By Kenneth N. Wexley, Ph.D. and Douglas A Strouse, Ph.D.
Leaders not only create but sustain their organization’s corporate culture.
For example, Southwest Airlines’ culture was heavily influenced by its co-founder and former CEO, Herbert D. Kelleher. Southwest’s culture is one where employees are enthusiastic team players, feel relaxed, are fun loving, and give everything they have to their company’s success . A corporate culture such as this one doesn’t just happen by chance. It is sustained by hiring people who already possess the same work ethic and values that the CEO and others in the organization have.
A lot of companies say they do this, but organizations such as Southwest Airlines actually do it by in-depth psychological testing and interviewing of job candidates for desirable attitudes, values, and personality traits.
CHALLENGE THE PROCESS
Exemplary leaders challenge the existing ways of doing things. James Kouzes and Barry Posner (The Leadership Challenge, How To Get Extraordinary Things Done In Organizations), they:
- are not satisfied with maintaining the status quo;
- innovate, experiment, and explore ways to improve their organizations;
- treat mistakes as learning experiences; and
- take risks
Exemplary leaders also envision the future (i.e., look beyond the horizon), have a positive and hopeful outlook and enlist the support of others by communicating their vision enthusiastically.
Exemplary leaders enable others to act. Specifically, they:
- give employees the authority along with the responsibility to do their jobs well;
- share information with people that enables them to make decisions and it shows their people that they trust them; and
- don’t micro-manage people.
MODEL THE WAY
Exemplary leaders set of a good for others to follow. They:
- are clear to others about their core values and beliefs;
- behave consistently with their values and beliefs; and
- are enthusiastic at the outset of things, and then follow-through without petering out.
Leaders who are exemplary:
- recognize and reward employee individual contributions
- look for ways to celebrate group accomplishments
Nothing can sabotage being an effective leader than failing to communicate. The ability to communicate effectively is what lights the light in people. All of your brilliant ideas and your vision mean nothing if you cannot share them with your people. Where you communicate ( in meetings, in face-to-face sessions, at the vending machines) is less important than how it’s done. You need to be receptive to other people’s ideas, try to see things from their point of view, listen carefully to what they say, and guard against never talking to them in a condescending manner.
FOCUS ON CAREERS
Individuals who lead their organizations well are keenly aware that most employees in their organization are concerned with career progression. They understand that few people want to stay in the same job every year. As a result, leaders spend a great deal of time and effort focusing on succession planning. Employees in their organizations have clearly defined career paths, and are receiving help through training in moving down these paths.
The day your employees stop bringing their problems to you is when you have ceased being their leader. If this happens, it is because they no longer trust you enough to ask you for help, they believe you are too busy to assist them, or they think you feel you are too important to care about their problems. Effective leaders make the time and effort to foster upward communications in their organizations. They get out of their offices and make themselves visible to their employees.
Martin Schwartz, President of Vehicles For Change, a company with corporate offices in Baltimore, exemplifies this leadership principle. Martin makes it a point, whenever he is in the office, to “take a lap.”
Each day, he makes it a point to visit a few minutes with as many people as possible in the corporate office as well as the automotive service areas.
HAVE A HIGH DEGREE OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ), there are the following 5 elements of EI:
- Self Awareness: They have a deep understanding of their own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and drives
They understand how their emotions affect:
- Other People
- Their Job Performance
Are self confident because they have a firm grasp of their capabilities, so they don’t set themselves up for failure (i.e., they play to their strengths).
They know where they are headed, and why. They are honest with themselves and with others (i.e., possess integrity). They have a self-deprecating sense of humor.
2. Self Regulation
- It’s the ability to control one’s disruptive moods and impulses;
- It involves an ongoing inner conversation;
- There is no doubt that they feel their own bad moods and frustrations, but they don’t let them affect their behavior, or they find ways to channel them in useful ways; and
- They can roll with the changes; roll with stresses and roll with ambiguity in information.
They have a strong desire to achieve for the sake of it that goes beyond money or status. They have a passion for the work itself:
- The creativity and challenge of it;
- The continual learning involved; and
- They’re optimistic – even when the score is against them.
This is not adopting other people’s emotions nor trying to please everyone. It’s the ability to understand the emotional make-up of people, and then adapting one’s behavior accordingly. It is knowing what others are feeling and acknowledging their feelings, when appropriate. It is extremely important when one is coaching, mentoring, or trying to persuade others
5. Social Skill
This is the culmination of all the other components of EI. It is proficiency in handling relationships and building needed networks of people. It is friendliness, but with a purpose (i.e., it’s moving people in the direction one wants).