In the danish business magazine Berlingske Nyhedsmagasin Henrik Ørholst have written an article where he interviews AVT professor Laura Morgan Roberts.
Here you can read the article in danish and below we have translated it into english.
Watch out for charismatic leaders
Relations are keyword in leadership today and this is good for women, says the american professor and leadership guru Laura Morgan Roberts. She warns, even though is it good having a charismatic leader, the organization risks a stand still because of a big ego.
With more than nine million Google hits, Laura Morgan Roberts is somewhat of a worldwide star within leadership research. Being Professor in Organization at one of the most prestigious Universities in USA, she is quite a coup for AVT Business School, who provides MBA education in Denmark. She has been teaching at the school since 2007, where students benefit from her teaching.
Laura Morgan Roberts does not only teach, she also makes a virtue out of bringing women and female values to the forefront. The american professor thinks female values are a strength today where the world have becomes more and more complex. Masculine values belongs in the past where everything did not evolve as fast.
Are women better leaders then men?
“It is not that simple. In a changing world, where roles and assignments are constantly changing, authority and hierarchy is not needed. Relations based leadership is needed more.”
“Relations based leadership starts with the employees and developing a relationship between the employees and those outside the organization.”
“It is therefore a debate about feminine and masculine leadership style. Not about gender. Relations based leadership is based upon female values. With this in mind one could argue that female leaders are better that male leaders. In a global organization there is a greater need for female values than male values, I think. The latter suits a static world without a lot of change.”
“There are many differences in how the individual female and male leader heads their organization. There are at least as many similarities as differences in the leadership style.”
Relations before competitiveness: What is most important within leadership?
“Keyword today is relations and here women have an edge over men.“
“Women are more oriented towards collaboration. Men are competitive. It hurts collaboration and relations between people. Organizations without hierarchy are more collaborative and has less competition than an organization where interaction between the employees are dominated by a “them” and “us” mentality, which will foster very little collaboration. Thus distinct masculine values.”
“A typical organization will be filled with (male) employees competing amongst each other until they get closer to the top where there are less competitors. This is something we see in consultant companies and law firms where partners have been found after a fierce and tough competition amongst co-workers.”
“This type of competition destroys collaboration within the organization. This is less connected to gender, but more to the salary structure.”
What is the difference between a good leader and a bad leader?
“It is a question of creating value for the system the leader is a part of. Surplus is just one way of measuring good leadership.”
“The experience the employees have is as important. If the employees feels commitment within the organization, itʼs because a good leader paved the way. A creative and committed employee can contribute more to an organization, than an employee not engaged and committed, which will lead to a surplus in the company.”
“Commitment is a central aspect in leadership. An employee with poor commitment will not contribute. The leader must ensure the commitment of such an employee in order to contribute to the organization. On the other side, the commitment can be overwhelming where there is no balance between what the employees contributes and the returns. An employee feeling she or he gives more than what is returned, can be as big a leadership challenge.”
“This is an actual leadership challenge when the financial climate is no longer positively progressing. The companies are expecting more and more from their employees. They have to be generalists and specialists. At the same time. Another leadership challenge arises when the companies expect the employees to work outside their usual areas of expertise. It will be exciting for the employees to work with new assignments and responsibilities. It can also be an organizational strength. The downside is, sometimes the employees become “over engaged” and will overstep their boundaries for both their ability but also what their time will allow them.”
“It is also worth asking if the company is able to generate value over time. Short term results can be made, but it is not certain the organization has the environment to create other than short term results.”
Charisma in moderation: Is a charismatic leader an added value in an organization?
“It is good with a charismatic leader. Many changes have been instigated by charismatic leaders. Many civil rights changes in USA happened, because of the charismatic leaders in the organizations fighting for them. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, John Kennedy have all been able to carry out changes in the American society in the 1950ʼs and 1960ʼs through their charismatic personality.”
“A significant challenge for charismatic leaders is the need for acknowledgment which can overshadow their abilities to be an effective leader.”
“The ego takes up too much. They start spending their time demeaning others in order to strengthen their own position. They do not like when someone questions their dispositions, which can put too much focus upon the leader compared to the organization.”
“New leaders are not evolved in the shadows of the charismatic leader and it threatens the organizations long term survival.”
Are there any common denominations for leaders?
“Successful leaders do not have any common denominations or characteristics. Successful leaders are adaptable, they can learn new things and are capable of implementing change. And not least of all, they are capable of assessing the situation and carry out the necessary changes to secure the organization long term.”
“A good leader ought to be strategic, thinking and action oriented. Or said in another way: A leader must be capable of developing a vision and implementing it. Unfortunately, many forget to include other people in this process of being both strategic and action oriented. In this situation employees are a vital source of information as to what would be the best solution.”
Leader for 25 years: Can you be a leader in the same organization for 25 years?
“If the leader is capable of acknowledging a changing organization and being able to change with it. On the other hand, if a leader maintains the same leadership style as of 25 years it would be a problem. Routines which may seemed optimal back then, are out dated compared to what the younger generation expects of you as a leader.”
“There are reasons to doubt the leaders who have been in the same position for many years. The big challenge is, they have to reinvent the organization and be at the forefront of necessary change. Hiring a management consult to answer the question: how can we still be competitive in the future, is not enough. This is the role of the leader and can not be handed over to consultants.”
Can you learn to become a good leader?
“First and foremost you have to gain self knowledge and learn about your own motives: “What drives med as a leader?” and at the same time challenge what it is you do as a leader. It is important to focus on your best self and what you as an individual can contribute specifically. “It is not a question of participating in leadership programs. Here the participants receive a number of tools useful in everyday situations. This is not developing you best self. All leaders have skills and a leadership program can give them tools to become better leaders.”
The big picture: What happens when leaders are promoted?
A newly promoted leader have limited assignments which reflect ones position in the hierarchy. The tasks and assignments grow and changes when promoted. This demands ability to see the organization as part of a big picture and understand the dynamic between the organization and surroundings. This is the biggest change for leaders being promoted. It is possible to learn and this is where leadership programs must make leaders capable of understanding and adapt their organization to the surroundings.”
Do Danish leaders separates themselves from others?
“There are more correlations than differences, when comparing Danish leaders to others. Denmark is not an immigration country, in contrast to USA. Which means, there are differences in how Danish leaders and companies work with globalization. Global leadership is something very new to you.”
“And the you have janteloven. It is not present many places in the world. It ensures nobody sticks out from the crowd.”