Whether in the Army or in civilian life

Author : kioraminako
Publish Date : 2021-01-12


Whether in the Army or in civilian life

Everyone in an organization is a boss-watcher. "Whether in the Army or in civilian life", says Colin Powell, "the other people in the organization take their cue from the leader-not from what the leader says, but what the leader does."

In other words, the leader is always in a glass house. People listen to the noble words that their boss pronounces, but what really interests them is what the boss pays attention to. Accordingly, people carefully track what questions he asks daily, what reports she asks for and actually reads, what meeting agenda priorities he sets, what kind of resources she allocates to which part of the enterprise, whom he criticizes and for what, what visibly thrills or angers her, whom he lauds and for what, whom she promotes, whom he assigns to which project, whom she visits and hangs out with, and so on.

People observe these things, and then-regardless of the boss's words-they draw conclusions about what's really important, what's truly urgent, and what must be the top priorities. Further, they also draw conclusions about the leader. When the leader's word and deed match, the leader's credibility and influence go up in their eyes. When they don't, credibility and influence are diminished. This is such a powerful and predictable process that Jackie Osborne, a human resources executive at Hewitt Associates, has concluded, very simply, that "leaders have no neutral actions." Each of their actions and decisions has great symbolic impact-even if they're not aware of it!

That last point is worth repeating. Too often, leaders fail to appreciate the fact that they're being observed, and that observers (a.k.a. employees and colleagues at work) have long memories. That's why some leaders think nothing about promising something and not delivering, or stating a "priority" and not "living" it. In fact, the leader is the ultimate role model, and that responsibility is one that many managers seem reticent to fill.

For example, if an executive states that being customer-centric is now a corporate priority, but he himself is not spending a lot more time with customers, then he's not walking the talk. He's not doing the work of leadership. If she doesn't personally and publicly follow through to insure that capital allocation, performance metrics, sourcing, logistics, scheduling, information systems, and compensation reflect a customer-centric priority, she's not walking the talk. She not doing the work of leadership. And people know it. In both cases, it's far less likely that innovative, proactive customer-centric work will be done by anybody.

In contrast, effective managers understand that their glass house offers enormous leverage in boosting organizational change and performance, as well as their own credibility and influence-but only if they take on the responsibility of being the ultimate role model. For example, if a leader verbally espouses cultural changes like honesty, candor, open door communication, collaboration or risk-taking, then that leader-more than anyone else!-must visibly demonstrate and support those virtues. It's not merely that the leader herself must be honest, candid, and so on. The leader must also help insure that employees who do the same are properly acknowledged, rewarded-and when necessary, protected. When people see these leadership actions (remember, they're paying attention to these cues), they become confident that they can count on their leader, which means that they are more likely to demonstrate those virtues themselves. The leader's power and integrity is enhanced in the process.

The "Glass House Effect" is so potent that it allows leaders to mobilize people to do extraordinary things with simple ideas. During the 20 years that Jack Welch transformed GE from a staid, relatively uninspired corporation to one of the most innovative and most valuable corporations on earth, he actually put forth only a small sequential series of simple strategic priorities: globalization, total quality, boundarilessness, de-bureaucratization, and e-commerce. None of these initiatives were "new"; many companies were touting similar objectives in their press releases. The difference is that Welch publicly and repeatedly demonstrated a fanatic obsession with driving each of those initiatives throughout the organization, and holding his managers accountable for achieving results consistent with them. There was no doubt in any of GE's people about where their CEO stood. Welch's approach was aligned with Powell's advice to leaders: "Figure out what is crucial, then stay focused on that. Never allow side issues to knock you off track." When people see that sort of resolve from their leaders, they "get" what their own mindsets and behaviors ought to be.

Great leaders clearly state their principles and goals, then follow through with little vacillation or ambiguity. They live the principles, they own the goals, and most important-they consciously and strategically make sure that everyone is aware of it. The message to all leaders is this: Whether you like or not, you're living in a glass house. Use it to your advantage.

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Category :art-culture
Author Website : Whether in the Army or in civilian life


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