Empowering Leaders Are Egoless


Research has shown that many of the most effective leaders are humble. Although determined to achieve their vision, they are more interested in getting the job done and building something great than press clippings or personal credits. Many leaders find themselves caught in political battles, expending their energies on trying to move personal agendas forward instead of driving toward what is best for the organization. Empowering leaders, however, are more effective when they set their ego aside, let go of power politics and personal agendas, and professionally focus on building organization and human capabilities. [Read more…]

Empowering Leaders Build and Maintain Relationships of Trust


An important practice of empowering leaders is that they build and maintain personal relationships with their followers–relationships based on trust. Leadership is about relationships, and empowering leaders are aware of their impact on others and seek to communicate and behave in ways that build trust.

Are You Trustworthy?

A short assessment of trust in your organization and the extent to which you are perceived as trustworthy can help identify the level of trust you enjoy as a leader in your organization. How you answer the following questions is directly related to the nature and quality of trust relationships you have built around you in your organization. [Read more…]

Empowering Leaders Are Passionate About Achieving Their Vision

 Leaders Are Passionation About Their Vision

Effective leaders make their vision a reality by sharing it with others and gaining others commitment to achieve it. The purpose of this article is to discuss two ways empowering leaders make their vision a reality:

  1. They are very clear about their vision of the future organization; and
  2. They have a driving passion to achieve it.

Getting Clear About Their Vision

Great leaders are not more talented than the majority of people, but they are generally more clear about what they want and what their vision of a new and improved organization looks like. In our consulting practice over the years, we have worked with many leaders to help them clarify their vision. When they are unclear about their vision, it makes it difficult to share it with others or to ask them to work toward it. Sometimes it takes a lot of thinking and discussion to clarify the vision of the future. In other cases, leaders intuitively know what they want and are able to express it. Either way, when leaders are able to identify their vision, and make it concrete for others, it opens the door to share it with them and ask for their commitment to make it happen. [Read more…]

From Controlling to Empowering Leadership


Truly accomplished leaders are people who have a compelling vision and the ability to rally others to make that vision a reality. However, we know from studying leaders like Ghandi and Mao, Roosevelt and Stalin, that leaders use different kinds of power to accomplish their visions. I want to distinguish between two forms of power:

  1. Control-over power (controllers)
  2. Influence-with power (empowerers)

Control-over power is probably the most prevalent form of power experienced by man throughout history. It is power that is imposed from without. Such leaders believe they have to control people in order to accomplish organizational results. These leaders may accomplish much, but often at a high price. At best, their tactics result in unthinking followers who learn to keep their heads down and do the minimum possible to avoid getting into trouble. At worst they create an environment of smoldering ill-will or even malicious compliance. [Read more…]

The Leadership Imperative


 “Leadership is the critical force behind successful organizations. To create vital and viable organizations, leadership is necessary to develop a new vision of what they can be and then mobilize the organization to change towards that vision.” –Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, Leaders, Strategies for Taking Charge, 2007

Leadership (from the senior suites to the front line) is a primary driver of business success. Leaders set the tone, define direction, design the architecture, build the culture, execute plans, monitor results, manage resources, develop people, and so on. In short, leaders touch and shape every aspect of organizational life. And yet doing this is more challenging than ever, due to the accelerating pace of change and escalating complexity of the world around us.

The leadership paradigm that worked for centuries is no longer adequate to manage in today’s fast-paced and complex times. The traditional leadership model is based on hierarchy and such principles as centralization, uniformity and control. Such principles were useful during the early days of the industrial revolution when management had to manage and control masses of untrained people in rather predictable and stable markets. [Read more…]

Let’s Fire All The Managers!

Are Managers Necessary?

I’m taking my title from an article written by Gary Hamel in the December, 2011 edition of The Harvard Business Review. In the article, Hamel reports on the practices of Morning Star, a tomato processing company founded in 1970 with 400 employees and over $700 million in annual revenue. You’ve likely used the company’s products since they handle around 30% of the tomatoes processed in the US each year. In an industry that has grown by about 1% in the past 20 years, Morning  Star’s revenues have consistently been in double digits. [Read more…]

What do the Best Supervisors Do?


A few years back I did some consulting work with a hospital that wanted to improve the quality of management across the entire organization (admin, Drs., nurses, etc.).  They began by administering a survey to all employees, asking them to rate their managers on a number of management and leadership qualities. [Read more…]

A Twist on Accountability


In my last post, I introduced the concepts of the accountability letter and interview.  Their purpose is to create clarity and alignment between an individual and his or her manager. I have found the process to be extremely powerful in companies in which I’ve recommended and implemented it, especially when leaders view them not as tools to control people but rather practices to create mutual understanding and open up constructive conversation.

Today I want to put a twist on the practice.  Enlightened leaders are coming to realize that ultimate accountability is not to leaders but customers. The purpose of your work, whatever it might be, is to bring value to your customers, be they internal or external. The whole concept of “management” was put into place to control the means and way in which people accomplish their work. Although a topic for another day, traditional management practices bring lots of unintended consequences which may actually impede organizational objectives and efficiency. (I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming post.) [Read more…]

Leading with Accountability

Employee accountability

I’ve been exploring, in recent blogs, practices to build good leadership into the infrastructure of your organization. It’s one thing to understand, theoretically, good leadership. It’s another to put that understanding into practice on a daily basis.

Today I want to introduce the practice of an “Accountability Letter.” The purpose of this letter is to ensure clarity and agreement between an individual and his/her manager about performance expectations on the job. Here are the basic ingredients of such a letter: [Read more…]

The Best Leaders Are Collaborators

There are probably hundreds of definitions of leadership. However, at its essence, leadership is influencing others to accomplish results. Leadership is not so much about what you do and accomplish on your own. It is about what you are able to help others accomplish. It is about how you are able to influence other people to raise their level of performance to new and better heights and contribute more than they previously thought possible.

[Read more…]