Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Leadership as a shared message of confidence

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on June 22, 2012

I write about a lot of topics and issues in this blog from within the general subject areas of business and technology. And I touch upon the full range of organizational levels in doing so, from individuals and their job searches and career development, through the level of the individual business or organization and how it is managed and run, and on to that of supply chain and value chain systems and entire economies. One of the topic threads that I have kept returning to in the course of this ongoing narrative is leadership, and what leadership means, and best practices for developing effective leadership skills. Leadership as it is carried out in practice has significant impact upon all of the issues I write about and on the individual, business and societal contexts in which those issues would apply. And a basic argument that has run through all of my leadership-oriented postings is that this is a skills set that can be learned. I write this addition to my ongoing if occasional series on leadership with that in mind. And I begin this discussion by noting a familiar point.

• Businesses exist and operate in the dual context of opportunity and uncertainty. And the greater the potential for gain and the development of positive competitive value, the more uncertainty is generally in play too.

Startups by definition face both great levels of opportunity and uncertainty and especially where the value propositions that they would bring to market are unique and disruptively so. Blue ocean strategies are always definable in terms of the mix of their potential benefits and their potential risks and uncertainties too, and effective strategy and its operational implementation can be thought of as organized efforts to skew the balance to favor positive returns and benefits over realized risk and loss, every time. Successful startups and successful established businesses are the ones that find ways to reach that positive balance point as their practical realities.

I could write, and I in fact have written about analytical and organizational skills and the more specifically cerebral side to this – leadership as application of more technocratic skills and experience, and I acknowledge that that side of leadership is important. Good feelings and a positive attitude in and of themselves will not generally lead to long term success. But leadership is at least as much about the softer interpersonal, people skills too and that is what I want to write about here, and navigating that uncertainty and the potential for risk and loss it stems from through consistent, focused, ongoing effort. Effective leaders know the risks and benefits they face, and if they cannot always tell you how you would precisely quantify them, they have a working sense as to where the organization is, and how to steer it towards greater stability and strength. But they also know how to bring their teams along with them while doing that. And they know that their succeeding can primarily mean organizing others to do the hands-on detail work needed to succeed. This is all about developing and sharing a sense of overall purpose and the confidence to keep going and even when facing real uncertainties and challenges – and especially then. So I write about confidence and instilling a shared sense of purpose here, and on keeping everyone moving forward and even when you as a leader face your own doubts and concerns.

• If your team does not follow you, you are not leading.
• And it is their sense of confidence in you that brings them to follow, and your sense of confidence that you share with them that makes theirs possible.

What I am writing of here is sometimes called charisma, and that is an attitude and approach that can be learned too, as can any leadership skills. And leaders with charisma – leaders who hold a sense of purpose and confidence and who can instill them in others can achieve great things and overcome real challenges and obstacles. And challenges and obstacles do arise and with time for every leader, and for every business or organization.

I offer this as a thought piece and as a part of a loosely organized and even informal series that I have been posting to across several of my blog directories (see Business Strategy and Operations and its continuation page, HR and Personnel, and my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development and its continuation page.) I am sure to come back to this general set of issues again.

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