THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business - Mar. '15

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80 n Performance & Hotrod Business n March 2015 BUSINESS M anagers are often task-oriented, and not necessarily focused on their employees. Leaders, on the other hand, are people-ori- ented; they work through and motivate their employees, utilizing their resources to per- form assigned tasks in the most productive and profitable way possible. Many managers confuse management with leadership, and feel they are automati- cally leaders because they occupy a position of higher responsibility. While this assump- tion is often true, many fail to display active leadership qualities. The roles leaders fulfill are different than those of managers, although sound manage- ment practices are complementary to effec- tive leadership. While some individuals are natural lead- ers, most managers must evolve into leaders both by investing time and effort in develop- ing their abilities and by adapting their man- agement roles to a more flexible, effective leadership style. Leaders learn how to harness the spe- cific talents of every employee. While this may appear to be more work than it's worth, effective leaders are able to produce higher levels of productivity with fewer problems than from simply using traditional managing techniques. When leaders adhere to specific lead- ership roles they will foster trust, inward strength and a unity of purpose in the people under their direction. As leaders, they will embrace their own personal responsibilities, understanding that anything is possible and attainable. They will recognize that each specific element is a step- ping stone that ultimately creates a transition from managing to leadership. To define a personal leadership role, the following three principles are critical: 1. Self-Management Leaders take complete responsibility for all their actions and decisions. Often lead- ers must make a decision to challenge rules proven to be detrimental to their overall work environment and the people entrusted to them. The role of a leader is to set inef- fective or unproductive rules and procedures aside in favor of those promoting increased cooperation, trust and ownership. Leaders never waiver in this pursuit. They understand that part of their role is to take risks whenever a policy, procedure or situ- ation hinders progress—and stand by their decisions. Making improvements often means rock- ing the boat. While often challenging to the best leaders, this is a substantial part of true leadership. Leaders recognize the sta- tus quo often isn't good enough, and that it takes change and creativity to generate improvements. 2. Leading People Leaders approach their roles with serious determination. Part of their role is not to dwell on the "rearview mirror," but to look forward. They learn from past mistakes and errors in judgment, but never allow them to affect future opportunities and possibilities. Leaders learn to detach themselves from their circumstances to maintain a clear, for- ward-thinking perspective. In order to succeed, leaders must unbur- den themselves of emotions and perceived limitations that impede attainment of goals and performance. They know past experi- ences can easily alter good judgment. For a leader, past experiences become the les- sons for the future, producing the wisdom to adapt to change. Leaders know situations or problems will not always fit into neat compartments and have predictable outcomes. They understand and accept that even the most unthinkable changes and devastating occurrences are a possibility, and that their role is to embrace the challenge to overcome them. Leaders also know they must be flexible in any and all situations, and that looking forward requires creating viable alternatives. They are aware that part of their function is to embrace change and the challenges it brings. 3. Cultivate Your People The most important role a leader must fulfill is to cultivate, support and nurture employees. Anything can be achieved with fertile enough ground to plant and grow the seeds of accomplishment. To best achieve this end, it is important to: Learn and remember: Leaders know part of their role is to learn everything about every person under their charge. They make it a point to learn what is important to each, to celebrate spe- cial days, achievements and even sadness with outward expressions, incentives, written memos, awards, notes and letters. Nothing builds loyalty and cooperation in employees better than being both professionally and personally attuned to them. Demonstrate fairness and a cooperative spirit: Leaders work with their employees to maintain high levels of motivation and pro- ductive team efforts. They do this by clearly educating their employees on specific pro- cedures, problems and needed skills. Leaders also acknowledge and take seriously the expectations employees have of them. This role builds trust, loyalty and the desire for all to achieve. Walk the floor—get your hands dirty: Part of a leader's role is to offer help when and where it is needed. This can only be done by personally taking part in tasks and assignments and being an overall active par- ticipant in what is going on in their workplace. Knowledge is gathered, problems disclosed and people motivated when leaders fulfill this role. Employees gain respect for lead- ers who willingly undertake this interaction in a positive fashion rather than view it as an obligation. Focusing on ndividuals group of key constituencies. Early emo- tional connections are able to develop into stronger bonds of trust. This gives leaders legitimacy, credibility and trust, which lead to future growth, either in their busi- nesses or in their advancement to more prominent positions. Not Perfect Many people revere the prominence of great leaders like Ford, Rockefeller, Morgan, Gates and Buffet, due to their individual reputations and achievements. Research reveals that great leaders are also fallible. They make mistakes and often are subject to criticism—some valid and some triggered by an opponent's agenda. But analysis of the great leaders demon- strates that if and when they choose to per- severe and persist in their efforts, they will ultimately succeed. This is a consequence of the emotional support and emotional standing they took the time to nurture and foster throughout their careers. The question is, can leaders be effec- tive without these emotional connections? Analysis illustrates that there are leaders who didn't make all of the necessary emo- tional connections. Their effectiveness became diminished by the lack of support on multiple levels. For instance, profit-centric leaders like Dennis Kozlowski (Tyco International) may have developed strong emotional con- nections with the stockholders, especially since they delivered the short-term profits being sought after. But, at what price? Many of these types of leaders do so at the expense of their customers and employ- ees. They reduce quality and dramatically downsize their workforce, only focusing on the bottom line. In the short-term they will likely be successful, but their actions undermine the legitimacy, trust and cred- ibility required to build and manage an enduring, successful corporation. Ultimately, this results in long-term problems due to the loss of the company's customer base, along with their most pro- ductive employees, both which will vote on this leader's performance with their feet. These actions place companies in financial jeopardy.

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