Monday, October 17, 2016

How do leaders know if they have the “right people on the right seats of the bus”? - part #2

Having the wrong people on the wrong seats on the bus can cause many problems. These individuals often look out the metaphorical office window and blame others for the problems within the world and the company, rather than looking into the mirror and asking the important question: “What do I need to change about myself in order to make this better?”

From my observations of working with people for over 30 years in the areas of leadership and organizational change, I have noticed that the right leaders "fit" with the company values. They personally fit with the values because they are similar to their own values. But they also fit strategically with the values. By this I mean, they can role model the values and can teach the values to others. They also know what to do and how to do it when there is a misalignment that occurs with the organization’s core values.

Right now, one major problem I am seeing is in the teaching of the values. It is not the repeating of them, and it is not about knowing them as in where they are on the wall. The critical difference, I have observed, is that the right leaders can create an environment where people want to embrace them. In essence, people feel safe enough to embrace the values, and try them “on for size.” The outcome over time is that they will own and internalize them.

The other thing I have discovered about these unique leaders is that they understand the difference between operational leadership and strategic leadership. They also are competent in both skill sets. As Joel Kurtzman wrote in his book, Common Purpose: How Great Leaders Get Organizations to Achieve The Extraordinary, Jossey-Bass 2010: “Strategic leaders are people within organizations who plot the course... Strategic leaders generally can think far into the future...The best of these people understand where the future is going and how to get there.

“The role of operational leaders is quite different from those of strategic leaders. Operational leaders make certain the trains run on time, the manufacturing processes are adequate, the logistics systems work, the technicians are well trained, and the the trucks are where they are supposed to be.... like strategic leaders, operational leaders are vital to an organization’s success.”

Finally, these exceptional leaders display a level of maturity. Maturity comes from two things, namely respect and humbleness. The right leaders have respect for people, their effort, and for what they are doing. And they have humbleness to recognize that we always have more to learn about respect. 

This week, if you have not done so already, I recommend you read the following: Lencioni, Patrick. The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize And Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues, Jossey-Bass, 2016. It will help you plan better for 2017 and help you make sure you have the right people on the right seats on the bus.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

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