qualities came from through challenge, on-the-job experience, accountability, feedback, and introspection. The learning process had to be emotionally engaging, putting people at risk while working on business projects that really mattered. Leadership is about ambiguities, not certainties. Successful leaders engage others in exploring all sides of the dilemmas they face.

As a leader, your personal style and perceptions will directly influence your success. To the degree you can recognize and shape your own style, you will be more in control of what happens. By recognizing your own tendencies and then consciously modeling the ideal, you’ll be better able to influence others.

For leaders to be successful in entrepreneurial companies, they must have energy, vision, hustle and selling skills. They have to compartmentalize their fears and doubts, and be comfortable with ambiguity and lack of clarity. They need to believe in what they’re doing with a passion that overcomes doubt.

Being an effective leader today is a lot like mountain climbing. There’s a popular alpine climbing manifesto that goes like this:

- If you’re not hungry, you’re carrying too much food.

- If you’re warm, you have too many clothes.

- If you’re not frightened, you have too much gear.

- If you get up your climb, it was too easy anyway.

If you’re into alpine climbing, you have to spend much of your time being cold, hungry and frightened. And you have to fail occasionally. The best climbs, according to mountaineer Mick Fowler, are those you either “just” get up or “just” fail to complete. And, even if you miss by a mile, there are still lessons to be learned.
So it is with leadership.

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