Archive for August, 2009

When one reads the title to this article; immediately the thought of politics will be aroused

When one reads the title to this article; immediately the thought of politics will be aroused. What will come on the minds of many who are politically inclined was Presidents Ronald Reagan’s political philosophy of peace through strength, (strength being leadership). President Reagan quite frankly was a political genius as he thoroughly understood the surrounding political dimensions of his environment and what it took to reach peace through leadership. He understood the factors of communications that imbedded the concepts of persuasion and his skills of conveying his perceptiveness about the issues before, during and after his time as he was a man of great foresight. What many critics of his time did not realize was his true drive for Peace. And, so therefore, President’s Reagan was extremely aware that in order to bring peace to the world and America his leadership style had to be conducive to meeting the ultimate goal of peace. It required boldness, courage, tenacity and intellect. He had to reach deep in his heart to find all the necessary skills of leadership such as: delegation, economic prudence, and be a world peace maker. If one closely reviews the decade of the 80’s they will quickly see a time of progress as never before. It was the technological boom, the cold war to an end without a major conflict a revitalized economy that solidified our comfort level for at least twenty years past his time.

So now one may ask what does this have to do with me; I am not a President. Well I can tell from experience as a former Assistant Dean to a Medical School, a California constitutional Gubernatorial appointee of a major State department, educational administrator and entrepreneur; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed to seriously utilize my leadership skills as an executive to reach for peaceful outcomes to seek the results we were seeking. Before, one can reach peace one must demonstrate the skills and the art of being a leader. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “In this movement we are all leaders” Dr. King was all about leadership based on peace. The movement of non-violence and peace have been premier vehicles and tools used in leadership development to seek peace.

It is rare to be in an executive position whereby one will not need to exercise leadership skills if peace is what the executive is reaching for. Executives, managers, and businesses need to interact daily in organizational behavioral matters that require a sensitive yet bold decision making.  Peace is typically at the very heart of the desired result. Because without peace there are no productive progressive outcomes and so therefore there is no leadership. Typically with leadership and peace come progressive performances.             

When i was in the u

When I was in the U.S. Marine Corps, the term “leadership” was taught, explained, and demonstrated almost every minute of the day. I found that the biggest and most important difference between a manager and a leader is the way they motivate people who work for them, or follow them. I find that the traits associated with management and leadership can be very similar but they are definitely not transferrable. In our daily routine, there is a need for both types of individuals and many of you have developed both styles in your personal and professional life.

It has been my experience that if you are a manager you normally have subordinates. These are individuals who have been assigned to your charge by higher authorities within a corporate structure. Managers hold positions of authority that have been given to them by upper level administrators and are assigned a multitude of tasks to accomplish for the betterment of the organization.

Management of the daily routine is a very important function, especially in today’s troubled corporate environment. And let me add, not everyone can be an effective manager. It takes training; perhaps vocational, on-the-job or academic instruction. It also takes a ton of organizational skills, patience, self-confidence, and the ability to efficiently function under some extremely high pressure deadlines. Managers usually are not big risk takers and that’s perfectly alright because the company has tasked them (and their subordinates) with the successful completion of a task for the benefit of the company – nothing more, nothing less. That’s what a manager gets paid to do.

Leaders, on the other hand, normally don’t have subordinates but leaders always have followers. People only follow someone because they want to, not because they are asked or forced to do so. Many corporate leaders have subordinates, but that’s only because they are also managers within the organization. But when these individuals feel the need to lead, they must give up their formal corporate managerial authority, because to lead is to have followers, and following is always a voluntary action – there are no exceptions.

There are all kinds of leaders; some are animated and energetic while some are more reserved. Some people seem to be born to lead while others learn how to lead. Some are charismatic while others are extremely humble but whatever the style; there is always a magnetic appeal to whatever the leader does or asks others to do. Leaders will never ask anyone to do something that they won’t do right along with their team. And although leaders aren’t thrill seekers, willing to do anything to get the job done; they are calculated risk takers and not afraid to do something out of the ordinary in order to successfully complete an assigned task.

Like I said at the beginning, most of us have a touch of both – managerial and leadership traits – within us. This allows us to be organizers when necessary and adapt to changing situations, when required to do so. I have heard a simple explanation concerning the difference between management and leadership style that says “managers do things right, leaders do the right things.”  I believe what this means is that managers are centered on the process of accomplishing tasks while leaders are more visionary and imaginative.  I guess that may be true, but I also believe there are many other factors that must be discussed when we consider the value of each role.

If a company is going to surpass its competitors by becoming more productive and innovative, the proper individuals must be assigned within the leadership and the management makeup of the company.  Both of these functions are important and I think we sometimes give too much credit to the star corporate executive rather than realizing that both the internal leader and his or her management staff/team are needed to assure the ultimate success of a company’s business plan.

Team building and developing human capacity are two key elements of achieving employee empowerment

Team building and developing human capacity are two key elements of achieving employee empowerment.

In addition to confidence and skill to undertake new and increasingly challenging assignments, team members also need opportunities for growth and development. Employee confidence and capability increase as people gain additional experience in management and organization, as well as develop new skills and knowledge, including the ability to effectively pass on this knowledge. Empowerment is no simple, one-time task. It’s an ongoing process that requires effort and dedication to improve working relationships, thereby improving the overall effectiveness of the company.

Defining Employee Empowerment

Oftentimes, managers and other superiors are hesitant to fully embrace the principles of employee empowerment. They may feel this means they must relinquish their power. But, empowerment isn’t about giving up power. Rather, it’s about sharing that power with others in your chain of command. However, employee empowerment will certainly result in changes in processes and procedures. Important elements like decision making and problem solving will involve active participation from those in lower levels of command. Empowering employees is about more than just participation; it also involves autonomous analysis, decision making, and action. Employees will have authority to make independent decisions in their own area of expertise. This is why true empowerment requires a great deal of respect, trust, and transparency.

As a manager, you need to recognize and believe in the ability of your team members to utilize their good judgment and expertise to act independently. At the same time, you must also serve as a mediator and coach. The best way to get started in this process is to come up with a plan to implement some employee empowerment techniques in a non-threatening, non-intimidating way.

Getting Started

Accept the concept of PARTICIPATORY Management: Understand and embrace the idea that employee empowerment is a natural result of this process. The most important concept that guides Participatory Management is the idea that employee skills should be utilized at different levels, in a variety of unique ways. When employees are included in the process of brainstorming, skill sharing, and active leadership, chances are much greater that they’ll also be willing to share power. PARTICIPATORY MANAGEMENT harnesses people’s creative capacity and further equips them to steer their own development.

Train and prepare for empowerment: Discuss with team members the concept and advantages of empowerment. Spend adequate time addressing the change in roles from those who formerly only carried out decisions, to those who now make them. Provide training in brainstorming techniques, as well as other kinds of participatory interaction.

Provide cross learning opportunities: Instead of instructing each team individually, begin the peer learning process by having team members who’ve already gone through the process share this experience with others. Your team will learn the benefits of employee empowerment from their peers, while seeing proof that these techniques really do work. This strategy can be a big time saver, as well as an important reinforcement of the concept of employee empowerment.

Take things step by step: At first, assign projects that are well suited to participatory collaboration. Gradually move toward taking a collaborative approach to all team projects.

What are the advantages?

Employee empowerment is a beneficial process for employees, managers, and the company as a whole. Employees feel more invested in the company, valued as important contributors, and motivated to excel.

People who actively participate in the workplace see greater skill development, and gain a greater understanding of which techniques are effective and which ones are not. They also have a greater opportunity to come up with creative solutions to problems, and novel ways to improve performance. The power to utilize their creativity and knowledge leads to expertise. People who are able to independently evaluate and implement projects have a sense of ownership that makes them committed to the project’s success.

Indicators:

Empowerment can be difficult to quantify. There are no statistics or percentages by which to measure its success. When it comes to empowerment, qualitative indicators are the most important measure of success. Understand, however, that change does not occur overnight.

Indicators of success include:

Open management: Team members are actively involved in meetings, evaluation and analysis of important issues, and identifying creative solutions. Managers support their skill and autonomy, and allow team members to exercise control in these matters.

Team spirit: Team members and managers alike show a high degree of enthusiasm, and company morale is high.

Decentralized control: Team members function in relative autonomy, with overlapping roles and functions, all the while maintaining clear individual roles.

Taking these important employee empowerment measures will result in a more skilled, motivated, and autonomous employee team while at the same time increasing the overall effectiveness of the company.

Ever question whether stories have power to persuade

Ever question whether stories have power to persuade?  Look no further than the current resident of the Oval Office.  Sure, President Barack Obama has charisma to spare.  True, he trumpeted a message of change and hope at a time when people were hungry for it.  And granted, he’s a potent symbol of the American dream.

But above all else, he’s a consummate storyteller.  And this skill has been a centerpiece of his efforts to persuade Americans.

Check out the 2004 Democratic Convention speech that introduced Obama to the country.  The freshman senator told his own tale (“the son of a Kansas farm girl and a foreign student from Kenya”) and his family’s tale, in a way that made it an American tale. 

“I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story,” Obama said explicitly.  “In no other country on earth is my story even possible.”  In saying this, he reminded us of one of the cherished tales we tell about our country: that America is the land of freedom and opportunity.

Last November 4, Obama’s victory speech employed a powerful story to illustrate a key message: that America can change for the better.  He told of one Atlanta woman who cast her vote that day — 106-year-old Ann Nixon Cooper, “born just one generation after slavery when there were no cars on the roads or planes in the sky.” He spoke of all the societal changes Cooper had seen in her life and made it a story of hope, a story of America weathering storms and growing – weaving his “Yes, We Can” message into the tale.

This is a textbook example of using a story to build a metaphor and make a larger point.  Stories pack emotional resonance, and emotions, after all, are what move us to action.

Did Obama’s storytelling work?  It turned a skinny, big-eared freshman senator into a president in just four years.

Obama’s storytelling skill hasn’t escaped the attention of the media.  A March 8 article in the Los Angeles Times noted that, “Storytelling is at the core of Obama’s public speaking, over-riding the modern obsession with the sound bite.”

The President’s chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, shares Obama’s passion for story.  According to the Times article, he explains his job to friends like this: “Tell a story.  That’s the most important part of every speech, more than any given line: Does it tell a story from beginning to end?”

Obama and Favreau turned to story power in the president’s first address to the joint session of Congress.  They told the tale of how the country had fallen into economic crisis and how the administration intended to pull it out.

Did their story work?  The plan’s effectiveness remains to be seen.  But despite all the doom and gloom in the news, Obama’s rating rose in opinion polls and he bolstered support for his program.

Got a hard sell ahead of you?  Take a tip from politics.  Frame your argument in the form of a compelling story, packed with emotion.  Extract from it a metaphor that calls your listener to action.  And watch how the world listens.

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