Coach’s Challenge for May 12, 2008

Good day, team,

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the contrast between the profile of success for leaders and managers 25 years ago versus today and how dramatically different it is.

For example, most of the successful leaders I knew back then were quite concerned about positioning themselves in their companies. Title, salary, number of direct reports, and number of people in your division were all extremely important, directly determining how much money and prestige you earned. Command and control was a common management philosophy, and “the guy in the corner office” was the person who held the most power. It was a scary thing to walk down the hallway to go see the boss: You needed to know exactly what you wanted to say so you didn’t waste his time.

How things have changed for today’s successful leaders and managers! Now a title more often identifies what someone is actually doing, rather than being a symbol of power. People can be individual contributors and make as much money as managers who have large divisions. Command and control is frowned upon, and the ability to communicate well and be versatile are key components of successful management. People look to their leaders to walk their talk, and when they don’t, they don’t trust them. And trust is one of the greatest motivators for today’s workforce. Leaders talk about the need for transparency so their people can trust their decisions.

The participation of women at all levels within companies has changed the “old boys’ club” forever. The strengths of relationship building and collaboration that women so often use in their daily interactions with others have changed the workplace significantly.

People’s ability to adapt quickly to new circumstances has become essential in the digital world. Today, successful business people are also agents of change, and they carry many tools in their toolbags. They are extremely flexible in their approach to people and issues and display a proactive, solution-based way of thinking and acting.

Here’s a great description from Mike Bonifer, the author of “GameChangers— Improvisation for Business in the Networked World,” written with co-founder Dr. Virginia Kuhn of GameChangers LLC.

“GameChangers are people who make a positive difference. As we move from the rigid, hierarchical business structures of the Industrial Age to the fluid, project-based models of the Networked World, GameChangers have never been more important or essential. Whenever teamwork, creativity, flexibility and problem-solving skills are necessary for success, these players step up. They develop relationships that are good for business. They pay careful attention to details and at the same time have the most expansive world views. They are quick-on-their-feet, unflappable and in tune with their stakeholders and the marketplace. They make moves that help their teams achieve their objectives. They are the top performers in any organization, the best managers, the most resourceful employees, the culture-shapers. They play the game and make things happen. In short, GameChangers are masters of improvisation in business.”

Your challenge this week is to consider how well you fit this description of a GameChanger. Are you becoming more flexible or more rigid in your thinking?  How versatile is your management style? Do you always relate to people in a similar way, or can you change your communication and behavior depending on whom you’re working with? When was the last time you helped a team make a breakthrough by thinking differently about a problem rather than rehashing something in the same old way? Would your team members describe you as nimble, unflappable and a positive influencer?

As Bonifer writes, “GameChangers not only have the ability and courage to change the game, they let go of expectations about what the outcome of the game will be and focus on being productive in each and every moment, whether that means supporting their fellow players or making a bold move themselves.”

Have a great week!

Kathleen

Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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