Archive for June, 2010

Who can show leadership and how?

Posted on June 3, 2010. Filed under: Leadership and teams | Tags: , , |

In my last post I mentioned the book “The Courageous Follower” and I’ve also since been teaching a unit of the Certificate IV in Frontline Management called “Show Leadership in the Workplace”. And it has (once again) made me wonder – who is expected to show leadership and what might it look like?

Some people describe leadership characteristics as they relate to being a public figure: charisma, public speaking ability, media savvy, good presentation skills, negotiation and persuausiveness.

Others describe leadership characteristics in terms of personal interaction: integrity, trustworthy, confidentiality, impartiality and objectivity, fairness, approachability and support.

And in my view they are all correct: leadership is not necessarily embedded in a single role, it is something that we all can do and at times it will be demonstrated in a personal one on one manner while at other times there will need to be a more public display. An example comes to mind: a team member gets a request from another department to do some work (it’s been done befor eto help out, yet only when time permits). This time the staffer is busy and goes to the manager asking for help: do I do this for another team or keep working on my current task for our team? Naturally the manager responds that the local work needs priority.

The next step is where the leadership decision is – should the manager:

a) tell the staffer to decline the request

b) tell the staffer to decline the reqeust by email

c) tell the staffer to forward the email so the manager can decline by email

d) contact the other person and explain that the request is being declined

Please assume that all contact is professional, friendly and appropriate. At this point.

Personally I’d go with option d. It demonstrates leadership and accountability inside and outside the team.

What actually happened in the instance I’m thinking of: the manager chose option b.

The result was a significant escalation of the situation (to the second highest level of the organisation) and a demoralised staffer who has received an email bullet from more senior staff and seriously eroded relationships between the two areas.

Every one of us faces this sort of leadership decision on a regular, if not daily, basis.

How do each of us show leadership?

Have a great day and let me know your feedback.

My next post will include a little more on the psychology at play at work and in leadership.

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