Are You a Leader or Just Another Boss?

By Jud Ely, Member, Executive Leadership Alliance International

The book, “Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders” written by Rajeev Peshawaria, a leadership development expert, who had senior HR Training and Development roles at American Express, Coca-Cola, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, provides a systemic roadmap and framework to execute effective leadership within an organization.

The following provides synopses of some of the book’s key points:

A leadership void exists in many organizations because many people underestimate the task of leading. They accept leadership positions without fully understanding what is involved, and without asking themselves if leadership is for them. Leadership is hard and leaders must overcome significant obstacles, and succeed in spite of their environment, not because of it. Furthermore, there is no guaranteed reward at the end. Leadership is all about energy, finding your personal sources of it and then mobilizing the energy of others.

You need to first Energize yourself. So the first step is to make sure that you even want to be a leader, and why. You can do this by defining your purpose and values. Rajeev has six questions that you need to answer to help you do that. The questions relate to what are the most important things to you, what results do you want to create, how do you want people to experience you and what values will guide your behavior. Your defined purpose and values comprise the foundation for leadership. Then you can start energizing others one individual at a time.

Enlist co-leaders (the core team). Most managers ask themselves what they can do differently to motivate and energize others on their team. He proposes that you turn that question upside down and ask not what you can do, but what they want. While every person is motivated differently, most have expectations that fit neatly into three buckets; Role, Environment and Development or (RED). The three fundamental questions that everyone has are: What is my Role? What is my work Environment? What are the prospects for growth and Development? Energizing another individual is finding out their preferences and trying to match their work as closely as possible with those preferences.

Galvanize your Organization. As individuals transition to leadership positions, they need to focus less on doing and more on facilitating. It is less about creating the results yourself, and more about creating conditions in which others can create successful results. Though in my experience, this is not always possible in smaller organizations where resources are scarce and doing is part of your role. A delicate balance needs to be struck and a focus on leaders facilitating others efforts cannot be overemphasized in any size organization.

The second change is a shift in personal orientation from “I” to “We”. Your job is to make others successful – hard work in itself, but you might not get credit for it at all. This is where clarity about your purpose and values helps in deciding if you want to (and can) make this transition successfully.

He argues that the following three leadership activities provide the most leverage to an organization:

1. Setting direction (the BRAINS of your business) as measured by a clear and compelling vision that can be articulated by everyone in the organization. Recognizing core capabilities with a differentiated strategy that gives the organization a competitive edge.

2. Designing the organization (the BONES of your business) by having in place the highest quality talent with the right skills and experience in all key jobs. Supporting systems and structures that encourage desired performance. Roles, responsibilities and authority rights are defined as clearly as possible, people and resources are deployed to best support the execution of the strategy, and formal organizational structure enables building and strengthening of core differentiating capabilities.

3. Creating a culture of excellence (the NERVES of your business) by having a well-defined cultural philosophy (who we are and what we stand for) that is well understood by everyone and having compensation and rewards practices that encourage desired behaviors that reinforce and are in alignment with that philosophy. Through their actions, leadership proactively creates a culture of collaboration, teamwork, listening, learning and constant renewal, while maintaining a balance focus on short-term success and longer term capability building.

Review Conclusion

Though I feel that this book is more focused on and geared to enterprise leadership in larger organizations, I feel Rajeev Peshawaria has laid out a great framework of leadership principles that can be applied in varying degrees to any size organization. The key points that resonate with me are:

• A track record of superior individual performance does not necessarily translate to leadership success (we have all had bosses like this).
• Effective leadership is hard, requires a tremendous amount of energy and is not for everyone.
• I applaud his emphasis on leaders and organizations defining their purpose, values, and desired results and taking consistent behavioral actions that support and achieve them.
• His Role, Environment and Development (RED) questions provide a great methodology to understand individual expectations in an effort to determine what motivates them and to help enlist co-leaders.
• A leader’s focus on the organization’s Brains, Bones and Nerves (his analogies) and the emphasis on facilitating other’s efforts are in my opinion critical to leadership effectiveness and organizational success.

I highly recommend this book and consider it a must read for anyone interested in better understanding and executing the difficult art of leadership in any organization!!

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