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Characteristics of an enlightened leader


Published: Jun 19, 2013

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Many of us will have unfortunately worked with leaders or managers who think that they can do whatever they want. This approach can work as a short term crisis strategy, but the longer term costs can be high and even make a potentially brilliant Bahamian business, seem like hell.

In ‘Nice Companies Finish First’ by Peter Shankman, the author sets the scene by citing an employee study regarding the treatment they received from managers. It makes disturbing reading:

• 31% reported that their manager gave them the "silent treatment".

• 37% claimed they never received any credit from their manager.

• 39% of managers didn't keep promises.

• 27% of managers spoke negatively about them to colleagues.

The cost of such an approach is a workforce that "experienced exhaustion, job tension, nervousness, depressed mood and mistrust." However, Shankman emphasizes that being a “nice” boss doesn’t mean being a pushover and that empowered employees will work harder and stay at your company longer.

‘Nice Companies Finish First’ outlines the nine characteristics of an enlightened leader including being accountable, investing in others, consulting with those affected by decisions and reacting positively to challenging situations. Of course, there are times when a leader must make unpopular decisions explains Shankman, but "you can make beneficial decisions and lead your company to greatness without resorting to third-grade schoolyard tactics." The other traits described include:

• Strategic listening - to get the best out of employees and improve decision making;

• Good stewardship - based upon responsible and ethical management;

• Customer service-centric - building loyalty by serving first and selling second;

• Merit-based competitor - by developing your product and service differentiation.

In an era when customers can share information instantly on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, its crucial for companies to keep them happy and create the type of “magical moments” that customers will want to share.

It’s also reassuring to note that ‘Nice Companies Finish First’ is not some unrealistic utopian theory. A number of world-class companies are setting the standard for success with this collaborative approach. Leading lights include Ken Chenault of Amex, Indra Nooyi of Pepsi and the late Steve Jobs of Apple, all building productive workplaces for the benefit of employees, customers and ultimately profitability. So, learn from the best and it could be a case of ‘Successful Caribbean Companies Finish First’.

• ‘Nice Companies Finish First’ by Peter Shankman, published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Keith Appleton JP, BA (Hons), N.Dip.M, MInstLM has extensive experience within an academic, managerial and strategic leadership role. He is a member of the UK Institute of Leadership & Management and can be contacted at KeithAppleton@Hotmail.co.uk, or follow him at twitter.com/WritingRightNow.



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