Transforming your leadership approach


Throughout business today, companies have been downsizing and cutting back on significant numbers of workers.

Those who remain face twice the workload while company expectations of profitability remain the same.

Now more than ever, employees need effective leaders to guide them through these uncertain, often overwhelming times.

People want to be led. They want an empathetic leader who respects their talents and contributions. They need a work environment that nurtures excellence, integrity and creativity.

* Crafting the Vision

"Everyone needs heroes who radiate positive thought," said Dr. Anneli Driessen, author of "Ultimate Success: Seven Secrets to Spiritually-Based Leadership."

"The leader crafts the vision for the team and decides on a direction. Strong commitment and self-discipline are required to develop the focus and clarity necessary for success."

The greatest asset of any company is the undeveloped potential of its people.

A first-line manager must assume responsibility for the development of everyone under her supervision.

In addition to everyday tasks, her job entails helping each to become a better professional and to perform well for the greater good of the company.

Naturally, as her employees' performance improves, she, too, will reap rewards, promotion opportunities, and, most important, a sense of pride in knowing she helped others help themselves. Therefore, it is in her best interest, both personally and professionally, to develop this potential to the fullest.

* Watchdog Management Outdated

"If you are an ethical manager then you must take personal responsibility for your team," Driessen said. "The buck should stop with you."

As the traditional model of watchdog management becomes outdated, managers now have the opportunity to become a coach to their team playing a significant role in the career guidance and development of the people they supervise.

By seeking to instill in all of their employees a sense of purpose, they can help each person improve his abilities and give his best to the team.

Using this coaching approach will help employees become more effective, pull together in tough times, grow as professionals and feel positive about the contributions they make.

* Personal Touch

Some team members will be telecommuters who rarely set foot in the office. However, the more high-tech the world becomes, the more people need a manager with a personal touch.

Even remote employees need their manager's expertise to guide them through the rough spots. Often, they might have no idea they have a problem or flaw until a manager identifies it.

Therefore, it is imperative that a manager makes the effort to visit them at their locations and observe how they perform, just as he or she would with team members in the corporate office.

A manager then can be assured that every member of her team has the support they need to succeed.

* The Face of Change

As the face of business leadership is changing, accepting and adopting these ideas still might require a paradigm shift for many managers. Transforming one's approach, even in this age of unavoidable change, can be difficult.

For those managers who are hesitant to make the shift, Driessen offers some words of advice.

"Be open and receptive to the unthinkable, the unimaginable and the improbable. Realize your limitations. Through them you will find your new possibilities."



Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.