Active Leadership: When Leadership fails – Management prevails

Business has become more complex and rapidly changing – but is it really at a pace never seen before as widely reported?  Or have many of our leaders been outstripped in their ability to reinvent themselves to keep pace with the circumstances presented before them?

Andrew Phillips, active leadership

It’s very easy to find information about the increased change in pace and the additional complexities that are present for senior executives in today’s business world.

I’ve been looking at this for the past years with executives that I have worked for and worked with, and I’m not sure that the pace of change or complexities in business has changed very much at all - of course, there is different change and we see different complexities but this over time is constant.

I do believe that our clients have increased their very reasonable demand for being delivered what’s been promised in a high quality and timely manner, and our staff have intensified their focus on their right to demand leadership in modern and innovative manner.

The complexities of evolving over time. From a mid-level executive who responds to stimulus both from within and outside the organisation. To a leader who creates the stimulus that drives change and communicates this continually and effectively to both their staff and the market are the key difference between a good manager and a great leader.

Promoted executives who fail to recognise this consider that doing more of what they did to get promoted will be the answer to their success. Keeping the same people around them that were present at the lower level or importing them from previous organisations is a sure-fire determiner of impending average performance.

In these circumstances, I have seen the well-described “puppet master” behaviour of actively managing inputs and then holding the executive team to account for failing to achieve outcomes – a management technique for lower levels but not successful senior executive behaviours who are demanded to deliver transformational outcomes.

Great leaders expose themselves to their teams, allowing their teams and staff to be part of their success measurements. They embrace activities like setting “Leadership Promises”, embarking upon reverse mentoring programs and enshrine in their culture regular face to face meetings with all staff and take active steps to address individual issues and themes as they arise.

Our ability to question our beliefs, reposition our market understating, clearly state objectives and view staff and clients as individuals is the key. Then collaboratively develop plans with the leadership team that focus on the client and staff outcomes as the main driver of success with the company fiscal measurements as guiding principles. This is a much greater challenge but will assist senior leaders to decouple theirs and the organisation's performance from the market.