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Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

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Leadership Removes Barriers to Performance

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An effective performance management platform has specific overall outcomes that leaders need to achieve if they are to be successful. In the traditional bureaucratic organization, these programs are often meaningless. However, within the empowered organization, an effective performance management program efficiently moves the organization forward.

As a performance management program is developed and implemented, the role of the leader becomes increasingly important as they grow in their personal abilities. This means that true leadership capabilities must emerge in crafting clear and understandable goals for employees as well as developing simple but effective plans for the organization to follow.

This is important for leaders to understand because true leadership that removes barriers to performance, demands proactive involvement and interaction. As leaders mature in their responsibilities, they take their roles more seriously, and develop the self-confidence to stretch both themselves and their employees to higher levels of productivity and success. By challenging the old political bureaucracies that hinder performance and overall success they become leaders in the truest sense of the word.

The essence of performance standard development within the empowered organization is to reach the point where employees direct and evaluate their own performance. The role of the leader is to help the employee reach mutually agreeable goals and standards to measure progress toward those goals. Once this is achieved the leader provides them the direction and information the employee needs to assess their individual performance against their goals.

Once this state is reached within the organization, several positive outcomes are created that assist both the organization and its leaders. These are:

Simplicity

Simplicity is the ally of the true leader and complexity the favorite tool of traditional bureaucratic organizations. Leaders must take the responsibility of simplifying their organizations. The more straightforward an organizational structure they can create, the more effective it will be.

As performance standards are established for individual employees, an understanding should be reached as to how their work and contributions fit into the organization. Employees should know they are not performing a mindless task, but one that adds value to the overall output and outcomes of the entire organization. When employees see that what they do counts and the clear connection between their job and organizational success, it removes much of the clutter and interference that hampers decision making. This simplifies the process the organization must undergo to enhance performance and productivity.

Self-Confidence

For the leader, the process allows them to create simple plans with clear targets and objectives. It allows them to communicate more easily with their employees because they understand the connection between their contributions and the organization’s success.

When levels of simplicity are achieved within the organization, many barriers are removed and cooperation between leaders and employees is enhanced. All understand the results that must be achieved and why they are important. Additionally, when the entire process is simplified, plans are easily implemented and are more effective. The barriers of complexity traditionally in place within a bureaucratic organization are removed. The more success attained by leaders, employees and the organization, the more self-confidence is established that allows all to reach for more ambitious goals and objectives.

As in a cohesive organizational unit, everyone is accountable to everyone else within the unit, the performance of all leaders and employees is clear to all parties. This minimizes excuses and wastes less time, financial and operational resources.

Speed

The impact of both simplicity and self-confidence has an overall impact on the speed in which the organization operates. Within the empowered organization, leaders and employees have an established and mutually agreeable clear purpose. All understand the ramifications of hesitancy in today’s competitive global markets.

The overarching goal of performance planning and implementation within the empowered organization is to increase the speed of all internal processes from production to marketing to overall management. When leaders are successful in establishing clear and understandable goals, simple plans and self-directing evaluation, the barriers to decision making and overall output are effectively removed. This allows the organization to react more quickly and nimbly to the forces of change as well as ongoing competitive pressures.

Excerpt: Strengthening Leadership Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Related:

Five Critical Steps to Maximize Performance

Execution: Six Action Steps

Performance Plans Create Results and Maximizes Performance

Objectives Allow Managers to Focus on Obtaining Results

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Performance Management: The Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series

Planning to Maximize Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Maximizing Financial Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Empowerment Changes the Mindset of the Organization

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The factors constituting organizational empowerment create a change in the mindset of the organization. Most traditional companies have an established centralized bureaucracy with a strong management rather than leadership mindset. These are different approaches to how an organization is run and ultimately evolves in the face of continual change. When leaders understand the factors that increase empowerment, they are capable of leading their organization’s evolution through a series of incremental changes.

Leaders at all levels of an organization have the personal ability to shape the culture, climate and character of their units through their personal vision, desire to produce improved results and the dynamics they create to change and motivate their employees.

Through a leader’s personal example and proactive approach to their employees, other leaders are created. As employees are empowered within the organization, their leadership characteristics emerge and are developed. Rather than limit these capabilities, leaders cultivate these individuals until their potential is realized. This is a tremendous responsibility for the individual leader to assume, but a necessity if the organization is to grow and evolve in the face of continuous change.

Leaders at all levels assume the responsibilities of influencing the attitudes, activities and actions of their employees. This is opposed to the role of managers or supervisors who see their role as simply directing the employees under them. In the capacity of an influencer, the leader applies the principles of effective leadership and focuses his or her organizational unit through the use and application of the following factors:

Outcomes

Leaders shape the outputs and outcomes of their organization. Their overall goal is meeting the needs and demands of the customer, whether internal or external. This places an emphasis on results over processes. In other words, the final desired result is concentrated on, and not necessarily the process that produces the result. Within the empowered organization, the process can be radically changed by the involvement of frontline employees to produce a higher-quality outcome in a more efficient and profitable manner.

Groups

Rather than focus on an individual job or task, leaders focus their attention on the collective results and outcomes produced through involvement of the workgroups and teams within their organization. The use and application of effective leadership and motivational methods allows leaders to build and foster strong organizational cohesiveness. This results in increased empowerment, overall accountability and effectiveness.

Ideas

Leaders encourage and stimulate creative thinking within their organizational units to develop new ideas and concepts to improve team outcomes. Rather than enforce old and possibly ineffective ideas, leaders attempt to harness the “native knowledge” of individual employees to increase the productivity of the organizational unit. Rather than looking for things to go wrong and then fixing them, leaders are looking for the things that are working and seeking ways to expand their use through increased testing and experimentation.

Competition

Rather than fear and ignore it, leaders thrive on tough competition. They use the competitive environment they must function within to drive their organization forward by eliminating waste and inefficiency and by focusing the organization on producing a higher-quality product or outcome that can compete more effectively in the marketplace.

Involvement

Leaders are always seeking new ways to motivate and stimulate the involvement of all employees in producing a better product or outcome. The empowered organization increases the employee’s ownership and accountability by flattening the decision making process. This allows frontline employees, closest to and best qualified to positively impact the final outcome or product, to make key decisions.

Empowerment

Rather than tightly control the decision making process, leaders are continually looking for new ways to empower individual employees to make the critical decisions that reduce inefficiency and frustration at key points positively impacting the organization’s output or product.

Since changes are produced by countless decisions made everyday, rather than slow and complicate the process, empowerment streamlines and makes the entire organization more effective and efficient. Employees do not have to wait for countless and wasteful meetings to make decisions, but can make them “on the fly” to quickly resolve a problem. This allows the organization to move quickly forward, free of needless barriers.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Leaders are proactive rather than reactive. Instead of waiting, they actively seek ways to make things happen. In this regard leaders are dynamic and animated in their interaction with both their superiors and employees rather than inanimate and reactive. The energy and dynamics of their personal behavior creates a sense of excitement and is highly contagious to other members of the organization. This produces positive attitudes and motivation throughout the organization.

Employees as Resources

Leaders hold their employees in high regard and respect their personal abilities, insight and intelligence. In this capacity, they maintain a perspective that treats employees as human resources with something positive to contribute to the organization—not a worker with a job. In this capacity and through the use of such leadership and empowerment principles, the “us vs. them” attitude prevalent in many organizations is eliminated or greatly diminished.

Innovation

When all of the factors constituting an empowered organization are considered, leaders are focusing the members of their organization on improving personal initiative and innovation. This is opposed to simply improving individual employee compliance and conformance to organizational goals and objectives.

When freed of constraints and empowered to actively contribute to produce positive outcomes and results, employees are capable and motivated to meet the challenges presented to them. This advances and improves the overall organization.

Culture

Leaders use all the factors that ultimately constitute an empowered organization to shape its character, culture and climate. Most will discover that the climate they create and shape will assume the characteristics they personally display.

Excerpt: Organizational Empowerment: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD

Related:

Power Must Be Shared for Organizations to Grow

Change is Not a Destination But a Process

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Building Employee Support Requires Interactive Leadership

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Strengthening Leadership Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Empowerment: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

When Evaluating Performance Consider the Intangibles

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Decision making can take many forms depending upon the specific aspects of performance being identified and addressed. When leaders are making performance-based decisions regarding their organizational units, the decisions are typically based upon individual performance of the leaders, managers and employees under their direction.

Although performance can be documented in tangible and measurable terms, it invariably points to the performance or lack thereof of the individual(s) accountable for specific results. However, because decisions concerning these individuals are never made in a void, a number of more subjective factors must be considered.

This is important for leaders to appreciate because the performance evaluation program in an empowered organization incorporates all pertinent factors and contexts in order to yield more informed decisions regarding individual and corporate performance.

Since performance decisions revolve around the individual employees within an organization, the following less tangible factors need consideration. Often leaders are subconsciously aware of these aspects when making decisions, but they require more deliberate and formal weighing.

However, where possible even subjective factors should be linked to something tangible. In some cases overall employee performance and behaviors can be benchmarked, giving leaders a tangible backdrop against which to evaluate an employee when a decision is needed.

Cooperation

Certain employees will cooperate to the extent they are compelled to do so, while others will cooperate and offer their services beyond what is expected. In a union environment, some employees will hide behind negotiated rules to mask their lack of willingness to cooperate.

Undoubtedly when performance decisions must be made concerning individual employees, the level of cooperation among them becomes an important factor to consider. Within the empowered organization, cooperation tends to increase as more decisions are driven down to frontline employees.

Enthusiasm

As companies face continual change and evolve into empowered organizations, individual employees may become fearful or resistant to adjustments being made. With little other choice they may accept them, but not be enthusiastic. Leaders should watch for these tendencies as they can produce a drag on individual performance and even spread to others, further affecting motivation and morale.

Motivation

Personal levels of cooperation and enthusiasm are indicators of the individual employee’s motivation. As a leader transitions his or her employees into a cohesive organizational unit, employee motivation should shift from, “What’s in it for me?” thinking to a more group-oriented outlook.

As organizations transition from the traditional centralized and polarized bureaucracy to an empowered organization, employees also undergo a transition. Some will undoubtedly progress faster than others, but there comes a time when all should be motivated at least more by the group than the self. Thus an employee’s perspective must be considered in making performance decisions. If one or more employees have problems in this area, the leader must address them lest they fester and impact the progress of the organization.

Feedback and Insight

Employees that have worked in a job for a long period of time develop what is known as “native knowledge.” As this is developed, these employees begin to know all the “tricks of the trade” enabling them to be more efficient in their jobs. This is the information that leaders must tap into and share with the rest of their employees.

However, many longtime employees are reluctant to share this information since it provides them with “insurance” and a sense of job security. They are fearful that once they have shared this information, lower-paid employees may replace them.

As leaders evaluate their organizational performance, the feedback and insights shared by individual employees must be considered. Leaders should know the level of contribution an employee is capable of providing through daily interaction with them. They should be aware of those employees who are sharing their expertise and those who are not, and this is then factored into decisions made regarding performance.

Teamwork

The role of the leader is to lead and form the employees under them into a team focused on mutual goals and objectives. The more cohesive the organizational unit, the more productive and efficient it becomes. Thus as decisions are made about performance, the level of teamwork becomes an increasingly important consideration.

As decisions are made over time, the levels of teamwork should rise accordingly. Undoubtedly, if problems are identified with one or more employees, factors of cooperation, enthusiasm, motivation and performance also become issues with these employees. All of these factors are interlinked when making decisions regarding performance.

Performance

As all evaluative decision making factors are interlinked, deficiencies in one or more of these areas will contribute to personal performance problems. Conversely, strong indications in all of these decision making categories will contribute to enhanced performance.

Most performance decisions are based upon end results alone. However, when the sum total of these factors is evaluated, the problems behind the lack of performance are highlighted, making the leader’s decisions more meaningful.

When the root causes behind a problem are identified, it is easy for leaders to take the specific actions required to solve the problem.

Uncontrollable Circumstances

The final factor that must be considered in making performance decisions is the impact of uncontrollable events upon individual performance. Obviously factors of global competition, economic downturns and situations such as a shipping strike, internal production issues, and even weather can impact individual results. These realities and circumstances must be given appropriate consideration in making equitable performance decisions.

Related:

Feedback is the Foundation of Effective Coaching

Assessing Employee Growth and Development

Focusing Your Employees on Future Performance

Focusing Employees on Common Goals

Excerpt: Strengthening Leadership Performance (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Empowered Organizations Develop Employee Commitment

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The purpose of empowerment in an organization is to decentralize management and control throughout the organization. The overall effect is to build customer loyalty by creating internal employee ownership of productivity, quality, and the principles for which an organization stands.

The sole purpose of creating an empowered organization is to develop employee commitment. The role of the leader in this capacity is to ensure that the same common mission and set of values is communicated throughout their organization and are consistent with those of other individual leaders in the organization. This means that leaders must match words with actions to instill the right character and culture within their organization.

As control is decentralized within their organization, both leaders and employees assume a greater role of responsibility in decisions affecting effectiveness, productivity and profitability.

Leaders must make sure that decisions impacting efficiency, cost-cutting, and overall value are made with as much participation of the frontline employees they impact as possible.

The key to organizational empowerment is to make employees part of management rather than individual cogs in a wheel, holding them accountable for their individual actions. This creates positive organizational change with distinct advantages:

  • Employees become more cost conscious.
  • Employees become involved in the cost-value trade-off decisions that must be made if an organization is to remain competitive.
  • Employees work toward continuous improvement in value efficiency as well as quality effectiveness.
  • Employees experience an overall reduction in frustrations as well as an elimination of continued inefficiencies within the organization.

Empowered employees who are included and involved in the management of an organization respond by acting like owners themselves. This is something that managers and leaders cannot achieve with slogans or manipulative methods to force employee compliance and conformance. These faulty methods run counter to motivational principles.

As employees become empowered and assume personal ownership, attitudes and behaviors begin to shift in accordance with their personal beliefs. They become more conscious of workplace factors impacting the effectiveness, productivity and profitability of their organizational unit.

This is the desired objective of the organization: frontline employees focused on making essential decisions that improve the quality of the product or service and the value it provides the customer.

Organizations must become increasingly cost-conscious in an increasingly global and competitive environment. Empowered organizations flatten decision making and bring it directly to the “trenches” of the organization. Employees in the front lines are able to make more effective decisions because they are properly focused.

This insures that cost cuts and efficiency improvements are made in the right places without injuring the quality and value of their product or service. To make this truly effective, leaders must ensure a system is in place that makes cost consciousness every employee’s concern.

The less involvement of employees at the front lines of an organization, the more unseen and hidden costs are overlooked. The farther away these decisions are made from their point of impact, the harder it is to arrive at the right decisions without harming both the quality and value of a product or service.

Within an empowered organization, the more frontline people—who most directly benefit from a reduction of costs and enhanced value—actively involved in decisions, the more effective decisions will be. This is important to note since too many organizations place an emphasis on cost controls rather than on the production of value. While this may look good on paper, these decisions undermine the overall quality of products/services and diminish customer satisfaction levels.

Within the empowered organization, employees will often extend their job descriptions on their own and work diligently to eliminate the inefficiencies that create cost-value problems in their workplace. This is often the more widespread kind of commitment organizations will experience when they empower their employees and give them the authority to manage their work and make decisions on their own.

This only occurs because employees are empowered to question existing methods and concepts and are encouraged to experiment with new ideas and concepts for the sole purpose of increasing efficiency. This is highly effective in reducing frustrations and cutting costs where they really matter, rather than in random and often painful ways that compromise the quality of the product or service being produced.

Related:

Power Must Be Shared for Organizations to Grow

Empowerment is a Structured Discipline

Seven Key Benefits of an Empowered Workplace

Four Major Hindrances to Empowerment

Excerpt: Organizational Empowerment (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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