Following are selected leadership quotes for review/ thought/ comment.
Steven Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People writes about the differences between identifying the objective as a leader and managing the process to get there:
“The managers are behind them, sharpening their machetes, writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle development programs, bringing in improved technologies and setting up working schedules and compensation programs for machete wielders.
The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, “Wrong jungle!”
But, how do the busy, efficient producers and managers often respond? “Shut up! We’re making progress.”
As individuals, groups, and businesses, we’re often so busy cutting through the undergrowth we don’t even realize we’re in the wrong jungle. And the rapidly changing environment in which we live makes effective leadership more critical than it has ever been.”
Alan Weiss, Best-Laid Plans:
“Many firms think they foster innovation, but they don’t- they foster problem solving. Now, problem solving is a noble activity and is needed in every organization, but not at the expense of innovation.
In problem solving, something (or some person or some process) goes wrong and you fix it. Good organizations do this all the time. However, the best result of effective problem solving is that you are as good as you used to be! You’ve restored the performance to the way it was before, acceptable to be sure, but no better than that. In innovation, you are setting new standards, and that is the hallmark of leading organizations. Successful strategy implementation requires that people are looking to improve performance constantly- by small, incremental changes that create dramatic results.”
Some leaders must challenge the popular will of the people. Alan Axelrod, author of Elizabeth I CEO, writes:
“And let’s face it, most business organizations are not democracies and cannot be run as such. We may espouse various systems of participatory management, team structures, and flexible hierarchies, but when it comes down to it, managers are not elected by the employees they lead, and sometimes- maybe even often- managers and other business leaders must make unpopular decisions. They must be willing to “discontent a number”.
For most of us today this reality of leadership is harder to accept. But an effective leader must be willing to embrace this basic dilemma of leadership: that what the majority desires is not always or necessarily what is good for the enterprise. Moreover, each leader must be prepared to formulate strategies for dealing with this dilemma; that is, each leader must create an environment that allows him to make unpopular decisions and still remain viable as a leader.
It is important for the modern manager to accept the necessity of making unpopular, decidedly undemocratic decisions, at least from time to time. Yet it is equally important for the manager to separate those decisions from his relationship to his subordinates. That is, he must build among his subordinates confidence in the good faith behind his actions. Like Elizabeth, the effective business leader must create the room required for making all necessary decisions, including (and especially) the unpopular ones.”
In a February 1991 article in Inc., Sally Tassani shared her experience in dismissing an employee because Tassani’s company had surpassed the employee in its level of sophistication about the business.
At this point, Tassani realized that her role was changing as her company grew. “The challenge was to be a good boss,” she said. But she also had to anticipate what a job would look like a year down the road when the company was different.
Tassani determined that, regardless of the sense of loss she would feel when employees left the company, “faced with a choice between an individual and the business, I will always choose the business because it supports everyone else.”
From In Search of Excellence, 1981, Tom Peters, Robert Waterman
“Leadership is many things. It is patient, usually boring coalition building. It is altering agendas so that new priorities get enough attention. It is being visible when things go awry, and invisible when they are working well. It’s building a loyal team at the top that speaks more or less with one voice. It’s listening carefully much of the time, frequently speaking with encouragement, and reinforcing words with believable action. It’s being tough when necessary, and it’s the occasional naked use of power.”