The call for leadership

Posted on 11. Jan, 2010 by in Gary's Blog

Employees want strong and effective leaders. They want to know someone is at the helm who can get them out of this current mess. It’s senior management’s responsibility to take on the current economic situation directly. If an organization is staffed for double-digit growth and that’s not in the cards, management can’t ignore the situation. But instead of massive lay-offs, they could rethink the way the organization is structured, make decisions that prioritize what work DOESN’T get done, redeploy talent, or actually spend money to encourage innovation that opens up new revenue streams (i.e. Apple and the iPod/iPhone).

This may mean taking a stock price hit for quarter or two. But you can’t make lasting progress if you’re primarily focused on firing people.

Jack Welch rose to leadership stardom by implementing GE’s WORKOUT. This was a process that had small groups of employees throughout the company brainstorming ways they could work more efficiently, eliminate unnecessary work, reduce bureaucracy and create innovation. It was brilliantly simple and it wasn’t about reducing headcount. It saved GE millions of dollars while improving performance, morale and retention.

So to be an effective leader where do you start?

The first step is for managers to be willing to reinvent how they see their job. . In these difficult times they can’t keep doing the same old things and expect different results. The times really do call for something new.

Most individuals rise to senior management positions based on their brains or their technical expertise. While they’re very good at analyzing business plans, they’re not always proficient at core leadership skills

Reinvention means that senior executives must step out of their endless meetings, roll up their sleeves and get in the trenches with their people. They must take concrete actions that create a culture that demonstrates to employees that they really count. Culture building isn’t a soft and gooey luxury, it’s the bedrock of what makes truly great organizations great.

Learning how to lead effectively is a little like learning how to ride a bike. You have to be willing to fall off a few times before you get the hang of it.

Senior managers must have the courage to dust off their leadership bikes and try some new behaviors. If not they should be right-sized out the door.

One Response to “The call for leadership”

  1. Mary Ann Halford 9 February 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    Gary, thanks for such a thoughtful post. I look forward to reading more.

    I think the Jack Welch “GE WORKOUT” model is a great one for all businesses today. In addition, these workouts should also include a close look at how digital innovation can be harnessed to streamline processes and increase worker productivity.