Leadership – Important Now More Than Ever

Recently James Considine and Stephen Crate have posted about management styles….and their posts have really made me think about management and leadership in general, especially during these challenging times…

From my perspective, you have to lead people to achieve results. If you are a manager, indeed your job is to manage the business, but to lead and support people as well, rather than manage them. Given the right amount of coaching and “rope” if you will, your employees may surprise you in what they are capable of achieving.

I reported to a manager at one point in my career that I would do anything for. He really led me to higher performance and really coached me in my own management skills – and the things I learned I still use to this day. He always made clear what my objectives were and basically followed-up on progress on an as-needed basis, rather than telling me which discrete tasks to perform. It was my responsibility to come up with my own checkpoints and milestones in order to accomplish my goals, and with his input, I would execute the plan. Granted, there were times that demanded a direct order, but those were in crisis situations which demanded that style.

There are a lot of advantages to leading people to performance – but the biggest advantage is the teaching that occurs during the process. As a leader, a major responsibility that you have is to teach your employees how to plan and how to achieve goals. By doing this, you effectively raise the competence level of them, and better prepare them for more responsibility. This dramatically helps with succession planning for sure, and creates depth in your organization.

Comments 3

  1. Dike Drummond

    Hi Kostas,

    I would suggest that Leadership, Facilitation, Coaching and the other key People Skills that are routinely left out of LEAN/Six Sigma training are AT LEAST half of the knowledge base needed to be consistently successful in CPI.

    At the bottom line Process Improvement is about People. About trust, respect, caring, teamwork and "teaching people to fish" and not just giving them one.

    I would edit one sentence in your post to read this way, "your employees WILL ALWAYS surprise you in what they are capable of achieving". And it is not about giving them "rope" … no one is going to hang here.

    It is about building an environment of trust and respect with some excitement and enthusiasm about CPI … it is about People and your Leadership skill.

    My two cents,

    Dike Drummond

  2. Kosta Chingas

    You are right about trust and respect – two definite cornerstones of organizational excellence.

    Regarding the rope parallel….it is possible for employees to "hang" themselves given the circumstance and the employee’s skill level. It is our job as leaders to prevent this from happening.

  3. Martin Schultz

    Leadership will always be of critical importance. Unfortunately it is little understood outside of the military. Superb managers seem to understand it, but frequently lower levels in their organizations don’t. In the past, business schools haven’t taught it well.

    During my brief military experience I was taught two things. First, don’t give an order unless you are sure it will be obeyed. Second, it is dangerous to be out in front of a bunch of men with loaded guns if one or more of them can’t stand you. And you were expected to lead from the front and by example. People see through hypocrites.

    Not surprisingly the best manager I ever worked for was quite senior in the organization, and had reached a fairly senior rank while still quite young during the second war. He understood leading by example, and the importance of teaching and coaching, but not too much. Like really good teachers everywhere, he understood the importance of letting me learn by doing. But close but unobtrusive observation.

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