Leadership in times of change | by Tony Lydall

Tony LydallIf change is constant and all-pervasive, organisations must be structured to manage change continually, and motivated to ensure change delivers real value with minimal impact on their ability to deliver.

An organisation’s client interface is one area that is constantly changing, caused by modifications in the markets and economy among the major influencers. But the supplier interface is also constantly changing and failure to manage that change successfully could severely impact on service delivery.

According to Brent Gleeson, Forbes Magazine (4 June 2018), given that change is a constant, most business leaders today agree that leading change is one of the most difficult burdens of a leader’s command.

So, what is leadership?
A well-supported view of leadership involves “leading from the front”. Another view is that leaders don’t always have to lead from the front. In some circumstances, their place is behind the team to make sure everyone gets safely to the planned destination.

S. Chris Edmonds, the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, asks: “What is the leader’s reason for being?” Edmonds tells me that some have suggested that the purpose of leadership is to deliver results through others. Others see the leader’s purpose as developing more leaders. Others argue that the leader’s primary responsibility is to make the vision become reality. Edmonds believes that effective leaders do all these things and more.

Leadership in action
What is missing for him in most of these suggestions is the answer to these vital questions: “Who or what is changed when ‘leadership’ happens?” and “Who is being served when ‘leadership’ efforts are applied?”

If the outcomes of leadership efforts primarily serve the leaders (in the form of bonuses, promotions, etc.), their teams enjoy few (or no) benefits from those efforts.

If leadership activities discount or erode employee contributions or value, employee engagement is inhibited. Team members who feel undervalued or taken advantage of won’t serve those they interface with kindly or respectfully, nor will they willingly apply their skills in service to team or company strategies and goals.
Edmonds has found that how employees perceive their bosses directly impacts on results.

When leaders treat employees with respect and fairness, great things happen. Employees solve problems, proactively. They treat their peers and their suppliers respectfully. They share information so everyone succeeds. That’s a thriving team.

However, when leaders treat employees with distain, dismissing and discounting their ideas, efforts, and accomplishments, great things do not happen. Employees disengage. They watch and wait. They withhold information. That’s a struggling team.

Value-based
Edmonds, therefore, believes that leaders must live by the following values to be great bosses:
  • Integrity: Do what you say you will do, keep your commitments, and act on your values so you may serve your team deeply and hold your head high at the end of each day.
  • Learning: Begin every team engagement ready to learn what their strengths are and what their hopes are for their work culture.
  • Joy: Celebrate the pleasure derived from doing work you’re good at and enjoy, with interesting, willing learners, and bask in the core grace you feel when helping others grow.
  • Perfection: Having delivered what you promised so that objectives are exceeded, and staff and suppliers are wowed, continually sharpen the saw so future results are better than today’s.
What does this info about leadership mean for us?
According to Forbes Magazine (22 February 2017), ‘a poll of more than one million employed U.S. workers concluded that the [number one] reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. In spite of how good a job may be, people will quit if the reporting relationship is not healthy.’

And according to Gallup's 2017 State of the American Workplace report, 51% of currently employed adults in the U.S. say they are searching for new jobs or watching for new job opportunities. What's more, they are optimistic about their chances.

Wherever I engage with people in the education and training world, the lack of experience in staff and management is cited as a critical constraint on an organisation’s success. How can we expect to grow experience in our organisations if half our people leave each year because we don’t know how to lead them?

Tony Lydall is the courseware developer & facilitator for Bespoke CfSD Group - www.bespoke.co.za


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Posted on May 16, 2019