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Monday, January 25, 2010

Leadership - Building a Strong Corporate Culture

Positive Leadership™ is a proprietary leadership strategy which helps organisations and leaders (at all levels within the organisation) excel under pressure. Positive Leadership™ aligns closely with business strategy to drive higher levels of performance across an organisation.

Positive Leadership™ brings people together around a shared purpose and empowers them to step up and lead in such a way as to create value for all stakeholders. Those who embrace Positive Leadership™ are authentic and passionate individuals whose work is shaped by a strong, ‘values-based’ foundation.

Research has shown that organisations which are ‘value-driven’ fundamentally increase their prospects of high performance. Organisations that take the trouble to ensure that their values are shared widely are those most likely to achieve long term commercial and social sustainability.

Leaders today should be spending a lot of time trying to build the organisation's culture. One of the essential tasks of leaders is to inspire people—but it isn't just to inspire people individually, it's also to create a framework in which people can communicate and collaborate. Having a strong corporate culture is one of the best ways to do that.

For more on how businesses can benefit from thinking broadly about society, see - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703414504575001442544795652.html

Arrogance is the Mother of all Derailers

Derailed, Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership, studies a number of CEOs who had been fired by their boards in recent years. While these individuals often had performed brilliantly in the past, they failed catastrophically in the jobs from which they were fired. They were like the engineers of huge freight trains who ignored critical warnings and went off the rails. Most of these individuals were ultimately fired, not because of a lack of competence, but rather a lack of character. A big lesson learned …“Arrogance is the mother of all derailers.”

One of the most revealing tests of a person’s character is power. We see in the six failed leader profiles in Derailed that power, in many cases, became self-serving. The “trappings” of power often tell a lot about character. Bob Nardelli created a nine car personal parking area for his cars underneath Home Depot’s corporate office. His private elevator went from his personal parking area straight to his private office on the top floor of the building without stopping on other floors.

While a failure of character can manifest itself in many ways, the most foundational and most self-destructive is arrogance. Just as humility seems to be at the epicenter of leadership effectiveness, arrogance is commonly at the root of a leader’s undoing…and ours. The specific derailers that rendered the profiled leaders incapable of continuing in their positions varied, but there is an underlayment of arrogance in every one of their derailments.

Arrogance takes many forms. The most rudimentary is the self-centered focus that fosters a belief that 'I am central to the viability of the organisation, the department or the team'. The resulting dismissiveness of others’ contributions is inevitable. When arrogance blossoms into hubris, a sense of entitlement results. “This place can’t function without me, and I deserve special perks.” Arrogant leaders also seem to eschew feedback so beneficial to any leader. They become “truth-starved.”

Nardelli became known for arrogance and an alienation of the people he needed most. Regardless of Nardelli’s vision for the company, how could he ever achieve his objectives without the alignment, commitment, and loyalty of the Home Depot employees? The big lesson is that no matter how brilliant, charming, strategic, or commanding in presence a leader is, the consequences of a failed character are extraordinarily disabling and will bring down even the strongest among us.

Effective leaders must set direction, gain alignment among diverse constituencies, risk change, build high-performing teams, achieve results, go the extra mile and endure ungodly stress. To be enthusiastically followed, leaders must also be guided by an inner compass that fosters trust on the part of their followers. That compass is character.