Leadership! The very word strikes into the heart and soul of people throughout the American business world. Books on the subject abound, just look at the surprising success a number of years ago of The One Minute Manager and Love & Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership. New books are being published every day. New articles appear in professional magazines and journals every month. On my last check there were no less than 50 sites on the internet where one could find a host of information on leadership -- Anything from ready-to-go programs to articles on the best of the best.
We are going to talk today on the role leadership plays within the behavioral process. Because of the emphasis within this process of "employee empowerment" and "employee run process" there is a tendency for plant, division/regional and corporate leadership to neglect their responsibilities. Since the process is employee run, many leaders feel that all they have to do is wait and watch for the results. In some cases there is a clear abdication of their responsibilities of leadership.
This is far from the truth and the emphasis of this presentation is to discuss the pivotal responsibilities that leaders have within the behavioral process.
Regardless of what type of industry you are in, what you do, what processes you are embarking on --- Leaders still have to lead! They have to be in the forefront of each new endeavor. Regardless of the institution of High Performance Work Teams, Employee Empowerment processes, Total Worker involvement or whatever you call it, those folks with leadership responsibilities from the local level right up to the top will still have to lead and inspire.
These leaders will have to understand the behaviors of their people. They will have to understand why people do what they do. They will have to put forth an effort towards the safety arena and no longer sit back and let the Safety Director do it, or sit back and throw up their hands. The safety culture of their organization will have to change to one of positive influence rather than one of police-like activity.
Without Leadership any process, whether it is a behavioral one or not, I believe is doomed to failure.
Warren Bennis, noted author on organizational psychology said in a USA Today interview that "…Bureaucracies were built on command and control. Orders came from the top. Grunts at the bottom followed them."
Statements like the above stereotype leadership without knowing all the facts that surround the individual, mission, and goals. Those types of statements tend to lump all leadership into one great generalization of perceived style -- a style that is considered "tainted" and possibly not relevant to the business world at large.