Headless Organization

It is common to have people lamenting they do not enjoy working in their organization. Some of the causes of their dissatisfaction can be related to career, competency, work culture and leadership.  In this article, I will focus on leadership.

The origami figure that I featured was not deliberately designed. I was unable to form the correct base to fold the head of a horse with its mane.  Nevertheless, I thought it was an appropriate model for illustrating the above topic.

The head portion of the model could be labeled “Horse” or pasted with a photo of the head of a horse.  However, the model would not look impressive.  In a similar way, an organization cannot be impressive if its leaders only depended on their job titles or hierarchical position.  How do organizations assess the qualities of their leaders?  Do they have criteria for leadership qualities and assess them regularly?  Do they evaluate their leaders from the followers’ perspective?

While the bulk of our learning comes from active learning, I encourage leaders to read articles on leadership. Some of the common negative impacts caused by leaders as follow:

  • Leaders getting or commanding their staff to do work but without enabling them to do so.  They do not provide the necessary information or guidance to their staff.
  • Leaders having no sense of urgency to address customer enquiries or complaints.
  • Leaders not accountable to resolve issues that required their involvement.
  • Leaders who are not consistent with what they say and do.  Not walking the talk.
  • Leaders with no credibility in their work, and with no humility to learn from others.
  • Leaders who think that empowerment means delegate everything to their staff.

An organization primarily comprise of people.  Both leaders and followers characterize an organization.  Leaders and followers are interdependent when it comes to defining the organization. The leader sets the direction, values and way of working for their followers to meet the organization’s vision, goals and objectives.  The organization’s competitiveness depends on leaders and their followers working effectively together to add value to stakeholders.

Successful organizations put in place management systems to assess their leadership practices and act on them accordingly.  While it is important to measure the effectiveness of employees delivering their respective key performance indicators (KPIs), it is more important to measure how the leaders enable their employees to achieve those KPIs.  How are the leaders selecting the right staff to do the work?  How do they engage the staff and align on expectations to deliver results?  How do they develop their staff to be competent in their work?  How do they retain (sustain) their staff to continue delivering results?  If the leader does not have the passion to do these four roles, then they probably end up like the “headless horse” and only affect the organization negatively in the long run.

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