Management Articles


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.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. The best leaders don't tolerate incompetence anywhere in their organizations. They hold people accountable for the expected performance.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 demise.

  6. 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 to others.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

© Copyright 2001 The Mansis Development Corporation

Other Articles by Robert H. Kent, Ph.D., CMC

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