Good Leadership Key for Organisational Change

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    Good leadership key for organisational changePosted By bandara On March 19, 2014 @ 12:00 am In Leadership | No Comments

    By Shabiya Ali AhlamThe world is now at an exciting phase of development and the role ofleaders has become more challenging than ever before.While Sri Lanka has achieved much in the areas of human resourcedevelopment in the past five years, it is time to ensure that its effortsare aligned to meet the emerging challenges since the nation is at a juncture where it isgearing up to become a middle income economy.

    [1]To present theneed for certainleadership skillsthat will help SriLanka in its journeytowards furtherdevelopment, theMinistry of Financeand Planningfeatured Evans andPeck Principal PeterAchterstraat toshare his views onleadership at theEminent Speakerseries which washeld at the Miloda Academy ofFinancial Studies,the trainingInstitute of theMinistry of Financeand Planning.Selected to deliverthe third lecture ofthe series whichwas inaugurated in2013, Achterstraat,who is fromAustralia, spoke tothe audience onSteering Through

    2014-2020, Must Have Leadership Qualities to Lead Organisational Change.Achterstraat has held the position of Chief Commissioner of the State Revenue, New SouthWales for seven years after having served the Australian Tax office for 20 years. A majorhighlight during Peters tenure as Auditor-General was developing the Corporate GovernanceLighthouse, a model for private and public sector governance, which won the GovernanceReporting Award Public Sector at the Australasian Reporting Awards in June 2013.He is well-recognised as an accomplished leader with vivid experience across strategicplanning, risk and change management, having successfully worked with corporations atboard level across the public and private sectors.Experience as Auditor GeneralDrawing from his experience as Auditor General, a post he held for several years,Achterstraat shared his mission at that time, which was to be a leader who brought aboutadded value to the institution he served.While being the Auditor General comes with a lot of responsibility, during his second year inthat position he chose to think differently with regard to how his job was done. Instead ofpointing out what went wrong after a series of events, he chose to identify and address the

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    issues before it event took place, thus avoid the problem altogether.We were dealing with a number of different departments and projects related to IT andinfrastructure and I thought that instead of coming up after the event and saying what wentwrong, it is best to go before the event itself and say how we could learn to do things betterin the future. I aimed at finding out why some projects failed while some were a success andwhy some government departments are highly effective in their work while others are notdespite having given the same number of resources, said Achterstraat at the lecture, whichhad a full house audience consisting of senior professionals from the public and privatesector.Key element to be successfulAttempting to get a better view in this regard, Achterstraat decided to speak to all the headsof the different departments he was working with on the necessary element for success ofprojects. While he expected to hear answers such as the need for good peer review, betterresources, higher technology, and good quality assurance programs, Achterstraat was notsurprised with what they had to say.Like him, the heads of departments opined that the success and the failure of a projectdepend on leadership at all management levels.Taking the survey a step further, Achterstraat was curious to talk to directors of topinternational companies to get their views on the necessary leadership skills. However,these top professionals responded by asking if he was talking about the skills requiredtoday, or those that will be required in five years time. This tells us that we need to be ableto predict the changes will take place so the skills can be adapted accordingly, he said.With aspects such as majority of the countries moving towards an ageing population,younger people expecting more from work, and technology continuing to advance, leadershipskills to handle such changes is imperative to have.

    [2]How much haschanged?Taking theAustralian prisonsystem as anexample, in the olddays the systemwas measured onthe number ofescapees and thecost per prisoner.The system hadnarrow goals suchas reducing the costper prisoner fromAUS$ 250 per nightto AUS$ 220 pernight, and toachieve this, theyhad to reduce stafftraining andhospital work.

    Later, the Government said that the goal of the prison was not to reduce the cost perprisoner but to stop people coming back to jail. The Government then called the head of theprison, police force, and the head of the courts to share their new goal to reduce thenumber of returnees by 30%. Noting that this sends a different message altogether,Achterstraat said to achieve such a goal, different leadership skills were required.Like the prison system, a lot of things are changing. For this we have to keep up withleadership skills. So there is a lot of change coming down the pipeline. What is leadership?Presenting a few definitions on leadership, he said leadership is the ability of an individual toinfluence and motivate others to contribute to the success of an organisation. Some notethat leadership is doing the right thing while management is doing things right.This is what the global leaders are saying. This is what the people have said in the past andI think we can learn from that. We also know that there is different definition betweenmanagement and leadership. I am a firm believer that a small increase in leadership willincrease productivity dramatically.Having interviewed one of the most interesting people, Neil Armstrong, on his views on whatis essential for leadership, the astronaut who was the first to set foot on the moon had saidits the ability to allow everyone in an organisation to work towards the set vision.

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    During his mission that turned a new chapter in science, the vision was to make the UnitedStates of America the first country to land on the moon. With the moon mission having ateam of 40,000 persons, all those involved worked towards that vision only, he shared.Everyone needs to know what is happening. When I interviewed many other toppersonalities, all shared the same sentiments. If we can get people to work for and with usto be focused on the outcome, we are going to perform better, said Achterstraat.Key qualities required by a leaderAccording to his survey, a successful leader is one who engages with a wide range ofstakeholders. They deal with volatile and certain ambiguous and conflicting agendas. Theycreate genuine long-term value to the public and know what questions to ask even if theydont know all the answers.Successful leaders are those who are able to communicate in simple languages, explain totheir stakeholders how they fit into the big picture. Their role is changing from what it was inthe past, noted Achterstraat.Three decades ago a leader did not have to manage ambiguity. Everything wasstraightforward. Today, everything has changed and in the public sector there is a conflictingagenda and it is the good leaders who can sit through this and deliver, he added.A good leader sees the gold in people, and not the mud. They can predict the risks in thenew environment and prepare for the vitalities that are to come. Good leaders are humblebut are able to deliver fierce results. Good leaders are one step ahead and have the skillsand experiences to deal with the unexpected.These qualities need to be split into three: attributes, skills, and behaviour. According toAchterstraat, this is necessary since while not much can be done with the attributes, skillscan be developed and behaviours can change. While there are two schools of thoughts onleadership, which is leaders are born or leaders are made, Achterstraat opined it is a bit ofboth. If leaders were born and did nothing with their skills, then they would not be leaders.At the same time if they dont have the leadership skills, then no amount of training is goingto make you a good leader, he justified.Pix by Lasantha Kumara

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