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THE ORGANIZER

The organizer-leader gets results through the actions of inspired people. The authoritarian leader does not need inspired people, only followers who will do what is asked. The administrator leader does not need inspired people, only functionally capable people who follow rules and policies. You will learn next that the “coach” leader inds ways to inspire people to ind their better selves in order to get results. Each of these leadership styles inluences people to get results, but they do so in very different ways.

The organizer is dedicated mainly to inluencing people to work in groups in a disciplined and systematic way. A business organization led by such a person has groups and teams everywhere – both expert functional teams and interfunctional business teams. These groups and teams do both strategic and tactical work. They participate fully in the organization through leading, managing, and planning. The organizer is a leader of leaders and
is willing to let others lead. This leader of leaders is analogous to an orchestra conductor. Everyone in the orchestra is a competent functional person and leader of self but is inspired and led by the organizer-leader.

The emphasis on working in groups gives many people the opportunity to learn more about both leadership and followership. The organizer leader teaches the people in her organization, providing them with the opportunity and responsibility to understand why it is important to develop leadership skills as well as how they can do so. The organizer inluences people to do their work – both strategic and tactical – by structuring the work into coherent processes as well as into sets of processes called systems. The result is a disciplined, systematic approach to doing work and achieving success.

I came to know a large manufacturing company in the automotive parts industry; at one point the prevailing market conditions required them to ind ways to reduce internal costs. Instead of adopting an authoritarian leadership style and arbitrarily reducing costs, they opted for a strong emphasis on the organizer style. This resulted in a company-wide initiative to redesign key operating processes and thereby reduce their infrastructure costs.

This is an example of an organizer-leader who decided to change the company's cost structure at a time of crisis by mobilizing the people into teams that were accountable for all cost elements. These teams were directed by the overall purpose as described clearly by the organizer. Each team was inspired by that person to share in the overall objective. And the organizer was involved in the work by playing a functional role as well as a business and a leadership role.

The organizer style of leadership is highly democratic. The organizer establishes the company's direction as well as the purpose for the work of the various teams. She then ensures that the whole organization is operating harmoniously. At the same time, all the people in the organization will be consulted in all aspects of the work and at all stages. The organizer is looking for the most effective means to achieve her vision of the future. She knows that there are many ways to achieve success; she also knows whether the people in the company are capable functionally and whether they have the necessary leadership skills to achieve the goals that have been outlined for them.

This style of leadership does not absolve the leader from accountability for the decisions made. The organizer consults, and she allows teams both to follow direction and to help craft it, but she reserves important decisions for herself and will certainly have “51 per cent” of the vote in key decisions. So this is democracy, yes, but the future state is still directed by this leader of leaders. Organizers are sometimes referred to as “process leaders.” However, that term is often used to suggest that such leaders are more interested in processes than in results. That is far from true. The organizer believes strongly in following a disciplined approach that involves accumulating detailed knowledge before any action is taken. The result is very likely to be that decisions are implemented better and more quickly than otherwise. This process-oriented, front-end-weighted approach results in high-quality decisions in the run-up stages before the project is actually implemented. It also means that fewer mistakes reveal themselves once implementation starts. The optimum approaches have all been developed before any expensive implementation steps are taken.

A good example of an organizer-leader is Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric (GE), especially in the later stages of his career. He engaged people in learning to be leaders, and he did so in very disciplined and systematic ways that enabled people to develop themselves through experience. In addition, there was no question in anyone's mind at GE that Jack Welch was the chief architect of the future state for the company. He was an inspiring, visionary, process-oriented leader who got results.

In summary, the organizer creates an effective set of processes, systems, and structures. She ensures that the people in the organization are competent; that they have considerable self-leading capability; and, importantly, that they are inspired to play active roles in leading the work to achieve the future state that their leader has crafted for them.

 
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