Leadership is the third component of managing. There are those who make a distinction between managing and leading. While leadership is vital, it is only one part of the management process. Leadership doesn’t work in isolation to meet organizational objectives. Keep in mind that we’re considering leadership as it applies to the in-development manager. Rather than trying to define leadership, let’s consider leadership as taking the lead. See Chapter 7 for a full discussion of leadership. Leadership involves path finding ; it involves defining where the organization is going and what it wants to be; it involves looking into the future; it involves going beyond the traditional opinions and rituals and it is not jumping on the bandwagon of the latest management guru. So here is a list of attributes that apply not only to the entry-level manager but to all managers:

Accept responsibility and accountability.

The rose must be pinned on someone. There can be no scapegoats; you are the manager and you are accountable. You can’t blame your people for nonperformance. It’s not easy when some person fails to perform, but you were there; it was your responsibility.

Don’t kill the messenger.

Bad news will arrive and you need to deal with it. Although bad news is difficult to accept, if it is accepted immediately it creates a minimum negative impact. Time really is of the essence.

Make judgments based on an acceptable level of facts.

Leaders can’t wait until all the facts have been accumulated. Some minimum amount of information is required. The rest is judgment. All the available sophisticated models, simulations, and computer programs may or may not help in making the decision.

Make the complex simple.

Make the complex easy to understand. The essence needs to be communicated. This is easier said than done since simplifying requires a great deal of disciplined thinking. But any issue that cannot be drawn down to its simplest essentials probably isn’t understood.

Follow through with clear decisions.

Eliminate any hidden meanings. The decision may not be acceptable, but it must be understood. Acceptance involves understanding the impact of the decision and the implications of the decision on operations.

Challenge the so-called experts.

Experts have their place, but they also have their agendas. They may be experts of the past and not focused on the future. Their past experience and knowledge may or may not be useful. Above all be cautious of the single-issue experts who promote their panaceas.

Develop a proactive philosophy.

Leaders exhibit a proactive stance. It’s too late to become proactive when the emergency arises. That emergency may have been avoided if someone had listened or someone had opened their eyes to the world around them. Anticipate future problems. Don’t wait to be told what to do.

Obsolete the present before its time.

It’s difficult to obsolete products, processes, and activities that at one time provided significant benefit. It’s more difficult to obsolete thinking that no longer adds value. It takes courage to eliminate those great contributions made by some person now in upper management. Timely obsolescence prevents future crises.

Promote a positive attitude.

Look for solutions, not scapegoats. Blame only creates discord and destroys relationships.

It doesn’t solve problems. Those responsible must be held accountable, but the problem requires a solution. Focus on resolving the problem.

Source : Gerard H Gaynor. 2004

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