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Good leaders can nurture the talent of their staff. (Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Good leaders can nurture the talent of their staff. (Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Monday Morning Manager

Want to be a good boss? Keep your management style simple Add to ...

Nicholas Henley believes that our management models need to be simpler if they are to be understood – and effectively implemented – by people in the executive suite and those on the shop floor. With that in mind, he has been building easy-to-use templates that can help organizations deal with their challenges.

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Mr. Henley is a Briton who fell in love and found himself moving to Thailand, where he operates a management training consulting firm, Talent Technologies. Working outside his native culture, he realized that some management approaches he took for granted didn’t apply. So he has been bringing together notions that will work in various countries by people at all levels of the organizational hierarchy.

“I am trying to make these easy and engaging for our trainers to use,” he says of the resulting templates, which are available on his website, www.talent-technologies.com.

One of the simplest templates, but also quite profound, is his model for cross-cultural collaboration, a pictogram that applies to any workplace. It starts with assessing someone by culture, and then moves on to personality, and finally to talent.

When we meet someone for the first time, it’s culture, in the broadest sense, that attracts our attention. We might notice an accent, or gender or skin colour, or manner of dress and speech. These offer clues about how to deal with the person.

But that’s only the first step in collaboration with others. You must also uncover elements of their personalities, studying their behaviour or perhaps having them take a test, such as the ever-popular Myers-Briggs assessment.

“Personality is deeper than culture,” Mr. Henley says. “But it’s not enough. [Management guru] Peter Drucker said that most people don’t know their talents. And that’s true of managers: We fail to identify the talents of the people we work with.”

Mr. Henley considers it shocking that in one Gallup survey, for example, only 13 per cent of respondents said they had the opportunity to use their talents at work every day.

For collaboration to be effective, you must push past culture and personality all the way to talent. “I work with lots of companies. It’s amazing how many senior people don’t do that. But talent is important as it’s the No. 1 driver for engagement, for motivation. This template helps people to understand that,” he says.

On the template, he also notes that as you drive deeper into individuals, learning about their talents, you will not only increase energy and motivation but also increase risk. When we meet another person, after all, he or she may be edgy, with social radar at work. Probe deeper and you can make them nervous.

To make best use of their talents you may have to experiment, giving them various kinds of work. Sometimes it will frustrate you, or them. But in the end, Mr. Henley argues, finding true talent is worth it: “The tasks that light them up like a Christmas tree is where talents are.”

On his website, Mr. Henley notes that “leadership is a journey, not a destination.” He illustrates this with another template, a “leadership wheel” that builds upon ideas that Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner present in their best-seller The Leadership Challenge, delineating five practices that leaders must follow: model the way for others; inspire a shared vision; challenge the process so you find innovative ways to grow; enable others to act; and encourage the heart so people are appreciated and motivated.

The centre of the wheel is a yin-yang symbol representing two elements: will (the desire of your followers to do something), and power (your ability to order them to do something).

“Power is ordering someone to do something. Leadership is getting someone to help you out. You have a choice,” he says. “If you look at Ernest Shackleton when he was stranded at the South Pole, he had to use power at some points. There are times when you are leading and have to use your power. Power is not a negative. Power is almost a fundamental of our existence. But if you only use power, you can go to the dark side.”

In this vein, on the template he also highlights private victories and public victories. As a leader, you must master the private victories – master your own self – and also win the public victories, using the five practices to mobilize your followers.

He also has developed a helpful marketing-strategy template, which works backward from your goal for each customer segment; and a presentation planner, which can help you quickly plan an effective presentation. His website offers more material as well, designed to make many aspects of management easier to comprehend and implement.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Harvey Schachter is a Battersea, Ont.-based writer specializing in management issues. He writes Monday Morning Manager and management book reviews for the print edition of Report on Business and an online work-life column Balance. E-mail Harvey Schachter

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