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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Heavy-Handed Management?

The true leader understands that all the elements within an organisation must work in harmony. So it's not helpful when managers take a confrontational route. Good leaders never extract things from their workers. Otherwise, they create acrimony that lasts for many, many years. You simply can't beat up on people in contract negotiations and then expect them to feel good about working for you after the dust has settled.

Companies have to enter negotiations with disclosure, transparency, and accountability as their guiding principles. They must be prepared to answer a number of key questions: What kinds of sacrifices is management willing to make? Why is it important for the workers to sacrifice? How would these cutbacks and givebacks improve the company's profitability? When can workers expect to see a reversal of their declining pay and benefits?

It's not enough for management to issue ultimatums, or to say, "Look how much we're bleeding. We're cutting to the bone, so the unions have to do the same." Management needs to think more in terms of sacrifice. Before you ask someone else to take a cut, you have to take one yourself. Sacrifice must happen across the board, or you'll get nowhere.

A heavy-handed style of management can be dangerous. In the present Royal  Mail dispute, management say they're fighting over a shrinking pie, but they would be smart to negotiate with the goal of a win-win agreement for both the company and the workers. Then both sides could start to work at finding ways to expand the pie.

Want to find leaders for your organisation?

John Maxwell, Ph.D., is an expert on leadership and author of more than 30 books on the topic, including the 360 Degree Leader.

Here is his answer to the question, “How can I be sure to hire the right person?”

To accomplish anything of significance, you must have the right people by your side. Finding a great hire often goes hand in hand with identifying potential leaders. Maxwell credits his friend Fred Smith with helping him arrive at these 11 questions to ask when looking for a leader:
  • Does the person question existing systems and push for improvements?
  • Do they offer practical ideas?
  • When they speak, who listens?
  • Do others respect them?
  • Can they create or catch a vision?
  • Do they show a willingness to take responsibility?
  • Do they finish the job?
  • Are they emotionally strong?
  • Do they possess strong people skills?
  • Will they lead others with a servant’s heart?
  • Can they make things happen?


Learning from Failure - What makes Silicon Valley different

In Silicon Valley, failure isn’t an option. It’s mandatory. A whole conference earlier this week, devoted to failure, FailCon, may be a first, but it’s looking like a success, with the likes of PayPal co-founder Max Levchin talking about how he failed repeatedly before making billions making the payment platform for the web.

“The one liberating thing with failure is that you start at like -5 the next time,” Levchin said. “Failure? I can fail tomorrow and I don’t care, I’m failing now.” That doesn’t mean that Levchin, now CEO of Slide — a Facebook app maker — or any one else at the conference likes failure.

“Failure sucks,” Levchin said. “I don’t have a cathartic moment. When I failed and I found that my credit cards were maxed out and my adrenaline that let me ignore all those things wore off.”

The point of the conference wasn’t to celebrate failure, but to learn from it.

For more, see - http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/10/failcon-succeeds/

Confronting Threats

Effective leaders realise that survival and success lie in having the courage to confront threats. At moments in our lives we are called to account in a way that forces us to decide whether we will stand for our values. While we appreciate the need for courage in other areas of our lives, we may not appreciate how much courage it takes to lead in the workplace. The following practices of effective leaders all take courage. They are not all instinctual, however. Many must be learned.

Empower the Frontlines

The “ivory tower” mentality of many chief executives amounts to cowardice. Effective leaders regularly meet with and solicit information from frontline employees, seeking them out and approaching them even when it feels awkward or unnecessary.
Resolve Conflicts
It’s easy enough to say that you shouldn’t run away from conflicts. The reason so many of us do, however, is because we treat resolving conflicts as an A versus B scenario. A contest of wills. A question of who is going to be torn apart. Rather than framing conflict negotiation in win-lose terms, effective leaders approach conflicts from a problem-solving perspective.
Communicate Responsibility
Facing a person one-on-one to help clarify his or her responsibility takes courage. The difficulty comes, in part, from the fact that when a person fails to take responsibility for his or her work it often indicates a deeper problem.While it takes courage to confront an employee about his or her productivity, the message about taking responsibility aims to empower and give the employee a greater sense of control.
Take Responsibility Yourself

Sometimes a leader must confront a problem head on, even when the natural inclination might be to turn the other way. The problem with ignoring the problem is that it could eventually cost the leader even more: his job, the respect of employees and clients, and his integrity.

All of these acts of courage involve confronting someone or something directly—frontliners, individuals in conflict, irresponsible associates, or your own values. Here’s the simple logic: threats rarely disappear on their own so running from them won’t help. Facing them will get you much further.