Leadership as a Process

Leadership is a process. A complex one. It is a relationship built between leader and follower. This group also has the element of a goal everyone desires.

There are five moving parts that interact to create the entity of relationship of exchanges—the leader, the followers, the situation, the process itself and the results. On a timeline each of these parts influences the others and the outcomes of these interactions set precedents for the future.

Leaders are typically viewed as one who orchestrates or guides. The set the tone for the group in the hopes of moving forward with a goal in mind. Followers are not to be viewed as passive, however. In fact, many now view the followers as the most critical aspect of the relationship. It is the follower who sees the situation and defines the needs of the group to accomplish the goal.

The personality of the follower is what determines what kind of leadership style will be most effective. Leadership is not one philosophy the leader foists onto any group of followers.

The situation surrounds the followers and the leader and helps define what the followers need from the leader. Will the groups current skill set be able to solve the problem of the situation or do they need new guidance from the leader? Are the goals of the group clear? What are the emotions of the group concerning the problem to solve or the goals? Excited? Frustrated? Defeated?

Finally, there is the process itself which is distinct from the leader (the orchestrator). This process is never finished and evolves even as the situation, the goals, the followers and even the orchestrator change or move on.

In a sense the leader must be the most malleable and open to adaptation and change. The situation is defined, the leader’s team is defined, the goal is defined, the process of leadership is an always moving target. The leader must see this picture and adapt to be successful.

 

 

The Power of Storytelling

Human beings have always been storytellers. We’ve used stories to bring ourselves together, to explain what then could not be explained and to inspire ourselves to be better than we are. Beyond this kind of storytelling we all tell our inner-selves’ stories. Our subconscious and conscious selves select facts and experiences from the stream of life to create a narrative that informs who we, the protagonists, are.

If this is beginning to feel a little Jungian, you aren’t far off. Stories can shape people and those people help sculpt the groups of which they are a part. Many great leaders throughout history have been storytellers. President Lincoln, for example, in the Emancipation Proclamation described an American in which all men truly were created equal. FDR in his fire-side chats described an American ideal for all citizens to live up to.
A leader’s unspoken inner narrative (those of the subconscious that are not often verbalized) are part of what create the shape of an organization and influences its team members.

These stories drive our decision-making process and ultimately our actions. This is the lens through which we see and analyze anything from a customer’s reaction to our products or services and through which we decided whether or not to hire a new team member.

If a leader tells themselves stories about unrealistically positive future this is in turn what their team will believe. Likewise, if a leader’s inner narrative only blames others for the failures of an organization their team will also follow these kinds of stories when analyzing their own and other’s behavior. If a leader’s inner stories are only filled with strife and failure this will affect the leader and the team’s ability to perform.

The wisdom here is not to try and use or misuse narrative, but to understand that the human mind needs coaching to be objective. Leaders should try and recognize how their inner narrative is filters and distorts everything the mind takes in.

Avoid the Pitfalls of Decision Making

Mistakes are unavoidable but we can avoid making “dumb decisions.” There are things that all people with different kinds of intelligence do to themselves that lead to these dumb decisions.

One classic mistake is overthinking. Intelligent people often make the mistake of over analysis. Especially as a leader we will have both external and internal pressure to make the right decision. More than like there is no way for us to turn down the external pressure, we can only control the pressure we put on ourselves.

No one will ever make the right decision always—so we must stop putting that pressure on ourselves. We will make mistakes, but we are prepared for that. Don’t over analyze your every move or you will paralyze your decision-making ability.

Something we can do to streamline decision making is to make small decisions and often. The further we put off making single, small decisions the more they grow into monsters pending on our to-do list. In business and often in life decisions have a due date. Keep up with the small ones to avoid to-do list full of monsters on down the line. Additionally, making a bad decision on a small matter is more fixable than the alternative.

Not making a decision is also a decision and getting caught in that feedback loop can be dangerous.

Leaders. Look Forward.

History has not been kind to leaders. Many we that we might claim to be successful (outside the context of our morals) were autocratic and aggressive: Lenin, Alexander the Great, Mao Tse Tung. And often the rewards of leadership are severe such as in the case of Ghandi, JFK or Lincoln.

So if we cannot look to history what does the modern leader look like?

For one, they should always themselves and their organization be looking toward the future. First and foremost, the leader needs to realize his role is never permanent. Look at the UK Football Champion ship s an example, managers often last less than a year one a single team.

A good leader is always building a succession of talent—really a leader’s job is to prepare the path forward and teach those who will one day lead.

But this isn’t just planning for the future. To paraphrase Steve Jobs, surround yourself with smart people and let them tell you what to do. Recognize these people and allow them to move the organization forward while you facilitate their talent.

These smart people need the infrastructure provided by the organization and the ability of the leader to bring each expert together to solve problems and get projects done. They should see that current leadership is preparing future roles for them.

The Science of Discipline in the Workplace

Most organizations and teams are not pure democracies, in the end there is someone who is in charge. More often than we like to think this person in charge is asked to discipline a peer in cases of insubordination. Though we don’t like to think about it, insubordination does happen.

Whether it’s simply the character of a selected team member’s temperament or somebody simply having an instant of rebellion however will a front runner influence insubordination adult to adult?

First and foremost having a standard in place with dealing with general and/or specific types of insubordination is key. In the corporate world this often comes in the form of an employee handbook—a document like this can be invaluable even for a very small business, that may be run more casually. It is far easier to have rules in place then to try to enforce something without precedent.

Some leaders, managers and bosses will accommodate successful team members who have rebellious personalities if they are getting the job done and fundamentally respect the leader, other team members and the organization.

However, leaders ought to recognize that some team members could also be aggravated or resentful by the accommodation vogue and leaders WHO use this vogue might loose their credibleness with different team members if they are too loosey-goosey.
At the opposite finish of the spectrum there’s a strict leadership vogue during which propriety is of the top importance to the leader—sometimes to the purpose wherever any questioning of the leader is considered insubordination.
Team members usually recognize precisely wherever the road is once this vogue is used, however leaders will loose out on honest, critical feedback and may foster an atmosphere of fear and low morale.
While both these extreme styles have potential benefits and drawbacks, staying consistent is important.Inconsistent treatment of insubordination can inevitably cause chaos, low morale and loss of respect. Playing favorites or permitting one thing on Tuesday, but then not on Thursday is a quick way to lay waste to any respect or credibility a leader as earned from her team.
Some believe the most effective thanks to handle insubordination, adult to adult, in a very leader-to-team-member relationship is thru immediate constructive criticism.

Address the behavior politely, but firmly. Be as objective as possible about the transgression. While for many this will feel like the most uncomfortable and difficult option in the short term, in the long term this style may reap the most healthy team environment.

Non-Material Rewards for Team Members

Many leaders would love to reward their subordinates, however don’t have a budget.

 

Allowing staff a piece from home day will be a decent thanks to reward them.
If this doesn’t apply to your state of affairs specifically, figure out how to reward your team member by allowing them to work for a day on their own scheduling or location terms.
If you have got a codification, ease up on it.
It is not simply the school sector or alternative “young” businesses that have discovered that it’s quite absurd to faux we’d like special consumer goods to urge our work done in the business world. Ditch the white collars (at least on Fridays).
Find how to administer your team member a special project that suits their interest or below used ability set or realize another job-related chance to administer them.

Bring in one of the “big wigs” to have a sit down with your team and discuss the vision and future of the company and how they all fit into that picture. If you are the big wig (or not) you might consider bringing in a relevant outsider to lead your pow wow.

Take the time to put in writing associate degree honest and positive letter of advice for the team member. Talk to them regarding why you’d be happy to be a reference within the future, either for advancement within the organization or if they decide to move on.
The latter might be a part of often regular one-on-one sessions along with your teammates. Focus on the teammate’s needs and thoughts. Ask them questions. How can you help them?
Whatever you decide on to try and do, a straightforward gesture lightness the accomplishments and abilities of your staff once financial or material rewards aren’t associate degree possibility is that the best thanks to let them know they are appreciated.