Leading from the Heart: What Workers Say about Good Leaders
by John Heie
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There are three general themes in the book. The first is that workers who have their needs and aspirations met, or who, in other words, feel fulfilled, happy, and loved, will be more productive. They have a sense of being cared for. But the caring from the leader has to be genuine. It has to come from the heart. This caring will evidence itself if the workers are experiencing the following: • A say in shaping vision • Conversations about values • Rewards for effecting constructive change • Freedom to make decisions • Encouragement and resources that enable growth • Recognition of accomplishments • An open invitation to speak and be heard. As Heie leads managers through the steps to become caring leaders, he proves time and time again that workers are the key to an organization's success, because they are the closest to the customes, and if they are successful they will make their leaders and organization successful.
The second theme has to do with what leadership is all about. It has to do with organizations changing and reinventing themselves on a continual basis. It's not about maintaining the "status quo." In today's competitive environment and difficult economic times, if an organization is not constantly figuring out how to improve their processes, to do them more efficiently, they could very well become irrelevant and possibly extinct. Leaders must encourage change and risk taking.
The third theme has to do with the "alignment" and "focus" that is required to implement the desired changes. It starts with an organizational vision. Strategic planning has two componants - Knowing where you want to go and how to get there. The vision deals with where you want to go. How to get there deals with the implementation of the vision.
Managers and workers all need to be pulling in the same direction (alignment), when implementing the vision. The individual goals of the workers need to be aligned with the manager's goals, which in turn, need to be aligned with the organization's goals, which all contribute to the accomplishment of the vision. Then everybody needs to have a laser like focus on their goals so that the vision can be reached. Activities which do not contribute to the succesful completion of the vision may have to be discarded.
In addition to these three themes, there is an overriding principle. For organizations to succeed, they must have satisfied customers. Culture is "the way things are." All employees, from the CEO on down, have to "walk-the-talk" when it comes to satisfying customers. Having a plaque in the lobby stating that customer satisfaction is a value, will not suffice. Everybody has to believe in it and work to bring it about.