Are you influencing or ordering?

Leadership has a direct impact on the sustainability of any business for an organization. The leadership style influences corporate culture at play and is instrumental in creating the climate at work and in creating the competitive edge.

Academic institutions, whilst having the noble mission of developing and imparting knowledge and creating leaders, are also business entities that need to ensure sustainability.

The education sector, particularly the professional and higher education segments, have seen massive changes in the past few years. Changes that have impacted on the business models to a point where a fair number of well-established institutions have had to drastically change their business approach.

Like their commercial counterparts, academic institutions and professional educational bodies, are also heavily impacted by the ability of their leaders to influence and engage in order to develop an effective competitive edge that impacts on the institutions’ reputation and financial sustainability. Whilst in commercial set-ups the financial sustainability and profitability leads the leadership styles in an academic and professional educational set-up it’s compounded with ensuring reputation and quality of its offerings.

A leaders’ ability in influencing and not ordering, is particularly key in such educational organizations.

Why is this so?

On one hand you have academics and specialized subject matter experts who are focused on taking knowledge further, on the other you, have the operational or administrative experts who manage the business process and turn the wheels and ensure continuity of the institutions operations.  Emotionally and mentally these are two very diverse groups with, what appears to be at times, differing objectives where strategic growth is concerned.

A leader through influence can engage, share and discuss the vision to obtain an effective strategy and its execution. Without such engagement there is no progress. Whilst it may seem like the organization is doing a lot, in reality it’s like a hamster on-a-wheel. Everyone is busy doing a lot of stuff but from an effective impact perspective nothing shows up on the report card under sustainability. In the end all we get is a brownout syndrome. Over time the great and effective staff end up heading out of the door and the institution suffers.

As a leader always remind yourself that the status and power, you use to drive business socially, is for the external world not for your staff

Leaders need to understand the emotional intelligence of the organization and lead through displaying emotional & intellectual maturity on a one to one basis in order to have a motivated group of followers who understand their role and appreciate the challenge.

This is a time-consuming process but one that, in the long-run, pays huge benefits to the bottom-line of the institution. It’s also a process that many leaders fail to be part of instead delegating to their respective team leads.

The positional status and power leaders use for engagement externally, for their institutions, is not helpful internally because at the back of the leader is a team delivering the substance that creates the status and power the leader enjoys externally.
The team needs to feel connected in a human, one-to-one manner with the leader, where there is appreciation and recognition of the work done in making the leader and the institution look great.

As leaders compartmentalize your behaviour between how you represent the brand externally and internally.

The behaviour leaders’ display internally is what their staff pick up and emulate in interactions with all stakeholders. Unknowingly leaders could be setting themselves up for failure if they are not aware of their own internal behaviour and their level of engagement with their staff. Without an engaged team, behind the leader, delivering on the image projected externally the brand becomes fraught with danger.
Brand risk creeps in through potentially damaging word-of-mouth media which impacts on the institutions’ reputation. This in turn affects financial sustainability and can endanger the business itself.

Without the institution brand being financially sustainable the ability of the institution to be in operation simply fades out of the long-term picture.

This post was first published on Linked In on Sept 17, 2016.