Magazine article New Zealand Management

NZIM : Now Is the Time for Leadership; Organisational Leadership and Reputation -- One Plays a Critical Role in Building the Other. Reg Birchfield Argues the Case for Effective Leadership Programmes

Magazine article New Zealand Management

NZIM : Now Is the Time for Leadership; Organisational Leadership and Reputation -- One Plays a Critical Role in Building the Other. Reg Birchfield Argues the Case for Effective Leadership Programmes

Article excerpt

Byline: Reg Birchfield

The critically important role of organisational reputation is one of the most profound findings of September's Most Reputable Organisations survey compiled for NZ Management magazine by global consultancy Hay Group.

The logic is understandable, given a world now saturated by cynicism at organisational and financial misbehaviour, and self-serving morality. What isn't quite so obvious is how to respond to the new marketplace realities of distrust and its many manifestations.

Conventional wisdom suggests that reputation-building fits into the long-term goal of strategic thinking. Reputation undoubtedly grows the longer an organisation is perceived as "honourable" and "honest", but times, priorities, pressures and opportunities are all changing.

The choice of Air New Zealand as the nation's Most Reputable Organisation shows that obviously committed, focused and inspired team leadership can rebuild an organisation's reputation in a staggeringly short time. Such is the power, effectiveness and pervasive influence of the media, both traditional and social, when it comes to communicating evidence of what the survey's respondents perceived as the airline's most outstanding characteristic: its "strong and effective leadership".

It doesn't take a library of academic or experiential case studies to prove the link between effective leadership and organisational success. But it often takes some heavy hitting to convince organisations that first, investment in leadership development pays dividends and second, that commitment to the right kind of leadership is what pays most.

So what should organisations think about when developing or searching for a leadership development programme? Start by considering where the leadership discussion is currently at. And the leadership gurus James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of the leadership genre classic The Leadership Challenge, provide a good starting point.

They have just published a new book, The Truth about Leadership. Its findings are based on their 30 years of research and the more than one million responses they've had to their leadership surveys. They have uncovered what they call, "10 truths about leadership" which suggest that, while context of leadership has changed dramatically, the content hasn't.

"The fundamental behaviours, actions, and practices of leaders have remained essentially the same since we first began researching and writing about leadership over three decades ago," they conclude. "Much has changed, but there is a whole lot more that has stayed the same." And that is probably the fundamental truth of leadership development.

The authors believe that each of their 10 truths have stood the test of time and "hold true globally and cross-generationally". Their relevance and application is developed in the chapters devoted to each truth. They are:

* 1st Truth: You make a difference. Before individuals lead, they must believe they can have a positive impact on individuals. "When you believe you can make a difference, position yourself to hear the call to lead."

* 2nd Truth: Credibility is the foundation of leadership. In other words, once individuals believe in themselves, others need to believe in them, otherwise they won't willingly follow. "You must do what you say you are going to do. This means being so clear about your beliefs that you can live them every day."

* 3rd Truth: Values drive commitment. Individuals must know what they believe in. They can only fully commit to an organisation or cause when there is a good fit between their personal values and organisation's values. …

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