Being a Good Leader
Introduction In today’s organizations there is a greater focus on employees stepping up to be leaders rather just managing their respective responsibilities. It is not enough to simply manage tasks and perform your delegated responsibilities any more employees are expected to take initiative and motivate those around them to also be leaders even if you are not a manager by title. In order to be a leader, one must start by making a commitment and learn those skills needed to model the way and be examples to others.
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As our organizations become more diverse, being able to manage ethics and diversity is also important as we will encounter and work with others who have different perceptions, thoughts and experiences than what we may be accustomed or familiar with. We must be become change agents in our organizations, people who challenge the status quos and established processes in an ethical manner. If employees are motivated and engaged, organizations will be successful and be able to withstand adverse environments. Modeling the Way
In all aspects of our lives we must be examples of how we want others around us to be whether in our own families, organizations or communities. How can we expect our employees to take initiative when they do not see their leaders taking initiative in their own roles? Even if you are not a manager or leader by title, people around you are still watching to see how you perform and behave. For example, I am an individual contributor in my organization but there are other employees around me who see what I do and how I behave in my role.
I always have a positive attitude and a smile on my face which motivates them to also have a positive attitude. I have to be aware that I’m an informal leader in my organization even though I currently do not lead a team. On the other hand my direct manager is a great example on how a leader should behave and how to be an effective leader. She has the flexibility to work from home and she also gives me that option as a result that makes me work harder.
Before introducing a new initiative, she always gets the buy-in of all our business partners so that when it is implemented, it is not a shock to anyone and everyone had an opportunity to share their thoughts. I never realized the importance of engaging everyone who will be affected by a new process or decision until now. Prior I was used to managers and senior leadership making decisions and the rest of the employees who were expected to follow them did not have any say or input. This is not an effective method of motivating employees.
I have learned how important it is to seek feedback in order to continue doing the things that make you a good leader, change any actions that are not appropriate and start doing other things you would like your subordinates or those around you to do. “Setting the example is all about execution. It’s about putting your money where your mouth is… It’s about keeping promises. It’s about walking the walk. ” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007) Managing Ethics When we are a part of an organization, we are all responsible for managing ethics not just managers.
Ethical practices should be woven in the fabric of the organizational culture and the organization should have systems in place to enforce ethical behavior. “When developing the values statement during strategic planning, include ethical values preferred in the workplace. When developing personnel policies, reflect on what ethical values you’d like to be most prominent in the organization’s culture and then design policies to produce these behaviors. ” (McNamara, 2008) First we must know what our own ethical values are, what are our belief systems?
If we believe it is ok to steal from your organization because they owe you anyways, that person should take time to do some self-reflection and analyze their values. There are many laws in place that outline what an organization can and cannot do to assist managers in deciding what constitutes ethical behavior. Most organizations also have guidelines in place that explain what is acceptable behavior and what is not as well as procedures to report unethical actions and behaviors. Again, managers must behave ethically to set examples for their employees and those around them.
Unethical actions not only hurt the individual but the entire company and that is why managers must enforce the company’s stance on ethics, ensure all their employees receive all brochures and materials so there is no question on how to handle observed unethical behaviors. Ethical practices should be a topic of discussion in meetings and on one-on-one conversations. Managing Diversity Today more than ever our workforce are increasingly become more diverse and managers must be equipped to not just treat diverse employees fairly but know how to leverage the different perspective, experiences and points of iew to create innovative products and how to respond to a growing diverse customer base. It is important for managers to understand diversity does not just imply to ethic or cultural differences but to also people in different age groups, education level, physical ability, economic status and many more. A manager must be able to communicate and manage conflict that arises between an older worker and a younger worker. Managers have to the open about learning about different people in their organization and as a result, the organization will benefit from all the great ideas.
As an example, by the end of the month, our organization have scheduled a meeting with diverse managers for a round table discussion to get their ideas on how we can improve our recruitment of diverse leaders into our organizations. We are tapping into their experiences and possible networks to create a process in place instead of searching outside the organization. We also want to understand if they have had opportunities for advancement or professional development to see how we can improve that process. It is not enough to hire diverse leaders if we cannot engage them in the organization, develop them and retain them.
We also try to enforce to the organization that it is not the job of just Human Resource’s to own diversity and creating a culture of inclusion, it is everyone’s job. Managing diversity is not just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. For example, if we do not have a strategy in place to create products and services geared towards the Hispanic population, which is growing at a rapid pace, our competitors who do target this group will experience larger profits. “Just as the workforce is becoming increasingly diverse, so too are the customers who buy an organization’s goods and services. (Jones, George, 2009) You do not have to be a manager to promote and support diversity. You can do it by your actions and by challenging others and educating them on how diversity makes good business sense and supporting your organization’s diversity efforts. Challenging the Process Good leaders do not just follow procedures and conduct business as usual. True leaders question why certain procedures are in place and suggest alternative solutions to improve the process. Leaders take the initiative to conduct any research needed to show the proof or the foundation on how to implement a new procedure, present the business case for the change.
Leaders have to trust their gut instincts when introducing a new process or a different way of doing things that may not be received with open arms. As an example, when my manager introduced a new diversity scorecard to the senior leadership to hold managers accountable for including diversity efforts into their respective departments, it was not greeted with enthusiasm. It took a few years of her having to “prove” the business case and showing with data why they had to be consistent with their diversity efforts.
As a result, the same leaders who were skeptical are now the ones refusing to interview any candidates for open positions unless they have a diverse candidate slate. Now, three years since injecting diversity into our culture, diversity is included in our bonus achievement plan. As a leader who wants to implement change, you must be persistent and believe that the change you want to make will benefit everyone in the organization and other leaders are also committed in making similar changes within their regions and divisions. “Leadership isn’t about challenge for the challenge’s sake.
It’s not about shaking things up just to keep people on their toes. It’s about challenge for meaning’s sake. ” (Kouzes & Posner, 2007) Conclusion Being a leader is much more than holding a leadership title but we become leaders by the decisions we make. We must make a choice to have purpose and passion in our every day lives. We must care about ourselves, employees and the organizations we work for. When we have a purpose and passion about what we do it becomes infectious to others, we become examples and without realizing we are modeling the way for others to see how leaders behave through actions.
Leaders must also do what they say they will do in order to be credible with their employees, colleagues and customers. If a leader looses his or her credibility, they will not receive the support he or she will need to implement any necessary changes. Leaders do not only manage ethics but have at the center of their belief system a high regard for human worth and dignity. (Huber, 1998) Their decisions are made based on these values and beliefs which tie in with managing diversity as our world becomes more global.
Leaders are made by the decisions we make every day that help make our organizations as successful and competitive as possible. Resources Huber, N (1998). Leading from Within. New York, NY: Krieger. Jones, Gareth R. and George, Jennifer M. (2008) Contemporary Management 6th edition; McGraw-Hill Irwin, N. Y. , N. Y Kouzes, J. , & Posner, B. (2007). The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. McNamara, C. (2008). Complete Guide to Ethics Management: An Ethics Toolkit for Managers. Retrieved March, 2009, from Free Management Library Web site: http://managementhelp. org/ethics/ethxgde. htm#anchor39675