When the best leader’s work is done the people say, “We did it ourselves!” (4) – Lao-tzu 6th century BC.
In the first three parts of this blog series you learned that tribal behavior is ubiquitous in businesses and that it can be used to build a strong corporate culture, by integrating all employees in a self-motivating “supertribe”. This “supertribe” has to be led, of course, by a strong leader.
Claire McCartney(1) from the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) states that, “overall, trust in leaders is low, with 38% of employees saying that they did not trust their senior management team.”
Ray Immelman offers in his book Great Boss Dead Bossa framework for understanding the riddle wrapped in an enigma that is leadership using tribal behavior.
According to Immelman(2) a leader should have the following characteristics:
1. Own the Challenge
- To be successful in the short and long term the leader must embrace both continuous and breakthrough change. Both are done simultaneously.
- Leaders continuously face the need to lead change – and not delegate it!
- Change means changing the way people act, think, and behave—the bedrock of how we and our organizations operate. In a word: Culture.
- The effective Leader learns, understands and teaches cultural changes as well as improvement approaches, tools and methods and then practices the integration of them all.
2. Be a Warrior — Show up and choose to be present.
Immelman advises managers to use the three “universal powers” properly:
1. Presence—Mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical
2. Communication—Alignment of content, timing and context
3. Position—Willingness to take a stand
3. Be a Healer — Pay attention to what has heart and meaning.
Leaders have to minimize universal addictions:
- Addiction to intensity
- Addiction to perfection
- Addiction to the need to know
- Addiction to being fixated on what’s not working rather than what is working.
4. Be a Visionary—Tell the truth without blame or judgment.
Leaders always have to say the truth without hurting anybody:
- I feel so judgmental and critical right now that I don’t trust what will come out of my mouth.
- I’m disappointed with this situation because I had unrealistic expectations.
- I’m so angry and upset right now that I need to take space.
- Here’s what I see happening right now….
- This mode of communications doesn’t work for me.
5. Be a Teacher — Be open to outcome, not attached to it.
The way of the teacher is a practice of trust, open to the unexpected:
- The opposite of trusting in the unexpected is trying to control the uncontrollable [other people’s behaviors and emotions]; clearly an impossible task.
- This means mutual engagement, not grudging compliance.
- It doesn’t mean leave everything to Chaos Theory or chance. Remember the Warrior!
Managers should also follow these guiding principles, if they improve processes:
- Everything is open to improvements in HOW the process gets executed
- Trust the process, trust each other
- Speed counts, but focus first to maximize the impact of your actions
- Use TOC (e.g. the Five Focusing Steps) to focus on where to improve
“Best” is the enemy of “better.” Perfection is not necessary. Improve a process until it is “good enough” and then concentrate on the next improvement initiative.
- Don’t over-analyze. Overcome fear through action.
You have two feet (The Lay of two feet)
If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else.
- If you are not getting or providing value doing what you’re doing, go to where you find heart and meaning.
- This shows both Leadership and Accountability
- Take responsibility for what has value for you.
- Take responsibility for the removal of “waste” or “blockages” within the organization
Removal of “waste” and “blockages”We don’t know where they came from or why they are there but the “waste” e.g. (outdated rules and processes) and “blockages” (e.g. manager or employees without sufficient authority or other constraints) are present in every company.
To some people they can be obvious, almost glaring. For whatever reason (time, effort, management difficulties) managers and employees let the “waste” and “blockages” remain where they are. Instead of removing it they do their best to avoid the pile.
When most people spot the “waste” or “blockages” they:
- Go out of their way to avoid them;
- Implement policies to protect the company and the employees from them;
- “Improve” processes to work around the “waste” and “blockages”.
- Move the “waste” to another part of the process.
Some people point out the “waste” or “blockages”, but that’s not enough. Now we need “scoopers” to remove them.
- There are usually fewer “scoopers” than “pointers”.
- “Scoopers” are seldom assigned the role.
- They come from anywhere. They can be anyone.
- They are the people who take initiative and act to remove problems.
- And they often do it for the benefit of the whole rather than just the individual.
- Systemic improvement rather than local sub-optimization.
- This brings individuals and small tribes into the larger tribe.
Find out more guidelines for managers who lead a “supertribe” in the fifth and final part of this blog series.
(1) Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, (CIPD): ‘Employers that ignore trust issues and stress among employees risk losing top talent’ Oct 2011
(2) Floyd Sheets, Steve Holt; Boeing, The Soft Stuff is the Hard Stuff, TOCICO CONFERENCE 2009