Question of the Month: Can a Legitimate Leadership intervention succeed in an organisation without the full commitment of its executive?
Answer: To cascade Legitimate Leadership principles and practices rigorously down an organisation is the optimal situation. However, an intervention can succeed when this is not the case. Experience has shown that in a large organisation the commitment of senior management outweighs the importance of the commitment of the executive. Because legitimate leadership is a choice, the catalyst for change can be at any level.
This was illustrated by a first line manager, who having been exposed to Legitimate Leadership principles, decided to fully commit to their implementation. He began by asking his team the simple question, “How can I help you?”
The initial response from his team was sceptical, but in a short time responses to his question were forthcoming. He took the issues seriously, implementing changes where he could or escalating them, while continuously giving the team feedback. The result was a step-change improvement in productivity. The manager of the first line manager (a plant manager) was concerned that shortcuts might have been being taken. But, having satisfied himself that nothing sinister underpinned the productivity improvement, he embraced Legitimate Leadership practices with more commitment than previously – and urged his other reports to do likewise.
The entire plant experienced improvement in output, quality and safety, causing other plant managers to take note. The plant manager was in time rewarded with promotion; he went on to become the champion of Legitimate Leadership in the organisation and subsequently in other companies where he has occupied executive positions.