This post was sparked by an excellent article on this subject by an expert Moyra Mackie who I respect tremendously for her insights into leadership development. In her recent article—Where leadership goes to die—Fear and (self-loathing)in the C-suite– Moyra deftly links data to the impact of leadership failures and how it can be avoided.
Her article made me think of the importance and impact leadership has on an organization’s purpose—its’ very reason for being in existence– and its attitude in pursuing and delivering that purpose.
Today if any organization is not seriously evaluating its leadership and the effectiveness of that leadership then it’s simply fooling itself.
Strategy is as good as its execution—goes the saying.
But in developing an effective strategy listening and leading from the front are two key elements that are instrumental in creating a positive or can-do attitude. It’s this kind of attitude that galvanise people, providing them with a cause, a bigger purpose over and above the revenue targets and cost efficiency that delivers results and, more importantly, create stories that are shared all through the organizations’ eco-system and adds hugely to its reputation.
Do leaders really understand what leadership actually is?
In the course of my career in various industry sectors across Asia, I have noticed how leaders fail in their understanding of leadership due to some of the issues highlighted by Ms. Mackie in her article. From an organizational perspective such failure results in critical leadership gaps which leaves them paralyzed or, worse still, broken in the long-run without any warning.
The critical gaps are:
- Lack of strategic business understanding:
Arises from a self-denial behaviour, with regards to inability in understanding business purpose and needs beyond the P&L, and in enlisting necessary support. Resulting in creating a self-inflicted isolation and being dis-engaged.
- A survival not growth focus approach on projects:
Flowing from the isolated approach key projects are directed on a survival-mode manner i.e. cost-cutting and higher short-term profits at any cost and not from generating a planned effective growth in the long run.
- Lack of clarity and direction to the next level down:
A survival-mode approach results in the inability to engage, fruitfully, in explaining the long-term benefits and results in lack of direction.
- Inability to connect, from the heart, and engage rank and file:
Due to the inability in explaining the long-term benefits, stemming from a lack of understanding the strategic business purpose, such leaders are unable to be authentic and speak from the heart and lose out on engaging employees for the bigger purpose of the organization.
Whilst this may read depressingly it’s not a scenario that cannot be changed provided one is willing to make the change. Accept and acknowledging the help you, as a leader need. Be courageous to ask for that help from the team. This impact positively on the respect your team have for you and, in fact, builds respect as you are reaching out for their expertise and showing them the value you have for them.
Being vulnerable by asking for help will not reduce your leadership respect. On the contrary it will increase the same and have a positive rippling effect across the organization.
I’d love to know your story on leadership. Do share here.