1.5 LEADERSHIP

Some say, ‘leaders are born not made’. To some extent that is true but many of us find ourselves in leadership positions because we were particularly proficient at our previous roles and were good team players and team leaders.

However, as senior managers we now have to become accountable for everything that the organization provides. Whether we like it or not, our stakeholders have become judge and jury. They will be concerned for their corporate community’s performance and competitiveness, its ways of working, how it communicates and, above all, seek a recognisable assurance that every employee and matters and becomes able to make life’s choices and take life’s chances. It is the customer’s experience that is the final arbiteur.

So, it is imperative that a leadership team not only exhibits leadership but also, the ability to learn from its collective experience and apply that learning to future strategic direction. The team cannot possibly have experienced every challenging situation that will confront them but it is the team’s combined Learning Power or ‘power to learn’ that will determine the manner of its’ success.  ELLI is a diagnostic, yet dynamic instrument and it has been proven time and again that its 7 critical dimensions need to be demonstrated within a leadership team whose combined  Learning Power exhibits strengths in Creativity, Critical Curiosity, Meaning Making, Strategic Awareness, Resilience, Learning Relationships and the ability to change habits and behaviours in day to day decision-making and problem-solving.

Every leader’s leadership and management style is different from the next and whilst each is a product of his or her past experience, there is much to be learned both from the decisiveness that will lead to learning from mistakes and from the camaraderie and moral support that comes from membership of a collaborative peer group. Indeed, the leader that is willing to learn, open to new ideas and themselves consultative will gain a great deal by building harmonious relationships throughout the wider organizational community. It is these ‘learning relationships’ that will enable the introduction of a new leadership philosophy, a dynamic and compelling vision for the future and avoid the stresses that frequently accompany change.

‘Leaders are best

     When their people know they exist by the actions they take,

    Not so good when their subjects seek to acclaim them,

   Worst when they despise them,

But of a good leader, who talks little and lets their actions speak,

When their work is done, their aim fulfilled,

Their people will say, “We did this ourselves”

                                       From Lao-Tse, (Ancient Chinese Philosopher)

THE DNA OF A ‘LEADER-LEARNER’

The second audit concerns communication. Poor and inconsistent communication is so often top of the list of the causes of stakeholder frustration and unrest. However, whilst it is important for the leader to get to grips with the root causes of such frustration, he or she will find, as time goes by, that the greater the frequency and quality of information, the more it fuels a hunger for more and prompts concerns that vital information is being denied. Use of the electronic and social media has done much to alleviate  this but issues related to balancing the necessary openness with matters of strategic security will inevitably remain!

The power to learn is the essential weapon in every manager’s armoury. He or she can never be right about everything and ‘learning to learn’ from the success and failure of their own actions and from the mistakes made by themselves and others is a show of confidence and humility, not of weakness.

Learning Power’s on-line profiling instrument provides welcome assistance. It distils learning into 7 dimensions in order to create a simple ‘learning profile’ that offers the learner a platform for gaining a better understanding of their personal learning strengths and weaknesses. More than that, at the point that the on-line profile is undertaken, it is directly responsive to the immediate learning environment and to the personal circumstances in which the learner finds themselves.

It is vital that managers at all levels engage positively not only with their own profiles but with those of their teams. Learning is a life skill, immediately responsive to changes in mind-set and personal circumstance and a lifelong challenge that impacts every citizen both economically and socially.

 

Leaders who are respected as learners are the strategic backbone of every successful organization …

Whether newcomer to the top job or old hand, a 12-point ‘engagement index’  has assisted countless senior managers in determining whether or not they are embracing the concerns and potential contributions of all of their stakeholders in their strategic vision for the future. The key is simply to find out … hence the recommendation for the carrying out of two audits.

The first means taking the newly forged vision in a summarised and simplified form to representatives of all sections of the wider stakeholder community. The purpose is to determine the differences between leadership preferences and the realities on the ground. Only then will it be possible to revise the vision to take account of need and expectation, engage stakeholders in its delivery and ensure that the challenges of change are met with understanding and resilience.

ADDRESSING STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT

CREATING CHANGE

Creating Change requires an acceptance of personal and employee predictability and the need to adopt a mind-set that is positively and purposefully committed to adopting different attitudes, behaviours and ways of working. It is strength of purpose, will-power and mind-set that will ultimately enable ELLI’s approach to improving Learning Power to reduce individual predictability. With ELLI’s assistance we have found that it is possible to defeat predictability by up to 80%. Nonetheless, we also have to accept that there will always be elements of predictability and unpredictability in our behaviour and in our performance as we go about our day to day lives. We are all products of our environments and of our genetic make-up.