Leadership Challenges It’s not nine to five – it’s a way of life

The world of work is changing – rapidly. Technology, expanding markets and growing customer demands for quality and service are challenging organizations. To stay competitive, organizations are exploring ways to improve what they do and how they do it. They are shifting their focus from serving local or national markets to serving global ones, and from directing how work gets completed to involving more staff in decisions and problem solving.

To prosper, organizations and their staff must develop broader skills and wider perspectives. Knowing how to collaborate and develop effective partnerships is one of the skills of a leader. This lets you share responsibility and combine the knowledge, creativity or experience of others in your organization.

Leadership is certainly a trainable skill, but the first step towards becoming a leader is taken in one’s mind. There is no linear process with “begin here and end there”. It is as individual as you are.

Leaders today are feeling the increasing pressure to perform more effectively in organizations of all kinds – in manufacturing, service, finance, research, health care, education, communications and government. Many organizations like yours may be looking for ways to respond to one or more of the following critical demands:

• Responding to global competition
• Applying new technologies
• Regaining market share
• Finding and infiltrating new markets
• Boosting productivity
• Improving customer service
• Streamlining processes
• Improving customer service
• Reducing cycle time
• Building demand for existing products or services
• Doing more with less

Review this list and place a check mark (√) beside the one item that you think should be of greatest concern to you, in your organization, at this time.

As a leader you have an important role to play in turning pressures into progress for your organization.
In companies that are meeting critical demands, all employees, not just senior management, worry about the business. Individuals throughout the organization assume responsibility for the success of the whole company.

In adaptive organizations, everyone works to ensure maximum flexibility, often playing multiple, adaptable roles. Increasingly everyone needs to think in organization-wide terms and to assist the company develop its capacity for continual renewal.

What is required of leaders today are the following strategies:

• Need to create a compelling future – You have no picture unless you have the big picture. Everyone needs to look at the long term – big picture, rather than focusing on today’s concerns only.

• Let the customer drive the organization – If you do not listen to your customers, someone else will. The key component for success is knowing who your customers are and what they need.

• Involve every mind – You have to be smart enough to know you are not smart enough. You need to assist the organization make the best use of the knowledge base it has. It is important to involve staff in the decisions that affect their work. Organizations thrive when individuals continuously share their knowledge and expertise with others.

• Manage work horizontally – You cannot measure success solely by your own acts. By looking beyond the confines of your own department or work group you may be able to spot unnecessary barriers or roadblocks that get in the way of delivering your organization’s product or service to your customers.

• Build personal credibility – You are already leading by example. Be sure it is a good one. You need to establish successful partnerships.

14 Leadership Competencies:

The following is the list of 14 dimensions or characteristics of leadership developed by Marshall Goldsmith and Andersen Consulting. They are listed below in the order in which they were placed by the panel of 75 leaders or potential leaders when asked to look five to ten years ahead. Additional points of clarification are available upon request.

1. Create a shared vision
2. Ensure customer satisfaction
3. Live the values
4. Build teamwork and partnerships
5. Think globally
6. Appreciate cultural diversity
7. Develop and empower people
8. Anticipate opportunity
9. Achieve competitive advantage
10. Embrace change
11. Share leadership
12. Demonstrate personal mastery
13. Show technological savvy
14. Encourage constructive challenge

Canadian HR Reporter Sept 1999

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