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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.
* We surfaced 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 processes.

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.

Phoenix Workshop

Use the following form to have Jim Belasco and Jerre Stead help you internalize these principles.

What are the major issues facing you and/or your organization?

How can you engage those who will eventually take action in developing solutions to these challenges?

What resources need to be prioritized in order to effectively deal with these issues?

How can you unleash people's ownership for dealing with these issues?

What do you - and others - need to learn in order to effectively deal with these issues?

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