Clarifying Thoughts on Leadership

Defining Leadership

A quick internet search for the definition of leadership will reveal that it means “the act of leading a group of people or an organization” or “the state or position of being a leader”.

So, what does that mean?

Practically speaking, we can think of leadership simply as the ability to get things done, either on your own or through the cooperation of others. This implies that a leader knows what needs to be done and is capable and willing to either do it or work with other people (subordinates, peers, superiors) who are capable and willing to get it done.

Leadership is Not Authority nor Management

This working definition does not reference authority nor management, i.e., a leader does not necessarily have to hold a position of authority or management within an organization. A leader may be someone who is able to get things done individually or collectively with others, while not having a management position or title. Conversely, a person having a title and position of authority within an organization may not be able to get things done either individually or collectively with others. This person may be in a leadership position, but their behaviors do not reflect those of a leader.

So, to be clear, leadership is not the same as…

  • Authority, which denotes having the right to make decisions, have control, give orders, and force others to comply with your commands.
  • Management, which denotes directing and controlling a group of people and operations, as well as other resources within an organization.

We Love Our Customers by Hockenberry Management Consulting

Leadership Styles

We should not confuse the act of leadership with styles of leadership, or the way in which someone leads. While several styles have been identified, let’s consider three examples.

  • Some people in positions of leadership display an autocratic style where they assume they are smartest, know the most, and have the answers and therefore believe its best if people just do whatever they say without questioning decisions and instructions.
  • Some people prefer a democratic style where they get input from other people, asking for opinions, often generating a collection of ideas from which decisions are ultimately made and people know what to do.
  • Some people operate with a laissez-faire style where they may seem quite uninvolved, allowing employees considerable freedom to think and act on their own, without providing much direction.

It might be tempting to assume that leaders consciously choose a style and adopt it for themselves, but it’s probably more accurate to believe that the styles pick the leaders. In other words, leaders, being people, have certain values and beliefs that determine how they think, make decisions, behave, and treat others. So, people in leadership do what they do because they are who they are, and these style labels are ascribed to them by others.

Characteristics of Leaders

Likewise, we should not confuse the act of leadership with the characteristics of individual leaders. Consider this: Would you rather work with a person who is…

  • Honest or dishonest?
  • Kind or mean?
  • Generous or stingy?
  • Decisive or uncertain?
  • Humble or arrogant?
  • Knowledgeable or clueless?

This list of personal characteristics could go on and become quite long. However, it’s important to distinguish between these qualitative descriptors of individuals and leadership itself, which involves getting things done either individually or by working with others.

To be sure, styles of leadership and individual characteristics matter significantly and will have a bearing on the degree of success one may have in a leadership role, i.e., the degree to which a leader is able to accomplish goals and tasks through the cooperation of others.

Essentially, the success of a leader is supported by their personal style and individual characteristics, but they are not definitions of leadership nor measurements of that leader’s success.

The Value of Leadership

Of course, every business and nonprofit organization desires people on their management team to be good leaders, having the ability to get things done and influence others in a positive way to do the same, while managing their area of operational responsibility, along with other resources.

To appreciate the value of good leadership capabilities within the management team, just imagine a past personal experience, or perhaps a current one in your company, where a person with a management title or position of authority did/does not possess good leadership skills. Yes, most of us have had this experience and know how many problems can occur when this is the case.

On the other hand, imagine working for a leader who knows what needs to be done, communicates that effectively, shares the workload appropriately, provides encouragement and support as necessary, and then gives credit (fairly) for a job well done. This is a much more motivating scenario.

Effective Leadership Teams

So how do you build an effective leadership team within your organization? The answer depends on the situation, and every situation is unique. But here are a few thoughts that might be helpful as you consider this very important question.

It has been said that organizations rise and fall on their leadership. In other words, leaders affect everything within your company, including the planning, the people, the operations, the customers, the culture, etc. which means they affect the outcomes as well.

If you intend to fill a management position, or any other key position requiring leadership ability within your company, consider the following:

  • Leadership starts with a person. So, make sure there is a process for identifying and selecting people who already have the personal characteristics you desire in your leadership team. This means you get what you want, and they don’t have to become somebody they are not.
  • An individual’s personal characteristics will heavily influence their leadership style. So, make sure there is a process for identifying and selecting people who have demonstrated a leadership style that is consistent with your company’s values and culture.
  • Leadership involves the ability and willingness to get things done, either individually or by working with others. So, make sure the process includes a way to identify people who understand this, possess a track record for getting things done, influence and work well with others, and demonstrate the attitude necessary to be a member of your management team.
  • Even the best leaders need to continually learn and grow. So, make sure there is a solid training and development program for your leaders. This should include opportunities to increase knowledge (both job-specific and leadership knowledge), which is necessary to perform the job and lead effectively. It should also include opportunities for personal development, keeping in mind that leaders are people, and people must grow in order to remain vital to your organization and effective as leaders.
  • Focus on being the best leader you can possibly be, as you work to build an effective management team. Most managers desire to be effective leaders… and they want to be on a team with other good leaders… and most of all, they long to report to someone who is a great leader.

The subject of leadership deserves our focused attention because it’s foundational to organizational success, impacting every aspect of your business or nonprofit. The ability and willingness of leaders to get things done, while influencing others to do the same, affects how well your organization performs and grows. So, let’s take steps to equip our businesses with the types of leadership they need and give our employees the leaders they deserve.

For more information or help on this and other topics, contact our team.


Now is the Time…

A message from Jeff during the COVID-19 pandemic, April 2020…

Dear Clients & Colleagues,

Now is the time to focus on innovative business strategy and proactive marketing.

It has been a strange several week period for businesses and nonprofits alike, and much has been said about the importance of leadership during these challenging times. It is true that effective leadership is essential, given the need for re-evaluating situations and circumstances, making necessary adjustments, and then making things happen. Of course, leadership can only go so far without other people, processes and plans in place, not to mention customers who want to buy your products and services.

Many factors contribute to business performance and growth, but two areas of particular importance right now include strategic planning and proactive marketing, along with increasingly creative sales initiatives. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves merely reacting to overwhelming circumstances which appear to be beyond our control. And often times during a crisis, right when we must be most effective as leaders, it becomes most difficult to think strategically about growing a business. Further, when so much around us seems uncertain and sales are down, any attempts to proactively market the company and its products and services are often put on hold.

Actually, it is during such times that it’s most important to devise a solid business strategy and marketing plan, keeping in mind the need for both short- and long-term objectives. It might not be as easy as it would have been otherwise, but it is necessary. We can’t be like the proverbial ostrich and bury our heads in the sand until the scary thing goes away and it’s safe to come back out and continue operating as usual. It may not be “as usual” again for a long time, and maybe never will be.

Be encouraged though. Now is the time to take action by thinking strategically about how to improve key areas of performance, market more intentionally than ever, grow your business as much as possible under the circumstances, and become better positioned for future growth when the situation returns to “normal”, whatever that may look like and whenever that may be. Regardless of what it is and when it occurs, you and your company will be ready.

We’re here to help. Remember, initial phone consultations are always complimentary.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Sincerely,

Jeff


Why Is Time Management So Challenging?

Have you ever found yourself at the end of a busy day wishing there were just a few more hours left so you could get more stuff done?

 

Or maybe you’ve experienced that sinking feeling at the end of the day on Friday, staring at a list of unfinished to-do items, wondering how the week flew by so quickly. Rest assured, you are not alone.

Strategy based upon finding from Hockenberry Management Consulting

Time Management

 

Bookstore shelves and online resources are filled with information meant to help us manage our time better through various techniques, such as organizing our desks, filing paperwork properly, planning meetings with agendas, delegating to others, avoiding interruptions in our day, handling phone calls and emails quickly, using Post-It notes more effectively, etc. Do these techniques help? The honest answer is probably “somewhat… but not enough.”

These techniques aim to help us manage time, but in reality, we cannot manage time at all. The concept of “time management” is actually a misnomer. After all, can any of us change the fact that there are 60 minutes in every hour, and 24 hours in every day, and 7 days in every week?

If we cannot manage time, how can we possibly regain a sense of control in the midst of our busy lives and hectic schedules? As you may have guessed, the solution is to better manage ourselves.

Let’s consider this alternative view by asking three questions.

1. What is your purpose?
2. What are your values?
3. What is your vision?

If we cannot manage time, then we must think about how we can manage ourselves. We can change what we do in any given hour, day, or week. We can decide whether to continue spending (to use up, exhaust, or consume) our time, or whether to begin investing (to make use of for future benefits or advantages) our time.

How To Manage Your Time Better by Hockenberry Management Consulting

What is your purpose?

 

Do you know your purpose in life? If you knew you had only one year to live, what would you do differently? Why? What is important to you? How would you want to be remembered by your family, friends, and colleagues? Now, imagine that you were guaranteed many more years to live. How would the future be different from your current situation? Everyone has a purpose in life. This purpose, as you perceive it, establishes the foundation from which you think and behave. This perception of your purpose shapes your attitudes and helps to determine your goals. When you have a clear purpose in life, decisions about how you use time become easier to make. Certain things become more important than others. You begin investing time more often, rather than just spending it.

What are your values?

What principles do you use to make decisions in life? Your values are the morals, ethics, and standards that are important to you. They shape your perception of what is right and true, and generally do not change over time. What gives your life meaning? What do you believe? What do you value? Clarifying your values will help you make better decisions and help to reduce stress in your life. Choices about spending and investing time also become easier to make when you have clearly understood values.

What is your vision?

Where will you be and what will you be doing in 1 year… 5 years… 10 years? What will you need to do differently in order to get there? How will you need to change in order to get there? The vision you have for your future also affects the way you think, make decisions and choose to take action (or not) which determines how you use time now.

Clarifying your life’s purpose, affirming your values, and crystallizing your vision will have a significant impact on how you use the minutes that remain in this hour, the hours that remain in this day, the days that remain in this week… not to mention the weeks that remain in this year, and the years that remain in this lifetime.

For more information or help on this and other topics, contact our team.


The Search for Improved Organizational Results Hockenberry Management Consultants

The Search for Improved Organizational Results

Do you want improved results from your business or nonprofit organization? Of course, your answer is probably “yes,” so the more challenging question is… how do you do that?

Improving your organization’s performance is easier said than done – especially since it can be difficult to know where and how to get started. Let’s take a bird’s eye view of some possible starting points.

3 CORE BUSINESS PROCESSES

In every organization, there are essentially three core business processes – strategy, management systems, and operations. Let’s briefly look at each.

Strategy… the process of determining the direction in which your organization will move toward.

Management systems… the processes utilized to hire, develop and retain a qualified workforce.

Operations… the processes utilized to market, sell, produce, and deliver your organization’s products or services.
Theoretically, the better aligned these processes are, the better the organization will perform, leading to improved results. Achieving this kind of alignment is not easily accomplished, but when successfully aligned, the organization and its members reap the benefits, and the customer is better served.

3 FOUNDATIONAL FACTORS

Achieving improved results in your organization’s performance depends on your ability to continually improve the execution of these core business processes, which is largely dependent on three foundational factors. Let’s consider each.
Leadership… one could effectively argue that leadership is cause and all else is effect.

Culture… the environment in which business takes place and work is accomplished is often the result of chance, yet culture has a significant influence on how people think and behave, which affects individual and team performance, ultimately impacting organizational outcomes.

Systems… the ability to develop, repeat, and improve effective processes across the organization.
Without effective leadership, a healthy culture, and a systems approach, the business processes of strategy, management systems, and operations are hindered and possibly jeopardized.

In addition to understanding organizational performance dynamics as outlined above, it is equally important to remember that organizations are comprised of people. Therefore, your business or nonprofit’s ability to achieve improved results is dependent on each individual member’s performance. So, let’s briefly look at a few key individual performance factors.

3 INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE FACTORS

Positive behavior change, which leads to improved individual results (which impacts organizational outcomes), is enhanced by several key factors.

Goals… people are generally goal oriented, needing direction and wanting purpose. It is best when this direction originates from organizational leadership.

Knowledge… the information we acquire through the process of learning.

Skills… the ability to apply knowledge in the appropriate situation.

Attitude… all intentional behavior is preceded by thought. Attitudes are habits of thought. If we expect to change behavior in a positive manner and achieve improved results, we have to change the way we think.

8 QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

If you want to get better organizational results, begin by asking yourself these questions.

1. How good is our strategy and is it being executed well?
2. Is our management system helping or hurting our cause?
3. Are employees really on board with our mission and vision?
4. Are operational processes contributing to success or detracting from it?
5. Are customers satisfied and loyal?
6. What affect does our leadership have on the organization?
7. Is our culture conducive to achieving our mission?
8. Are we leveraging process improvements across the organization?

The answers to these questions will begin to tell a story (that you may or may not like).

The next, and most important, question is… what will you do about it?

For more information or help on this and other topics, contact our team.