A primary task of high performance leadership is to provide strategic direction to the organisation, various departments and divisions within the organisation, and to the people who ultimately implement strategic leadership. But regular employees are seldom involved in the process. Authoritarian governance has had two powerful and mutually reinforcing dynamics: People at “the top” of the organisation, normally in senior managerial positions, have tended to maintain control over strategic processes.
They have often become alienated from the realities of operational or shop floor demands and challenges People at operational levels have been part of authoritarian behaviour in different ways (passivity, fear, frustrated) The core challenge is to position strategic leadership as an integrated set of activities and processes which ensure that people across all levels and functions understand their own roles and accountabilities as it relates to the organisation’s strategic leadership Successful strategic leadership occurs when people across all levels and functions have a common understanding about a few essential issues: Knowledge of how strategic leadership is formulated, translated and communicated, implemented and assured within the organisation The formal business processes.
The specific and different roles, rights and accountabilities of stakeholders Clear understanding of personal and team roles Comprehension of the various requirements and roles Popular acceptance that legitimate hierarchy and rank are essential components Definition and acceptance of the roles, rights and accountabilities The challenge is crafting solutions which create legitimate and popularly supported rank and hierarchy, and with clearly understood boundaries which describe what may and what may not be done by optimally empowered people Rank, hierarchy and boundaries per se are not only a feature of authoritarian systems.
They are an essential part of successful democratic workplaces where a culture of high performance through high involvement can thrive There is still a need for clear definition of a range of roles, rights and accountabilities. There is a need to define two mutually reinforcing parameters: What are the roles, rights and accountabilities that have to be acknowledged by everybody to ensure the organisation’s capacity to fulfill the requirements of high performance What are the constraints, the limits or conditions of high involvement Drucker proposes that strategic leadership needs to fulfill requirements in four areas: Effectiveness Efficiency Long-term Short-term
VISION (Long-term effectiveness): Understanding the organisation’s total competitive environment, and positioning it in the present so that it is appropriately placed INTERDEPENDENCE (Long-term efficiency): Identifying, balancing, integrating and aligning all of the external and internal variables that are likely to have an impact on the organisation’s capacity to fulfill its strategic leadership STRUCTURE (Short-term efficiency): Establish replicable standards, approaches and methods which minimize the need for duplication and enhances the capacity to deliver uniform or required quality as a matter of course ACTION (Short-term effectiveness): Taking the necessary steps and action to ensure the delivery of products and services which meet the needs of both internal and external customers An integrated strategic leadership consists of all four VISA elements. The dominance of only one element could perhaps be described as: Only vision: Exciting bankruptcy.
People cannot identify with the development of strategies Only Interdependence: Happy bankruptcy: never-ending cycles of consultation Only Structure: Precise bankruptcy: bureaucracy and red tape Only Action: Busy bankruptcy: people perpetually busy but not necessarily productive The absence or weakness of any component of strategic leadership will undermine the success of the organisation: 0ISA: Weakness of vision leaves people without common direction V0SA: Poor interdependence almost always leads to some stakeholders feeling that their legitimate interests are not being met VI0A: Insufficient emphasis on standardization leads to lack of essential disciplines and conformance to necessary standards VIS0: Ultimately the organisation can only survive and thereby satisfy the
interests of all its stakeholders if it has a high propensity for action Organisations and teams regularly develop a bias that values some elements more than they do others. Personal styles and approaches also contribute to establish our individual preferences and approaches. It is useful to rate your personal approaches and preferences, as well as that of your team or organisation Vision provides a compelling dream that galvanizes and aligns the behaviours and contributions of people across all levels and functions. A real vision is very active. It is filled with drive, energy and perpetual motion. The vision, or long term effectiveness element of strategic leadership, is achieved by fulfilling the following requirements: 1. Scan the external environment and conditions 2.
enable leadership to anticipate long-term forces of change 3. create a challenging view of the future 4. tension between the desirable future and those elements of the present that could inhibit progress 5. communicated with passion 6. evaluated against the present 7. new challenges emerge 8. leadership must always act with insufficient information 9. interacting with stakeholders 10. dynamic and living process Interdependence acknowledges that no organisation operates in isolation. Every organisation is a system operating within a system. It requires the acknowledgement and willingness to embrace the interests of a variety of diverse stakeholders.
The interdependent or long-term efficiency component of strategic leadership is fulfilled in the following ways: 1. Variables must be identified 2. The interests of all stakeholders must be defined and appreciated 3. Balance and meet all possible diverse stakeholder needs 4. The support of all stakeholders must be gained and increased over time 5. Interaction must be facilitated between stakeholders for them to appreciate their interdependent nature 6. There will inevitably be conflict between stakeholders 7. The roles and accountabilities that various people and stakeholders have to fulfill must be defined quite clearly 8. Keeping people adequately informed is a crucial element of interdependence 9. Mutual trust and respect 10.
help people to define their own specific contributions to the organisation As organisations become more complex, and as the world within which we operate becomes increasingly unpredictable, the need for Structure increases significantly. Successful organisational strategic leadership has to establish and maintain a range of activities that introduce and maintain Structure: 1. The specific interests of stakeholders need to be both quantified and qualified 2. In today’s competitive environment it is essential for organisations to establish required benchmarks of performance 3. There is a constant interplay between specific stakeholder interests and meeting required benchmarks of performance 4. provision of relevant and useful information 5. Standards have to be set and communicated on an ongoing basis 6. Standards are no longer a fixed point on the horizon 7.
The discipline of continuously and regularly monitoring performance is one that cannot be sacrificed 8. It also has to look at elements such as leadership style, living of values, and commitment to the subtleties of people development 9. Consequences of non-conformance need to be defined, understood and applied 10. people across all levels and functions thrive on information–driven problem solving Action is the level at which products and services are actually delivered to meet the interests of customers. Creating and keeping more customers. A sustained and high propensity for action is achieved in the following ways: 1. The organisation’s vision must be made relevant to operational areas 2.
Customer needs cannot be fulfilled only by sales and distribution functions 3. Accountability has to be placed as close as possible to the source of action 4. people have to be continuously part of determining the limits and constraints within which they are expected to operate 5. Successful action is driven by leaders who establish their personal power of presence (top executives have no time) 6. Quality and productivity has to be an in-built function 7. demonstration of attitude and will 8. Emphasis on people development 9. attitude that accepts error as an inevitable consequence of innovation and action 10. A propensity for innovation and action LEARNING
The growing complexity and competitiveness of the international and local economic environments within which organisations have to survive and prosper makes it essential for leaders of the future to value learning Leaders must develop the capacity to think simultaneously about paradoxical and contradictory requirements. The act of leadership is, as Peter Drucker puts it, the challenge of constructive destruction, of doing things differently and doing different things Kolb: real learning has only taken place when every one of the four facets has been included in the process: Abstract Conceptualization: “think about the previously unthinkable or unknowable”. It requires the capacity for hypothetical formulation Reflective Observation: need to stand back and observe what is happening Concrete Experience: ability to continuously asses what has worked and to pass this experience on to others.
concrete experience remains one of the only ways in which organisations can develop replicable application of processes and activities that ensure minimum conformance to standards Active Experimentation: often organisations still limit the ability and space for people to become involved in such activities. Active experimentation requires calculated risk-taking The relationsip can be described as follows: Abstract conceptualization x reflective observation x concrete experience x active experimentation = Learning and Leadership Abstract Conceptualization x 0 x 0 x 0 = 0: we often remain hamstrung by old experiences which may have become irrelevant 0 x Reflective Observation x 0 x 0 = 0: Nothing happens and there is no real threat that anything will happen!
0 x 0 x Concrete Experience = 0: People relying predominantly upon concrete experience for their learning are caught in a perpetual search for the infallible, predictable, pre-planned, scheduled, structured, all-eventuality, and all bases covered solutions to problems – “late adapters” 0 x 0 x 0 x Active Experimentation = 0: All that matters for them is the exhilaration of making things up as you go The Consequences of Undervaluing any Facet of Learning: 0 x Reflective Observation x Concrete Experience x Active Experimentation = 0 (The absence of Abstract Conceptualization): It is much easier to define this symptom than it is to resolve it Abstract Conceptualization x 0 x Concrete Experience x Active Experimentation = 0 (The absence of Reflective Observation): The number of continuously changing variables which are capable of influencing the performance of an organisation are virtually endless.
people either stopped taking a hard and reflective look at what was going on, or they stopped asking appropriate questions. he managers, and more often the specialist staff functions, start to confuse doing lots of things with an integrated and holistic approach, but they lack congruence and theoretical integration. without an integrative framework and commonly shared model, people rapidly lose their commitment and stamina to sustain focused activity Abstract Conceptualization x Reflective Observation x 0 x Active Experimentation = 0 (The absence of Concrete Experience): things become redundant while they are still on the drawing board or as soon as they are launched.
age-old and essential facet of learning – the assimilation and valuing of concrete experience. The single most common symptom is that untested assumptions abound Abstract Conceptualization x Reflective Observation x Concrete Experimentation x 0 = 0 (The absence of Active Experimentation): People develop an inward approach to problems and issues. It does not take too long for such insularity to develop into suspicion of external developments By critically evaluating how organisations learn, and constantly determining whether all the facets of learning are being fully developed and utilized, we can provide a much more tenacious learning environment.