Monday, May 27, 2013

ON LEADERSHIP by Allen Laudenslager & Bryan Neva (2005)

Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led.
—Dr. Warren G. Bennis (MIT, Harvard, Boston, and USC Distinguished Professor and author of over 25 books on leadership)

Management can be defined as exerting control over others by making others submissive to our authority, discipline, or persuasion.  Leadership can be defined as showing the way by conducting, escorting, directing, or going in advance.

Management is coercive and manipulative whereas leadership is conducive and persuasive.  One key difference between leading and managing is viewing people who report to us as colleagues rather than subordinates.  Managers typically coerce employees into following them because it’s a job requirement, whereas leaders inspire employees to follow them because they infuse them with the business vision.

Management could be analogous to the carrot and the stick approach of driving a stubborn ass.  That is, rewards and punishments are used to coerce people into doing what you want them to do.  Leadership could be analogous to a harbor pilot guiding a large ship safely into port.  That is, the captain of the ship could do the job, but since he is not familiar with the underwater hazards that could ground his ship on a sandbar, he lets the harbor pilot lead the way.  Management generally is shortsighted; it looks at today, this week, this month, or at the most, this quarter.  Leadership generally considers both the short-term and long-term affects of its business decisions.

Lead and inspire people.  Don't try to manage and manipulate people.  Inventories can be managed but people must be led. —H. Ross Perot

Ideally, professional managers should look at their job as managing things but leading people.  We can manage budgets, schedules, inventories, logistics, equipment, or real estate, but we must lead people.  Of course, in the real world there is no such thing as a pure manager or a pure leader; it’s almost always a mixture of both styles.  Generally we find that the more hierarchal the workplace the more it leans toward management, whereas the less formal the chain of command the more it leans toward leadership.

In organizations that prize managers over leaders, managers are dependent on their subordinates following orders.  At the subordinate’s level, supervisors are often viewed as demanding taskmasters who can never be satisfied.  Any improvements will automatically become the new minimum standard.  At the supervisor’s level, colleagues are often viewed as competitors and their managers are viewed as a superior who must be satisfied at any cost.  Consequently, any failure by the workers and supervisors can spell disaster for the manager.

In an organization that prizes leaders over managers, colleagues are willing to help one another succeed because they understand that everyone ultimately benefits.  Generally speaking, it’s much more satisfying to work with willing followers than to work with people who have to be coerced into compliance.  Effective leaders build the trust of their subordinates by acting in a way that benefits the employee and the company.  Once the subordinate can trust the leader, then and only then, the employee will make a superior effort for that leader. 

From a leader’s perspective, loving their neighbors as themselves (Mark 12.31) means showing the same love and respect to their employees as they would show to their families and friends.  Leaders empathize with their employees by putting themselves in their shoes.  If a leader wouldn’t tolerate a dysfunctional working environment, he doesn’t expect his employees to tolerate it either.  These help the leader build an effective team.  In fact, being a good leader is not much different than being a good spouse or a good parent.

The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.  The genius of a good leader is to leave behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully.  —Walter Lippmann, newspaper columnist

Truly great leaders build good and effective teams, and Jesus Christ epitomizes the ideal of a truly great leader.  His goal was to save the human race and bring The Kingdom of God into the world.  The Kingdom of God is not just a metaphor for a perfect world; it’s God’s Spiritual Kingdom here on earth where his followers (practicing Christians) help bring faith, hope, love, kindness, forgiveness, justice, and peace to a lost world.

In order to bring the Kingdom of God into the world, Jesus first built a team of loyal followers—his twelve disciples.  During his three-year ministry, he trained, coached, and mentored his team of disciples in order to prepare them to carry on his work after he was gone.  They, in turn, would train, coach, and mentor their replacements (the future leaders of the Church).  Leadership, according to Jesus, is based on love, and it is demonstrated in serving others: this is called servant leadership.  Jesus said in Matthew 20.25-28 (NIV):

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

In Mark 9.33-35 (NIV) an incident is told about Jesus’ disciples arguing who would be the greatest in The Kingdom of God, and Jesus is quoted as saying, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”  Latter in John 13.4-17 (excerpts, NIV) a humbling incident is told about Jesus’ style of leadership:

So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him…When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.  “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus taught that in order to be a truly effective leader, a person must become a servant.  This concept of servitude embodies the law of love that Jesus taught his followers to live by—putting the needs of others ahead of our own.

Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself. —Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM

The Apostle Paul started dozens of churches on his missionary journeys and appointed leaders for them.  After leaving them, he wrote them encouraging letters and gave them practical advice.  In his first letter to the Bishop Timothy 3.2-10 (excerpts, NIV), he described specific qualities church leaders should have:

Now [a leader] must be above reproach…temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect…He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace…[they should be] men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.

Character, integrity, and honor, according to St. Paul, are vitally important for effective leadership.  It’s very hard for employees to follow a leader they don’t admire and respect.  There’s a big difference between being popular and being respected.  A leader doesn’t have to be liked by his followers, but he does have to earn their respect in order to effectively lead them.  A good leader earns the respect of his followers by his moral, ethical, honest, fair, and consistent behavior at work as well as outside of work.

In order to rule nations, a man must first learn to rule himself. —Confucius 

You don’t have to be in a position or authority to lead others.  In fact, informal leaders are often times more effective in leading a team of workers than the formal supervisor or manager…and informal leaders have no power.  On the other hand, supervisors and managers, more often than not, rely on their position power to coerce others into doing what they want.  Managing by fear and intimidation is usually effective in the short-term, but will inevitably fail in the long-term.  History has proven this.

So if you want to be a good leader first start by learning to lead yourself.  Learn to be self-disciplined and temperate in everything you do and say.  Secondly, learn to lead your family through love, service, and self-sacrifice.  Work hard on your marriage and family relationships to make them the best they can possibly be.  And then and only then finally learn to lead others outside your immeadiate family by the same principals of service and self-sacrifice. 

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