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Hot-houses for Revitalization Leaders Published: Sunday, June 10, 2001 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

Without healthy leaders, organizations cannot make the necessary changes, yet the scarcest resource available for revitalizing those entities is leadership. Organizational renewal depends as much on developing effective change leaders as it does on developing effective organizations. The personal learning associated with leadership development, or the realization by higher management that some managers do not have this capacity cannot occur by magic, neither by simple experience. It only happens in an organization where the production of knowledge, learning, teamwork and high commitment are already the norm.

The only way to develop the kind of leaders a changing organization needs is to make leadership an important criterion for promotion, and then manage people´s careers to develop it. At the best-practice companies, managers are move from job to job and from unit to unit based on their learning needs, not on their position in the hierarchy. Successful leaders are assigned to units that are targets for change. People who need to sharpen their leadership skills are moved to special organizational settings where those skills are demanded and therefore learned. (Learn to learn, do, work together and be). Leading edge units are hot-houses to develop revitalization leaders.

How important is for senior managers to practice what they preach? Very important. They are sometimes responsible for creating a climate for grass-roots change without paying much attention to how they themselves operate and manage. There comes a point for many organizations when addressing these inconsistencies becomes crucial. As change process spreads, leaders in the ever growing circle of revitalized units eventually demand changes from corporate staff groups and top management. As they discover how to manage differently in their own work environments, they bump up against constraints of policies and practices that top levels have created. They also begin to see opportunities for better coordination between themselves and other parts of the organization over which they have little jurisdiction. At this point, corporate organization must be aligned with corporate strategy, and integration and interdependencies between units should increase for the betterment of the whole organizational system. The arithmetic growth of any organization should be followed by a geometric effort of coordination and integration.

If leaders do not apply to themselves what they have been encouraging to others, then the whole process of revitalization can breakdown. The struggle of senior managers with behavior change will help sustain corporate renewal in three main ways: (1) Promoting specific attitudes and behaviors for integrating diverse activities in the organization. (2) Lending credibility to top management`s continued espousal to change. (3) Helping leaders to identify and develop successors who are capable of learning the new behaviors. Only such a leader can lead an organization that can renew itself continually as competitive forces change.

 


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