Lessons In Leadership

By admin / August 8, 2007
By: Harald Anderson
Category: Leadership

Have you ever tried to define leadership in your own words? My favorite leaders have always been an inspiration to me because of the manner in which they took responsibility for every area of their lives. These individuals never made excuses and were always accountable for everything they did. While a lot of people use the two words - responsibility and accountability, interchangeably, they actually mean very, very different things. Many a times, especially when a firm is getting restructured, one can land up with a promotion which puts one in a different role with different expectations and a totally new culture. I know people who have landed in positions of great responsibility by some management shuffling as a result of a merger or acquisition of a company. A friend of mine told me about his experience of getting a totally unexpected promotion which got him to the top management cadre. Chuckling, he said, he was the youngest attendee at the first conference after this reshuffle. It may seem funny, but it can also be a bit daunting and intimidating. In such a situation, you would obviously try and cope as well as you can by using all the bag of tricks that you have picked up on your way here. But, without doubt, you will be out of your comfort zone. You may have some but not all the skills required to handle the challenges of your new role. Many people try hard but then give up and ask their bosses to place them back in roles which are more comfortable. Leadership often forces you out of your comfort zone into new terrain. Growth is often only posible when we give up previous conceptions of what is possible. Here is the key! As senior management, you are required to make the shift from managing ‘stuff to managing ‘people that are perfectly capable of managing the ‘stuff. At that level if you make the mistake of doing rather than managing, you run a double risk. Firstly, you will be doing a role which is not as big as what the organization is paying you for. Also, you run the risk of alienating and upsetting the people whose role you are taking on. I have made this error. Once I realized my mistake, I started investing time and energy into developing the talents and abilities of my team rather than taking on their tasks. Of course, such a process may initially be slow to give results; however, in the long run it will prove immensely profitable. So, start managing people and see how things will start to turn around. That brings us to the critical difference between ‘responsibility and ‘accountability. In a smaller business, you are responsible for many roles and wear many hats. Responsibility refers to tasks and how one can work to accomplish and cope with all the things that need to be done, usually by juggling many hats. In a bigger business, one person can simply not do everything by himself. At another level, top management in a company implies that you hold the accountability for the entire business performance. At this stage, you must distribute the responsibilities to other people, of course with your constant guidance and monitoring. So, as a leader, give away the ‘doing to your team. Just tell them ‘what is required and leave the ‘how to them, within the given parameters. It will be a tough transition to make, but believe me, it can be done! It will be one of the most powerful leadership lessons you will ever learn. About the author: Harald Anderson is the cofounder of artinspires.com a leading online gallery of Motivational Military Art Posters. "When Art Inspires, Dreams Become Realities. Military Art



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