I believe that leadership is most effectively understood from a multi-faceted perspective, not a unidimensional one - that we are best informed about leadership by looking at the five categories, or dimensions, as a whole. Taken together, they span roles, actions, and individual qualities to form a coherent and actionable concept of leadership.
This article looks at each of the five dimensions as they express differing definitions of leadership, then see how they hang together to inform us about leadership in the 21st century.
for Sharper Thinking and Focused Presentations
How do you even start to organize ideas?
Perhaps you have a complex business you need to describe to potential customers or investors. Maybe your department needs to continually justify its existence to corporate powers that be, or you have to present material about a complicated subject to people from different backgrounds.
What is a Solution?
Here’s a technique for organizing your ideas so you can present a topic meaningfully, whether you have one hour or are limited to one minute. Succinctly answer these four questions: what, why, how, and so what?
What ...a technique to simplify complex information
Why ...lets you communicate clearly and succinctly
How ...by organizing ideas around four questions: what, why, how, so what
So What ...clear and focused communication will accelerate your achievement
See the full article here, and make your own comments. Read More...
The machine continues to be the dominant metaphor of the workplace – meaning we tend to relate to our working world as if it was a machine. We have plenty of experiences each day that reinforce this perception of life-as-machine: We step on the gas pedal and our cars move faster. We push a button and documents get efficiently copied – maybe even on both sides, collated, and stapled.
I continue to be approached by executives looking for that metaphorical lever, pedal, dial, or button that will motivate people, get them to change, or increase morale. It’s the wrong thing to be looking for because it’s the wrong metaphor. Read More...
This key principle applies directly to leaders who aspire to achieve outstanding success for their businesses or organizations. Extraordinary organizations are not created simply by solving problems. Leaders need to be skillful at problem-solving, yes, but to be outstanding they also need to be competent at possibility-building. Read More...
What is surprising to many people is that emotions are biologically linked to critical thinking – i.e., to the use of the intellect, rationality, and logical analysis. While conventional wisdom says emotions get in the way of analytical thinking (and certainly they can), or that they are inherently irrational, modern neuroscience appears to embrace the idea that emotions are a key support of intellectual performance.
As a leader in your organization,
do you add muda or subtract it?
Muda is a Japanese term for waste. As pioneered by Toyota and adopted worldwide as LEAN processing, top businesses strive to eliminate muda - any waste that does not add value for the final customer.
Seven mudas are traditionally recognized: overproduction, waiting, unnecessary transport, over-processing, excess inventory, unnecessary movement, and defects. Jeffrey K. Liker, in his excellent book The Toyota Way, adds an eighth muda – unused employee creativity.
Liker describes the eighth muda as the waste of “losing time, ideas, skills, improvements, and learning opportunities by not engaging or listening to your employees.”
Too many organizations suffer from CEOs, owners, and executives that inflate the eighth muda, rather than contribute to its elimination.
In the two weeks before writing this article I was told handful of stories - unsolicited - about clueless bosses who seem eager to be eighth muda poster icons. They shut down employee contributions by:
- Blowing up angrily at errors, apologizing, but then doing it again. Bring them bad news, they kill the messenger.
- Arrogant statements of who is in charge – “It’s my way or the highway,” or “In this company, I am god.”
- Ignoring and refusing to discuss looming challenges that keep partners, directors, and other lesser executives awake at night.
- Refusing to let other executives to speak on the company’s behalf, even if they are more polished presenters - but also can’t seem to find time to improve their own basic presentation skills.
- Discounting human concerns, while fixating on a company goal – “I don’t care about anything except making this quarter’s numbers.”
In all fairness, these executives could accurately be described as passionately enthusiastic about their company or idea, incredibly smart, and enormously talented individuals. They possess inspiring visions, and have an enviable track record of achievement. What is often outside of their awareness is the deep erosion, if not outright destruction, of relationships that could sustain and amplify their success.
8th muda leaders can obsess about squeezing each penny of value out of their organizations, yet flush tons of money down the drain in the form of lost opportunity and employee turnover. When faced with 8th muda bosses, the best and the brightest look for opportunities to go where they are appreciated - places where they not only have economic opportunity but can make a contribution to something larger than themselves without having to endure a pile of muda.
I hear plenty of stories, too, of great places to work, and of incredible leaders who strive to bring out the best talent of everyone in the company. They may call it any number of things, but what you consistently see are leaders that are intentional about eliminating the 8th muda, the waste of untapped employee talent. They invest in employee development, pay attention to the human side of their businesses, and correct unintentional disincentives whenever they are discovered. And they eat their competition’s lunches.
Seeking to reduce the muda on the human side is as important and as do-able as reducing muda in manufacturing or operational processes. It does, however, require an effort to learn and practice a distinct body of leadership and interpersonal skills - above and beyond knowledge and skill in business and in your particular industry or profession.
Exceptional leaders look hard at their organizations and ask, “Where are we eliminating muda?”
They also look at themselves and ask, “In what ways am I creating muda?” The next question to ask is, “What are you going to do about it?”
by Tom Stevens (c)2007
Tom Stevens helps individuals and organizations create brilliant futures and make a difference. To contact him, visit www.ThinkLeadershipIdeas.com
This article may be freely reprinted in your company, association, or commercial publication (or website) under the following terms: that the author attribution, copyright notice, contact information, and this reprint notice be included; and that you inform us that you are using the article (samples appreciated).
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“Out of the Box” is a cliché, a phrase that’s been around for decades. Everyone knows what it means, but it’s hardly a trigger for ideas that are fresh, creative, and original. I encourage people to focus on Edge of the Box thinking – especially if you need ideas with a high potential for useful application.
Edge of the Box thinking is based on viewing the world at the boundaries of your organization and experience, where inside and outside perspectives can be combined, and where fresh ideas most likely will emerge. In today’s knowledge-based world, useful innovation typically arises out of combining core competencies with ideas taken from places outside of your industry or field, but not so far out as to be inaccessible. Read More...
I find that most groups get stuck in one or more of three areas, discernment, design, or discipline - i.e understanding what is going on, crafting a satisfying response, and following through with meaningful action.
Following are twelve questions leaders can use to stimulate progress on those persistent issues that plague your team or organization.