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September 27, 2013

Developing the Right "Nano Tools" for Your Company

Posted by Paddy Rao (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:57 AM

Narayana Murthy on "Leadership" : Economic Times - The Power of Ideas [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTMN78iio0k&list=PL5A78EB670692772A]

Do you have what it takes to be an effective leader? More specifically, do you have what it takes to make a leader's checklist?

I ask because of new academic research on the importance of the actionable checklist in any organization. For instance, New York City's fire department, one of the largest in the world, has no less than 13 different checklists that its leaders must abide by in case of emergency - and the FDNY faces lots of emergencies. Their "Mayday" checklist includes things like ordering all unrelated two-way radio to stop and establishing a staging area for firefighters.

In the corporate world, Microsoft's sales managers use a pre-sales checklist that includes finding out who will be on the sales call, researching those people on an Internet search engine, and committing their sales pitch to memory. Another organizational checklist highlighted in a recent article I read included softer topics such as trying to see the world through clients' eyes and working with them to transcend conventional thinking.

I thought it might be helpful to review what thought leaders at the Wharton School of Business say are 15 indispensable things to think about when forming any leader's checklist. They remind us that a leader's checklist is only as good as the materials and engineering that go into it. What follows are their ideas plus some commentary of my own.

1. Articulate a Vision. Formulate a clear and persuasive vision and communicate it to all members of the enterprise. Are you remembering everyone when you convey your vision?

2. Think and Act Strategically. Set forth a pragmatic strategy for achieving that vision both short- and long-term, and ensure that it is widely understood. Consider all the players, and anticipate reactions and resistance before they are manifest. There's no substitute for planning ahead.

3. Honor the Room. Frequently express your confidence in and support for those who work with and for you. High morale is an important key to success, especially during long projects.

4. Take Charge. Embrace a bias for action, of taking responsibility even if it is not formally delegated, particularly if you are well positioned to make a difference. Your teammates will respond positively to your leadership actions

5. Act Decisively. Make good and timely decisions, and ensure that they are executed. Debate and theorizing only go so far; eventually you need to act.

6. Communicate Persuasively. Communicate in ways that people will not forget. Simplicity and clarity of expression help.

7. Motivate the Troops. Appreciate the distinctive intentions that people bring, and then build on those diverse motives to draw the best from each person. That means genuinely getting to know the people on your team.

8. Embrace the Front Lines. Delegate authority except for strategic decisions, and stay close to those most directly engaged with the work of the enterprise. Leadership begins by going to the front of the pack.

9. Build Leadership in Others. Develop leadership throughout the organization. Large projects are good opportunities to scope out new talent within an organization.

10.Manage Relations. Build enduring personal ties with those who look to you, and work to harness the feelings and passions of the workplace.

11.Identify Personal Implications. Help everybody appreciate the impact that the vision and strategy are likely to have on their own work and future with the firm. Each member of the team has a unique role to fulfill.

12.Convey Your Character. Through gesture, commentary, and accounts, ensure that others appreciate that you are a person of integrity.

13.Dampen Over-Optimism. Counter the hubris of success, focus attention on latent threats and unresolved problems, and protect against the tendency for managers to engage in unwarranted risk. A little bit of paranoia isn't such a bad thing in these situations.

14.Build a Diverse Top Team. Leaders need to take final responsibility, but leadership is also a team sport best played with an able roster of those collectively capable of resolving all the key challenges.

15.Place Common Interest First. In setting strategy, communicating vision, and reaching decisions, common purpose comes first, personal self-interest last. Often times this point can be the most challenging to live up to, especially if the leader has been in that role for a long time. Pretend it's your first time leading a team and the common purpose can become a lot clearer.

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