September 2020 - Question of the Month
Why does Legitimate Leadership regard courage at work as so important?
The results of the Leading in Crisis diagnostic survey showed that leaders delivered admirably on the care criterion, but did not deliver on the growth…
The assumption that people know what is expected of them, or that expectations between parties is both clear and aligned, is a common problem…
At a time when business outcomes can no longer be predicted or guaranteed, when forecasting has become more difficult and uncertainty endemic, it is essential that organisations stay attuned to early warning signals and cultivate the capacity to accelerate…
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Question of the Month
By Josh Hayman, associate, Legitimate Leadership.
Question: Why does Legitimate Leadership regard courage at work as so important?
Answer: If a person (like a leader) is in a relationship to give, the conventional view is that giving is about generosity. But in the Legitimate Leadership Model the often less-talked-about way of giving is about courage.
We find that courage is by far the rarer form of giving, which is partly why Legitimate Leadership emphasizes it.
Of the two (generosity and courage), courage is also the harder to get right. This is because being generous involves rising above a loss of things – the price we pay for being generous is generally not high.
Being courageous involves much more risk as there is usually an issue at play which presents the possibility of real and serious consequences. What the person stands to lose makes acting courageously difficult, and for some, impossible.
Courage is critical in the workplace because the absence of it leads people to give in to their fears, rather than rising above them.
In leadership, acting with courage means much more than disciplining your people. Caring about your people may require courage in making yourself vulnerable. Providing the means for your people may require courage to challenge policies and standards, or your manager or your colleagues. Cultivating ability may require the courage to coach others to the point where you are replaceable. Praising and rewarding people may require the courage to spend money on doing so when it is unpopular to do so. Being prepared to single out exceptional performers for reward instead of just rewarding the “herd” will require courage.
The good news is that courage is not a matter of ability or skill, it is a matter of the will, and exercising it gets easier with practice.
WEBINAR REPORT: HOW 16 LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP CLIENTS PERFORMED DURING THE CRISIS
In a survey of the performance of leaders in 16 Legitimate Leadership client companies and organisations during the first months of the coronavirus crisis, the results showed that their leaders were more successful in demonstrating care and compassion than they were in using the crisis to empower and bring out the best in their people.
Legitimate Leadership says there are two criteria for legitimate power: care and growth.
The results of the Leading in Crisis diagnostic survey showed that leaders delivered admirably on the care criterion, but did not deliver on the growth criterion to the same extent. They did not capitalise on the opportunity the crisis offered to empower people and enable them to be the best that they could be.
ARTICLE: THE ACCOUNTABILITY THIEF
By Wendy Lambourne, director, Legitimate Leadership.
When managers in organisations are asked why they do not hold their people accountable, they typically provide a list of reasons which fall neatly into the categories of Willing; Able; and Allowed. But the reason which is not given, which is actually the primary reason why managers do not hold their people accountable, is that managers have not clarified and agreed what each person is accountable for in the first place.
FINANCIAL TIMES ARTICLE: YOU DON’T HAVE TO SELL CHANGE TO PEOPLE WHO DESIGNED IT
COMMENT BY WENDY LAMBOURNE, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP, ON THE ARTICLE BELOW: The Leading in Crisis diagnostic survey recently conducted across 16 Legitimate Leadership client organisations (see webinar report, above) provides affirmation of what Cath Bishop and Margaret Heffernan suggest below. Leaders in Legitimate Leadership client organisations put their people’s safety first and demonstrate a genuine concern for their people. Trust in the leadership as well as productivity increased as a result. Remote working facilitated increased empowerment concomitant with decreases in multiple checks and reporting. For the increase trust to be sustained however requires that leaders do not revert to a focus on results and micromanagement of people. Continuing and doing even more caring for and growing their people, as the authors say, “makes companies fit for the future, whatever it may bring”.
OUR SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE: In this recent Financial Times article in its Rebooting the Workplace series, business authors Cath Bishop and Margaret Heffernan wrote that the future of work requires a new social contract. At a time when business outcomes can no longer be predicted or guaranteed, when forecasting has become more difficult and uncertainty endemic, it is essential that organisations stay attuned to early warning signals and cultivate the capacity to accelerate change when clarity emerges, they wrote. Which means that leadership and decision-making cannot stay at the top.
A highly networked organisation, in which information and insight travels fast and without impediments, is the only coherent response to a world where business conditions can change overnight. We can learn from the improvisatory genius of world-class sporting teams, in which players have the freedom and skill for on-the-spot decision-making, according to the authors.
Glimmers of this approach were seen early in the pandemic. Across public and private sectors, leaders from line managers to chief executives went to exceptional lengths to look after their people, wherever they were. To their surprise, caring about people made productivity go up, not down.
At the same time, much work shifted from the centre to smaller, often ad hoc, teams. Devolving decision-making to the frontline and increasing localisation forced leaders to trust their people to know what to do.