I just read an article (http://chef.se/forsiktighet-bygger-bra-ledare/, in Swedish) regarding Vineet Nayar‘s view of leadership.

Vineet Nayar is CEO of HCL Technologies and have also written about the course of change the company has gone through in i his bestseller “Employees first, customers second”, published 2010, according to the article.
(Note: I have not read the book myself.)
Mr Nayar also blogs at Harvard Business Review. (http://blogs.hbr.org/vineet-nayar/)

The title of the article is “Caution build good leaders” (translated by me). According to the article, Mr Nayar claims that doubt is an important characterstic for a leader.

He talks about having three teenagers by the time he got the position as CEO and that strict control and regulations caused more rebellic. The only leadership style that worked with the teenagers were cooperation and discussion oriented style.

Translating from Swedish again:
“People actually want to cooperate, they want to know that you haven’t decided. They want to know that your idea not only is your own, but everybody’s idea.”

My own reflection
This is not new, but important to underline. Whatever you are about to do in a company, if it is to get a CEO and his/her Vice Presidents or a steering committee onboard, middle managers, line managers or even employees, you have to listen to what is said. You have to coach the dialogue to examine all possible angles (that are useful/constructive). If you do that, you will examine all possible direction and at the same time get a buy-in from participants as they are part of the chosen direction.

Are you there yet?
NO! Then comes the most important thing. Everything require Change Management, which includes:
– a (project) plan of how to do it
– follow up/measurement
– actual implementation (incl. change of steering documents; processes and instructions)
– and last, very often forgotten or too few resources allocated, is education/training.

This is why Toyota have the Toyota Way and Volvo have their Operational Development programme as well as Project Models – company specific structure of how to do things, controlled and require input from all employee levels and cross functional.

Personally I prefer the Six Sigma DMAIC project model for all process changes, i.e. changes that are bigger than a one week task for one FTE (Full Time Equivalent), if not using for example Operational Development structure.
DMAIC stands for:

Define – Define the problem, i.e. find the possible root causes.

Measure – Measure As-Is to determine the root cause and to be able to measure change after improvement. (Remember, that even areas which are more subjective or for some other reason are not possible to measure actual figures, there is always a possibility to describe “what it feels like”, using happy/satisfied/unhappy faces, green/yellow/red or whatever you prefer.)

Analyze – Analyse possible solutions to fix the root cause (and not the symptoms) and set up improve/implementation plan. “Putting a band aid on a fire does not work. Cut the air supply.”

Improve (Implement) – Make the improvement/implementation, including change steering documents (process maps, flowcharts, instructions, role descriptions, job descriptions a.s.o.) and educate/train all involved.

Control – Control that the implemented solution at least suffice and hopefully overachieve by comparing To-Be measurements (after improvement/implementation) with As-Is measurements (from Measure phase). Also includes checking that employees follow the To-Be process and the supporting systems the way the improvement intended and is documented.