Page 1

“What does it mean to be a leader? How can one develop one’s group? How should one conduct an emotionally challenging conversation?” Taking the Lead addresses the most important issues that a new or newly appointed manager or leader needs to know about and learn. Theory is interspersed with inspirational examples taken from real cases. The book also features exercises as well as interviews with people in leading roles, head-hunters and hr professionals, who talk about their experience of the demands made on leaders these days and the leadership techniques they consider most effective. Taking the Lead is intended for those who have been offered a management position, for those who are new in such a position or who wish to learn more about what it means to take on a managerial or leading role. The book should also prove useful to leaders who have no executive mandate, such as project and process managers.

Eva Norrman Brandt has many years’ experience as management consultant, executive development specialist and psychotherapist. Today, Eva is linked to Implement mp ab – a management consultancy that focuses primarily on change-management support.

Practical and Mental Strategies for New Managers

ISBN 9789152326510

ISBN 978-91-523-2651-0

(523-2651-0)

9 789152 326510

90000 >


Sanoma Utbildning Mailing address: Box 30091, 104 25 Stockholm Visiting address: Alströmergatan 12, Stockholm Website: www.sanomautbildning.se E-mail: info@sanomautbildning.se

Taking the lead Practical and Mental Strategies for New Managers

Order/Information about educational materials Tel. +46 (0) 8-587 642 00 Fax. +46 (0) 8-587 642 02 Editor/Project manager: Kristoffer Edshage Graphics: Anna Markevärn Illustrations: Anne-li Karlsson Translation: Jeremy Lamb/Translingua Taking the Lead isbn 978-91-523-2651-0 © 2014 Eva Norrman Brandt & Sanoma Utbildning AB, Stockholm First Edition First Printing Copyright This work is under copyright protection. Copying without a teacher’s authorization to copy for educational purposes according to the Bonus-Presskopia agreement is prohibited. This type of agreement is signed between copyright organizations and representatives of educational providers, e.g., cities/universities. For information about this agreement, please refer to the educational provider representative or Bonus-Presskopia. Anyone who commits a copyright infringement may be prosecuted in a court of law and sentenced to a fine or imprisonment for up to two years, as well as be obliged to reimburse the author/copyright holder. Printed in Latvia by Livonia Print Riga 2014

Eva Norrman Brandt


Sanoma Utbildning Mailing address: Box 30091, 104 25 Stockholm Visiting address: Alströmergatan 12, Stockholm Website: www.sanomautbildning.se E-mail: info@sanomautbildning.se

Taking the lead Practical and Mental Strategies for New Managers

Order/Information about educational materials Tel. +46 (0) 8-587 642 00 Fax. +46 (0) 8-587 642 02 Editor/Project manager: Kristoffer Edshage Graphics: Anna Markevärn Illustrations: Anne-li Karlsson Translation: Jeremy Lamb/Translingua Taking the Lead isbn 978-91-523-2651-0 © 2014 Eva Norrman Brandt & Sanoma Utbildning AB, Stockholm First Edition First Printing Copyright This work is under copyright protection. Copying without a teacher’s authorization to copy for educational purposes according to the Bonus-Presskopia agreement is prohibited. This type of agreement is signed between copyright organizations and representatives of educational providers, e.g., cities/universities. For information about this agreement, please refer to the educational provider representative or Bonus-Presskopia. Anyone who commits a copyright infringement may be prosecuted in a court of law and sentenced to a fine or imprisonment for up to two years, as well as be obliged to reimburse the author/copyright holder. Printed in Latvia by Livonia Print Riga 2014

Eva Norrman Brandt


contents Introduction 7 Leadership

1. Qualities and self-awareness 2. The job 3. Theories and models 4. Leaders without executive authority

13 27 37 51

The group

5. Group composition 6. Effective groups 7. Group development 8. The management group

63 69 85 101

Communication

9. The basics of communication 10. The role of conversation in leadership 11. Feedback

109 125 147

Taking command

12. Change 13. Conflicts 14. Sustainable leadership

163 181 199

Exercises 212 Bibliography 229


contents Introduction 7 Leadership

1. Qualities and self-awareness 2. The job 3. Theories and models 4. Leaders without executive authority

13 27 37 51

The group

5. Group composition 6. Effective groups 7. Group development 8. The management group

63 69 85 101

Communication

9. The basics of communication 10. The role of conversation in leadership 11. Feedback

109 125 147

Taking command

12. Change 13. Conflicts 14. Sustainable leadership

163 181 199

Exercises 212 Bibliography 229


Introduction This English translation appears two years after the publication of the Swedish original, entitled Ny chef. During the interim, the book was selected as ‘HR Book of the Year 2012’ by the Swedish magazine Personal och ledarskap (Personnel and Leadership) and Sveriges HR-förening (The Swedish Association of Human Resources Management). Most importantly, many Swedish managers and leaders have found time to read the book! The need to be able to read it in English arose in conjunction with a management training course that featured participants from several countries. The justification for actually translating this book was the fact that a book that so clearly addressed the ‘softer’ aspects of leadership appeared to be lacking in the general corpus of English-language management literature. And here it is – hopefully offering some pleasure to a few more readers! But why write yet another book about leadership? There are many books about leadership, but not so many addressed to new leaders. As a new boss and leader, one is required to handle new professional responsibilities for which one seldom has any specialist training. Often, one may have qualified as an economist, engineer, lawyer or in some other professional sphere. But executive and leadership training tends to be lacking at universities and, although various forms of leadership courses are available, most people who find themselves in a leading role for the first time are confronted by a novel and demanding situation. This book is written as support for senior executives and leaders in their dayto-day activities. It is intended to provide inspiration: you should be able to recognize yourself in the interviews found in the book, to find practical tools for dealing with some of the countless challenges that come with a leading role. I wrote Chefspraktikan (Manager’s Handbook) in 2006, since when a lot has happened in the work environment. The pace of change is more rapid, globalization (with all its consequences) is increasingly manifest and the number of leading roles with no direct line-management responsibility is on the rise. The complexity of working life is greater; collaboration with customers, colleagues and partners makes demands on new competencies and creates new professional roles. A holistic perspective and the need to embrace a context that goes beyond one’s immediate environment are crucial in many jobs. Also, the ability to resolve problems in partnership with others is decisive to maintaining profitability and an ability to compete.

7


Introduction This English translation appears two years after the publication of the Swedish original, entitled Ny chef. During the interim, the book was selected as ‘HR Book of the Year 2012’ by the Swedish magazine Personal och ledarskap (Personnel and Leadership) and Sveriges HR-förening (The Swedish Association of Human Resources Management). Most importantly, many Swedish managers and leaders have found time to read the book! The need to be able to read it in English arose in conjunction with a management training course that featured participants from several countries. The justification for actually translating this book was the fact that a book that so clearly addressed the ‘softer’ aspects of leadership appeared to be lacking in the general corpus of English-language management literature. And here it is – hopefully offering some pleasure to a few more readers! But why write yet another book about leadership? There are many books about leadership, but not so many addressed to new leaders. As a new boss and leader, one is required to handle new professional responsibilities for which one seldom has any specialist training. Often, one may have qualified as an economist, engineer, lawyer or in some other professional sphere. But executive and leadership training tends to be lacking at universities and, although various forms of leadership courses are available, most people who find themselves in a leading role for the first time are confronted by a novel and demanding situation. This book is written as support for senior executives and leaders in their dayto-day activities. It is intended to provide inspiration: you should be able to recognize yourself in the interviews found in the book, to find practical tools for dealing with some of the countless challenges that come with a leading role. I wrote Chefspraktikan (Manager’s Handbook) in 2006, since when a lot has happened in the work environment. The pace of change is more rapid, globalization (with all its consequences) is increasingly manifest and the number of leading roles with no direct line-management responsibility is on the rise. The complexity of working life is greater; collaboration with customers, colleagues and partners makes demands on new competencies and creates new professional roles. A holistic perspective and the need to embrace a context that goes beyond one’s immediate environment are crucial in many jobs. Also, the ability to resolve problems in partnership with others is decisive to maintaining profitability and an ability to compete.

7


In my work as a management consultant and sounding board for leaders, I have seen up close the need for new competencies and approaches to the job in a new organizational structure where hierarchical decision-making routines are too slow, where agile working methods featuring self-supervising teams are increasingly common and where experts, senior management and product owners acquire new roles. My intention is that the book should highlight these changes and describe tools and models appropriate to these new conditions. The book is written in a straightforward and pragmatic way – from one practitioner to another. This does not mean that this book is simply an expression of my own generalized opinions. It is based on generally accepted theories within the fields of organizational psychology, systems theory and, last but not least, my own background as a sociologist and registered psychotherapist in the field of psychodynamics. One consequence is that I see a person as possessed of both conscious and subconscious emotions. As I see it, we will always be governed by our feelings, both those we are fully conscious of and those of which we are not completely aware. As a leader, it is important to learn to know yourself and the feelings that govern your actions, given the fact that your role has a clear impact on others. The power conferred by a leading role must be handled with care. For a leader, self-awareness is an essential part of the puzzle. I allow myself to express a number of opinions in the book – these are entirely my own and will, I’m sure, arouse irritation as well as approval. Having worked all my professional life with people and seen how they affect each other at work and in their private lives, I notice how I have adopted certain positions on some issues. In expressing myself openly, I trust this may lead to reflection and discussion. I hope this book will be of use to those who read it on their own, but also in a training context. I wish you a pleasant and useful read! Stockholm, March 2014 Eva Norrman Brandt

8


In my work as a management consultant and sounding board for leaders, I have seen up close the need for new competencies and approaches to the job in a new organizational structure where hierarchical decision-making routines are too slow, where agile working methods featuring self-supervising teams are increasingly common and where experts, senior management and product owners acquire new roles. My intention is that the book should highlight these changes and describe tools and models appropriate to these new conditions. The book is written in a straightforward and pragmatic way – from one practitioner to another. This does not mean that this book is simply an expression of my own generalized opinions. It is based on generally accepted theories within the fields of organizational psychology, systems theory and, last but not least, my own background as a sociologist and registered psychotherapist in the field of psychodynamics. One consequence is that I see a person as possessed of both conscious and subconscious emotions. As I see it, we will always be governed by our feelings, both those we are fully conscious of and those of which we are not completely aware. As a leader, it is important to learn to know yourself and the feelings that govern your actions, given the fact that your role has a clear impact on others. The power conferred by a leading role must be handled with care. For a leader, self-awareness is an essential part of the puzzle. I allow myself to express a number of opinions in the book – these are entirely my own and will, I’m sure, arouse irritation as well as approval. Having worked all my professional life with people and seen how they affect each other at work and in their private lives, I notice how I have adopted certain positions on some issues. In expressing myself openly, I trust this may lead to reflection and discussion. I hope this book will be of use to those who read it on their own, but also in a training context. I wish you a pleasant and useful read! Stockholm, March 2014 Eva Norrman Brandt

8


LEADERSHIP


LEADERSHIP


“Becoming a leader involves fairly radical change. You will grow as an individual and the process will take you to new places, both on the inner and outer plane.”

1 Qualities and self-awareness

Essential qualities In every era and society, humanity has always needed its leaders. If formal leadership is lacking, an informal equivalent will often arise to take its place – someone will be assigned or will adopt the role of leader. Leadership can take several forms. Many of the leading positions in today’s organizations cannot be narrowly defined by the terms ‘manager’ or ‘employer’. Consequently, forms of leadership may differ considerably, though all share factors in common: »» A vision that appeals – and clearly defined goals for its achievement. »» An understanding of how the vision can be realized, so that people are eager and willing to participate. »» An ability to make those who are to take part feel appreciated, needed and involved. The above qualities are essential if you are to motivate others to share in a special effort, carry out an assignment or conduct a project. I like to compare this process to the challenge of scaling a mountain. To persuade a group of people to follow your lead, you must be clear in your determination to reach the summit. Explain why you want to do it: make the whole project seem appealing, meaningful and/or necessary. In some cases, this may involve spelling out the consequences of not doing what you want done. This is especially important with assignments that may seem irksome, unfamiliar or scary. Stating the consequences of inaction can be a strong motivator, by creating awareness that such action is intended to secure success and survival.

13


“Becoming a leader involves fairly radical change. You will grow as an individual and the process will take you to new places, both on the inner and outer plane.”

1 Qualities and self-awareness

Essential qualities In every era and society, humanity has always needed its leaders. If formal leadership is lacking, an informal equivalent will often arise to take its place – someone will be assigned or will adopt the role of leader. Leadership can take several forms. Many of the leading positions in today’s organizations cannot be narrowly defined by the terms ‘manager’ or ‘employer’. Consequently, forms of leadership may differ considerably, though all share factors in common: »» A vision that appeals – and clearly defined goals for its achievement. »» An understanding of how the vision can be realized, so that people are eager and willing to participate. »» An ability to make those who are to take part feel appreciated, needed and involved. The above qualities are essential if you are to motivate others to share in a special effort, carry out an assignment or conduct a project. I like to compare this process to the challenge of scaling a mountain. To persuade a group of people to follow your lead, you must be clear in your determination to reach the summit. Explain why you want to do it: make the whole project seem appealing, meaningful and/or necessary. In some cases, this may involve spelling out the consequences of not doing what you want done. This is especially important with assignments that may seem irksome, unfamiliar or scary. Stating the consequences of inaction can be a strong motivator, by creating awareness that such action is intended to secure success and survival.

13


Having a clear idea of how to achieve your goal will ensure that those involved are confident the team leader knows what he or she is talking about: that he or she has a realistic understanding of how things will go on the way up as well as on the way down the mountain, how long it will take and the number of breaks needed. This is where the leader can invite others to participate. Although he or she may already have an idea, others may have even better ideas about how the mountain should be tackled. Ideas from any and everyone should be welcomed. The expedition leader’s decision about the best route can then be altered if a better alternative is proposed. What cannot be altered, however, is the decision to scale the mountain. That decision remains immutable. Among the members of the expedition, the urge to make a personal contribution will grow if the team leader can distinguish between their individual abilities and demonstrate that he or she is aware of what they can do. One may be strong and good at carrying heavy equipment. Another may be skilled at cooking in the open; a third may be great at navigation, and so on. Making everyone feel important – maybe even crucial to the success of the assignment – is the key to motivation: “I’m appreciated, I’m needed and I understand my part in the broader picture.”

Courageous, charismatic and wise Some may be averse to the classic image of “the great leader” – a person born to the role, with the ability to make people believe in what he or she says – but there’s no denying that a courageous, charismatic and wise leader has a clear advantage. Much management literature stresses the fact that anyone can be a good leader, whatever their fundamental personality. Introvert or extrovert – it makes no difference! The fact remains, however, that he or she who wishes to lead others must be someone worth following. For this reason, you need to ask yourself this key question before embarking on a management assignment: “Do I want to lead – and do I have what it takes?” Few things depress me as much as when a manager responds to the question “Why were you tasked with this assignment and what will you be able to contribute?” with the comment “You’ll have to ask others about that: I’m surprised myself”. Or when you ask “What do you see as your strengths?” and the response you get is “Who knows?” Such answers are less a matter of modesty than a lack of self-awareness and of a mature ability to accept responsibility. A leader must be prepared to shoulder responsibility! You need to be confident you have the necessary skills and resources for the task/assignment. If not, you need to develop the skills or qualities you feel you lack.

14 leadership

»» Courageous – I’m prepared to accept responsibility. »» Charismatic – I believe in, am inspired by and have the energy for what I do. »» Wise – I know who I am, warts and all, and learn from my mistakes.

Authoritarian, democratic or laissez-faire Many managers in Sweden are keen to exercise a democratic approach, seeking participation and consensus in their decision-making. There is anxiety about the risk of being perceived as an authoritarian leader who relies on a dictatorial style. The German-American social psychologist Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) coined the concepts of authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire leadership, concepts he used to demonstrate the unwelcome effects of authoritarian leadership. The problem is that many leaders confuse these concepts and, fearful of appearing dictatorial and authoritarian, abdicate their leadership responsibilities. They resign from their leading role, adopting a disguise of putative democracy. But a place of work is not a democracy! The managing director, the board and the owners make the rules. It is these few individuals who make the decisions. All other members of the organization must comply with their decisions. Politicians (in Sweden, anyway) are popularly elected: not so employers. Your reason for seeking employment at a company may derive from a perception of its owners, management and board of directors as sound, trustworthy and/or skilled. Yet this is no guarantee that you’ll be consulted or involved in making all the decisions. This may sound harsh in an age when participation has become almost a mantra, when we know that employees want to be able to influence their work situation and be involved in decisions and events. These wishes must be addressed, of course. However, enabling participation on key decisions, where the majority of affected employees can express a viewpoint, is quite different from requiring consensus on virtually every decision. There simply isn’t the time, it’s impractical, unwieldy and, let’s face it, the ultimate decision is still management’s. In some instances, a manager’s leadership style can be highly provocative, leading to an intense power struggle between the manager and his or her staff. In such cases, there is only one choice: take command, and show who’s in charge! Quite often, when this type of conflict arises, a manager may need to reassess fundamental assumptions and role distribution within the organization. Why are we here? Who does what? Who decides? Most managers probably favour a participatory style and a reasonable level

15


Having a clear idea of how to achieve your goal will ensure that those involved are confident the team leader knows what he or she is talking about: that he or she has a realistic understanding of how things will go on the way up as well as on the way down the mountain, how long it will take and the number of breaks needed. This is where the leader can invite others to participate. Although he or she may already have an idea, others may have even better ideas about how the mountain should be tackled. Ideas from any and everyone should be welcomed. The expedition leader’s decision about the best route can then be altered if a better alternative is proposed. What cannot be altered, however, is the decision to scale the mountain. That decision remains immutable. Among the members of the expedition, the urge to make a personal contribution will grow if the team leader can distinguish between their individual abilities and demonstrate that he or she is aware of what they can do. One may be strong and good at carrying heavy equipment. Another may be skilled at cooking in the open; a third may be great at navigation, and so on. Making everyone feel important – maybe even crucial to the success of the assignment – is the key to motivation: “I’m appreciated, I’m needed and I understand my part in the broader picture.”

Courageous, charismatic and wise Some may be averse to the classic image of “the great leader” – a person born to the role, with the ability to make people believe in what he or she says – but there’s no denying that a courageous, charismatic and wise leader has a clear advantage. Much management literature stresses the fact that anyone can be a good leader, whatever their fundamental personality. Introvert or extrovert – it makes no difference! The fact remains, however, that he or she who wishes to lead others must be someone worth following. For this reason, you need to ask yourself this key question before embarking on a management assignment: “Do I want to lead – and do I have what it takes?” Few things depress me as much as when a manager responds to the question “Why were you tasked with this assignment and what will you be able to contribute?” with the comment “You’ll have to ask others about that: I’m surprised myself”. Or when you ask “What do you see as your strengths?” and the response you get is “Who knows?” Such answers are less a matter of modesty than a lack of self-awareness and of a mature ability to accept responsibility. A leader must be prepared to shoulder responsibility! You need to be confident you have the necessary skills and resources for the task/assignment. If not, you need to develop the skills or qualities you feel you lack.

14 leadership

»» Courageous – I’m prepared to accept responsibility. »» Charismatic – I believe in, am inspired by and have the energy for what I do. »» Wise – I know who I am, warts and all, and learn from my mistakes.

Authoritarian, democratic or laissez-faire Many managers in Sweden are keen to exercise a democratic approach, seeking participation and consensus in their decision-making. There is anxiety about the risk of being perceived as an authoritarian leader who relies on a dictatorial style. The German-American social psychologist Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) coined the concepts of authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire leadership, concepts he used to demonstrate the unwelcome effects of authoritarian leadership. The problem is that many leaders confuse these concepts and, fearful of appearing dictatorial and authoritarian, abdicate their leadership responsibilities. They resign from their leading role, adopting a disguise of putative democracy. But a place of work is not a democracy! The managing director, the board and the owners make the rules. It is these few individuals who make the decisions. All other members of the organization must comply with their decisions. Politicians (in Sweden, anyway) are popularly elected: not so employers. Your reason for seeking employment at a company may derive from a perception of its owners, management and board of directors as sound, trustworthy and/or skilled. Yet this is no guarantee that you’ll be consulted or involved in making all the decisions. This may sound harsh in an age when participation has become almost a mantra, when we know that employees want to be able to influence their work situation and be involved in decisions and events. These wishes must be addressed, of course. However, enabling participation on key decisions, where the majority of affected employees can express a viewpoint, is quite different from requiring consensus on virtually every decision. There simply isn’t the time, it’s impractical, unwieldy and, let’s face it, the ultimate decision is still management’s. In some instances, a manager’s leadership style can be highly provocative, leading to an intense power struggle between the manager and his or her staff. In such cases, there is only one choice: take command, and show who’s in charge! Quite often, when this type of conflict arises, a manager may need to reassess fundamental assumptions and role distribution within the organization. Why are we here? Who does what? Who decides? Most managers probably favour a participatory style and a reasonable level

15


of consensus, but situations can sometimes develop in which the only solution to chaos and conflict is to adopt a more mandatory approach and to reiterate fundamental principles. I shall revert to this type of situation later on, in the chapter on conflicts at work.

Lead by example Many are apt to deny the degree of influence they wield in their leadership roles. As a leader, you are in the spotlight. What you do is observed and judged. Something you must be aware of and accept. The comment ”Well yes, but it’s only me, Lena”, delivered by a boss of some 300 employees, following a highly charged statement, clearly reveals a failure to appreciate the impact of what she says on those who are dependent on what she decides, wants and plans. In other words, a leader must think carefully about what he or she says – what is said must be comprehensible to many. Joking, teasing or expressing views that are in conflict with the company’s values can range from unsuitable to catastrophic. A man who can coin the phrase “cunt club” to describe a group of women (as in the notorious case of a Swedish union leader) can never gain credibility among women. Nothing he may subsequently say can ever justify it. The leadership credentials of anyone who cheats or accepts bribes are also highly suspect. A leader who exhorts the introduction of economies, cancelling the Christmas party and fringe benefits such as baskets of fruit, while personally enjoying every available benefit, is hardly encouraging staff to roll up their sleeves or bite the bullet when things get tough. The expression “walk the talk” is straightforward – do as you want others to do. The parental symbolism is striking: children do what parents do, not what they say. But does this mean that a leader has to be some sort of perfect, faultless paragon, who never makes a mistake? Senior managers may be compared to public figures who, admittedly, can be subject to fairly high demands. Politicians with too much dirty baggage can normally say goodbye to their careers. In the same way, leaders found to be involved in some form of criminal activity don’t usually get to keep their jobs. The answer to the above question – “Must they be perfect?” – is, of course, that higher demands are made on those in leading positions who expect to exercise authority. Others must be able to trust a leader who in turn has been entrusted with a specific role. This said, we are all only human, and do things we wish we hadn’t. In such cases, you have to deal with it by trying to understand what has happened and try to avoid ending up in the same sort of situation again.

16 leadership

Apologize I’ve seen many cases where a responsible senior manager has publicly acknowledged that changes, projects and reorganizations have produced unwelcome consequences. Employees have been critical and have suffered the after-effects, as when affected by a less-than-successful reorganization. If as a boss you are prepared to admit that the result has been disappointing, that the intention was quite different and that things haven’t work out as planned – and that lessons have been learned – the upset and irritation can usually be overcome and everyone can move on. The ability to admit having made a mistake is as important in the leadership role as in private life. As a leader, you have to make decisions. But however well-founded a decision, its outcome may be unexpected or the result differ considerably from what was originally anticipated when the decision was taken. In our complex and fast-changing world, the consequences of a decision are not always certain. Many uncertain variables may have to be factored into the equation, but decisions about focus, investment and so on have to be made. Situations are naturally bound to arise in which decisions taken may prove less successful. This is clearly not the time to stand on one’s dignity, but to openly admit that the hoped-for result has not been achieved and that new decisions must be taken based on the changed circumstances. Can a leader make as many mistakes as he or she likes, as long as he or she reiterates suitably abject public apologies? The answer is no. A manager who leads the business in a wrong and unprofitable direction too often will find his or her leadership questioned. But a manager who is able to admit when things have gone wrong, who can learn from what has happened and who in the long run can secure the most reliable decision data will end up a winner. Just like a parent, a manager’s actions will inspire and encourage employees in their working approach or hinder and undermine things, may even demotivate them and, in a worst case scenario, cause them to leave the organization. There is no doubt that a business leader’s style, influence and ability to inspire is decisive in determining whether employees seek to join the business – or leave it.

Meeting new people Becoming a boss involves a fairly radical change. You will grow as a human being and travel to new places, in both the spiritual and physical sense. You will experience personally-enriching contacts with people you would never otherwise have met, people who will have a personal impact on you and your approach to life.

17


of consensus, but situations can sometimes develop in which the only solution to chaos and conflict is to adopt a more mandatory approach and to reiterate fundamental principles. I shall revert to this type of situation later on, in the chapter on conflicts at work.

Lead by example Many are apt to deny the degree of influence they wield in their leadership roles. As a leader, you are in the spotlight. What you do is observed and judged. Something you must be aware of and accept. The comment ”Well yes, but it’s only me, Lena”, delivered by a boss of some 300 employees, following a highly charged statement, clearly reveals a failure to appreciate the impact of what she says on those who are dependent on what she decides, wants and plans. In other words, a leader must think carefully about what he or she says – what is said must be comprehensible to many. Joking, teasing or expressing views that are in conflict with the company’s values can range from unsuitable to catastrophic. A man who can coin the phrase “cunt club” to describe a group of women (as in the notorious case of a Swedish union leader) can never gain credibility among women. Nothing he may subsequently say can ever justify it. The leadership credentials of anyone who cheats or accepts bribes are also highly suspect. A leader who exhorts the introduction of economies, cancelling the Christmas party and fringe benefits such as baskets of fruit, while personally enjoying every available benefit, is hardly encouraging staff to roll up their sleeves or bite the bullet when things get tough. The expression “walk the talk” is straightforward – do as you want others to do. The parental symbolism is striking: children do what parents do, not what they say. But does this mean that a leader has to be some sort of perfect, faultless paragon, who never makes a mistake? Senior managers may be compared to public figures who, admittedly, can be subject to fairly high demands. Politicians with too much dirty baggage can normally say goodbye to their careers. In the same way, leaders found to be involved in some form of criminal activity don’t usually get to keep their jobs. The answer to the above question – “Must they be perfect?” – is, of course, that higher demands are made on those in leading positions who expect to exercise authority. Others must be able to trust a leader who in turn has been entrusted with a specific role. This said, we are all only human, and do things we wish we hadn’t. In such cases, you have to deal with it by trying to understand what has happened and try to avoid ending up in the same sort of situation again.

16 leadership

Apologize I’ve seen many cases where a responsible senior manager has publicly acknowledged that changes, projects and reorganizations have produced unwelcome consequences. Employees have been critical and have suffered the after-effects, as when affected by a less-than-successful reorganization. If as a boss you are prepared to admit that the result has been disappointing, that the intention was quite different and that things haven’t work out as planned – and that lessons have been learned – the upset and irritation can usually be overcome and everyone can move on. The ability to admit having made a mistake is as important in the leadership role as in private life. As a leader, you have to make decisions. But however well-founded a decision, its outcome may be unexpected or the result differ considerably from what was originally anticipated when the decision was taken. In our complex and fast-changing world, the consequences of a decision are not always certain. Many uncertain variables may have to be factored into the equation, but decisions about focus, investment and so on have to be made. Situations are naturally bound to arise in which decisions taken may prove less successful. This is clearly not the time to stand on one’s dignity, but to openly admit that the hoped-for result has not been achieved and that new decisions must be taken based on the changed circumstances. Can a leader make as many mistakes as he or she likes, as long as he or she reiterates suitably abject public apologies? The answer is no. A manager who leads the business in a wrong and unprofitable direction too often will find his or her leadership questioned. But a manager who is able to admit when things have gone wrong, who can learn from what has happened and who in the long run can secure the most reliable decision data will end up a winner. Just like a parent, a manager’s actions will inspire and encourage employees in their working approach or hinder and undermine things, may even demotivate them and, in a worst case scenario, cause them to leave the organization. There is no doubt that a business leader’s style, influence and ability to inspire is decisive in determining whether employees seek to join the business – or leave it.

Meeting new people Becoming a boss involves a fairly radical change. You will grow as a human being and travel to new places, in both the spiritual and physical sense. You will experience personally-enriching contacts with people you would never otherwise have met, people who will have a personal impact on you and your approach to life.

17


We all have an image of “the way things really are”, based on the events and relationships experienced during those crucial years of childhood and adolescence. Encountering lots of new people with other perspectives, attitudes and talents helps broaden our initial view of the world, yielding the insight that life can be experienced and handled in many different ways. But it’s important to avoid shutting out natural emotions. Some wise individual once said “Have your feelings, or they’ll have you”. This refers to the fact that your own feelings may well bring you to your knees when you least expect it, should you ignore them or try to deny that the emotions aroused simply don’t exist. If this happens, you are no longer in control of yourself. Opening up to and becoming acquainted with a range of emotions is not as frighteningly dangerous as many may think. To test, experience and even allow your emotions to wash over you doesn’t mean that you have to surrender to them. Strong emotions derive from two powerful drives: sexuality and aggression. These are always fundamental to how you respond to a person, a phenomenon, an event. It is often difficult for us to accept strong emotions. Many are brought up to suppress them. Saying “I could kill that man!!!” in a secure environment doesn’t mean you’re really going to buy an axe or a pistol and act on the threat. However, you could reflect on your reaction and adopt a more appropriate course of action. For the psychologically healthy, this normally leads to a chat with the cause of the irritation and possibly to the insight that it may be more about you yourself, about your own need to be more straightforward, to define clearer boundaries or to accept differences. Falling in love (to address the other difficult topic in life) can also be experienced as threatening. Attraction, sexuality and desire that arise in the “wrong” context and involve the “wrong” person can also be frightening. But the same applies here. Falling in love is not dangerous. You don’t have to act on your feelings if you don’t want to. Even so, falling in love at work can become very complicated. Some companies forbid people who are in a relationship from working at the same company. Why? There are several reasons. A boss who initiates a relationship with an employee who then continues to work at the company can end up in an invidious position, creating suspicions of favouritism and undermining colleagues’ confidence in his or her impartiality. Other members of the team may well be justified in wondering “What do those two talk about at lunch?” However, if you do fall in love with a colleague or maybe even an employee, you must resolve the situation. Normally, this means that one or the other will transfer to another place of work. Or that the individuals involved have roles that do not conflict with other values, affect the balance of power or have some other impact on the job. 18 leadership

Our inner being We must all be aware of the unique emotional “baggage” we carry with us through life. This stems from childhood and adolescence and the people and relationships we have been influenced by. Our basic personality, of course, which we are born with, forms another part of the puzzle. Some people are more sensitive by nature, being deeply affected by events and relationships, while others can interpret and respond to the same things in quite different ways. This is, for instance, one of the reasons siblings can have widely differing perceptions about how their parents were, about events that occurred when growing up and whether home life was happy or not. Whatever our perceptions, we must understand why events and people affect us and why our basic drives are the way they are. As a leader and boss, masking your inner feelings can have a destructive impact on others. Conversely, by learning to understand and accept your own impulses and drives, you will become more relaxed in the way you relate to yourself. You don’t need to prevaricate or lie to yourself or others about what really presses your buttons: just be clear in stating your preferences and priorities. As a leader you must be genuine, but you may need to consider certain aspects of your personality. This said, you are who you are. Rather than trying to pretend that you’re someone else with other “better” sides to your character, get to know yourself and your less “attractive” traits. Take a close look at what it’s really about. Be inquisitive! “How can I get a handle on this?” is a good place to start, as opposed to “Oh my God, time for a cover-up!” When we experience a feeling of shame, doors tend to close that should perhaps be opened, to reveal what’s on the other side. What lies hidden beneath the surface doesn’t disappear just because we pretend it’s not there: quite the reverse, in fact. Suppressing emotion makes it more likely you’ll lose control in an “unguarded” moment. Even really difficult issues, which are actually unacceptable in strictly legal terms, should be confronted and explored. If you are subject to destructive impulses, there is only one choice – you must work out what’s happening. If you fail to face up to the problem, it will lie in wait like a ticking bomb, guaranteed to explode at the worst possible moment, just when our emotional defences are down, for whatever reason. Many probably wonder over the sort of risks that people in positions of power can take, without apparently realizing that such risks may result in their losing everything they have built up. I am convinced this happens when the leader of a team is surrounded by “yes men”, who avoid confrontation about his or her negative character traits. A leader must make an effort to determine how his/her behaviour is perceived by others, ask for feedback and avoid an

19


We all have an image of “the way things really are”, based on the events and relationships experienced during those crucial years of childhood and adolescence. Encountering lots of new people with other perspectives, attitudes and talents helps broaden our initial view of the world, yielding the insight that life can be experienced and handled in many different ways. But it’s important to avoid shutting out natural emotions. Some wise individual once said “Have your feelings, or they’ll have you”. This refers to the fact that your own feelings may well bring you to your knees when you least expect it, should you ignore them or try to deny that the emotions aroused simply don’t exist. If this happens, you are no longer in control of yourself. Opening up to and becoming acquainted with a range of emotions is not as frighteningly dangerous as many may think. To test, experience and even allow your emotions to wash over you doesn’t mean that you have to surrender to them. Strong emotions derive from two powerful drives: sexuality and aggression. These are always fundamental to how you respond to a person, a phenomenon, an event. It is often difficult for us to accept strong emotions. Many are brought up to suppress them. Saying “I could kill that man!!!” in a secure environment doesn’t mean you’re really going to buy an axe or a pistol and act on the threat. However, you could reflect on your reaction and adopt a more appropriate course of action. For the psychologically healthy, this normally leads to a chat with the cause of the irritation and possibly to the insight that it may be more about you yourself, about your own need to be more straightforward, to define clearer boundaries or to accept differences. Falling in love (to address the other difficult topic in life) can also be experienced as threatening. Attraction, sexuality and desire that arise in the “wrong” context and involve the “wrong” person can also be frightening. But the same applies here. Falling in love is not dangerous. You don’t have to act on your feelings if you don’t want to. Even so, falling in love at work can become very complicated. Some companies forbid people who are in a relationship from working at the same company. Why? There are several reasons. A boss who initiates a relationship with an employee who then continues to work at the company can end up in an invidious position, creating suspicions of favouritism and undermining colleagues’ confidence in his or her impartiality. Other members of the team may well be justified in wondering “What do those two talk about at lunch?” However, if you do fall in love with a colleague or maybe even an employee, you must resolve the situation. Normally, this means that one or the other will transfer to another place of work. Or that the individuals involved have roles that do not conflict with other values, affect the balance of power or have some other impact on the job. 18 leadership

Our inner being We must all be aware of the unique emotional “baggage” we carry with us through life. This stems from childhood and adolescence and the people and relationships we have been influenced by. Our basic personality, of course, which we are born with, forms another part of the puzzle. Some people are more sensitive by nature, being deeply affected by events and relationships, while others can interpret and respond to the same things in quite different ways. This is, for instance, one of the reasons siblings can have widely differing perceptions about how their parents were, about events that occurred when growing up and whether home life was happy or not. Whatever our perceptions, we must understand why events and people affect us and why our basic drives are the way they are. As a leader and boss, masking your inner feelings can have a destructive impact on others. Conversely, by learning to understand and accept your own impulses and drives, you will become more relaxed in the way you relate to yourself. You don’t need to prevaricate or lie to yourself or others about what really presses your buttons: just be clear in stating your preferences and priorities. As a leader you must be genuine, but you may need to consider certain aspects of your personality. This said, you are who you are. Rather than trying to pretend that you’re someone else with other “better” sides to your character, get to know yourself and your less “attractive” traits. Take a close look at what it’s really about. Be inquisitive! “How can I get a handle on this?” is a good place to start, as opposed to “Oh my God, time for a cover-up!” When we experience a feeling of shame, doors tend to close that should perhaps be opened, to reveal what’s on the other side. What lies hidden beneath the surface doesn’t disappear just because we pretend it’s not there: quite the reverse, in fact. Suppressing emotion makes it more likely you’ll lose control in an “unguarded” moment. Even really difficult issues, which are actually unacceptable in strictly legal terms, should be confronted and explored. If you are subject to destructive impulses, there is only one choice – you must work out what’s happening. If you fail to face up to the problem, it will lie in wait like a ticking bomb, guaranteed to explode at the worst possible moment, just when our emotional defences are down, for whatever reason. Many probably wonder over the sort of risks that people in positions of power can take, without apparently realizing that such risks may result in their losing everything they have built up. I am convinced this happens when the leader of a team is surrounded by “yes men”, who avoid confrontation about his or her negative character traits. A leader must make an effort to determine how his/her behaviour is perceived by others, ask for feedback and avoid an

19


arrogant lack of self-awareness that can lead to the delusion that one is exempt from having to observe the law, normal human values or simple good manners. For the moment, you may well be protected from having to face the music, thanks to your current position of authority. However, the price you will ultimately have to pay will grow proportionately, as you relinquish your ethical, moral and legal principles. Those who abuse their mandate will eventually become aware that it wasn’t such a good idea.

Developing self-awareness Feedback is the obvious route to greater self-awareness: simple, straightforward and accessible in the everyday context, as well as in the more specific form of development discussions or consultant-led “give-and-take” sessions. A leader must ensure that he or she receives feedback by actively asking for it. The more power you have, the more difficult it is to persuade people to be willing and courageous enough to give you feedback. If you give the slightest impression that feedback you’d rather not receive can have an adverse effect on the unfortunate originator’s position, you can be sure others will avoid providing any at all. This does not mean that a person in a leading position should tolerate a mass of abuse and unjustified criticism. It is just that it is highly important that you have the courage to listen, get a feeling for and consider the feedback you receive. Anything you fail to understand should be looked at more closely. Good feedback can help change your attitude, generating a different response that can radically change situations and lead to closer interaction with other people. A number of useful feedback models are described in the chapter on communication and feedback. Another way of increasing your self-awareness is to engage the services of a coach, mentor or conversational therapist, or to participate in coaching groups with your colleagues. To devote time to reflect on who you are and why you feel and think the way you do can be both stimulating and highly rewarding. What makes self-awareness a critical essential in the leadership role is the higher degree to which you are exposed to challenging situations, situations linked directly with this role, and the fact that – in your meetings with other people – you need to understand what qualities you possess for managing and adjusting your response to events. In working on your own development as a leader, it is good to focus on a specific theme. An ambitious leader always establishes a goal for his/her personal development. This may be:

20 leadership

»» to achieve a better balance between work and leisure. »» to give others more space, to adopt a lower profile in meetings, to learn when not to react. »» to become a better listener. »» to have the courage to step forward and say what you think and feel more often. »» to try and establish a better relationship with someone you don’t find easy to like.

Identify your core qualities An important part of personal development, as individual or leader, is getting to know your own strengths. Core qualities or, perhaps more correctly, talents: what is already there – and all too easily taken for granted. We are brought up to think critically, to identify what is wrong, incomplete and in need of adjustment. This means we have a tendency to see both our own and others’ shortcomings. We are all blind when it comes to looking at ourselves and often fail to appreciate our strengths. But this is so important. Realizing how much we can contribute in a whole range of contexts generates so much power and energy. In his books Core Qualities – a gateway to human resources and Fancy meeting me here, Holland’s Daniel Ofman has presented a useful and simple model for identifying talents. The model can help identify traits and aspects that are inborn and firmly rooted in the individual’s personality, characteristics that others tend to value yet which the individual in question may take for granted. Ofman believes that a leader who uses his or her core qualities is capable of truly inspiring leadership. Core Qualities & Pitfalls What irritates others about me?

What others appreciate in me What I take for granted

Core quality

What I expect of others

Too much of a good thing

Pitfall

What I am inclined to justify in myself

What I would loathe in myself What I dislike in others

What I am willing to overlook in others

What is absent in myself Allergy

Too much of a good thing

Challenge

What others wish I had more of What I admire in others

21


arrogant lack of self-awareness that can lead to the delusion that one is exempt from having to observe the law, normal human values or simple good manners. For the moment, you may well be protected from having to face the music, thanks to your current position of authority. However, the price you will ultimately have to pay will grow proportionately, as you relinquish your ethical, moral and legal principles. Those who abuse their mandate will eventually become aware that it wasn’t such a good idea.

Developing self-awareness Feedback is the obvious route to greater self-awareness: simple, straightforward and accessible in the everyday context, as well as in the more specific form of development discussions or consultant-led “give-and-take” sessions. A leader must ensure that he or she receives feedback by actively asking for it. The more power you have, the more difficult it is to persuade people to be willing and courageous enough to give you feedback. If you give the slightest impression that feedback you’d rather not receive can have an adverse effect on the unfortunate originator’s position, you can be sure others will avoid providing any at all. This does not mean that a person in a leading position should tolerate a mass of abuse and unjustified criticism. It is just that it is highly important that you have the courage to listen, get a feeling for and consider the feedback you receive. Anything you fail to understand should be looked at more closely. Good feedback can help change your attitude, generating a different response that can radically change situations and lead to closer interaction with other people. A number of useful feedback models are described in the chapter on communication and feedback. Another way of increasing your self-awareness is to engage the services of a coach, mentor or conversational therapist, or to participate in coaching groups with your colleagues. To devote time to reflect on who you are and why you feel and think the way you do can be both stimulating and highly rewarding. What makes self-awareness a critical essential in the leadership role is the higher degree to which you are exposed to challenging situations, situations linked directly with this role, and the fact that – in your meetings with other people – you need to understand what qualities you possess for managing and adjusting your response to events. In working on your own development as a leader, it is good to focus on a specific theme. An ambitious leader always establishes a goal for his/her personal development. This may be:

20 leadership

»» to achieve a better balance between work and leisure. »» to give others more space, to adopt a lower profile in meetings, to learn when not to react. »» to become a better listener. »» to have the courage to step forward and say what you think and feel more often. »» to try and establish a better relationship with someone you don’t find easy to like.

Identify your core qualities An important part of personal development, as individual or leader, is getting to know your own strengths. Core qualities or, perhaps more correctly, talents: what is already there – and all too easily taken for granted. We are brought up to think critically, to identify what is wrong, incomplete and in need of adjustment. This means we have a tendency to see both our own and others’ shortcomings. We are all blind when it comes to looking at ourselves and often fail to appreciate our strengths. But this is so important. Realizing how much we can contribute in a whole range of contexts generates so much power and energy. In his books Core Qualities – a gateway to human resources and Fancy meeting me here, Holland’s Daniel Ofman has presented a useful and simple model for identifying talents. The model can help identify traits and aspects that are inborn and firmly rooted in the individual’s personality, characteristics that others tend to value yet which the individual in question may take for granted. Ofman believes that a leader who uses his or her core qualities is capable of truly inspiring leadership. Core Qualities & Pitfalls What irritates others about me?

What others appreciate in me What I take for granted

Core quality

What I expect of others

Too much of a good thing

Pitfall

What I am inclined to justify in myself

What I would loathe in myself What I dislike in others

What I am willing to overlook in others

What is absent in myself Allergy

Too much of a good thing

Challenge

What others wish I had more of What I admire in others

21


Personality tests

Example Anna is a very energetic and forceful person. She gets things done and seldom hesitates when making a decision. She is able to handle considerable personal responsibility and is prepared to confront problems. Anna’s drive is considered a strength and is demonstrated in most situations. This may be described as one of Anna’s core qualities, which she has had since childhood. There are plenty of amusing anecdotes about how Anna has shown independent initiative, ranging from her opening of a street “fruit juice bar” in a residential area to helping collect money for various deserving causes. Sometimes Anna may also “overexploit” her qualities. Driven as she is, she may be seen as riding roughshod over others, denying her more thoughtful fellows a look-in. If Anna fails to elicit an immediate reaction, she forges ahead regard-

less. Some might say she acts first and thinks later. It can go wrong sometimes and others may feel unable to keep up. For Anna, the pitfall is her impatience. To balance this weakness, she needs to challenge herself by trying to take it a bit easier sometimes and display greater tolerance for the fact that things can take time. What Anna finds irritating in others is passivity, apathy and lethargy. These are not characteristics she would recognize in herself. Anna is unlikely to be seen as passive, however much she feels she is biding her time. Usually, an individual’s strong personal qualities shine through so brightly that what he/she fears may be lost (in this instance, Anna’s drive) will be unaffected.

Many of the managers I have met confirm that an awareness of their own strengths has been the single most important factor in their development as leaders. Here is what one of the bosses said in an interview: “I’ve benefited greatly from having my strengths brought to my attention. It has helped me in terms of my identity as a leader. For example, I have a certain pedagogical ability, and this has been enhanced by the positive feedback I have received. I have also been led to understand that people experience me as unequivocal and averse to intrigue, which I considered should be self-evident, but which was pointed out to me as a specific strength of my leadership. I took these things so for granted that I tended to focus instead on what I thought was lacking. I may not be the ”charismatic” type who has always been perceived as a born leader but, eventually, I of course realized that my other qualities provided at least as good a base to build on”. Jan Häglund, head of IP & Broadband, Ericsson

22 leadership

The use of various types of personality test is popular in working life. They offer a practical shortcut when discussing the differences between us – we all have various drives, strengths and a need to develop. A personality test can teach us a lot about the differences between individuals who are to function effectively as a team. The personality tests used in the workplace are commonly based on behavioural research. The number of tests and inventories available on the market is endless. The following are some of the most popular tests used in team and leadership development: »» idi – Interpersonal Dynamic Inventory »» Team skills »» Farax »» MyersBriggs Whatever the test used, it is designed to establish a dialogue focused on various forms of behaviour, modes of interaction and drives that may affect the team’s efficiency. A personality test featuring a 360° feedback survey also offers an opportunity to gain an insight into what other people see and think about your own modes of behaviour, by comparing others’ perceptions of your behaviour with your own. It can be interesting and stimulating to understand how differences can arise in the way I see myself and in the way I am perceived by others.

QUESTIONS • W  hat is your current development goal in terms of your leadership role? • Try to define one of your genuine qualities. Consider when this quality can become a “pitfall” (be overexploited). What do others find irritating in your behaviour? • Do you practise as you preach? Behaving in the same way you expect of others is a good start. • How do you affect others? What you do has a considerable impact. • Are you visible? You must be seen at your place of work – your interest in company employees is more credible if you are perceived to be present to a reasonable extent.

23


Personality tests

Example Anna is a very energetic and forceful person. She gets things done and seldom hesitates when making a decision. She is able to handle considerable personal responsibility and is prepared to confront problems. Anna’s drive is considered a strength and is demonstrated in most situations. This may be described as one of Anna’s core qualities, which she has had since childhood. There are plenty of amusing anecdotes about how Anna has shown independent initiative, ranging from her opening of a street “fruit juice bar” in a residential area to helping collect money for various deserving causes. Sometimes Anna may also “overexploit” her qualities. Driven as she is, she may be seen as riding roughshod over others, denying her more thoughtful fellows a look-in. If Anna fails to elicit an immediate reaction, she forges ahead regard-

less. Some might say she acts first and thinks later. It can go wrong sometimes and others may feel unable to keep up. For Anna, the pitfall is her impatience. To balance this weakness, she needs to challenge herself by trying to take it a bit easier sometimes and display greater tolerance for the fact that things can take time. What Anna finds irritating in others is passivity, apathy and lethargy. These are not characteristics she would recognize in herself. Anna is unlikely to be seen as passive, however much she feels she is biding her time. Usually, an individual’s strong personal qualities shine through so brightly that what he/she fears may be lost (in this instance, Anna’s drive) will be unaffected.

Many of the managers I have met confirm that an awareness of their own strengths has been the single most important factor in their development as leaders. Here is what one of the bosses said in an interview: “I’ve benefited greatly from having my strengths brought to my attention. It has helped me in terms of my identity as a leader. For example, I have a certain pedagogical ability, and this has been enhanced by the positive feedback I have received. I have also been led to understand that people experience me as unequivocal and averse to intrigue, which I considered should be self-evident, but which was pointed out to me as a specific strength of my leadership. I took these things so for granted that I tended to focus instead on what I thought was lacking. I may not be the ”charismatic” type who has always been perceived as a born leader but, eventually, I of course realized that my other qualities provided at least as good a base to build on”. Jan Häglund, head of IP & Broadband, Ericsson

22 leadership

The use of various types of personality test is popular in working life. They offer a practical shortcut when discussing the differences between us – we all have various drives, strengths and a need to develop. A personality test can teach us a lot about the differences between individuals who are to function effectively as a team. The personality tests used in the workplace are commonly based on behavioural research. The number of tests and inventories available on the market is endless. The following are some of the most popular tests used in team and leadership development: »» idi – Interpersonal Dynamic Inventory »» Team skills »» Farax »» MyersBriggs Whatever the test used, it is designed to establish a dialogue focused on various forms of behaviour, modes of interaction and drives that may affect the team’s efficiency. A personality test featuring a 360° feedback survey also offers an opportunity to gain an insight into what other people see and think about your own modes of behaviour, by comparing others’ perceptions of your behaviour with your own. It can be interesting and stimulating to understand how differences can arise in the way I see myself and in the way I am perceived by others.

QUESTIONS • W  hat is your current development goal in terms of your leadership role? • Try to define one of your genuine qualities. Consider when this quality can become a “pitfall” (be overexploited). What do others find irritating in your behaviour? • Do you practise as you preach? Behaving in the same way you expect of others is a good start. • How do you affect others? What you do has a considerable impact. • Are you visible? You must be seen at your place of work – your interest in company employees is more credible if you are perceived to be present to a reasonable extent.

23


Interview Overexploitation of core qualities – Graham Osborne An overexploitation of “core qualities” proved a hindrance to Graham Osborne’s leadership. However, thanks to some tough feedback from a courageous boss, he succeeded in altering his behaviour and started instead to apply his qualities in a manner that enhanced his leadership. Graham has twin engineering degrees in electronics and computer science, as well as a Master’s degree. In 2010, Graham was Head of Development Unit Core & IMs. He is now general manager at Ericsson Radio. “With my background, I was never really interested in becoming a boss. I worked for several years as a specialist and focused on acquiring a broad and comprehensive technical competence in my chosen fields.” “After a few years in the job, however, I accepted a managerial role. In spite of my managerial responsibilities, I have always concentrated on building up a thorough technical competence. In my various roles within Ericsson, this has proved of enormous benefit. I have been working within my field for 25 years now and, as a manager, have had to learn the ‘hard way’ – by failing in several aspects of my leadership.” “This was especially true in my first

managerial post, where I arrived as a highly-trained specialist and, looking back, have to admit that I behaved like a real know-all. I was convinced that I knew and could do everything best, often doing others’ jobs, compensating for what I perceived as their lack of competence. Nobody could do the job as well as I could. I received some tough feedback from my then boss, who stated frankly that there was no way I could expect to continue in a managerial capacity within the company: he could never recommend my promotion. He pointed out my patronizing attitude – of which I was completely unaware at the time. He said my body language and facial expression made it very clear that I didn’t like what my colleagues came up with. Everybody is aware of your arrogance, he said.” “He said my attitude – that I always believed I knew best – was restricting the team’s creative ability. ’What’s worse is that you don’t even know what is best, but are making the others uncertain as to whether they can contribute anything’.” “Although pretty tough to digest, the feedback made me see what had been wrong with my leadership. The inability to create an atmosphere of openness, trust and creativity led to the ‘dumbing down’ of my colleagues. Thanks to this

insight and being able to monitor these character traits on an ongoing basis, I now have a very different management style.” “Nowadays, I’m very frank about saying it the way it is. What is required, what the organization might be facing, including efficiency measures and cutbacks. What needs to be evaluated and followed up, and the consequences of failing to deliver.” “Many have reacted strongly to such directness and have found it hard to swallow the unvarnished truth. At the same time, many have expressed relief

that I’m putting all my cards on the table.” “Being a boss is so much more than about having a high IQ and a degree of individual competence – it’s about establishing conditions that encourage individual responsibility and broad creativity.” “The driving, confident, decisive and intrepid aspects are still there in terms of now being able to say it the way it is. But the other side of the coin, the cocksure know-all aspects, have been ground away.”

25


Interview Overexploitation of core qualities – Graham Osborne An overexploitation of “core qualities” proved a hindrance to Graham Osborne’s leadership. However, thanks to some tough feedback from a courageous boss, he succeeded in altering his behaviour and started instead to apply his qualities in a manner that enhanced his leadership. Graham has twin engineering degrees in electronics and computer science, as well as a Master’s degree. In 2010, Graham was Head of Development Unit Core & IMs. He is now general manager at Ericsson Radio. “With my background, I was never really interested in becoming a boss. I worked for several years as a specialist and focused on acquiring a broad and comprehensive technical competence in my chosen fields.” “After a few years in the job, however, I accepted a managerial role. In spite of my managerial responsibilities, I have always concentrated on building up a thorough technical competence. In my various roles within Ericsson, this has proved of enormous benefit. I have been working within my field for 25 years now and, as a manager, have had to learn the ‘hard way’ – by failing in several aspects of my leadership.” “This was especially true in my first

managerial post, where I arrived as a highly-trained specialist and, looking back, have to admit that I behaved like a real know-all. I was convinced that I knew and could do everything best, often doing others’ jobs, compensating for what I perceived as their lack of competence. Nobody could do the job as well as I could. I received some tough feedback from my then boss, who stated frankly that there was no way I could expect to continue in a managerial capacity within the company: he could never recommend my promotion. He pointed out my patronizing attitude – of which I was completely unaware at the time. He said my body language and facial expression made it very clear that I didn’t like what my colleagues came up with. Everybody is aware of your arrogance, he said.” “He said my attitude – that I always believed I knew best – was restricting the team’s creative ability. ’What’s worse is that you don’t even know what is best, but are making the others uncertain as to whether they can contribute anything’.” “Although pretty tough to digest, the feedback made me see what had been wrong with my leadership. The inability to create an atmosphere of openness, trust and creativity led to the ‘dumbing down’ of my colleagues. Thanks to this

insight and being able to monitor these character traits on an ongoing basis, I now have a very different management style.” “Nowadays, I’m very frank about saying it the way it is. What is required, what the organization might be facing, including efficiency measures and cutbacks. What needs to be evaluated and followed up, and the consequences of failing to deliver.” “Many have reacted strongly to such directness and have found it hard to swallow the unvarnished truth. At the same time, many have expressed relief

that I’m putting all my cards on the table.” “Being a boss is so much more than about having a high IQ and a degree of individual competence – it’s about establishing conditions that encourage individual responsibility and broad creativity.” “The driving, confident, decisive and intrepid aspects are still there in terms of now being able to say it the way it is. But the other side of the coin, the cocksure know-all aspects, have been ground away.”

25


“What does it mean to be a leader? How can one develop one’s group? How should one conduct an emotionally challenging conversation?” Taking the Lead addresses the most important issues that a new or newly appointed manager or leader needs to know about and learn. Theory is interspersed with inspirational examples taken from real cases. The book also features exercises as well as interviews with people in leading roles, head-hunters and hr professionals, who talk about their experience of the demands made on leaders these days and the leadership techniques they consider most effective. Taking the Lead is intended for those who have been offered a management position, for those who are new in such a position or who wish to learn more about what it means to take on a managerial or leading role. The book should also prove useful to leaders who have no executive mandate, such as project and process managers.

Eva Norrman Brandt has many years’ experience as management consultant, executive development specialist and psychotherapist. Today, Eva is linked to Implement mp ab – a management consultancy that focuses primarily on change-management support.

Practical and Mental Strategies for New Managers

ISBN 9789152326510

ISBN 978-91-523-2651-0

(523-2651-0)

9 789152 326510

90000 >

9789152326510  
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