“In organizations of reasonable size, one can expect to find a personnel function, just as one would expect to find a finance or marketing function,” Eugene McKenna and Nic Beech write in their The Essence of Human Resource Management. Companies cannot afford to have leaders that pay good behavior in fishes. Leaders must teach their teams how to fish. Leaders must excite through poignancy of message and great stories. At once, leaders must ground their team members in reality, and not give them all pairs of rose-colored lenses through which to look. A team deeply prepared and equipped to face the darkest hours surely will thrive in the light. And the light that has to be radiated throughout the corporate body of human capital is that of the one thing that no competitor can touch-a particular corporate culture. How you fish is every iota as important to your success as what fish you catch.
Needless to say, the creation of a culture, especially a culture of success, does not happen with the wave of a magic wand. “Smart companies are beginning to recognize that leadership development and people training is a process, not an event,” writes Stephen Fairley in his essay, Three Steps You Can Use for Developing Leaders In Your Industry. Art of Leadership website contributor Karin Syren adds, “Leadership revolves around people, concepts, and ideas, establishing direction for those who will follow. It is discerning and articulating what is right, all the while educating the team to do the right things and to do them right”. In any given situation, one of the responsibilities of a leader is to motivate the team members to all work together towards the common objective. This can be a daunting mandate, for it is very often the situation that a team is comprised of very diverse members, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and work styles. The team dynamics are also often complicated by internal disagreements and personal conflicts. The leader not only has to work with this group of people, but also needs to achieve the results expected by his superiors . “Human resources, despite its complex activities, should have a fundamentally simple mission, yet it is a mission that is being neglected by many HR professionals.” One may call that mission “the Leadership Imperative – helping the organization recruit, retain, and develop good leaders,” writes Brent Filson in his essay, 25 Leadership Maxims. The corporate culture, that vision which turns on the drive to make work and success more meaningful than simply collecting a paycheck, must flow throughout the entire organization via a feedback loop of perpetual motion. Energizing and leading today’s human resources requires more than transactional leadership where subordinates put in an effort in return for monetary and extrinsic rewards. A leader’s mission is to create other leaders. “People are often unaware of the best that’s in them. When you show it to them, you are halfway down the road to motivating them to be your cause leaders,” writes Filson. People are often unaware that they, too, know how to fish-and do not need to be fed new fish daily by some magic fisherman.
“Your technologies, products and structures can be copied by competitors. No one, however, can match your highly charged, motivated people who care. People are your firm’s most important asset and, the same time, its most underutilized resource. People are your firm’s repository of knowledge and skill base that makes your firm competitive. Well coached and highly motivated people are critical to the development and execution of strategies, especially in today’s faster-paced, more perplexing world, where top management alone can no longer assure your firm’s competitiveness,” writes consultant Vadim Kotelnikov. Many times, the need to remain successful in the racing 21st Century business environment requires an organization’s leadership to make changes, sometimes sweeping ones, in order to take the focus off of the mere matter and place it on those who can make matters better-the people, the human capital. “If you’re a senior executive, you can order budget reductions, buy or sell a division, form a strategic alliance, or arrange a merger. Such bold strokes do produce fast change, but they do not necessarily build the long-term capabilities of the organization. Indeed, these leadership actions often are defensive, the result of a flawed strategy or a failure to adapt to changing market conditions. They sometimes mask the need for a deeper change in strategy, structure, or operations, and they contribute to the anxiety that accompanies sudden change,” writes Rosabeth Moss Kanter in her article, “The Enduring Skills of Change Leaders”. Executives “frequently miss the need for changes in culture, leadership mindset and style, working relationships, and new behaviors, which are less tangible yet equally essential to success,” say Linda and Dean Anderson. However, the relationship between change and performance is not something that produces an instantaneous result. When it comes to human beings, there is no such thing as “instantaneous transformation”. Requesting that an organization change (or telling the people in an organization to change) without giving them the resources to do so is a fool’s errand. Iron-fisted methodologies can create cynical attitudes among employees. Such errors in judgment and action can be avoided by leadership keeping at the forefront of its collected mind that “modern CEOs are likened more to benign motivational storytellers than to stern Ã?Â¯Ã?Â¿Ã?Â½captain of industry’ taskmasters of the past. They are archivists of corporate mythology. More like coaches than judges. Success is a factor of how well they conjure and tell the corporate mythology,” says John Fraim at Symbolism.Org. The CEOs and other leaders of an organization must infuse the story and the excitement into team members’ souls-and then let them go. If they do not release them, they betray them-to the detriment of the organization as well as the people themselves.
In the end, a leader uses her energies to change and shape the flow of a river. She does not exert herself trying to make water wet.