Informal Leadership: Book Update July 9th, 2010

Marcia Smart Ph.D.

After much deliberation and research, I have decided to Self-Publish my book. The critical factor was the book publishing date. Since launching my website I have been receiving numerous requests for my book and I realized that I need to do everything in my power to get information on Informal Leadership out to my readers.

Self Publishing provides me with the flexibility to control the project timetable and process.

After I read Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Self-Publisher  http://www.wellfedsp.com, I felt very confident that this is the best route to take.  This is a must read for anyone thinking of self-publishing.

So here goes!  I am moving forward full steam ahead…Next step is to select a Self-Publishing partner.  I will keep you posted on that!

Do you know anyone who has successfully self-published? Share your comments in the section below.

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“Love is All you Need” – Louise Hay June 28th, 2010

Marcia Smart Ph.D.

This morning over coffee I had a discussion with one of my friends on how challenging it can sometimes be to be an informal leader. We talked about the fact that tough even you are having a tough day you still have to keep up that positive attitude, rally the troops and be the attentive listener.  We agreed that this level commitment to people goes beyond work requirements.

My friend is a nursing professor who is passionate about the practice of Healing Touch for the mind, body and soul. We came to the conclusion that what carries us through these tough days is simply Love. Love for that other human being!

Three hours later I came across this article on Louise Hay, Personal Development Pioneer and founder of Hay House. She is a very inspiring, caring, confident woman leader who describes herself as a simple woman with a simple message: Love is all you need.

“The desire to help others lead healthier, happier lives really emerged when Hay was in her early 50s and learned she could create a better life by changing her thinking. Until then, she had never read a personal-development book.”  Success Magazine

As a leader, whether formal or informal, the commitment to others is a personal choice. It is about constantly asking yourself the question: How can I help to improve the quality of my life and other people’s lives? Check out the story on Louse Hay at: http://www.successmagazine.com/article?articleId=809&taxonomyId=23

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What is your Leadership Style? June 21st, 2010

Marcia Smart Ph.D.

Are you an impactful leader?  Last week’s discussion focused on power and I ended the conversation by talking about alliance and network power of which most women are masters of. In my experience true leaders are people who actively lead others whether or not they have the formal authority to do so. Informal Leaders are excellent examples of that type of leader. Informal leaders are leaders who provide a high level of powerful and influential leadership within a group or organization—be it positive or negative.

Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits. Rather, they should be adapted to the particular demands of the situation, the particular requirements of the people involved and the particular challenges facing your business, group or organization.

Alan Murray, Wall Street Journal Guide to Management

How would you describe your leadership approach? Whether you are a business owner, formal leader or an informal leader, are you aware of how you lead? How do you influence people to listen to you or follow you?

My primary leadership style can be described as visionary and as coach. However, I tend to adapt my style depending on what the situation calls for. I invite you to read the attached short article to assist you in determining your primary leadership style. Be practical rather than theoretical. Then share your thoughts with me.

http://guides.wsj.com/management/developing-a-leadership-style/how-to-develop-a-leadership-style/

What is your dominant Leadership Style? Share your comments in the section below.

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Leadership & Power June 14th, 2010

Marcia Smart Ph.D.

Is it really such a bad thing?

I had the wonderful opportunity of being the Keynote Speaker at a women’s leadership conference at Washington State University this weekend. My topic was “Cultivating Your Power and Influence”. The participants discovered that power is not such a bad word and they gained access to a whole new world of possibilities. You see, there are different types of power and we all use them every day to get what we want!

Whether you are a formal leader or an informal leader, man or woman, we engage in the use of power whenever we are in the process of a transaction. I believe that power is the underlying force in all social exchange. Bolman and Deal (2003) summarized some of the key sources of power. They talked about position and coercive power which many formal leaders inherit as a result of their position. However, some of the other forms of power discussed are related to informal leadership.

For example, there is information and expertise power which is power that flows for those with information, competence, and know-how; then personal power where individuals with charisma, energy, political skills are imbued with power independent of the sources. Women are most influential in the power of their alliances and networks where they get things done through complex networks, individuals, or groups. Women are masters at connecting people, knowing who does what and understanding how to get things done efficiently. That use of power is a very good thing.

Do you embrace your power?  How do you use it? Share your comments in the section below.

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Women’s Leadership June 3rd, 2010

Marcia Smart Ph.D.

What makes you unique?

I recently conducted a workshop at a women’s conference that assisted leaders to lead with courage and confidence as they expand their perceived capabilities. I have observed that many women do not take the time to identify their outstanding leadership skills and the unique qualities that they bring to their businesses, their communities and their families.

Most informal leaders who are male are very much aware of their unique contributions. However, I have found that many women underestimate the exceptional value they bring to their groups. In Strengths Based Leadership authors Tom Rath and Barry Conchie emphasize the importance of understanding your distinctive leadership skills.

“Chances are,” write Rath and Conchie, “you will have many opportunities to lead during your own lifetime. As you will learn, the path to great leadership starts with a deep understanding of the strengths you bring to the table.”

I encourage people to identify and use their talents and strengths, especially the ones that bring them excitement, joy and fulfillment in their daily lives.

Do you understand the unique strengths that YOU bring to the table? As a business woman how important is this to your success? Share your comments in the section below.

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No More business as Usual May 24th, 2010

Marcia Smart Ph.D.

Whether you are a leader or manager in corporate, government, non-profit, non-governmental organizations, I am sure you would agree with me when I say that the first decade of the twenty-first century has brought challenging economic times resulting in heavy workforce reductions, budget cutbacks and decreased levels of middle management.

Despite this, managers and leaders are being forced to maintain or exceed results. In short: they have to do more with less. Recently I was part of a circle of business managers, and what an experience it was! The topic of conversation around my table was focused on the cutbacks and loss of employees. Most people were very frustrated and were desperately asking themselves: “What else is out there? How can they increase production with what they currently have? How much more can they squeeze from their people? What else can they do—right now?”

I brought the discussion to a halt by popping this question: “Have you asked your informal leader?” The response was a long silence. I observed frowns and heads twisting on the diagonal with pensive looks as they asked themselves, “What is she talking about?”

I have experienced informal leaders who have become adept at using their influence to shape task strategies, allocate resources, coordinate group efforts, and negotiate with outsiders on behalf of the group.  In carrying out their roles their influence can be felt at all levels of the organization. Informal leaders can be leveraged to assist you in doing more with less.

What are you doing in these challenging times to do more with less?   Do you tap your informal leaders? In what ways?

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Who really gets the work done? May 19th, 2010

Marcia Smart Ph.D.

Have you ever wondered how is it that some people cut through formal channels to get things done with great results and on time?  Why do some become the “go-to” people when problems arise? Who rallies and motivates the troops when management can’t?

There are individuals in every organization called informal leaders who succeed in making things happen, getting things done, and mobilizing the people around them to act, even though they have not been officially designated as leaders.

Pause and take a moment to reflect on your organization. Does someone immediately come to mind? Is it someone you can readily identify on the team chart? As a manager I remember when I wanted to get something done that needed extra resources, extra handling beyond normal scope, I always knew who to go to.  And many times it would not necessarily be a person with formal authority and the right credentials.

Jon Katzenbach and Zia Khan in Leading Outside the Lines stated that informal leaders rarely have the kind of explicit qualifications that can be easily documented or communicated, much less evaluated.

I have found that Informal Leaders are individuals without formal authority who make things happen primarily through power, influence and relationship-building.

 

Who do you go to when you want to get something done that is not within the normal channels?  In what ways are they able to accomplish things?

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Hello and Welcome to my Blog. May 4th, 2010

Marcia Smart Ph.D.

Informal leaders have been around in groups for a very long time. However, our awareness of their value and contributions is new and rapidly evolving. The purpose of this blog is to generate awareness of, and keep you informed about the leadership phenomenon called Informal Leadership. Do you know an informal leader? They are a hidden, untapped resource. Compared to formal leadership, informal leadership in teams and organizations has not been greatly researched, documented and talked about, until now.

This blog is an open forum to personally enter into a discussion with me on informal leadership. Over the coming days, months and posts I will share more about my research, some little-known secrets, and my personal passion for generating awareness of this leadership phenomenon.

Informal leaders are a hidden gold mine waiting to be tapped. Whether you are manager, leader, individual or informal leader, I invite you to become an active participant in this dialogue. It will definitely contribute to your individual knowledge and personal growth.

How do you recognize informal leaders in your group?  What makes them stand out?

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