Unleash Ownership and Creative Talent
by Rick Sidorowicz
Soaring With The Phoenix by James Belasco and Jerre Stead is a handbook of solid logic and thoughtful prescriptions for organizations and individuals to break free of traditional management practices and create effective change by unleashing ownership and creative talent. 
Phoenix leaders, according to the authors, make five essential contributions to the interconnected networks they lead. The Phoenix contributions provide a very useful framework for leaders at any level of an organization to engage individuals, focus energy, creativity and resources, and develop high performing teams. And beyond the notion of a 'framework', the contributions describe a set of 'values' and an empowering 'approach' that works in any setting. It's an invaluable 'tool', and it works!

Phoenix leaders make the following five important contributions to their companies.

1. They surface issues that confront the organization. The Phoenix leader 'slays the moose' others have been afraid to confront by providing people with three Ps: the power to search out the facts, the protection to spend time and resources necessary to ferret out the real issues and get them on the table, and the permission to make mistakes along the way. 

Surfacing the issues is the first step to resolving them, and by doing so directly, honestly, and openly, you can get the 'monkey' off your back and onto the table - in full view. It's the first step in inviting the ownership you truly need to take effective action. In its simplest form it shows up as telling the truth - the whole truth - and getting to the fundamentals.

2. They engage people in resolving those issues. The Phoenix leader involves, not demands, for better results. He or she asks, cajoles, listens, and nourishes people-to-people connections. The leader taps the power of people, so that they're passionate about the business of business. 

Engaging people is not telling or directing or demanding or asking for lip service. It is inviting, and encouraging, and participative. It is not comfortable, and if it is - you're probably getting lip service. You need to invite and insist on the full participation of individuals, and accept as a contribution all they have to offer. 'Engaging' steps out beyond traditional roles and boundaries - to invite individuals to share in the effort and contribute with their hearts, head and hands. Engaging creates disciples who carry the passion to the rest of the organization.

3. They prioritize and allocate resources to address those issues. The Phoenix leader focuses on the customer and the associate. He or she grows the business by growing people. When rationing scarce resources, it's people first, second and third. Cut training and you limit the future. Create tomorrow and invest in people - because only people will take you there.

Prioritizing and allocating resources is something like - taking action - doing something, and doing it through the impassioned actions of your associates. Committing resources in this context becomes a powerful act of trust, support, faith and resolve to create a new future and 'make it so.'

4. They unleash ownership so everyone accepts responsibility for dealing with those issues. By unleashing an ownership mentality, the Phoenix leader releases energy and competence so that the best decisions are made for a company's success. Aligning capabilities with requirements, continuous feedback and focusing on purpose help unleash ownership. 

Unleashing ownership starts with the very empowering assumption that ownership is already there in individuals and needs an opening and permission to emerge. And when aligned with the organization's purpose and mission it becomes a very powerful force. It gives 'work' purpose, and it can launch the creative talent of individuals toward common and shared objectives.

5. They energize learning for everyone. The Phoenix leader is a Chief Learning Officer, making learning part of  every job assignment. The Phoenix leader knows people who seek learning opportunities grow ... and use what they know for the benefit of the company. The Phoenix leader designates knowledge more powerful than rank. He or she creates an information infrastructure that captures and shares the use of knowledge, since knowledge is the only true sustainable marketplace differentiator today.

There is learning in successes, as there is learning in failures and setbacks. By energizing learning you create a culture of fearless action and learning in the best interests of the organization. It speaks to unleashing the full competence and talent of individuals and teams to set out and to accomplish great things.

So ... when in doubt ... be a Phoenix leader and make the five important contributions.

"Helping great people do great things is really fun."
Jerre Stead

Rick Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The CEO Refresher and
the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail.

Many more articles in The Leadership Imperative in The CEO Refresher Archives


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