Thursday, October 05, 2006

TOTYNTK - Chapter 4 - Great Leading

Chapter 4 – The One Thing You Need to Know: Great Leading

** The difference between great managers and great leaders:
Great managers discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on this uniqueness. Great managers serve as intermediaries between the individual and the company, and like all intermediaries, they perform their role well only when they perform it one on one.
Great leaders must play a different role. Their job is to rally people toward a better future, and as such, they are not intermediaries. They are instigators. Driven by their compulsion for a better future, their challenge is to do everything in their power to get other people to join together to make this future comes true. So, by definition, they will perform this role well only when they find a way to make many people, regardless of each person's uniqueness, excited by and confident in this better future. If, through their words, actions, images, pictures and scores, they can tap into those things we all share, they will succeed as leaders. If they can't, they will struggle.

** The essence of great leadership:
Discover What Is Universal and Capitalize On It.

** What are the universals of human nature?
[A very interesting discussion on culture, by the way. And.. remember, one significant thing about a culture is how many words they have to describe a concept.]
Anthropologist Donald Brown – Human Universals

1. Fear of death – the need for security
2. Fear of the outsider – the need for community
3. Fear of the future – the need for clarity
We are aware that the future is unstable, unknown and therefore potentially dangerous.
This is why, in every society, we give prestige to those people who claim to be able to predict the future.
4. Fear of chaos – the need for authority
Two universals reveal this fear – first, every society has devised its own story of how the world came to be and in each story, in each creation myth, the world was created out of chaos. Second, one of the most universal of human traits is our need to classify things. Out of our desire for order springs out need for authority. Every society has a word for leader.
5. Fear of insignificance – the need for respect
Usually the need for respect is attended to by an intermediary, by someone who deals with people one-on-one. Today, in the world of work, this intermediary role is played most effectively by the manager, not the leader.

** The job of a leader:
The job of a leader is not to win people's loyalty. The job of a leader is to rally people toward a better future. Winning people's loyalty should be a means to this end, not the end itself. If you have grappled with our fear of the future and somehow neutralize it, even turn it into something positive, you will have positioned yourself to pull off something truly significant as a leader.
[The job of a leader is not based on universal 1, 2, 4 or 5. It is about #3 - leading is about the fear of the future.]
The problem for you, the modern-day leader, is that you traffic in the unknown. All of your conversations concern the unknown, the future, and the possibilities you see there. If you are going to succeed as a leader, you simply must find a way to engage our fear of the unknown and turn it into spiritedness. If great managers are catalysts, speeding up the reaction between the individuals talents and the company's goals, then great leaders are alchemists. Somehow they are able to transform our fear of the unknown into confidence in the future.

** Clarity is the key:
By far the most effective way to turn fear into confidence is to be clear; to define the future in such vivid terms, through your actions, words, images, pictures, heroes, and scores, that we can all see where you, and thus we, are headed. Clarity is the antidote to anxiety and therefore clarity is the preoccupation of the effective leader. If you do nothing else as a leader, be clear.

** The balance between giving people clear direction and yet still enough white space to create and innovate
This doesn't mean that you describe in precise detail all of your tactics and plans and deadlines. On the contrary, as we'll see, to keep your followers challenged and engaged, you must allow them plenty of white space to invest, create and experiment. But it does mean that your ability to be clear and your followers feelings of confidence are causally linked.

** Points of Clarity – Where are your followers crying out for clarity?
1. Who Do We Serve?
You the leader must be clear about whom you are choosing to serve because we, your followers, require it of you. When you do this with clarity, you give us confidence – confidence in our judgment, confidence in our decisions, and ultimately confidence in our ability to know where to look to determine if we have fulfilled our mission.
A leader must not be clear on all points and that one of the areas in which he should allow significant ambiguity is in the strategies and tactics selected by his employees. Yes, he should be clear about whom he is trying to serve, but then he must actively encourage his employees to devise novel and as yet unproven ways of serving them. This is the only way to keep the organization alive.
2. What Is Our Core Strength?
3. What Is Our Core Score?
By zeroing in on one core score leaders brought clarity to their people.
Ideally, this score will be a leading indicator of success, such as employee engagement or employee safety or crime, rather than a trailing indicator, such as sales or profit or tax revenues, but from the perspective of your followers, what matters most is that it's clear.
4. What Actions Can We Take Today?
Two distinct types of actions – systematic and symbolic
Systematic action – interrupts our day-to-day routines and forces us to become involved in new activities. It disrupts us.
Symbolic action – doesn't alter what we do, it just grabs our attention. It distracts us, thereby giving us something new and vivid on which to focus.

** The Disciplines of Leadership – How do the best leaders achieve this clarity?
1. Take time to reflect
2. Select Your Heroes with Great Care
You must remember that the employees you choose to celebrate will reveal the future you are trying to create. When you bring an employee up onstage and praise her performance, this has a management impact. It will make this particular employee feel appreciated and will motivate her to do even better. However, it will also, if you do it well, have a leadership impact. If you can tell us, your followers, exactly what she did to deserve this recognition, if you can show us the people she served, or the strength she embodies or the scores she achieved, or the actions she took, you will make everything much clearer.
3. Practice

** Summary
Effective leaders don't have to be passionate. They don't have to be charming. They don't have to be brilliant. They don't have to possess the common touch. They don't have to be great speakers. What they must be is clear. Above all else, they must never forget the truth that of all the human universals – our need for security, for community, for clarity, for authority, and for respect – our need for clarity, when met, is the most likely to engender in us confidence, persistence, resilience and creativity.
Show us clearly whom we should seek to serve, show us where our core strength lies, show us which score we should focus on and which actions must be taken today, and we will reward you by working our hearts out to make our better future come true.

My thoughts:
1. For such a grand topic as being a good leader, this chapter has given some very clear - get it - and tangible suggestions for improvement. Core strengths, clients and scores are very concrete things we all can work and concentrate on.

2. You can teach a person to be clear and vivid. But can you teach a person to be a visionary? If they get the vision, you can teach them how to communicate it with clarity. But what if they never form their own visions? How do we create visionaries? I suspect there might be something supernatural here - see Joel 2.

3. Some ideas that relate to SPACE --
- I would like to think that I have been pretty clear when I have prepared teams that I have personally led. It usually centers around an idea like - "Our whole purpose is to serve and bless our GCC mission families." For overseas summer mission teams, that is who we serve. And I would think that at least some of my team members got tired of hearing me say it so much. The bigger question is how clear are we on our mission with SPACE on a bigger scope.
- Knowing our core strengths - not just within our teams but the student ministry overall [LC and CpR] - is important especially as we put summer team experiences together. If our mission teams are really put together with a partnership in mind, knowing our core strengths is an important piece.
- I see SPACE having two primary core scores right now: One of them is the proportion of students we send out versus overall students in the ministry and that theoretically, this proportion should grow. The second core score is how many students actually leave the student ministries to serve intentionally. Which reminds me that I'm working on an update for this year to my "The State of the 03" post from August of 2005 - more on that score later.

Related : My notes from Chapter 2

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