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LEADERSHIP IS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE, WHICH MAXIMISES THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A SHARED GOAL.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Canada appears to have fallen far short of its goal of "Owning the Podium" at the Vancouver Olympics. How can leaders know the difference between a "stretch" goal that inspires people to reach new heights and an unattainable goal that winds up demoralising people?
Canada is hardly flopping in the Olympics. While their goal to "Own the Podium" is ambitious, there is nothing wrong with having high expectations. "Stretch goals" are obtainable if all the ingredients of success are present: careful planning, motivation, and a little luck. Even then, the individual or team still needs to make that giant leap to glory.
Demoralisation comes from feeling fear and doubt. It does not come from having high goals. Limitations only have power when one believes in the fears that give them life. Because of the Canadian team's high goals and their desire to not just win, but win big, many amazing things have happened that demonstrate the team's resolve.
Just a couple of days into these Olympics, Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada's first gold medal in freestyle skiing. The Canadian men's hockey team made it to the semi-final round after an overwhelming victory against the Russians. Joanie Rochette, just days after her mother's death, gave a courageous figure skating performance in which every second was just as powerful, emotional, and inspirational as the last.
These moments are what the games will be remembered for. Canada might not have achieved their desired medal count, but they have sought excellence, and are now in a different realm because of it. The Canadians are close to achieving the highest amount of gold medals they have ever achieved in a single Winter Olympic Games. If this is the result of having goals that are out of reach, then that giant leap is always worth it.
The word comes from Greek, meaning divine favour, as true charisma can seem to be a gift of the gods. In the 1920s the German sociologist Max Weber defined it as "a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which one is 'set apart' from ordinary people and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities" that are "regarded as divine in origin or as exemplary." In our time, with brands and personalities exerting huge cultural influence, charisma is bigger than ever.
Corporations large and small recognise that success begins at a personal level, and they realise that charismatic leaders are valuable because they are the ones who can connect with others in a visceral, direct way, creating memorable, treasurable experiences. They also know that charisma plus operational ability can make for a very strong leader.
What does it take to be a charismatic leader?
According to Richard Wiseman, professor of the public understanding of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire you don't need divine powers to be charismatic. He estimates that charisma is half inborn and half acquired, which means you have to be blessed with certain qualities at birth but you also need to nurture and develop them. He says every charismatic leader shares three qualities: He or she feels emotions very strongly, excites them in others and is impervious to the influence of other charismatic people.
Here are some quick keys to being charismatic, or at least to drawing on the virtues of charisma even if you haven't really got it yourself. These are things people with real charisma consistently do:
Stretch the world: Charismatic leaders live as if heeding the old saying sometimes attributed to Niccolo Machiavelli, "Make no small plans, for they have no power to stir the soul." They realise that only an audacious view of the future will excite people and bind them together. They also make it a point not to restrict their bold outlook to one primary aim; they extend it to almost everything they get involved in. In every undertaking they push the boundaries beyond what is ordinarily thought possible.
Don't hide. Be seen: Charismatic leaders keep themselves always visible. They stand up to be counted in every crisis. They make unwavering efforts to motivate their people, whether by listening and responding to them or by working alongside them. Their constancy emboldens their people to go on, even in the darkest times.
Talk the talk: Charismatic leaders embrace every opportunity to convince others to adopt their vision. They make it a point always to speak in ways that convey personal integrity and engender trust.
Speak even when you are silent: Charismatic leaders send out the right signals through all their actions. They always appear enthusiastic and passionate and make others feel good and strong in their presence. They let people know that they matter, even if just by simple and subtle gestures such as upright posture, direct eye contact, genuine smiles and firm handshakes.
Charisma effectively deployed can have electrifying results.
For more, see - http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/25/charisma-speaking-communication-leadership-managing-inspiration.html
Here is some interesting perspective from Morten T. Hansen, the author of Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results. He is a management professor at University of California, Berkeley, School of Information.
'Recently, President Obama strode into the White House Briefing Room, surprising the reporters there. He had just held the first of a new string of meetings — a bipartisan gathering involving congressional leaders from both parties...This is a good effort, but it comes a year late. Obama came into office promising to end the politics of division. A year later, it seems we have more division and less collaboration.
It's a lesson in how not to collaborate, and it applies equally to business leaders. All leaders and managers can learn from five key mistakes made by the White House:
1. Wrong language by the rank-and-file.
President Obama says many of the right things about the need for bipartisanship and collaboration. But his team does not follow suit. Rahm Emanuel, most notably, is often making news with heated rhetoric, most recently when he called people with whom he disagreed "F—ing retarded" (and they were Democrats!). As I argue in my book Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results, how leaders talk matters a great deal. In a fascinating experiment at Stanford University, students played a game where they chose to cooperate or compete. When it was called "the community game," given the impression that it was about cooperation, 70 percent chose to cooperate. When it was called "the Wall Street game," suggesting market competition, 70 percent chose to compete — the exact opposite! Rhetoric shapes behaviours.
To get people motivated to collaborate, you need to talk the language of collaboration, all the time. And you can't extol it one day and then say something differently another day. The White House can learn from the example of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California who came into office callinghis opponents "girlie men." That rhetoric led to even more division, but once he cooled the rhetoric, he was able to get a lot done by collaborating.
2. Confusing delegation with collaboration.
President Obama pledged to work with Congress; but he has been criticized for delegating major legislative initiatives like health care reform to the Democratic leaders in Congress. What's the difference? Delegation means letting other people do the work, with little oversight. Collaboration, in contrast, means that leaders are actively involved — they sit around the table, sweat through difficult discussions, given and take, and forge solutions. President Obama's relatively recent hands-on involvement with health care legislation is a good sign that he is rectifying this particular mistake.
3. No meaningful outreach to opponents.
The Republicans have complained that they haven't really been listened to during last year's legislative meetings on health care. It's of course hard for outsiders to judge what really went on, but this brings up a vital point: real collaboration means bringing in all parties — including those who disagree with you — to the debate early in the process, and not later when many decisions have already been made.
To collaborate well, you must involve all parties in a meaningful way: invite people to propose divergent views and promote vigorous debate (some call this constructive conflict). Let robust ideas and solutions get a fair chance, even if you may not like them much.
4. No hard compromises. In 2006, when Governor Schwarzenegger turned collaborative, he and the democratic leaders in California passed major legislation because they made some tough compromises. Consider the increase in minimum wage to $8 per hour. The Governor compromised by agreeing to an increase (which he had twice vetoed before), while the Democrats compromised by dropping their insistence on an automatic adjustment pegged to inflation. They both made painful choices.
Good collaborative leaders have learned the art of compromising.
5. Lack of a compelling common goal. In 1961, President Kennedy pronounced his famous "man on the moon" goal. It was a great goal because it unified. People set aside their own agendas and ideologies. For example, Wernher von Braun, a towering figure in space exploration, set aside his agency's cherished method to get to the moon ("earth orbit") and embraced a rival's method ("lunar orbit"), precisely so that they could reach Kennedy's goal in time.
Has President Obama articulated a "moon goal" for healthcare that can unite all parties, even many Republicans? Great collaborative leaders craft such common goals, and they lead people like von Braun (or the Republican leader John A. Boehner....) to set aside own agendas in pursuit of a compelling unifying goal.
Had President Obama and his team avoided these five missteps and practiced the five corresponding good collaborative practices, things may have looked differently today. But there is still time to practice good collaboration, for all of us.
Examine your own organisation: do you have compelling unifying goals that unite people from different units? As a leader, do you set a tone that invites collaboration? Do you foster real debate early in the process, reach out to those who disagree, and stay hands-on in major initiatives? And — when the process stalls — have you been willing to make hard choices?'