Practices need better leaders, not managers, says expert


Respectable leadership hinges on sound management behavior, not vice versa, says a presenter at the management conference of the American Animal Hospital Association's 69th annual meeting in Boston.

Respectable leadership hinges on sound management behavior, not vice versa, says a presenter at the management conference of the American Animal Hospital Association's 69th annual meeting in Boston.

"Sound effective management behavior is a prerequisite to leadershipbehavior," says Mike Sheahan of the Krannert Management Institute atPurdue University. "If this is a starting norm - a mean - then mathor statistic's concept of moments around the mean can serve as an organizingframework for what we consider leadership behavior."

Sheahan presented a compilation of leadership concepts and mathematicalstatistics to form a workable leadership behavior model during his presentation,"Leadership Throughout the Practice."

Leadership behaviors in practice focus on five factors, according toSheahan: self, others, teams, the overall practice, and "the greatergood."

Combining these factors can effect leading for "the greater good,"practice transformation, team leadership, political partnerships with others,and leadership self-style or emotional intelligence. The mean of all these,says Sheahan, is effective management behavior.

Management vs. leadership

First, Sheahan cites John P. Kotter's book, "A Force for Change:How Leadership Differs from Management" in contrasting leadership vs.managerial style. Managers plan and budget, while leaders establish direction,says Sheahan. Managers organize and oversee staff members; leaders alignpeople. Managers control and solve problems; leaders motivate and inspire.Lastly, managers produce consistent results expected by stakeholders; leadersproduce often dramatic change that is useful (e.g. new services that clientswant).

Emotional intelligence

Next Sheahan moves to the emotional side of leadership, citing materialby Harvard University professor Dr. Daniel Goleman, entitled, "Leadershipthat Gets Results."

The material focuses on emotional intelligence (EI), defined as "theability to manage ourselves and our relationships effectively," Sheahansays. EI hinges on five capabilities: self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation,empathy, and effective relationships.

"Self-awareness means to tune into your emotional states and expressyour feelings to others," explains Sheahan. "Self-regulation requiresaccepting responsibility for emotional responses and learning to manageemotional 'triggers.'"

For self-motivation, he says the key is "when setbacks occur, resistself-defeating thoughts." Empathy causes you to recognize and respondto others' emotions. Building effective relationships is possible by usingEI "to influence and persuade others."

Building partnerships

Another noteworthy component of leadership behavior is the ability tobuild strategic alliances.

Peter Block's book, "The Empowered Manager: Positive Political Skillsat Work," a model for partnership building, asks readers to assumea partner's basic competence and motives. His view is people should valuea partner's different perspectives and talents. There are five politicalpartnership players:

  • Allies: Those with high agreement and trust - "the perfect combo," according to Sheahan.

  • Opponents: low agreement, high trust - "the next best combo."

  • Bedfellows: alleged agreement, prompting low trust - proceed with caution.

  • Fence sitters: uncertain agreement, low trust - tough to read.

  • Adversaries: low agreement and trust - "the worst combo."

"To apply this understanding to political partnerships, spend timewith your allies, seek new ones," says Sheahan. "Value opponents- they help us get our act together. Maintain fragile trust with bedfellowsto gain support. View fence sitters as a 'passing fancy.' Spend only twomore meetings with adversaries to try once more, then to 'confess and saygoodbye.'"

Playing on a team

An article by Peter Drucker published in the Wall Street Journal in 1992evaluated the various team players in a work setting, arguing that teamsare tools, each with its own characteristics, uses and limitations.

The first team cited is the baseball team, "where players play onnot as a team," says Sheahan.

"Players, or workers, have fixed positions they never leave. Thestrength is that each player can be evaluated separately with "stars"at each position. The weakness is the inflexibility of the model,"he explains.

Drucker describes the second team - football - as having players withfixed positions who play as a team. Flexibility is its strength. "Itsrequirements are stringent specifications, and all must subordinate themselvesto the team," explains Sheahan.

Drucker's third model, tennis doubles, involves players with primary,not fixed positions, helping teammates meet demands. It offers flexibility.It requires up to seven members, trained for team performance, individualcontributions.

Practice transformation

Sheahan cites another article by Kotter, Leading Change: Why TransformationEfforts Fail. First, he urges people to establish a greater sense of urgencywithin the workplace.

"Create a guiding coalition of individuals with enough power tolead change. Establish a vision and strategy. Communicate this vision toyour employees. Empower others to act. Then, institutionalize new approachesinto the practice," says Sheahan. M

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