Leadership – Lost Along the Way

All those leadership books I ever read speak about the negative effects of having a strong ego while in a leadership position and the importance of building a strong capable team for succession. I often wonder if actual leaders have ever read these books, because so many of them focus on the “I”, “me”, “self” and “my”. Leaders feed their egos with accomplishments, achievements and the failure of others. When the failure falls squarely in our yard, we are without words.

An effective leader should start with being a genuinely good person with sincere goals and aspirations and all else will fall into place. I think in the business world, they call this quality having good business ethics? As soon as we start to think we can short circuit the process to achieve quick success, the success is usually not sustainable and will come crashing down.

There are a number of factors that impact a newly appointed company President or CEO. They have to serve a range of stakeholders from staff, to suppliers, shareholders, customers to board members. Their challenge is balancing all these interests but at the same time ensuring the core values are being practised.

Sometimes, the pressure to deliver maximum profits with minimal resources is too much and knees start shaking and values start getting compromised one at a time. You think you no longer have the luxury of time to work with an Executive on achieving deliverables; instead you use shame and embarrassment to propel action with the risk of eroding the relationship. Bit by bit, no one Executive wants to be the weekly shame recipient so a blame game, and a passing the buck game develop. Not long after, a highly collaborative culture marked by mutual respect has turned to petty blame passing culture where everyone keeps every piece of documentation since trust no longer exists.

One of our local Trinidadian politicians once said “Politics has a morality of its own”. I sometimes wonder if this holds true for company leaders as well.

During this financial crisis, strong leadership is critical to keep the people focused and motivated against all odds. Now is not the time to crumble under the pressure of a falling share price, as employees need a steady hand with a clear focus. Now is not the time to deny employees from attending free training saying that attendance means time lost productivity and money wasted. Penny wise and pound foolish decisions will mark the spot for the inexperienced leaders who want to be everything to the wrong people.

Leaders must demonstrate a strong concern for their people during this time not by showering gifts, but through open sincere communication, inexpensive tokens of appreciation, recognition of hard work using the intranet, increased flexibility and other such non cash ways. People should not be taken advantage of by their employers during this time of recruitment and salary freezes.

Too often, a lack of humility, hasty decision making, a dismissive attitude and an intimidating manner serve to define new leaders. These leaders must find themselves back to themselves and re-start the game by revisiting their core values.

Leaders must be confident in who they are, be confident in what they know and in what they don’t know and be willing to learn and develop others and let the technocrats do what they do best, which is their own jobs.

Denise Ali

1 Comment

  1. Hyacinth GuyMarch 4, 2009

    One thing we must ask ourselves is why does our society produce and promote persons with the leadership qualities you describe. We seem to be so overwhelmed by technical competence that we sometimes overlook whether this person has the capability of discharging this competence in the organization the way it should be done when one is a leader. Very often someone takes up a leadership position and continues to function as if he/she is in the field – showing the organization how good he/she is at what they know rather than moving to the next level of shaping and realizing a vision for the organization. I think it has something to do with our reward systems.

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