Let’s face it. Leadership matters! Whether it is on the world stage or in our local community. Whether it is politics or business or religion, great leadership is hard to come by.
And why does leadership in the workplace matter?
Business Acumen, Purpose and Strategy
Any business starts with identifying a business need and organizing people and resources to meet that need with a product or service. That’s business acumen. A leader needs to have that.
Business acumen provides the financial sense for the organization. But to make the business sustainable, there has to be a purpose and a strategy, which provides the direction to channel the energy of people. The leader has to provide the purpose and strategy, and ensure that he has people aboard who are convinced and committed.
For example, a hotel may live by the motto ‘We provide a Home away from home for our guests’. Now that provides the purpose and the focus for all employees. And it is the leader at every level who has to drive the work of each employee towards that motto.
Let’s stop and ask: Does our organization have a good business model? Is it sustainable? Do we need to build on it or tweak it? Do we have a sound strategy? As a leader, do I communicate enough about the organization’s purpose and direction? Do we have it written down and visible to reinforce the message? As a leader, do I make the effort to ensure that people are enthusiastic and convinced about the organization’s focus and direction. As a leader, am I aware of my blind spots? Am I open to constructive criticism of my strategy?
Gallup’s annual 2014 scores show that 68.50% of U.S. employees are disengaged/actively disengaged
US Employee Engagement Scores
- Engaged – 31.50%
- Not Engaged – 51.00%
- Actively Disengaged – 28.50%
This is disturbing trend. And it is consistent over years. So, what’s going on here? It starts off well with people having the required education and work experience being hired. Then something happens along the way that cause people to disengage. Leaders lose focus of best practices, employees are not challenged enough, not motivated enough, don’t feel valued enough.
Let’s stop and ask: Where does your organization’s employee engagement scores stand? Is there a assessment system in place? Or is your organization among the select few who have an active and robust employee engagement strategy in place which drives the scores to double the national average scores. As a leader, are you self-assured or do you feel threatened? Are you aware of leadership best practices? Do you benchmark yourself and monitor yourself against these benchmarks? Do you have a mentor who can put up a mirror to show you your leadership style and whether it is effective? Are you aware of employee engagement strategies?
According to a Gallup research study, fully engaged customers represent a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth over average customers.
Let’s stop and ask: Where does your organization’s customer engagement scores stand? Is there a assessment system in place? Are you aware of customer engagement strategies? Do all your employees know how their individual work affects the customer experience? As a leader , do you see the link between employee engagement and customer engagement? Are you aware of customer service standards and strategies in your industry?
As a leader, leveraging innovation is one definite way to long term sustainability and growth. Innovation broadly falls under two categories. Firstly, is routine innovation. This is where everyone in the organization is always looking for ways to improve processes, reduce costs, solve recurring problems. Basically, what renowned scientist, Thomas Edison said “There is always a better way of doing it. Find it.”
The second category of innovation is strategic innovation. Here, the organization creates and implements an innovation strategy which is aligned with the business strategy. There are three basic tasks in creating and executing an innovation strategy. The first task is finding an answer to the question “How will innovation create value for our customers and for our company?” and then communicate that to the organization. The second task is allocating resources and execution.
The final task is recognizing that innovation strategies must evolve. Similar to the process of innovation itself, an innovation strategy requires on-going experimentation, learning, and adaptation.
Let’s stop and ask: Do we have a innovation strategy?Do we know the innovation process?Do we want to do it or not?
Summing up, every organization needs to have leadership that can drive the above fundamentals and demonstrate that leadership matters.