Resources for Managers

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The World's Most Powerful Leadership Principle (Crown Business, 2004), James C. Hunter discusses what leadership is and isn't and outlines steps for becoming a leader who helps others become their best. Hunter offers a three-step program for becoming a better leader:

  1. Tell employees how they are supposed to behave and what the consequences are if they don't behave that way.
  2. Provide feedback so employees understand how they vary from the standards of leadership.
  3. Use the Leadership Skills Inventory appendix to rank yourself and have others rank you on issues such as how you hold people accountable, show patience, listen, behave fairly and consistently, or help develop subordinates. Then learn how to close the gaps between how you should behave as a leader and how you're actually behaving.
In Flexible Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2004), authors Gary Yukl and Richard Lepsinger look at three components affecting organizational performance: efficiency and reliability, innovation and adaptation, and human resources and human relations. For each component, the book lays out positive and negative examples, discusses programs and systems that contribute to each, and delves into specific leadership behaviors that make positive contributions. The authors also demonstrate how leaders can enhance efficiency through systematic planning that involves different levels of the organization; clarifying roles and guidelines; and monitoring operations and performance.

Michael Feiner drew on a long career including a job as chief people officer at PepsiCo Inc. to produce the 50 "laws" to improve working relationships that he presents in The Feiner Points of Leadership (Warner Business Books, 2004). Vital to real leadership, Feiner says, is the ability to manage relationships in every direction-not just with subordinates, but also with peers, teams and bosses. Behind many of Feiner's laws is the idea of when to push people and when to pull them. Pushing-asserting your position and expecting people to comply-works at times, but it also can become a one-note technique, easily anticipated and eventually ignored. Leaders also must "pull" at times, using questions, discussion and real involvement to make others want to commit to decisions. Sample dialogues demonstrate wrong and right ways to elicit better performance and get at problems.

Social networks don't mean who hangs out with whom at lunch, say authors Rob Cross and Andrew Parker in The Hidden Power of Social Networks (Harvard Business School Press, 2004). Networks can cover who goes to whom for information, who energizes others or saps their strength, who has access to certain knowledgeable people, or who becomes a bottleneck because too many people depend on them. Cross and Parker show how to map such relationships and uncover the hidden networks that don't resemble anything like your organizational chart. For example, network analysis that asks people whether they feel energized and motivated or "de-energized" by specific individuals helps uncover characteristics of people who energize projects. Analyzing networks also can identify previously unseen problems. For example, a top executive overseeing 200 technicians worldwide spent his time wrestling with e-mails, traveling and putting out fires. He had become a bottleneck, yet others in his network felt underused. The company eased the executive bottleneck by teaching key managers how to better use the peripheral players' expertise.

Optimo Inc. launched its newest training and development sessions, the Purple Box Seminars, featuring the educational session "Optimize Your Thinking," designed to help businesses improve communications and teamwork among their employees. The new seminars are available in half- and full-day sessions, which include interactive discussions and role-playing. By helping participants to better understand personality differences and group dynamics, the seminars can help employees learn to deal with conflict and perform better as a team.

Terms of Use: Advice for Supervisors from the Society for Human Resource Management © 2005 Society for Human Resource Management. Members of SHRM are authorized to distribute copies, excerpts or e-mails of this information for educational purposes internally within their organizations. No other republication or external use is allowed without permission of SHRM. The information is not intended to serve as a substitute for legal advice.

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