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Successful Effective Leadership - A PNG Workplace Experience

Updated on March 22, 2014

Five Effective Leadership Traits

  1. Vision. Vision predicted a destination for the whole team thus gave each team member meaning and overtime this became a source of energy and excitement that gave value to their work.
  2. Effective communication. This is being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done or not. Solomon sharpens his communication skills by staying close to the action and getting a sense of what is happening around him. The more engaged and informed he is the more effective he is in correcting situations and motivating his team.
  3. Exercise superior judgment consistently. Wisdom was fundamental. Solomon never allows emotions to cloud his decisions. His judgments were based on pure merits and in the best interest of his team and the organization as a whole. As long as his decisions are made within the firm’s policies and guidelines and are in its best interest, he knows that no one will try to score points (corporate politicking) by criticizing his rulings.
  4. Respect. You must give respect to earn it in return. Solomon treats everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of their position in the organization. He praised in public and criticized in private. He makes it his priority to defend, encourage, support, and he empowers the team to unleash its full potential and abilities.
  5. Reward. Every success must be recognized and rewarded accordingly. Recognition and reward can be anything from a pat on the back and/or lunch treats to receiving an award or promotion. Solomon guarantees reward for top performers, pushes for staff promotion, and argues convincingly for staff benefits based on delivered outcomes.

Solomon applied these five effective leadership traits to lead his team to success.

Introduction

Not everyone is born a leader but anyone can strive to become an effective leader through trial and error and/or coaching and mentoring. In the 13th century Genghis Khan from the vast plains of Mongolia swept into China at the head of a mighty army of horsemen and archers. He was the son of a chief and succeeded as ruler following the murder of his father when he was still a boy. He naturally built up a following of loyal warriors that would later on aid him in establishing an empire that ruled much of Asia for several centuries. Joseph Stalin is a good example of someone who strived for leadership and eventually became one of the most ruthless and feared men of the 20th century. He was born a peasant, yet became leader of the Soviet Union, an empire that included Russia and countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Great leaders take control of their situation under given circumstances at any point in time and produce great results. A true leader continues to evolve through trial and error.

This hub is based on a true story of Solomon (not real name) a young Papua New Guinean who effectively led his team to transform a problematic corporate business unit into a paradigm for quality and excellence. He proved his critics wrong and his achievements laid the foundation for bigger and better investments for a renowned global banking corporation in PNG. Are you a leader managing a team? Are you not achieving targets despite pushing your team so hard? Or are you an expatriate considering trying out employment opportunities in PNG? If you answered yes to any of these questions then read on for peace of mind. Solomon draws from his personal life experiences and those of others (learnt via observation) and led his team with five effective leadership traits – vision, effective communication, exercising superior judgment consistently, respect and reward.

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Solomon's Team

Bob, Craig and Tristan (not real names) were at the brink of losing their jobs. This followed three years of separate and failed restorative attempts to bail out the troubled business unit by three different expatriate and two national managers. No one in head office in Port Moresby, the Nation’s capital, wanted to take up the vacant managerial role in Lae, Morobe Province for fear of the possibility of ruining their career. Bob, Craig and Tristan made up the team. They all had tertiary qualifications, were hard-working, and have young families to provide for. As the crisis prolonged and a solution to arrest the business unit collapse evaded all, the expatriates returned home and the national managers resigned one after another. The situation slipped from bad to worse. Consequently someone, or in this instance, some people had to be scapegoats. Bob, Craig and Tristan reluctantly accepted blame because even with their respective bachelor degrees backed up with a few years of experience, the firm was led to believe that their non-performances in their jobs caused the fiasco. In an organization (not speaking for all organizations in PNG) where nationals can go as low as playing privileged classes among its own countrymen, the team was caged in a environment where status and managing personal perception was paramount to nationals than doing good to others. No one stood up to defend the team. A purely management issue was twisted into a non-performance crisis. Bob, Craig and Tristan had no hope and were branded liabilities. The performance review (PR) process was initiated immediately.

Solomon - The Leader

Solomon is young but a wise leader for his age. He was only in his early thirties with 10 years of corporate banking experience when he was given his first leadership role. He is determined and ruthlessly motivated. Growing up in his village in a North-Eastern province of PNG, he developed a thirst for a better life in Port Moresby and knew from the outset that doing well in school would one day get him into the city. It did. Driven by this personal desire he embraced education as a vessel to inspire, cultivate, progress, fashioned, and transport him along his life journey that still continues today.

Solomon was recruited externally by the firm to manage Bob, Craig and Tristan. The team was now complete with Solomon finally filling up the managerial post in Lae which had been vacant for some time. He was bold and courageous even after being asked to reconsider given the existing crisis then. After meeting Bob, Craig and Tristan for the first time, Solomon saw potential in each of them despite all the internally branded negativity.

Solomon was a realist and a practical man. He realized the debacle needed a leader and to him, leadership was about leading. He asked his team two simple questions when he started. The first question was ‘do you want to change this place?’Bob, Craig and Tristan answered ‘yes’. Then he asked ‘what do you need to change this place?’ The consensus was that the team ‘needed access to the office on weekends’. All prior requests fell on deaf ears. Solomon was different. He reported back to the team a few days later that the firm had approved and granted them their request. There was no looking back from then on. Solomon and his team defused the crisis just two months into his new role. This were small improvements but was a beacon of light in a stormy sea of problems. Backed up with these positive recovery indicators, Solomon argued convincingly for the firm to abandon the planned PR. His reasoning was that slapping his team members with PR would not only contradict improved performance but will also jeopardizes the recent business rehabilitation that the company was in desperate need of after successive failures to fix the crisis. Solomon earned the highest level of respect and devoted loyalty from that noble deed. Bob, Craig and Tristan had hope again.

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No Pain No Gain

Solomon’s transition from being a follower to a leader was challenging. His impact in the first two months was incredulous and ruffled his peers. He was a result of headhunting and coming from a competitor firm, Solomon naturally expected envy. But he did not permit this suppression to distract him. The team worked resiliently for two onerous years. Their vision guided them. They started work as early as 6:00 am in the mornings and continued late into the nights. They labored on the weekends as well as on public holidays. They never once claimed for overtime pay. The team’s renewed aspiration was not for money. This was a chance to regain their lost pride and dignity. It was an opportunity for each of the team members to reclaim their lost hopes for a better future for their careers and families.

Solomon manifested humility, respect and kindness to his team. He never picked on their weaknesses nor being negative about failures. He instead was always boastful about each of his team members’ strengths and potential. The one unforgettable quality that Solomon practically lives and embedded into his team was respect. He proved that respect combined with other leadership traits transcends cultural diversity and holds common values and goals together for common outcomes. Respect was the glue that held the team together during their difficult road to recovery. It paved the way for a positive upturn, it maintained improvements and it was the golden platter on which the team delivered pronounced and unprecedented results for the business.

The team’s irrefutable success transformed the problematic business unit into a criterion. The results inspired and sanctioned business investments that would not have been possible three to four years prior. Individual promotions ensued and dismantled Solomon’s team. But his legacy lives on. Solomon was hand-picked and promoted to a senior managerial position within the business but he never forgot about his team and always knew exactly where credit was due. He humbly admitted that he could not have done it without his team. Hence, he made certain that each of his team members were compensated accordingly as well. Tristan was pushed up the corporate ladder into a managerial role while Bob and Craig also benefited with recognition and respective elevation from their previous roles.

Conclusion

Leaders are rarely born but anyone can strive to become an effective leader through trial and error. Leadership comes in different types, has many characteristics and traits and more often is determine by prevailing circumstances. Solomon’s story is an example of positive reinforcement and encompasses five effective leadership traits that he applied to be successful in PNG. These were vision, effective communication, exercising superior judgment consistently, respect and reward.

Solomon achieved in two years what could not have been done three years prior. He came, saw, adjusted, led effectively and conquered. He led with a vision and exercised superior judgment consistently which included delegation. He effectively communicated what needed to be done or not. He treated everyone with respect and dignity. He ensures outstanding performers are fittingly rewarded. The transfigured business unit is now thriving and is the benchmark for the whole business in PNG.

Bob, Craig and Tristan reclaimed their lost pride and dignity and have proven themselves to be assets and no longer write-offs. They now have bright futures ahead of them because of one man’s effective leadership qualities and unselfishness.

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    • Jason Matthews profile image

      Jason Matthews 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Nice work and amazing story. I agree with your conclusion that leaders can be made rather than born. Voted up!

    • Dan Kutuapi profile image
      Author

      Dan Kutuapi 3 years ago from Papua New Guinea

      Hi Jason, an amazing story indeed. The relationship Solomon developed with his team inside the office extends into their personal lives outside the office. The experience brought all of them closer likes brothers and their wives like sisters. Even their children always love to be around each other. I agree with your comment. Solomon was not born a leader but strived for effective leadership. His journey still continues today. Thanks Jason for commenting and the vote. Kind regards from Papua New Guinea. Sincerely, Dan.

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