FIRST BREAK ALL THE RULES (Part 2)
Leadership of FBATR
In every organization, in every community, and in every society leadership is needed to set a course. Leadership transcends sectors. Interestingly, Webster defines a leader is a primary or terminal shoot of a plant. The plant perishes without its terminal shoot - leader. In like manner, an organization without a leader or a leader trapped by rules will die. The great managers described by FBATR despite the rules know how to work within their respective frame work to select for talent, define right outcomes, focus on follower’s strengths, and find the right fit.
Rules are not always bad. Rules have their place and must not be treated as the enemy. In today’s age of employee empowerment one must have certain rules to maintain accountability. Unrestrained empowerment can be a value killer (Buckingham & Coffman, 1999). The manager must find the balance between action steps/rules and empowerment. Great managers decide how much is structured and how much should be left to employee discretion (p132). One must question if great managers break the rules or simply now how to use the rules to do the right things.
FBATR confirms the existence of hundreds or perhaps thousands of lists that describe leadership. All seem to highlight the same attributes. Most leadership lists focus on the following. First, leaders lead with a sense of mission and passion. Secondly, great managers see the big picture of an issue within the general agenda of operations. Third, great managers possess above average interpersonal communication skills. Finally, great managers lead by example. With this apparatus in mind one can appreciate Jimmy Johnson’s quote, “I am going to be very consistent with everyone of you because I’ll treat every one of your differently. The harder a guy works, the better he performs, and the more he meets my guidelines, the more leeway he is going to have with me (Buckingham & Coffman, 1999, p.156).” Treating people based on their performance is just the right thing to do. No rules just perform. Without this common sense approach to mission and vision, seeing the big picture, knowing how to communicate, and leading by example, managers perpetuate the wrong idea of what constitutes a manager.
John Leatherman, a Kansas State University assistant professor, gives some essential skills of an effective leader.
Recognizing and Making the Most of Opportunity
Optimizing Group Effectiveness
Understanding the Basics of Planning
The Ability to Network
Willingness to Delegate
Knowing When to Challenge Others
Understanding the Benefits of Change
Willingness to Take Risks (Leatherman, 2000).
Leatherman’s list concisely describes the great managers found in FBATR. When dealing with subordinates, one could extract from this list and from many other lists, the four core activities of the catalyst role: select a person, set expectations, motivate the person, and develop the person (Buckingham & Coffman, 1999, p.65). To do the abovementioned one does not have to break a rule. Perhaps many in leadership positions are more concerned with position or pay and are unwilling to take a risk. Herein may lay the problem, to do the right thing takes backbone.
FBATR unabashedly sheds new light to some very old issues and modern realities. People have forgotten or do not know how to lead. The online article, the private sector: leadership presence, lists (another list) the 10 most sought after qualities in a leader (Truskie, 2005).
Honest: This is an absolute prerequisite for effective leadership.
Competent: This relates to leadership, not job/professional competency.
Forward-Looking: This leader constantly attempt to visualize what the future offers.
Inspiring: Motivating people is a critical function of leadership.
Intelligent: Intuitively astute, having much common sense and a great deal of wisdom.
Fair-Minded: Treating everyone fairly and justly.
Broad-Minded: Accepting people regardless of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Straightforward: Followers want authentic leaders, not politicians.
Imaginative: The ability to develop a compelling vision for the organization.
Dependable: A leader who is committed, courageous and stable.
FBATR highlights every one of the attributes. Lacking from this list is swash buckling manager, or Robin Hood, steal from the executives, leader. Leaders must relearn how to lead and do the right things. The task of strategic management is to evaluate the external competitive environment, as well as company resources and capabilities, and make decisions that improve the probabilities of success in any choice (Rosenzweig, 2008), not simply break all the rules.
Buckingham, M, & Coffman, C, (1999). First break all the rules. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Davidson, K., (2003). The dangers of a compliant bureaucracy, Retrieved November 7, 2007 from
Freiberg, K. F. (2005). Guts! Companies that blow the doors off business-as-usual. New York:Doubleday.
Leatherman, J. Howell, M., (2000) Leadership in the public arena, Kansas State University, Retrieved November
7, 2007 from http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/library/agec2/mf2491.pdf
Rosenzweig P., (2008) why success formulas will never work…but consulting can add real value, Management
Consulting News, Retrieved November 5, 2008 from http://www.the-halo-effect.com/articles/index.html
Truskie, S.D., (2005) the private sector: leadership presence, Retrieved November 5, 2008 from