Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?: What It Takes To Be An Authentic Leader (Anglais) Relié – 1 mars 2006
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Une commande reussie et un tres bon livre à lire pour "les leaders et les meneurs d'equipe" dans leur travail.
Amazon à recommander.
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The authors argue that inspirational leaders share four shared (unexpected) qualities: Leaders show and reveal their weaknesses, rely heavily on intuition and associated timing, manage with tough empathy (passionately and realistically), and reveal (and capitalize on) their differences. Goffee and Jones discuss each of these qualities in detail, explaining why these qualities are so important and how leaders show them. There is a short history of leadership and a discussion of some popular myths about leadership: 'Everyone can be a leader', 'leaders deliver business results', 'people who get to the top are leaders', and 'leaders are great coaches'. In addition, there is a short discussion on female leadership, whereby the authors' advice is that female leaders should stay true to themselves. The final conclusion of the article is that the four discussed qualities cannot be used mechanically. Their advice to executives is: "Be yourselves - more - with skill."
This article is much in line with the latest thinking in leadership: Emotional intelligence (EQ/EI) is as important, or even more important, than traditional intelligence (IQ). I see big relations with the Harvard Business Review-articles by Daniel Goleman (What Makes a Leader?, 1998) and Jim Collins (Level 5 Leadership, 2001), which also emphasize the softer, emotional side of leadership. I did like this article and would recommend it to people moving into management and MBA-students. My main complaint is that the conclusion of this article is somewhat too simple. The article is written in simple English. Please note that this article runs on Acrobat eBook Reader software and is not a .pdf-file.
You could say that much of this advice is offered in similar management books. You need to understand the people you work with - what motivates them. If someone is quiet, you need to find quiet things for them to do, rather than force them to be a cheerleader where they are likely to fail. Your techniques must be situational. What works well in a room of 500 high powered salespeople probably won't work in a group of 5 quiet engineers. You need to be very aware of those nuances and adjust your pattern accordingly.
You need to be authentic. You must really believe in what you're saying, and work at something you honestly trust in and enjoy. People can sense inauthentic behavior. If you are working somewhere you hate, it is better to find a new job than to "trick" people into promoting a system you do not like.
You cannot try to be perfect. Nobody IS perfect and people will realize that right away. If you don't know an answer, admit it. People will accept it. If you always forget names, admit to it. People will like you more for "being human" and accept the fault as a cute one. The more you try to hide faults, the more you are known as a deceptive liar.
That's not to say you should not improve yourself. If you have a legitimate "problem" fault like not understanding the core business model, you should strive hard to get better. If you need help, ask for it. People will be more than willing to help you succeed if you are honest about it.
As a manager you should be respected - but not necessarily liked. This is hard for many managers. You need to be able to convey why things need to be done but in the end they DO need to be done. Some people who do not want to do the work will simply not like this. You need to accept that and move on. It's not easy, but it's part of being a manager.
My issues with the book is that it is very dryly written. It is almost a struggle to plow through the information, much of which is given over and over again. They give examples but many times it's like reading a history book vs an engaging story.
I also find some of their examples not ones I would believe in. They complain that a senior executive could lose respect for taking a high salary. I feel if someone has been working 30 or 40 years and is offered a high salary at a job they like, why would they refuse it?? That makes no sense to me.
They also talk several times about a pair of co-workers who are told to work on a project. That night there is a corporate social event which the co-workers go to. The boss walks up to them - IN PUBLIC - and yells at them for being there!! That strikes me as INCREDIBLY inappropriate. They were told to work on something. They are going to work on it! To humiliate them and take away their rest / down time is not a path to healthy long term employees.
That being said, there are some good points in here, and if a manager hasn't figured out some of these ideas, this could help them get started in the right direction. Maybe some people handle dry tomes better than they handle touchy-feely books. If that's the case, then this is the book for you. Just use your own wisdom when absorbing what they right, and realize that not every thing they say is wise for your situation.
To their credit, Goffee and Jones do not buy into the existence of a universal list of characteristics that should necessarily turn someone into a leader (pp. 10-11, 17, 41, 204). Contexts shift and relationships change over time. For this reason, Goffee and Jones recommend that readers do not try to slavishly model themselves after successful leaders based on the published autobiographies of these leaders (pp. 42, 203). The authors invite aspiring leaders to be more themselves but skillfully and in context (pp. 205, 223-24).
Goffee and Jones articulate their understanding of leadership around three fundamental axioms. Leadership is 1) situational, 2) non-hierarchical, and 3) relational (pp. 11-15, 204). Situation sensing is a mix of sensory and cognitive abilities that allows effective leaders to adjust themselves to the situation at hand. However, leaders can alter the context that they found originally, which requires from them an understanding of what can be rewritten and what cannot (pp. 87-89, 94). Goffee and Jones emphasize that reframing a situation has to be done for the benefit of the followers as well (pp. 12-13). Controversially, the authors argue that people who make to the top of an organization are not necessarily real leaders. Factors such as political acumen, personal ambition, time-serving or nepotism could have played a key role in their ascension to the top (p. 13). Finally, leadership is relational because it cannot be conceived without followers (p. 14).
Goffee and Jones learn from their experience that leadership success calls for managing several tensions effectively: between revealing strengths and showing weaknesses, being an individual and conforming enough, establishing intimacy and keeping distance (p. 25). All these qualities are necessary but not sufficient conditions for leadership. Many people do not want to be leaders for perfectly legitimate reasons (p. 26).
To be perceived as genuine, leaders have to do what they say (p. 16). Despite the need to adapt themselves to shifting contexts and changing relationships, authentic leaders remain real in their relationships with followers, which require constant reality checks (pp. 16, 43, 56). Furthermore, true leaders display some of their (real) weaknesses, preferably after showing their strengths, to look more human and therefore more attractive to others (pp. 19, 34, 41, 62, 67-68, 73-81). Leaders expose themselves to the outside world because they care enough to lead due to an overarching sense of purpose (pp. 61-63, 69, 73). Goffee and Jones note that maximizing shareholder value is an inadequate basis for leadership in the corporate world. Shareholder value maximization is the by-product of other (ethical) goals that inspire leaders and followers (p. 214). However, leaders must conform enough, particularly in the early days, if they are to make the connections necessary to drive change (p. 109). Finally, these leaders have a clear sense of who they are and what works for them (pp. 16, 34, 52-58). This last step calls for self-knowledge or at least self-awareness as well as self-disclosure that represent by far the most demanding dimension of authenticity (pp. 17-20, 31-32, 132).
To develop their sensing capabilities, effective leaders rely heavily on experience and experimentation which often requires them to operate outside their comfort zone. There are three ways leaders can do it: 1) early exposure to a variety of experiences while growing up or at the start of their career, 2) structured-based learning say, at school, or at work, and finally personal coaching (pp. 20-24, 50-51). This experience and experimentation comes in handy to leaders to identify who has the biggest impact on their performance, which teams are important to join to get things done, and the organizational context and constraints within which they have to operate (pp. 94-108, 115-18).
Goffee and Jones also show that to manage their followers effectively, leaders have to use their situation-sensing skills to figure out when to keep their distance and when to get close but not too close to their team (pp. 135, 143-44, 149, 156-58). Disclosing some personal differences and weaknesses while remaining interestingly enigmatic in other ways is the difficult balance to strike for the effective leader (pp. 139-40, 154). Corporate culture and the personality of the leader will be influential in this movement between closeness and distance (pp. 138, 140, 153). For the leaders, the pattern is often this: be distant when they tell their followers what to do; be close when they talk about how (p. 148).
To be effective, leaders also have to communicate with care (p. 161). Effective leaders know the importance of content, authenticity, pace, timing, and communication channels (pp. 164, 167, 179-186). Rational analysis and straightforward assertion of the facts rarely energize followers without a dose of authenticity. Furthermore, effective leaders leverage their sensing capabilities to choose the right mode of communication that works best for them and their organization: i.e., face-to-face meeting, a small group, or a large-scale speech.
Finally, leaders cannot be effective without understanding the wants of their followers (pp. 24, 191). Followers demand from their leaders authenticity, recognition for their contribution, a sense of excitement, and the acknowledgement of their desire to feel part of a community (pp. 192-96). Good followers are prepared to speak up, even if this involves significant personal risks, are prepared to complement the leader, and have a skillful appreciation of change and timing (pp. 198-200).
To summarize, Goffee and Jones shows that effective leadership is situational, non-hierarchical, and relational. To their credit, they do not believe in the existence of a silver bullet that can churn effective leaders at will.
The book is crammed full of actual case studies of people who have both succeeded and failed as leaders, with the author's explanation as to why. I found the concepts easy to understand and follow.
It is a little slow reading at times, due to the numerous case studies. However, it is worth persevering, as the case studies do illustrate the author's points very well.
Although Goffee and Jones assiduously avoid giving leadership recipes - they rightly maintain that leadership is contextual - there are some good learning points for aspiring leaders. Chapter four for example - Read and Rewrite the Context - has some gems. In this chapter, they describe three levels of analysis for leaders; key leaders who may make the biggest impact on one's performance, important teams, and thirdly the context and constraints within which one must operate.
This should be an essential text for anyone who is looking to take on a leadership role within family, community, organisation or country. Highly recommended.
Bob Selden, author What To Do When You Become The Boss: How new managers become successful managers