Volume 1 / Issue 3 / April 25, 2016
UK’s Inspirational Magic Monday Insights
Part of getting the Consortia movement started circa 1990, was to take interest in the best thinking of our competitors where we found them. During the early ‘80’s, Ontario stimulus money from the ’81 - ‘82 recessions gave us a glimpse of what was going on in Japan. At the time, they were the only game in town. They were doing lean alright, but that name never existed until 1990. Nevertheless, early Canadian & US adopters did get started as ideas poured from the Agility Forum, Industry Week Bench-marking, LEI, and from each other. Best of all, the Consortia movement started and a huge amount was learned – and FAST – by the practitioner-to-practitioner exchanges. The Weekly Update started it off for us circa 1993.
Well, that gave us an appreciation of what World Class looked like, and how we could add the right elements into our visions. But recognizing it and translating it into one’s operations was a huge challenge because of command-and-control-management as well as the differences in the approaches among companies across Canada, US, Australia, UK, and Europe. In the UK, Neil Crofts started listening to UK manufacturers when they thought – “It would be a good idea if everyone stopped to think about what they were going to do with their week on a Monday morning.” Neil grabbed it and started writing an email every Monday and sending it to some friends.
This was the beginning of Neil’s “Magic Monday Blog” which is now read by thousands of people every week. If you would like to join them and start your week with inspiration check out http://www.neilcrofts.com
ATJ would like you to share with us the sources you turn to for valuable insights. One ardent ATJ reader did just that by sending us his impressions of Neil Croft’s Magic Monday blog. He came across Neil Crofts blog after constantly casting around to find the ‘right way’ to suit different people in his operations.
He writes, “I was drawn to this one [blog entry] in particular because of what I have seen in many organizations across North America. And that is a misunderstanding of what Leadership is. Although we may have our own thoughts on what leadership is, Neil makes us step back and evaluate ourselves.” Here is the particular blog entry that impacted our reader:
The Magic Monday Subject for March 9th, 2016
What is leadership?
“OK, I know this sounds like the most prosaic of questions, but it is also deeply misunderstood. So, let’s try to clarify a little of what leadership is and what it is not.
1. A leader must have followers
Without followers a leader is simply a lone voice. As in the excellent Derek Sivers video, a leader nurtures followers, empowering and enabling them to be as effective in their own ways as they can be, in service of the agreed cause.
2. Leadership is a choice not an appointment
Leadership is a big commitment, just being appointed to a leadership position is not enough. To become a leader, you have to make the choice to lead and you have to learn to lead yourself, before you can lead others. For example, a leader has the self-discipline and the wisdom to make the right choices in the moment regardless of their own emotional state.
3. Leadership is an art and a skill not a process
Any great leaders you have ever come across have worked at it. They will have identified areas for self-improvement and worked on them. As Bruce Lee said “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” By practicing their actions and reactions leaders can free up mental bandwidth for other activities like reading people and situations better.
4. Leaders enable people to do more
Leaders want the most efficient and effective way to realize the cause. They know that to find that reliably they need the maximum contribution and collaboration. Leaders constantly coach, inspire and engage to bring out the best in everyone.
5. Leadership is a service
A leader’s first responsibility is to their followers; the organization is served by the followers being at their best. The individual leader benefits as a byproduct of the success of the team and the organization.
6. Leadership is change, change is leadership
Change is part of the distinction between managers and leaders. Managers are looking for changes to process, leaders are looking for processes to change. If leadership is happening, then things are changing.
7. Leaders lead culture not performance
Whatever results an organization achieves – positive or negative, intended or unintended – are accomplished by through the culture. It follows that to get the intended results an organization must have an appropriate culture. It is the role of leaders to create and curate the appropriate culture for the intended results.
And what it is not:
1. Leadership is not about control, obedience or fear
Many of our role models of leadership, since school, have been “controllers”. Controllers do not get the best out of people, they impose their own ideas of what is right on people and leave them feeling insecure. No one performs at their best when feeling insecure.
2. Leadership is not management
Words are important and these two words are often used interchangeably. They mean quite different things and need to be used intentionally. We are all likely to both lead and manage in different circumstances, we might do both in a single day. In this context managing is about engaging people with tasks or processes and ensuring they are done effectively. Leadership is about aligning people to change and helping them to go through it effectively.
3. A leader does not have to be the author of cause, code or strategy
Many potential leaders get lost because they feel they need to know the answers to important questions like what cause are we hear to pursue, what code of behavior do we need to follow and what is our strategy. In truth the role of the leader is to ensure that those questions are answered satisfactorily and to be the most powerful embodiment of those answers, but the answers could come from the team, from other leaders or from the past.
4. A leader does not prioritize conformity over effectiveness
Homogenous teams are able to become effective more quickly, but diverse teams are able to be more effective, precisely because they have a broader perspective. The most effective teams marry psychological safety with diverse backgrounds and opinions and robust debate. The most effective leaders are able to quickly harness diversity and creative tension into effectiveness.
5. Leadership is not hierarchical
Another common misunderstanding is that leadership is hierarchical. Leadership is an activity not a role and it can be practiced in any direction. It is perfectly possible and often desirable to lead upwards and sideways, the same principles apply, although the approach may differ according to the audience.
6. Leadership is not lonely it’s a team sport
Another common misunderstanding about leadership is “the loneliness of leadership” I would go as far as to say, if it feels lonely you are doing it wrong. Leadership is, by definition a team sport. Yes, the responsibility ultimately lies with the leader and there will be conversations and decisions that the leader has to take, but a leader’s default should be to share with the team and they should always have support structures, coaches and mentors who can help in the situations where it is not appropriate to involve team members.
It is also worth bearing in mind that leaders are frequently considered to be disruptive in organizations – because they are. If you are considered disruptive, it may be because you have leadership tendencies, your opportunity lies in investing in that potential, studying and practicing so that you can realize it.
From the other side, perhaps you have people in your organization who are considered disruptive. Perhaps now is the time to re-evaluate them and perhaps even invest in them as the future of your organization.
Our thanks go to Neil Crofts for enabling us to share this with you. You can subscribe to his blog for free at www.neilcrofts.com. By googling his name, you will be flooded with many indicators of the impact he has had.
He co-founded Holos which has studied change leadership and leadership training in the crucible of reality for years.
You might be interested in the diagnostic tools Holos has developed to guide companies and teams on their journey to sustained success.