Bring the spirit of leadership back

Bring The Spirit Of Leadership Back

It’s not a time of change, it’s a time of challenge. ‘Fast Change’ and the rise of knowledge work means it’s time to empower employees to take more initiative and voice their ideas in a time of better-informed customers. As leaders we must all avoid becoming stuck in the wrong gear and at the wrong time. But, the biggest challenge of all will be keeping our organizations young, fresh and current, that’s why we need Robust Leadership in place.

Problem 1. During our recent investigation into performance management, it became obvious that in many organizations the performance and operational processes are often in a bad shape and in need of an overhaul, often inadequate and out-of-line with today’s market demands if the organization is to survive, let alone thrive, in the new economy. In a nutshell they managed the wrong behaviours (metrics) and drive the wrong behaviors we are now asking of our leaders (emerging and existing).

Problem 2. With that in mind. The necessity to increase the value of all employees and executives is now urgent. So, how do we improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the human-side of Organizations needed for the future of business? 

So, where has the spirit of leadership gone? Where is the Robust Leadership Australia so urgently needs? We want it, we talk about it, but we are not doing it.

When so many people are all asking the same question, we know something specific is happening, challenges are starting to be unresolvable. The evolvement of a new business economy does not automatically mean the demise of the old business model. What it does mean is that the old business model must adapt and change in-line with what is now taking place. Neither should we suppose that leadership would take the place of management, it won’t, but it is required now more than ever if organizations are to navigate this never-ending change (if change never ends is it change or the new norm?) and thrive. The fragile business environment we now find ourselves in, and having to work with, needs both efficient management, as well as effective leadership. What will change are the tasks of the manager and what management stands for, if we are to resurrect that lost spirit of leadership.

Everyday millions of jobs rely on leadership and committed individuals for their continuing prosperity.  

Whatever you think your business is, you are now part of the people to people business. Think about this. A business is a social place, an organization is a place of communities, conversation, and interaction. It’s easy to forget that the culture of an organization is a powerful reflection of the organization and its people. Some days it resembles a drama – on others, it appears as a comedy. Even at times, it can be an emotional roller coaster ride or, like most days, like life… just ordinary. Work so preoccupies our lives we even talk about it after work, often reliving some of the fun and drama repeatedly. Our place of work is often our main contact with the outside world. For some people, it is their world and for others, it offers the opportunity to change and start again.

One aspect of the digital economy is ‘Fast Change’. Constant fast change is making many executives uncomfortable for the future of their business, as it sweeps away many old, obsolete, practices and beliefs. What seemed to work yesterday doesn’t necessarily work today. New tools, new skills, effective new ways of leading are being regularly revealed. Unfortunately, what I do see is the ‘Peter Principle’ happening again daily and at many levels. Ineffective leadership and misguided management will only quicken a company’s demise. Today out of necessity, positive results are generated through Tough-minded & Inspirational Leadership.

So why are managers not leading? Why are they ignoring the need to lead? Where is the spirit? Our investigation came up with two common reasons.

  1. Afraid of change/don’t know how/what to do – which is understandable.
  2. Not seeing the need. Like a tiny leak on a boat, this is scary, because they will only act when it’s too late. The negative impact is happening very slowly, eroding one customer at a time.
  3. Believe they are already a great leader – despite the evidence of poor results

During a coaching session on why their ‘leaders weren’t leading’ I asked if the leaders had been trained in leadership a CxO replied:“I pay them enough to lead”

Group 1 we can help, they just need to ask.

Groups 2 and 3 are of great concern. These are career killers. These are company killers.

We must make work that is worthy of commitment by the knowledge worker.

“Are you ready for the knowledge worker?” as described by Peter Drucker author and father of modern management. Time and time again, I myself have found that Professional Team players take pride in their contribution, or they don’t stay around very long. The measure of a professional contractor must be in their ability to deliver desired outcomes. Therefore, the objective of a professional contractor should be to satisfy not, please. They are outcome-oriented even though their own level of effectiveness will, sooner rather than later, mean an end to their part in the contract. Their future employment depends upon results produced now, not the future possibility of performance. Above all, these knowledge workers know their talent and their value.

Is your organization ready to support the knowledge worker?

Knowledge workers are workers whose main capital is knowledge, whose line of work requires one to “think for a living” (

These people are smart, know their worth, and can change jobs easily. You need them to work with you. You need them to want to work (and stay) with you. I do know good leadership is not oppression, fear or favor. The primary objective surely cannot be to control people, that’s just too foolish to even consider in the new economy. Surely, it is to co-assist in creating activity with limited resources, to produce a predetermined economic result resulting in increased prosperity at an acceptable cost. Or leadership doesn’t have a role.

To achieve this, the role of the leader must carry social as well as pragmatic responsibilities. The sad fact is most leaders want to manage and control people; they want to use people in their grand scheme of things. As Mary Parker Follett (Profit of Management) so aptly terms and assesses: “power over” leadership is not there to be admired, nor for the title, but it is there to be respected for the skills leaders bring to bear on a prevailing situation. Or the role is obstructive.

The spirit of leadership is about “power with” – another of Mary’s (and our) beliefs.

At a time when Organizations demand nothing less than the creation of short-term results and longish-term well-being through the production of value and wealth, it’s time to get tough-minded and make our commitments count.

The job of a Leader or Coach is to keep expectations alive. No one likes or wants to feel under-utilised or wasted, unused or expendable. We all would prefer to feel respected for what we do… it’s nice to also feel important… but respect is a more lasting feeling. There is more satisfaction to be gained when it feels personal and we can feel we have made a positive contribution by being useful and adding value in some way. We get to go home with a sense of achievement.

Does your organization engage a coach who actually coaches? Who knows how to coach effectively? … or instead is it an arbitrarily assigned task to someone who does something entirely different?

Back to Robust leadership. Tough-minded leaders live up to their social obligations allowing events, as they unfold, to change their thinking, if they are to keep expectations alive. They believe in sharing power and look for power in people as they seek to smooth out responsibility, reduce the risk involved to the individual. They learn well so that they can teach others. They share ideas to generate many angles and, in doing so, help others to recognize and improve their own abilities to discover their energy and passion and keep up the momentum.

These tough-minded inspirational leaders profoundly affect others by being true to the commitments they make. They lead by influence and respect, not command and control. They are believable, they speak with intention and commitment. They even seek out people who challenge them, because they value differing points-of-view from their own. They encourage openness, to ensure people are fit to compete, by reliable support and by rewarding results – not loyalty. This can only happen when the Leader believe it’s Goals not Roles that generate positive results.

With so much going on today, the competitive thinking of spirited robust leaders is indispensable if an organization is to embrace the exciting opportunity called the future.

When did your organization last discuss their place in the future and the resources necessary to achieve that ambition?

These are exciting times, today the world is rewriting history, and the last time such an opportunity presented itself was at the start of the steam age almost 200 years ago. Sure, we realise, for the unprepared, these will also be testing times. 

For the prepared this will present as the biggest wealth creation period known to mankind.

What is important however, is that we at least try to make sense of the impact of information technology on the individual in business and we leave no one in our organizations behind. If we are to accept the changes taking place in Organizations, we must get to know the people we employ. We must decide for ourselves, make a choice and determine what is important to us now and into the future.

Like it or not, we are beginning to see democracy in action within successful Organizations world-wide. This time at the center of things are talent and leadership, not just management. The world is in search of talented leaders who will make a difference and get things done. We have seen the rise of a new emotional elite, those who are self-determined, confident of their ability, resilient and bold, and within reason do whatever it takes to avoid a fateful experience. But they are still in the minority.

To some, this may sound like wishful thinking, but organizations will always need influential leadership providing clear, profitable direction for the immediate and future economic well-being of the organization. But, no matter how powerful and charismatic that leadership may be, it must be supported by entrusted, talented individuals and a culture encouraging leadership to flourish throughout the organization.

On a final note. Not surprisingly, the future will demand that everyone, whatever their role, lives up to their commitments and assumes responsibility and accountability for their place within the organization. For no vision however clear, no strategy however precise can be accomplished without the commitment of significant others in able support.

The world is always in search of good ideas, at every level. Until we learn to leverage our organizations and trust the individuals we employ to live up to their commitments, there will always be a shortage of good ideas and the courage to implement them. It’s so easy to forget that everything started with an idea, an idea that made a special difference.

Whatever the position, we must all begin to see ourselves as ‘challengers,’ challengers of the status quo. We must place influence where it matters and where it can be of most use, for who controls the production, controls the means.

Bring the spirit of leadership back. Lead, inspire, be brave.

Steve Randall & Pete Randall

Bring the spirit of leadership back.
Be Brave - Trust, Truth, Transparency.

Find yourself in this situation?  Give us a call for a chat. We love assisting companies and business leaders through this challenging time.

Steve: 0400 005 924 | 1300 851 861

#Leadership #HardButWorthIt.

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