168 25 Legendary Leadership Activities
Activity 24 (concluded)
Debrief
Ask participants to select which of these 10 survival skills they feel are most
important to them in their leadership roles. As an alternative, ask participants to
rank these 10 survival skills from most to least important and discuss the rationale
for their ranking decisions.
Reproduced from 25 Legendary Leadership Activities,
Copyright © 2008, HRD Press, Inc., Amherst, MA, 01002, 1-800-822-2801
Handout 24.1
Leadership Survival Skills
1. Learn how to get things done in the organizational design. As organizations con-
stantly change, so too does the way you need to manage as a leader. Each permu-
tation of the organization will require different ways to get things done. You need
to not only understand the new organization, but also how it now works. Whom
you need to ask or tell is critically important. This last point deserves further
elaboration. There is a difference between asking and telling. There are certain
people in the organization whom you need to ask not tell, and others whom you
need to tell not ask. The people to ask or tell something might include your boss
(single reporting relationship) or duel reporting (having two bosses) or multiple
bosses (matrix reporting relationships) or dotted line reporting relationships (hav-
ing accountabilities to more than one person). Some of these reporting relation-
ships may require you to ask before you do something, and some of them may
require you tell before you do something. If all of this sounds confusing—it is! But
welcome to the matrix work world of the new millennium. To make matters even
worse, none of this will be written down anywhere. Some of this needs to be
learned through intuition and some of it by trial and error. You need to do your
best to try to figure out just who has the real authority. Do your research; inquire
of others in similar roles as yours concerning where they believe the real author-
ity lies in the new organization. Your ability to figure this out may be one of the
most important keys to your future success.
2. Learn the new rules. Along with the new organizational design come new rules
for the “game.” What was acceptable or even required before may no longer
apply. Different leadership brings different expectations, requirements, and
demands. If you are still playing by the old rules, you could quickly find yourself
in trouble with the new leaders. This is not a good way to get started in the new
regime. The best way to learn the new rules is to listen carefully. New leaders
will usually tell you what their rules are, but often in indirect or subtle ways.
They probably won’t give you an itemized list of their rules. It will probably be
more conversational, perhaps during a dinner meeting or riding in a cab to the
airport or wherever, so pay close attention at all times for this valuable informa-
tion. You may want to take notes for future reference.
3. Keep your goals in alignment. You need to understand the goals and direction in
which the organization is headed or redirected in order to stay aligned with this
strategy. Opposing strategic goals are often the source of discourse between pow-
erful people in the organization and will ultimately lead to something less than
positive happening to at least one of these individuals. Make sure you don’t find
yourself on the weaker end of an alignment dispute. These can be dangerous
(continued)

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