Manager gives proper direction to the organization, the communications system and the structure. He ensures that the long term objectives are translated into concrete plans of actions and understood and supported by people working at various levels. These plans are ultimately implemented through the organization structure. Another major responsibility of the manager is a system of communications which enables managers throughout the organization to be aware, and the manager responsible for the systems stay informed of the changes that are taking place.
In today’s challenging times, learning to lead is one of the most important skills.
Leaders are not born, but made in that sense, leadership is something one is honed into. It comes with years of experience gained from working in teams, continuous self-analysis, understanding what one is good at and how good qualities can shine through and rub into inspiring others. Such a model of charismatic leadership is not built in one night. It comes from perseverance and investment in the self.
Developing leadership skills is easier said than done. It is not a matter of two days of classroom training, or watching an inspiring leadership related movie. It comes through practice, practice and practice. Leadership is an experience, or a culmination of learning through a set of experiences. When you actually meet people from all ages and backgrounds, you quickly learn to adapt. In one year, you’re thrown into diverse study groups; it just teaches you how to rally your team.
Learn from observation. Some of the leadership lessons are best learnt from children. Look at children learning new things and that they normally follow a pattern of limitation to start with.
They imitate the actions, language, emotions etc. of the people they come across on a daily basis; the initial level of following others’ actions would continue till a point where they start discovering their own thought process, character and behaviour. Potential leaders can use the learning pattern of children to start their leadership journey by following the action manuals of other recognized leaders.
Individuals and organizations alike can build leadership over a sustained period of time. Leadership training for a couple of days in isolation does not work. Organizations should have a demarcating structure of the various stages of leadership. As the level increases, the requirements change and training contents should vary accordingly. Follow up by senior managers should be built in.
To develop leadership skills, it is important to first recognize and understand what these leadership skills essentially consist of. The term leadership has been very loosely used in varying contexts. Fundamentally, a leader is someone who leads, who influences others and inspires them.
A well-crafted, appreciated and supported mission is at the heart of a manager who may also be a leader of leaders and it may reflect his own current assessment of where the firm should go or he may continue to carry out the long term plans established by his predecessor. There is the shining example of Azim Hashim Premiji who turned the small time oil mill – Western India Vegetable Products Ltd into a software powerhouse by dreaming big and translating his ideas into concrete actions plans – all within a short span of 35 years. When every pharmaceutical company worth the name was focusing attention on formulations, generics and bulk drugs, Dr Anji Reddy visualized the threats in the post patent regime after 2005 early concentrated on original research and is celebrating now as the new molecules in the R&D pipeline of Dr Reddy’s labs are being rewarded in world markets.
Pragmatism is the ability to make things happen and achieve positive results. This can happen only when leaders utilize resources in an efficient and effective way. The new CEO of TVS had quickly beefed up the company’s design, engineering and product development skills. He delegated a lot of authority to his team of professionals who ultimately gave a winning product (TVS Victor). Instead of selling the stake in the company to Suzuki when the offer came he initiated a series of cost effective measures using native skills and capabilities and finally brought the company back on trail.
A visionary strategic leader, as an agent of change, should lay down the rules of the game in concrete terms and resolve all contentious issues in a proper way.
Both formal and informal networks should be used by the leader to inform people about priorities and strategies and ensure that these are implemented expeditiously. Lateral communication should be encouraged, in addition to upward and downward communication channel, between various departments and divisions so that managers learn from other parts of business and profit from each other’s best practices. The strategic leader must champion the relationships between the company and its major stakeholders.
Culture is a system of shared values and beliefs that produces norms of behaviour. Values (what is important) and beliefs (how things work) interact to cause norms (how we should do things). Culture gives people a sense of how to behave and what they ought to be doing. Culture, thus, shared assumption about practices, beliefs and traditions governing behaviour. A strategic leader can influence the culture of a company significantly. Thus, the beliefs and values of a leader have a strong bearing on how employees behave and react to situations on a daily basis (of course, these generalizations may not always hold good).