Simon says: “Follow The Leader”

When it comes to the leadership topic, I can’t help but to repeatedly quote one of my favourite authors and well-known leadership guru, John Maxwell. I’ve read several of his books and they never cease to motivate, educate and inspire me. In one of his books The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he states that “leadership develops daily, not in a day.” I believe that leadership is not only proven and displayed in the workplace but also in one’s daily agenda. Everyone has the potential to be a great leader and can do so by having the right attitude and by taking the first step of wanting to work at acquiring leadership skills. I also believe leadership is one of the ingredients of living a successful and significant life.

In this video, John makes a lot of good points about leadership. He addresses that leadership is about serving others and adding value to other people. In this video he also addresses one of the laws of leadership, “the law of the picture – people do what people see. It’s all about their example” (Maxwell). He also brings up an interesting statistic of how the greatest leadership is by example:

  • 89% of what we learn, we learn visually
  • 10% through the ears
  • 1% through other senses
Watching this video reminded me of the monkey see, monkey do. It also reminded me of younger kids doing what their parents do, not what they say. When I was younger, I always remembered my mom putting make-up on  and when I asked her if I can put some on too, she always reminded me that it was for grown-ups only and that I had to wait. My mom being the “leader” in my eyes as a child, I wanted to be like her and she looked “more beautiful” with it on. Being the curious little girl I was, I had to try it one day…and let’s just say I definitely did not look “more beautiful.”
 
In another one of John’s leadership books, I’ve learned that an organization or a group is as effective as the leadership portrayed. Management and Leadership are different but they complement each other. Here‘s an interesting article I found from the globe and mail that summarizes a study that was done. In summary,
Teams need management skills and visionary leadership skills but the issue is where is it coming from. It’s not necessary for the leader to provide management if the team can manage itself. But if the leader doesn’t have a vision, the team is not going to do well at all. We have gone overboard in valuing leadership and devaluing management. We need both. And if you can provide both, the focus should be on which behaviour is required at a particular time.(Stoner)
In this Wall Street Journal article, it talks about the differences between management and leadership, and how they are linked together. Because of the tough economy and the way technology is rising, the author states that

In the new economy, where value comes increasingly from the knowledge of people, and where workers are no longer undifferentiated cogs in an industrial machine, management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define for them a purpose. And managers must organize workers, not just to maximize efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

In this day and age, I believe that companies are seeking leadership through the tough economic times in order to be more productive. In the same article, it states that “one does not ‘manage’ people,the task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.” (Drucker)

 I am coincidentally reading The 5 Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell and he talks about the different levels, with level 5 being the most uncommon and most difficult. The key work in this level is “respect”  and in order “to reach Level 5, a leader needs to be developing leaders – and not just leaders but Level 4 leaders – for many years. Most people leading groups won’t have a Level 5 leader in them” (Maxwell). Here is a link to John Maxwell’s blog that describe each one and below is what they look like:

It’s interesting to evaluate which level you are at and which level you want to achieve. Although it will take a lot of self-discipline and motivation, I believe it will be worth the success? What level do you guys want to achieve? Let me know in the comments below!

References:

Harper Business. (n.d.). Retrieved June 25, 2012 from http://guides.wsj.com/management/developing-a-leadership-style/what-is-the-difference-between-management-and-leadership/

John Maxwell On Leadership. (March 5, 2012). Retrieved June 25, 2012 from http://johnmaxwellonleadership.com/page/4/

John C. Maxwell: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. (August 6, 2009). Retrieved June 25, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuP8tpLotvc

Maxwell, John C. (2007). 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson.

Maxwell, John C. (2011). What are the 5 Levels of Leadership?. Retrieved June 25, 2012 from http://johnmaxwellonleadership.com/2011/08/22/what-are-the-5-levels-of-leadership/

Schachter, Harvey. (2012). The Management vs. Leadership Debate. Retrieved June 25, 2012 from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/management/the-management-vs-leadership-debate/article4268021/

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“I heard it through the grapevine”

Is it just me or do you always think of the “telephone” game when communication in the workplace comes to mind? Often times, word spreads like a wild fire and next thing you know, the last person who hears the news interprets it a completely different way. This reminds me of the workplace since we spend the best hours of the day at work and before you know it, we are somehow “gossiping” while we communicate with other co-workers without even knowing it. Of course, the information passed along may only be as good as the source.

I read an article recently stating that almost 15% of work emails are considered “gossip”  – “messages that contain information about a person or persons not among the recipients” (Gilbert). This may be useful because the firm may find out more about their employees such as them running late or feeling sick, but may also be negative because negative information about the company may be talked about and spread outside of management team.

Effective communication within the organization is not just downward (flow of communication from superiors to subordinates) or upward (flow of communication from subordinate to their superiors), but laterally as well. Although downward communication can give management feedback on how employees are performing and upward communication allows management to know how employees are feeling, communication should not just flow in this way. A lateral flow of communicating (being able to communicate with peers at the same level and management at different levels) is important to encourage team building and openness within the workplace. I remember how scary it was to approach and communicate with my manager when i worked in retail. It always seems as if managers are always “scary” or “intimidating” at first. Is this just me again? Nonetheless, at least that feeling of intimidation lasted for a good two months or so until I’ve learned to open up and build a good relationship with them. With a lateral flow of communication, it will minimize the “telephone game” effect of how information is passed out. Getting information directly from anyone within the organization (whether they are in management or a peer) will enable everyone to build better relationships and be more productive in working together. I believe that it is also an effective way to communicate using various channels, especially with the way technology is moving lately, electronic communication can be effective as well. Everyone is getting more busy so it is faster and more convenient. Here is another great article from time magazine explaining how to use electronic channels as an effective way to communicate.

It is important to be attentive on how we communicate within the organization or the receiver may not receive the message in its fullness – depending on the clarity and articulation of how it is conveyed (selective perception).

To all my fellow visual learners out there, here is an awesome video I found on organizational communication in a lot more detail and animation. I definitely learned a lot and gained some insight:

References:

Georgia Institute of Technology. (2012). Have you heard? Nearly 15 percent of work email is gossip. Retrieved June 11, 2012 from http://esciencenews.com/articles/2012/06/06/have.you.heard.nearly.15.percent.work.email.gossip

Management Study Guide. Communication Flows in an Organization. Retrieved June 11, 2012 from http://www.managementstudyguide.com/communication-flows.htm

TIME WORLD – Bill Gates’ New Rules. (1999). From Business @ The Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System, by Bill Gates. Copyright 1999 by William H. Gates, III. Published by Warner Books, USA. Retrieved June 12, 2012 from http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2040466,00.html

What is effective communication?. (2012). What is effective Communication? Retrieved June 11, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5oXygLGMuY