All entries for December 2009

December 07, 2009

Leadership Improvement

Leaders are promoters and developers of a continuous improvement culture, they are the ones who facilitate information and guidance to all the teams in the organization. However, some form of measurement should be established in the company to compare and link good leadership with good results.

A practical method to measure leadership is done by questionnaires or surveys which are completed by others, and will capture the perceived behaviour characteristics of a leader. For this, I will refer to the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) by Kouzes and Posner (2001), which is basically a questionnaire with behavioral statements and should be completed by the same leader and other observers (employees who have an active interaction with their leaders).The problem with this isthat leaders often have a big influence on the way this data is collected or presented, and it can also be manipulated. Therefore, the judgement should be carried out simultaneously by independent observers with no direct relationship to the leaders. From my own experience I can say that people tend to answer these surveys in the most positive way, giving the best marks to their supervisors or managers for the fear of being identified or just to maintain a good work environment, “nobody wants to mess with their boss”.

Leadership is not only about characteristics, as stated in most of the literature when referring to qualities attributed to good leaders. Any employee in the organization can have these qualities, but that doesnt meant they could be a good leader, therefore, we have to measure experience, knowledge, achievements, and other patterns which will define a good leader, or at least give us an idea that these selected people can manage a project.

Figure 1: Great Leadership is Good Leadership. Ivey Business Journal (2007)good leadership

A good leader is aware that short-term pain must be followed by long-term gain, efforts and sacrifices have a compensation.

Leaders demonstrate a strong commitment to improvement projects, even thought the current organizational scenario is not the best for this purpose.

Towards cultural change

Cultural change requires understanding the company, commitment from everyone in the organization, and identification of proper improvement tools. It is important to be consistant when applying the improvement project as there is a large investment in money, knowledge, and time. Some companies just abandon the projects in a short time because they don't see the benefits coming in a short period, but the outcomes will derive from a correct implementation of the business tools. Phillips is a company which reached excellence by materializing its quality concept into its own new model, the Phillips excellence model, and the company applies this framework in all its subsidiaries.

Changing the culture of the organization is a difficult task, as the current culture has been formed over years of interaction. People are comfortable with the old culture, and changing their minds and way of working will be a whole challenge.

December 2009

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