Leadership & Management
Recently I took a university course about leadership and how this is different from management. During this course I was reading about how strong leaders can also take a strong leadership stance for the organisation outside of the firm. This hub is about what I found out about myself and how to be more effective as a leader.
To commence my review I undertook a Dubrin ‘Readiness for the Leadership Role’ test(Dubrin et al, 2006, pp. 9-10) and I scored a high readiness for the leadership role (92/100). However, the area that I received a lower score in was around representing the organisation externally. Dubrin (2006, p. 11) says that a key element of leadership is being a spokesperson. On this topic I read an article by Jeff Swartz (2010, pp. 39-43) concerning how he represented Timberland. Greenpeace had put pressure on Timberland to exit Brazil due to the deforestation of rainforest for land to raise cattle that Timberland then used for their leather products. The key message in the article is that Swartz took a leadership position to represent the company to Greenpeace and to people who complained about Timberland products. He did this by using open communication, taking the time to compose a series of emails, researching the issue while openly communicating this to Greenpeace and customers (p.43). By taking this leadership position Swartz was able to engage with Greenpeace and their supporters to develop a new supply chain (p.42). The lesson for me is that in order to be a great leader I need to take a leadership position on important issues for my team to gain a level of credibility (Kotter, 2001, p.90) both internally and externally. This will also help me in working cross functionally across my current business to learn to take a leadership stance in different situations.
What Leaders Really Do
In 2001 Kotter (pp. 85-96) wrote article on ‘What Leaders Really Do’, which reinforced my views on leadership being about setting a direction, aligning people and motivating and inspiring staff. The key point for me is credibility and how this is influenced by your track record, your reputation for integrity, trustworthiness and consistency (p.90). Being a Generation X leader this resonates for me as credibility in my leader is extremely important. Research has shown that Generation Xers consider their jobs to be expendable and therefore having a leader that they can trust and who is credible is extremely important (Erickson, 2010). For all leaders it is important to continue your development, credibility and reputation for integrity (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1991, p.53), trustworthiness and consistency in any cross functional work both inside and outside the firm.