Leading Organizations Fit for People

Facescape_Viewminder

Facescape, by Viewminder, Flickr

Organizations are increasingly utilizing data-based approaches to decision making. These approaches provide helpful insights for organizational leaders aiming to be responsive to their constituents and markets.

Losing Sight of People

Noting this trend from a marketing perspective, the following quote from a recent Harvard Business Review article identifies a hidden danger such approaches:

“As marketers continue their love affair with analytics,
there’s a danger that they’ll lose sight of their customer’s humanity.”

In marketing circles, the “4 P’s” of marketing are often emphasized:  Products, Price, Place, & Promotion. In my MBA program, my Marketing Management professor emphasized that those leading in the realm of marketing must not forget about a fifth “P”—People.

Servant Leadership in the Organization

Whether in the realm of marketing or in broader discussions of organizational leadership, such insights are vital. Leaders must remember the priority of people in the work of lead. Leaders must never lose sight of the humanity of their followers, team members, customers, and constituents.

From a servant leadership perspective (Find my blog series on Servant Leadership here), the core of effective leadership involves putting the needs of followers before the self-interest of leaders. But such principles of leader-service are not just about certain leadership roles. It involves looking at the totality of the organization and working hard to keep the focus on people.

Management 2.0

Gary Hamel discusses such principles around the concept of what he calls Management 2.0. At the heart of Management 2.0 is asking the question of whether or not our organizations are fit for human beings.

The industrial revolution brought about significant management strides that contributed to increased levels of organizational performance. But such strides often came with a cost of dehumanizing organizations.

Within the Management 2.0 movement, organizations are again seeing significant change in management that contributes to increased performance. In contrast to previous approaches to management, these recent changes focus on advancing organizational goals while also recognizing and working with people’s humanity. They focus on making organizations that are fit for human beings, not just fit for organizational output.

Principles of Management 2.0

Principles often associated with Management 2.0 often include the following:

  1. Openness
  2. Community
  3. Meritocracy
  4. Activism
  5. Collaboration
  6. Meaning
  7. Autonomy
  8. Serendipity
  9. Decentralization
  10. Experimentation
  11. Speed
  12. Trust

Leading Organizations Fit for People

As you consider the role you play in your organization, how are you using your leadership and management responsibilities to move toward principles that take the humanity of your people seriously? Are you working to help create organizations that are fit for humans?

Perhaps you see other principles that help to nurture this type of culture. I’d love to read your thoughts. Please take a moment to share below.

 

Providing Accountability (Leadership Practice 9)

inspire, by Sarah Parrott, Flickr

inspire, by Sarah Parrott, Flickr

I’m in a series highlighting 9 Effective Servant Leadership Practices. Servant leadership is not just a good idea. It works! The 9 effective leadership practices highlighted in this series capture core leadership dimensions that are correlated with effectiveness in the team context.

This week we will take on the final of the 9 practices—Providing Accountability. Before I dive into the final one, here is a snapshot of the core practices associated with team effectiveness:

Cluster 1—Beginning with Authentic Leaders

  • Practice 1: Modeling what Matters
  • Practice 2: Engaging in Honest Self-Evaluation
  • Practice 3: Fostering Collaboration

Cluster 2—Understanding the Priority of People

  • Practice 4: Valuing and Appreciating
  • Practice 5: Creating a Place for Individuality
  • Practice 6: Understanding Relational Skills

Cluster 3—Helping Followers Navigate toward Effectiveness

  • Practice 7: Communicating with Clarity
  • Practice 8: Supporting and Resourcing
  • Practice 9: Providing Accountability

Practice 9: Providing Accountability

The final servant leadership practice included in this model is the leadership behavior of Providing Accountability. Rather than servant leadership being a weak form of leadership that is disinterested in results, this leadership behavior emphasizes the priority of holding people accountable for reaching their goals.

Misconceptions about Servant Leadership

When the topic of servant leadership comes up, this point is often a misconception I hear. People fear that if they are committed to serving others, they will lose authority in the eyes of followers or their acts of kindness will become opportunities for others to take advantage of what others view as a “weak” form of leadership.

These are misconceptions of servant leadership, though. Servant leaders do make hard decisions. Servant leaders at times do need to terminate employees. Leaders who are committed to serving their followers don’t simply do the job for those followers, they support and resource their followers toward success, and they then hold followers accountable toward agreed upon outcomes. Although servant leadership begins with a focus on followers, servant leadership also “has teeth” and includes a commitment to providing accountability and is consistent with a commitment to valuing and developing followers.

Clear Communication

As with the leadership practice of communicating with clarity, several research participants reaffirmed the priority of clear communication in the providing of accountability for followers. In contrast to some of the negative examples provided by participants—examples where leaders failed to clearly communicate and then terminated or disciplined employees based on poor performance—there was a unified called to proactive and honest communication around expectations and follower performance.

Open and Honest Evaluation

One participant noted “I prefer honest performance evaluations—those which acknowledge both strengths and growth fronts and clearly set goals that can be reached quarterly and annually.” Another participant similarly noted that, “honest and open communication that is regular and consistent at setting and reaching goals is very effective in developing accountability and building trust.”

Inspect What You Expect

Another participant notes that “leaders inspect what they expect,” and this is arguably consistent with the leader-love that characterizes a servant leaders commitment to serving the needs of the follower over the needs of the leader. Engaging in direct and honest conversation with followers around outcomes that are important to followers and the organization provides an opportunity for follower development, a tangible factor associated with valuing and developing people. Servant leadership is not about caring for followers or providing accountability. Servant leadership includes both. Are you inspecting what you expect when it comes to follower goal accomplishment?

Some Final Thoughts

The model covered these past weeks is about (1) beginning with authentic leaders, (2) understanding the priority of people, and (3) helping followers navigate toward effectiveness. We’ve covered the 9 core leadership practices associated with team effectiveness that are both presented in this model and supported by related research.

As you seek to grow as a leader, these 9 effective leadership practices will serve both you and your followers well. Take time in the coming week to think through one or two action steps based on these practices. Enjoy the journey of growing as a servant leader.

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Related Posts for the 9 Effective Leadership Practices:

Cluster One — Beginning with Authentic Leaders

Practice 1: Modeling what Matters

Practice 2: Engaging in Honest Self-Evaluation

Practice 3: Fostering Collaboration

Cluster Two — Understanding the Priority of People

Practice 4: Valuing and Appreciating

Practice 5: Creating a Place for Individuality

Practice 6: Understanding Relational Skills

Cluster Three — Helping Followers Navigate toward Effectiveness

Practice 7: Communicating with Clarity

Practice 8: Supporting and Resourcing

Practice 9: Providing Accountability

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Note: For those wanting to dig a bit deeper, please check out my article entitled “A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice.”

Supporting and Resourcing Followers (Leadership Practice 8)

Support, by GotCredit, Flickr

Support, by GotCredit, Flickr

I’m in a series highlighting 9 Effective Servant Leadership Practices. Servant leadership is not just a good idea. It works! The 9 effective leadership practices highlighted in this series capture core leadership dimensions that are correlated with effectiveness in the team context.

The third grouping of servant leadership practices in the model emphasizes clear communication and the supporting of individuals toward outcomes for which they are accountable. This third cluster of servant leadership practices is focused on helping followers navigate toward effectiveness and include the following practices: (1) communicating with clarity, (2) supporting and resourcing, and (3) providing accountability.  Last week, we highlighted Communicating with Clarity. This week we take on Leadership Practice 8— Supporting and Resourcing Followers.

Practice 8: Supporting and Resourcing Followers

In addition to clear communication, followers also need their servant leaders to practice supporting and resourcing. On productive teams, leaders and followers focus their energies on movement toward important goals. They recognize that it is not just about being busy, but also being productive. As followers work toward these goals, servant leaders focus on serving the followers through supporting and resourcing activities. They help to remove obstacles that hindering follower progress. They help to provide encouragement and motivation. They help to provide the necessary resources that followers will need to get the job done.

Equipping and Empowering

Rather than leaders viewing their primary role as driving followers toward production, a commitment to supporting and resourcing allows leaders to focus on serving followers toward their success and being responsive to their needs as they work toward organizational goals. Servant leadership is not about doing people’s work for them. It is about creating a context within which followers will flourish in their work.

Leadership supporting and resourcing captures the heart of what is included in James Kouzes and Barry Posners’ theme of Enable Others to Act in their five practices of exemplary leadership. Leaders take a proactive posture toward followers. They work to remove barriers and build bridges so that followers may thrive in their responsibilities.

A Proactive Approach to Leading

On this theme of supporting and resourcing followers, research participants emphasized the importance of removing barriers, and one participant identified the special importance of being active in the identification of needs. They noted that the leader “should be the first to ask ‘what do we need to get the job done’ versus being passive, waiting for requests to come to him/her and then trying to put the requests off as long as possible.”

Other research participants add that because leaders are in the position to see the best allocation of resources and to draw out the gifting of human resources so that followers are fulfilled in their work, it is important that leaders share explanations with followers regarding how resources are apportioned and when resources are not available for certain needs.

Another participant’s response captures the essence of this servant leadership behavior noting that leaders carry out this function best when they release power and resources to members to accomplish critical and expected initiatives.

Setting Up Followers for Success

If the mission of the community matters, then leaders have the responsibility to provide the support and resources necessary for followers to work toward their goals in light of this mission. In your work as a leader, are you taking a passive or active posture toward supporting and resourcing followers? Are you working to remove obstacles that are barriers to follower work performance? Are you working to provide the necessary support and resources that builds bridges to effective follower work performance?

Take some time in the week to consider how you may more effectively support and resource your followers in their work toward the mission of your organization or team.

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Related Posts for the 9 Effective Leadership Practices:

Cluster One — Beginning with Authentic Leaders

Practice 1: Modeling what Matters

Practice 2: Engaging in Honest Self-Evaluation

Practice 3: Fostering Collaboration

Cluster Two — Understanding the Priority of People

Practice 4: Valuing and Appreciating

Practice 5: Creating a Place for Individuality

Practice 6: Understanding Relational Skills

Cluster Three — Helping Followers Navigate toward Effectiveness

Practice 7: Communicating with Clarity

Practice 8: Supporting and Resourcing

Practice 9: Providing Accountability

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Note: For those wanting to dig a bit deeper, please check out my article entitled “A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice.”

Communicating with Clarity (Leadership Practice 7)

Communication, by Paul Shanks, Flickr

Communication, by Paul Shanks, Flickr

I’m in a series highlighting 9 Effective Servant Leadership Practices. Servant leadership is not just a good idea. It works! The 9 effective leadership practices highlighted in this series capture core leadership dimensions that are correlated with effectiveness in the team context.

The third grouping of servant leadership practices in the model emphasizes clear communication and the supporting of individuals toward outcomes for which they are accountable. This third cluster of servant leadership practices is focused on helping followers navigate toward effectiveness and include the following: (1) communicating with clarity, (2) supporting and resourcing, and (3) providing accountability. This week we take on Leadership Practice 7 — Communicating with Clarity

Practice 7: Communicating with Clarity

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of clear communication in the practice of leadership. Although all effective communicators are not necessarily leaders, all effective leaders must be effective communicators.

Effective Leadership Requires Effective Communication

In previous posts, I highlighted 5 Types of Leadership Communication and 7 Levels of Leadership Communication. As noted in these posts, leaders must attend to factors such as verbal and nonverbal modes of communication as well as diverse levels of communication from intrapersonal to organizational.

Sometimes leaders speak through their words. Sometimes leaders speak with their actions (or inaction). The question is whether or not the leader is being intentional in these various types and levels of their communication. Being intentional with effective communication practice will help leaders effectively guide their followers and teams.

Communication Basics for Leaders

As we consider how to help followers navigate toward effectiveness, the seventh effective servant leadership practice in this model is Communicating with Clarity. This leadership practice is about effectively communicating plans and goals for the organization, and research participants note several critical features of effective communication in the leadership role.

Key communication features noted by research participants included the following:

  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Authenticity
  • Clarity
  • Listening
  • Timeliness
  • Confidence without arrogance
  • Conciseness
  • Regularity and appropriately repetitious
  • Congruence of verbal and nonverbal messages
  • Use of a diverse set of communication media
  • Use of word pictures
  • Saying what you mean and meaning what you say
  • Avoiding emotionally laden and volatile communication overtones

Leaders: Communicate Often — Communicate Well

Leaders who learn to communicate effectively in a variety of contexts and through a variety of communication pathways are helping followers and their organizations navigate toward effectiveness. How are you doing on this front as a leader? What step can you take in the coming workweek to be more proactive in your communication approach with followers and teams?

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Related Posts for the 9 Effective Leadership Practices:

Cluster One — Beginning with Authentic Leaders

Practice 1: Modeling what Matters

Practice 2: Engaging in Honest Self-Evaluation

Practice 3: Fostering Collaboration

Cluster Two — Understanding the Priority of People

Practice 4: Valuing and Appreciating

Practice 5: Creating a Place for Individuality

Practice 6: Understanding Relational Skills

Cluster Three — Helping Followers Navigate toward Effectiveness

Practice 7: Communicating with Clarity

Practice 8: Supporting and Resourcing

Practice 9: Providing Accountability

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Note: For those wanting to dig a bit deeper, please check out my article entitled “A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice.”

Understanding Relational Skills (Leadership Practice 6)

by Chuck Patch, Flickr

by Chuck Patch, Flickr

I’m in a series highlighting 9 Effective Servant Leadership Practices. Servant leadership is not just a good idea. It works! The 9 effective leadership practices highlighted in this series capture core leadership dimensions that are correlated with effectiveness in the team context.

The second grouping of servant leadership practices presented in the model emphasizes the importance of understanding the priority of people. In this second cluster of servant leadership practices, leadership behaviors associated with effective teams include: (1) valuing and appreciating, (2) creating a place for individuality, and (3) understanding relational skills. This week we take on Leadership Practice 6 — Understanding Relational Skills.

Practice 6: Understanding Relational Skills

This second cluster, which is focused on understanding the priority of people, ends with the servant leadership practice of Understanding Relational Skills. Knowing how to get along with people is basic to quality relationships, and it is the basis of quality leadership practice as well. Although this may seem simplistic, understanding relational skills is key for leading well in the team context.

Relational Skills and Emotional Intelligence

In recent decades, leadership researchers have identified the importance of emotional intelligence for leadership practice. At the core of emotional intelligence are skills that support intrapersonal and interpersonal engagement. In his discussion of emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman emphasized factors such as empathy and social skills, premised on self-awareness. These factors provide a basis for effective relational skills. Self-awareness leading to an awareness of and responsiveness to the needs of others provides a platform on which effective leaders may appropriately humanize the leader-follower relational engagement.

Self-Awareness, Empathy, and Authentic Listening

The themes of self-awareness, empathy, and authentic listening were also highlighted by the research participants in my study on the topic, noting these as important characteristics of effective relational skills. One participant noted that empathetic communication, personal connection, selective vulnerability, and attention to what motivates followers are all critical relational skills. Other participants emphasized items such as:

  • The importance of authentic listening,
  • A commitment to fairness and equality,
  • The ability to tolerate and accept appropriate differences,
  • The importance of knowing oneself well in order to relate authentically with others,
  • The embodiment of confidence blended with the ability to see future possibilities and communicate the most appropriate path to get there
  • Creating a sense of safety and support for followers,
  • Demonstrating care and kindness,
  • Reinforcing a commitment to the working relationship, and
  • Maintaining an open and approachable posture toward followers.

All of these themes comprise key relational skills that help foster positive leader-follower relationships.

Although leaders at times may like to work in the background simply dealing with systems and structures, engaging organizational members, team members, and direct reports with relational intelligence is vital. How are you nurturing your relational skills? How are you engaging followers with wisdom and a spirit of understanding?

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Related Posts for the 9 Effective Leadership Practices:

Cluster One — Beginning with Authentic Leaders

Practice 1: Modeling what Matters

Practice 2: Engaging in Honest Self-Evaluation

Practice 3: Fostering Collaboration

Cluster Two — Understanding the Priority of People

Practice 4: Valuing and Appreciating

Practice 5: Creating a Place for Individuality

Practice 6: Understanding Relational Skills

Cluster Three — Helping Followers Navigate toward Effectiveness

Practice 7: Communicating with Clarity

Practice 8: Supporting and Resourcing

Practice 9: Providing Accountability

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Note: For those wanting to dig a bit deeper, please check out my article entitled “A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice.”

Creating a Place for Individuality (Leadership Practice 5)

Individuality !, Craig Sunter - Thanx 2 Mil..., Flickr

Individuality !, Craig Sunter – Thanx 2 Mil…, Flickr

I’m in a series highlighting 9 Effective Servant Leadership Practices. Servant leadership is not just a good idea. It works! The 9 effective leadership practices highlighted in this series capture core leadership dimensions that are correlated with effectiveness in the team context.

The second grouping of servant leadership practices presented in the model emphasizes the importance of understanding the priority of people. In this second cluster of servant leadership practices, leadership behaviors associated with effective teams include: (1) valuing and appreciating, (2) creating a place for individuality, and (3) understanding relational skills. Last week, we highlighted Valuing and Appreciating People. This week we take on Leadership Practice 5—Creating a Place for Individuality.

Practice 5: Creating a Place for Individuality

There is a tendency in some organizational circles to simple view people as cogs in a larger organizational system. But who likes it, and flourishes, when they are viewed in such a mechanistic and replaceable fashion?

Beyond the Cog

In contrast to this approach, servant leaders help to Create a Place for Individuality in their work with their teams. Outcomes matter in organizations. So does holding followers accountable to these outcomes—a point emphasized in this larger research study. But it is also vital to recognize that outcomes are not necessarily achieved in a uniform manner.

Beyond Uniformity

In contrast to approaches that emphasize follower uniformity, this leadership practice emphasizes allowing for individuality of style and expression in followers as well as accepting followers for who they are as individuals. In contrast to the overly mechanized systems encouraged in some twentieth century managerial models, this study challenges twenty-first century leaders to remember the individual and to create space for individuality in work performance.

Beyond Micromanaging

Research participants note the importance of simple expressions of individuality. Of the expressions noted were dimensions of flexibility such as work style, clothing, and office hours. Participants also noted that flexibility for follower expressions of individuality are best supported through the avoidance of micromanaging leadership behaviors.

Moving Toward Common Culture over Uniformity

One participant noted, “Set strategic goals, but allow individuals to engage in creative processes to get there.” On the theme of how follower individuality coincides with organizational unity, participants noted that commonality at the level of mission, vision, goals, and values provides “the glue that holds the organization together,” and that “under this umbrella there is ample room for individuality.”

Arguing that great leaders find ways to meld the needs of individuals with the needs of an organization, one participant argues that this “requires the leader to take an active interest in the capacity of those under their leadership.” They continue noting the importance of assigning responsibility and delegating authority “based on the giftedness of the follower in alignment with the project or task to be completed.”

Moving Toward Individuality and Individualized Consideration

All of this requires an individualized consideration similar to what Bass and Avolio put forward in transformational leadership theory. This calls leaders to a higher level of investment in creating space for individuals to work uniquely toward common goals. While it is sometimes easier to mandate uniformity and conformance, taking the extra time and effort to create space for individuality is a valuable leadership practice that is significantly related to effectiveness in this study.

While a focus on outcomes is important, how are you creating a place for individuality in your work with followers? Think through a step or two you can take in appreciating and providing space for the individuality of your team members.

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Related Posts for the 9 Effective Leadership Practices:

Cluster One — Beginning with Authentic Leaders

Practice 1: Modeling what Matters

Practice 2: Engaging in Honest Self-Evaluation

Practice 3: Fostering Collaboration

Cluster Two — Understanding the Priority of People

Practice 4: Valuing and Appreciating

Practice 5: Creating a Place for Individuality

Practice 6: Understanding Relational Skills

Cluster Three — Helping Followers Navigate toward Effectiveness

Practice 7: Communicating with Clarity

Practice 8: Supporting and Resourcing

Practice 9: Providing Accountability

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Note: For those wanting to dig a bit deeper, please check out my article entitled “A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice.”

Valuing and Appreciating People (Leadership Practice 4)

Value, GotCredit, Flickr

Value, GotCredit, Flickr

I’m in a series highlighting 9 Effective Servant Leadership Practices. Servant leadership is not just a good idea. It works!

The 9 effective leadership practices highlighted in this series capture core leadership dimensions that are correlated with effectiveness in the team context around three broad areas: Beginning with Authentic Leaders, Understanding the Priority of People, and Helping Followers Navigate toward Effectiveness

Understanding the Priority of People

I’ve walked through the first grouping in previous posts. The second grouping of servant leadership practices presented in the model emphasizes the importance of Understanding the Priority of People. In this second cluster of servant leadership practices, leadership behaviors associated with effective teams include: (1) valuing and appreciating, (2) creating a place for individuality, and (3) understanding relational skills. This week we take on Leadership Practice 4— Valuing and Appreciating.

Practice 4: Valuing and Appreciating

Understanding the priority of people begins with a basic commitment to Valuing and Appreciating people. While this includes the communication of appreciation for follower contribution as a primary focus, it also emphasizes the value and trust of people at a more basic level.

Jim Laub notes the following about valuing people and organizational health:

Healthy organizations have a different view of people. People are to be valued and developed, not used.”

This gets at a core characteristic of servant leadership. As a leader, do you view the people primarily as resources to be used and deployed, or do you view people as intrinsically valuable?

The Innate Value of People

Laub continues:

“Leaders accept the fact that people have present value not just future potential. People seem to have an innate ability to know whether or not they are being valued…whether or not they are trusted. Effective leaders accept a person’s value up front. They give them the gift of trust without requiring that they earn it first. As leaders work with people in organizations they will serve them by displaying the qualities of Valuing People.”

Many leaders value their followers after the followers have demonstrated their value to the organization. Consistent with Laub’s comments, servant leaders take valuing people to another level. Servant leaders value people not only for what they contribute, but rather value them primary for who they are as people.

Valuing Leads to Appreciating

Several research participants highlight similar observations, noting the importance of trust in valuing and appreciating followers when they are “given responsibility and released to accomplish the task without second guesses,” and when “verbally appreciate[ing] them as people first, then for their contribution to the team.” Another participant noted that a follower feels valued and appreciated “when a leader authentically and legitimately applauds the performance of a follower and acknowledges their unique contributions with concrete examples.” Such expressions must be connected with reality, though, and in the words of this participant must be “genuine, deserved, and observable” if such expressions are to be effective.

How Do You View Your People?

So how are you doing on this front? Are you valuing people for who they are, or merely for what they contribute to the organization? Is this valuing of people translating into expressions of appreciation? Teams flourish as members are valued and appreciated in the journey toward effectiveness.

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Related Posts for the 9 Effective Leadership Practices:

Cluster One — Beginning with Authentic Leaders

Practice 1: Modeling what Matters

Practice 2: Engaging in Honest Self-Evaluation

Practice 3: Fostering Collaboration

Cluster Two — Understanding the Priority of People

Practice 4: Valuing and Appreciating

Practice 5: Creating a Place for Individuality

Practice 6: Understanding Relational Skills

Cluster Three — Helping Followers Navigate toward Effectiveness

Practice 7: Communicating with Clarity

Practice 8: Supporting and Resourcing

Practice 9: Providing Accountability

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Note: For those wanting to dig a bit deeper, please check out my article entitled “A Model for Effective Servant Leadership Practice.”