This post is for you if you plan to become—or already are—a leader who intends to lead their team in a world where change is the only constant, and engagement (employee/customer) is extremely difficult to build.
One of the biggest challenges all organizations will face in the future is the ability to cope with constant change and deal with the chaos that follows.
Most organizations that fail (Nokia, BlackBerry, Kodak, etc.) do so because their leaders are unable to see what the future holds and to change course.
If you are a leader who wants to lead his/her organization into the future and succeed, there are a few practices which, if built into your daily schedule, will go a long way to avoid the mistakes that lead to failure.
So what are these leadership practices? Read on:
1. Help create a shared vision
One of the most important roles a leader plays is to envision and help create a shared vision of the future. To do this, leaders need to stay in touch with the current reality and understand the trends in the marketplace.
This means they must remain constantly in touch with their customers and partners, as well as with employees who are customer- and partner-facing, and use them to identify what is happening in the marketplace.
They need to ensure that there is little or no filtering of information due to the various layers that might exist between themselves and the front-line staff.
They need to also look at what is happening in adjacent industries.
Based on what they see as the trends, they need to help their team create a shared vision of their future. Gone are the days when leaders could stand on a pedestal and announce their vision, and everyone would march toward that vision. Leaders must create a shared vision. This sense of a shared vision is what gives leaders the ability to lead their people toward the vision and help them in the next practice.
2. Instigate coordinated action
Once there is a shared vision, the leader’s job is to instigate coordinated action. The following three words are key:
- Instigate: The primary job of a leader is to instigate change. How do great leaders instigate change? They make the status quo an uncomfortable place to be. They talk about improvement, not change. They paint a picture of what is possible and what is lacking. They inspire people to move from their current uncomfortable situation to the desired state of the future.
- Action: Leading is all about action. There is no progress without action. The very act of leading is to drive an action. Great leaders not only instigate and move their people to take action, but they also show what the action looks like. They consistently communicate with their team which actions will move them toward the goal and which actions take them away from the goal.
- Coordinated: The power of leaders is amplified if they are able to instigate actions that are coordinated and that move the entire team toward the vision they helped craft. The coordinated action moves the team in one direction and creates forward momentum. Once you have built momentum toward a vision, it creates its own energy and creates a positive path that helps the team realize that vision more quickly. The momentum also gives the team a feeling of progress on a daily basis.
3. Make decisions and teach others how to make decisions
What differentiates great leaders is their ability to make decisions based on the information available and the priorities of the team. In a world where everything changes so fast, the ability to make decisions is critical for survival. The speed at which a team is required to make decisions is also important. This also means that team members must often make decisions on their own, so it is critical for the leader to systematically train the team to make decisions. This will help the team move toward realizing the shared vision and ensures that everyone on the team remains coordinated.
One of the best examples of this is Herb Kelleher, founder and chairman emeritus of Southwest Airlines. He taught every employee of the organization to make decisions based on one shared vision: to be the lowest-cost airline. Whenever he was approached with an idea, a suggestion, or a request, he asked one guiding question: Will this make us the lowest-cost airline? The answer usually showed itself.
Once your team members understand the rules on which decisions are based, they can make more decisions themselves, thereby increasing the agility of your organization.
4. Coach and develop other leaders
This expectation hasn’t changed and will remain: Great leaders are the ones who are able to train/coach/mentor their team and help them become great leaders.
Every great leader has had a role model who has significantly impacted their life, and great leaders know how to impact the lives of their team members by serving as a role model.
5. Set the foundation of the culture in the team
This is probably both the easiest and the most challenging task — easiest as it is something every leader already does, with or without intention.
It is challenging because it requires the leader to be intentional about everything: how they behave, what they recognize, what they criticize, how they treat others, how they treat themselves, how they treat success and failure, and everything else. This sets the tone for the culture of the team and the larger organization, and therefore has a profound impact on the entire team and its outcome.
In a fast-paced environment, culture plays a significant role in an organization’s success or failure.
Want more insight on effective leadership practices? See How To Make Servant Leadership Work In Your Organization.Comments