You can’t lead without having an engaged audience or followers. And how do you get an engaged audience?
Whilst a lot has been written and even more spoken about leadership, we still have an issue of fair to poor leadership in many organizations.
Is this scenario because of we can’t develop leadership skills or we simply don’t believe leadership can’t be taught or, as adults we just can’t unlearn in order to re-learn new skills?
In today’s business climate, being sustainable i.e. having an ethically viable and profitable brand over long-term, should be one of the three key business priorities. The other two priorities stem from sustainability and are organisational sustainability and financial sustainability.
To deliver on making the business sustainable, strong and dynamic leadership is critical. Critical in order to have a brand that is respected and is engaged with its stakeholders.
In the journey of making a brand sustainable (and it’s not a program/project that will bear fruit in a year, mind you!) organisational leadership is critical and key to success.
Leadership, that has the emotional & intellectual maturity to, engage the organisation’s rank and file on a one to one in order to have a motivated group of followers who understand their role and appreciate the challenge is must- have. Well, that’s easier said than done!
To engage and endear themselves, leaders have to approach the staff at various levels using various methods. And leaders have to remind themselves that the ‘status and power they have and use to drive business socially’ is for the external world.
Not for staff.
Leaders need to have the ability to compartmentalize their behaviour between how they represent the brand externally and internally.
Without an engaged rank and file behind the leader, delivering the image projected externally becomes fraught with danger.
Thus, endangering the brand’s sustainability.
And without the brand being sustainable, the organisation’s sustainability and its financial sustainability simply fades out of the long-term picture.
- Top 10 Leadership Qualities According to IBM (themarlincompany.com)
The words Sustainable and Sustainability are used interchangeably depending on context and mean a variety of things. Here’s a list of some views (taken from the Sustainable Store) on what Sustainability can encompass:
- Sustainability means renewing resources at a rate equal to or greater than the rate at which they are consumed.
- Sustainability means living within the resources of the planet without damaging the environment now or in the future.
- Sustainability means creating an economic system that provides for quality of life while renewing the environment and its resources.
- A sustainable community is one that resembles a living system where all of the resources (human, natural and economic) are renewed and in balance for perpetuity.
- Sustainability is creating a world where everyone can have fulfilling lives and enjoy a rich level of well-being within the limits of what nature can provide.
- Sustainability means taking the long-term view of how our actions effect future generations and making sure we don’t deplete resources or cause pollution at rates faster than the earth is able to renew them.
- Some of the many uses of the word sustainable include: Sustainable Business / Sustainable Development / Sustainable Agriculture / Sustainable Living / Sustainable Community.
As you can see there are many areas that are attached with the term ‘sustainability’. For businesses these have a direct correlation to their daily activities, and in the long term, to their survival. However, not enough time and focus, is given to this extremely critical issue.
Majority of businesses approach the issue of sustainability piece-meal. Depending on the nature of the business there are CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilities) or as EEP (Employee Engagement Program) programs introduced. Each with its independent goals to achieve. They, often, do not have clear and measurable targets and, most importantly are not derived out of the business strategy.
How can businesses make themselves sustainable?
There are three cornerstones in developing sustainability in business:
- Brand Sustainability: This is the starting point in developing a sustainable business. Once the business strategy i.e. the short and long term goals have been identified the delivery of that is led through the brand. In terms of business planning this is the section is where the brand’s footprint and impact, across its audience, is planned for. This is the stage where product development, marketing and communication strategy would be defined.
- Organisational Sustainability: This is the section where organisational resources will need to be evaluated for delivery of the business strategy i.e. manpower competency & skills sets, identification of required training, evaluation of current processes and systems and planning of scaling up as maybe required.
- Financial Sustainability: Finally, when brand and organisational sustainability plans are in place, the costs of the same would translate into budgets. This is where the core team of CMO, CFO & Business Development Head have to work very closely to ensure correct translation of specific costs as investments in order to have a healthy bottom-line and to earmark the quarterly earnings for the business.
These three cornerstones, if developed properly i.e. with adequate time and granularity, will encompass specific sustainability issues of natural and human resources and community benefit and development and lay out initiatives (a la CSR or EEP programs) that have a clear line-of-sight with the business strategy.
The benefits of undertaking such sustainable business planning are quite a few. Here’s the top three that would be of help:
- Each initiative is directly correlated to a particular stakeholder group and would map out measurable achievements with a timeline. This provides a clear road-map for boards’ to see progress of the business.
- Specific initiatives can be identified which impact the business’s eco-system i.e. all stakeholders and the specific markets, and these can then be turned into CSR or EEP’s.
- Prioritising fund allocation for the specific initiatives becomes more scientific as it would be based on the need, impact and return from that initiative.
In summing up, a sustainable business is not just to do with contributing to reducing carbon emissions and saving natural resources (these should be part of the business process) but its more to do with development of the entire eco-system with which the business interacts on a daily basis. Planning and ensuring specific initiatives that benefit the eco-system will lead to greater engagement which would translate to continuous growth.
- Sustainability for Modern Business Practices – A Business Sustainability Keynote by Tamara Giltsoff (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
Reading this post brought home the point of how important it is to identify and have the right team to support vision and mission for an organisation.I’m sharing this as the 5 key team member profiles clearly show how a business leader can achieve planned success if these 5 team players are on board and pull in the same direction.
Article courtesy: Forbes.com from Alan Hall
You know your customers. You have a killer product to sell. The business plan is set, strategy thoughtfully documented and funds are in place. You’re ready to go to market or even poised for explosive growth. But, are you surrounded by the best possible teammates to make the dream a reality?
Carry on reading here–> Five Critical Team Members For Business Sucess
1. Our leadership styles and
2. The organisational climate those styles had created
This post is not about the details of that workshop but more about the take-outs I, personally, had. Two take outs, specially, I believe are of value to anyone leading a team in any circumstances.
1. Empathy:Whilst there are many leadership styles, depending on the school of thought and particular model used, one key factor for a leader to be respected, as a leader, is empathy. Empathy for and with one’s team enables a leader to connect, first, on a humane level, and secondly, be able to understand the perspective of his team-mate. This helps greatly in understanding the effectiveness of the team-mate and aids in assisting the team-mate with regards to any issues and problems.
2. Situational: The leadership style used is purely situational. Depending on the task at hand, the objective to be achieved and the timeline, a leader uses the best leadership style, in his armoury, to get the job done efficiently and effectively.
With these two key factors, when leading a team, a third critical factor comes into play– EI– Emotional Intelligence. A lot has been written about EI and I’m not going to labour what is EI or how one should know one’s EI and thus use it in conjunction with the points mentioned earlier.
What I will highlight is the importance of EI when one is responsible for being a leader.
As a leader it is imperative that you know yourself i.e. you are aware of your identity, personality and the image you are perceived as. Knowing this enables you to regulate your interactions with another person as each interaction will have an objective. Many of us go into inter-personal interaction without a thought on this area. We act and each of these acts have an impact or an effect. We, through our behaviour, are the cause and in turn receive back the effect. Thus, if as a leader, you are unsure of your identity and self value, the input that you provide in an interaction, be it personal or professional, can be direction-less. Result– the effect is not as you desired!
Understanding your own EI starts with knowing one’s self. Knowing one’s values and one’s principles that those values create. This leads to a particular identity of self, which then one knowingly projects.
Having managed brands for over two decades now, let me assure you that the process of developing a brand identity, is not different from developing one’s personal brand. Today personal branding has become a buzz word. But at the core of it all, lies self-identification and a maturity in knowing and accepting one’s self. This is the cornerstone of EI in a professional setting.
Summing it up, whilst we will all attend various leadership development courses, in our career, the critical point is that of self-inflection that such a course creates.
Use the data provided (by the leadership survey) to reflect inward honestly. And in order to do that one has to have very high EQ. A self-inflection, if done positively can work wonders for the leader and for his or her team. It shows up practically immediately in the inter-personal interactions and in the work output. The change is tangibly noticeable.
So if you are leading from the front, start with some constructive feedback on your leadership and ensure you are grounded and part of your team.
- Criteria for Leadership: Inspiration, Courage, and Empathy (leadershipoutofthebox.wordpress.com)
- Business Leader Richard Zahn Says “Emotional Intelligence” is Critical to Leadership (virtual-strategy.com)
Just as shifting city and home and moving to a new place has its initial period of anxiety, change for an organisation in its business direction and operational processes, brings in anxiety, insecurity and with it a plethora of questions. This can and usually does affect the brand in the market-place.
Change in any form is uncomfortable for us humans. We are creatures of habit and habit breeds its own sense of comfort and discomfort. Take for example our daily work day routine. If one of the items in our daily ‘routine’ goes out of whack, we get irritated and are at a bit of a loss.
Business activities are managed by humans and thus when an organisation implements change from what it had done; it brings about a fair bit of response. Some good, some not so good and some downright harmful to the business. The ‘enthusiasts’ (or early adopters) latch on to the big picture that the changed direction portrays and willingly start to move forward in the new direction. The ‘yes sir/no sir’ (followers) go onto a ‘wait and watch’ mode to try gauge which way is the wind blowing. Lastly comes the ‘resistant brigade’! A group who clings on desperately to yesteryears and falls back on the achievements of the past years.
Each of these groups effect the brand’s identity in many ways:
1. Enthusiasts: In their eagerness to contribute to the new strategic direction rush into activity without deeply evaluating the ability of the brand to deliver on it and the long-term benefit (of the activity) to the brand and recruiting necessary manpower to deliver on the new mandates. Often the enthusiasts end up being the “Lone Ranger”—working long hours and alone leading to quick burnouts when operating at very high stress levels due to continuous delivery demands of tasks.
2. Followers: This group’s indecisiveness and inability to ask for clarity (and understanding) leads them to either do the work activity wrong or to take too long over it and thus deliver well after the timeline is gone. In effect, making the task inefficient.
3. Resistant Brigade: Often the largest group, these try to push back through the “this is how it was done” process with the intention that if continuous resistance can be applied by using defunct processes and bureaucratic red-tape then the enthusiasts would either burn their fire out or leave (attrition). All the resistance group succeeds in doing is (i) wasting critical time and (ii) damaging the brand image.
So, how do we manage to bring these groups to play ball together:
- Transparency: Line managers have to understand the change and explain, at length, how that change is beneficial (or required) and tie it back to the individual roles of staff and their function with regards to the effect it has on the brand’s identity.
- Top-down Leadership: Senior management has to have, in place, a support ‘team’ selected from rank & file (so as to assist in the detail work) to ensure successful delivery of key projects that would help to bring about the required change. This team should be provided written mandate as authority to put in place new processes and work flow to enable work flow change to take hold.
- HR in the Forefront: HR needs to be at the forefront in terms of evaluation of staff’s skills and capabilities to deliver on the new work flow. Planning for training and skills up-gradation become a priority.
- Deadline: An end target date for achievement of certain critical projects needs to be up in front. Critical projects that affect the brand identity (and image) should be selected from the pool of projects that is in active stage and be project managed through specific project teams.
What is the benefit of doing this?
- Easier management of key projects that achieve success– A holistic approach that identifies which are the critical projects and provides priority. This aids the organisation to have focus in their daily activity thus ensuring achievement of the planned revenue growth coupled with delivering the desired image.
- Putting in place a, small core team i.e. “the A-Team” so to speak that cuts across critical functions and champions the specific change management projects. This is the team on which senior management depends upon to take the brand forward internally.
- Getting efficient work flow processes in place which aid in forward planning of daily work.
Whilst change is never easy to manage or administer, the above are small steps which can help any organisation manage the daily process more effectively.
- Change Is Good: J Is for Justification (slalom.com)