Your Leadership Ticket Is Waiting

Ticket_office

A lot of colleagues tell me that they hate office politics, and for many it represents their one-way ticket to ongoing bickering, infighting, and a virtual endless cycle of unsatisfied wants and unhappiness.

 

Office politics is where the interests of multiple parties either converge or collide–where convergence occurs through feelings of interdependence (i.e. enterprise) and acts of teamwork, while collisions predominate by stressing independence (i.e. isolationism) and head-butting.

 

This is where good and bad leadership can make a huge difference.

 

– One one hand, a bad leader sees the world of the office as “us versus them”and fights almost indiscriminately for his/her share of scope, resources, influence, and power.

 

– On the other hand, a good leader looks out for the good of the organization and its mission, and works to ensure the people have what they need to get their jobs done right, regardless of who is doing it or why.

 

Thus, good leaders inspire trust and confidence, because they, without doubt, put the mission front and center–and egos are left at door.

 

Harvard Business Review (January-February 2011) in an article called “Are You A Good Boss–Or A Great One?” identifies a couple of key elements that inherently create opposition and competitiveness within the enterprise:

 

1) Division of Labor–This is the where we define that I do this and you do that. This has the potential to “create disparate groups with disparate and even conflicting goals and priorities.” If this differentiation is not well integrated back as interrelated parts of an overall organizational identity and mission, then feelings of “us versus them” and even arguments over whose jobs and functions are more important and should come first in the pecking order will tear away at the organizational fiber and chances of success.

 

2) Scarce Resources–This is where limited resources to meet requirements and desirements impact the various parts of the organization, because not everyone’s wishes can be pursued at the same time or even necessarily, at all.  Priorities need to be set and tradeoffs made in what will get done and what won’t. Again, without a clear sense of unity versus disparity, scarcity can quickly unravel the organization based on people’s  feelings of unfairness, dissatisfaction, unrest, and potentially even “mob rule” when people feel potentially threatened.

 

Hence, a bad leader works the system–seeing it as a win-lose scenario–where his/her goals and objectives are necessarily more important than everyone else, and getting the resources (i.e. having a bigger sandbox or “building an empire”) is seen as not only desirable but critical to their personal success–here, their identity and loyalty is to their particular niche silo.

 

However, a good leader cares for the system–looking to create win-win situations–where no one element is better or more important than another, rather where they all must work together synergistically for the greater good of the organization. In this case, resources go not to who fights dirtier, but to who will most benefit the mission with them–in this case, their allegiance and duty is to the greater enterprise and its mission.

 

HBR states well that “In a real team [with a real leader], members hold themselves and one another jointly accountable.They share a genuine conviction they will succeed or fail together.”

 

Organizations need not be snake pits with cut throat managers wanting to see others fail and waiting to take what they can for themselves, rather there is another way, and that is to lead with a shared sense of purpose, meaning, and teamwork. 

 

And this is achieved through creating harmony among organizational elements and not class warfare between them.

 

This type of leader that creates unity–builds enduring strength–and has the ticket we need to organizational success.

 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Why Be Led By You?

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To be a great leader, you have to have the qualities that make others want to be led by you. Obviously, a leader without followers can’t lead anything.

A classic article in Harvard Business Review called “Why should Anyone Be Led By You?” by Goffee and Jones starts this way: “If you want to silence a room of executives try this small trick. Ask them, ‘why would anyone want to be led by you?’”…without fail, the response is a sudden hush. All you can hear are knees knocking.”

It’s humorous, but also right on. There are lots of people out there who are appointed, anointed, or otherwise advanced to positions of responsibility over others, but this does not make them leaders. To be a leader, a person must not ‘rule’ by authority alone, but by their ability to move people and organizations to greatness.

Most people say that what makes a leader is vision. And yes that is a vital trait, but there is a lot more—here are some others that differentiate the real leaders from the frauds:

· Wisdom—having the knowledge as well as ability to apply it to the specific situation. A leader knows what to do and when to do it. There is an implication of timely and relevant action. Finally, wisdom implies openness to new ideas and ways of doing things—innovation—and the customer-centric application of those.

· Integrity—a leader is reasonable, upright and equitable in his dealing with others. In contrast, corruption, dishonesty, greed, and nepotism undermine the very fabric of leading by example and preclude the possibility of creating a better world. Following a leader with integrity of being and of purpose is inherently meaningful and just.

· Compassion—some people call it empathy, but it is really more than just feeling for others, it is feeling altogether. It includes having the passion and determination to help the people and the organization innovate, modernize, and transform while being sensitive and responsive to all stakeholders affected.

· Humaneness—a leader is human being subject to frailties and failures, and is not to be confused with G-d (although some seem to think themselves almost nothing short of divine). Understanding that we all have weakness and vulnerabilities is critical to accepting risks, mistakes, and learning from these and growing past them. While we should demand and strive for excellence, we cannot expect perfection at every turn.

· Harmony—leading people means creating harmony between competing and conflicting people and points of view, so the organization can move forward in unity of purpose and the strength the comes with it. Often the biggest obstacle to success is not the competition, but the division or fighting from within. A leader brings people together and synergizes them so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

· Communication—While people are sensitive to non-verbal cues, they are not telepathic, so clear, consistent, and compelling communication is essential to building the common vision and action plans to achieve the goals set out upon. A gifted, articulate leader can move people to action with urgency, purpose, and undying belief that neither reward nor retribution alone could rouse.

A leader with these six traits does not need to worry next time someone asks them “why should anyone be led by you?” The answer for them is clear.

>Enterprise Architecture Design

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User-centric Enterprise Architecture provides information to decision-makers using design thinking, so as to make the information easy to understand and apply to planning and investment decisions.

Some examples of how we do this:

  1. Simplifying complex information by speaking the language of the business (and not all techie).
  2. Unifying disparate information to give a holistic view that breaks the traditional vertical (or functional) views and instead looks horizontally across the organization to foster enterprise solutions where we build once and reuse multiple times.
  3. Visualizing information to condense lots of information and tell a story—as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  4. Segmenting end-users and tailoring EA information products to the different user groups which we do with profiles geared to executive decision makers, models for mid-level managers, and inventories for the analysts.

Interestingly enough, in the summer issue of MIT Sloan Management Review, there is an article called “How to Become a Better Manager…By thinking Like a Designer.”

Here are some design pointers from the experts that you can use to aid your enterprise architectures (they are written to parallel the principles from User-centric EA, as I have previously described above):

  1. Embrace simplicity—“people often confuse simplicity…with simplistic….it takes courage to be simple…and the simplest solution is often the best.”
  2. Look for patterns in the data—“good problem solvers become proficient at identifying patterns.” Further, designers seek “harmony to bring together hierarchy, balance, contrast, and clear space in a meaningful way.”
  3. Apply visual thinking—often managers…rely heavily on data and information to tell the story and miss the opportunity to create context and meaning,” instead managers need to “think of themselves as designers, visual thinkers or storytellers.”
  4. Presenting clearly to specific end-users—“good design is about seeing and communicating clearly.” Moreover, it’s about “seeing things from the clients point of view…designers learn pretty quickly that is not about Me, it’s about You.”

MIT Sloan states “we have come to realize over the past few years that design-focused organizations do better financially than their less design-conscious competitors…design is crafting communications to answer audience needs in the most effective way.

This is a fundamental lesson: organizations that apply the User-centric Enterprise Architecture design approach will see superior results than legacy EA development efforts that built “artifacts” made up primarily of esoteric eye charts that users could not readily understand and apply.

>Feng Shui and Enterprise Architecture

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Feng Shui, which literally means earth and water, is typically a way of “arranging living quarters with optimal comfort for mind and body.” It is the adaptation of “homes to harmonize with the currents of ch’i” (life force or energy).

However, feng shui does not only apply to home arrangement. More broadly, “the aim of feng shui is to change and harmonize the environment—cosmic, currents known as ch’i—to improve fortunes.” “The Chinese saw a magical link between man and the landscape: Nature reacts to any change and that reaction rebounds in man. They saw the world and themselves as part of a sacred metabolic system.”

Feng shui has a basis in Taoism. “The Taoists glorified nature. Love of nature permeated their view of life. Things would not be correct until man could mirror within, the harmony of nature without.” “Tao united everything, exemplifying the need of nature and man to bring all opposing forces [yin and yang] into a fluctuating harmony.”

“Ch’i is the most important component of feng shui.” “Ch’i must flow smoothly and near a person to improve his ch’i. It must be balanced. If the current is too strong or too weak, it can have negative effects.” “Feng shui practitioners try to direct a smooth, good current of ch’i to a person and divert of convert harmful ch’i.” (Adapted from Feng Shui by Sarah Rossbach)

In User-centric EA, we seek to create information products that are useful (relevant—current, accurate, and complete) and useable (easy to understand and readily accessible) to the end users to enhance decision-making. One way to make EA products more usable is by applying the teachings of feng shui in terms of harmony, flow, and balance.

User-centric EA seeks to harmonize information products to make them balanced, flowing, and positive or harmonious to a person’s ch’i. In other words, if EA information products focus not only on content, but also on the format, then the information products can be easier to understand, more potent in reaching end users, and more influential to decision-making.

“Feng shui brings good fortune to the home.” I believe it can also bring good fortune to the enterprise that effectively uses it to communicate vital information to end users for business and technology decision-making.