2 - Leadership In Today's Environment
has been discussed, debated, researched, exalted, and debunked practically
forever. Countless books and articles have been written on the subject.
Still, it is something of a mystery how best to lead organizations,
especially postmodern ones. These organizations are increasingly
characterized by overwhelming size and complexity, and the need
to forge partnerships, alliances, deals, teams, and other collaborative
and interdependent work arrangements.
what challenges face leaders who find themselves in this rapidly
changing and demanding environment?
is the need to set the agenda of the organization--its scope, boundaries,
and focus. In a world of increasing possibilities, it is the work
of the leader to determine the organization's purpose (why this
organization exists), mission (what it will accomplish or contribute),
and vision (what the organization will look like and how its stakeholders
will be affected by the mission's success). This determines the
boundary of the organization. The leader must understand and manage
the relationships within the boundary, as well as the appropriate
interface between the organization and those outside the boundary.
It is also the leader's responsibility to help all involved align
their vision to the realization of the organization's mission.
is the need to access the resources required to get the job done.
This is particularly challenging in the face of organization cultures
and world economic climates that are driven by attitudes of scarcity,
do-more-with-less, and demands for short term results.
is the need to attract and retain a workforce that embodies the
necessary knowledge, experience, passion, and loyalty to "out-muscle"
the competition. Good leaders develop a work environment that enables
creativity and innovation while reducing the drain of energy into
unproductive pursuits like internal competition, win/lose thinking,
anxiety about looking bad, fear of making mistakes or appearing
foolish, turf battles, and values conflicts. The leader must also
manage the performance of individuals, teams, and the entire organization.
you say, nothing new here--what's the real challenge? We believe
the most significant challenge facing leaders today is the requirement
that they successfully meet all other challenges in ways that are
collaborative, interdependent, and virtual. It is the ability to
orchestrate this combination of conditions that differentiates varying
degrees of success.
holds organizations together today is arrangements that are less
formal. This requires that both organization structures and personal
styles continually adapt. But the reality is that all of us were
raised, socialized, and rewarded in the paradigm of steep hierarchies,
bureaucracies, and autocratic, control-driven approaches to leadership.
Overtly or covertly, in most organizations this is till the way.
Even small companies and start-ups struggling with how to evolve
their infrastructures and organization cultures frequently default
to bureaucratic structures, legalistic solutions, reliance on policies,
and command-and-control management.
then, must leaders be able to do? What attributes must they embody?
the vast majority of people in organizations are still inclined
toward the old command-and-control paradigm, leaders must be able
to conceptualize, articulate, and create an organizational model
characterized by big picture thinking, an emphasis on long-term
results, and a systems approach to the organization and its relationship
to its stakeholders.
must recognize that control is an illusion and that high performance
is voluntary. This means organization structures must tap into
and value each person's unique characteristics. Organizations
must provide an environment in which people will freely offer
what they know and think; engage in random acts of innovation,
creativity, and synergy; and collaborate rather than compete.
This means that conflict, disagreement, and discomfort should
be expected, because that is what happens when people and ideas
are in process.
leaders know that relationships matter. When people are treated
with respect, when they are truly listened to, when commitments
made to them are kept, when their contributions are valued, when
they see that they make a difference to the well-being of the
enterprise, they freely give their dedication and loyalty--and
their best efforts and high performance. Without this people instead
give compliance, passive resistance, and minimal effort.
a world that is increasingly chaotic and in organizations that
are extraordinarily complex, the only real anchor is one's personal
sense of purpose, values, and integrity. These are what define
our relationship to our environment. The best leaders know that:
vision, purpose, and values fuel the motivation for leadership,
enrollment and alignment to shared values and purpose are the
fuel for synergy and momentum toward the vision and goals, and
self-awareness, knowledge, and understanding are the fuel for
individual learning and renewal, emotional competence, and the
ability to model--to "walk the talk".
the end it's not a question of whether or not the people in your
organization will adopt the model you set. It's a matter of which
model you want them to follow. The way leaders change their organizations
is by changing themselves.
"The Leader of the Future" edited by Frances Hesselbein,
Marshall Goldsmith, and Richard Goldsmith (Jossey-Bass, 1996)
Leader of the Future" is a book about the future of our businesses,
our organizations, and our society. And it's about your role as
a leader in that future. The book spotlights the ideas of a remarkable
set of visionary thinkers providing us with new insights and directions
critical to becoming effective leaders of the organizations of tomorrow.
guru, PETER DRUCKER reminds us that the most effective leaders know
four simple things:
only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.
effective leader is not someone who is loved or admired. Popularity
isn't leadership; results are.
are highly visible. They set examples.
is not rank, privileges, or money. It is responsibility.
and speaker GIFFORD PINCHOT believes that as the percentage of knowledge
workers in an organization increase, more leaders are needed. Important
work that needs to be done includes innovation, seeing things in
new ways, and responding to customers by changing the way things
are done. By replacing hierarchy with more indirect methods of leadership,
you can allow greater freedom, better allocation of resources, and
a strong force for focusing on the common good. Offering workers
more room to lead creates an organization ready to meet tomorrow's
to author and consultant STEPHEN COVEY, leaders of the future will
be the people who create cultures or value systems based on principles.
Creating such cultures will be tremendously exciting for future
leaders, but only if they have the vision, courage, and humility
to learn and grow. He believes you can break principle-centered
leadership into three basic activities:
to changes in technology, demographics, and economics, consultant
and author DOUGLAS SMITH believes that the omniscient leader is
obsolete. Leaders will continue to set direction, make tough decisions,
and inspire commitment. But getting good performance now requires
relying on the capacities and insights of others. Leaders thus need
to understand when the best choice is to follow.
contributors include Charles Handy, Peter Senge, Ed Schein, Ken
Blanchard, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, James Kouzes, and Barry Posner.
Leader of the Future" is a book for leaders in all sectors:
business, nonprofit, and government. It can be read as a text on
the subject as it informs and stimulates. It can also be read as
a call to action prompting us to ask, "In my organization,
what could I do that would make a difference? How can I truly set
an example?" It then helps motivate us to do it.
Web-sites and Other Resources we've found about this topic include:
for Creative Leadership http://www.ccl.org
offers an extensive selection of leadership development programs.
They also sponsor research, publish, and operate a leadership-focused
bookstore on their website. You can subscribe to their newsletter,
Leadership in Action, by contacting Jossey-Bass Publishers @ 888-378-
2537 or http://www.josseybass.com
F. Drucker Foundation for Non-Profit Management http://www.pfdf.org
be put off by the not-for-profit name of this organization--Drucker
is one of the best (and best known) in the field. They publish an
excellent quarterly newsletter called Leader-to-Leader that contains
articles from such well known authors as Margaret Wheatley, Max
DuPre, Warren Bennis, Peter Senge (and of course, Peter Drucker).
Many of these articles are available on-line.
on Leadership Development: Warren Bennis says, "Here's the
deal: learning to be a leader is virtually the same process as becoming
an integrated and healthy person....What that means is that when
we're talking about "growing leaders", we're inevitably
involved in personal stuff, personal transformation." He goes
on to say that he is skeptical about the prospects for "teaching"
leadership but advocates coaching as an approach that works. (A
Conversation with Warren Bennis, http://www.behavior.net/column/bennis/)
In her doctoral dissertation, Tracy reached similar conclusions.
(Revisiting the Question of Born vs. Made: Toward a Theory of Development
of Transformational Leaders. (1986). Unpublished doctoral dissertation.
Santa Barbara, CA: The Fielding Institute.)
other organizations/programs that focus on this personal factor
in their approach to leadership development include:
Institute for Behavioral Science http://www.ntl.org
Leader Lab program at the Center for Creative Leadership http://www.ccl.org
Week at the Covey Leadership Center http://www.covey.com
Issue | Next Issue
to the Resource Index