Thursday, February 19, 2009

Needed: Leadership

Jack and Suzy Welch are not impressed by our new administration's first attempts at leadership. They are hardly alone. The markets have not been thrilled either. Link here.

Whether or not the president takes their advice, we can study it to learn something about effective and successful leadership.

Here is their perspective on problem-solving.

When a leader confronts a problem he solicits advice from his advisers. He does not want an abundance of data; he wants to hear different policy proposals. After studying them, he decides on one.

If he finds the situation confusing, he does not share his feelings.

Once he has made a decision, he announces the new plan with confidence. He acts as though he is committed to it and believes that it will succeed.

If he has doubts, he keeps them to himself.

A capable leader will inspire his staff to implement his plan effectively. He cannot inspire them if he is trying to evoke their sympathy. Thus, he does not confess how tough his job is, how bad things really are, and how it might all go wrong.

A leader does not look backward at the cause of the problem. He does not explain how his plan might fail. He looks forward toward a future made brighter by the successful execution of his plan.

Thus, a competent leader is focused on the task at hand and looks forward to success.

Beyond this Jack and Suzy Welch want leaders to understand that the way they present themselves, the way they make make decisions, the way that they communicate confidence, the way that they envision the future...will all be emulated by their staff.

If a leader is confused, the staff will lose focus. If the leader is looking to the past, the staff will have trouble looking to the future. If the leader sounds like he is planning for possible failure, the staff will be less motivated to succeed.

A leader must keep his personal feelings to himself. He will be most in control if he thinks of the example he is setting. He must ask himself how well his company will function if everyone behaves as he does.

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