In a lot of discussions today, many administrators, leadership groups, management teams and even consultants talk about the most critical aspects of organizations today. Is it Human Resources, QI Culture or MIS capabilities? I believe all these aspects are important – even critical – but the most critical are the organization’s leaders. Who are its leaders and how effective are these leaders?
When I define what an effective leader is, do we look at the bottom line (profit/loss)? Longevity? Proficiencies, etc.? While it is obvious that each is important, having the opportunity to consult with nearly 300 organizations, I’ve learned that every leader is unique in style, personality and focus. Therefore, I believe the only true measure of effective leadership is how effective the organization is. If the organization is not functioning well, it has to go back to its leaders – not only the CEO, but all its leaders. Administrative Leadership Group strategies and even senior staff. Anyone who influences others is a leader within your organization.
Today I am seeing more and more executive leadership groups struggling with their organization, certainly in our economy. Where our organizations are at in the Business Development Cycle and on supportive staff impart our ability to lead. Let’s look at effective leadership – what are they made up of.
How do today’s leaders develop and maintain organizations that are motivated, creative, innovative, legal and committed?
Effective leaders are the following:
Leadership Characteristics: I often ask participants to take a few minutes and think who was their most important leader – what were their characteristics? Ethical? Passionate? Positive? Innovative, etc. It’s no different for your followers. They look to you for the qualities. How do you see yourself?
Directional Clarity: Strategic Tasks move people from where they are to where they they’ve never been. Sounds simple? But isn’t that what strategy is really all about? Does your strategy, your vision get your employees excited or does it just sit on a wall. Strategic Planning is the most critical area which will leverage every other area of your organization.
Complex Change Management: Given the economy, business cycle technology and so on, the primary challenge for leadership is to develop a foundation, framework and culture that will be change friendly. This is the primary challenge that all else stems from.
Human Resources: Create an environment of overachievers. Effective leaders know the cost of turnover in their organizations and in performance. Recognize changing needs of employees, the changing workforce and competition. They want the best talent and know how to keep it.
Training: The most effective leaders train. Recognizing this is where you convey your standards, establish your expectations, improve relations, reduce staff turnover and support supervisors. Effective leaders know the importance of recognition.
Succession Planning: By far the majority of managers are better at putting fires out, which reminds me of the 80/20 rule. 80% of managers are reactive and not proactive. We need to expect our managers to lead and train them to lead. Effective leaders do not pick one person to succeed, but conduct complete leadership assessments on all and develop leadership development plans for each. Many use 360 Assessment worksheets to provide a balanced look at the needs of each manager.
Optimization: For years I’ve been talking about optimization and mastery and encouraging exponential growth. These concepts are not new, but even through intellectually we understand, we do not apply. Basically, we all perform certain capabilities, yet some we never master (like a black belt vs. a white belt in Karate). Others just continue leveraging. Each competency leverages or influences positively or negatively another competency. Master Strategic Planning and it will leverage every aspect of your organization. Master Human Resources and it will leverage the quality of more. Master your budget and it will improve your budget for estimated improvements.
-Dan Brown, President of Brown Consulting, Ltd.