Monday, December 24, 2012

What kind of Leader are you?!

No this is not a personality profile survey or a test; its a simple question around what kind of Leader are you?

I have always been identified as the type of individual that perhaps works too much, is a night owl and perhaps lives by the postmasters "neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night.." unofficial pledge.

In the day & age of smart phones I can be seen walking down hallways, carrying my coffee, my signature little notebook and hammering away at my BlackBerry (yes I still use one of them). I have been known to review documents, provide for my insight, outline our initiatives for the next year, plan for our new budget cycle & even respond to correspondence when at least half of us earthlings are asleep, usually the ones in the half I happen to be in at the time.

A recent dictum coming out of Leadership learning is that the more you perform in this fashion, i.e. through nights, weekends, holidays & dare I say vacations, you set expectations that people that you lead need to do so as well. This concerns me deeply as I would never want anyone to follow in my footsteps at a detriment to themselves. I am clear about this in my communication and usually preface my e-mail with when I would look for a response in relation to when I would think they would next view my note.

I have been recently thinking however, as I write communications this Christmas Eve morning, how I may be perceived sending across communique either today or tomorrow. I'm not the grinch by any stretch of the imagination, but have been a creature of quiet, when a lot of work does get done. With the hustle & bustle of a day through meetings, conference calls, driving to & fro, etc. I find needing time that I can actually achieve "desk work".

I guess what doesn't help it all is, I love my work. I have always been very frank about my career choices & never have I once taken on an opportunity that I did not find the love for. Life is too short & early on in my career I made a decision that I would love what I did or not do it at all. Sure I have tough days like everyone, but the bottom line is I love what I do, be it in as it turns out currently is healthcare, or education which is a part-time hobby or passionately pushing the agenda on my charitable activities or being an entrepreneur which I have been genetically prepared for.

As I put together all these thoughts of why I do what I do and consider it in-line with how it impacts those I lead, I come down to one fundamental principle, as much as I need to look after the interests of everyone, I need to look after mine as well. I recall the principle in aircraft safety that requires parents to put their oxygen mask on themselves first, before they attend to their child. Fundamentally I always had a problem with this part of the safety presentation, but understood the logic behind it as I grew up. Family, friends & colleagues have similarly shared their thoughts on self-care being needed to serve the needs of my health first, usually to be sleeping through the nights & taking a break through vacation, but the thought still holds. It maybe naive, but self-care in my opinion extends to how I believe I function best rather than being forced into a corporate cube.

So regardless of what kind of leader you are, its fine to work as you see fit. Culturally you need to ensure this fits with what's expected & recognize that as you look to working on your own terms, you need to be able to accommodate the work terms of those you lead. At the same time, it is ok, to be unique, an individual, as you yourself are a crucial cog of your team.

Being a Leader is an actualization of thought & practice. Although there are standards for what we should & should not do as Leaders, your unique flair is what makes you a unique authentic Leader. That above else, will allow you to succeed as a Leader, as the notion of "Be Yourself" can not be any truer than as a Leader. The people you lead need to able to experience your "authentic self" as the textbooks call it these days, not a forced clone of what is perceived to be the right Leader or with the right Leadership qualities.

And with that, Happy Santa Claus day in advance everyone.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Big "HR" Phenomenon vs. The Leadership Social Action - Level 2

I have had the pleasure of working with colleagues from all spectrum's and walks of life, located in an international marketplace. This diversity in thought, ideologies and cultures only furthers my perspective on what I believe is the big "HR" Phenomenon that seems to be spoken of in a variety of capacities & mechanisms.

Too often the notion that our advisers, neigh partners in our Leadership action are hindrances to our continued push for excellence has led to disappointing results in our pursuit for building perhaps even nurturing, a dynamic team. Finger pointing for these failures, be it in recruitment, onboarding, training, development, appraisals, etc. etc. are commonplace and is the traditional mantra chanted in organizations large & small alike.

My call to the Leadership Social Action for Level 2 requires the Leader to take ownership of the individuals they bring to bear within their fold. I propose that the big "HR" Phenomenon needs to be more to the little "hr" support mechanism we truly do require in our quest for excellence. This requires a fundamental shift in how we do a variety of people leadership & yes, even management activities within an organization.

Recruitment: I will be writing about recruitment in greater detail at a later stage, as I do believe we need a new methodology that permeates the various sources of recruit sourcing, "real" interviewing & employee development. In this action however, I believe Leadership within an organization needs to take the reins back in the recruitment process and take a greater ownership from the start to the finish. I do not suggest that we should take to the Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer ( methodology of involving ourselves in every bit of recruitment that occurs within the expanse of the organization, however, those that fall within our immediate purview requires our due attention. Too often we rush through the recruitment process only to regret later that the fit we may have hoped for does not exist. Recruitment is a Leadership accountability and should have due attention from the day a job is listed to the day the multiple levels of screening occurs, to the interview process, to the day a recruit is brought in for onboarding into the organization. In our diverse marketplace, there is talent out there that may not fit within the square peg of a job description, but certainly could be the innovative force or the worker extraordinaire we so desperately seek.

Training & Knowledge Management: Training, professional development & in today's nomenclature of knowledge management from a learning perspective is traditionally seen as a HR function. The more we look to ensuring our staff have the learnings they require, the more they are attuned to the needs we have within our functional & strategic realms. This to me cannot be assured through a central HR function, albeit there are certain global aspects of training & learning that can be managed through that vehicle.

Assessment: Performance reviews and assessments are a Leadership function that are brought forward as a to-do at regular intervals. The mechanisms in how we do this have become a template that cannot be attributed to the function as well as to the individual within the function. To often than not, it is HR that requires Leaders to conduct these assessments rather than ensuring it is a Leadership accountability to provide for continuous relevant feedback to support, both the organization as well as the individual growth within their own spheres of influence.

Reward Mechanisms: Rewards need to be meaningful, timely and substantial. This should not be dictated by central mechanisms but identified as a way of a Leader uniquely recognizing his/her teams and/or individuals in the fashion that best suits them. Certificates for example are used as a common mechanism to recognize individuals, but lose meaning when they are awarded for minuscule tasks that are meant to be part of the role & responsibility of the individual. Reward mechanisms should involve the individuals in selecting how they would like to be recognized and yes, even time off and/or increases in pay need to be considered in shrinking budgetary complements if we are to compete and innovate across industries & sectors. Reward mechanisms could also involve peer recognition as a component of the decision matrix that identifies the nominee of choice.

This blog post is not meant to be a rant on whether or not Human Resources (today popularly also referred to as People Services or a derivative thereof) or Leadership do what they are supposed to, but more of an understanding that we are actually doing our people a disservice by pointing fingers at each other. This debate causes anxiety, stress & at times frustration within staff complements. It is our job to alleviate these challenges but we tend to use each other as crutches nonetheless to further our own defensive posture.

My hope & dream would be for Leaders to continue to be accountable for their own actions, as they alone are responsible for what their teams & staff colleagues experience, while having a dynamic Human Resources advising body that adapts to the unique nature of the function, business, organization, culture and very simply the diverse environments we tend to work in today. That said, the action I am calling for is to have Leaders take it upon themselves to engender this change and perhaps look for mechanisms to change the status quo to one that is ever changing rather than one that remains stagnant at its core indoctrinated in the early 20th century.