Saturday, January 12, 2013

Leadership Styles and Culture Shifts

Greetings and welcome to 2013 folks!  I hope the new year has been kind to you all thus far.  I've seen some challenges and some hardships faced by people I know and I ask for prayers for them and hope their year turns around and becomes one of happiness, fruitfulness, and love.

Now, to the topic of this particular entry...the art (and challenge) of leadership and the performance of such in differing environments.  I chose this topic as I have definitely been challenged as of late and wanted to find a way to express my thoughts in a generic way.  Having been educated via military training, bachelor and master degree programs, and simply work experience in leadership, I can concede there are multiple leadership styles and a person can, and should, utilize multiple styles depending on certain situations.

For example, if you have an employee, or a group of them, who performs at their peak or at least their highest level of effort, the coaching aspect of leadership comes into play.  You try to support that employee, help identify and tweak their minor mistakes, and become the cheerleader when they do quite well.  These employees are the ones whom make your job easiest and the most enjoyable.  Yet, unfortunately, it is these employees whom get such a small percentage of your time.  They are doing well, so their needs are not as great as other groups.  As leaders, it is our job to recognize this, take the extra moment or two, and ensure the efforts, results, and contributions are noticed to ensure the feeling of apathy does not settle in and we lose the valued employees to greener pastures.

Then on the entire opposite end of the spectrum are the employees whom take up the majority of your time...those that really don't want to be there.  This group is my struggle in my transition from military to civilian.  The military is made up of a large group the same as a large corporation, yet the approach and culture is completely different.  In the military, should someone display behavior which is detrimental to the advancement of the unit or the branch of service, it is dealt with swiftly.  I'm not saying the individual is dealt with, per se, but the behavior is.  If the military deems the individual has qualities which can contribute to improving and becoming a meaningful member, the "punishment" is much different than for those whom show no desire to belong...those members are also helped along to their desired outcome, discharge.  However, in the civilian world, things are so much more gray than the black and white I'm used to.

Within the civilian world, there are many more concerns and impacts to a decision when trying to figure out a course of action for an employee not displaying the attributes of a model performer.  Here, items such as length of employment, history of behavior, severity of actions, and (sadly enough), threat of legal actions come into play.  While there are some similarities between the military and civilian worlds, the differences are noticeable, yet not so different that the gaps catch you.  The very fact that policies, procedures, and avenues for both sides provide protection and clear-cut expectations close the gaps.  If the leader maintains impartiality, follows set and written procedures, and chooses his/her leadership style to properly match the situation, the "company" will be better for it.

Patience is a test which can be difficult to master, but is necessary in these situations.  I'm learning that all over again...and again.  Those whom want to be in the corporate "family" will follow the expectations.  Those that don't want to follow expectations will eventually find somewhere else to be.  The patience to deal with the situations in the meantime is a quality I need to learn to develop and hone.

I wanted a career which would provide me with a challenge in order to develop me personally and professionally.  The challenge is being presented in a fashion I did not forecast, yet it is what I asked for (sort of).  I have been given this challenge because it is my test to pass.  This is my opportunity to rise above the fray, face the challenge, lead the team through this, and leave those whom choose not to join by the way side.  The organization will be better for this renewed focus, the team will be better, and I will become a better, stronger, and more productive leader as well.

Now, to enjoy the weekend, regroup, refocus, and enter the fray again on Monday!

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