Thursday, April 3, 2008

Your expectations on where to find Leadership

An interesting experience the other day had me to consider - where do we expect to find Leadership in action in our business dealings.

I have a customer who had presented me with a project that had few unique requirements, this caused me to set out and find the manager of a different department. After some investigation I finally tracked down the person and set up a meeting to work out how we could collaborate to satisfy the customers requirements.

So I briefed the guy on the project requirements and clarified if this was the right area to fulfill these additional packets of work, to my disappointment he straight out said - No way we can't do this! I asked for him to explain why he couldn't do this, well firstly our schedule doesn't fit, and we've never done it this way before, plus I'll end up with more work for my team and on and on... some hours later after offering to adjust the schedule, provide the facilities, purchase additional equipment, this guy was still adamant that this project was not going to happen.

Feeling like I was stuck in a time warp, I asked the question, How do your customers access your services then? Well first they submit this application from the Web page and supply funding approval, we'll allocate someone to the job, raise a schedule and then we tell the customer when we can deliver. What if I fill out this application and I provide funding will the job be accepted, sure! provided you fill out the application from the web page and tell us how to complete the billing from your department, and don't forget to tell us when you need delivery on the application form.

Suddenly I had the solution and my customer demands could be satisfied.

Funny that I went to see the guy thinking he would want to collaborate to please this customer with a seamless solution, when in fact I would have been better off to sit in office and compile the application on the web like an external customer.

Now I look back I can see that I had an expectation of this other person purely by his position. I had expected that once I had briefed this guy on the customer requirements he would have assisted me to satisfy our shared customer. What I got was a person caught up in routine and processes.

I guess this demonstrated to me that people in our hierarchy don't necessarily display many leadership characteristics, and it also tells us that we don't need to be in the management tree to think and act as a leader providing unique, flexible and creative solutions.

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