THE CHANGING ROLE OF LEADERSHIP
As individuals rise through the organizational ladder to assume positions of leadership, the need for them to learn how to establish a direct link between daily activities and business outcomes becomes more urgent. They must shift away from doing the work and begin to facilitate strategic initiatives. They learn to integrate efforts across the organization and develop the skills of strategic intervention.
Our rapidly changing business environment creates confusion for many leaders. The rush to get things done and the need to ensure quality has forced a leadership adjustment causing the roles of leaders to shift. Unfortunately, many leaders today find themselves “doing” the job rather than providing strategic intervention. Once this role confusion emerges, micro-management ensues. This adjustment can actually permeate all the way to the top of an organization. Today our leadership too frequently gets caught up in day-to-day fire fighting. They leadership model is upside down, with top managers spending inordinate amounts of time on operational issues.
Just as musicians must play from the same sheet of music, the manager learns to orchestrate the activities of their people. They provoke learning and cause their employees to play as a team. The shift from doing tasks to tactical leadership and from tactical leadership to strategic leadership requires managers to listen to the five voices that drive all activities.
The Voice of the Business
This voice aligns and creates the drive for results. The manager creates the case for business, providing guidance and direction around bottom-line responsibility. In other words, the manager must at all times pay meticulous attention to the core business of the organization. This is the voice of “accountability.”
The Voice of the Customer
The manager must have his/her ear to the ground, and be responsive to customer needs. The manager must embrace value-adding thinking, and facilitate change in order to sustain shifting customer demands. This is the voice that shouts “better, faster, and cheaper”.
The Voice of the Process
This voice directs a business unit’s reengineering efforts. Managers not only think systematically, they look for redundancies and challenge gatekeepers. This voice separates “urgent from important”.
The Voice of Technology
This voice enables an organization to become more efficient and effective. Managers not only use the technology in their department, they must get outside the box and discover what else can and should be done with this vastly changing business tool. This is the voice of “innovation”.
The Voice of the Associates
This voice focuses business values. The manager aligns the mission statement and helps people establish ownership. The manager learns to embrace diversity and engage individuals. This is the voice of “empowerment”.
Leaders know how to envision success and they know how to motivate others toward reaching common business goals. Effective supervisors and managers rise above conflict and escape the daily “fire fighting” mode. They monitor their activities and listen to the five voices that drive their business, making sure their time is allocated in the right areas.
The effective leader enables people as well as empowers, providing tools, monitoring performance, eliminating barriers and strategically intervening in problems with a clear vision and direction. It is not enough to give people permission to do their job as it needs to be done, leaders must measure and monitor their own daily activities and avoid the trap of busy-ness.