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Style challenge

first_imgAcompany’s brand of leadership is determined by many factors, both internal andexternal, and it is essential to identify this style to successfully successionplan. To assist the process, Caroline Horn outlines four leading styles andtheir advocatesTheperception of leadership has changed significantly in the past four to fiveyears with the recognition that organisations need key skills from theirleaders – communication and strategy typically ranking highest. But withincreasing pressure on business, there is much less time for leaders to learnon the job. And as economic conditions get tougher, leaders are more likely tofind themselves caught up in day-to-day management issues.Currenteconomic conditions mean that visionary leadership is giving way to practicalissues, says Roger Gill, director of research centre at The Leadership Trust.”More rarefied ideas such as clear vision and communication are beingde-emphasised because of practical things like recession in the telecoms, ITand manufacturing industries, and that’s a great shame.” “Thecutbacks we are seeing in staffing levels are having a bad effect. People arereturning to basic management ideas and I see something of regression inleadership behaviour and some old-fashioned practices re-emerging. There isless individualised consideration, as with transformational leadership, andmore blanket treatment of people.”KateLidbetter, director of SKAI Associates, argues that the effect of the economicdownturn will vary. “It depends as much on the company as the challengesit faces,” she says. “Successful companies have the luxury of goingfor the leading edge leadership style, but where market conditions are tough,there is a tendency to revert to type. So if a corporation had a tendency to bemore controlled and old fashioned, they are more likely to focus on processesand tasks.”But,she adds, “Because it takes so much time and effort to make improvementsand create a new style of leadership, companies strive to hang on to what theyachieved when times were better.”ParticipativeleadershipThevalues of a corporate are typically elected by the board, but in a companycommitted to participative leadership, the whole company is involved indeciding its values.Participativeleadership is about “listening, collaboration and networking”, saysJane Fiona Cumming, director at sustainable development consultancy Article 13.It is a process that takes visionary leadership one step further: while thevisionary leader communicates a vision of where the company is going in asimple, accessible and desirable way, a participative leader will say, ‘giventhat’s the vision, how do we want to get there’?”Participativeleadership is focused on empowerment, and it can work in a number of differentways – from listening to opinions of team members before taking a decision, orstriving for consensus.Teambuilding, commitment and a better quality of decision can result – as long asemployees are facilitated, through coaching, in how to make sound decisions.However, participative leadership may be less effective if employees areapathetic, or willing to accept autocratic decisions. IndividualsMarjorie Scardino, CEO of Pearson and easyJet founder and chairman SteliosHaji-Ioannou are among those who exemplify a participative approach toleadership. As is Pat Mitchell, president and CEO of Public BroadcastingService in the US, who grew the company’s television audience partly throughgroundbreaking collaborations with other parties such as ABC News Nightline,Fox Studios, and National Public Radio.CompaniesParticipative leadership does not have to be limited to the company itself.Global environment organisation WWF-UK recognised that real change could onlycome by sharing its agenda with parties outside the organisation. Facilitatedby Article 13, WWF-UK policy director Andrew Lee developed a network ofinterested and affected parties across the UK to develop a shared submission tothe government on the rural agenda and common agricultural policy reform. Level5 leadershipLevel5 leaders are capable of taking an ordinary organisation, making it a greatorganisation – and then sustaining the success over many years. While LeeLacocca transformed Chrysler into a thriving organisation, he was unable to sustainthat performance. Level 5 leaders, on the other hand, might lack the charismaand charm favoured by the City, but they have the resolve, will and humility tobring about long-term results.JimCollins, author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and OthersDon’t has described Level 5 leaders as modest, self-effacing and understated.But they are also fanatically driven by the need to produce sustained results,and are resolved to do whatever it takes to make the company great.HayGroup carried out a study with Harvard University to examine the dynamics oftop executive teams. The most effective leaders have been shown to combine fourstyles of leadership – authoritative, democratic, affiliative and coachingleadership – and that this is what Level 5 leaders do, says Chris Dyson,director at Hay Group. “They are not the great ‘I am’.”IndividualsJoseph A Pichler, chairman, CEO and director at The Kroger Company; DanielDimicco, president and CEO of Nucor Corporation; and L Daniel Jorndt, chairmanof Walgreens, exemplify Level 5 leadership.CompaniesArturo Barahona, CEO of airline company AeroMexico, showed what this leadershipapproach could achieve when he led the company through a process ofprivatisation from the Mexican government. The company’s costs were cut by 2per cent at a time when fuel costs were increasing, its safety record has beenimproved, and it now has among the best time keeping records in the world. Barahonawas happy to credit his team for major accomplishments. “The seven VPs onour executive team had traditionally worked very independently,” he says.”If they had continued to work that way, we would never have accomplishedwhat we did.”Values-basedleadershipValues-basedleadership involves taking a more holistic view of a business’s activities andcommitting to a chosen set of ethical business values. Generating a profitremains important to a values-based leader, but they will also understand howthat profit is generated and the costs to society in terms of the environmentand society.Theimplications of values-based leadership are wide-ranging – a business will needto consider how it manufactures its goods and services and what effect that hason its employees, as well as the way it markets its services – even how itsservices or products are used. AndrewWilson, director at Ashridge, says that applying those considerations tobusiness requires a leader with vision, a sense of responsibility andentrepreneurialship.Inturn, values-based leadership will help improve morale and teamwork in anorganisation by enabling people to make more consistent choices, to influencewhat happens to them – and to spend less time playing political games, sinceeveryone knows what to expect from each other.TheChristopher Harding Leadership Programme at Ashridge is one initiative aimed atintroducing these ideas to businesses but a number of companies have alreadyput them into practice.IndividualsSir Mark Moody-Stewart, former chairman of Shell International, and JohnBrowne, chairman and CEO at BP, have introduced new values-based concepts thatseek to reposition their groups as energy-producing, rather than oil-producing,and as environmental champions, not despoilers.CompaniesIn the US, CEO Ray Anderson transformed his company, Interface Carpets, from acompany that produced floor coverings into a provider of floor coverings in anenvironmentally sustainable way. To make that vision happen, Anderson had toexamine every area of production and consider new approaches to his business.The company reduced its energy consumption, replaced petroleum-based supplieswith vegetable-based substitutes, and cut emissions by 24 per cent.  It also adopted a new business philosophy.Its customers no longer buy a carpet – they rent one. When it wears out, itscomponent parts are recycled and the customer receives a new one.ServantleadershipAsits name suggests, servant leadership asserts that true leaders serve thosewhom they lead. Servantleaders act as teacher and standard setter, rather than a giver of directions.They have faith in other people’s abilities and are strong team builders, aswell as helping to develop individuals within an organisation – because themore developed the individuals, the stronger the organisation. Servant leaderscan also be led -they are more interested in finding out the best way to dosomething than imposing their way. TimThreipland, a facilitator with FranklinCovey, says that this style ofleadership can contribute a number of benefits to an organisation. “Askorganisations whether they think they can get more out of their people, andmost will say ‘yes’. A leader needs to create a genuinely empowered environmentwhere excellence can thrive and people can realise their potential.”IndividualsJim Parker, vice-chairman of the board and CEO of Southwest Airlines, PeterKnight of marketing services agency Phoenix, and Jack Lowe Jr, president ofTDIndustries, have built their companies as servant leaders.CompaniesAt TDIndustries, every TDI employee (TDPartners) completes Servant Leadershiptraining and participates in small Servant Leadership dialogue groups.Commitment to this philosophy has built an environment where employees trustthe senior management to listen to their thoughts and ideas, and leadership haslearned to trust the judgment of the employees.TDIis ranked fourth in Fortune’s 500 Best Places to Work 2002 list, in whichcompanies demonstrate an average of 50 per cent higher profit margin thancompetitors of similar size. But Lowe Jr of TDIndustries cautions: “If yougo into this with the motive to make money, it won’t work. If you go into it tobuild people and a great organisation, you will make money over thelong-run.” Previous Article Next Article Style challengeOn 11 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

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