HR
May 7, 2012

Unconventional characteristics of good leadership

Quote of the week

“HR executives say the ability to develop future leaders has the greatest impact on the organizations’ future success.”

 – IBM study of global CHRO’s

Editor’s Corner

Chief Human Resources Officers may believe that leadership development is important, but only a third of them think their organization does it well. This IBM study focused on private sector CHROs, but its learnings should resonate with the public sector.

The study reminds us that leaders need to “negotiate through a maze of differing cultures, complex inter-generational dynamics and varied communication styles.” The message is clear: organizational demographics are changing and effective leaders have to change with them.

The study proposes a number of characteristics that creative leaders embody. Again, the focus is on the private sector but they apply to the public sector as well. Ask yourself how many of them are in the leaders you have come across in your workplace:

Creative leaders challenge the status quo by constantly promoting “diverse, even unconventional, ideas.” How often does that happen in government? And when it does, how often does that innovative leader become roadkill?

They leverage new communication styles – in short, they’re not afraid of social media. Communication is more than emails, memos, intranets and town halls.

They focus on the bigger picture, thinking in terms of a “virtually unrestricted global environment.” In public sector language, they think beyond the department and the issue of the day to understand the bigger picture.

And they create cross-functional communities and “tear down institutional silos” – good-bye vertical decision making and hello collaboration and shared decision making.

The most important lessons for organizations looking to develop these leaders are simple and straightforward: look beyond headquarters for up-and-comers and put some rigour around the process of investing and nurturing leaders.

How logical is all this, and yet how difficult to implement in our vertical, hierarchical, risk-averse and rigid organizational structures. But how important to try.

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