Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Leadership; Transformational, Innovative or Both?

Following the Leader
There is a remarkable diversity and variety of opinion regarding leadership and management styles which has been expressed online in equally diverse ways. From the comic strip antics of Dilbert to some of the oldest creation stories, the impact and effects of leadership and management styles loom large.

I recently came across the web page of St. Thomas University (formerly Biscayne College) and was pleasantly surprised at the scope and balance of the material they have posted on leadership and management, particularly since it takes a neutral stance and discusses both the pros and cons of a wide range of styles from Autocrats to Laissez-Faire and nine others falling in-between.

In her article Defining Leadership: Do You Manage … or Do You Lead?, Pamela Spahr says Leadership is a soft skill and Management is a hard skill. Leadership revolves around influence, motivation and drive while management quantifies, creating budgets, determining the tasks and subtasks required to meet a goal and keeping a project on schedule. Put another way, Leadership is relationship focused and Management is task focused.

Two of the articles; What is Transformational Leadership? and What is Innovative Leadership? should be of particular interest to our discussion of life in the creative fast lane of artists, designers and engineers.

Spahr describes Innovative Leadership as characterized by;

  • Being Non-directive
  • Highly collaborative
  • Having a fluid group structure
  • Transparency of communication
  • Creative thinking and problem-solving
  • A work environment conducive to innovation
  • Encouraging the team to implement and evaluate new ideas
  • An abductive thought process conducive to making innovative connections
In addition, Spahr lists the following traits of Innovative Leaders and six abductive reasoning skills used by innovative leaders and offers three examples;
  • Clear strategic vision
  • Strong focus on the end-user
  • Able to build strong two-way trust
  • Strongly committed to doing right for the organization and the individual
  • Trust in the ability to communicate upward in organization
  • Excellent at getting people to go beyond their normal limits
  • Believe in speed and getting ideas and prototypes completed quickly
  • Blunt and straightforward communication style
  • Paying attention: Observing what is happening and keeping the group is collaborating.
  • Personalizing: Developing a rapport with - and paying attention to - individuals in the group.
  • Communicating: Having a clear vision of a goal and being good at communicating it.
  • Serious play: Fostering a playful environment to encourage innovation. They know that pressure - and fear - kills creativity.
  • Collaborative inquiry: Radical collaborators, finding ways to cross-pollinate ideas.
  • Crafting:  Builders and prototypers, fixing the holes in the idea and iterating the results.
Marc Benioff
Founder and CEO of Salesforce.com, a cloud-based company started in 1999. Salesforce expanded through a large number of acquisitions. In 2013, its revenue topped $3 billion and topped the Forbes World’s Most Innovative Companies list frin 2011 thru 2013. Salesforce.com's goal is to lead the shift to social enterprise.

Dr. Temple Grandin
Biologist and author Temple Grandin is known both for her expertise in animal science and welfare and as a leader in the autistic community. Grandin revolutionized livestock handling with corral and feedlot designs that alleviated animal anxiety.

Because Dr. Grandin was born with high-functioning autism. Her parents worked tirelessly to find the education, environment and resources that would help their daughter thrive. Today, Dr. Grandin advocates for people on the autism spectrum and has authored books about both animal welfare and autism-friendly education.

Elon Musk
Musk is the CEO and CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of Tesla Motors and CEO and Chief Product Architect of SpaceX. In 2013, SpaceX became the first private company to launch a satellite into geosynchronous orbit.

Transformational leaders are described as:
  • Motivators
  • Quiet leaders
  • Leading by example
  • Working to improve the existing system
  • Maximizing teams’ capability and capacity 
  • Using rapport, inspiration, or empathy to engage others
  • Understanding how to form teams that work well with others
  • Courageous, confident and willing to make sacrifices for the greater good
  • Identifying problems by uncovering old patterns which no longer effective
  • Possessing a single-minded drive to improve the things which no longer work
Spahr gives two examples of transformational leaders; William Edwards Deming and Peter Druker.

Deming is known as the father of statistical quality control. After earning a doctorate in mathematics and physics at Yale in 1928, he spent most of his career working or consulting for the U.S. government. During World War II, Deming taught statistical process control techniques to military production workers.

Drucker was a professor and management consultant who predicted some of the 20th-century’s biggest changes, like the Japanese rise to a world economic power, the "information age" where knowledge is power, and the importance of marketing and innovation.  He coined the term “knowledge worker.”

Regardless of your personal style, there are many positive traits to emulate here.

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