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20 November, 2018  ▪  Спілкувався: Yuriy Lapayev

Bart Tkaczyk: "There is strong statistical corroboration for leadership development resulting in superior organizational performance across organizations of all sizes, sectors and national location"

On effective leadership, its current issues and trends

We spoke with a Fulbright Scholar (University of California, Berkeley) and CEO (ENERGIZERS, LLC) on how to develop extremely good leaders.

To begin with, what is leadership? And how do you define it?

- There are very many different leadership models, leadership frameworks and definitions of leadership that it is actually so easy to get lost. When I consult to CEOs and senior executives of major corporations and government ministries worldwide, I have a passion for crafting and executing winning Strategies, Organization Development, and Executive Human Resource Development. Also, I love Organizational Behavior, that is the study of individual, team and group dynamics within all kinds of organizational settings (corporate, government, and the third sector). Drawing on Organizational Behavior, positive Organizational Behavior in particular, here’s how I define leadership: Leadership is the process of energizing others to work to meet specific objectives. Here, every word is very important. Firstly, leadership is a process, so it’s nota product. Therefore, you cannot became an extremely good leader overnight. Secondly, leadership is about energizing others, so effective leading is a “contact sport”. Thirdly, the “energy” part is both fascinating and strategically vital. Just think about the quality of organizational energy and its intensity – this will give you four different types of organizational dynamics: A. an “Aggression zone” scenario (when your organization is very high on negative energy), B. a “Resignation zone” scenario (when your organization is lowon negativeenergy), C. a “Comfort zone” scenario (when your organization is lowon positive energy), and, finally, D. a “Passion zone” scenario (when your organization is very highon positive energy). It is the “Passion zone” where you want to be – no matter whether you’re a start-up, corporation or government. Fourthly, leading positively and strategically is the process of energizing others to work to meet specific objectives. This means accomplishing purposeful tasks, achieving results – spectacular results, and outstanding performance – performance far above the norm. 

Is investing in leadership development any important? How do we know?

- Oh, it’s is super important! At ENERGIZERS, LLC a global consulting firm specializing in strategic management, positive organization development, transformation and executive human resource development,we believe that strategic leadership development is the identification of necessary executive talent and active management of learning for the long-range future in relation to explicit corporate, business or government strategies. Evidently, both consulting practice and research demonstrate that investing in leadership development and management capabilities is the key to achieving sustainable organizational growth and success. And the evidence is compelling. In fact,when working across different industries and in multiple locations worldwide, we found thatthere is strong statistical corroboration for leadership development resulting in superior organizational performance across organizations of all sizes, sectors and national location. Additionally, we discovered that enhancing leadership and management capability, as well as constant learning and development are actually highly effective tactics to achieve organizational agility. Further, research from the US finds that top performers are at least four times more likely to have a learning and development culture. Lastly, ineffective management costs money. For instance, data from the UK shows that ineffective management is estimated to be costing UK businesses over £19 billion per year in lost working hours, while bad management by company directors causes 56% of corporate failures. Hence, today, all types of organizations – if they want to “play to win”, rather than just “play to play” – need to strategically invest a lot more in executive talent development. Period.

What else makes a person a particularly effective leader?

- There are certain leadership qualities that can make a person a remarkably effective leader – it’s some traits as well as leadership behaviors. Let’s talk leadership traits first.

The essential leadership traits (or a bundle of traits) include: “energy" (today, there are so many employees who are de-energized or disengaged at work – did you know that only13% of employees – globally – are engaged at work, while 51% of employees are actively looking for a new job due to bad managers? Disengaged employees cost tons of money! Plus, organizations with low staff engagement scores experience: 16% lower profitability, 18% lower productivity and 65% lower share price over time), “personalized and socialized leadership motivation" (if you don’t have winning aspirations, perhaps you might not be a super leader), “honesty and integrity” (this one is particularly important when we think governments – power often corrupts, and when this happens, people stop trusting politicians), “emotional stability” (think: emotional intelligence, i.e. a combo of traits and abilities that enable you to work with yourself and others well. Remember: research indicates that empathy beats technical skills), and, finally, “cognitive flexibility” that includes constant learning – I believe that when you stop learning, you stop developing and you stop growing.

Now, let’s shift our emphasis from what makes a leader to how leaders behave. Brain science research suggests that it is the leader who determines the style they lead their staff, which, consequently, determines how the staff behaves. Therefore, if you believe that your employees are lazy, naturally irresponsible and uncooperative, to add value, you will be rewarding or punishing them. In contrast, If you believe that your employees are naturally energetic, creative and growth-oriented, as a leader, you will be creating a lot more exciting opportunities and actually encouraging further growth and learning for them. Ultimately, great leaders “wear many different hats”. By way of illustration, sometimes, you do need to act like a “traditional director”, so, basically, you need to tellpeople what to do. On other occasions, to better facilitate processes, you may want to use  a lot more coaching tools. If you want people to participate more, support them. And if you want your employees to feel more empowered, you will need to delegate more.

What are different methods for developing leaders? Any good strategies that deliver results?

- To begin with,I believe that everyone is a talent. So everybody’s developmental needs need to be addressed – at all levels in an enterprise. True, different groups of leaders might be facing different challenges. Accordingly, when we work with spectacularly successful market leader organizations globally, we use multiple methods for developing different leadership and executive groups. 

For example, when we work with international CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CMOs, CHROs, CITOs, we can see that, very often, one of the greatest challenges is… succession. Therefore, we keep challenging themby asking: Can you build next-generation leaders? When we develop the C-Suite executives, we often use executive coaching or “tailored” learning programs. Also, what works very well here is “learning and development by external insights”. Case in point: Imagine that you work at organization X; why not volunteer and serve on the board of organization Y pro bono?

Next, when we develop senior leaders – leaders who are extremely smart but who are not CXOs yet, we, in many cases, recommend building a Leadership Academy. By the way, building the Leadership Academy methodologically and strategically is not a waster. In fact, it enhances strategy execution, boosts employee engagement, community reputation (local, regional, national, and global), plus investor trust – our experience has taught us that investors love investing in companies who love investing in their people…

Besides, to help develop high potential leaders, what gets results is implementing “continuous professional development (CPD)” by means of, for example, “individual development plans” – this includes a two-year plan (or preferably a three-year plan) that will help the leaders, one day, reach their full potential. 

What are some top leadership challenges of today – what do you reckon?

- There are so many! So I’d just focus on three now. Firstly, we need more women leaders. Research finds that female leadership styles are more successful in today’s team-based, consensually driven organizations. Despite the evidence, however, women still make up less than their share of executive roles. Moreover, organizational design is constantly evolving. Consequently, leaders must become increasingly agile – adopting a network mentality rather than a hierarchical one. For example, one major evolution affecting leadership is the move toward more mobile working environments and virtual teams. On top of that, so far we talked so much about leadership. However, there are no leaders without followers. Therefore, we must not forget about the other side of leadership, that is followership.

In Ukraine, we have some difficulty in developing the next-generation of leaders for government and public service. Any comments you’d like to make?

- I’m a big fan of positive and values-driven leadership, in other words, purposeful leadership. Specifically, as a leader, modelthe way forward with positivity and values, because others are watching you – and they will “mirror” the behaviors that they see. What does it mean? Energetic and values-based leaders – leaders with a “higher purpose” – will energize their workplaces and communities. Conversely, demoralized leaders will further demoralize others, promote destructive connections, and drive away followers altogether – magnifying damage to the society and the nation’s economy. The bottom line is, we always need to have something to strive for that is bigger – bigger than ourselves. 

———

Dr. Bart Tkaczyk, MBA (drtkaczyk.com), Fulbright Scholar (University of California, Berkeley: #1 US Public University in the world), Course Leader (mbasprint.com), CEO of ENERGIZERS, LLC: A global strategy consulting firm ranked among the world’s top 500 leadership companies (energizers.co). On Twitter @DrBTkaczykMBA.

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