September 14th, 2010
Today’s comments may sound a little a bit like ranting and raving. I am on various Boards; I lead people; I coach a bunch of teenagers in soccer; I coach small business owners for a living, sometimes just for the sheer joy of it. I end up hearing about a lot of problems and opportunities and am thrust into negotiations - essentially, I hear it all.
There is a common link between my experiences in all of the situations I am involved in. As leaders we tend to coach from our seats, stay behind the desk and dole out our wisdom. We tell people what they should do and what they should be thinking. You know what? People don’t learn this way. They can’t act on your advice completely. They will miss parts of it and forget important details.
Are leaders lazy or uninformed? I am not sure. We like to have people to work with and to help. We “graduated up” and are glad we do not have to do the job our staff does – at least sometimes… The main observation I have? Leaders simply need to learn to think differently. We need to get our hands dirty. We can and will see the real world if we roll up our sleeves and go see what our staff is doing. Currently there is big network television show that sends its CEO out to do the line work and see how hard it is to meet the very productivity standards they may have put in place for the business! This show points out what I knew long ago. If you get close to your business and ask your people what needs fixing, they will tell you.
In small business? We have no choice but to work side by side. However, there are still tremendous opportunities to teach and set an example by doing.
July 8th, 2010
If you read my blog through one of the many ways we distribute, you probably read my good friend Bill Tietjen’s comments about remote control leadership. Bill and I get together several times a year to “wax philosophical” on career systems and business models and what works in today’s fast paced, unique business climate.
To quote Bill, “Remote control leadership can (and should) be complemented by a “remote control followership” in which all parties demonstrate and refine the same set of principles that have been outlined.”
My challenge to all of us who engage in organizational/entrepreneurial endeavors – How do we make such a tidal wave shift to a culture where “leadership is EVERYONE’s responsibilty”?
Our first common belief is that traditional career systems are dead. We are all not going to work for one company and have one job. We will all have many, as many as seven or more different jobs over our work life times.
Secondly, that the old military style of organized business where information flows from the top through the chain of command out to the troops and from the troops back to the top is less appealing today. Frankly not productive at the employee level. This model is inflexible, slow, and not likely to generate innovation and or create an environment of extreme customer service. To many this is still a common notion today because many leaders and most employees don’t know how to change. For the employee, they probably need to find a culturally based company. There are a few and they are worth finding. For leaders?
Leaders have a real challenge. Leaders who are worth their salt got to where they are by working hard and leveraging their natural strengths and learned leadership behaviors. Chances are most leaders did not learn to start or run their company utilizing the skills and or techniques that create an Outside-In culture or customer centered environment. This is the organization that is relatively flat, all are empowered, and information is shared across the business.
Innovation and speed come from empowerment. It also comes from earned trust that leaders gain through daily investments in the natural reinforcement of organizational priorities and by leading through the cultural values established for the business. But how do you make leadership everyone’s job? Seems like a daunting task, but it has been done. Have you ever been to a Ritz Carlton? Ever bought a Gore-Tex jacket? These are two organizations that are beacons of hope for making leadership everyone’s job.
The most important thing to do first? Leaders embed culture! Without your commitment as a leader to give leadership out to all, it will always fall short. And this must be in your words and actions!
Remote control followership. How do you do it? Where have you seen it?