My Vision of Leadership

innovation-calls-for-visionary-leadership

Personally, in my opinion, one of the hardest things in life is to reflect of what I have done objectively. People tend to overestimate themselves and often too blind or scared to see the reality. Dunning in Deangelis (2003) did some research regarding this self-overestimation issues and his finding describes two major roots of it, ignorance and performance estimates. And he says the only antidote to this issue is high-quality feedback. It does happen to me in figuring out what kind of a leader I am and I gathered some feedback from my colleague to find as accurate answer as possible.

At first I thought that I am a good democratic leader because I tend to put others interest above mine and I always think that I am motivated to influence others. However, after digging deeper through people’s opinion and of course trying really hard to be as honest as possible to myself, I found out that I am actually incompetent and nothing compare to others. I started to realize that I am quite indecisive, impatience towards inspiring others and even sometimes my self-interest is still over others. Leading people is not as simple as I thought it was. It is way more than just managing people; it is about your personal characteristics, value, integrity and vision (CIPD, 2009).

Hence, I feel that solely being a democratic is not enough because again it depends on the situation. The psychologist Dunning and Kruger define, the more you know the less you know and the more you know, the less you like it. Fortunately, it does not happen to me and surprisingly those feedbacks inspire me to be more honest to myself.

Afterwards, I started to dig deeper about my leadership style and someday Nelson Mandela and Bill Gates came across my research and since that day I realized that I want to be like them. Though, there is no best answer to which leadership style is the most efficient one but I completely acknowledge that every good leader should possess a Transformational leadership style.

Nelson Mandela inspired me through his dispositional authenticity, rare visionary and humbleness. As Jenlink (2014) says, moral authenticity is a powerful characteristic that defines your value and they way you behaves. Mandela acknowledged his imperfections of his wicked youth life but in fact, by doing that he became even greater because his integrity turned out to be clearer (Williams, 2013). During adversity, he still could see way beyond the struggle and convinced people that one day the best is yet to come. No matter what happen, he sticks to his vision. And above all, he never eager to claim his achievements and that what genuine leadership is.

Similarly, in business environment Bill Gates as an autocratic and transformational leader has inspired me that there is nothing wrong in becoming very decisive at some point as long as at the same time you always push people to become better. Through him I realized that autocratic leader is not just simply about ignoring people’s input but it is about reducing negativity and make the best out of everything. He always encourages people to innovate by requesting a new idea on regular basis but he also controls all activities within the company (Gilliard, 2014).

Throughout my research regarding leadership style, I started to appreciate the importance of vision, value and consistency. Leading people is not just simply about putting others interest first like what I thought before. It is also about a true understanding of yourself in order to find out the underlying reason of your vision and be consistent.

According to Kirkpatrick (2011), the formulation of visionary leadership is somewhat an art form that based on leader’s guts and insight of follower’s values. So now I recognize the basic of my own vision, not the exact vision as it depends on the circumstances; and it is about influencing others to make a difference by always putting others first and recognizing the importance of having a lifelong learning mentality. The leadership style that I want to pursue is the mix of transformational, autocratic and democratic. As I discussed before in my previous blog that none of any leadership style known as the most effective one as it depends on the situation.

Ultimately, at least now I know that I do not want to simply leading for the sake of certain projects as I know that life is way more precious than that. I want to be consistent in my life in regards to my integrity and vision, which later on those characteristics are going to decide my behavior. However, I realize my weaknesses in honest-self evaluation and becoming more decisive. Therefore, I keen to gather as many high-quality feedback as possible and build up my experiences and not to be fear of failure as Murphy in Rezvani (2014) states, your gut comes from the experience that you have built.

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life” – Sandra Carey

Reference:

  1. CIPD (2009), Leadership qualities/actions, [Online] available at <https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CWglvWTsswE > [5 April 2015]
  2. Deangelis, T (2003), Why we overestimate our competence, [Online] available at <http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb03/overestimate.aspx > [5 April 2015]
  3. Gilliard, M (2014), Bill Gates Leadership style, [Online] available at <http://leadership-and-development.com/bill-gates-leadership-style/ > [5 April 2015]
  4. Jenlink, P (2014), Educational Leadership and Moral Literacy, [Online] available at <https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6OUjAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA205&lpg=PA205&dq=dispositional+authenticity+definition&source=bl&ots=cDahd8F9_B&sig=Z_68k6ocsRtAeCa0w4hgGmioneQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WZAhVdmVGJLxatO_gJgD&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=dispositional%20authenticity%20definition&f=false > [5 April 2015]
  5. Kirkpatrick, S, A (2011), Visionary Leadership Theory, [Online] available at <http://www.sagepub.com/northouseintro2e/study/chapter/encyclopedia/encyclopedia6.1.pdf > [5 April 2015]
  6. Rezvani, S (2014), Six ways to stop overanalyzing and become more decisive, [Online] available at <http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2014/06/28/six-ways-to-stop-overanalyzing-become-more-decisive/ > [5 April 2015]
  7. Williams, R (2013), Why Nelson Mandela Was A Great Leader, [Online] available at <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201312/why-nelson-mandela-was-great-leader > [5 April 2015]
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Most effective Leadership and Management Style and approach

Questioning which leadership and management style is the most effective one is like people asking what exactly will they be in the future. They will never find the answer until they undergone the real situation. Thus, let’s change the question to which is the most suitable approach in leading people and managing the work.

Nowadays, many people are very concern in differentiating leadership and management. I acknowledge the point to some extent, as it is important to know the difference, however I could not agree more with Sutton (2012), focusing on the difference more than looking at it simultaneously is dangerous.

To begin with, understanding the definition of each is necessary. There are lots of definitions (Torres, 2013; Ratcliffe, 2013; Nayar, 2013), yet basically, Leadership is about influencing and inspiring people while management is managing the work. The distinctions identified are based on their essence, approach and personality. Leaders are a visionary who focus on challenging the status quo, aligning people to the vision by motivating and inspiring them. Management, on the other hand, has their eye on the horizon to perform order and encourage stability by supervising the subordinates. Both are distinct concepts but it is naturally overlapping each other.

There can be as many approaches in leading and managing people, as there are leaders. Like-minded people have developed helpful frameworks to describe the principal ways, which then people can develop it based on the situation and their own approach. Lewin’s (1930) framework in MindTools (2014) could be seen as the foundation of many other approaches. He outlines 3 styles, autocratic, democratic and laissez-fair.

Autocratic leaders make the final decisions without any discussion with the team members. It resembles bureaucratic style that follows rules meticulously and ensures their team members to do the same thing. It is appropriate in making quick decision, however it is obviously inappropriate in most cases as Rausch (2013) argues, leaders should focus more on coaching rather than managing. Nevertheless, I think autocratic is an efficient style in some circumstances, especially in making quick decision. An autocratic style is not simply ruling and ignoring people’s input, however they are trying to minimize the negativity when people spend too much time in dwelling on difficulties rather than finding a solution.

Transactional leaders also adopt autocratic style to some extent because the idea is team members agree to obey their leader; rewards and punishment will be given based on their performance. Joseph McCharty as an example, he often considered as the cruelest political leader because he focus on self-development and results than processes by punishing his people for disobedience and rewarding them for revealing communist liars (Biography, 2015). Yet, the significance that he made can hardly be underestimated at that time. Obviously this style of leadership still can be acceptable depending on the situation.

Democratic leaders include team members in making decisions. They stimulate people’s creativity and encourage them to highly engage in projects. Equally, Transformational leadership style embraces democratic approach to some degree. Bill gates is highly regarded as one of the best transformational leader even though he might exhibit several style of leadership like autocratic (Gilliard, 2014). He is well known as a very demanding leader, who encourages innovation. During his leadership, he would ask his employees to present their ideas regularly and without hesitation he would challenge the ideas. It shows that he is articulating his vision by serving their people needs’, pushing them to their limit and inspiring them through his consistency in maintaining high level of satisfaction combined with his inherent charisma. Those features turned out to be the foundation of Microsoft’s organizational culture.

Nelson Mandela also adopted this approach by leading through his vision; “One day the best parts of humanity would prevail over the worst parts”, which emphasizing forgiveness, reconciliation and positioning others above himself (William, R, 2013). He worked with the same people who put him into jail and even inspired them to be better (Schoemaker, 2013). He visited the Eastern Cope himself that had been shattered by flooding while he could easily summon someone to do that job. Mandela did not force people to follow him; instead he inspired them, which win people’s respect and loyalty. Witnessing that, nobody knows when his influence is going to stop as he kept on transforming people.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” Laozi’s depicts the style of Laissez-fair. Such leaders give the entire freedom to their team members in deciding how to work. They simply lead by accommodating the needs of the team and sometimes they do not even hold the formal title as a leader. This reflects the style of servant leadership too. Richard Murphy as an example, is a social policy innovator who founded the Harlem Children’s zone, Beacon schools in New York and many more (Schmitz, 2013). Yet, few people had known him and not much written about him until his necrology. It is a very efficient way of leading as they normally lead by example; however, it is not that efficient in hectic situations.

It is unlikely that a leader like Bill Gates or Nelson Mandela have been as successful as they had if they only adopted one leadership style. None of the leadership style above considers as the most effective one. It all depends on the situation and position, which is why combining push and pull strategy is as critical as balancing leaders and managers in an organization.

As mentioned above, it is very dangerous to focusing on the difference between leader and manager because it could be the basis of their action and thinking. For example, a boss that only cares about big picture without trying to understand any underlying aspects will never be the best bosses because they tend to blame others when things go wrong (Sutton, 2012). Having only leaders without managers and vice versa also will never make things happen because essentially the best leaders are the best managers.

Nonetheless, I think at least each leader should adopt transformational in their leadership style and the rest will follow depending on the situation. As long as leaders put other’s interest above themselves, have willingness to change and develop as well as devoted to his vision instead of glory, they are a truly leader.

“When you live on the hearts of those you love, you will never die”

Reference list:

Biography (2015), Joseph McCarthy, [Online] available at <http://www.biography.com/people/joseph-mccarthy-9390801 > [13 March 2015]

Dr, Torres, L, S (2013), Leadership vs Management: Differences and Similarities, [Online] available at <http://www.creditunionbusiness.com/2013/09/19/leadership-vs-management-differences-and-similarities/> [11 March 2015]

Gilliard, M (2014), Bill Gates leadership style, [Online] available at <http://leadership-and-development.com/bill-gates-leadership-style/ > [13 March 2015]

Mindtools (2014), Leadership styles, [Online] available at <http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_84.htm> [13 March 2015]

Nayar, V (2013), Three differences between managers and leaders, [Online] available at <https://hbr.org/2013/08/tests-of-a-leadership-transiti > [12 March 2015]

Ratcliffe, R (2013), What’s the difference between leadership and management, [Online] available at<http://careers.theguardian.com/difference-between-leadership-management> [11 March 2015]

Rausch, T (2013), Nobody wants to be managed, [Online] available at <http://leadershipbeyondlimits.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/nobody-wants-to-be-managed.html > [13 March 2015]

Schmitz, P (2013), Richard Murphy: A powerful example of servant leadership, [Online] available at <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-schmitz/true-servant-leadership-f_b_3016044.html > [13 March 2015]

Schoemaker, P (2013), Nelson Mandela, Transformational leader, [Online] available at <http://www.inc.com/paul-schoemaker/what-made-mandela-a-transformational-leader.html > [13 March 2015]

Sutton, I, R (2012), Why “Big picture only” bosses are the worst, [Online] available at <http://www.fastcompany.com/1825733/why-big-picture-only-bosses-are-worst> [10 March 2015]

William, R (2013), Why Nelson Mandela was a great leader, [Online] <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201312/why-nelson-mandela-was-great-leader > [13 March 2015]

Leadership and ethics

measureethics_article

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy” – Norman Schwarzkopf

Is there anyone doubting about the impact of ethical behavior? Is there anyone arguing about the influence of doing the right things? Whoever answers yes, should question their own integrity. And whoever they are, they are not deserved to be a leader, yet. Why did I say so? First, lets talk about the reality in today’s world.

Nowadays we often hear, “Business is Business”, “Everyone is doing it”. I guess everyone is blinded by success. Enron modified their balance sheet by hiding their debt and liabilities in order to indicate a favorable performance in public. It destroyed people’s life as well as the organization itself (Silverstein, 2013). Another case, Lehman Brothers’ accounting tricks also sent them to bankruptcy. Motorola stumbled because of their people not their technology (Ridiculous!). Witnessing that, sooner or later unethical companies will surely get exposed and the impact is not only for the company but also their people. No doubt that poor performance is a negative reflection on the leader.

Henry Adams states, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops”.

The influence that a leader can give is tremendously determining their people’s life. According to Hesselbein (2011), ethical theories which respect to leadership are related to two main categories, leaders’ behavior and leaders’ character. In addition to that, Kant in Encyclopaedia Britannica (2015) develops two theories of morality that often be used for understanding people’s behavior, Deontological ethics and TeIeological ethics. Deontological emphasizes the relationship between duty and human actions, where an action cannot simply be justified through the consequences; Virtue is the reward. Conversely, teleological refers to result-based ethics regardless the actions in the process. Personally, for the longer-term, I think deontological will be the best characteristic in sustaining people’s life as it is more about the characteristic whereas the worst scenario, teleological people could even kill others to get the desired outcome.

By now, we should have a better understanding about the underlying theories of people’s behaviors that could help us grasp the meaning of leadership easily. There are various definition of leadership, however, essentially leaders are people who lead their followers as well as inspiring them (Helmrich, 2015). Prior to that, before talking about inspiring others, leaders should have asked themselves am A being the same person in any circumstances and places? Do I want my people to behave unethically on and off the job?

“Leaders spend most of their time learning how to do their work and helping other people learn how to do theirs, yet in the end, it is the quality and character of the leader that determine the performance and results” – Frances Hesselbin –

 Leaders are trailblazers; they should inspire others through their words and actions. Simply stating values without doing it means nothing and will not change anything. The basic fundamental of it, is of course consistency that is related to the values that a leader holds, which later on turns into integrity. Times are less certain today and it often tempting a leader to behave unethically and that makes Leadership becomes the top current business challenges nowadays (CMI, 2014). The key to face that challenge is depending on leaders’ integrity. If they keep on holding onto their values, they tend to have the bravery to stand against peers and situations pressure, which likely to support the long-term success of an organization.

As an example, looking back to the Aetna’s case. Ron Williams reshaped the organization by looking through the root of everything. He said, “Lets go back to the basic”, which means of reviewing their core values as an organization and as an individual (MIT, 2008). He proved it by helping Aetna back to the leader position in 7 years time (2001-2008).

Furthermore, according to environmental leader (2013), 62% of the respondents answer that the most challenging problems for a leader is managing sustainability. Haughton (2015) also defines, within financial industry; one of the ways in reducing bad behavior is by keep on strengthening companies’ ethical code of conduct; by means of leaders lead by example or they should walk their talk. If we link all the dots, it is always come back to the actions of key management. When a leader holds a great value and doing it, the organization’s performance will tell the result.

By now you should know how dangerous unethical leadership is. What will happen to the world, environment, and generations after generations if all leaders just care about themselves, the results and behave unethically?

knifed256In this globalization era, having the smartest guy, the best strategy and the most rare resources without behaving ethically are the same with guaranteeing the short life of an organization. On the other hand, ethical leadership will create a meaningful culture inside the organization and unconsciously encourage workers to do the right thing on and off the job. So, for all the leaders out there, it is entirely up to you. You want to be a good leader with your integrity being asked or a great leader that no one knows when your influence is going to stop?

“You may not be able to make people change their values, however, you can help them see the wisdom of changing their behavior” –Scott Span

  References:

  1. CMI (2014), Management 2020, [Online] available from <http://www.managers.org.uk/~/media/Files/PDF/M2020/Management%202020%20-%20Leadership%20to%20unlock%20long-term%20growth.pdf > [5 February 2015]
  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica (2015), Teleological ethics, [Online] available at <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/585940/teleological-ethics > [6 April 2015]
  1. Environmental ladder (2013), Integrating Sustainability ‘Biggest Challenge for Business, [Online] available from <http://www.environmentalleader.com/2013/11/13/integrating-sustainability-biggest-challenge-for-business/ > [5 February 2015]
  1. Haughton, J (2015), US Report Lifts Lid On Ethics In Finance Firms, [Online] Available from < http://www.environmentalleader.com/2013/11/13/integrating-sustainability-biggest-challenge-for-business/ > [5 February 2015]
  1. Helmrich, B (2015), 30 Ways to Define Leadership, [Online] Available from <http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/3647-leadership-definition.html > [5 February 2015]
  1. Hesselbein, F (2011), Ethical Leadership, [Online] available from <http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/47445_chp_16.pdf > [5 February 2015]
  1. MIT (2008), Leading Change: A Conversation with Ron Williams, [Online] available from <http://video.mit.edu/watch/leading-change-a-conversation-with-ron-williams-9403/ > [5 February 2015]
  1. Silverstein, K (2013), Enron, Ethics And Today’s Corporate Values, [Online] available from <http://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2013/05/14/enron-ethics-and-todays-corporate-values/ > [2 February 2015]
  1. Span, S (2012), Leadership and Unethical Behavior: How Does It Impact the Organization? , [Online] available from <http://www.tlnt.com/2012/11/27/leadership-and-unethical-behavior-how-does-it-impact-the-organization/ > [4 February 2015]