The nuts-and-bolts of leadership

During an important negotiation with a new client, an employee leading the proceedings unexpectedly informed me that he was quitting. It appeared that he was trying to use the situation to inflate his power and perceived value, so I let him go even though it put the team in a compromising situation. Was this the right decision?

Assuming the negotiations were moving in a favorable direction, I tend to agree with you that he was either bargaining for a promotion or a raise, but using immature and unethical methods. You made the right decision. If you would have let him manipulate you this time, he would have been encouraged to continue using such tactics in the future. He abused your trust in his judgment by trying to use his position and the team’s vulnerability to acquire more power than he needed.
Real power arises from the results of every day actions one performs to achieve goals and overcome adversity. W. Bennis and R. Thomas, authors of Crucibles of Leadership, believed that great leaders possess four essential skills:
· The ability to engage others in shared meaning. Putting a team together, defining a vision, and mutually developing a strategy to acquire a new client involves everyone.
· Possess a distinctive and compelling voice. The leader uses soothing gestures and words to keep the team calm in a time of crises – and energy and excitement to move them forward.
· A sense of integrity and a strong set of values. If
a leader is committed to the goal, the team, and its success, he isn’t thinking of selfish actions such as quitting just when the negotiations are reaching a climax.
· The ability to transcend adversity, and emerge stronger than before. As it turns out, the real leader was you. The person who was able to emerge from a devastating circumstance without losing hope. You don’t believe in just one man, you believe in a vision, strategy, and team.

Article prepared by Renée LeMoine, Executive Director, LeMoine & Associates
This is the second of a four-part leadership series; based on Crucibles of Leadership, Harvard Business Review at Large, September 2002.






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