Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Power Shift

Power is a commodity. There is a limited amount of it to go around. Therefore, I must clutch my power to my chest and never let a shred of it out of my grasp.

Power is organic. Like life itself, it is limitless. Therefore, when I share power with others I lose nothing, and they gain everything.

These two very different viewpoints are not simply philosophy. They are often at the core of whether a business ultimately succeeds or fails. The fact is, leadership doesn't happen in a vacuum. True leaders recognize that success in business is never the result of one man or woman's efforts or exclusive direction: that is the dictator principle. Instead, success is dependent upon the leader surrounding himself or herself with strong and capable followers.

Consider this example. An innovative entrepreneur founded and served as president of an engineering firm. He was brilliant in his field, and well-respected and well-liked by all his employees. The firm grew to be a recognized industry leader. Nevertheless, the firm was actually on rocky ground. Morale was deplorably low. Frustration levels were high, and continued to mount. Critical decisions slipped through the cracks, resulting in lost opportunities and decreased revenue.

Why? Because the president presided over the company in the role of benevolent dictator. He had sole decision-making authority in every area - human resources, operations, financials, strategy, etc. The managers under him, although they liked and respected him as a person, were self-destructing under his leadership style - as was the company itself. Their hands were tied. They had no authority. Their expertise and knowledge was not called upon. Helpless to take action, they finally ceased to try.

After a number of years, the president of the firm moved on. His position was filled by a woman with a very different philosophy. She believed that success was a team effort. She recognized that without 100% commitment, input, and effort from her management staff, the company would eventual implode. That commitment, input, and effort would only happen when power was restored to her disempowered employees.

She met with each manager and shared her ideals, her philosophy, and her vision for the company. This was vitally important, for it was the first step to establishing trust.

Then, as issues, opportunities, and challenges arose, she gave her staff her full support in making business-critical decisions. She encouraged discussion without imposing her own viewpoint. She facilitated interaction by bringing key people together. She disseminated information and guaranteed equal access to crucial data. And when a decision had been reached, she supported it completely.

The effect was like exploding a keg of dynamite ... an appropriate analogy, since she had released power to her employees - and the Greek word for "power" is dunamis, from which we get our word "dynamite."

By engaging her leadership team in the hope of turning them into a team of all-stars, she freed up time, energy, and creativity across the entire company. Morale skyrocketed. Employees had a sense of ownership, both in relation to their jobs and with regard to the direction of the company as a whole. The company, then in its twentieth year, experienced record-breaking sales for three consecutive quarters.

This is more than an inspiring story - it is a step-by-step recipe for success, with the key ingredient being a power shift.

Guest writer Timothy Thomas is the President of Makarios Consulting - a leadership development firm that specializes in empowering leaders to maximize their leadership skills and inspire others to accomplish extraordinary results. Timothy is the author of "Creating All-Star Performers: The Power of Effective Feedback," now available for immediate download at http://www.makariosconsulting.com/mc/eBooks_allStars.html

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Personal Mastery

Ten tips for 21st century leaders:

1. Learn how to read more intelligently
Learn speed reading, strategic and range reading techniques to enable you to handle incoming emails, reports, articles and letters faster and more effectively.

2. Learn how to focus your attention on what is important
Where you focus your attention will determine what you get done in your working day. Learn how to be effective – not just time management techniques. Focus on your goals and move boldly towards them.

3. Master your emotions and state of mind
Learn how to control your emotions and instantly switch into the right mindset for the situation you are in. Confidence, Energetic, Control, Calmness – they are all at your fingertips.

4. Ask solid questions
What do I want to achieve this week? What is the purpose of this meeting? What actions are required? What impact will this have? What are the risks? Is there a less costly way to achieve the same outcome?

5. Get to know your team well
Find out what motivates them and align their needs with those of the organisation. Understand their strengths and weaknesses and deploy them accordingly.

6. Learn how to make great decisions
Learn structured, analytical and creative problem solving techniques. Trust yourself to make the right decision and do it in a timely fashion.

7. Learn to be an excellent communicator
Understand that the effectiveness of your communication will dictate the response and reaction you receive.

8. Learn to make great presentations
Learn how to design and learn how to deliver. High impact visibility opens doors.

9. Understand the power of momentum
Huge, daunting tasks are just one step away from getting a whole lot easier.

10. Be proactive
The more proactive you are, the less reactive you need to be.

Simon Cooper heads up the Experiential Learning Centre and is author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.