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EMPOWERING PEOPLE – CREATING LEADERS IN OTHERS

02/17/2011

We live in a rapid changing environment. Change can means anxiety, fear, loss, danger, panic but on the other it means excitement, risk taking, improvement, energizing (Fulan: 2001; page 1). The change could produce positive or negative result, it depends on the capability of the leaders, the staff and the employees to response those complex changes. In this sense, rapid changes have led to the Human Resource challenges. The institution need to find qualified people, to maintain the best people they already hired and to empower them to be able to take action on the challenges they face in their work place.

This paper presents the lessons of Effron, M which gives us inspiration on how to select the managers or employees and how to help the young and new managers to avoid the derail in their careers. It also present the lesson from Sam Watson as told by Berhdahl and Packard, D the HP managers how they developed the company and empowered the employee to be leaders in their own field. The last part will be the reflection on how this lesson could be applied in the school settings.

Time of War for Talents

WAR FOR TALENTS characterized the business and education institution nowadays. The business and education institution experience a challenge in attracting, hiring, retaining talented young staff. Learning from the socio-demographic factors of Western countries where there is significant reduction in the number of young people and that mean reduction in the number of young talented managers. Besides, the mobility and market forces makes the talented people may be easily lured away by other organizations in other sectors which provide better package (Effron:2003;page 99).

All organizations need talented, motivated and a creative people to maintain the progress of their business. For this purpose, they have talent spotters at business schools; they may have close relationship with career councilors, academics, professionals and head hunter who believe they know how to spot talent. But they admit there is problem: a number of people that they so carefully seek out later fail and derail Efrron:2003;page 99). From these facts, it is difficult to assess person’s potential for success. We could not predict the future success on certain job of person based on characteristics they perform today. It becomes more complicated when we realize that “we are attempting to select person for a job that does not currently exist or that cannot currently be described. The selectors assess the potential of person for number of future possible virtual jobs.

Dealing with the uncertainty of the job in the future we should consider some points in hiring people. First, we should be aware that personal characterizes did not change fundamentally over the individual’s lifespan. We need to define the desirable traits, abilities and values needed for the success of our institution and fine them in candidates. It will be more important for the long term development. Therefore hiring bright, optimistic, balanced people will help the institution to learn faster, embrace change and adapt to circumstances.

Effron (2003) suggested three vital characteristics to select persons for the success of the jobs. First, person should have intelligence or ability. He has cognitive potential and education attainability. Person with good intelligence will learn faster and adapt more quickly. Second, person should have emotional stability. Select persons with stable, emotionally adjusted. It will help them to relate with the customers. Third, select person with conscientiousness. Select person who are diligent, responsible, dutiful. Select person whom we can count on.

Effron also pointed the importance of self –Esteem. Selecting people who have good self-esteem and genuinely humble and meek, believing that their ability and contribution are average, even unworthy. Hiring low-self esteem person will lead to the failure of the business because they will be afraid of taking risk, feel anxious and depress when challenges come.

Retaining and developing people in the institution.

As said before, nowadays we enter the period of War for Talents. Business and education institution work very hard to attract and maintain the best person they have to stay longer in their institution and to give their commitment to the development of the institution. The talented persons will easily move to another institution which offers better position or package for them therefore the leaders should think hard and take strategic action to make sure that their talented people are with them. It is a big challenge for the leadership task nowadays.

Learning from Hewlett-Packard from HP and Sam Walton from Wall Mart, I can see at least two interesting points in retaining the talented people and developing their commitment to the institution. First, I am interested in Hewlett-Packard’s effort to make the institutions a flexible and responsive to the developing need of the organization and changes in the market place. Second, the HP and Wall Mart place personal relationship as power to grow together as team in the institution. Especially in Wall Mart Company, the Sam Walton embraced servant leadership to encourage the people around him to grow and to be productive in their field.

Hewlett-Packard from HP said, “An organizational structure, once created, should be flexible and responsive to the developing needs of the organization and changes in the market place.” (Packard, D.:2005, p. 139). Packard tried to create flexible organizations which enable persons in this company developed their capability based on the desired product of the company. Through decentralization strategy of this company, Packard retains the emphasis on individual responsibility and achievement.

Packard wants to avoid bureaucracy and make sure that problem solving decisions be made as close as possible to the level where the problem occurred. It means that the staff and the employee should take part in the problem solving decisions actively. Packard gives autonomy, create an environment that encourage individual motivation, initiative and creativities to work toward the common goals. By giving autonomy, and motivate individual to take initiative and creativities, Packard has created leaders in his staff and employees.
The next point he wants to develop is the internal intimacy and communication among the employee.”We also wanted each division to retain and nurture the kind of intimacy, the caring for people and the ease of communication that were characteristic of the company when it was smaller.” (Packard: 2005; page 141). He believes that intimacy and good communication among the people in the company will alleviate the productivity of the company.

Another point from Packard’s experiences is that giving more autonomy on the staff and employee will lead to new challenge that is coordination. HP realized that cooperation between individuals and coordinated efforts among units are essential to growth and success. Packard create an open door policy to encourage good communication. The HP managers and employee are welcome to report problem happened in the field and then Packard will come and visit the HP facilities and meet the people there to see what was going on.
Similar approach was made by Sam Walton. He also created the open-door policy as one of the tools at Wall-Mart to communicate and listen to his staff and employees. This provides internal mechanism for the employee to express their concerns when they have problem in the work place. He encourages his associates to apply this approach in their office and try to give fair solution to the problem. From this tools Sam Walton listen to others and learn from their ideas. This is the seventh rules of Sam Walton in his success.
Sam Walton embraced the leadership philosophy called servant leadership. Through his servant leadership he moves down to reach the associates / employee. Mr. Sam Walton believed the most important employees at Wall Mart were the associates in contact with the customers. Therefore he empowered them to serve the customers. He gave them responsibility and authority to do their job, then he asked for their best ideas and used them improve the business. (Bergdahl:2006; p.151). By doing so, he gets respect and trust from the people he lead. They will follow him with respect and trust on his capability to bring to the future.
With his servant leadership, Mr. Sam Walton has put personal relationship at the first place so that he considered his visit to his own stores as the single most important thing. He enjoyed talking with and listening to the associates on his visits. From his communication and listening “he wants to get firsthand competitive intelligence about his competitor’s stores, talk to and learn from some of his own customers and his associates.” (Bergdahl: 2006; p. 150).

Maintaining the respectful treatment of the associates and maintaining positive associate relation culture went hand in hand with the success of the success of a work group, department, manufacturing, facility, store, distribution center or a company. As quoted by Bergdahl, Sam Walton said to his associates, “If you take care of your people, your people will take care of the customers, and the business will take care of itself.” (Bergdahl: 2006; p. 152)

From these sentences I get impression that Sam Walton values the personal touch on his staff managers and his associates. In his view, caring about people will result in great morale in their life and motivation in the life of his associates. Again he believes that motivated people are the key to achieving the goal of the company; without the support of the associates, a manager will fail. Through his believe on the servant leadership, Sam Walton create environment of openness, cooperation, teamwork and motivation. He encourages his staff to foster positive work environment by using people skills.

Sam Walton generates tools for communicating with and listening to associates. There are 10 activities he used namely: one on one meetings, grass roots opinion surveys, safety, attendance policy, performance coaching, open door policy, daily meetings, exit interviews, retention and turnover, SMART ( Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic, Time bound) evaluation. Through these activities, he makes concrete his believe that it is important to listen to the people who are closest to the customer because they understood better than anyone else what the customers really want and need.

Is there something we can apply in the school settings?

Educational institution as a place to prepare the young generation to be the future leaders, should also open to the development happening around the institution. Schools should become learning organization. The role of the educational leaders to create environment which supports people to be long life learners. Educational leaders should find a way to empower teachers as well as the parents and students so that they are motivated to achieve the vision and mission of the schools.

Sense of community should be build among the people in the institutions in order to help them developing the motivation and commitment to achieve the vision and mission, the goals, the objectives of the schools. A sense of belonging to the school community will help the people to feel the self-fulfilment, personal involvement in the institution. The educational leaders should find ways to empowers teachers through personal and profesional developments through mentorship, training, seminars etc. Considering all these aspects, hopefully the teachers would have commitment to achieve of the school vision and mission and as a result they would stay longer in the institutions.

Active and respect listening to the teachers and other employees, students, the parents is very important to understand their needs. The Educational leaders should open themselves to the information of others. Educational leadership need to apply the philosopy of servant leadership which means empowering people and make leaders in others. Come into concrete, the educational leaders need to communicate to every persons in every levels of the organization and try to get information from the first hand. Principals should build close relationship with the teachers, students and parents and try to undestand the their need in a day to day business.

Sources:
1. Bergdahl, M (2006) The 10 Rules of Sam Walton: Success Secret fro Remarkable Results. Listen to Others and Learn from their Ideas. John Wiley and Son Inc
2. Effron, M, Gandossy, R., and Goldsmith M (eds.) (2003) Human Resources in the 21st Century. Joh Wiley and Sons, Inc. (Reh Icarus Syndrome: Talent Management and Derailment in the New Millenium by Adrian Furnham.)
3. Fullan, Michael (2001) Leading in a Culture of Change, Jossey Bass, A Wiley Company, San Francisco.
4. Packard, D. (2005). The HP Way: How Bil Hewlett and I built our company. Growing the Organization. Collins Business Essentials.

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