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July 29, 2012, Sunday

The leadership code

The “Leadership Code: Five Rules to Lead By” is another book to set a direction in leadership by Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman. Ulrich is considered to be the number one guru in the human resources (HR) field. Leadership theories are always questioned. There are more than 1,500 definitions and hundreds of approaches to leadership.

The authors of “Leadership Code” tried to find the elusive answer to the simple question “What makes an effective leader?” This book attempts to do the improbable, if not impossible. In a brief and clear way, the authors synthesize large numbers of frameworks, tools and studies of leadership to identify the essential rules that govern what all leaders do. They compiled the opinions and findings of two dozen leadership experts. They wanted to answer one important question: What percent of effective leadership is basically the same? Are there some common rules that any leader must master? If there are common rules, what are they?

The research shows that 60 to 70 percent of leadership is basically the same. The remaining part is described as “Differentiators.” The authors call these common attributes the “Leadership Code.” Everybody is looking for some common rules that all leaders must master, and the authors have found that there are five rules. People from the HR field generally evaluate everything with an HR lens.

The first rule of a leader is being a strategist and shaping the future. According to the authors, leaders should first set the direction. They should be practical futurists. They have to predict the future and choose a goal for the potential and forthcoming world and use current and planned resources to reach the goal. Leaders are not lonely cowboys of the past; they think and work in team collaborations to shape the future.

The second rule is being an executer and making things happen. Setting the direction or providing a vision is not enough. At the same time, there should be a strategy, and this strategy must be executed effectively. A lot of companies spend so much time writing a vision and less time implementing it. Execution is translating strategy into action. Without proper action, vision is just a piece of paper. Results are the consequences of actions. The frame of execution is the system. So the leader is responsible for developing a system.

The third rule is being a talent manager and engaging today’s talent. Corporations hire talent because all the jobs are done by talent. Talented people are the architects of the future. So attracting new and necessary talent to the company is part of a leader’s job. We are in the age of creativity, problem solving and speed. So without the right set of talents and skills, it is impossible to survive.

The fourth rule of being a leader is building the next generation. You may think that the leader works as a HR manager, and it is true. The leader should prepare for the next generation of the organization. They should focus on assuring the growth and progress of their organization. The future talents of the organization are those who will sustain the organization or will carry the organization into a leadership position.

The fifth rule is excelling in personal proficiency and investing in themselves. Leadership is an ongoing journey and full of learning opportunities. Leaders learn from their successes and their failures, and from life itself. Effective leaders inspire loyalty and goodwill in others because they act with integrity and trust.

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