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Leadership Development: Developing a
Once you move beyond the hype, why is leadership so important? Effective leadership is the differentiating factor between average and great companies. Why? Because most companies are so focused externally on products and customers, they simply do not focus on developing leadership qualities within their own staff. Great companies that develop a strong leadership culture from the board room to the boiler room realize a sustainable competitive advantage.
The phrase “be a leader’ has become cliché and truly mythical in nature. There are countless books to tell you how famous people successfully led and give you tips to lead in the same way. Authors and publishers sell millions of books, tapes, and CDs every year but do little to help anyone actually lead. The inability to successfully convey conceptual leadership ideas and put them into practice is the crux of the problem with today’s how-to leadership books.
In a society where image is everything, we tend to apply the leadership tag only to those individuals who are dynamic communicators, great motivators, and have the gift of persuasion. We automatically assume that individuals with a skill that we admire are great leaders.
How many times do we assume that just because a 19-year-old college athlete has a deadly three-point shot that he is by default a great leader? We often assume a player lacks leadership ability when he does not have an outspoken personality. When players of this type are interviewed about their leadership for the team they always reply, “I lead by example.” The reality is that every team needs at least one outspoken leader to motivate and rally the team. However, every player on the team should lead by example within their role. A team with average talent will often beat a team with superior talent when everyone utilizes their innate leadership ability in combination with their skills. Teams with strong top to bottom leadership are unselfish, communicate better, and will always put team goals ahead of their own agenda. The key is both basketball and leadership skills must be developed.
The same holds true in business organizations. We find a super worker that does his job exceedingly well and then assume he can become the outspoken super-visor or super-manager. The super worker is promoted and is placed in a sink or swim leadership position without anyone really knowing if he can even float. Some people are gifted to lead by leading others while others are gifted to only lead themselves. Both types of leaders influence and impact those around them but in different ways. Every organization should develop a strong blend of both.
The capacity for leadership exists in everyone, but most people never take the time to develop it. Leadership is determination, courage, confidence, and the ability to get results.
Positive leadership assumes that goals can be accomplished, the job can be done, the problem can be solved, and the obstacles will be overcome. A leader creates his future and drives the future success of the organization. The return on investment in productivity and profitability by developing your staff’s potential could be incredible. When employees consider themselves leaders, they exhibit a positive attitude, take ownership, and accept accountability for their decisions and actions.
Developing a leadership culture where everyone is expected to be a leader in whatever position they hold will improve decision making and communication, increase profitability, lower absenteeism, and enhance customer service.
Decision making and communication are improved when everyone works together with the common goal of helping the organization reach its strategic goals. Absenteeism and turnover are minimized when employees feel a sense of ownership and self-fulfillment.
Profitability is maximized when management and staff work together with the single objective of making the organization a success. Customers hear, see, and feel the commitment and enthusiasm whenever they come in contact with your staff.
Leadership is interwoven into the fabric of an organization and affects everything a company does and the decisions it makes. Just as effective leadership will lift an organization to the next level, ineffective or poor leadership will cause an organization to under-perform and be ineffective. That is why leadership within an organization is truly cultural and not a fad or program of the month.
Imagine a dynamic, energetic, flexible organization that strives for continuous improvement. Imagine a staff where everyone cares and takes as much ownership in the success of the company as the executive leadership team.
A leadership culture does not happen by accident, and it certainly is not developed overnight. Otherwise, someone would have written a book to tell you how to create a leadership culture in three easy steps. A leadership culture is built over time with a strong senior management commitment to developing the potential of its management and staff.
A leadership culture where everyone from the board room to the boiler room leads will differentiate and set your company apart from the competition providing competitive advantages that lead to long-term profitability.
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