Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Three Building Blocks of Leadership

Author: Kenneth Strong

Three Building Blocks of Leadership

By: Kenneth Strong

It's not enough to declare that your selected candidate for promotion to supervisor is now a "leader." You must provide him or her with three essential building blocks. And by the way, if you are the one being asked to take on the additional responsibility of leadership you should insist on having the same three building blocks:

Authority

After this time I surpassed all others in authority, but I had no more power than the others who were also my colleagues in office. - Augustus Caesar

Authority includes the personnel, money and materials that go beyond the title supervisor or manager. Your authority includes the sole determination of how the above assets are utilized or expended conducting the business of your department, section, area of responsibility or company. Your staff must be absolutely certain that you are in charge and your decisions won't be reversed by your supervisor, within reason, baring anything unlawful or immoral.

If you aren't given the decision making authority, don't take the job. Having the authority to complete a job is very satisfying. Remember that your authority also means taking responsibility when things go wrong.

You are given the authority to perform your duties and responsibilities because of your supervisor's confidence and trust in your abilities.

Responsibility

While an open mind is priceless, it is priceless only when its owner has the courage to make a final decision that closes the mind for action after the process of viewing all sides of the question has been completed. Failure to make a decision after due consideration of all the facts will quickly brand a man as unfit for a position of responsibility. Not all of your decisions will be correct. None of us is perfect. But if you get into the habit of making decisions, experience will develop your judgment to a point where more and more of your decisions will be right. After all, it is better to be right 51% of the time and get something done, than it is to get nothing done because you fear to reach a decision. - H. W. Andrews

This is the lonely part of leadership; every decision you make you make alone. While you want to have input from staff members and others as may be necessary but you will evaluate all the data and advice and ultimately make the decision alone. Leaders are responsible for making the hard decisions no one else wants to make or can make. Once you implement your decision everyone suddenly knows the correct answer. You have now opened yourself to criticism from every possible direction. You may even begin to second guess yourself-don't. The decision you made was based on available information and in the best interests of the organization.

You always have the option of adjusting the decision as its consequences develop. As a leader you make decisions knowing that they may be wrong but you take that risk where others won't. You and you alone have the responsibility for making the decision. So make your decision with confidence and above all, trust yourself.

Accountability

The major way of doing anything with one's self is to own one's self. This means to take full responsibility and accountability for whatever I am doing at any moment, with anybody. It means, among other things, that I get rid of all the extra fingers that I point at people and situations to explain my behavior. When a person says ""He made me mad"" that is not accurate. It is ""I made me mad."" When I permit myself the luxury of taking that full responsibility, then I'm on first base, at least, because then I can do something about it. - W. W. Broadbent, MD, PhD - Accountability simply put means you own it. The military teaches this concept better that any organization I know. It works like this. You are assigned a task; there are two possible outcomes, you succeed or fail. If you succeed, congratulations and move on. If you fail there is no excuse for failing, you just didn't get it done. This short conversation sounds like this; Yes, Sir, No, Sir and No Excuse, Sir. The young leader learns very quickly that he or she is totally accountable for everything his or her unit does or fails to do.

I guarantee you will only make an excuse once.

Your reputation as a leader will be determined by how accountable you are in your daily business practices. By holding yourself accountable for all your actions and those of your department you will be way ahead of your contemporaries. It is an easy way to get noticed in a positive way.

Accountability is not just for the big stuff; it also important for the casual daily things. For example: You tell a colleague that you can't meet with him at the moment but will call him in an hour. Make sure you call him in an hour. Or you are scheduled to attend a meeting at 10:00 AM. Show up at 9:55 AM not 10:05 AM. Feel free to use this article, in your publications, in its entirety provided you include the following notice: © Copyright 2004, Lighthouse CCUNIV Publications, Ltd., Lakeville, Massachusetts, USA (except as otherwise indicated). Lighthouse Continuing Care University is a servicemark Lighthouse CCUNIV Publications, Ltd. http://www.ccuniv.org

About the author: Kenneth E. Strong, Jr., MS, is President and founder of Lighthouse CCUNIV Publication, Ltd., www.ccunivpub.com. He is the founder of Lighthouse Continuing Care University http://www.ccuniv.org a web based community devoted to educating, supporting and developing, supervisors, managers, line staff and trustees of Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Skilled Nursing Facilities

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