Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Five Attributes of Authority: Decisiveness, Accomplishment, Persuasiveness, Courage, Inspiration. How Leaders Project Power through Presence with Leadership Presence.

You can define leadership presence as the presence of authority imbued with a reason to believe. What matters to us most is authenticity. That cannot be faked, but it can be amplified.

Leadership presence is more than style, more than communications. It is the projection of the leader’s authentic self. That authenticity is made up of a person’s beliefs and convictions and reinforced by behavior. That is, it’s not “talking the talk” that matters, it’s “walking the walk” that makes the difference. It is what leaders do to convince people to believe in them as people and as leaders.

Leadership presence is the outward manifestation of leadership behavior. While leaders project their leadership, followers authorize it with their approval. Leadership presence is “earned authority.” Those two words are important. Earned means you have led by example. Authority means you have the power to lead others. While organizations confer management roles, it is up to the leader to prove himself or herself by getting others to follow his or her lead. A leader must earn the right to lead others. Title is conferred; leadership is earned.

While leaders project power through presence, it is followers who authorize it with their approval.

Leadership presence, the power to lead, does not come automatically with rank. While many CEOs and generals may hold heavy titles and their presence may seem lofty, the proof of their leadership is in what they accomplish. People get put into high positions and often don’t succeed, a phenomenon documented by Dr. Laurence J. Peter in his 1969 book The Peter Principle. Such failures often stem from a lack of leadership presence. These managers fail to build rapport with their people. They assume it is “my way or the highway” and do not accept the counsel or opinions of others.

One of the clearest indicators of leadership presence is the silence that occurs between leader and follower. No pomp. No circumstance. Just being there. This leadership presence occurs on the factory floor when a new hire is schooled by a veteran. You find it on the battlefield in the quiet moments between officers and their troops. And you find it in boardrooms when the CEO has the support of her team. No words are spoken. There is a quiet sense of trust that has developed among all parties.

While trust is a reciprocal act between leader and follower, it starts with the leader. He must trust his followers by giving them a stake in the enterprise as decision makers and contributors. Followers repay that trust by demonstrating their faith in the leader. That trust contributes to leadership presence in its most pure form and it is something to which all leaders can aspire.

Leadership presence is a powerful attribute of a leader; it amplifies and strengthens a leader’s ability to connect with people he or she must lead

Five Attributes of Authority

Authority Does Come from Title, but it is earned through actions. Inept executives fritter away their authority by their behavior, taking the counsel of none but themselves and failing to listen and learn from others. Authority is what holds leadership promise together. With it, you can lead; without it, you might as well do something else.

Many leaders come to authority naturally; they embrace it totally and wield it like a sword to demonstrate their power. Others adopt it reluctantly, seemingly shirking from the responsibility. In truth, neither approach is wholly right nor wholly wrong. Leaders must embrace command, but they must recognize that their power stems from the people they lead.

There are five attributes of authority as it applies to leadership:
1.    Decisiveness. Leaders need to exert their ideas. No Hamlets (“To be or not to be”) wanted. The ability to make tough decisions is crucial to a leader’s ability to lead. We remember General Dwight D. Eisenhower making the decision to launch a full frontal assault of the Normandy coast on D-Day. His final decision was short and to the point: “Okay, we’ll go.” But the decision was the culmination of years of military buildup of men and material as well as days of deliberation over weather conditions. By contrast, another former general, Alexander Haig, serving as secretary of state, jumped to a press podium in the White House on the day in March 1981 when President Ronald Reagan was shot and exclaimed, “I am in control here, in the White House.” Bad move. The vice president, the speaker of the house, and president pro temporare of the Senate were very much alive and, according to the Constitution, ahead of him as potential successors. Rash decision making can be disastrous. You can take time to consider the options and deliberate the conditions and consequences, but ultimately you must pull the trigger on the decision.

2.    Accomplishment. Leaders must, plain and simple, get things done. We want our leaders to do what they tell us they will do. When the CEO of a public company promises a new product or service as well as increased earnings and profits, he must deliver. Otherwise we tend to doubt his sincerity. Is he preening for the cameras? Is he angling for another job? Or is he clueless as to the real situation? Some executives are notorious for blue-sky predictions about production and revenues. All too often the situation changes and they end up with egg on their faces. Contrast their dismal performance with that of executives who know how to mastermind a turnaround. Very often by working together with the existing employees, these executives can right the ship by reducing debt, cutting costs, and improving earnings. Getting things done is essential to authority; it the raison d’ĂȘtre of leadership.

3.    Persuasiveness. Operating in a vacuum—or in a closed office—does not a leader make. No leader of an enterprise larger than a three-person operation can do much by himself. Sometimes autocratic executives will get into trouble because their heavy-handed management style turns people off. Then when the heat is on and they need the support of others, they will often find no one standing behind them. All leaders need the cooperation and collaboration of others. Therefore, leaders must bring others to the cause; that’s a key measure of leadership. Essential to that mantra is an ability to communicate the objectives in ways that encourage people to buy into the process. You need to make the objective not only tangible but possible, as well as good for the enterprise. Some tasks are onerous—layoffs, closures, and terminations—but if they are done for the good of the organization, and ultimately the people in it, then they must be done. It is up to the leader to make the case.

4.    Courage. Leaders must hold to the power of their beliefs and convictions, provided they are ethical, honest, and in keeping with organizational goals and beliefs. Standing up to bully bosses requires guts. Standing up to shareholders who want job cuts for short-term profits also takes guts. Standing up to public perceptions that seem reasonable but are unrealistic and uninformed also requires a measure of guts. But courage is essential to leadership. We know well the stories of soldiers in the field who perform acts of heroism to save their buddies. What we do not know so well is the courage all soldiers display when they go out on dangerous missions day after day. Police officers and firefighters, too, put themselves in harm’s way regularly. Similarly, people in business demonstrate courage by blowing the whistle on illegalities or standing up for a fellow worker who is being harassed. Some even question the ideas of a senior leader. We do not celebrate courage enough in our corporate culture, but we should because it can be the backbone that individuals need to stand up for themselves and their beliefs. As Tadashi Kume, former executive of Honda Motor Company, once said, “I tell people that if the [company] president says a crow is white, you have to argue that a crow is really black.”

5.    Inspiration. Ever look up in the sky at night and see the moon on a crisp, clear night and wonder what it was like up there? Mankind has been doing that for time immemorial. In 1969 that look skyward became reality for two astronauts who set foot on the moon. Ten more astronauts followed their steps in subsequent years. Their quest inspired a nation and along the way revolutionized computer technology as well as many other things. Entrepreneurial ventures have something of a moon-shot quality to them. These ventures, be it a new software company or a technology outfitter or a service provider, require a healthy dose of dreaming to succeed. People who work for those ventures feel jazzed when they come to work; they are inspired by doing something new, different, and beneficial for their customers and themselves. All of us want to belong to something greater than ourselves, and inspiration is essential. Authority coupled with a sense of aspiration bonds people to the leader.

Decisiveness. Accomplishment. Persuasiveness. Courage. Inspiration. These attributes reinforce your authority to lead.

While authority is essential to leadership, it does not come automatically with rank or position. Authority, like trust, must be earned, but here’s the difference. Trust requires time to develop. Authority, especially in most hierarchies, is assumed. People will grant you permission to lead. They want you to lead; they want you to succeed. Why? Because your followers have a vested interest in the organization; your leadership is vital to their success. That said, authority can be lost. Before that happens, it is important to understand the nature of authority and how it develops.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Seven Major Functions of a Mentor. Coaching and Mentoring Employees to Achieve Their Very Best

The Seven Major Functions of a Mentor
Depending upon the nature of your relationship, now what? What do you do, exactly? What are some of the ways that you can provide assistance? The following are seven different functions you can perform to build the mentoring relationship:
1.    Become a confidante. This guideline is really critical. Regardless of what roles you play, you still need to establish a climate of trust in which Mentees feel comfortable sharing private information with you.
How do you become a confidante? Listen when the Mentee has a problem. Identify and verify their feelings. In other words, give feedback on what they’re experiencing. You can encourage and praise them when you see behaviors that are appropriate. You can also create an atmosphere where Mentee can learn from their mistakes and talk about them openly with you, knowing you are not going to sabotage that trust. They can share their failures and their successes, and you can share from your experiences.
Becoming a confidante to someone helps build their self-confidence and offers encouragement and friendship. It inspires them—they know there is someone they can go to. How do you become one of the first people they think of when something happens to them? They just can’t wait to tell you, positive or negative.
2.    Offer tailored advice. This is across the board, based on whatever their current goals and plans are. Take some time to discuss what their career and personal goals are. What are the skills they need? Maybe they have some training needs. Maybe they need some assistance to advance to the next step in their careers.
Set high expectations on their performance, and see how you can provide some growth experiences. Help determine what is in the way of them being able to accomplish that next step or level. Could you assist them in removing some obstacles, perceived or real? Where can you step in and break down some of the barriers to performance?
3.    Help with navigating the organization. This one is also critical. How do you understand the leadership, the culture, and what the rules are where you work if no one’s going to teach you how to play the game? The “organization” doesn’t have to be the same department: It can be an industry, a particular profession, a client group, or informal networks within the organization.
Introduce your Mentee to your connections throughout the organizations, affiliations, and associations in your life. Help them become part of the inner workings and part of the corporate network. You know how to deal with corporate politics, but this person often doesn’t. Help them understand some of those smaller details that, perhaps, could be missed.
Build power through the use of influence for this person. Assist them in learning the company’s customs. When you help the Mentee navigate like this and share knowledge of how to behave in social and political situations, they quickly understand how to get things done. When you know how an organization works, you can be a lot more efficient and effective, so stand by them, and help them in these critical situations.
4.    Assist in networking. Good mentoring also builds connections between the various levels of an organization, helping the Mentored individuals grow into their roles and providing opportunities for further growth while humanizing the Mentors themselves. This contributes to a valuable esprit de corps that improves morale and, at least obliquely, productivity. Part of this strategy involves the Mentor exploring the Mentee's frustrations and worries, and suggesting ways to overcome them without necessarily fixing them directly. This is especially crucial in a supervisory coaching position, where the whole point is to maximize the employee's potential and, again, their productivity.
This requires effective communication in both directions. The Mentor should make it clear that candid feedback is not only encouraged but required. In particular, the Mentee must be willing to ask questions, especially when something they need to know is unclear, and must always be self-aware, receptive, resilient, and willing to grow. The mentoring relationship is, and must be, a collaborative one.
5.    Become a source of knowledge, training, and wisdom. You’re sharing from your experience, getting the Mentee to step back and consider alternative views and different options. We tend to be the middle of our own universe, and everything and everyone revolves around us. This shows that person that, “Hey, there’s a much bigger world out there and different things that you need to consider.”
Because you are staying current in your field, you can increase the technical competence of another. You can share critical knowledge. You can help the Mentee understand how change occurs and provide appropriate information when needed.
When you offer wise counsel, challenge them, and give them different ideas, the Mentee can develop a set of best practices for how to approach a given problem. You’ve assisted them in understanding other people and different viewpoints by encouraging the exploration of options.
Teach by example, and act as their sounding board. The Mentee will really benefit by having you to help them work through different ideas, recommendations, pros and cons, and alternatives. You can even say, “If you were me, what would you do?” “Here’s what I would do.” “Have you considered this?” “Have you thought of this angle?” “Perhaps here’s an additional aspect to incorporate.” Pushing back as they wrestle with problems can expand their world view, their thinking, and how they approach problems.
6.    Encourage them to seek their own answers. Instead of telling the Mentee precisely how to do something, the productive Mentor asks, "How do you think you should handle this?" The results may be surprising, and they're always worth exploring— not just because they stretch the Mentee's abilities and get them to thinking on their own, but also because they help inculcate the concept of personal accountability. Will some Mentees fail to rise to the challenge? Of course, but even such results are productive, since they can illustrate shortcomings in the Mentee's training and abilities.
Help the Mentee identify strengths and weaknesses. While I'm not a big fan of wasting too much time on your weaknesses (it tends to be more productive to hone your strengths), certain minimal levels of performance are expected in any position. Constructive mentoring is one way that an employee learns what they need to improve upon, and how they need to go about doing so.
7.    Motivate them to stretch and grow. Of course, you can’t make them do anything, but you can provide an environment where they are self-motivated to take the necessary risks and initiative and to become an independent learner. Challenge the Mentee to examine any unproductive strategies or behaviors. Basically, you’re strengthening their values. You’re encouraging their character growth and helping them develop moral standards.
As the Mentor, you must confront negative intentions, poor attitudes, and bad behaviors. You must help the Mentee shift his or her mental context. You have to encourage professional behavior, and the only way you can do this is by triggering self-awareness in the Mentee by giving criticism of performance if it’s necessary.
Don’t hesitate to give feedback that feels like criticism, because, in a way, that disciplinary function is necessary when you see your Mentee going down the wrong path.


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