Systems Support Leadership

Chapter 7 Pg’s 162-164 Lead With Love: By Gerry Czarnecki

It is important to keep the systems principle in the proper perspective. Systems support the previously discussed core principles. Systems cannot stand alone, nor can they take precedence over the leadership activities discussed throughout this book. Systems are a necessary condition for success, but they are not a sufficient condition. Love must never get lost as we create these systems. There was a time when the academic and business communities became so enamored with systems and quantitative methods that the role of human behavior in the leadership function was dramatically deemphasized. This intellectual blunder led to a generation of people in charge who thought intellectual and analytical capability was all that was needed to succeed. That generation, many of whom are in senior executive positions today, changed the culture of the organizations they led. Many of the illnesses in organizations today can be linked to their perspectives. Much of the employee disaffection in the recent past can be attributed to the failure of organizational leadership to understand and appreciate the necessity of leading employees (with love) as well as managing systems.

The role of all systems (process or structure) is to support leaders and staff by freeing their minds to accomplish the most creative activities while assuring goals are achieved. Great leaders use systems leadership but are not slaves to those systems. As the chapter title says, these systems should be used to free a leader’s creativity and allow them time to be the loving leaders we have now established they must be to help their team achieve peak performance.

 If a system becomes the leader’s primary goal or focus, the organization’s priorities are likely to be lost in trivia. The “Law of Administrivia,” which was discussed earlier, describes how excessive focus on systems creates dysfunctional behavior. One of the great thinkers on the role of systems and process in organizations was Edwards Deming. He believed process was the only thing that could be managed in order to control results. It is probably true that process is the only thing that can be managed, but no one who is “in charge” can accomplish organizational goals by merely focusing on the process. While systems, or processes, support managerial functions required to achieve measurable results, a commitment to human behavior is the key to effectively leading associates in the pursuit of those results. In some environments, electro-mechanical devices that perform some, or all, of the manual component of human labor are doing most of the work. Managing those machines is literally “mechanical,” but generally there are humans maintaining those machines; programmers program them, schedulers allocate the workload, etc. In each of these cases, mechanical systems are used to support the human energies that create the factory’s output. Processes must be put in place, but they must be thought of as helpful to the leader and staff, not the primary focus of leadership.

It is possible, indeed probable, for a manager to manage the machines we use as part of the production process without ever knowing how to love, but that is not true about the human resource. Leaders must create systems that facilitate success for the humans, not create an environment in which the humans are treated like machines. Our organization must always be seen as an organization of humans who are connected to the mechanical and electronics aids with the sole purpose of creating value to other human beings. If we lose that human connection, then we can never be an effective leader; we will simply be an “overseer.”

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