True Leaders Have Strong Innovative Tendencies

May 30, 2012

True leaders provide the thought leadership necessary for, and create an open environment that fosters, genuine creativity—leading to true innovation in the policies, procedures, programs, and tools used by their organizations. As Alexander Hiam (the author of Business Innovation for Dummies) said, “Innovation is, in my book, simply a fertile union of creativity and leadership.”

Although true leaders do not suggest or implement change just for the sake of change (since doing so is simply disruptive, and creates unnecessary “churn” in an organization), they are not afraid of change. In fact, they embrace change for the benefits it brings.

True leaders have a genuine interest in helping their colleagues, teams, and organizations be as efficient and as effective as possible—thus they look for innovative ways of enhancing the organization’s productivity. You’ll often hear true leaders say, “Can’t we do this better, with less effort?”

Even then, when they innovate, they focus on doing so in a non-disruptive manner—with the understanding that changes in policies and procedures, as well as in technology, need to be well planned for, appropriately communicated, and rolled out in a fashion that leads to welcome adoption vs. disdainful resistance.

To affect positive change, true leaders cultivate a culture of creative thinking where “the rules” are challenged, and challenges are faced head-on.

Great managers may be very good at keeping a successful business operation and running smoothly. True (and innovative) leaders, however, strive for excellence—because simply doing things well just doesn’t light the fire of a true leader.

Allen Stalvey
Director of Operations / Program Director
Dallas / Fort Worth Area


True Leaders Have Excellent Interpersonal Skills

March 1, 2012

True leaders have well-honed “people” skills birthed from their ability to relate to, respect, and empathize with others. In addition, they have solid communication skills that allow them to inspire others to action. Combined, these skills allow true leaders develop and foster solid, long-term, working relationships within and outside of their organizations.

Key to their success is their own self-awareness and understanding of the impact their statements and their actions have on others. In addition, they’re good listeners who take into account others’ (yes, even subordinates’) concerns and perspectives. They build trust as a result of their reliability and authenticity—since what they say they will do, gets done.

They also bear in mind the needs and goals of others, and work with them collaboratively to help ensure each others’ success. They display a sensitivity in working with people from diverse backgrounds, and treat everyone with caring and courtesy. As a result, they’re able to build teams characterized by trust, involvement, and empowerment—leading to the development of a high-performance organization.

Finally, they use their skills in developing pragmatic, process-oriented solutions that cross traditional department boundaries and foster organization-wide consistency and cooperation.

When it comes to true leaders. . . it’s kind of easy to know them when you see them—and it’s a joy to work for and support them.

Allen Stalvey
Director of Operations / Program Director
Dallas / Fort Worth Area

True Leaders Bear in Mind the Long-Term Impacts of Short-Term Decisions

November 22, 2011

True leaders avoid the temptation to focus on short-term results to the exclusion of long-term impacts. In other words, in each decision they make they consider the long-term implications just as much as (if not more than) the short-term benefits.

For example, if a particular course of action will greatly increase profits during the next quarter (which might delight shareholders and executive management)—and yet that same course of action will also lead to major customer satisfaction issues (and likely reduced revenue) in the long-term, a true leader will know it best to come up with other options for increasing short-term profits.

Shortsightedness (something I often call “chartsmanship” because of how this disease causes some leaders to focus on numbers to the exclusion of quality) is an affliction that can make a leader appear to be making wise and profitable decisions in the short term, while their lack of focus on the future causes long-term harm to the sustainability of the organization. True leaders do not get caught in this trap, because they are not motivated by immediate gratification and pats-on-the-back. Instead, they focus on making decisions that will developing a sustainable organization with opportunities for a bright future (and not just a glowing next quarter).

True leaders maintain an awareness of the “big picture” as spelled out in their team’s / division’s / organization’s / corporation’s long term goals, objectives, and business strategies. Ask any true leader why they decided on their current “short-term” course of action. and they’ll tell you how it fits into the overall long-term plan. Actually, you probably don’t need to ask them–because true leaders will generally communicate how and why their decisions fit into the broader, long-term strategy as a means of getting everyone on board.

The net is: True leaders aren’t focused on shortsighted actions or short-term fixes, but on providing “true leadership” that will take their organizations through the next quarter, the next year, and beyond.

Allen Stalvey
Director of Operations / Program Director
Dallas / Fort Worth Area

True Leaders Have a Passion for the Business, and for Their People

January 11, 2010

True leaders are passionate people, and the best leaders have both a passion for the business AND a passion for their people.

It’s not all about them, but about the success of the organizations they lead, and in turn, the success of people who join them on the journey. Their enthusiasm and pride in their work, and their desire to see each individual reach their full potential, inspires others to follow them and put forth their best efforts. People follow them because they know their efforts will be recognized and rewarded.

Great leaders realize that their organization’s best customers will be treated no better than how they treat their employeesand with that in mind they ensure employees are treated as the valuable assets they are.

When Eastern Airlines was purchased by Texas Air, led by Frank Lorenzo, in 1986—new policies and practices caused a severe decline in employee morale, and these declines were readily apparent to Eastern Airlines’ customers. I know, because I flew on Eastern Airlines at the time employee morale plummeted, and their low morale caused me (as well as many others) to not want to fly Eastern again. Interestingly enough, Lorenzo was named by Time Magazine as one of the ten worst bosses of the century, and vilified in a Time article titled “Bosses from Hell.”

In Leading at a Higher Level, Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, suggests that leadership needs to be grounded in humility, and that it is essential to focus on the greater good of people and the organization. I agree with Blanchard when he says, that leadership is, “the capacity to influence others by unleashing the power and potential of people and organizations for the greater good [emphasis mine].

Allen Stalvey
Director of Operations / Program Director
Dallas / Fort Worth Area