Saturday, 15 May 2010

Effective Leadership

Six months ago I ran a session with a group of managers and execs from the public sector who were briefed to lead an industry/paradigm-changing initiative. With a large number of representatives in the room it was inevitable that the purpose of the group might get diluted and that is might turn into a self–referencing talking shop.

I had been asked to talk to them about leadership but the one thing we don’t need is any more leadership courses. We’ve all been there.

So what is required?

Well we need is a focus on what matters. What matters is what happens as a result of your leadership: the results. We will be measured on our results and not our good intentions.

Yes, you need a VISION, a blue skies picture of what success might look like, and yes you probably need a MISSION, some clearly defined numbers around what you might be doing when you hit that mission (turnover, profit, number of staff, number of clients) and the other levels of the business planning process (strategy, milestones, performance indicators). And that’s the easy predictable stuff.

But the key to making the leadership ‘effective’is around action.

So I would say that LEADERSHIP is about VISION (& mission etc) and DECISIONS and ACTIONS and RESULTS and OUTCOMES/BENEFITS.

Too much so-called leadership ’activity’ focuses on the needs of the group and not on the needs of the ‘client/customer base’.

When you focus on the end point (Covey’s “Start with the end in mind” concept) then the role of the leadership gets clear. Add some task-focused urgency (Who is going to do what by when? What are the quick fixes? What are the slower-burning actions?) to the equation and you start cooking on gas!

And the result in this group: a focus/re-focus on why the group had been brought together and why it existed. A new sense of direction gave them the impetus and framework it needed to deliver. A great day. And six months later the fruits of their work are now being realised.

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