Sunday, May 17, 2015

Is Digital Leadership Generic or Situational

Leadership is about the FUTURE, the substance of leadership is to drive human progress relentlessly.

Leaders are both nature and nurtured. The majority of leadership development training fails to reach the expected results. With all the examples of good leaders, why haven't our human sciences been able to narrow down a "model" leader for the masses to emulate? Is it because it is not possible to determine which is a "generic model" for all? In Situational Leadership, it appears there are different types of leaders suited or needed for different situations, so is this the starting point for people development? Train leaders for the situation that exists rather than creating one which is generically oriented? Leadership is composed of three characteristics: substance, skills, and styles, what are the golden ratio of leadership, though? And what are the future trends of leadership development?

Ideally, a "generic" leader is a specialized generalist: they should have the breadth of leadership skills and wisdom to handle many situations, but also has “T-Shaped” knowledge to practice “expert power” for enforcing leadership effectiveness. From social learning theory, leaders do model the style of a leader they once had, which is not always a bad thing. While training and development programs have not been as successful, especially training leaders, because some leadership traits can be trained, some cannot. So many variables are involved in training individuals, that even more variables exist for developing leaders. The best bet is to develop a leader's adaptability and follow the situational model based on context. "Generic" leaders probably existed in the past when the complexities in life were less, technical competencies required minimal, and those being led were less intellectually challenging to lead, motivate and manage. The younger generation today are exposed to much more information and can easily acquire knowledge in most areas they want to engage in. Hence, a leader is expected to be more intelligent and wiser to be able to lead by influence, not by brute force. Thus, leaders being developed today are taught to be able to lead focusing on what the situation or issues require, do not confuse knowledge with leadership ability. People do not necessarily respect a leader, just because he or she knows more. Rather, respect is earned because of their wisdom and empathy. It is how they use their knowledge, insight, and wisdom for bridging cognitive gaps, overcoming tough challenges and solving thorny problems.

Leaders and follower are mutual parties that influence each other. So, it is very contextual and dynamic. They are not two pieces of Lego that you can connect with each other whenever and wherever you want. How do leaders build employees' confidence for productivity? Encourage them and recognize their achievements no matter how small they feel it was. Feedback and positive reinforcement are vital tools for leaders to use in order to influence their followers for the better. At the same time, helping to develop and mentor followers is just as vital a tool that leaders should use whenever possible. Possibly the most important things to do as a leader is to learn about your followers and motivate them the way that is best for them. Positive feedback is important, and equally or more important is vision casting. People are motivated by knowing their efforts are important to them, the team and the world in some way. Senik's Golden Circle is a great example of this; start with the WHY to capture their hearts and minds then the WHAT and the HOW are easier. Everyone is different and not everyone likes the same stuff, so learn about what they want and figure out what motivates them more than anything! A leader must focus on taking on the role of a coach by being a good role model for teamwork and setting a good path for development.

Leadership development is a continuous journey: Leaders must accept feedback from others, provide behavior-oriented feedback, provide practice opportunities for followers to develop, etc. The business skills will make some leaders more suited for a certain scope of work than others. Leadership substance (character, purpose, positive influence) is the generic part, but skills (creativity, knowledge or insight) and styles (charisma) are more specialized and personal. Not to forget the continuous improvement because leadership is a talent. You need a certain balance between both sides of the brain to be a good leader. After all, balance is key in many aspects of the personality, it would be quite hard for a person with little emotional or intuitive capacity to show much emotional intelligence and, therefore, be a good leader. Leadership practices include:
* Walk the Talk - Leaders lose credibility when don't participate & exempt themselves.
* When facing hardships, leaders should demonstrate character and high EQ.
* Empathize with what your followers go through as a result of your action,
* Respect needs to be earned and not automatic, via following golden rules and crafting wisdom.
* Learning agility: leaders have to continue to learn in order to advocate the culture of learning and innovation.

Leadership is all about CHANGE! Start with a big WHY, the substance of leadership is to drive human progress, develop expertise and craft wisdom to make leadership influence more profoundly, but keep the personal leadership style as well because every leader is unique. Be authentic, be influential and be mature.


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