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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Practicing Positive Leadership in a Small Business

Practicing successful positive leadership in a small business, especially for the founder/owner, takes great skill and talent. In order to know what to do successfully in the start up phase and beyond takes understanding and self analysis. Some entrepreneurs do not know themselves well enough to see their own faults. These faults can and will interfere in the success of the business.

The most crucial point in a small business where self analysis of the leader is necessary is during the transition to the professional management stage. The three important elements of people management, planning and the customer are built around the vision, mission statement and values of the company. As the entrepreneur grows the company, the leader must identify his/her need for control, sense of distrust, need for applause and defensive operations, also known as the “darker sides of the entrepreneur".

These characteristics if not monitored or unbeknownst to the leader can result in distorted reasoning and action making the transition (which is necessary for organisational growth) extremely difficult, if not impossible. Due to the leader's inability to recognise his/her destructive behaviours, the organisation may be destined for perpetual smallness or destruction. Needs such as hiring more employees, growing additional branches and hiring managers to oversee teams of employees begin to appear. As a small business earns success and recognition, issues arise.

The entrepreneur generally desires such growth and success and happily appoints managers to continue training and developing and maintaining business relations. If the leader is unable to relinquish control, the managers will be unable to accomplish goals in alignment with the vision and mission of the leader. A large part of providing a successful mission statement is emulating the freedom to accomplish those actions as well as relinquishing control to those the leader hired. Inconsistencies and deficiencies of the leader are well documented factors which limit the growth of entrepreneurial firms. An entrepreneur struggles with issues of authority and control and structure can be stifling. If the leader is unaware of this behaviour, the employees will disengage and eventually leave, which costs the company money in recruiting and training of new employees.

If the control issues are allowed to continue, the leader may attempt to pull back the reins on those he/she hired to manage his/her small organisation's growth. Thus, micro-managing and removing any control or power from the managers themselves. As entrepreneurs sometimes do, planning is done on a gut instinct. The transition to a professional management organisation is no longer based solely on gut instinct. This transits the organisation to rely upon several professionals sharing their knowledge and experience to guide the small business planning. If the entrepreneurial leader is unable to allow this to happen, the transition to a professional management organisation ceases.

This behaviour also affects customers. The integrity and enthusiasm that once existed deteriorates with the controlling, distrusting and defensive characteristics of the entrepreneurial leader. As customers receive lower quality service, unmet expectations and dissatisfied employees, the overall organisational reputation may be lost. The darker side of the entrepreneur negatively affects the small business, the employees and customers. It is vital for a leader to analyse his strengths and weaknesses in order to maintain a successful small business.

Go Phillies! A Lesson in Positive Leadership

With the World Series in baseball due to start this week, it is interesting to follow the story of the manager of one of the teams in the Series, Charlie Manuel of the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Leaders in sports and business have one thing in common," said Bill McDermott, the Newtown Square-based president of global field operations for the software giant SAP. "They have committed followers. If you look at Charlie Manuel, his team is fully behind him."

"People always want to judge a book by its cover, and that was the case here with Charlie his first few seasons," said Kenneth Shropshire, director of the Sports Business Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

"The most important thing a management type can do is figure out what he does best and not change from that approach," Shropshire said. "Charlie looks like he's one of those leaders who says: 'Look, this is who I am, and this is who I'll always be. I'm not changing.' "

According to Shropshire and others, while Manuel might manage by the seat of his red-pin-striped pants, instinctively he's been true to the best management principles.

"The closest analogy in business management to what he's done might be what happens on Wall Street," said Peters, a management consultant, author, and Baltimore Orioles fan whose best-selling In Search of Excellence is a business bible. "The same sort of star mentality that exists in a baseball dugout is at work there. The best managers in both places know how to handle those stars."

With all the talent on the world champion Phillies, Shropshire said, there could easily have been crippling jealousies and feuds. "With someone less adept at managing people," he said, "it could have been a real disaster." Manuel's most valuable managerial asset, those interviewed said, was knowing both his players and himself. That self-knowledge especially, Shropshire said, was something only the most successful business managers ever achieved.

"One of the hardest things our management students face is the leadership assessment test, where we ask them to evaluate themselves as leaders," Shropshire said. "They all think they should be Donald Trumps. They don't see and can't identify their own strengths. "Charlie knows who he is. He revels in it, and he uses it to his advantage. He doesn't try to be anyone else. And his players grasp that. They respond to that. That's great management technique."

And this from one Philadelphia area blog:

'For several weeks now I have been thinking of Phillies manager Charlie Manuel as a model of excellent top management that can truly be called leadership, positive leadership.

Oh, Charlie can make the tough decisions when necessary. This year's Brad Lidge story should find its way into every management and leadership text. For those of you who don't follow sports, Lidge had one of the best year's in baseball history for a man at his position last year, and this year he had one of the worst. Manuel removed him from the most critical moments, but never lost confidence in him and now Lidge is nearly his old self. There are many more examples.

So I was surprised and pleased to see a front-page article on Charlie's leadership style in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer in which a Wharton professor and an important Philadelphia-area CEO talked about what exceptional leadership and management skills Manuel has. Leaders who stay positive can accomplish much. Charlie's team is the current world champion that now is the first National League team in more than 30 years to return to the World Series the following year to defend the title.'
For more on this fascinating story, see - http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/65922642.html and http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/66285207.html

The Significance of Positive Leadership Within an Organisation

When leaders display positive emotions, others take note -- and take action. Positive leaders don't sit back and wait for things to get better on their own. Instead, as they walk around the office, make calls, or write e-mails, they are always trying to catch excellence in action. When they spot a job well done, they call attention to what is right. This in turn raises the entire organisation's positive to negative ratio and its productivity.

The litmus test of a positive leader is the esprit de corps he creates with his troops. Positive leaders deliberately increase the flow of positive emotions within their organisation. They choose to do this not just because it is a "nice" thing to do for the sake of improving morale, but because it leads to a measurable increase in performance.

Studies show that organisational leaders who share positive emotions have workgroups with:

•a more positive mood
•enhanced job satisfaction
•greater engagement
•improved performance.

What differentiates positive leaders from the rest? Instead of being concerned with what they can get out of their employees, positive leaders search for opportunities to invest in everyone who works for them. They view each interaction with another person as an opportunity to increase his or her positive emotions.

In sum, positive leadership refers to an emphasis on what elevates individuals and organisations (in addition to what challenges them), what goes right in organisations (in addition to what goes wrong), what is life-giving (in addition to what is problematic or life-depleting), what is experienced as good (in addition to what is objectionable), what is extraordinary (in addition to what is merely effective), and what is inspiring (in addition to what is difficult or arduous).

How to Find Joy at Work

Here is some great perspective from Harvard Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter:

'Although some studies report growing employee cynicism, job satisfaction polls show high satisfaction rates for those still employed. Job security has been the most important factor in an 80% satisfied rate for the past two years, followed by compensation and benefits, in Society for Human Resource Management surveys.

Clearly, people report job satisfaction simply because they get a paycheck. But are they getting joy? OK, maybe work was never all that joyous, and that's why it's called "work." But the post-crash daily grind is grinding some people down to a pitiful pulp. People in secure jobs they once liked report working harder with fewer resources just to hold their own, like treading water in an endless swim machine. If current economic trends continue, we might face not just a job-less recovery but a joy-less recovery.

Here are some clues about joy. On a recent Gallup Healthways survey of 100,000 Americans, business owners outrank 10 other occupations in overall well-being, despite working longer hours and earning slightly less, on average, than professionals and managers/executives, who rank second and third. The surprising fourth is farming, fishing, and forestry, despite the lowest income of any group. (Maybe not surprising, given how many leaders unwind by fishing or brush-cutting.) More confined service, clerical, transportation, and manufacturing workers are at the bottom, in the low 40s on Gallup's 100-point well-being index compared to over 70 for business owners.

Autonomy, influence, and a sense of meaning are associated with lower stress and fewer work-related illnesses, regardless of hours worked. Supervisors are better-off than the supervised, and entrepreneurs are the best-off of all.

This suggests that exerting leadership is the surest route to joy (other than going fishing). The key is setting the agenda and starting the pieces moving towards a purpose-driven goal. If 90% of success in life is just showing up, Monster.com founder Jeff Taylor advises that when you show up, you might as well run the meeting.

So here is a list of top ways to find joy at work.

10. Identify long-term personal purpose. Write a personal mission statement, to review often.
9. Be an entrepreneur from anywhere. Even if you don't start a business (now), imagine starting a project that will improve your current job, workplace, or community.
8. Discuss the idea informally to find others feeling the same way. Enlist them in the quest. Now they're counting on you not to let them down. Describe it as an experiment that will benefit others. Incorporate feedback so that others hear their ideas in yours.
7. Get a Big Name to endorse giving it a try.
6. Negotiate out of demands that don't contribute to the goal. Keep doing what you must to keep your job, but simplify.
5. Find every supporter a task, however small. Show that you're working for their goals, too.
4. Widen the circle of the informed. Involve people not usually included.
3. Remain positive. Smiling takes fewer muscles than frowning and is contagious. Ignore skeptics unless easily converted.
2. As the bits of the cube start moving, keep communicating and coordinating.
1. Celebrate each breakthrough moment of accomplishment. Share the joy to multiply it.

More jobs with more joy - now that's an agenda the public should rally behind. Let's not wait for employers to make changes, necessary as those are. A few good breakthrough moments can keep us going - and influence employers to see why joy matters.'

For more, see - http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/kanter/2009/10/top-ten-ways-to-find-joy-at-wo.html

A Formula for Success

Failure. We don't like to talk about it. But we all worry about it. What makes successful leaders stand out is that when faced with failure, they stay in motion. They quit the bad job, they separate from investors they conflict with, they get up off the floor and go back to work.

As Tom Watson, the founder of IBM said:

'Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure — or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that's where you will find success.'

The Four Capabilities of Leadership

Here is some excellent material on the four capabilities of leadership, from John C. Maxwell, author of The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow:

1. Sensemaking - understanding the context in which a company and its people operate.
2. Relating - building relationships within and across organisations.
3. Visioning - creating a compelling picture of the future.
4. Inventing - developing new ways to achieve the vision.

The four capabilities are interdependent and you need each one in your organisation for it to be successful.
  • Without sensemaking, there's no common view of reality from which to start.
  • Without relating, people work in isolation or strive toward different aims.
  • Without visioning, there is no shared direction.
  • Without inventing, a vision remains an illusion.


Leaders are Dealers in Hope

Fear is an incredibly debilitating emotion and it is only heightened by the media during difficult times. Napoleon Bonaparte has some advice for leaders during times like these. Napoleon said, "Leaders are dealers in hope."

In fact, leaders if they are doing a good job, have significant influence in the lives of their staff. These are good times to reassure your people that everything is going to be OK. Now you might be wondering how anyone can really say for sure that everything will be OK. With huge job losses in the manufacturing industry, and layoffs because of the credit crises, how can anyone reassure their staff of anything? Well, what you can do is reassure people that they are going to be OK regardless of what happens. Remember fear exaggerates over time, and one of a leader's jobs is to help people see past their fear.

Leaders need to help their people see their strengths and resources and remind them that whatever happens, they have the inner strengths and tools to adapt, adjust and succeed. As a leader right now, it is a good idea to find out how your staff is feeling about the current recession. There is bound to be some apprehension among them, which definitely affects workplace morale and productivity. Even being able to talk about it during a meeting will help people unload some of their stress. It is in these times when true leaders seize the opportunities to instil hope, confidence and optimism.

During WWII when things seemed very dark for Britain, it was Winston Churchill who said:

"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

Churchill was instrumental in rallying the emotional resolve of Britain during the war. This is what leaders do. They strengthen the resolve of their people. This is a good time to check the pulse of your employees and if any of them seem a bit deflated, take Napoleons advice and deal out a little hope.

Challenging Young Employees

To develop the next generation, challenge young employees and give them clear, real-time feedback, says Peter Darbee, ceo of PG&E in this Wall Street Journal video:


How Lessons from Sport Shape a Leadership Style

In this Wall Street Journal video, Thomas Werner, an Ironman tri-athlete, shows how lessons from his sport shape his leadership style as Sun Power ceo:


Focus On What You Do Best

In this Wall Street Journal video, Sharon Allen, Deloitte's chairman of the board says that 'focusing on what you do best helps you to become a better leader'.


Styles of Leadership

Leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and the organisation you are leading.

Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits. Rather, they should be adapted to the particular demands of the situation, the particular requirements of the people involved and the particular challenges facing the organisation.

In the book Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman describes six different styles of leadership. The most effective leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that meets the needs of the moment. They can all become part of the leader’s repertoire.

1. Visionary. This style is most appropriate when an organisation needs a new direction. Its goal is to move people towards a new set of shared dreams. “Visionary leaders articulate where a group is going, but not how it will get there – setting people free to innovate, experiment, take calculated risks,” write Mr. Goleman and his coauthors.

2. Coaching. This one-on-one style focuses on developing individuals, showing them how to improve their performance, and helping to connect their goals to the goals of the organization. Coaching works best, Mr. Goleman writes, “with employees who show initiative and want more professional development.” But it can backfire if it’s perceived as “micromanaging” an employee, and undermines his or her self-confidence.

3. Affiliative. This style emphasises the importance of team work, and creates harmony in a group by connecting people to each other. Mr. Goleman argues this approach is particularly valuable “when trying to heighten team harmony, increase morale, improve communication or repair broken trust in an organization.” But he warns against using it alone, since its emphasis on group praise can allow poor performance to go uncorrected. “Employees may perceive,” he writes, “that mediocrity is tolerated.”

4. Democratic. This style draws on people’s knowledge and skills, and creates a group commitment to the resulting goals. It works best when the direction the organisation should take is unclear, and the leader needs to tap the collective wisdom of the group. Mr. Goleman warns that this consensus-building approach can be disastrous in times of crisis, when urgent events demand quick decisions.

5. Pacesetting. In this style, the leader sets high standards for performance. He or she is “obsessive about doing things better and faster, and asks the same of everyone.” But Mr. Goleman warns this style should be used sparingly, because it can undercut morale and make people feel as if they are failing. “Our data shows that, more often than not, pacesetting poisons the climate,” he writes.

6. Commanding.  The classic model of “military” style leadership – probably the most often used, but the least often effective. Because it rarely involves praise and frequently employs criticism, it undercuts morale and job satisfaction. Mr. Goleman argues it is only effective in a crisis, when an urgent turnaround is needed. Even the modern military has come to recognise its limited usefulness.

Just Enough Leadership

Here is an extract from a recent article by Professor Henry Mintzberg in the Harvard Business Review (http://hbr.harvardbusiness.org/2009/07/rebuilding-companies-as-communities/ar/1 ) - it is certainly thought provoking:

'Beneath the current economic crisis lies another crisis of far greater proportions: the depreciation in companies of community -- people's sense of belonging to and caring for something larger than themselves. Decades of short-term management, in the United States especially, have inflated the importance of CEOs and reduced others in the corporation to fungible commodities -- human resources to be "downsized" at the drop of a share price. The result: mindless, reckless behavior that has brought the global economy to its knees.

Government stimulus programs and the rescue of the biggest and sickest corporations will not alone resolve the problem. Companies need to re-engage their people. The practice of both management and leadership needs to be rethought.

Community means caring about our work, our colleagues and our place in the world, geographic and otherwise, and in turn being inspired by this caring. Young, successful companies usually have this sense of community. They are growing, energized, committed to their people, almost a family. But sustaining it can be another matter. In our hectic, individualist world, the sense of community has been lost in too many companies and other organizations. In the United States in particular, many great enterprises, along with the country's legendary sense of enterprise, have been collapsing as a consequence.

"Communityship" is not a word in the English language. But it should be -- to stand between individual leadership on one side and collective citizenship on the other. In fact, I believe that we should never use the word "leadership" without also discussing communityship. Sure, leaders can engage and involve others. But the concept remains focused on the individual -- on personal initiative.

We make a great fuss these days about the evils of micromanaging -- managers' meddling in the affairs of their subordinates. Far more serious is "macroleading": the exercise of top-down authority by out-of-touch leaders. Communityship requires a more modest form of leadership that might be called engaged and distributed management. A community leader is personally engaged in order to engage others, so that anyone and everyone can exercise initiative. If you doubt this can happen, take a look at how Wikipedia, Linux and other open-source operations work.

So maybe it's time to wean ourselves from the heroic leader and recognize that usually we need just enough leadership -- leadership that intervenes when appropriate while encouraging people in the organization to get on with things.

In large, hierarchical organizations, certain conditions help to facilitate a transformation to communityship:

  • the remnants of community....
  • an atmosphere that promotes trust.....
  • a robust culture......
  • leadership at the center......
This does not mean that we have to put communityship on a pedestal, in place of leadership. We would do well to see both these forces as working together in a socially responsible way to get past the insularity that exists in many organizations. A healthy society balances leadership, communityship and citizenship.'

Inspirational Leaders

In an effective organisation, managers and leaders have a key role in influencing the culture and climate of the organisation. An inspirational leader should:

  • Create a sense of vision in a fast changing environment.
  • Motivate people and lead them through change.
  • Be innovative in products and services and ways of working.
Here are six recurring features of inspirational leaders:
  • They genuinely care: they approach work and their colleagues with openness and honesty and both inspire, and invest trust.
  • They involve everybody: offering people both the support they need to be effective, and the freedom to put it into practice.
  • They listen a lot: to peers, subordinates and customers.
  • They show lots of appreciation: including small gestures.
  • They ensure work is fun: by celebrating achievement and using lively social events to reward effort and commitment.
  • Along with their people, they are deeply committed: they are passionate about the organisation and its work, and always looking for opportunities to improve.