Guidelines for Successful Leadership
By: Robert H. Kent, Ph.D., CMC
|President of The Mansis Development Corporation, Dr. Kent is a specialist in the structure and management of small and medium-sized organizations, and frequently serves as a personal coach and management consultant to executives for solving their management and employee performance problems. Before founding his consulting company, Bob held senior management and executive positions in federal and provincial government and private corporations. He has been a director of several health care and service organizations and a consulting member of private and government task forces in the areas of government finance, organization structure, personnel management and executive development. Since 1972 he has lectured in management at several Canadian and American universities in the faculties of Management, Administrative Studies, Medicine and Continuing Education where he has been an award winner for excellence in teaching and professional expertise; and he has published over 125 books and articles on management.
Many factors influence the success of an organization's leader. Skills,
opportunity, temperament and intelligence all play a part. I've observed
and worked with leaders representing a broad spectrum of capability and
eventual success. Here are some of the characteristics that distinguished
the successes from the failures.
- Leaders must model management behavior to their immediate subordinates,
and from there throughout the organization. Double standards are unhealthy
and so the way a leader wants his or her managers and supervisors to behave
has to be the way the leader behaves.
- Successful leaders clearly communicate specific performance expectations
to their immediate subordinates. For example, if you, as leader "let
them do their own thing" you may have to settle for what's inappropriate
or what you don't want. The belief that specific direction to management
constrains individual freedom and initiative is incorrect. If you want
to give someone freedom to act, then it's imperative that you define the
limits to that freedom. Managing by Dropping Hints never works.
- The best leaders don't tolerate incompetence anywhere in their organizations.
They hold people accountable for the expected performance.
- Top leaders see that procedures are in place so that direction of the work
force is systematic, orderly, managed and not left to chance. By using
them, the leader can positively influence how all people in the organization
behave and perform.
- Successful leaders are not lazy -- they work hard. Research shows that
maintaining a healthy management climate requires a high and continuous
energy output. A proactive leader can improve the probability of organizational
success, whereas a laissez-faire approach is likely to cause the organization's
- Successful leaders know when to make decisions and they avoid excessive
consensus and compromise. Poor leaders tend to avoid decisions if the consequences
might upset someone: they defer the responsibility for tough decisions
- In today's world, leaders must have effective interpersonal skills for
coaching their immediate subordinates (management and non-management) and
for gently and relentlessly enforcing the organization's standards of performance.
- Similarly, top leaders recognize and fulfill their responsibility to manage
their executives or senior management. Executives require direction, coaching
and support -- they're people too. Good leaders are more than aloof figureheads.
- Equity is crucial for trust and morale in an organization. Effective leaders
don't play favorites. They practise a high degree of objectivity and fairness
in all their actions, especially with immediate staff.
- Communication is the blood-stream of every organization. The best leaders
have control over the communication process between themselves, at the
top, and those at the bottom of the organization. Communication blockages
are systematically routed out and eliminated. For success, not only do
leaders place a very high priority on open, timely and valid communication
throughout their organization, but also, they make it happen.