“Three Steps to Leadership” for Librarians and Others…01.26.09

26 01 2009

Here is an excerpt from a Knowledge Workers post Three steps to leadership about John Adair‘s work in leadership roles [http://www.johnadair.co.uk/] which is helpful to grasp:

“…Leadership role

Adair says that in any functioning group there has to be someone in a distinctive leadership role. This person need not be the same person as the group’s manager. In fact, many experts argue that it is best if the group leader is not the group’s manager.

There are clear lines of demarcation between the work of the group and the activities of a group’s leader. Group members concern themselves with the function parts of fulfilling the core task while leaders need to concentrate on two additional sets of activities: the group’s tasks and the processes that take place within the group.

A leader’s role in the group task is to see that group members are working towards achieving the goal. There’s nothing to stop a leader from contributing personally towards this work. In fact, the best leaders do contribute – it’s known as leading by example. But if the leader ends up doing all, or even the bulk, of the work they will have failed as a leader. And there’s a good chance the project will fail – the reason for forming a group in the first place was recognition that the task involves too much work for any individual.

Group process activities are those tasks, which ensure the group remains in an effective state to continue working towards the core goal. The leaders job is to ensure the group stays cohesive, motivated and focused. He or she also needs to ensure that each individual is working towards the common goal and not wandering off at a tangent or shirking their responsibilities to the others.

Effective leaders

Effective leaders need to concern themselves with both task AND process. It’s no good if the task is completed, but the group is burnt out. Most work groups need to remain intact for further tasks.

Leaders who focus too much on driving the core task forward at the expanse of group dynamics face objections, mutiny or worse. Group members will object and resent such people. You can expect low moral, resentment, withdrawal and friction. This undermines the group, puts the project in danger and destroys the person’s leadership credibility. On the other hand, overemphasis on the group dynamics may be good for all those touchy-feely things modern management gurus love, but can lead to inadequate performance on the core task.

Adair says the best leaders need to juggle these two elements while recognizing they are mutually incompatible.”

Adair’s visual description of the “three circles” or action centered model to look at what makes an effectively leader:

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