Masters of the universe

first_imgTosurvive in the global marketplace, companies need to operate new leadershipmodels based on principles, argues Stephen CoveyGlobalisation,despite protests in the streets, has unstoppable momentum. World markets andglobal competition are now the order of the day, the Pandora’s box of theInternet has been opened, and customers expect international standards. Whatis the nature of the new challenge today? It is permanent whitewater – ragingwaters, constantly churning and creating a natural, powerful stream of change,turbulence and noise. Contrast this to yesteryear’s analogy of a rowing crew ona beautiful, placid lake.Thecrew – an ideal vision of teamwork – takes orders from the coxswain. The teamimmediately responds in sync. Contrast this with rowing in a raft in turbulentwhitewater; the noise alone drowns out any possibility of managing the team byone coxswain. It’s no good having one captain giving out orders, because nobodycan see or hear him – especially if he speaks a different language. Similarly,the old corporate structures often no longer apply. Traditional habits – suchas the “accountancy” style of analysis, check, recheck and passupwards for a decision – are outmoded. Embedded in a global organisation, thesehabits can become crippling, as innovation and reaction speed are stifled.Clearly,doing business in a whitewater environment demands that each individual leadshim or herself. Each must know and understand what his role is, what needs tobe done and why. They must be able to answer: “What are we trying todo?” “What are the principles operating here?” and “Howshould I respond?” These survival skills must be based on mutual trust andcommon vision, purpose and goals.Isuggest there are only three constants in life – change, principles and choice– the power we have to adapt and respond to the other two constants. The latestneed we have in this whitewater world, however, is a changeless core. Placingchangeless, timeless principles such as trust, equality, integrity andcompassion at the centre of our lives gives us such a core – an anchor enablingus to adapt and respond to the forces of change and new dynamics of a globaleconomy. For example, how do you:–Create effective decision-making, accountability and reporting?–Motivate staff from different cultures and backgrounds?–Check that an overseas division’s activities mesh with company goals?Grapplingwith such issues, it is natural for companies with “command andcontrol” management systems to want to clamp down even harder, especiallywith their overseas operations. The reality is that top-down management styleis defunct, especially in today’s knowledge economy where the real value of anorganisation rests with the people or the knowledge worker. Now, more thanever, employees need to be empowered, their human potential unleashed, allowingthem greater innovation, creativity and productivity. But how do you do this?Ibelieve the answer lies in true leadership built on mutual trust. Empowermentwithout trust does not work. The traditional centre – the global head office –cannot be the only coxswain; the organisation must trust its people.Trustworthiness comes from being grounded in behaviour, which follows universalprinciples of equity, justice, compassion integrity and honesty. Buthow can we build trust? In fact, the methods are simple, but take time andeffort – this is not a quick fix. We need to listen to people, to seek tounderstand. We need to demonstrate respect, and communicate people’s worth andpotential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves – the true essenceof leadership. Wheredoes all this leave the HR function? Like anyone else, HR professionals cantend to fall into line with expectations, rather than promote change. Thecomplexity of global personnel issues makes it easy to become immersed in thedetail. Today’s HR must look beyond this to consider what matters most about abusiness’ people. HR must consider the organisation’s mission, vision andpurpose. Once an HR professional understands the strategy and what mattersmost, she can strategically recruit and hire. She must also consider hiringpeople for their talents and train for needed skills – allowing a company tohire and retain the best people for its growing needs.HRalso has a tremendous role for building trust and understanding in theorganisation. The Internet can be a powerful tool for doing this. Its greatstrength is its interactivity and ability to collect real-time information andinstant feedback. Used effectively, say to create a stakeholder dialoguesystem, it can help build the “interdependence” that cements success.Companies,which can build principle-centred leadership will find many of their previousconcerns no longer relevant. In the long term, the top-down ethos of”masters of the universe” will give way to self-led staff, who thinkglobally and acts locally, working towards mutual mission, vision and goals – apowerful driver for true, sustainable effectiveness and success.StephenR Covey is co-chairman of Franklin Covey Company and international best-sellingauthor of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Principle-Centred Leadership,First Things First, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families and Living the 7Habits.  See Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Masters of the universeOn 1 Oct 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more