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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lecture 2 A What is effective leadership?

Lectures 2A and 2B define Effective Leadership, review what you should study in addition to this course material, describe what benefits the diligent student can expect and tell a story that validates the claims for the results of the recommended study.

Effective Leadership 
Effective Leadership is the behavior of an organization’s leader that enables the organization to function to its fullest capability. Most managers are not effective leaders. Their behavior actually inhibits the effectiveness of their organization. It requires training; self-study and practice to become an effective leader. In some organizations it also requires great courage to behave in ways outside the parent organization’s primary culture.

Management and leadership can be simply defined as management is doing things right and leadership is doing the right things. This course is about both because to be effective you must do both the right things and do things right. To achieve the benefits promised in the introduction the student must be both an effective manager and leader. In most cases the benefits are achieved only via change in the manager’s behavior and the organization’s work methods. Change doesn’t happen without leadership. Perhaps a metaphor best explains effective leadership. Think of a well-trained dog working or playing with its master. Both know what is expected of them. The dog has certain freedoms and certain limits. The dog knows the freedoms and limits and is able to perform effectively with little guidance from the master. The master knows and respects the dog’s abilities so that he or she knows what commands are necessary and when they are needed. This enables the dog and master to enjoy their activities together. It takes training and persistence to achieve this relationship but it is rewarding for both the dog and master. I don’t need to describe an ineffective dog trainer/master as you have likely seen the results and they aren’t pretty. Neither the master nor the dog has a good time.

Effective leaders are like the effective trainer/master of a well-trained dog. They can empower their workers because the workers have been effectively trained and motivated. The workers willingly take responsibility for their jobs because they have control of their jobs, within agreed upon limits. Properly trained, motivated and empowered workers are more productive and happier than workers that are neither properly trained nor empowered and therefore must be micromanaged by their supervisors. Leaders of properly trained and empowered workers are not swamped with daily crises and have the time to provide the leadership needed to achieve the organization’s strategic objectives.

First Exercise 
Spend a few minutes thinking about your working environment and the culture of your organization.
Now: Without looking ahead describe how you characterize the current working environment-
First: In the organization you manage.
And then: In the organization you work in or report to.

Did your description include words like?
• High Pressure
• Fast Paced
• Cost Cutting
• Short Term Focus
• More From Fewer Workers
• Crisis Every Day
• Everyone working several tasks at once

If not, you are in a very rare and exceptional organization. If so, then you are in a typical 21st century work environment. You can complain about it at home but to be successful you have to learn how to thrive in such an environment. I believe this course will help. You need to know how to achieve effective long term results in a short term environment. That is the subject of this course.

Now let’s address what justifies my claim that the principles and methods presented in this course will enable your organization to achieve a 20 to 30% improvement in effectiveness. Let’s look at two conditions in most organizations. First, many gurus of management and of quality improvement methods assert from their experience that the extra cost due to poor quality in most organizations ranges from 20 to 40 percent of the total costs of the organization. Second, “Many managers would agree that the effectiveness of their organizations would be at least doubled if they could discover how to tap the unrealized potential present in their human resources” (See p 4 of The Human Side of Enterprise by Douglas McGregor)

Therefore most organizations have the potential for a 20 to 40 percent improvement if they eliminate the cost of poor quality. There is the potential for a 10 to 20 percent improvement if only half the cost of poor quality is eliminated. The methods for improving quality are well known and are being practiced in some organizations. These methods go by various names such as Total Quality Management, Continuous Process Improvement, Six Sigma and other such names.

How to tap the unrealized potential present in workers is less well known but there are proven methods. I am not sure if taping unrealized potential at least doubles the effectiveness as McGregor says many managers claim but I know it makes an improvement equal to or greater than improving poor quality. This course shows how to both reduce the costs of poor quality and to tap the unrealized potential of workers. I have achieved these goals in organizations I have managed and watched others achieve them in organizations for which I have consulted. Properly combined these two methods easily result in a 20 to 30 percent improvement in organizational effectiveness.
Now the bad news. In addition to this course of study it takes follow-up to achieve the desired results, including:
• Additional 40-60 hours of training for yourself and for each member of your organization (less if your organization already has an effective quality improvement program in place.)
• 50-100 hours of self-study (self-study can be cut in half by doing assigned homework)
• Practicing what you have learned with the organization you manage for two to five years

Not easy, but if it was there would be many effective leaders and most organizations would be achieving their potential.

  If you find that the pace of blog posts isn’t compatible with the pace you would like to maintain in studying this material you can buy the book “The Manager’s Guide for Effective Leadership” at: or hard copy or for nook at: or hard copy or E-book at:

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