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A October 08 Anand Sharma is President and CEO of TBM Consulting Group, Inc., and author of The Perfect Engine. www. bus- ex. com 17 s the United States moves closer to selecting a new president, a significant part of the public dialogue about the candidates dwells appropriately on their respective traits of leadership. Comparisons abound on who is and could be a great leader and what qualities might lead to success. The capacity to lead carries more weight for many voters than the issues and challenges facing the collective business enterprise we call America. At a recent manufacturer's panel, CEOs from lean enterprises across the country came up with this definition for an effective leader: " One who creates unwavering passion and excitement for growth and drives cultural transformation across the enterprise resulting in a sustained competitive advantage and increased shareholder value." This description has an eerie parallel to the political rhetoric about the need for change and a spirit of patriotism and forward movement, as well as improving the lives of individual citizens. What is interesting are the common responsibilities and expectations of leaders in the political arena and the business world. So when you look at yourself in the executive suite mirror, how do you fare? Even if your company is doing well and your shareholders are happy, are you sure you're as effective a leader as you can be? It's no secret that leaders affect the culture of the entire organization. Your own behavior and leadership style set the tone for everyone else, and the resulting culture is what will enable success or block progress. Lean organizations are learning organizations and one way for leaders to embrace learning and truly live the concept of continuous improvement is to engage the objective view of an outside mentor or coach. It's a means of taking a critical and non- judgmental look at how one is perceived in the organization, and then using that information to develop a roadmap for personal improvement. Politicians do it through advisors, polling, and focus groups, so why shouldn't business leaders do something similar to assess behavior and motivation to help improve alignment and performance? The true value of executive coaches is in their ability to help analyze and guide how leaders affect the company culture. The objectivity of an executive coach can help a leader understand how to exploit strengths and strengthen weaknesses to create a more effective team and business culture. What often happens at the leadership level in business is a " partnership effect." Although the leadership teams frequently discuss business or cultural issues in general, specific feedback on how any particular leader is doing rarely occurs. Financial results seem to be the measure of leadership effectiveness, but this is a narrow metric that doesn't address whether the outcome could have been even better through human dynamics guided by the leadership cadre. Imagine, if financial results are good under less- than- perfect leadership, what they might be with improved leadership. Imagine how culture change might be accelerated and how your best assets— your people— might be inspired. Why wouldn't you try it? Continuous improvement initiatives can be a great catalyst for both business and leadership success. Taking steps to improve leadership skills— to improve the face in the mirror— just as you improve operational excellence is a smart business decision. In fact, creating leadership excellence is the most important step you can take toward developing the high-performance culture that will enable you to create great teams and outshine your rivals today and into the future. Creating leadership excellence is the most important step in developing a high- performance culture, says Anand Sharma neglecttheleader Opinion Don't

T At Ford, sustainability and environmental issues are as important as producing cleaner, more effi cient vehicles, group vice- president Sue Cischke explains to Gary Toushek Sustainable mobility 18 October 08 www. bus- ex. com hese are challenging times indeed for the Big Three automakers in Detroit, as they re- focus and re- tool for more energy effi cient and alternative energy vehicles. Along with its own major strategic initiative to produce vehicles with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the Ford Motor Company is formally recognizing its responsibility as a cooperative corporate citizen to reduce its own carbon footprint as a manufacturer. Sue Cischke is group vice- president of sustainability, environment & safety engineering, reporting directly to Alan Mulally, Ford's president and CEO. She defi nes her title as being refl ective of Ford's " triple bottom line – fi nancial, social, environmental – we need a strategic plan that everyone can understand, and that addresses all