Archive for July, 2009

Setting the Example as a Leader

What are the qualities of being a leader? Let’s get to the point: be tactically and technically proficient:
– Know yourself and seek self-improvement, making sound and timely decisions
– Know your colleagues and look out for their welfare, keeping them informed
– Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished
– Train your colleagues as a team, in accordance with their capabilities
– Develop a sense of responsibility in your colleagues
– Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

People are diverse in their interests, talents and skills, and this diversity fuels the success of the team, and in turn, your success. It is key that a leader creates momentum in the organization and engage the people to understand simply what good looks like and create an environment where they feel empowered to really contribute you need to know and be able to deliver operational performance/results and have to have a certain knowledge to be able to credibly lead and drive improvements. In the words of the psychologist, Carl Jung: “we should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect; we apprehend it just as much by feeling. Therefore, the judgment of the intellect is, at best, only the half of truth, and must, if it be honest, also come to an understanding of its inadequacy” (Psychological Types, or, The Psychology of Individuation, p. 628, 1921). Albert Einstein said something with similar meaning: “the search and striving for truth and knowledge is one of the highest of man’s qualities – though often, the pride is most loudly voiced by those who strive the least. And certainly we should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot lead, it can only serve; and it is not fastidious in its choice of a leader. This characteristic is reflected in the qualities of its priests, the intellectuals. The intellect has a sharp eye for methods and tools, but is blind to ends and values. So it is no wonder that this fatal blindness is handed on from old to young and today involves a whole generation” (excerpted from: The Goal of Human Existence, November 4, 1943).

The power of balancing one’s technical and people skills, allowing a diversity of thought, backgrounds, and productive behavior drives a sustainable innovation culture. Applying these qualities and behaviors to the innovation environment and using the technical and people skills leads to a sustainable innovation environment. These qualities help the innovation environment develop as one develops their internal and external innovation networks.

Leadership and Management of Innovation Environments

Leadership and Management of Innovation Environments

Bridge Over Snake RiverLeadership and management are often confused and used interchangeably by many executives. Both involve such an overlap of activities in many situations. Leadership is viewed as the soft stuff needed to build and maintain teams and to motivate everyone to follow the strategic plan, the outcome of management activity. From my experience leadership and management represents a continuum of actions and thinking that are interfaced and interactive. Without a strategic plan to follow and people motivated to follow it, an innovation environment will flounder and stagnate.

To me it all centers around treating people as unique individuals. People tend to think first as individuals, speak often with self-interest in mind, react like people, behave like people, and they change (as people) and only if they decide to change. In my experience as a research executive and a management consultant, leaders who treat people as unique individuals create collaborative successes, they build successful teams, they continually act with integrity, and they build sustainable, innovative platforms to meet the strategic plan of the organization. They need to bridge the gap between leadership and management skills and apply to the situation as needed.

Many executives need to develop their exterior focus on other people. Many are still challenged by their own ability to be introspective, they need to be challenged to evaluate how they think, especially their own behavioral patterns, how they react to certain triggers, learn about their own fears, how they see people, and how they communicate and come across in general. A leader needs to have a great level of self awareness, before even being able to start effectively dealing with other people.