Leadership with Bill Leahy
If there are a couple of things that pops to mind when talking about leadership is that leaders are made not born and that all leaders shared the same set of qualities that make them as such (think about John C. Maxwell’s book “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader”). These two statements seem to complement each other and reflect the general tone of today’s podcast episode.
Leadership is a subject that spans across disciplines and industries. It’s a binding element that strengthens the organizational culture and direct all efforts towards the fulfilment of shared goals. It’s hard to imagine organizational success and longevity without leadership that propels everyone to move to the same rhythm and fashion.
Regardless if you believe it or not, leadership is born out of necessity. Such is the case of our today’s guest speaker, Bill Leahy. He was called to lead as early as his military days where he served as a platoon leader for a Stryker Brigade and later became an engineering supervisor and was also in charge with the shipping reliability program, training, and apprenticeship for the site. From there, his leadership skills developed and his leadership styles matured.
According to Bill, leadership is simply defined as the ability to create internal motivation of others such that every team member takes ownership and have a sense of shared responsibility to get things done even in the absence of a leader. After all, people is the most important element in any organization and if they have the right influence (that is, guidance, direction, and motivation), they will help sustain your program, not the tools or technology.
But what does it take to become a leader? There is no single-best way to answer this. Bill discussed a leadership theory called French and Raven’s Five Bases of Power. According to Bill, power or leadership can be inherent or voluntary (Legitimate), bestowed (Reward), earned (Expert and Referent), or imposed (Coercive). Definitely, one doesn’t necessarily require training or title to become a leader. One can rise from the occasion and step up to become a leader by necessity. Others are chosen because they exhibit knowledge and skills and have earned the respect of their peers.
Additionally, one can decide his own style of leadership as deemed appropriate and effective. Situational leaders are the ones that adjust their behavior to match the situation. It is for this reason that if anyone decides to become a leader, he needs to know himself first and, depending upon the situation, he may flex his leadership style and frame the situation to match people’s expectations and the expectation that he built for himself. In other words, it’s all about framing for people where they fully understand the decisions that you’re making and the directions that you are going with your leadership style.
Likewise, it’s equally important to understand the history of the group you assumed a leadership role from. Understand where they came from and what the previous leaders had done effectively that you can adopt to your own style. To overcome change resistance, you don’t have to change everything at once. Introduce the changes in such a way that your people will understand that the decisions that you’re making and the directions that you are going to makes the most sense, and eventually win their respect and trust.
Furthermore, to become an effective leader, you should be a strong proponent and advocate of processes. Once processes are formulated and approved, you have to follow them yourself and ensure that they are properly implemented across the board. That’s also how you exude as a leader of integrity. Follow what you preach and own up to your words. Always set the right expectations and don’t make promises that you can’t keep. It takes courage to admit honest mistakes that people may forgive than deliberately lie and people can’t forgive. If possible, make a habit to under-promise but over-deliver to make sure you don’t fall short of anyone’s expectations.
Finally, make sure succession planning are in place in your organization. People come and go for whatever reason, so it’s always best to train your talented and willing senior staffs to assume leadership role when opportunity comes. Give everyone an equal chance to grow with the company to give them reasons to stay. After all, like they say, leaders don’t make followers; they make more leaders.
- HP Reliability
- A Smarter Way of Preventative Maintenance Free eBook
- inspired Blended Learning (iBL®)
- James Kovacevic’s LinkedIn
Bill Leahy Links:
- MainWorld article: Developing Leadership in Maintenance and Reliability
- Recommended Video: Matt Campbell (Iowa State Head Football Coach) on team above self & falling in love with the process
- Recommended Books: John Wooden books
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