It makes for a good brainstorming session `whether the predictable leader is an effective leader'. And I imagine that discussion on such a topic will be fluid for a good reason.
Matter-of-factly, such discussion will, almost certainly, be better understood when considered with inferences from familiar environment. And it is the reason why I am focusing on one whose `magic wand' is increasingly holding everyone spellbound. Except that it is not magic. He is just competent, confident and effective. My point of reference Mark Carney - the Governor of Bank of England.
Since the new Bank of England Governor took over reigns at the Apex bank, different interest groups have always tried to predict him and his next move - especially with regards to raising or lowering of the interest rate.
The interest rate is a very important economic index and has cumulative effect on the whole economy because price stability depends on it. It is the rate at which the banking system functions - it guides their lending and borrowings. At the current rate of 0.5%, British Banking sector is experiencing the lowest rate ever.
But against popular expectation, the result has been good for the economy. Why is why we have had a deflation - a period of generally falling prices instead of inflation - that of rising prices. And when prices have rising at all, it has been marginal. As in March when he explained: "The fall in inflation we’ve experienced is in large part down to falling energy prices."
|Results are proofs of competencies pulled together.|
Over the past two years, Carney has meandered around public expectation with respect to when the interest rate will rise. While stake-holders are staring at the benchmarks, the governor has often reminded them that the posts are not static - they can be moved - depending on what happens in between time. When they have pointed `west', he had skillfully pointed `east', reminding them that it was possible too and giving reasons why.
Sometimes, leadership decisions are not very easy for the public or colleagues to understand, but a leader's capacity for rationalization makes the difference. If you need the support of your peers, you better have a convincing explanation at your finger tips.
In the aftermath of September's Scottish Referendum, the Bank of England Governor was asked whether the `NO' result was good for Scotland and why. "The NO result was good for Scotland," he says, because the government "policy of more money going to Scotland and less coming out of Scotland." Such arrangement will no doubt result in development of the region and even Scots who perhaps voted `YES', will begin to see why a `NO' was better for them.
An effective leader must be concerned with the important attributes of the job that makes success possible, irrespective of whether he comes across as unpredictable. Predictability does not translate to dynamism if it obviates the overall goal.
Leadership unpredictability can be evidence of a dynamic competence because it tests his ability to guide his organisation through turbulent times which affect its operations. The problem though, is that this also tests the competences of other `action watchers' who have to deliver based on one leader's actions.
This capacity of delivery at uncertain times is one of the factors that makes the difference between a good leader and a great leader. Another factor is the ability to communicate your unpredictability.
How a leader communicates the underlying reason for his actions that negate popular expectation also goes a long way to influencing the reaction of his bosses, colleagues and other stakeholders, and may win him their patience, time and co-operation for his actions to translate into visible results.
|Target Setting is a powerful guide, provided the|
route to attainment is flexible.
Attempting to be predictable against all odds makes for bad management. The reason is simple, a driver who keeps a straight course and ignores potholes and artificial humps strategically designed for safety purpose, will almost certainly not make the journey , and potentially may even miss his target.
Setting a target helps a leader navigate public expectations as long as he allows for enough room to maneuver along the route. This is the test of his skill.
A leader must be prepared to resist unnecessary interjections and interruptions, knowing that when you are on the wheel is not when to prevaricate. Competence breeds confidence while success reinforces it.
Avoid Predictability If It Proves Destructive
The predictable leader is not necessarily the effective leader, and where as predictability does sound good for the ears, it can be destructive too.
In an environment replete with the competition, your next move may be terminal for your organisation, if it is too predictable. It is the reason why legal experts don't usually give away much in case their defense is compromised and marginal edge become eroded. For high profile cases, predictability may prove too costly.
For Technology Companies, things appear different, but it is nevertheless present. If a new product is due to be upgraded with a new feature, predictability can give the edge away to the competition who may incorporate it into their own products and arrive at the market ahead of your own. For brands with low goodwill, this makes a whole lot of difference.
When Unpredictability is Predictable
Understanding your environment is the best way to predict it. In volatile environments, it may be best to adopt the view that unpredictability is predictable. In such situations, production system can be adjusted to move with the times. It was this type of situation that introduced the idea of `Just-In-Time' Production.
When time are changing fast, the leader must organize his firm to respond accordingly, as this is what makes the difference between the market leader and the followers. Those who lag in highly volatile environments risk it all.
Back To Base
When a leader is defensibly unpredictable, his followers learn to trust his judgement and leadership, and predictably, to follow him with trust especially when he delivers consistent positive results. Tidjane Thiam did it at Pru. Mark Carney is doing it at the apex bank.
In the case of the BoE Governor, those who have jumped at the conclusion that a rise in interest rates may likely happen in early 2016, have been reminded again that a rise is still possible in 2015.
Just Never say Never!
* Culled from Leadership Lane.