Friday, May 29, 2009

What do you mean when you say you've got "Leadership Focus"?

When you as a senior-ranked person tell your troops that "My focus is on leadership," what do you mean? Leadership is one of those words that have been bandied about so often and in some cases so casually that if you ask 5 different people what "focus on leadership" means they will likely give you 5 different answers. To illustrate, "focus on leadership" could mean:

  • Be the kind of person that people want to follow.
  • Innovate, innovate, innovate!
  • Take responsibility and take action from wherever you sit.
  • Everyone's attention should be on the organization's leadership and they need to wait to see what the hondos think should be done. Hondo-centered, to be concise.
  • Make sure you're not only doing things right, but that you're doing the right things right.
  • Use the highest ethical standards as your guideline for whatever you do.
  • Get there first.
  • We're using informal, rather than formal, structure to get things done. (power vs. authority)

If you want your staff to get what you mean you'll need to provide some explanation of exactly what you mean. If your definition of leadership is left unclarified, one of the perspectives above - lurking in the attitudes of the people you lead - could directly conflict with the direction in which you're trying to take your company's operating climate.

Your definition of leadership requires some explanation, yes - but it needs demonstration even more. Sometimes people won't understand that you mean that they will now have a say in their futures, or that they can unilaterally make a broader set of decisions until they experience the opportunities to do so. They will need to see what will happen if you tell them you want them to take the reins more and they drive the wagon in a different direction or a different manner from yours. And they also will need to see what you'll do when they outright mess up before they'll step up and buy in to leadership in a real way.

1 comment:

Chip Scholz said...

Great post, Julie. I enjoy the way you think. I would love it if you were more concrete, though. In what ways could a CEO be clearer about expectations and how might he be able to communicate his expectations to all levels of the company. Specifically, how should someone running a multi-regional company with thousands of employees do it?