What are the attributes of effective leadership? Everyone can recognize an effective leader when they see one, but it may be more difficult to analyze what the qualities of an effective leader are.
I once worked for a very large multinational entertainment company. In the year that I worked there, I was never introduced to anyone above the level of low-level vice president. The CEO of this company was more like a rock star than a CEO. I never received any kind of communication from him or saw him on the property. There were numerous accounts of him in the press during that time, however. That’s when I came to learn that that’s what was important to him. Employees didn’t matter, publicity did. This is how CEOs get the reputation that they are politicians rather than displaying effective leadership. This kind of performance from the CEO rattles throughout the organization instilling mistrust and alienation among the employees.
A good example of #2 and #3 would be the career of Richard Nixon as president of the United States. He began lying about the Watergate situation early on and continued to lie throughout the scandal. The result was a massive cover-up that was much more instrumental in bringing him down than the actual Watergate break-in. He never acknowledged responsibility for any of the things that he had done. He had no credibility after he left office and was disgraced for the rest of his life.
I once worked for a director who had no vision for the future of his department. It was 1987, and every inside sales group was automating their operations. Our department operated from massive card decks of over 100,000 customers that had to be kept in a huge interior closet. There were no calculators, so the representatives had to add up their orders on their fingers. He did not know what type of office environment was required for such an operation in a large company. Each representative was asked to work a long seven-hour day at a cubicle that was 3 feet wide. They had no drawer or file space and most of these cubicles were in a large room with all glass windows on one wall. When the representatives were on the phone, their voices bounced off of the glass and created a terrible background noise of people talking.
When we were bought out by a large company, he made no proposal for any changes. In fact, I don’t think that he even knew of a different way to do things as he did not keep up with the industry or find out what others were doing. When I asked for even small changes, I was turned down. He did not know how to write projections for increased sales and cost savings in order to justify expenditures for improvements. He wasn’t very responsive to any of the people who worked for him. I think you could say that he was a bad example of effective leadership.
One of the best examples of effective leadership that I have known was the CEO at Mattel, John Ammerman. Every quarter, he held a company meeting with all employees. At that meeting he reviewed our progress against goals for the last quarter, and outlined goals for the next quarter. He also reviewed any new products and communicated important information to the employees directly. It was so effective that we continued to make our goals year after year. Just the simple act of communicating and providing direction can have a tremendous impact on an organization.
What do you think comprises effective leadership? Have you known anyone who has displayed particularly effective leadership? I would love to hear your thoughts. You can reach me here.
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My name is Carolyn Jolly. My professional life has been in sales, marketing and IT management. Along the way I’ve been studying and experimenting with self improvement and personal development techniques for the past 20 years. I have had more than a few mind-blowing experiences and I’ve made some discoveries that have shaped my ideas. I’m now using this website to pass those ideas along.
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