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Walking the Path

Image (c) Kandjstudio

In the movie Matrix, Laurence Fishburne’s character, Morpheus, said to Neo (Keanu Reeves) – “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” This quote can be linked to the change process. We have all experienced the difficulty of walking the path. There is a big difference between knowing what to change in a personal or organizational context and successfully implementing that change.

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The Leader as Change Agent

The most consistent thing in the 21st century is change. We simply can’t escape it. It occurs so quickly that leaders and organisations have to be adaptable or risk becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Leaders are expected to be change agents in their organisations. They are required to instigate and implement change initiatives that improve the effectiveness, competitiveness and profitability of their organisations.  Change initiatives usually fail because leaders fail to account for the role of transition in implementing them. Change and transition are sometimes used interchangeably but they don’t mean the same thing.

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Leveraging Influence

There is a major misconception that only people with titles are leaders, so if you don’t have a title e.g. CEO, General, Pastor, Professor, then you are not a leader. A lot of leadership that goes on in the world is done by people who have no formal leadership titles, but yet are bringing about change in their communities, cities and countries.

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Putting the Horse before the Cart

The demands on a leader’s time are infinite but his/her time is finite. The ability to maximise finite time is essential for both personal and professional success. Leaders should aspire to be both effective and efficient in executing their responsibilities. It is, however, important to know the difference between these terms because some leaders don’t. This knowledge prevents such leaders from putting the cart before the horse.

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Reaction vs Response

Image source: quapan

I mentioned in my last post that most business or leadership plans rarely go according to plan, but effective leadership is needed to deal with both foreseeable and unforeseeable disruptions.  Unplanned disruptions cause stress and the choices a leader makes when his best laid plans go astray define his leadership. Does he have a plan B when plan A fails?

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The Law of Buy-In

It is interesting that people will rather follow a person who they believe in but has a mediocre vision than a person who they are not sure of but who has a great vision. This is a result of the law of buy-in. According to Mike Walton, leaders need others’ buy-in to succeed in the twenty-first century. He defines ‘buy-in’ as the understanding, commitment and action in support of the leadership goals and vision. The ability to influence people’s thoughts and feelings, to generate their buy-in is a required leadership skill.

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Reframing Responsibility

Moses and commandment

Image source: Zeeweez

I would like to draw a leadership lesson from the life of Moses in the Bible. The Book of Exodus narrates a story of how God got the attention of a shepherd named Moses by using a burning bush. He investigated this strange occurrence of a bush burning up but yet was not consumed by the fire. God then directs him to go to Egypt, a superpower at the time, to tell Pharaoh to release all the Israelite slaves. This was an audacious directive for a simple shepherd who was also a wanted man in Egypt, having murdered an Egyptian about 40 years earlier.

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Using questions effectively (2)

This is the second part of using questions effectively. I discussed in a previous post on how leaders can use questions in their creative endeavours and today I will focus on the power of questions for coaching purposes.

Leaders can coach their team members by using questions to draw out answers from them. Leaders who always provide the solutions for their team members don’t enable them to think and grow. Effective questioning draws out insightful answers from team members. Coaching questions enable them to explore alternative solutions to a problem. It forces them to use their initiatives. It also encourages team members to be independent thinkers instead of been overly dependent on the leader. This frees up the leader to focus on other things because he has coached his subordinates to think for themselves.

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On Mourinho

Yesterday Jose Mourinho became the new coach of Real Madrid football club in Spain but last weekend he led the Italian club, Inter Milan, to win the European champions league trophy. This win cemented his status as one of the most successful football coaches in Europe. The 47 year old Portuguese coach, is a polarising figure; you either love him or hate him, but even his harshest critics can’t knock his accomplishments. I believe that there are several key factors responsible for his coaching success.

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Using questions effectively (1)

A leader’s ability to effectively ask questions is a powerful tool. A leader can maximise the use of questions in two key areas of his leadership. I will talk about the use of questions for creative purposes in this post and deal with the second aspect in another post.

Leaders are required to be problem solvers hence the reason why they are in charge. You need creativity to solve problems but creativity is kick-started by curiosity, which is built on by asking the right questions. Insight comes from the willingness to ask the right questions. Most breakthroughs originated from questions that others missed or ignored. A lot of problems remain unsolved because the wrong questions are being asked. An effective leader looks out for the right question because with the right question{s}, a problem is half solved.