Organisational Leadership: The badge of greatness

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Michelle Obama is my role model….…. she went to Harvard, she is talented and always encourages young girls to reach for their dreams. I want to be like her’, said my daughter. Words of wisdom from the leading lady of America had made it past the glitz and glamour of several other goddesses. I felt reassured about the influences working on my daughter.

The conversation made me think. Do we all have role models? Consciously or unconsciously do we pick cues from those in our immediate environment? Who might these people be? Family members? Managers? Social activists? Thought leaders? Anyone with a success story to tell!  I think I have been and continue to be impacted by a large number of people. Starting from my successful older cousins who led me to an MBA degree, to my first boss who showed how to build & retain the trust of customers, to the manager who told me, ‘you need to define the job, make it your own…..’ which I never forgot, I have been and continue to be influenced by a large number of role models, more so than I realise. The benefit has been mine as much as that of the corporation.

Observing leaders go about their lives can influence how teams behave, perform their tasks and add value. It can lead to improved/ innovative business practices, more resilient, hi-performing teams, greater profitability and finally sustainable, profitable corporations.

However, the power to influence negatively is as great or more as the positive fallouts.

Here are a few items to look-out for:

  • Show interest in your people, genuine as far as possible.
  • Encourage ownership & creativity at an individual level.
  • Participate in team meetings & daily huddles. They are useful venues for problem solving.
  • Communicate clearly and unequivocally.
  • Operate from a plan, being reactive and appearing whimsical takes away employee confidence.
  • As far as possible, communicate key decisions widely.
  • Provide the background data and context to changes/ decisions made.
  • Avoid emotional outbursts. These can only have a negative impact.
  • Encourage collaboration.
  • Help teams understand performance objectives and provide regular feedback.
  • Define your expectations prior to a meeting. Negative outcomes from important meetings can hurt confidence and career progression.

Management needs to recognise the power they wield, the impact they have & the change that they can drive. ‘Leadership is example. Example is the way leaders create reasons for others to believe in their leadership’, says John Boldoni, an international leadership consultant. Leaders actions set benchmarks in behaviour. Being a good role-model drives trust and loyalty, greater buy-in for corporate objectives, thereby increasing chances for survival & success.

My experience in change management has consistently shown that leadership has a big role to play in the success of teams. Teams who perceived their leaders to be inaccessible, uninvolved, uncommunicative and ‘pure task masters’ had poorly motivated, low performing teams. Leaders should be seen as leading teams that are collectively creating a thriving, high-performing organisation. ‘When we make decisions, the employees should be part of the journey and should know they’re not just filling my pockets’ (1), says Lars Rebien Sorensen, CEO of Novo Nordisk, voted best performing CEO by Harvard Business Review in Nov. ’15.

As rightly put by Winston Churchill, ‘the price of greatness is responsibility’.

© Anu Maakan 2016

(Disclaimer: all views published here are the personal views of the author and do not represent those of any organization).