Leadership Matters – We may well say it is all that matters. Leadership defines an organization and its capabilities. A leader defines the environment, defines the team work, the communication, the framework for output and of course does all this in perfect concert with its leadership and extended team members.
- Lead an organization’s vision by providing clear short, mid- and long-term direction, enabling the people in the organization to ‘see’ where the organization is heading
- Lead and manage the business through personal involvement, being a ‘lead manager’, stimulating an open and honest organization with a transparent communication system. A formal and informal non-blaming feedback communication system, allowing all levels of the organization to voice concerns, ideas and collaboration. Make sure you are involved in what Henry Mintzberg in a August 17th 2009 Business Week article: “We’re Overled and Undermanaged” described as the “messy, but crucial, work of managing”. Make sure you know what you’re talking about, what your business is about, what goes on in your business and what your people are talking about when they come to you. It is fine for people to move into “other industries”. Let’s make clear, however, that a tremendous learning curve about the industry and the new company has to start prior to the new leader arriving at the corporate parking lot.
- Lead organization innovation capability by creating an environment for innovation, starting for example with the kind of leadership team meetings you’re having. Require ideas from your top leaders, not just ‘a solution’ to an issue, but many. A one solution ‘resolution’ is not innovation.
- Lead enthusiasm by being enthusiastic. Genuine enthusiasm for a positive and ethical cause, your whole organization’s vision, is ‘viral’. It is contagious, because it is truthful and with positive intent.
- Lead ethical business dealing by always considering who you’re dealing with. Never cut a business deal and/or cut corners because ‘you can’. Particularly in these economic times, it is often voiced to “go for deep discounts”, because they (suppliers) need you. The current business environment is hungry for ethical leaders. In order to build sustainable profits, companies have to look beyond the short-term.
- Companies with a reputation for ethical behavior and a good business acumen will reap the benefits. According to Ethisphere the world’s most ethical companies consistently outperform the S&P 500. It is not by mistake that companies such as Novo Nordisk, John Deere, Swiss Re, Trader Joe’s, AstraZeneca, IKEA, SC Johnson & Son, Rabobank and General Mills were on the 2009 list of the world’s most ethical companies.
- Lead human resources through direct involvement in human resources. Be involved in the human resources leadership, have clear and direct communication lines with the human resources leadership. Do not let this be ‘handled’ by other people. The human resources leadership is one of your key areas to success. For example, be involved in the hiring of your direct reports’ direct reports, as a matter of ‘stop gapping’ who’s getting ‘on the bus’. After all, you’re not into getting people on the bus, but getting the right people on the bus. However, let me clarify that I am not referring to hiring people who are necessarily like you and act like you. Frequently leaders cannot avoid the pitfall of hiring individuals who ‘admire’ the leader in interviews. Make sure that you focus on the short-term needs of the team and the corporation as a whole and where you’d like to be in a couple of years. You are clearly not interviewing to review competence levels. You are looking for an appropriate “fit” in the team. After all, you as the captain have to decide if you trust the individual and allow the individual on-board, to be part of the Transatlantic trip.
As a leader, your communication and behavior are important reminders to the organization of what matters most.
Johan F. Reinhoudt
This article was originally published in Leadership Matters on 28 August, 2009.