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Example Effective Leadership Practice for Business Students

The "Leaders Must Be Seen" approach is becoming even more important as we move further into the 21st Century environment. Effective leadership styles need to change and change fast-- command and control is out, organizations are getting flatter, the competitive landscape is chaotic, markets are morphing, people are looking for meaningful work, customers are in control, these and more demands are being placed on today's leaders.

The result is that today's leaders need to rethink how they lead. One important leadership trait is that leaders need to be more visible to employees and to listen to what they have to say.

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During World War II, one of the most effective military leaders was Field Marshall Rommel (The Desert Fox). A key leadership attribute was that he frequently visited, talked and ate with the front line troops. While greatly outnumbered in troops and resources, he developed a legendary reputation with his opponents. Rommel had at least one of the characteristics of all outstanding leaders?true leaders create a culture of spirits and hearts not just heads and hands.

I remembered this and noted that many corporate leaders isolate themselves in their plush Offices and people start to view them as the Corporate Aristocracy. As I worked with a variety of companies, I observed how leaders developed increasingly narrow vision as they moved up the organization charts. They seemed to be seduced by the limos, executive dinning rooms and other perks that came with every promotion.

I experienced this first hand when I was appointed to a function that required organizing quarterly presentations of departmental performance awards. The group that won the award always went to the executive conference rooms to receive the award. Fred, the VP, would give a short speech and present the award, and the group would then leave. It was a very staged event. I jumped at the chance to try something new.

I approached Fred with a suggestion. I recommended that he go to the winning group's work area in person and present the award. He seemed to be reluctant at first but he agreed. The award day came and I accompanied Fred to the work area; I wasn't sure he even knew where it was. The group was ready; I don't think anyone was absent, and the group had arranged for snacks and goodies. It was a big success?people were delighted that Fred came to visit them.

The award seemed to be less important than the fact that they had a ...

Solution Summary

Leadership styles must change. An effective approach is to make yourself visible to employees.
Leadership trends are described and lessons for leaders are suggested.

The "command and control" leadership styles of the Old Industrial Economy are still too prevalent in Corporate America.
Effective leaders in today's business environment can no longer be a "sage on stage". They need to get out of their big offices, meet with people in their organization and listen to what they have to say.