Changing Things for the Better
An aspiring leader engages in a continuous process of becoming a better leader. A leader who succeeds at this becomes recognized as a role model leader. It is important to remember that leadership is a process and is something one never stops learning. There is no award for becoming a leader; there is no certiicate that says you have become one; there is no end point. A role model leader is someone who is still learning and still motivated to become one. The speciic skills, character attributes, and behaviours required for role model leading competency will be discussed in part two.
A word about the ground state for role model leaders: they have answered the question of why they want to become one. Having done so, they have positioned themselves to ask how and what: how they are to prepare themselves and what they will have to learn.
And a word about the ground state for high-performance work systems: they begin as conventional organizations. There are a variety of designs for these work systems, but usually they have been designed around hierarchies,
whether they are referred to as functional departments or business units or something else. For example, a company might have a CEO at the top, and down from that person cascades any number of functional departments: manufacturing, engineering, marketing, R&D, operations, and so on. And each of those departments will likely have its own subdepartments. And this hierarchy will be further complicated by the variety of markets and regions that the organization serves. That sort of hierarchy is typical of what I will be calling a conventional organization.
The kind of conventional organization I will be describing here is well managed, capable, and eficient, but it lacks leadership – speciically, it lacks role model leadership. For that reason, the business will not grow to its potential and all of its various stakeholders will beneit less than they could.
Conventional organizations that are managed well are sometimes dedicated to continuous improvement. The goal of conventional continuous improvement is to improve the eficiency of the internal functional departments. Each departmental manager looks for ways to improve the functional competence in his department, increase the pace of work, and hire more competent managers, accountants, and other experts. In terms of personnel, improvements are often achieved by a cycle of terminating the least competent employees, hiring better ones, and renewing the organization with training programs.
The functional departments in a conventional organization may improve their eficiency in this way, but they run the risk of isolating themselves from other departments – the so-called silo effect. The responsibility for integrating these departments is too often left to the “supermanagers” at the top of the positional hierarchy, who control the work of the departments to ensure enterprise eficiency.
In its ideal state, a developmental, process-oriented organization will be full of people who are constantly developing themselves as individuals and, in that way, constantly moving their organization towards the achievement of a high-performance work system. In an ideal organization, everyone is constantly developing leadership competence, and they are doing so together so that performance levels rise. Teams, groups, and networks are everywhere; they form and then they disband when the work is done.
Too many organizations suffer from a shortage of real leaders and an abundance of positional leaders, and the outcomes for stakeholders suffer as a result. But these organizations can change if they set out to develop leadership capabilities in their members, for those members will then apply their new competencies to improving the organization. It doesn't matter whether the organization is proit-oriented or not-for-proit – every organization
would beneit from a culture where high value, perhaps even the highest value, is placed on leadership.
The ground state that is necessary to making these changes includes, irst, aspiring leaders, and second, conventional organizations whose members are motivated to change themselves with the goal of improving the lives of people by learning leadership capabilities.