PERSONAL THOUGHTS – “LEADERSHIP IN DILEMMA”
“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.” - Warren Bennis (1989)
Leadership has long been the subject of interest in establishments across the globe. Today, employees are talking about the management and leadership of organizations and for whatever reason it may be, we must admit that we cannot function (properly/effectively) without leaders. It is universally acknowledged that the quality of an organization depends on the quality of its leaders. They are important because they will be the compass of which success and failure of the organization depends on. They will also be responsible for the effectiveness and integrity as a whole. We have devoted a large sum of our time to deal with some of the organization leaders. Yet, we have always been haunted by the gap between theories on one side, and what they have actually done on the other, in the world of organization administration, all of which are manifested within what they think and teach, and what they do. According to Bennis (1989), leadership is about connections between theory and practice, about power and change, about dream and reality.
We cannot deny the importance of having both strong leadership and strong management as necessary for optimum organizational effectiveness. The public perception of how good the leader is very important in determining the quality of the organization’s governance. How many genuine leaders are there in our organization? To many, the question will remain unanswered as leadership is hard to define (Bennis, 1989), and we only know it when we see it. But one thing for sure, in order to gain cooperation and support, good leaders should know who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are. They should know how to fully deploy those strengths and compensate for those weaknesses. Most importantly, leaders should know what they want, why they want it, and how to communicate what they want to others.
Leaders should also know how to achieve their goals. Understanding one’s self and the world, and learning from one’s own life and experience are essential on becoming a leader. But learning to lead isn’t easy, although each of us embodies the capacity for leadership. Leaders are ordinary peoples and functioning in the real world with full of curiosity. Although everyone has the capacity for leadership, not everyone will become a good leader. We are the product of ourselves, on becoming the person that we wanted to be. We determine the will to change, to develop our potential, to transform ourselves if we wanted to.
Where are all the good leaders? In our organization, leaders today sometimes appear to be an endangered species. As mentioned by Bennis (1989, p. 14), “caught in the whirl of events and circumstances beyond rational control.” History prevailed that the quality of the management and leadership of the organization could be one of the key problems that could bring about the destruction of the community. There are cases where top management not totally compatible, and couldn’t get along and even progress. Let’s admit it: how to function smoothly when we couldn’t work very well with each other? We all know this, but what are we doing about it? We know the problem and we are caught up in the context – the volatile, turbulent, ambiguous managerial surroundings that will suffocate us – we can’t solve it. Someone has to take the lead. Otherwise, chaos erupts.
There are days when we know that something went terribly wrong and leaders forgot what they were here for. Too many of its so-called breakthroughs became breakdowns. They talked about change and high performance culture, but they maintained status-quo and going nowhere. They said they encouraged creativity and innovativeness, but they were not sensitive to the brilliant ideas. They wanted us to learn through experience but they let us be in an environment that doesn’t permits growth and change. They said they promote openness, but when we had a problem or complaint, they failed to deal with it openly and immediately. Employees have no platform to air their grievances. They said lets us work closely together, but they were not sensitive to others’ feelings and needs. They said we should make a difference and try new things but in reality people were discouraged by the jargon rules and regulations.
Leaders said that employees need to be human capital with first class mentality but they never strategized the career path and make it reality. Employees become prisoners of habits (sticks to the way they were), practices, and rules that make them ultimately ineffectual. Employees were told that integrity is important but leaders forgot that integrity is the basis of trust that cannot be acquired, but must be earned. Leaders wanted the employees to working well, but they were not sensitive to the work culture or work atmosphere that they have to deal with. They said employees need to work hard, dedicated and committed in their works but they failed to steer them up with motivation. Leading is not simply issuing orders. Leaders should lead by example.
Leaders laid out many new ideas but employees weren’t interested in as they were in recipes and slogans. Leaders said they will make decision accordingly, but when they made it their justification mostly based on emotion and perception, rarely on data driven. They said let us lay out the plan for our future endeavor, but when they laid it out, they seldom take employees opinion into consideration. Leaders wanted employees to see the world globally, but they were not groomed to be global. Leaders hoping that employees will tell them the truth, though that will make them cry, but they themselves prefer telling a lie and making someone smiles. They said it’s alright to make mistake as long as we do not repeat the same mistake, but in reality when we make mistake, they will forgive but never forget. Last but not least, leaders said that “I’ll be there” but they were not there when they were needed most. Leaders should walk their talk. In true leaders, there is no gap between the theories they espouse and the life they practice (Bennis, 1989). Sometimes, leaders forgot that they have to shut up, swallow their pride and accept that they’re wrong. It’s not giving up, it’s called growing up.
Great leaders don’t tell us what to do… they show us how it’s done!