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Time for leadership

AS you know better than I do, in tough economic times people still need to be led, managed and developed. It’s always important. Right now it’s crucial. The current global situation is unsettling for many people. If ever there was a time for stronger leadership, then that time is now. Leadership is an amorphous concept – it lacks a definite shape. It is formless. Let’s try and give it some form, a framework on which you can hang your leadership hat. Use this framework to check that you are doing leadership. This is what great leaders are doing at all times – good and bad. (Adapted with thanks to Chris London, BP, UK). Direction and context This is the visible exercise of leadership through setting direction and explaining context with simplicity, clarity and precision. It inspires and enrols all the stakeholders to execute their business with confidence and creativity. It gives broader meaning to the performance of their jobs. It provides the links and connections to things outside the dimensions of their jobs. It removes uncertainty and confusion. Space This is the freedom to act with confidence without fear of reprisals or repercussions. It is created through the track record of both parties and the building or restoring of trust between the leader and the workgroup. It motivates and promotes outstanding performance and opportunities for growth. It is the foundation of learning through the best teacher – experience. It allows people to exercise their untapped potential. Boundaries These are necessary, restrictive and there to be challenged in the light of changing circumstances and enhanced perspectives. Properly designed, and explicitly communicated, they serve to define accountabilities, the risk envelope and to protect reputations. Explained, understood and accepted, they support business delivery. Boundaries describe the ethics, standards and principles of the enterprise. Support This is a key contribution of leaders to delivery. It underwrites the quality, development and confidence of the workgroup. It is the base from which their performance springs. It is challenging. It acknowledges and rewards both effort and results. It is most important when people are struggling. It provides a mechanism for coaching, learning and overcoming setbacks. Support is the foundation of top performing workgroups. In next week’s column, I’ll show you how to explore this framework further.

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