High Performance Organizations: strong leadership definition

Photo at blog from webmaster - 30/09/2010 - 11:22

After my last blog in which I advocated strong leadership being the most important aspect to achieve a high performance organization, I promised you to give you my definition of leadership combined with the comments I would have received from you.

A way to look at strong leadership is to look at bad management first, since I have advocated before that you see far more bad managers than good leaders and to look at bad examples gives you insight on why organizations don't perform as they could.

André de Waal, an associate professor of strategic management at the Maastricht School of Management, did write a nice book on this topic called “10 Rituals of bad management” [I have only seen a Dutch version]. He sums up which rituals are negatively influencing the high performance organization aspects.

As the ritual most negatively influencing the strong leadership aspect, he describes the bad manager being a true Machiavellian. According to him the bad manager makes it his/her job to satisfy each and everybody in the organization without achieving results himself and, despite that, still making a career. So this type of manager seems to be a self-assured and strong leader with authority and showing trust and empathy. But in reality he is only after his or her own hidden personal agenda which is counterproductive to the long-term company goals. Because of his position and behavior this is often only discovered what damage this person can do when it is too late.

Maybe you have encountered this type of manager yourselves in the past. Think back of the bosses or peers that were always predictable, always getting everybody involved, always aligned with the bosses and in the end always focused on claiming the results for himself. I've seen a fair bit of these in my times and now I'm thinking of it they were always gone either within a few months or at least before their true character surfaces (unluckily these bad managers often get promoted before this is discovered).

But back to strong leadership: what sets the leader apart from even the good manager? Also based on your comments, first and foremost the ability to lead courageously. A strong leader marches in from of the troops, shows confidence without arrogance and is not afraid to fail. Some of you said that people like to work for a true leader because this person is regarded as a “father”: warm and mild when possible but tough and wise when needed.

The second important element seems to be the ability to coach teams and persons. Coaching leadership is asked for in almost every management vacancy nowadays. But not every manager is able to find the balance in giving subordinates the room to develop themselves, make mistakes or even fail with the pressure of the results expected by the organization. In some cases the way managers are rewarded contradicts with a coaching style: the manager goes to the Presidents club, not the team members who make the success happen.

The elements completing the top three of strong leadership capabilities is the ability to balance today's operation which tomorrow's opportunities. It is so logical for a good and successful manager to dispense all his or her time on further growing or streamlining the current operation, without spending time on innovation. True leadership sets aside time to think about the future, starts experiments and green field initiatives, opens up new opportunities and partnerships, thus showing their crew that there is always more beyond the horizon that sustains life for the organization and its members.

For me the above three elements depict a strong leadership. Do you agree or do you want to add essential elements, please let me know.


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