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Bruce Holland

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The 10 Commandments of Leadership

Take a minute and think about your managers. Do you see any of the following:

  1. Managers are poor role models of values?

  2. Their people are not growing?

  3. There are too many meetings?

  4. Lack of ideas from grass roots?

  5. Lack of praise from managers? Punishment?

  6. They are poor listeners and learners?

These are all symptoms of poor leadership skills.

To overcome the problem managers need to make the following changes:

  1. Stop managing the work and start managing the workplace

  2. Stop controlling people and start supporting people

  3. Stop telling others what to do and start seeking ideas from them

  4. Stop stifling initiative/ideas and start encouraging initiative/ideas

  5. Reduce horizontal barriers and increase networks and project teams.

Leadership is quite different from management:

1 From reporting lines to supporting lines

Traditional management is about the body and the head. It's about controlling, limiting, organising and directing ... all things people can do on their own. They do it in every other part of their life, so why not at work? Leadership is body, head, heart and soul. It's a move from being on top and telling people what to do ... to being beside, supporting and encouraging, helping them obtain the skills and the resources they require to be far more successful than they thought possible. It's a refocus, from managing the work ... to managing the workplace. The key leadership challenge is to create an environment where people can contribute to their potential.

2 From a book full of rules to a few simple rules

The things that matter for leaders (feedback, vision, information, energy, relationships and identifying talent) are significantly different from what matters to managers. Leaders recognise that trust is the basic fabric of relationships and do everything to ensure that this is preserved and people are treated with respect and dignity. Making this sort of change requires a new mindset and trust.

3 From filling jobs to releasing talent

Traditionally, managers fill jobs. Leaders often see jobs as limiting (putting people into boxes) and disempowering (It's not my job). In leadership selecting for talent is an important responsibility ... identify talent and putting it to work. Leaders know people don't change that much therefore they find out what the person is uniquely suited to do and makes sure they use that talent. They don't waste time trying to build weaknesses, rather they build on strengths that are already there, then they combine those strengths into clusters of people (teams) with the required strength to do work.

4 From control to moving to the sweet spot

Leaders help the organisation move towards the sweet spot. This usually means opening up the organisation, removing barriers, breaking down walls, increasing communications and helping people establish a different mental image about how the organisation could be. Only leaders can do this. It is almost impossible for people at the grass roots to change from a traditional business model to a beanbag business model (see previous Snippets) on their own.

5 From fixing problems to amplifying positive deviants

Managers dig into complicated problems, pick out the worst elements and go after them. Leaders take the opposite approach. They listen and observe to identify positive deviants and support them. They feed them, give them resources and visibility. Most solutions and good ideas already exist somewhere in the organisation. It's the leaders job to find them and use them. They facilitate open, authentic discussion about improvement.

6 From directing to guidance

Leaders spell out each person's journey toward the mission of the organisation. Staff need to understand their destination, the time the manager expects them to arrive at their destination, what awaits them if they don't get there in time, and what landmarks and guideposts to look for along the way. It's up to them to choose which route they want to take to get there, but there should be no doubt about what the leader expects from them. This will save countless hours of backtracking and chasing results. Both parties are in agreement on what has to happen and what will occur if it doesn't happen. When leaders coach staff, they must trust them to find their own answers, once the parameters are set.

7 From solving problems to teaching others how to solve problems

Leaders guide staff the first couple of times. As they do so, they model how to do it for themselves. Leaders are not problem-solving machines. They teach their people that they are expected to do it themselves. Leaders should refuse to get sucked into problems. They don't handhold.

8 From finding fault to endorsing success

Leaders go out of their way to find things to endorse in people. Point out some thing they've done well. Point out positive traits about them. Give them extra attention when they are stretching beyond their comfort zone. Endorse, endorse, endorse. Are they doing good work? Have they effected a great change? Point it out, all of it. Don't respond only when they've made a mistake. Success breeds success. Let them know what is great, and they will do more of it. That's leadership.

9 From attacking people to correcting behaviour

Leaders separate the behaviour from the person. Whenever there has been a mistake they don't wait until next time to do something about it. Leaders make their staff aware of what they know as soon as they know it, even if it seems minor at the time. They know that if they let things add up, they will be resentful when they can't stand it anymore. When they do have to address mistakes and problems, they endorse the person and they correct only the behaviour that needs to be corrected. They keep the person whole, and are very specific about the problem. In this way they find people less defensive, more able to take criticism, and ready to bounce back to full performance more quickly than if they used a personal attack along with pointing out what was done wrong. Leaders always remember that, as coach, they are for their staff, not against them.

10 From having low expectations to high expectations.

Leaders have high expectations of themselves and those they work with. I'm sure you have heard about the studies where two teachers have been allocated children on a random basis, but one told that their kids were geniuses and the other told that their kids were non-achievers. The researchers found that by the end of the year the image that the teacher had of their class was reflected in the exam marks. Leaders do the same every day. They create geniuses because they believe in their people more than the people believe in themselves.

So what do you do if you've got these symptoms or your people are managing but not leading?

Recently we've developed a way to train staff and managers which is producing guaranteed results at a fraction of the cost of most processes.

The breakthrough comes from understanding that one-hit programs nearly always disappoint because changing behaviours (habits) takes at least 16 weeks. Our approach is to have regular short sessions (2 to 3 hour modules) every week, for about 16 weeks for the selected staff and management. To support the sessions there is also readings and exercises in between the weekly modules. The result is that people get something like a 3 months training but the organisation only pays for about one week. And it all happens in your workplace on your problems, a formula that's proven to give the best learning results.

Have a special Christmas


Bruce Holland

Helps large organisations be focussed, fast and flexible. Places where people have more meaning, depth and connection.

Expert in Strategy, Structure, Culture and Leadership Development.

One of NZ's most experienced change agents.

Liberating the Human Spirit at Work

Key words: Leadership, leadership development, leadership management, leadership training, leadership program, leadership skills

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