Thursday, November 14, 2013

Leadership Module 2 - Process - Driven Leadersip - Ace Dezines

Taking off from where we stopped last time, we discussed the various professional attributes that needed to be addressed. It turned out that of the lot we identified the following as the top 6 attributes to develop - all of them leading to improved performance from the team.

1) Professionalism  - The quantum and quality of delivery, always delivering ahead or on promised deliverables.

2) Clarity (Of job, knowledge, of subject etc) - Knowing enough about the job to form a vision, the strategy and tactics that helps the team move forward in a clear direction.

3) Planning - A function of the above, all details looked into and plans been made, leader is one step ahead of the rest

4) Decision making - Again a function of both clarity and planning, and information seeking, decisions  based on sound information, judgment and aligned with the guiding principles

5) Man Management - A motivated team full of energy and synergy, everyone on board

6) Communication - As having every one on the same page at any given point of time

The project leads were asked to rate themselves on the above in the true sense of the words. The areas of discomfort in each of the above were identified and the methods of mitigating the same discussed.

We then looked at the 3 types of leaders. We discussed the 2nd level of leadership (the 1st being untrained and unprepared leaders)  - 'process driven leadership'. It is a simple common sense method of leading and should certainly yield positive results and deal with many small leadership glitches.

Following the process does not require an extraordinary personality. It only requires preparation before assigning goals, roles and targets.

Process-Driven Leadership

1) Goal clarity – Why are you here as a leader? What do you want to achieve as a leader? It is important for the leader to have goal clarity - about what he/she wishes to achieve and how. As the leader he/she sets the goals, the framework, for his team and they will follow it. Goal clarity requires a clear understanding of the system, the effort required.

To do: The leader must be clear about the goal and communicate the goal clearly to the team at the earliest – probably in the first meeting itself. It is probably the most important part of the process because all thought and action will be driven towards it. It is also the one thing that can hold the team’s energies together.

2) Role clarity – Who does what? Who reports to whom? Where does each one’s role end and where does it begin? It is important to specify roles so people don’t step on each other’s roles.

To do: The leader must mention clearly the role of each person, and what is expected of him/her in that role. Assigning roles requires the leader to know team members and their capabilities well and to understand what makes them tick and what does not.

3) Target setting – What to expect from each one? By themselves team members wait for instructions. Rarely do team members find it in themselves to motivate themselves and do extra work. Hence it is the leader’s job to push them or create an environment where they work by creating targets. Leader should know what members are capable of and degree of difficulty of assignment before assigning targets.

To do: The leader should know what a good target is for each team member. The target should stretch the team gradually but it should be achievable. The targets should challenge and motivate, not discourage and demotivate.

4) Providing inputs – Training, hardware, software and other inputs to be provided if the team is not fully equipped. The leader must know what inputs are required and ensure that they are provided. This also requires process inputs that aid a better understanding for the employee.

To do: Understand the job and degree of difficulty in the job and equip team fully before they get to work.

5) Communication  - Leader must communicate clearly what is expected from the team and get their assent and buy in.

To do: To communicate clearly what is expected, what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable, what will be tolerated and what will not be tolerated, what is the reward and the punishment. Also to communicate the extent of support one would get and in what areas. Keep all doors of communication open.

6) Performance appraisal – Appraise the team’s/individual’s performance periodically and take corrective action. Here it is important for the leader to be sympathetic to honest efforts and at the same time set corrective action for dishonest or low performers who are not putting in effort.

To do: Look for those who are compromising the team effort and those who are helping its cause. Understand the reasons why and take action accordingly. It’s either a competence issue or an attitude issue so deal with it. However always be clear about the outcome so it guides the process.

 It is obvious that Process-Driven Leadership asks the leader to prepare well in advance. It is also about knowing and setting the framework for the team, putting the rules in play, the processes in play and showing that leadership comes with responsibility. Having established the first principles of why the team exists, what the leader's expectations are, what individual roles and targets are, what the processes are and having ascertained that the same have been communicated is most of the job done. But having done this work, a leader will command respect by the fact that he or she is clear about the principles, about responsibilities and has thought further than most. The input providing part is where the leader shows his / her concern for the growth of his / her team member.
Until the next class.

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