(Part II). All successful leaders have positive attitude about their roles. They have adjusted their minds’ “glasses” such that they see the brighter sides of things and are blind to the gloomy. They are incurable optimists, men and women of daring faith. Otherwise, they won’t be able to birth visions and follow them up to reality.
In the first part of this article, I dwelt on the leader’s love and its effects on the people and the organisation. Now, I discuss the rest – again as axioms. Can you name one effective leader in a million who never does anything new in his organisation? I mean a leader who only excels in making his organisation dance away to the tunes of inertia, unbothered if the bottomline is never realised? You can’t!
All effective leaders, past and present, are visioners. They dream of new heights for their organisations and would expend their brain and brawn working to realise the dream. A leader takes an organisation to somewhere new, better, and more fulfilling. Thus, if you want to be an effective leader, learn to visualise change and do what’s needed to make it happen.
Visioning is a critical element in the leadership equation. It’s at the centre of leadership functions. Without visioning, leadership loses its cutting edge. The leader becomes a mere manager ensuring that the organisation manages to stay alive even though its mission receives no attention. And what a fast sure way to kill an organisation! The modern world’s restless industrial landscape can’t tolerate organisations at ease with inertia; whose leadership is afraid to dream and dare.
If you’re a leader, you’re appointed not only to keep your organisation alive but also to take it to the next level of growth and profitability. But, you can’t do this unless you first develop a mental picture of a better future state for your organisation, share this imaginative portrait convincingly with your workforce, plan, reorganise and reposition the organisation in line with the demands of the vision; and then launch into the deep.
Many leaders, however, may cop out of visioning because it’s an exercise that calls for faith and courage. I admit that visioning is like taking a blind jump over a fence; you can’t be too sure of your safety on the other side of the divide; but you hope (and believe) all will be well on landing. So, with boldness you take off. Indeed, some leaders experience a hard landing in their vision flights leading their organisations into groan instead of gain. But many succeed in using visions to turn the tide for their organisations.
*In effective leadership, attitude is everything
Take away visions and other mechanisms of organisational development fail to hold. A leader must embark on the vision trip or his organisation will never advance. I don’t know any leader who ignored visioning and yet raised a world-class organisation. Do you?
For a comic relief, take this simple arithmetic: Spell the word ‘attitude’ and ascribe numerical value to each number according to its place in the English alphabets – thus: A-1; t-20; i-9; u-21; d-4; e-5. Now, add up. What’s the total? 100 percent! Conclusion: In leadership, attitude is everything. No matter the presence of other attributes, if your attitude is wrong your leadership can’t move your organisation forward. Your attitude and attributes should match; or you are heading for storms.
Attitude relates to personal disposition to something, personal interpretation of, and reaction to, the issues at hand. Author Chuck Gallozzi explains it thus: “It is our perspective, viewpoint or outlook. It is how we view the world.”
Attitude is a function of the mind, the surface realisation of the feeling of hope or despair within. The mind seems to wear a pair of interpretative glasses all the time. We view the world with these glasses and believe and act according to the perceptions they relay to us. The perceptions determine our attitude. Depending on what our mind tells us, we might be positive about incoming information; in which case we show acceptance and hope; we might also be negative, in which case we show resentment and pessimism.
Note that this operation of the mind places our attitude firmly under our control. We can decide to maintain a positive view of everything by “adjusting the mind’s glasses”. That means deliberately resisting the feeling of negativity, putting good construction to disturbing perceptions. Of course, we might also adjust the glasses to allow it to relay to us negativity and hopelessness. Which means we will see little or no chance of survival in life’s struggles, dismiss success as luck and quit from a project even before the start-up.
Hear Chuck Gallozi’s remark: “Some of us can discover opportunity in every difficulty; others find nothing but difficulty in every opportunity”. Fredrick Langbridge adds: “Two men look out of the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars”. I tell you, attitude makes the difference. You see what you choose to see.
Applied to effective leadership, the leader’s attitude will determine the level of his success and the height to which he may take his organisation. For, the successful application of all leadership traits and attributes depends on the leader’s attitude to his work and workers. Writing in the “Affirm Ware” journal (in 2002), America’s foremost business philosopher, Jim Rohn, said: “…The one thing that determines the level of our potential, that produces the intensity of our activity, and that predicts the quality of the result we receive is our attitude.”
All successful leaders have positive attitude about their roles. They have adjusted their minds’ “glasses” such that they see the brighter sides of things and are blind to the gloomy. They are incurable optimists, men and women of daring faith. Otherwise, they won’t be able to birth visions and follow them up to reality.
If you wish to lead an organisation and make a remarkable difference. You must programme your mind to see the world’s brighter sides. You must be able to see the sunny furs behind the pitch-dark cumulus; and be totally positive about life.
*Effective leaders share authority with subordinates
In leadership, loners are losers. Leaders who cling to the old idea of know-all-tell-all leadership style can’t move their organisations forward in this modern time. Leadership used to be one-man command-and-control practice – but no more. The challenges of modern organisations are vast and more complex than leaders can handle solo. Leadership authority, influence and roles must be shared with subordinates down the hierarchical lines; or change efforts will suffer serious limitations.
According to Margaret Wheatley, co-founder of the Berkarna Institute (USA) and leadership consultant, senior leaders have complained in surveys that two-thirds of their organisational change efforts fail. I suspect the failures are caused by employees’ low (or none) participation in developing the vision and setting its goals. Effective leaders are not lone-rangers. They recognise the talents of others in the organisation and engage them appropriately and sufficiently enough in the task of taking the organisation to new heights.
The famous Jack Welch of General Electric said his job includes spreading ideas quickly. Mr Welch would ask GE managers about their own ideas and who they have shared the ideas with in the organisation. He seems to recognise there’s a correlation between employees’ participation and their productivity; and he cashed in on this link to keep GE soaring.
Such diffusion of authority and sharing of roles is what Frances Hesselbein referred to as dispersed leadership. I call it reproductive leadership because the leader’s authority is reproduced in other leaders in other arms of the organisation; thereby creating chain leadership. Thus, in Hesselbein’s words, we have “leaders at every level of the enterprise, so that we are relying not on the leader but on leaders dispersed across the organisation…”
This is one way effective leaders empower their subordinates. The result of this dispersal of leadership is the creation of powerful representation and rich diversity at different levels of the organisation. Leaders who fear sharing their roles and authority but relish exclusive command-and-control monopoly are clipping away their organisations’ synergy and energy.
*Effective leaders aren’t quitters
There’s no successful leader who lacks persistence. Leaders who make their organisations count in the banker’s books and move their employees or partners to hate retirement aren’t advocates of quick fixes. Leadership isn’t smooth sailing; but effective leaders don’t care about the weather. They get going though it is tough and seems reasonable to quit. They may suffer a setback; but under the spell of positive attitude they refire, calling problems normal and regarding initial failure as useful feedback.
*Effective leaders are people of moral worth
Recent happenings in world-class organisations have brought integrity to the fore of leadership discourse and eroded public faith in corporate leadership. It’s unfortunate because some of the leaders accused of wrongdoing had been hailed as great performers before the bubble burst. Granted that a few misbehave, effective leaders are still people of unquestionable integrity. They adhere to a set of moral code and are innocent, honest and free from moral corruption.
*Effective leaders are passionate about their job
I close with this axiom. All effective leaders love their job. They go about it with gusto. If you ask them to choose between their leadership and their life, they’ll probably choose both!