Thursday, 10 January 2013

Leadership is about changing perspectives in logical progression towards changes in organizational surroundings.


"Leadership theory and methods,it is argued,are not panaceas.
There are organizational limits which hinder positive contributions
in innovative leadership.If organizations are seen as complex
evolutionary systems,then our contemporary views of leadership
continually evolve in adaptive fashion.With a changing perspective
there is a logical progression toward embracing alternative ways of
acting and relating to our surroundings.This inevitably results in
different ways of relating to the working environment.In turn,the new
types of relationships and approaches to work will provide new conditions
for the emergence of adaptive organizational forms"...
Dennis Crossen,Professor.

Studies on leadership have tended to create a dichotomy between managers and leaders in the organization.While the former tends to uphold organizational rules and procedures involved in the day to day decision-transactions the leader however involves himself in higher order things such as strategy,visioning,sharing enduring values;taking followers to where they ought to go rather than where they want to go.It is axiomatic that it is in the nature of man to settle into his comfort zone and will not want any thing to disturb or disrupt him.Change is anathema to man's estate.But it is the only constant in the human social organization.Bass(1985) has created a transactional -transformational continuum whereby the transactional manager can transmute into a transformational leader.It is figured that both traits can be imbued in one person;therefore the term manager and leader are used through this note to mean the same thing.

It is suggested that transformational leadership builds on the transactional.For higher order performance which transformational has come to associate with,Goleman(2000) states that such a leader must possess higher emotional intelligence than his sub-ordinates.The presence of EI in the transformational manager distinguishes him from the transactional manager.Such is the criticality of EI as a differentiator in the leadership typology.

Leadership in Practice:
No where is reflective leadership as considered here more relevant than in change management.For instance,Lawson&Price(2003) in their article,"The psychology of management" in the Mckinsey Quarterly,suggest that for leaders to achieve the goals of change management there is the need to change the mindsets of people in the organization towards the change imperatives.Transforming the fortunes of an organization on the cusp of poor financial performance requires persuading employees to see the organization in a new perspective different from what it is to what will be.The authors further argue that for employees to change their behaviour towards the organization there is the need to create the  raison de'tat for change in their minds for the shift to take place.Five conditions need to be present for mind shift to take place,and these are: purpose,reinforcement systems,skills required for change,consistent role models,change management outcomes.
Purpose: people must have or achieve cognition of their existence  and experience in the organization.There must be sync between the goals of the firm and their goals and beliefs or what I call goals-belief convergence.Creating a new purpose therefore entails banishing dissonance created by a poorly led organization.
Reinforcement systems:in practice Skinner's theory of motivation states that positive reinforcement conditions people to embrace a course of action.Change management in redirecting the course of a firm towards greater performance needs to appeal to the emotive strings of people.This is explained by Marslow's pyramid of human needs.At the top is the need for self-actualization,to realize and actualize talents,intellect,values ,physical and emotional needs.At the bottom are the needs for security,safety, love; to be  wanted,esteemed.
Organizational theorists hold the view though motivational systems need to be present in the organization for change management to succeed,it also holds true that measures such as structures,management and operational processes,measurement procedures,performance measurement,reward systems(financial and non-financial) are equally of vital importance to change management.The presence of these drivers in the organization determines the extent to which change management measures will achieve the desired goals.
Change management therefore is atmospheric.Inferentially,it is argued that a leader must be true to his or her inner promptings when dealing with people in an organizational setting.His or her actions and decisions must endure time,be eventful and iconic when judged by history.This is what distinguishes transformational leaders from transactional ones.
Skills required for change :new skills it is suggested must be brought into the organization if the desired behavioral modification will be achieved.Telling a sales or marketing team to be customer friendly for instance must be followed by imparting knowledge of how to achieve it to them before performance becomes meaningful.On a personal note,I was confronted with a similar situation in my company.Customer complaints were hardly attended to prior to my arrival in the firm.As a matter of fact,customers to the staff didn't mean anything  since they were receiving their pay checks at the end of the month.But according to Jack Welch,CEO of GE, it is because of the customer that we are and still remain in business.'He moves his money and the business collapses....the customer is our boss".The customer,therefore must be in the middle of organizational foci.Organizational gaze must be on the customer and his needs at all times.
Arising from my interactions with our customers in one on one as well as group meetings,a customer relations framework was instituted for the front and back room offices.Regular CRM weekly lectures were given to the two teams,reinforced with outside training programmes for sales and marketing staff.Measurable performance framework was was instituted to gauge outcomes.Part of this lay in the number of complaints per day ,number of poor/bad prints per day,turn around recorded,time to resolution of complaints,etc,etc.All these at the  end of the year dovetails into the annual appraisal.Annual appraisals it must be emphasized should not become routinized,rather it should be seen as a change management tool for organizational renewal.
Consistent role models: leadership attributes are consistent with role modelling.As a leader you empathize with the follower ship,showing interest in what affects them,what inhibits their performance,seeking ways to assist in overcoming these inhibitions,getting involved in their career goals ,mentoring and coaching.According to Deepak Chopra,leaders,"are often enmeshed in corporate politics and are insulated by immediate aides' ;this he opines prevents them from paying attention to those things that ordinarily should endear them to the followership.He observes the tendency of leaders to lose their ability to look and listen as they rise in power in the organization.The mark of a true leader in the organization is his ability to stay focused on the central issue of change,know the difference between the needs of people and their wants,be good at giving feedback,not monopolizing truth,welcoming criticism and be open.
Behavioural modification in people in the organization in the face of change can be beneficial where role modelling is confirmed and seen by the followership as deep rooted and deeply influencing.
Change management outcomes:it is counter-intuitive to state that it is not easy to turn around the fortunes of a company through change.It is stated so due to the recognized difficulty experienced by practitioners in behaviour modification in employees during corporate turn-around campaigns.It is likened to turning around a super tanker  back to port in the middle of the Panama Canal.The literature recognizes that the innate desire of human beings to develop and grow energizes them. Employee rationalization of their place in the organization's schema is to the extent of their deeper understanding of how and why their contributions matter to the firm.Therefore,it is the leader's role or place to provide the meaning; thus creating the needed connect between employee aspirations and those of the organization.This inter-mediation as a concept goes beyond metrics;it is more art..

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