Managing an organization often times if you are not the owner, you are managing for others therefore and you have stakeholders. It is not like community leadership whereby you are looking for a cause. In Corporate Leadership, your role is well defined for you. You are either producing or providing service or in a certain public sector training people or providing public service; the parameters are often defined, and much of the stakeholders are always identifiable. So the constituencies or what you are supposed to do in the call is defined and then if you are in the public sector, some of the rules are there so you cannot change them at least initially.
So in a sense where things are really a bit more defined, leading is more difficult because the tendency is to just work within the parameters especially if you want to play it safe.
But when we say leadership, we are talking about providing a vision and causing a paradigm shift. Interestingly however, much of the leadership studies have all been institutional leadership studies. So the first thing you do is challenge the status quo. Like any other leadership situation, challenging the status quo is how you can generate energy for change. Then you have to provide a vision of the future and here a real vision because there will be something there already and that is why it requires a lot of strategic thinking. Thinking of the organization not as it is today but how things would be in one generation. We are talking about the long-term, ten to twenty-five years.
Usually, when you come in from outside or when you are newly appointed, your challenge is that the people you meet in the organization already have their position, their salaries, and their status by behaving well within the existing status quo. To be able to challenge the existing status quo, you need to form a new coalition to support the new paradigm you want to bring about. You build the coalition by often making your vision clear, setting goals, and communicating with passion and energy. Above all else, you must be willing to spend time training them because uncertainty generates fear and people must be updated.
Unfortunately, you would have to remove some who are not willing to change. And so you must mobilize and then empower those who buy into your new vision. You have to now realign the organization. The structure you meet must now be changed to fit the new vision and that is important. So you must dedicate your infrastructure, and your resources and create a new culture to enforce the new competencies.
You may need to restructure, create new departments, and reconfigure the old ones but make sure that the people who are going to support that vision have the environment to work in and empower them. And often a time in organizational leadership, credibility is so important; you must model a way to command people to do so.
If you are asking for a new culture, you must behave in the new culture and be disciplined. Often times there would be uncertainty and you have to stand between the bridge to take the hard decisions, accept the blame when things go wrong and not look for someone to blame. Quite interestingly, one of the good things about organizational transformation is that success is easy to demonstrate so it has one advantage, you can demonstrate success in a shorter time than in other areas of transformation.
I believe that the standard of efficiency in the public sector should be the same as that of the private sector it is the end that is different. Leadership involves long-term decisions even in the private sector, but these days everything is short-term, you must deliver both short-term results and long-term aspirations. The bottom line is institutions especially in the public sector have the challenge to deliver short-term results from a long-term perspective. First of all, in the public sector, you cannot fully engineer your succession and unlike in the private sector where you can do more if you have a good board.
You must understand the system, it is very, very important. You are your vision so you must come up with a clear strategic plan. The vision must be clear, and superior and a lot of the people should be able to see themselves in it. You must model a way out that must show credibility and the credibility comes by walking your talk.