I have the pleasure and the privilege to be able to work with CEOs and their Executive Leadership Teams, helping them to develop strong leadership, great collaboration and teamwork, and build a culture of sustainable achievement and success into their businesses. Occasionally, I run into a CEO or a Leadership Team who think they’re leading their company, but they’re mistaken. They are abdicating the responsibility to lead, and their organization is drifting, without a guiding hand at the rudder. Great leadership doesn’t happen magically, and it doesn’t happen accidentally. Great leadership depends upon the leadership team working together as a collective, cohesively ensuring that the six primary systems are in place to lead the organization to greatness. Here are those six systems that leadership must put into place.
- People: I say this so often that I actually get tired of hearing myself say it, and yet, it is absolutely true. There is not now, nor will there ever be anything as important to a company’s success as its people. People will always be your most valuable resource, and they must remain your top priority forever. Your Human Resources department must be staffed and funded aggressively, not like a miser. You must recruit, hire, train, develop, and manage the best people that you can attract. You must set their expectations and give them performance-based feedback to make sure that they enjoy their work, feel appropriately challenged and amply rewarded when they deliver consistent results above and beyond expectations. Get the best people, and put them in the right roles, and start them on the path of becoming self-determined performers and leaders.
- Leaders: Your leaders must establish your culture and set the stage for all of the success that you intend to enjoy in your organization. Your leaders define expectations and your company’s identity by clearly communicating the values and the vision of the organization. Your leaders create context and demonstrate how we’re going to operate around here on our way to great success. When the associates in your firm know at a DNA level what your leaders stand for, they stand for it too. By giving meaning and purpose to your team, your leaders establish a system of doing business where every member of the team can deliver their best work on a regular basis and build recurring success.
- Commitment To Accountability: Companies that lead their industries distinguish themselves as leaders by achieving extraordinary results so frequently that they make it look absolutely ordinary. Your leaders need to build a system of accountability that clearly demonstrates that your vision can be equated to strategic objectives that will be consistently met by results that align and match the expectations perfectly. Leaders must articulate what is important, what will be measured, and they must be willing to make bold decisions to hold your valued people accountable for results and actual outcomes, not for effort or for attempts. In the words of the sage Yoda, “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try. ” When you hold everyone in your company appropriately accountable for their results, they will begin to raise the level of their game collaboratively.
- Scoreboard Measurement: Leaders create systems of measurement that help their teams to identify the critical success factors that lead to winning. They turn those critical success factors into Key Performance Indicators and build systems to accurately measure what is most important in contributing to our extraordinary success. These systems of metrics, processes, and tools lead to a regular review of business results that drives timely course corrections to ensure that anticipated growth and improvement occur on schedule. Discipline will be required to ensure that standards are maintained, and best practices are identified and shared, and that the critical few measurements find their way onto easy to read scoreboard reports that help the team to manage the game when the last few minutes play out. You want your scoreboard to provide all of the most valuable information to enable your game managers to make brilliant decisions when the game is on the line. Become a two-minute drill legend!
- Communications: Communications are crucial to your ability to regularly enjoy success. I cannot state it any more plainly than that. Effective communication leads to great decisions and choices, which lead to extraordinary results. Ineffective communications lead to confusion and chaos because nobody has any idea about what is important and there is no context for making good decisions and choices. Be mindful of what you choose to say, when you say it, to whom, and how you phrase it and wrap it up in body language and tone. Communicate your values and vision to the team often, and communicate your culture to everyone. Leave no room for doubt about what you believe, what you expect, and your strategy for how we will get there. Your conversations with your people mean everything and set the stage for the success or failure that follows.
- Operations: The best companies understand that operational excellence is critical to the sustainable delivery of results. Those great organizations set themselves up by simplifying their operations by developing systems, tools, reports, processes, and checks and balances that ensure quality, efficiency and ease. Optimizing your ability to work on what’s most important by using the most effective techniques will ensure strong, recurring operational results. Always view operations through the lens of how your tools and systems and processes impact your prospects, customers, colleagues and partners, and how they make working with you easier or harder. When your processes introduce difficulty or complexity, simplify and streamline them and gain greater productivity.
Leadership needn’t be abstract. Leadership is about finding a way to combine art and science so that you are creating extraordinary value. I believe this systemic approach to leadership will bring your organization strong collaboration and teamwork. I believe that mastering your ability to systematically lead your company forward will put your hand back onto the rudder, where it belongs. You and your leadership team CAN lead your company, but you have to be clear about approaching it systematically, and you cannot let frustrations with current disappointments or challenges deter your focus from leading in the right way.
Michael is a Leadership Development thought leader, and a Certified Professional Business Coach. Michael lives in the Twin Cities in Minnesota and works closely with CEOs, their Leadership Teams, and their Emerging Leaders to build a great culture, and establish a business model that delivers sustainable and predictable success for those organizations. Michael would be delighted to have you sign up for his “Coffee With Michael” e-newsletter, which regularly includes articles on Leadership, Selling, Executive Development and a host of other great topics. Michael likes to give things away to make the world a better place, so keep your eyes peeled for valuable freebies in his content. Feel free to send an email to email@example.com, and if you add a comment to this article on LinkedIn or on the MBCC website, Michael will send you his 25 Best Practices on Leadership. Enjoy the journey to delivering extraordinary results!