Friday, October 07, 2011

The Will to Lead

In his final book, “The Will to Lead”, Marvin Bower starts with saying that
“I now believe that when true leaders and leadership teams are stationed strategically throughout a company, and hierarchy has been eliminated, people will be freed up to work together more effectively, efficiently, and creatively. They will exercise more initiative and get more ideas, and they will be far more likely to want to work together in harmony with one another and with optimism and enthusiasm, and to like their work. “

In his book, Marvin first describes attributes of leaders (not commander), describes four main responsibilities of leaders, and then writes about various related topics.

Regarding qualities and attributes of leading, he mentions many aspects. Those could be summarized into two categories.

Integrity. Trustworthiness is integrity in action. The way to integrity is simple - always tell the truth. If you always tell the truth, you won’t have to remember what you said. Treat people fairly. No arrogance, haughtiness and egotism. No hypocritical humbleness. No calculation. Just behave unassuming.

Sensitivity to people and situations. Listening is one of the most valuable and one of the least understood. Most captains of industry listen only sometimes, and they remain ordinary leaders. Remember that feeling of being heard is quite important. Any leader with an open mind makes better judgments, learns more of what he or she needs to know, and establishes more positive relations with subordinates and constituents. The guidance to be open-minded is never to say “no” immediately, but instead say “I’ll get back to you”.

Marvin also mentions four fundamental responsibilities of company leaders. As one who is leading an organization, I deeply agree with what he says.

1. Treating constituents with respect
Leaders throughout the company have the responsibility for treating all constituents as unique and valued individuals. That means they must assume the best about people rather than the worst, and act in the belief that most people who are treated fairly and considerately will perform whatever work they are doing more effectively and efficiently. In fact, a leadership culture creates the right environment for people to enjoy their work.

2. Developing constituents self-confidence and self-esteem
Every leader should recognize the importance of building self-confidence and self-esteem in his or her constituents and making them feel good about themselves. A constituent cannot be effective if he or she lacks self-confidence. Leaders let constituents feel that our lives have meaning and that what we do for a living is regarded by others as worthwhile. In other words, true leaders let people to like their work and to adjust to the new workplace. When you conduct “command management”, people would never feel self-confidence.

3. Developing Constituents
Every leader is supposed to develop his people. All leaders are responsible to their companies and to their people for developing the potential of their constituents and for bringing along new generations of leaders from these constituents. Let constituents grow. Bring them in on decisions. Delegate. Feed them responsibility. Stretch them. And change their assignments periodically. When I read this, I remember what Konosuke Matsushita, the revered founder of Panasonic said: “We produces people. We also produces electric devices.”

4. Making constituents stakeholders
All leaders must give their constituents the feeling that they have a real stake in the company’s present performance and future success. The stake should be real.

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