Leadership Studies: Reflection
Leadership Is A Conversation
The takeaway from this article is that the advancement in communication and social technology has made the traditional hierarchy in leadership untenable. The leaders in modern companies have to engage their employees if they are to succeed in their roles. This is done with the understanding that even junior employees have plausible ideas regarding how the operations, processes, and performance of an organization can be improved. The corporate communication approach that was used in the past no longer works, as it makes the employees in the lower rankings feel excluded (Groysberg & Slind, 2012). Furthermore, the traditional control that executives used to have over the communication in corporations has been stripped off by modern technology. Engaging the employees in a conversation, therefore, is a survival tactic for business leaders.
Some of the pointers that have been given on generating a conversation between the leaders and employees in an organization include intimacy, interactivity, inclusion, and intentionality. The employees might not be willing to communicate freely with the leadership, which requires the leader to bring them closer and generate trust through intimacy. This is exercised figuratively and literally. Interactivity is the aspect of communication that encourages a back and forth exchange of information between the leaders and the employees. Face-to-face interaction is recommended, and video conferencing might work in contexts where it is impossible for them to meet physically (Groysberg & Slind, 2012). Inclusion entails involving the employees in the creation of organization content and the leaders relinquishing the control they have over the content. The employees are encouraged to participate in telling the story of the organization to the outside world and act as brand ambassadors and thought leaders for the organization (Groysberg & Slind, 2012). intentionality is the point that I find most interesting. The first three components of organizational conversation are offering the employees and leaders too much leeway to converse such that objectivity might be lost in the noise. Intentionality plays the role of ensuring that the conversation taking place is productive and beneficial for all the parties concerned.
In relation to my professional experience, I have only had an organizational conversations with the executive of a company I used to work or via video conferencing. Since this was new to me, I was not that involved and kept most of my opinions to myself. I also suspect my colleagues did the same. This could be due to having gotten used to the conventional leadership models where the opinion of the leaders goes unchallenged. I have now understood what that executive was trying to achieve and will apply the same in my capacity as an engineering leader. I also think that the executive had not succeeded in winning the trust of the employees before embarking on the organizational conversation.
In Praise of The Incomplete Leader
The main takeaway from this article is that a complete leader needs to embody four qualities. These qualities include sensemaking, relating, visioning and inventiveness. However, it is not possible for a leader to have all these qualities. This leads to the conclusion that a complete leader is a myth. Therefore, any leader that claims to be complete is not honest (Ancona, Malone, Orlikowski & Senge, 2007). The most effective leaders are often endowed with just one or two of the mentioned qualities. They then consult others to achieve the capabilities that they lack and, in this way, contribute to the growth of their organizations. Such leaders are cognizant of the elements of leadership that they lack. They accept that they are incomplete leaders and, in the process, achieve great things for their company. Any leader claiming to have all the capabilities is a fraud and often plagued by exhaustion which endangers his/her organization.
The specific statement that I found most meaningful in the article was the assertion that without the capability of inventing, having the rest of the other capabilities amounts to naught. Having the other capabilities will make one an effective leader within the organization. However, the ability to invent is the one that leads to actionable developments in the organization (Ancona, Malone, Orlikowski & Senge, 2007). The creation of new ways to implement the vision of the organization makes the company more productive while using fewer resources. The results of the inventiveness are the ones that get noticed by external entities such as customers and competitors. A leader should carry out an audit of the strengths that he or she possesses. This helps the leader to realize the capabilities that need to be delegated to other persons that have proven themselves in the organization.
Personally, I have always thought it necessary for the leader to embody all the characteristics of an effective leader. This reading has made me realize that failure to embody one or two of the chief traits of a complete leader need not disqualify one as a good leader. The key here is for one to identify his or her strength among the four capabilities mentioned in the article and then sharpen those capabilities while being on the lookout for people to delegate the other capabilities too. In engineering, the capabilities mentioned are essential for a leader. An effective engineering leader needs to have insights regarding the latest developments in the sector. He also needs to be visionary and inventive enough to adapt properly to the dynamic modern market.
Lead Like the Great Conductors
In this video, Itay Talgam describes the various characters of music conductors as they directed their orchestras. The first example given is that of a happy music conductor who encourages even the audience to participate in the music by clapping. The second example is of a controlling conductor whose backstory is that the musicians he directed did not like him much. The third example is of a relaxed conductor who reminds the musicians that they still have to play by the book (TED, 2009). The fourth example of a conductor is the most interesting. He conducts with his eyes closed and the gestures are not clear enough for the musicians (TED, 2009). Talgam explains that the conductor used to perform that way in order to encourage the musicians to listen to each other and come up with perfect music. These examples of approaches in conducting music can be adopted by business leaders.
The most interesting statement in the video is when Talgam states that the music in the orchestra is a combination of all the stories of the people present. These include the conductor himself, the musicians, and the audience. An organization, in the same breath, can be considered as a representation of the dreams and aspirations of the employees, the management, and the rest of the stakeholders. From personal experience, I have never thought about leadership and outcomes of the company using the perspective of a music conductor. That makes this video very illuminating. This video is very relevant to an engineering leader. The final product or outcome is a result of the collaboration of numerous specialists from the idea, design, and implementation stages. These specialists can be likened to the various members of the orchestra with the leader as the conductor.
Ancona, D., Malone, T. W., Orlikowski, W. J., & Senge, P. M. (2007, 02). In Praise Of The Incomplete Leader. Harvard Business Review, 85, 92-100.
Groysberg, B., & Slind, M. (2012, 06). Leadership is a conversation. Harvard Business Review, 90
TED. (2009). Itay Talgam: Lead like the great conductors [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9g3Q-qvtss