We interviewed Paula Singer, CEO/Chief Strategist at The Singer Group, Inc. She told us that her focus is helping her clients reach excellence.Paula has extensive expertise in leadership coaching, strategic planning, change management, and organizational development. Her in-depth experience in every aspect of the human resources function, has enabled her to play a key role in helping organizations develop innovative solutions that allow for greater effectiveness in achieving their missions.
TLE: What leadership trends are you observing?
PS: That leadership does not reside in one person. Leadership stems from anyone, in any position, depending upon a variety of factors: Who has the expertise? Who is closest to the customer? Who is not afraid to speak up? We are also seeing a need for leaders and staff at every level to continually grow and evolve, to innovate, to take risks and to learn from successes and failures.
TLE: What challenges are leaders facing today?
PS: What comes to mind, maybe because we're doing a lot of work with clients on leadership development and succession planning, is that as baby boomers age, finding and developing replacement leaders is a challenge. Tied to this is the realization that the work is not the same as it once was and that doing the 'right work' is imperative, especially given budget cuts and a new generation that is eager to learn, grow and stretch.
TLE: Are these challenges different than the challenges you faced as a leader?
PS: Early in my career, we worked under a command and control model. Now it's about collaboration, connection and contribution. Frankly, it's much easier to lead while commanding and controlling. Getting buy-in, actively listening to employees and customers, working in partnership, building trust, being open, and collaborating is time consuming - yet yields tremendous payoffs. Living in an era of "cuts/fast paced change/technology," and a multigenerational workforce, calls for leaders who have vision, humility, and high levels of self-awareness. These leaders must be able to capitalize on diversity, function as systems thinkers and inspire followers to both follow and lead.
TLE: What attributes are your clients looking for in their future talent?
PS: Emotional intelligence, flexibility, the ability to appreciate and capitalize on differences and diversity, the ability to take risks and not fear failure. They are also looking for excellent communications skills, systems thinking, openness and the ability to learn how to learn.
TLE: What advice would you offer to an emerging leader?
PS: IQ and skills make great B-players; it's emotional intelligence that transforms an individual into a star. Here are seven things emerging leaders should focus on:
- Develop your relationship skills
- Learn how to play with others in the sandbox
- Listen and ensure that others feel heard
- Continually learn -- especially about yourself and others (a key in building trust with employees, customers, suppliers, etc.)
- Create and nourish partnerships with all.
- Give employees the tools they need to be successful, and they will be.
- Recognize and support them; if you do so, they will be happy and engaged - and so will your customers.
We encourage our clients to seek out interventions that will help them, their organizations, their employees and their customers: strategic plans that align the organization ensure that business goals can be met. Succession plans ensure that an organization has the bench strength to function successfully well into the future. Leadership development provides a deep and diverse pool of future leaders from which to choose. Leadership coaching provides leaders with the insight and tools to hone their own skills to the benefit of all staff and customers. Each has its time and place and all are critical.