Leadership – What is it and have you got it?

 Leadership – What is it and have you got it?

The whole world seems to be talking about leadership right now.  How good is it? How bad is it? How to improve it?  But let us think a little about what it is.

At its most basic, leadership is simply one person leading another.  Think of someone in a blindfold being led by another.  If that is going to work, the person doing the leading needs to have some idea where they are going. They need to have some conception of the obstacles on the way and how to overcome them.  Of course,  the person doing the leading needs to be able to inspire confidence in the person being led.  That confidence needs to be strong enough for them at least to take the first step

Leadership in organizations is the same really.  A leader sees a problem that needs to be fixed or a goal that needs to be achieved. It could be something that no one else sees or something that no one else wants to see because the sight is uncomfortable. But whatever it is, it becomes the focus of the leader’s attention and they set out with determination to deal with it or to achieve it.  Then of course the leader needs to be able to bring others along with them.

This kind of leadership can be at any level in an organization.  Most successful organizations today recognize that and set up systems which empower leaders at all levels.  With information technology it is easy to give people throughout an organization the information they need to become leaders and the tools to lead.  But of course if this is to work well, leadership does need to start at the top. Then leaders throughout the organization will set out in the same direction, supporting each other. They will not be tripping each other up.

If you are supposed to “lead” your organization how a good a job are you doing at setting out a clear vision for the future?  Do the other leaders throughout your organization know where you are going so that they can lead in the same direction?  Do they have the knowledge and information to take your vision forward? If not you have a problem. What are you going to do about it?

Wendy is the Happiness Coach and author of  The Wolf Project and a new novel, Blood Brothers, to be published in Summer 2013.  As a life and career coach and blogger, she helps people reach their goals and aspirations. As a novelist she hopes to entertain. Oh and she writes poetry too! To find out more email wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com, find her on Skype at wendymason14, or call +44 (0) 2081239146 (02081239146 for UK callers) or +1 262 317 9016 if you are in the US.

A free trial/consultation gives you an opportunity to try phone coaching without risk. Remember there are great benefits to be achieved by being coached in the comfort  of your own home by phone or Skype .

CV review and interview preparation a speciality

Enhanced by Zemanta

Something to make you think – a leader is….

Something to make you think – a leader is….

Desmond Tutu, Jack Welch, John Chambers on leadership

A leader is…

  • A servant?
  • A collaborator?
  • A team worker?
  • Someone who grows people

What do you think?

Wendy Mason is the Happiness Coach and author of a new novel, The Wolf Project.  Wendy is a life and career coach and writer. She is passionate about helping people find happiness at work and at home! She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  She believes coaching requires compassion, warmth and empathy. Wendy helps people reach their career goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

Enhanced by Zemanta

Corporate Panic and lessons from the Wolf Pack!

Eleven-member wolf pack in winter, Yellowstone...

I left the UK public sector five years ago.  At that time people management skills appeared to be in the decline.  I noticed this particularly in how restructuring exercises were being handled.  It was the main reason I chose to go!

I had always been very proud to be part of the UK Civil Service! Sadly that ceased when I saw how some of my colleagues were being treated. No, not because we were being downsized – it was how we were being downsized.

Well, the UK public sector has changed a lot since I left and I do not mean in terms of the colour of the government.  In terms of managing change, few lessons seem to have been learned and a good number seem to have been forgotten.

There have always been good and bad employers – bosses with more and less finesse when dealing with their employees.  My encounters with large private sector corporates, has led me to think they are not better or worse at handling people than those in the public sector.  Good practice in small and medium-sized bodies varies widely in both sectors.

Recently I have heard some very strange and rather sad tales from those in both the public and private sectors. I have heard about organizations going through their third and fourth restructuring in a few months.

On top of that, I am being told of people who have had to reapply for their own roles three and four times in those exercises. As you will understand the effect on staff morale is devastating.

Running large corporate change programmes – even when well handled – costs a lot of money.

Right now, not only is there a lot of change but it is very clear that it is not being handled well.

As one former colleague with vast experience of managing public sector change successfully said to me;

“They try to manage a restructure themselves and can’t. So then they bring in one of the large consultancy firms to help and they just seem to make it worse. They are being told to finish the change quickly, so they don’t try to find out what we do really but they get well paid.”

What is going wrong?  Well yes, I do know about the economy and the need to make “cuts”.  And yes I do know we live in a world of constant change.

But there seems to be a kind of corporate panic/frenzy around and that is the worst way to respond.  Now more than ever we need real leadership and we need leadership confident enough to be serene when all about are running round like headless chickens.

Think about a wolf pack!  Wolves have to flex and change all the time as they hunt.  The constants are that they are quite clear why they are there, the strengths and weaknesses they possess and their roles. The leader sniffs the wind and off they go in very good order.

The weather may change about them and the quarry may lead them into new and difficult terrain.  But because they are well led, have a strong commitment to the pack and are clear about their roles they succeed often enough to thrive even in the most challenging times.

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

Related articles

Leadership and the abuse of power

English: Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3...
Image via Wikipedia

I found an article on the Psychology Today blog explaining why and how power corrupts leaders .

It explains that a leader can use his or her power to help others, but, of course the leader can also gain personally.  The obvious problem is that when self-interest rules, the leader gains but often at the followers’ expense.

The dangerous thing is that leaders can begin to delude themselves.  They start to believe that the rules that govern what is right and what is wrong do not apply to them because they have the best interests of their followers at heart.

Leaders can become “intoxicated” by power – doing something unethical or taking an unreasonable risk – just because they can!  They can become addicted to the adrenaline rush and followers can begin to collude – it is OK “He’s the boss!”

I’ve seen this kind of thing happen several times in large organizations and not always at top-level.

Sometimes it is someone in an unchallengeable leadership position in a particular division.  They are getting results so those further up the line choose not to ask questions.  Sometimes, it is someone with particular intellectual capital (the subject matter expert) or a scarce talent.  Again it can be easier for “management” to look the other way.

It does not happen just in large organizations.  Abuse of power can happen anywhere! Eventually, the organization suffers eventually either in terms of legal challenge or financial loss from poor decision-making.  The reputational loss can be considerable!

It happens less in organizations with resilient governance arrangements and in those bodies whose top leaders set an example of ethical and compassionate leadership.

But I fear that the present economic circumstances, a climate may be created in which the abuse of power is more not less likely to take place.

On the positive side, of course, power makes leaders more assertive and confident.  They feel more certain of their decisions. This enables them to move forward towards their vision.

At the end of the day leaders and manager must be given the power to “get the job done.” But I’d welcome your views on how best to keep this to a healthy balance!

Wendy Smith is a personal coach and writer at Wisewolf Coaching. She is a qualified coach and a member of the Association for Coaching as well as being a member of the Institute of Consulting and a graduate of the Common Purpose leadership programme.  Wendy is author of “The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book: How to Win Jobs and Influence Recruiters” as well as two novels and a number of articles on management and well-being. Her latest publication is a little eBook; “How to Get on With the Boss.”  You can contact Wendy at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Leader, Leadership and Leadership Styles

A walkway through the mid campus of the Genent...
A walkway through the mid campus of Genentech


According to Alan Keith of Genentech “Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen”.

A leader is a person who influences a group of people towards a specific result. But how that person influences varies with the style of the leader.

Leadership styles can range from the autocratic (“I’m going to tell you what to do”) to completely free reign (“You do it your way but get it right!”).  The easiest way to think of it, is in three main flavours.

Leadership Styles

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leaders provide rewards if, and only if, people perform as they require and are believed by the leader to work hard enough! This leader wants to contract with you in detail to set the exact reward you will receive for an exact amount of effort. This leader is unlikely to want to change how things are done or to listen to your suggestions for improving things; just make sure the agreed performance goals are met!

The leader will only intervene if they think something is wrong or the targets look threatened.  Expect to be closely monitored, though, and expect this leader to look for problems.

This approach can be useful when people are new and don’t know the work. Then the leader can be expected to turn into manager and provide very detailed instructions.

When you know what you are doing, this kind of leader can make you feel very demoralised, stressed and de–motivated.  This is particularly so when you know there is a better way of doing things.

Laissez-faire Leadership

This kind of leader leaves you to get on with things.  Now this works when you are a highly skilled craftsman or professional.  You take pride in your work you know you do it well; you drive on to achieve the objectives rarely needing help from anyone.

When you do need help, or another opinion, it may not be there for you.  You may not receive praise because the leader may not know enough about the work to know whether it is good or not!

Sometimes these kinds of leaders don’t really understand what they should be doing and just hope you know enough to cover for them!

Transformational Leadership

These are leaders who motivate you to commit to the vision of the organization!

They become your role model and sometimes you feel you would follow them anywhere! (I’ve worked for them but not often!) These leaders know where they want the organization to go and share the vision with you,

They also allow you to share that vision making process! They let you join in the problem solving and decision making without you feeling they have exploited you.  It is true sharing and involvement. They offer both challenge and support – they coach and they advise.  Yes, you do have to work hard but you feel motivated to do so!

These are the leaders who believe your personal development matters as well as the organization of which you are a part.

Sometimes though, the style isn’t appropriate, for example,  in real a crisis.  But those occasions should be rare.

So, when you think about styles of leadership what kind of leader are you? And what kind of leader would you prefer to work with?

I am Wendy Mason and I work as a Coach, Consultant and Writer. 

As a coach, I work with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement

I am very good at helping you sort out what you want, overcome obstacles and handle change.   Email me at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com for more information

  • Becoming a Leader Today – What is Leadership? (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Are You a Transformational Leader? (psychology.about.com)
  • What Servant Leadership Looks Like (chrislocurto.com)

Vision Statement

Bushman's Paradise at Spitzkoppe
Image via Wikipedia

Your   vision;

  1. Articulates your dreams and hopes for your business.
  2. Reminds you of what you are trying to build.
  3. Captures your passion.
  4. Defines your purpose and values.
  5. Should be your inspiration.
  6. Determines your priorities.
  7. Is a long-term view.
  8. Defines the way the  organization will look in the future.
  9. Sets the direction for your business planning
  10. Influences decision making and the way you allocate resources.
  11. Is for you and the other members of your organization.

Your vision is not

  1. A map to tell you how you’re going to get to the promised land
  2. For just for one year or two
  3. For your customers or clients although it can be shared with them
  4. Owned by you alone.

Visions only work if you share them with others – spread the Power, spread the Purpose, spread the Passion.

Formal Definition – A vision statement is an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action. See also mission statement. Courtesy of http://www.businessdictionary.com/
  • Leading Change – do you have a great vision? (wisewolftalking.com)

The Leader with human flaws!

"Skeleton of human (1) and gorilla (2), u...
You are a human being!

Fact: nobody gets everything right 100% of the time!

So you are the leader! And thank goodness you are a human being too.  You can feel, you can relate and, guess what, sometimes, just sometimes, you can get it wrong.

Now because you are a leader many of your decisions have potential to resonate throughout the organization.  If you don’t have the insight to put the right arrangements in place, one bad decision can put the whole organization at risk.

But if you have the right governance arrangements in place, no single decision you make should be able cripple the organization or put your staff or customers at serious risk.

But it is up to you to put that governance in place!

If you do it well, it will not result in needless bureaucracy; nor will it erode your accountability for the decisions you need to take.  The right approach should free you up and allow you to be entrepreneurial, without undue risk.

But I believe putting governance arrangement in place is an art form – make sure you are well advised and that those in your governance structure are carefully chosen.

Then remember the old 80/20 rule – the Pareto Principle.   For entrepreneurs and business leaders this usually means:

  • 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers
  • 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers
  • 80% of your profits come from 20% of the time you spend
  • 80% of your sales come from 20% of your products
  • 80% of your sales are made by 20% of your sales staff

Make sure you stay clearly focused on the most significant areas of your organization – the 20% that really counts..  Find the key 20% and hone your decisions in those areas to perfection.

Then, with good governance and clear focus you will ensure that your organization doesn’t suffer a fatal fall as a result of a poor decision from you.

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 .