Leadership In The New Economy By Lynnaire Johnston Word Wizard Based on an article published in Innovate, May 2012 www.wordwizard.co.nz ● 0800 WIZARD ● 03 482 1364 ● firstname.lastname@example.org Leadership in the new economy By Lynnaire Johnston Summary—what is leadership? as natural disasters (as seen in Christchurch), • Hallmarks of good leadership are technology improvements and regulations, plus a communication, collaboration and the difficult economic situation. inclusion of employees in decisions. Informal vs formal communication styles • Learn to be yourself and know the value of Due to their size, smaller organisations have what you can contribute. leaders with closer relationships to their workers • Make time for people, be the visible face of the and so rely on informal ways to communicate. In organisation. larger organisations there are the challenges of multiple locations, different structures and the Introduction need to create more processes that allow them to Is the face of leadership changing in New Zealand connect at different levels. as a result of the economic recession? This mini report invites three people whose roles give them Too, more leaders are realising that a really strong a first-hand look at what’s going on in the top culture will give them a competitive advantage echelons of New Zealand business to speak about where employees feel a sense of belonging and the face of leadership today. commitment to the organisation instead of merely picking up pay cheques. Sanchia Yonge, managing director of In today’s tough business environment, communi- Kenexa|JRA cation, collaboration and including employees in In her role for workplace survey decisions are all qualities of good leadership. provider Kenexa|JRA, Sanchia Yonge Yonge says, “It’s important that culture matches has noticed a distinct change in the business you’re in. If it demands innovation, leadership styles in the past five to 10 the organisation must be open to new ideas, risk- years. The era of top-down taking and allowing employees to make mistakes. leadership supported by standard processes and In New Zealand, business is relationship-based. systems is over. Leaders need to inspire others to People move around to different organisations so achieve and to grow as quickly as their leaders need to be straight forward and environments demand. She describes this as the trustworthy. transformational or motivational model. Yonge says businesses today are operating in an Trust – the hallmark of a top leader increasingly changeable and complex environment “Building high levels of trust is the hallmark of a dominated by disruptive technology. This is top leader. This promotes solution-based changing how we do everything from organisations where people work together more communicating to paying our bills or socialising. efficiently to solve their own problems. They need This means leaders are no longer fully in control as to have a broad set of skills and roll up their customers and employees are finding new ways to sleeves,” says Yonge. connect with each other and to access information. While this provides opportunities, it The best leaders empower their employees, she can also cause problems. explains. “They set a vision for their team members to get behind, they empower employees “Leaders need to embrace it themselves in order who fully understand the end goal. Leaders to create a high trust culture that allows demonstrate and communicate the organisation’s employees to carry out online engagement,” she greater purpose. For example, AA Insurance has says. seen the disaster in Christchurch test the strength Organisations have many more stakeholders of its culture. Employees worked above and nowadays and a more demanding and hostile beyond their normal tasks, with enormous environment which includes external factors such increases in levels of employee engagement.” These are the kind of people that get on and make Yonge says there is certainly room for it happen; they are pragmatic. Real leadership, improvement. “In a downturn, there is less she says, is the stuff you do every funding available to spend on training to develop day when no-one is looking. people. But to fully equip employees to drive the You’re not a leader by dint of company forward and to provide satisfaction to subscribing to Harvard Business those workers, they need to be upskilled. Review, doing a course or gaining Organisations that are prepared to invest get a qualification. To have the great commitment in return. They also benefit leadership X-factor you need emotional from increased productivity, lower turnover and intelligence. lower absenteeism as employees feel engaged “It’s the way they treat other people; to have the and therefore want to do the best they can for the leadership X-factor you don’t need to be the company. smartest but you do need the right attitude and to The most recent Best Workplace Survey found be emotionally resilient.” that one third of employees feel engaged, the Campbell believes many people in Christchurch highest in five years. That’s a result of greater showed incredible leadership skill following the rewards and recognition trickling down, says earthquake by putting aside their own needs or Yonge. situation to focus on others. “It’s easy to be a leader on a good day but the real test of our Organisations working actively to hold on to the leadership is how we behave during the tough best times,” she says. With the optimism now evident in the business community, there are more options for employees Diplomacy is an underrated skill in leadership, who may wish to move on and organisations according to Campbell, who says our ego gives us realise this. They are working actively to hold on confidence but it’s also a weakness when it to their best employees. prevents us from developing the leadership capability of those around us. “The best advice I Most organisations tend to be top-down in ever got in my first CEO role was, ‘it’s not about management style, even those that aspire to be you any more’.” modern (adaptive with high levels of team worker engagement). If they want to thrive they must Leadership embodied in strong spirit achieve and sustain high levels of collaboration, Some leadership characteristics are inherent in communication, customer focus and be prepared our Kiwi make up. Campbell says we don’t assume to be adaptive. we can’t do something, we have a strong spirit, When times are tough, the best workplaces and we tend to under-promise and over-deliver. explain to staff why they’re making the decisions “Kiwi leadership has a lovely humility with it that’s they make, they become transparent, admit very under-rated. Top leaders will often operate mistakes and readjust course when necessary. below the radar, not seeking fame and glory. They Good leaders are highly visible and interact with work hard to encourage people, they give back to workers, and openly address their concerns and their communities (and NZ Inc) and have multiple anxieties. projects on the go at once,” she says. Yonge says the number one thing leaders need to “I agree that the tall poppy syndrome exists here ask themselves is whether they can listen to and we have a lot of work to do with our kids in feedback and translate that into smart business order to develop their leadership abilities. We decisions. Employee surveys, she believes, are a have to start from the ground up, if we want to very valuable metric which can be used year-on- spark dreams in our kids. year to measure trends. “Optimism is incredibly important in leadership but really attitude is the key. If you don’t have the right attitude you will never in my mind make an Shelley Campbell, chief executive, Sir Peter exceptional leader.” Blake Trust From Shelley Campbell’s perspective great leaders Campbell believes the principles of great are those who don’t tell you, they show you. leadership are the same whether a company is small or large. The ability to create organisational dark times are when leaders shine. clarity and mobilise people to achieve this is “And the failure of a business doesn’t necessarily common to both types but we all have to reflect on a leader’s abilities. Strong leaders can understand which environments we operate best emerge from the chaos of a business failure. in. You have to understand yourself, how you Christchurch has been a fantastic example of true think, learn and deliver, and choose roles that play leadership emerging.” to your strengths and get you in your zone, she says. Some businesses have used the recession to revisit their business models and strategy, a very Some people are effective in smaller teams, useful process. others in larger. Some people can make the transition from one to the other successfully, People also look at their personal lives in a others sink. It’s not a given that you’ll be good at recession and reassess their own personal goals, both. says Campbell. Entrepreneurial types will struggle in public sector “New Zealand is not well served when we make organisations because of the bureaucracy and assumptions about what leadership looks like or process. They’re used to lightening fast change reserve the concept of leadership to acts of and can struggle to make the transition. ‘greatness’. Our country and our businesses’ future depends on our ability to understand that “You have to understand yourself, your sweet ordinary people can produce extraordinary results spot and choose roles that will challenge your and on accessing and developing our unique kiwi strengths.” leadership potential across generations, gender The importance of culture and fit and ethnic groups. Choosing the right company, with the right fit and Her advice: learn to be yourself and understand culture is important. People can get into the the value of what you can contribute. wrong job, but it doesn’t make them a bad leader. Campbell contends that we New Zealanders are Pleasance Hansen, PH Factor not by and large comfortable with our Kiwiness PH Factor is a management consultancy which (our ‘ordinariness’ which is often referred to as specialises in executive coaching our lack of sophistication) on the world stage. Yet and targeted team facilitation to history shows us that we are capable of producing create top performing world leaders and ground-breaking ideas for organisations. Principal Pleasance which we don’t give ourselves credit. “I’m Hansen believes that with the incredibly impressed by what’s going on in the increasing complexity and creative, technology and science arenas, for accelerating rate of change these instance. It would be nice to think one day that days, organisations need to be the pride we feel in being Kiwi when we go able to draw on every employee’s overseas, we could feel every day at home.” talents. She says what’s needed these days is Mentoring Becoming Popular “leaderful” organisations. She has witnessed a lot of business leaders This was reinforced by a recent discussion with mentoring others and generously giving time to one visionary CEO who considers that leadership develop the leadership abilities of others. “The needs to be as much at the ‘grassroots’ level of an next generation of leaders will be very different organisation, as in the formal power structures. from those who have gone before. They are less “With everyone being accountable, and managing interested in hierarchy and climbing the ladder themselves the best they can, top performance is because they want to influence and add value more likely. It will also make the organisation from day one. They are bright, curious, resilient enough to survive, and even anticipate challenging and learning agile. They are attracted some of the more unpredictable changes that are to working for organisations whose values align coming.” The same visionary CEO believes that more closely to their own personal values and leadership is essentially “about change, and purpose. making a positive difference. Leadership without “It’s easier to be a good leader in good times, but action is not leadership.” Hansen reiterates this and says, “Leaders speak Her observation about top CEOs is that they often up, they challenge the status quo, in the interest tend to have a highly appreciated personal of wanting something better.” From her own assistant working hard behind the scenes to consultancy experience, she believes one of the ensure that everything happens effortlessly. They greatest skills leaders need to master is the also cultivate a sense of team, rather than being willingness to have the ‘courageous driven solely by their own ego, which is conversations’. increasingly unsustainable. By this she means first being honest with yourself Finally, Hansen believes that great leaders are about what is happening within the organisation. willing to step into different possible futures even And then talking openly with team members in the absence of evidence that their dreams will whose behaviours are contrary to the be achieved. “Look at Nelson Mandela spending organisation’s core values and are causing decades in prison, and holding fast to a dream problems. An example of this is bullying. about the liberation of his people. In this country Hansen believes the best leaders and CEOs have a we have the example of Kate Shepherd’s rare combination of humility, and the ability and determination to bring about votes for women, willingness to listen. “They are not afraid to give when no other country had done so. These are direction, but are also open to others’ ideas. They timeless examples of great leadership that still know how to engage their staff and place a high stand today.” priority on taking their people with them.” 4 Components of Transformational Useful Website Links Leadership Kenexa|JRA www.jra.co.nz Professor Bernard Bass Sir Peter Blake Trust www.sirpeterblaketrust.org PH Factor www.phfactor.co.nz Charisma – Embodying role models that followers strive to emulate and align around a vision, common purpose and mission. About Word Wizard Inspirational motivation – Providing meaning and optimism about the mission and its Word Wizard is a New Zealand attainability. communications company writing attention- Intellectual stimulation – Encouraging individuals grabbling marketing material for web sites, to challenge the `sacred cows' of the brochures, sales letters etc. organisation, irrespective of their status or level in the organisation. Wordsmith-in-chief Lynnaire Johnston is a Individualised consideration – A disregard for feature writer and editor who frequently status and a fundamental belief in the value of interview business thought leaders. others in the organisation. It embodies a respect for, and valuing of, differences, and a Website www.wordwizard.co.nz support for the development of others, based Facebook www.facebook.com/wordwizard on identification of people's strengths and LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/lynnairejohnston development needs and creating Email email@example.com opportunities for growth.
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