Transitioning from Manager to Engaging Leader

Legendary CEO Jack Welch once spelled out his six leadership rules:

1-Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.
2-Be candid with everyone.
3-Don't manage, lead.
4-Change before you have to.
5-If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete.
6-Control your own destiny, or someone else will.

Let's focus on Rule # 3 and explore the meaning of leading.

Welch once said that managers need to undergo a transformation if they want to become leaders:

~ "We have to undo a 100-year-old concept and convince our managers that their role is not to control people and stay on top of things, but rather to guide, energize and excite."

If you are a Change Agent, you'll notice the From-To structure implicit in his statement: From (controlling people and staying on top of them) and To (guiding people, energizing and exciting them). The From is where we are now, and the To describes the desired state we want to attain. But how will we achieve the change and get there? In a nutshell, we need a transition plan.

Long ago, the Father of Organizational Change, Kurt Lewin, taught us the metaphor of unfreezing and refreezing. To undo the old thinking (as Welch demands), we have to unfreeze our grip on fear and distrust, for that is the very reason we think (and feel) that we have to control people. Once we have loosened our grip on fear and can let it go, we can refreeze with a new concept. But what?

Consultant Bennet Simonton has the answer: liberation. Free them! Let your people go. Take off the shackles of control and unleash their spirits at work. Become Engaging Leaders!

So how can Managers make the transition to Engaging Leaders? Let's apply the ADKAR Model (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement) from Prosci research:

-Do your Managers know why this change is needed?
-Are they motivated to change?
-Do they know how to make the change happen?
-Do they have the ability to change?
-Do you have ways to encourage and sustain the managers as they endeavor to change?

Through this difficult transition, it will help to keep Welch's three leadership imperatives in view:

Guide: As John C. Maxwell has said so well, "Leaders know the way, show the way, and go the way." Leaders hold the vision up so the people can see where the company is going. Leaders are coaches, providing useful inputs to individuals and teams. And Leaders lead by their own example.

Energize: As electricity powers a fan and gives us a breeze, energy powers our progress toward our goals. Leaders have a direct impact on the energy that people need, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some things (like worry) waste our energy and drain it away. On the other hand, doing work that we care about, following our passions, and tackling challenging problems are examples of things that renew us.

Excite: Warren Bennis once said that "Leaders have the capacity to translate vision into reality." In other words, leaders have the ability to turn plans into results. How do they do that? By engaging, inspiring and motivating others.

As the ancient philosopher once said, "A leader knows his work has been done well when the people say 'We did this ourselves.'"

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Sunday February 6, 2011. Do you want your managers to become engaging leaders? For more ideas, invite Terry to your organization.

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