All entries for February 2012

February 29, 2012


The concept of leadership can broadly be ascribed to mean a situation of controlling or influencing someone or a group of persons towards the achievement of a goal (common or otherwise). This concept is evident in every aspect of human existence both formal and informal from time immemorial. History is replete with this. The oxford dictionary defines leadership as “the action of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do this”& “the state or position of being a leader”. This in essence presupposes that there are conditions which ascribe the position of leadership on someone – The Leader.

Power and Authority are synonymous with the concept of leadership as it is expected that a leader must display either or both characteristics.Thomas Hobbes, defined power as a man's "present means, to obtain some future apparent good" while Authority on the other hand is socially constructed and psychologically accepted right of a leader to lead. The foregoing highlight the importance of the various leadership theory in human endeavor and the critical role it plays in Management of organizations.

To a large extent the success of any organization is dependent on the type of leadership that is has and this is a direct corollary to the power it wields and the authority ascribed to it by subordinates / followers.

February 19, 2012

Followership Challenge

I am tempted to term Friday’s leadership challenge exercise as a “one eyed man leading a group of blind people”. How easy a task is it? How difficult can it be? What challenges does the one eyed man face while leading? How does the blind group believe they are being led well? These were the questions that came to mind when I was reflecting on Friday’s session.

The setting started with only the leader having an understanding of what the task ahead was. The first challenge manifested while the leader was trying to relay the task to the followers. For us the followers, it wasn’t any easier trying to understand the task through our leader. This setting ignited my thought process and I felt we all should have been briefed at the same time. This would obviously eliminate the problem that arose while the leader was relaying the task to the followers. On the other hand, I asked myself what the role of a leader would be should that be the case.

How then do we eliminate this followership challenge? My take on this issue is striking a balance on information dissemination. A situation where all followers are privy to certain information which would reduce how much information the leader has to pass down the ladder. This not only reduces communication challenges, it also saves time and is bound to increase effectiveness. Should companies buy this idea, I believe that the results would gradually eliminate followership challenges.

The “Superman” Leader

Leader as the name implies serves as a guide or directing head of a body of people. This could be the reason why many followers expect their leaders to be “supermen or women”. Simply put, many of us tend to see our leaders as the drivng force in every task or project. We simply say, after all what are the leaders there for if they can’t be excellent in all aspects of leadership.

During the hotel simulation exercise, I was initially made to act as a deputy leader; my job was so straight forward. It was a mere observation of the actions of both the leader and the followers. This entailed noting down how the leader dished out instructions and how such instructions were received by the followers. Little did I know that this was a temporary appointment. It however dawned on me when I was shipped off to a different team after two quarters. On getting to the new team, I was appointed leader. For me, it seemed pretty difficult because I was expected to deliver results immediately. Difficult because it was a team that I joined half way without any understanding of its workings, tasks, challenges and the already existing leader-follower relationship. I resorted to asking lots of questions in order to situate myself into the company’s atmosphere. This was meant to reveal a perfect understanding of the company’s expectations before I commence with my decision making process. I however observed that some team members were not quite happy with my approach. They expected that as a leader I must possess all the magical tools to start directing the affairs of a company I am alien to.

This brings me back to my earlier thought; are leaders meant to be supermen or women who possess solutions to every issue that arises especially when such issues were not initially within their purview?

February 16, 2012

Leadership and Situational Responses.

Leadership style varies from one individual to another but all have something in common; the desire to achieve a particular goal or target, be it an authoritative, charismatic or a democratic style of leadership.

A further look into the earlier mentioned leadership styles presents me with a strong belief that the desired goal or target is mostly situational and people determined. For instance, let us consider a complex situation where one has to deliver results under a tight time constrain. Let us also add here that the leader adopts the laissez-faire style of leadership which unfortunately meets a group of laid back followers who needs to be directed on every single task. There is no gain saying that the leader in the above scenario is bound to fail.

From the foregoing, the scenario would demand a more different leadership approach probably the authoritarian style. This style seeks to harness the potentials of the followers while giving them detailed instructions on the next line of action.

In a contrasting scenario, lets us pitch a leader with limited knowledge in a specific field against followers who are very vast and can independently respond positively to difficult tasks. The result would be obvious; a group of people who with little or no supervision achieve their goals as at when due. This consequently gives the leader the opportunity to adopt a democratic and more relaxed approach to leadership.

Having considered just two different situations, I am quick to conclude that a workable leadership style would be largely dependent on the prevailing situation and group being led.

February 15, 2012

Hoshin Kanri and Employee Engagement.

With the presentations on Hoshin Kanri and Balance Scorecard technique of policy deployment, i have got a better and clearer understanding of these principles. With this knowledge, i will tend to stick to the side of Hoshin Kanri principle. Among the other reasons why i believe this principle is better is the opportunity that it develops or rather it encourages employee engagement.

Employee engagement can be seen as a combination of commitment to the organisation and its values and goals.....employee engagement rises above the desire for job satisfaction or motivation. every employer would want an active and engaged workforce because they deliver business performance , so responsibility lies on the employer to provide these levels of engagement (CIPD).

With Hoshin Kanri focusing on the whole organisation by communicationg the shared vision down from management to the shop floor reiterates my point of it being a more suitable approach to policy deployment.

For me, deciding to get up everyday and go to work with a broad understanding of what the purpose of working is as well as what goals i am trying to achieve would enable me to give my best everyday.

Nita Clarke of the employee engagement taskforce says people especially young people are not prepared anymore to just hang their brains on the door whenever they come into the organisation and do whatever the boss tells them to do without a clear path of what and where they are going.

So if organisations bear this in mind and use policy deployment principles such as Hoshin Kanri that develops a culture of involvement down to teams and sector levels by making them understand the values and goals of the organisation, i think it would go a long way in helping them achieve their objectives.

February 13, 2012

develop leaders

Taking the words of Ordway Tead “on every hand today the cry is for more and better leaders” and also that of Vic Feather “what industry needs now are not bosses but leaders”. This made an interesting point to me based on our seminar topic today – how to develop leaders within your organisation.

In every organisation the ability to develop effective leaders within teams, departments or operations I think cannot be over emphasized due to the changing times and situations in which we find our selves in. Having people who can take the mantle of leaderhip even when the leaders are not present says a lot about the individual and the organisation.

What came to mind during the class seminar wasn’t basically about just developing people to become leaders but rather developing people to become effective and great leaders who can make a difference in the organisation however minute it may seem.

I remember sometime back at work, when a customer said to my boss that she wasn’t an effective leader because if she wasn’t around then it seemed like her subordinates could not perform or carry out their job function. That statement alone was a huge food for thought for her. And learning from that comment, I think it would be ideal as leaders to develop and train your followers without fear of having them run you over to take over your jobs.

February 01, 2012

Variations in Leadership

Give me your definition of a leader …….ask this question to 50 people and I am sure you would get 50 different definitions.

Working with my team members in doing the analysis matrix seemed pretty easy because the definitions of leadership were already stated out in black and white, so all we had to do was to match the most relevant… but asking each person to brainstorm and come up individually with ideas pertaining to what we thought leadership meant was a whole different ball game altogether.

I think it’s an ideal phase for me now in my development process while still in this “safe environment “ to test the waters by trying to understand the basic key attributes and characteristics of leadership ,identify situations where being a direct or indirect leader can be most effective and also improve my ability to work in teams.

February 2012

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