6 things that will make your leadership effective
Alongside these elements of leadership must run the elements that bring order and structure to the leader and their teams. A successful leader must provide the structure that supports those individual approaches to leadership within their teams, and directs people to work within and towards the common culture and goals of the organisation. that everyone works within. These aspects are less difficult to learn, are less individual to any one leader, and are critical to joining together the varying expressions of authentic leadership into a coherent and powerful force across the organisation – yet they are talked about far less than the ‘soft’ skills I mentioned earlier. There are six aspects to this system that any leader can, and should, put in place in order to succeed:
Purpose and Vision – Making sure that each and every employee and stakeholder of your organisation knows and understands why the organisation exists is the building block for everything that comes afterwards. The ‘why’ is crucial to appealing to people’s emotions and therefore their internal motivations – why should I invest, why should I work here, why should I try hard, why shouldn’t I call in sick? A clear purpose, beyond that of making money, is the bedrock of successful and long lasting organisations. Similarly, a Vision that describes, A purpose of ‘helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds gain access to business start-up funding’ might be a purpose, with ‘3,000 people will have started their own business with our help by 2020’ being a clear and measurable vision for the future you wish to see.
Strategic Goals – If you have not developed and communicated high level goals (around 3-6 is a good number), then there are no anchor points for the effort the organisation expends every day. It is important to begin . These should be appropriate for several years. Often organisations and individuals are so busy, heads down, running hard, they forget to set the parameters of success and communicate them to their teams. Give your team motivating, achievable goals, and they and you will have every reason to start running and the criteria to know when to celebrate.
A Strategy – This is roadmap. You now know why you exist, what the overall vision looks like and what you hope to have achieved a few years down the line. You now need to be able to explain to people, your employees and stakeholders, what exactly you want them to do with their motivation and their energy. A great strategy makes decision making easy up and down the organisation – if something you want to do doesn’t fit with the strategy, then . To make this work that strategy needs to be low on vague notions and high on specific, differentiating commitments to what you are going to do to achieve your goals. “Have great customer service” is not a strategy, but “create and implement a 3-step store greeting process for every customer” is. Pretty much any project put forward could be badged as helping to provide “great customer service”, but it would need to be much better thought through to convince the budget holders it was contributing to the “3 step store greeting process”. Have you got that level of planning and guidance in your organisation?
Prioritisation – There are finite resources in any organisation, including human, technical and. Too often organisations have a subterranean world of project initiation, where a perceived problem has a perceived solution and before you know it there is a project, a Project Manager, and time and resource commitments being requested of people who don’t have that time to spare. The result is that everybody becomes too busy doing lots of things that are not coordinated and have not been judged in any formal way as befitting of investment. In this environment all of the ‘good’ projects then struggle as resource is diverted onto all of the other projects, meaning extra effort is spent getting nothing completed successfully. Whilst this is often a result of people meaning well and trying to make a difference, when a leader does not take hold of the situation and use these six steps to provide clear and unambiguous prioritisation guidance, that good will and effort is wasted and success is further away.
Alignment – Alignment is the science behind ensuring every employee knows what they need to achieve in any given hour, day, month and year, in a very clear and measurable way. Objectives such as ‘demonstrate xyz’, ‘work on’ and ‘contribute to’ are not good objectives. Measurable things such as sales figures, financial expenditure, customer satisfaction scores, productivity, problem solving and team feedback produce greater focus and greater results. Key to this is being able to demonstrate to each individual how those objectives follow the ‘through the organisation to the strategic goals, the vision and the purpose. How may leaders truly know that the sum of the parts will equal the whole they seek? Do you know for sure that if every employee in a team achieves their objectives that the team leader will for sure succeed? Then after that, that all of the team leader groups achievements will mean the next manager achieves theirs, and onwards up to you and however much higher the organisation goes? If you can know that for sure, then you will have aligned employees and you are not leaving your success to chance.
Visual Management – Visual Management is the method by which every leader and every employee knows how the performance and outcomes that they are responsible for are going right now, in real time, visibly in the place they work. If you wait for monthly numbers to come out before you know you have failed, you are missing the opportunity to implement a system of management that shows you where each constituent part is succeeding or failing, such that intervention can be taken instantly and PREVENT the monthly numbers being out. Every leader talks of being proactive not reactive, but unless you have access to that sort of information in time to prevent the issue, then you will be forever moving resources from your planned projects onto things that need to be ‘fixed’. In leadership, as in manufacturing, preventative maintenance is preferable to fixing an issue when something is broken.
With these six things in place, the senior leader is now leading effectively and inspirationally, acknowledging that each of the leaders in their organisation has their own style and their own sense of authentic leadership, but ensuring that each individual leader is clear through purpose what the organisation stands for, through vision where it is going, how it will get there through its strategy, can make the best use of resources through prioritisation, understand the role that they and each of their employees must play (alignment) in order to achieve those overall strategic goals and the progress being made day in, day out through visual management.
Any of these six elements can be judged as a ‘nice to have’, or a ‘one day, when we aren’t so busy’, but without these six elements today’s leader is relying on chance. Chance that people are motivated by what you do and why you do it, chance that they are working on priorities you know aren’t wasting time and money, chance that they are tracking progress against agreed goals and chance that they, and you, will achieve what you want to achieve. Great leaders don’t leave things to chance!
I’d love to hear how you as a leader balance improving the ‘sense’ of leadership amongst your leaders and teams with the ‘systems’ required to bring out the best of those disparate styles and achieve all the potential of the organisation. Comment below to start the discussion!
Copyright Simon Murphy 2016