LTExtract 31: Chapter 10: The ‘Head-butting’ Phase

By Patrick Teague on 5th February 2013 in Stories

The serialisation continues of our Founders book ‘Winning hearts and minds’ right here. Every Tuesday we will publish a section of this fascinating, insightful and interesting read in our blog. This extract continues with Chapter 10.

The honeymoon phase can go on for as long as the new leader wants to court popularity. However, no potentially contentious matters can be addressed as the new leader may be afraid of ruffling feather and risking unpopularity.  If he tried to remain in this phase overly long to enjoy the honeymoon, the company may become increasingly impatient with his performance. ‘All talk and no delivery’ will soon be the condemnatory opinion of the leader. The honeymoon phase will start to wane rapidly as more and more people become dissatisfied and critical. If he wants to be effective and change things, the leader needs to remember that leadership is founded on respect, not popularity.

So we come to the next phase, the ‘head-butting’ phase. Why ‘head-butting?’ this cannot be confined to head-butting dyed-in-the-wool people into action; it also included doing the same to out-of-date methods, fashions, cultures and attitudes.  The leader now needs to confront problems and get to grips with the relevant issues. He needs to make changes, some of which may be radical. Once changes arrive, so does fear. Everyone worries what the changes are going to entail, especially for them! The heat in the kitchen may rise considerably. The test of a good leader is that he has the courage to handle it. If not, he should get out before he is kicked out.  Neither should he be seen as an over-the-top, ruthless guy who’s just out to show how tough and ‘no-nonsense’ he is. This will only accentuate his weakness. The right balance must always be struck, and the right balance is being ‘tough but fair’.

The power struggle for control, authority, direction, policy, territory, responsibility, new ideas and changing things will all have to fought over. When everything is in a state of flux, fear and insecurity can make people jump for their safety into one of three groups, the ‘pros’, the ‘fence-sitters’ and the ‘antis’. All this will be hidden under the surface.

The ‘pros’ are the new king’s followers, his courtiers; they have given their loyalty and commitment to him as their future is dependent on him succeeding. The second and by far the largest group are the ‘fence-sitters’; these people sit astride the fence with a foot on each side of the camp, ready to ‘commit’ to one side or the other as appropriate. This can be a most painful position to be in! The third group are the ‘antis’, the ones who do not like and/or cannot accept the new leadership; these people do not want changes or cannot make or adapt to them.

The ‘fence-sitters’ often have to be won over gradually. They may need to be picked off one by one, until there is a majority behind the new leader. After this the new leader can be more forceful; he can tell the last few people to jump off the fence into one side or the other, or be dumped.

The ‘antis’, having been given every chance to join, may have to be given a ‘parting of the ways’. It is far too damaging to keep disruptive and disloyal employees on board who are either dragging their feet or sabotaging everything one is trying to do.  But once power, control and direction have been established the organisation can ride on to success.

Structuring the Organisation

Once the leader has established his vision he needs to turn inwards to structure the organisation as well as to ‘mature’ and condition it to his leadership style. This is when he can establish his standards, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. He can then turn the organisation outwards to focus onto its objective and gain desire position in the marketplace. By then he should have everyone’s open support.

Structuring the organisation involves matching the right people to the right management structure for them. It should never entail shoehorning them into a set-piece format which may be alien and detrimental. When the latter happens, it can be disastrous. The right people may be in the wrong structure or vice versa. Either way, one can end up with a dog’s dinner!

To create the right structure it is necessary to understand the functions of each layer of management and how these dovetail in and interact together with the others. The ultimate purpose is to create the maximum synergy of effort. Once this is attained, the axiom that one plus one makes two no longer applies. One plus one may become the equal of six, ten, a dozen or more, at which point the skill is to direct this combined energy at the corporate objective.  Thus the structuring must match the skills and expertise of the people rather than the other way round. Furthermore, it must be flexible enough to allow for constant change of people and circumstances.

So let us look at the three models below which are interrelated and are designed to help meet the above needs.

Functional Model (see Diagram 13)

The first model shows the function of each layer of management within a standard company structure. It demonstrates how each layer inter-relates with the others to form a cohesive whole. This ‘cohesive whole’ can then be forged into a sharp pointed arrowhead and aimed at the desired target in the marketplace.

Standard Management Skeleton (see Diagram 14)

The second model shows how a standard Management Structure dovetails in with the Functional model. This shows the essential ‘skeleton’ on which to hang good communication.  This model is shown alongside the Functional Model (Diagram 13).

Human Communication Model (see Diagram 15)

The third model shows the five interpersonal levels of communication. It is a practical model for use in everyday life. It helps people to communicate at a much deeper, honest and meaningful level with one another.

Let us start with the Functional Model, as depicted below.

Diagram 13 – The Functional Model                 Diagram 14 – Management Skeleton

At the apex of the model are the Enablers, whose function is firstly to establish the organisation’s overall objective, secondly to devise the strategy by which is may be achieved, and thirdly to set the priorities.        The overall objective should be defined in a simple clear statement which everyone can understand and relate to; so too will the strategy and priorities. Once these three aspects have been communicated to the company then everyone can turn together and face in the same direction. Everyone in the company can thereby harness their full energies towards achieving the end result as defined; everything discussed and done from then on can be relative to attaining the common objective.

At the next layer down are the Connectors. Their purpose is to create the plans and tactics by which to match the needs of the overall object and the strategy.  The ‘Connectors’ act as the link between the ‘Enablers’ and the ‘Step Change’ level beneath them.

At the third level down are the Step-by-step change agents. For simplicity’s sake they are described as Step-change agents. Their responsibility involves breaking down the plans and tactics from the Connectors in preparation for implementing them on the shop floor.

Finally, at the fourth level, are the ‘Nuts and Bolt’s’ functionaries, known as operators. These operators’ tasks are to translate and carry out the designated instructions of the Step-change agents to the particular jobs on the shop floor. Most of these will be manual.

Once all the functions at the various levels are in place, action starts, and once action starts there is change, which in turn brings reaction. Reaction ripples are depicted on the left-hand side of the model. Details, Tactics, Strategy, Priorities and the Overall Object will either need changing or confirming.  At one level changes may need but at another the action in place may need to be confirmed in order to match in with the Overall Objective. For instance, Details, Tactics and Priorities may need to be change but the Strategy confirmed, or vice versa. One level cannot be out of kilter with the others or the company will run off the rails.

Thus, too, the Overall Objective may need changing because it may no longer meet the desired needs. The economy may be moving into or out of recession. The overall situation or the marketplace may have changed for the better or the worse.

Change is a constant, so one can see that the overall management team which functions at all levels must communicate and relate well together if it is to match these dynamics.  The model shows how the whole cyclic dynamic is completed and brought together.  Like a piston engine, the upward stroke from change shown on the left-hand side of the model is reflected in the downward thrust shown on the right-hand side.  The power and thrust of the management ‘engine’ gains a constant forward momentum.  All that is now needed for the ‘vehicle’ to function well is the right oil in the engine.  The right oil is a compound of good human communication which, to function well, needs a good simple structure.  It also needs a gearbox to enable people to change gear according to the needs of the situation and the people in it.