In my previous statement on leadership, I emphasized on the role of decision making in effective leadership.
Sample too emphasizes decision making and techniques – thinking gray, thinking free, artful listening, delegating authority while retaining ultimate responsibility, artful procrastination for effective leaders.
The most important thing that I have learned about leadership in this course is how to enhance the decision-making skills and the relationship building and how a leader manages to influence many people. “The key contribution of the supertexts is not a set of timeless truths about leadership, but rather some timeless truths about human nature”. The language of these texts has a high probability of resonating with the leaders (Sample 2002). A leader should not engage in two-front war over who has the authority to decide and what the decision should be. By not taking sides, too quickly, a leader can be trusted by all.
A truly effective leader, however, needs to be able to see the shades of gray inherent in a situation to make wise decisions as to how to proceed (Sample 2002). Sample’s thinking gray calls for being open and flexible. To keep things under control, a leader should use the rubric of “open communication with structured decision making” (Sample 2002). A decision tree is a good way to envisage different scenarios that might arise. One will waste many opportunities, if all lessons are to be learned through experience. “A leader must be able to accurately play out contingencies within the arena of his imagination” (Sample 2002).
As you move from an individual contributor role to a manager role, one of the key skills to be a good manager is delegation. Delegation allows managers to get more work done (Suttle). While delegation for managers involves delegating tasks, for a leader, delegation involves delegating decisions. Sample argues for delegating decisions and to never decide yourself what can reasonably be delegated to a lieutenant (Sample 2002).
“For the clear majority of us who aspire to excellence in leadership, artful listening isn’t just an asset – it’s a necessity (Sample 2002)”. Through Toastmasters, I learned of the importance of listening skills, but Sample with his Listening gray brings out the importance of it for becoming an excellent leader.
A leader need not be an expert to run an organization effectively. A leader must be a deep generalist (Sample 2002). “A leader brings a group of people together who share a common goal, but who have widely varying opinions as to how the goal might best be achieved” (Sample 2002). A leader provides a haven for all variety of thoughts and opinions and builds a consensus among all, to move in one direction. Working with input from employees, one can learn to be a better leader (Colin 2012). Sample and Powell have shown that the leader must grow too. “The challenge for the leader is to find ways to bring out the best in his followers (and in himself) while minimizing the worst” (Sample 2002).
If there is too much hierarchy, a leader’s vision or message will not reach the follower as intended. “Where should the commander be on the battlefield? Where he can exercise the greatest influence and be close to the point of decision” (Colin 2012). A leader should be constantly in touch with the followers to understand their needs.
Before the course I looked at a leader from a follower’s point of how a leader brings out the best of the followers. “They want to be the best they can be; a good leader lets them know it when they are” (Colin 2012). With feedback, constructive criticism and encouragement, a leader can engage followers. A leader has a chance to connect to the followers with an agenda bigger than daily tasks, quarterly goals or good annual performance appraisals. James O Toole believed that Leadership is about ideas and values (Sample 2002). A leader can share beliefs and values of self and organization with the followers and inspire them through the ideals or universal emotions.
“Kindness connects you with other human beings in a bond of mutual respect. They will accomplish whatever you have put in front of them” (Colin 2012). By caring for the followers, a leader gets more from the followers without asking. When each follower feels a bigger than themselves unity towards a team, they take responsibility and ownership of their duties and purpose.
“All followers need to feel they belong to a team, a tribe, a band” (Colin 2012). As a tribe, followers are likely to become resilient teams (Comaford 2018). When people have a sense of belonging to a team or tribe, they have harmonious thoughts and work towards better outcomes.
“Effective leaders are able to create, manipulate and exemplify not only stories but symbols, slogans and mantras as well” (Sample 2002). Slogans and mantras are good call to actions and work well in maintaining the integrity of the message when it has to go through many channels and reach many people.
“Leaders don’t really run organizations. Rather, leaders lead individual followers, who collectively give motion and substance to the organization of which the leader is the head” (Sample 2002). This is the Holy Grail I have been looking for. For years, I have been interested in learning how organizations perform well. I should have been looking for the leaders who make it possible.
Powell Colin, 2012, It worked for me in Life and Leadership
Sample Steven, 2002, The Contrarian’s guide to Leadership
Comaford Cristine, 2018, Power Your Tribe: Create Resilient Teams in Turbulent Times