Pitfalls in identifying the key external and internal drivers for change
Long gone are the days of the large strategic planning departments in organisations when maybe you could expect some due process in identifying external and internal drivers for change.
However it is interesting to note how senior managers actually acquire their data about what’s happening in the world and within their own organisations. Even more interesting to understand how they then use that information to make decisions.
This blog isn’t going to describe an ideal process but merely highlight the seven key pitfalls that I’ve found occurring in the more than two decades of Organisational consulting.
Marketing-led organisations rarely ask their frontline staff for information about what’s actually happening out there in the market.
Sales-driven organisations rarely take the time out to reflect on the bigger picture or wider context or bother with taking a particularly strategic view.
People higher up in organisations tend not to listen to the voices from below. Either they think they know best or they think they haven’t got the time.
Even if senior managers hear what their employees are saying they rarely take corrective action.
Senior managers see what the competitors are doing and get pulled along in the slip stream – regardless of whether it fits with their own strategy. Everyone else is doing it so they feel compelled to do it too!
I’ve seen more dysfunctional senior management teams than healthy and truly effective ones. Politics, personality and ego tend to trump decisions made with rational head and healthy heart.
Organisations seem to find it incredibly hard to make learning (individual, team, organisational) one of their core capabilities – seeing the organisation as an organism within the larger macro-environmental system is a hard discipline for top leadership to embrace.
How do you learn about leadership and perhaps more importantly How do you learn how to practice leadership?
There are tens of thousands of leadership books out there, and a hundred years of leadership theory. Well actually a hundred years of leadership theories.
But have a look around the political world and the business world right now and you will find that there are also a lot of very poor role models.
Current research suggests a massive leadership deficit.
So how do we negotiate our way through the leadership maze?
Which are the key leadership theories – the ones we need to know about? and
How do we move from the theory into practice – how do we step into our leadership roles? What is leadership anyway?
Is leadership all about you – who you are, your traits, your characteristics; are you born to be a leader or can you learn how to develop into a leader?
Maybe it’s about what you do – your behaviours, your actions, where you focus your attention?
You can’t be a leader if you haven’t got followers, so is it about the interaction between the two? – leading in specific situations where your followers have different levels of commitment, different levels of competence.
Perhaps leadership is contingent upon factors such as the operating environment, the organisational culture, the level of task complexity …
As a leader are you there to manage the business in a relatively transactional way, or are you there to transform the business. Are you working in the business, or are you working on it? Five Essential Leadership Qualities
It’s quite easy to get lost in this leadership maze. So to help, Esther Cameron and I distilled all these factors down into five essential leadership qualities which are required in pretty much all leadership situations, wherever you are in an organisation, or indeed wanting to effect change in the local community or on a wider scale. This synthesis identifies five key elements which leaders have to attend to, the qualities associated with them need to be accessed in appropriate configurations.
The leader has to spot what’s wrong, what’s not working and create sufficient discomfort to catalyse change;
He or she has to identify the drivers of change, assess the organisation’s fit for purpose; and craft an overarching and coherent strategy;
He has to build a vision, a sense of purpose, which inspires and motivates, which gives point and purpose;
She has to align the myriad agendas, needs and wants of disparate interests and stakeholder groups, connecting people and purpose across the organisation and indeed across organisational boundaries.
They have to maintain focussed attention on the core purpose, the key projects, hold people to account and organise for delivery.
In a nutshell the leader’s task is to be able to access the Catalyser, the Architect, the Motivator, the Connector and the Implementer.
Have a look at this short video explaining how we arrived at the five qualities.
We will be looking in more detail at these essential qualities over the coming weeks.