Build purpose, demand mastery and get out of the way.

By William Seidman A well-known organizational leadership conventional wisdom is that leaders should listen more and be more collaborative. Why do so few leaders practice it? And how does a leader actually go about creating a participative culture, not just a few participative interactions? Today’s leaders get a very mixed message about when and how they should empower and when and how they should be decisive. Our society treats men who are decisive, controlling leaders as heroes (think Steve Jobs or Jack Welch) granting them great social status and rewards. It’s not surprising that many leaders would aspire to a similar role. Often that doesn’t leave a lot of room for a participative culture! In fact, the leader needs to rigorously drive creation of a collective compelling purpose for the organization and demand that people strive for mastery of their function in support of achieving this compelling purpose. Once everyone is aligned and really good at their jobs, it’s easy to empower them. On the other hand, imagine empowering people who aren’t aligned with the organization’s objectives and aren’t very good at their jobs. It doesn’t sound very attractive. The work of leadership is therefore quite simple. Build purpose, demand mastery and get out of the way.  ]]>

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