Everyone's Looking For The Leader
We get calls .... and calls ..... and calls. While they come from
many different countries, and many different organizations, they
share one commonality: they are all searching for leaders. One
came from Europe. The search committee for a very large telecommunications
firm called looking for a leader to take them into the twenty-first
century. That call was followed by another call from a search
firm looking for a leader of a very large American telecommunications
firm looking for a leader to take them into the twenty-first century.
That call was followed by a call from a large missionary organization
looking for a leader to take them into the twenty-first century.
Everyone's looking for leaders.
But, not any leader will do. There are leaders and then there
are LEADERS - in capital letters - and everyone's in search of
that capital letters leader. How do you become a capital letter
leader? There are lots of books out there - by both academics
and former / current leaders like Max Dupree or Lee Iacocca. It's
difficult to pin down the fruits of all this labor beyond the
dead trees they deliver. What we do know, though, is that Phoenix
leaders are different. Maybe that's why we get all those calls.
How The Phoenix Leader Soars
The Phoenix leader steps forward, seizes the initiative and takes
responsibility to create success for all those with whom she is
interconnected. She focuses on accomplishing two critical outcomes,
that perhaps sometimes sound contradictory: engage people by building
heart connections with individuals and instill disciplined, fact-based
processes. Both are essential to creating success for all the
interconnected, interdependent people with whom she is involved.
This soft and hard combination is what distinguishes the rare
species of Phoenix leaders from other more commonly found species
of managers and leaders.
Phoenix leader's make five essential contributions to the interconnected
networks they lead, they:
Surface issues that confront the organization,
Engage the people in resolving those issues,
Prioritize / allocate resources to address those issues,
Unleash ownership so everyone accepts responsibility for dealing with those issues and
Energize learning for everyone in the network.
These five contributions help everyone continually Renew themselves and
their organizations and succeed in their interconnected, interdependent networks. These
contributions enable the leader and the others to build the Pyramid
that provides a strong base for future success.
For example, we were Phoenix leaders at AT&T/GBCS.
the major issues confronting the division: pricing, customer focus
and internal competition.
We engaged everyone in debating these
issues. As a result of the debate, we decided to lead a price
increase in the market place, align integrating customer focused
goals across previously independent units and integrate previously
competitive separate internal selling organizations.
We then prioritized
and allocated resources to implement these decisions. We added
resources to the sales administration group to support the price
increase strategy. We sped up research deliverables to put new
product on the street that would justify the price increase. We
invested the time and money to hold goal alignment meetings throughout
the organization to get everyone to understand the need for the
price increase and the role each of them played in supporting
the overall division's return to profitability.
We put in place
new goal setting and quality skills training activities that helped
energize the ownership for implementing the new strategies and
learning for future development.
There Are Phoenix Leaders At All Levels In An Organization.
At AT&T/GBCS, for instance, the head of field support accounting,
Bob Z, led his group of field controllers to surface the issues
that confronted his group: field personnel with little financial
know-how and field controllers that are held in low esteem by
field personnel. Bob then engaged his group in discussing how
they would educate field personnel in using the financial information
and do whatever it took to "earn a seat" at the field decision
making table. Bob then led the prioritization and allocation of
resources to spend more time working with field personnel. Then,
Bob worked to energize ownership for the implementation of these
strategies by establishing monthly action plans and reviews of
accomplishments. He then sponsored field training programs to
encourage learning. He coached his field controllers, in turn,
to become Phoenix leaders in their small field offices by repeating
the process with their teams.
But there were lots of Phoenix leaders who don't hold official
management positions. Sally was a field sales coordinator in a
mid-western region. She worked as part of a virtual team responsible
for ensuring that the sales reps had the information necessary
to support the price increase. She assumed leadership of the team,
surfacing the issues confronting the team (competing time and
priority pressures), engaging people in resolving those issues
(involving the many different managers in resolving priority issues),
prioritizing/ allocating resources to implement the strategy (acquiring
a small discretionary budget for support material purchases),
energizing ownership for execution (tracking team mates promised
versus actual delivery dates) and learning herself about how to
lead teams. There were many Phoenix leaders at AT&T/GBCS, both
management and non-management people, each of whom performed the
five leadership tasks and enabled their interconnected networks
to build the solid pyramid base for future success. Maybe that's
why that organization turned around so dramatically.
Self-renewing Phoenix leaders create these outcomes by: gaining
Line Of Sight to all the good folks with whom they are connected, energizing
Learning for themselves and others and creating a Legacy. Throughout all of his activities, the Phoenix leader builds
heart connections with people and encourages fact-based, disciplined
You can be a Phoenix leader. No, you must be a Phoenix leader
if you want to Renew yourself and create a Legacy worth leaving. Answer the following Phoenix Workshop and begin
the process of becoming a Phoenix leader that builds the strong
Pyramid base for your and your organization's future success.
Use the following form to have Jim Belasco and Jerre Stead help you internalize these principles.