Leadership Lessons From A Catholic Sister

Much has been written on organizational leadership. In 300 or so words, I will attempt to boil it down to three core components that I have witnessed (or not) in my 30 plus years of consulting. Key factors that exert profound influence on business results… Visibility of Leadership, Promoting the Game Plan, and Rewarding Results.

Visibility – leadership by definition must be visible. Attempting to achieve signifiant results without visible leadership is an exercise in futility. Every leader at every level needs to be visible.  One of the greatest examples of visible leadership I have ever seen in any context was from a Catholic Sister who was the principle of a local school. Every morning, and I mean every morning, in any weather, she is at the front curb welcoming students, parents and staff.  She is the first to arrive and the last to leave. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind who is running the place… who’s responsible.  She is known for her visibility, her decisiveness, her projection of organizational norms, and her love for those that are entrusted to her. Admirable traits for any leader.

My second example is Bruce, a senior plant manager who also shared the trait of visibility. Every day, every shift, he spent time visiting with his employees, talking about production issues, and, as importantly asking about the wife, the kids, the weekend plans.  Bruce exhibited this discipline for years, he let nothing interfere. Even a visit by the president from the corporate office one day was delayed while Bruce completed his appointed rounds.  When negotiations between the union and the corporate folks broke down and a strike was imminent, Bruce took the committee out to lunch and settled the issue. Visibility breeds respect and trust. When we came in behind him with a aggressive pay for performance gainsharing system, much of the usual “wait and see” attitude of employees wasn’t there. They trusted Bruce.

Getting things done, solving problems, capitalizing on opportunity, team work, results… require visible leadership. You don’t coach from the locker room. At the risk of offending someone… if you spend more time looking at spread sheets then you do looking at those who are entrusted to you, it is time to rethink priorities. Outstanding business results are the product of leadership, and leadership by definition requires visibility at it’s core. There is no substitute.

In my next blog, I will discuss the Visible Leader defining and communicating The Game Plan.


About Karl F. Muller

Specializing in driving Organizational Performance to new levels. Utilizing a tactical and focused four (4) part strategy to engage all employees in the pursuit and achievement of performance and real financial results. Applicable to manufacturing, service, distribution and corporate services groups. We have worked throughout North America with businesses and facilities ranging from 50 to 5,000 employees, union/non-union. Define... Measure... Pursue... Reward. Celebrating our 30th year. 200 public speaking engagements, 5,500 senior managers trained, 700 organizations assessed. We are serious, tactical, focused. No fancy corporate speak, no blue suits. Just Results. The Muller Group, Inc.
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