Friday, 16 July 2010

What Job Descriptions Do Not Tell You about Great Leaders

Smart is an elusive concept. Asking lots of questions builds up our knowledge base. With knowledge comes a certain sharpness; an ability to absorb new facts. Knowledge and curiosity builds a certain creativity that allows you to be effective. Why then do we believe that job descriptions are necessary?

The traditional study of leadership leads one to believe that the role of leaders is to set a course and stick to it whilst standing tall at the helm of their business, following the tried and tested rules of engagement, guiding their teams tirelessly through the storm. Using time-honoured job description methodology, which is often very effective, leaders attempt to keep the organisation stable, predictable and on course. What I cry out is, “Off course, off course is where the innovation and fun begins!”

This very issue strikes panic into the hearts of most of us charged with assuring the sustainability of our businesses. The challenge for leaders is contradictory: manage for stability while at the same time creating chaos that will present new opportunities and innovations. These mutually exclusive and contradictory goals are at the heart of the best organisations. Leaders capable of supporting the invention of new products and services, creating multi-layered networks, and casting off the ballast of withered management practices while carefully retaining the best ones, achieve lasting results. And, since leadership and management are largely non-linear undertakings, these are often uncharted waters with no apparent “one right way” and no absolute formula for success. Great leaders see beyond the horizon, but know they will have to adapt along the course as opportunities and obstacles come into view.

The following ten contradictions are offered only as a starting point in re-thinking a job description for new age leaders; leaders need to do all these things and do all these things together.
•Follow a structured roadmap and know that a roadmap is just a suggestion
•Know the customer does come first and that the customer does come second
•Have a systemised employee base and lose the job descriptions
•Listen to what customers say and pay attention to only 20 percent of customers’ opinions
•Build a corporate culture and stand in contradiction to the corporate culture
•Make it both business and personal
•Apply both/and, not either/or thinking
•Don’t worry what you don’t tolerate, worry about what you do tolerate

Let’s face it, when under pressure to grow, organisations of all kinds look to their roots and their previous successes for answers. Rekindling business growth inside an organisation often represents the toughest challenge to a maturing organisation. Can it regain its entrepreneurial spirit and continue to thrive despite its mature culture?

By turning to intrapreneurs, the company hopes it can have the best of both worlds. Intrapreneurs, by definition, embody the same characteristics as the entrepreneur, conviction, passion, and drive. They tend to be the leaders who have no job description, or the people who know that job descriptions inhibit success and limit thinking.

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