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Leadership: Four Mantras, One Goal

February 2004
Leadership: Four Mantras, One Goal

Amazing statistics, this. Out of the 20 largest bankruptcies that have taken place in the last two decades, 10 have taken place in the last 2 years! Corporate earnings and losses have never been this erratically volatile, ready to trip over each other in their eagerness to outdo one another. It's true. Earnings have been stupendous in the last few decades. In fact over the past four decades, the year-to-year volatility in the earnings growth rate of S&P 500 companies has increased by 50 per cent. But now it seems that the business modules which showed remarkable increase in efficiencies in the last couple of decades, have begun to ?diminish' in returns and are ?peaking out'! Businesses are trying to arrest this by shrinking manpower, costs (by outsourcing in a big way) and other reactive methods. But, the point is for how long? Nobody has ever grown by shrinking! As Gary Hamal puts it, "The world is becoming turbulent faster than organizations are becoming resilient."

If we take this statement as the gospel truth, what stares us in the face is an uncomfortable truth. Organizations and businesses might become more flexible and adjust according to the changing times, but no matter how hard they try, it will never quite manage to keep in step. There will always be a chasm between the two. So how do we bridge it? One answer that emerges with increasing clarity is that the secret lies in developing leadership. A dynamic leadership that looks at developing the renewal process actively even as it works at building leadership that is both organizational and personal. Traditionally, organizations and people are driven by needs to run their businesses and lives. The focus is driven by circumstances rather than purpose.

With the focus on leadership, "What Matters Most" will become the new mantra. This approach generates clarity and builds a results-based culture in your businesses and around your interactions. I would suggest a process comprising of vital components of awareness, planning, development and discipline.

Awareness is the key to positive change. Leader-directed change is not about direction alone but about transformation. The degree of awareness is the single most determining factor to manage such positive change. What is awareness? It is about understanding your business, your people and yourself with regard to current capacity, abilities, potential and results. Transformation cannot take place in a vacuum unless one is insightful and is evaluative about "where you are". Awareness fosters insight that can transform ?good' results into ?great' accomplishments.

Planning is the heartbeat of performance. People managed by specific plans and strategy significantly out-perform less managed people with equal abilities and talents. Planning provides a significant competitive advantage. Research shows that very few people and businesses actually manage their operations by specific plan. In most cases, the focus is directed by situations and circumstances rather than by plans. People and businesses lack focus! They are easily diverted from their purpose and can go substantially ?off-course' without ever realizing it!

Development is unlocking your potential. Locked behind our ingrained habits and attitudes lie a vast reserve of unused potential that can be exploited with care for our own personal and business development. Knowledge accumulation and externally stimulated training of techniques/processes have very little influence in changing behaviors that have been acquired through years of conditioning. To unlock this personal development process, people would have to constantly work on narrowing the gap between ?what is' and ?what could be'. Research shows that people and businesses use a very small percentage of their existing potential and even 5 per cent to 10 per cent improvement in this gap can enormously improve overall results.

Results Management is the critical success factor. The most well designed plans and development processes emerging from an insightful awareness are only as good as its implementation. Failure in planning and developmental processes is usually due to ineffective results management. Effective people and businesses measure specific, daily results that are directly tied down to their plans and behavior modification. A performance that is measured is the performance that is improved.

The New Year brings in new tidings and new resolutions. We can pledge to reinvent this year and build the resilience to cope with the turbulence in our personal and business lives.

"Never let what you can't do get in the way of what you can do."

(John R Wooden, Head Basketball Coach, Emeritus, UCLA). n



Mohan Kapur of Leadership Management Inc., is leading expert in performance improvement and strategic development processes for organizations and professionals.He can be reached at 678-357-0055 or mohan_kapur@hotmail.com

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