Monday, March 23, 2020

What Kind of Leadership Is Needed Now?

This is not the time to be a reluctant, faint-hearted leader. I say this as I talk with my family - there are 4 business owners among us.

Able, willing leadership shouldn't subside during a fact it's during those times that it's needed more than ever.

Additionally, it's during times of crisis, extreme change or a major disruption when personal leadership strengths and weaknesses are exposed and amplified....and unfortunately... those personal conditions spill over onto those you lead and the areas of responsibility within the business or organization.

So, where are you? I know when I use the word leader - particular executive leader - it applies to a variety of contexts - size of company, department or team, public/private sector, owner or not. No matter where you fall, now's a good time to take stock and while doing so, see it as an opportunity to exercise your leadership muscles - to become better and stronger. It's probably safe to say - people are counting on you. They need you to "be the leader" - in fact, be an effective leader.

The really good news is no matter your level or scope of responsibility, being an effective leader is consistent in its core principles and practices no matter the situation. That means for many companies, leaders who need to lead virtually as well as leading in person, times of surety and times of uncertainty - they all still require the same core leadership elements.

So, what kind of leadership is needed now? Leadership that is always needed...leadership that's effective - leadership that leaders that truly want to be leaders.

Powerful leadership is leaning into the storm not trying to shelter from it.

And this is the key point. I'm not just talking about generic commonly seen leadership qualities but the essential leadership capability of being effective. According to Peter Drucker's years of observation, there are 2 core areas of being an effective leader. The first is what's consistently practiced - which can be done in any context and what he terms disciplines and the second is mindset. Here they are:

THE WHAT | The 8 Practices of Effective Leadership
  1. They ask: What needs to be done
  2. They ask: What is right for the enterprise?
  3. Based on those answers they develop action plans
  4. They take responsibility for decisions
  5. They take responsibility for communicating
  6. They focus on opportunities rather than problems
  7. They run productive meetings
  8. They think and say "we" rather than "I"

THE HOW | Effective Execution - The Effective Leadership Mindset
(Drucker calls them "habits of the mind")
  1. Know where their time is going.  Know where their time goes - they work systematically to manage what time they can control. They are keenly aware time is a limiting factor. The one thing that is a fixed measurement
  2. Focus on outward contribution - be results orientated - gear efforts to results rather than busy work - what results are expected of me.
  3. Build on strengths - their own and others and of situations -how can achieve what's best now with the resources we currently have.
  4. Concentrate of a few major areas - prioritize: Focusing on a few major areas with superior performance will produce outstanding results. This mindset forces them to set priorities and stick with it - know / commit to doing first things first. To assess this they tie activity to time - knowing use of time is the reality check to achieving what's needed.
  5. Make effective decisions using a systematic approach.
These are shared directly from the book The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker (known as the father of modern management). I've been vlogging and blogging my way through the book to compare his experience with executive leadership and management in his era (the book was written in 1967) with my experience in my era (I've been in business 22+ years). There has been some interesting findings.

Feel free to subscribe to this blog or my YouTube channel to follow the journey. You can read a sample of that here where I add augment Drucker's information with my experience: Are You an Average or Exceptional Executive Leader?

By the way, don't let the word "executive" trip you up. Drucker defines it not necessarily as a c-suite title or position, but as someone who has the capability to provide value in their organization as a knowledge worker. Here is a cool video summary.

How Serious Are You?
With all this said, now is as good a time as any to start or continue growing your leadership capabilities. Now is the time to honestly assess what you're doing well, what's needed now and what improvements you want to target.

Here's an interesting leadership reality check:
Your leadership is only as good, useful, relevant as your ability to successfully respond to current circumstances.
As the top CEO coach Marshall Goldsmith said, "What got you here may not get you there."

Once you've assessed, you may want to get honest about how you'll begin to make measurable improvements. Here's where being really honest with yourself comes in => Some people can easily learn about something and immediately go to work to apply it with great success.

And then, there are others who have great difficulty overcoming the inertia of generating change. Newsflash...most are in the second category - the first is quite rare.

As someone who has worked in the human performance industry for well over 20 years, it's very common to find it difficult to enact meaningful, sustainable change, individually and/or within an organization -particulary the more responsibilities one has. I discuss that in detail here - If It's So Simple, Why Aren't More Leaders Doing It?

It's very important as a leader to know the difference (not only for yourself but also when leading others) between learning about something and learning how to do something...and then doing a way that matters.

That's why many leaders seek assistance when desiring change whether in the form of coaching, consulting or having an advisor - all 3 of which come in a variety of forms. You may want to read 5 Must Have Tips for Hiring an Executive Coach.

Or, if you are one of those "yes I can learn and take action" folks - my phrase - "turn knowledge into know-how" - then I suggest you make sure that you're targeted area of development is highly relevant & useful providing the most value.

Consider This Recommendation - Ensure You're Being Effective
It is in fact your professional insurance.

Reading through Mr. Drucker's book, I came across a profound insight and belief that I have not been able to shake - so much so, it has fine-tuned the focus of my work.

He believes that becoming effective should be the #1 most important skill/ capability that any leaders possesses and here is the reason why. Through his years of experience, he shared this observation:

... a leader can have good qualities, have certain skills and relevant knowledge and yet not be able to translate them into meaningful results - in other words, leverage them into something of value - value defined as: worth, merit, importance. Or put another way, someone with a lot of impressive experience and capabilities can still be ineffective. This is quite a thought!

From my work, I have observed many leaders are very busy, even worn out and stressed with good intentions to do good work. And yet, when you examine what it means to be effective, it's easy to see that all of those activities and good intention doesn't necessarily translate into being effective... and the leadership practices that cause them to be effective are not present or barely visible.

For several years now, I have helped leaders become more effective - in a way that can be financially measured. I have collaborated with clients synthesizing specific high-impact areas of leadership and people management into a 9 step-blueprint that surprisingly aligns with the principles and practices defined as effective by Mr. Drucker. That was a wonderful discovery! In fact, I had already named it The Effective Executive's Blueprint for Smart Management.

Recommend Next Steps
1. Consider learning more about the importance and value to being effective - click here to go to the resource page which includes multiple post related to my journey through the book so far.
2. Pick up the book on Amazon - The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker
3. Check out the 15 minute overview of our 9-step blueprint you can use to quickly boost the results of you and your team.
4. Or if you're ready to dive in, commit and invest to ensure success - consider our 60 day development cycle - learn more here. Our development cycles are designed with human behavior science in which you learn the what, the why and the how, to being effective and getting results through others (people management) with weekly, live support.

If you any questions or comments - feel free to connect by email

Pic credit: Advantage Circle

Exciting News! // We're excited to launch our new digital arm - Manage Global. To compliment our global reach with our LinkedIn Learning courses, we're offering a compelling resource - The Smart Management Blueprint that can be accessed and implemented in any business environment, world-wide. It provides a step-by-step roadmap to simultaneously improve business and people management while developing competent managers. If you feel a need for improvement in any of these areas you'll want to learn more. Check it out here! =>

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