Home' HR Monthly : November 2016 Contents 6
IN COMMAND AND CONTROL LEADERSHIP, THE BOSS
could insist on a series of unnatural moves if they felt that was the
right way to go. When asked to jump, our only response at that time
was instructed to be, "How high?".
With the opening up of world trade, technological advancements,
the growth of multinationals, labour migration to better opportunity
lands, and greater and more complex risk management -- command
and control leadership began to become the dinosaur it is today.
Albeit, a dinosaur that is holding on grimly in many places.
As well as understanding the new global digital environment, there
are new leadership mindsets that are becoming inexorable.
Top US psychologist, writer and thinker Marcus Buckingham also
believes we have moved beyond organisational norms and inflexible
processes to the importance of team leaders who understand the
strengths of their people, what they are doing, and how they are
feeling about that. Marcus believes it's HR's role to go beyond big
data, and retrieve real-time, reliable data that enables seamless steps to
be taken for the best ways to do the work.
The primacy of 'teaming' as a major leadership mindset is here to
stay because of the ways our world of work has changed. Teaming
happens everywhere now, and connections constantly need to be made
where work is complex and unpredictable. New team leaders know
they need to rely on the group around them.
There are a number of approaches to successful leadership through
positive teaming. A leader's challenge is to describe reality, frame the
challenge and bring hope into the team. During the 2010 Chilean
mining disaster, Chilean President Manuel Pinera joined the search
on site and established an objective for the mission: "Bring these
men out." Three plans were developed, despite international wisdom
that the case was hopeless; only one proved viable. The miners were
contacted after 17 days and brought to the surface after 70 days of
rescue efforts, which involved a global team of NASA physicists and
engineers, and top international mining experts.
In this and other complex projects, good leaders encourage
psychological safety and intelligent failure among colleagues. As
Einstein pointed out, innovation does not occur by doing things the
same way we always have.
Key aspects for encouraging intelligent failures are as follows:
the opportunity should be significant; the outcome -- of whatever
nature -- will be informative; cost and scope are relatively small; key
assumptions can be expressly articulated; a sound plan can be built to
test the assumptions; and risks of failing are understood and mitigated
to the greatest extent possible.
Further, when there is a failure, the key is not to shoot the
messenger, but to embrace and encourage them to reveal what they
have learnt so that the whole team can reshape the work for the next
test. Witholding critical information because of fear only maximises
the chance of failure repeating itself.
In an interview with 2006 Australian of the Year and Director of
the WA Burns Service at the Royal Perth Hospital, Fiona Wood, I
asked about the main source of fear in her workplace. She replied:
"It's the death of a patient. When that happens, we
must immediately meet as a team to understand
the full learnings for two reasons: to avoid
a recurrence as far as possible, but also to
support the supervising surgeon, who will be
experiencing their own grieving."
Marcus Buckingham summarises the nine
characteristics of a modern team leader as
someone who is: adviser, connector, creator,
equaliser, influencer, pioneer, teacher,
stimulator, provider. Traditional
approaches cannot guarentee
success. HR's role is to encourage
leaders to think about "being the
best at getting better."
Amy Novartis says top teams led
well do the following: "Aim high;
team up; fail well; learn fast; and
repeat with courage".
Do all of that, and success is
more likely to follow.
Old habits die hard in leadership practice.
But transparency around failure is changing leadership for the better.
BY PETER WILSON AM FCPHR
To read past Perspective columns by
Peter Wilson, visit bit.ly/hrmonline
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