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Leadership Mantra : To Do Something versus Being Someone

Over the last few days, while interacting with several business leaders – I have been deliberating on the topic of key differentiators between successful and not so successful organizations.

In some of the discussions – even the definition of success got debated.

For me, a successful organization is where the metrics related to financial performance, employee satisfaction & engagement, customer satisfaction and supplier satisfaction are all showing positive / upward trend over years, in-line with / better than targets, and potentially a benchmark for other organizations.

And, it`s well established and acknowledged that one of the common denominators towards a sustained and holistic better performance is the organizational leadership.

In the present era, across a large number of organizations – we get to notice two key big challenges vis-a-vis the leadership :

  1. CEO and the top leadership`s agenda is driven by the wall street (and the bonuses!). And, unfortunately – the street often doesn`t ask for (or perhaps doesn`t care for / doesn`t understand & appreciate the value of) non financial indicators such as customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, supplier satisfaction etc. And, I have rarely come across organizations – where the CEO bonus is dependent (in a balanced manner) on both financial and non-financial health of the organization.

  2. CEO and the top leadership is not in touch with the organization. During one of the discussions on the topic of leadership and organizational success, a senior leadership team member of a large organization stated – “while I am not in sync with the organizational top leadership and it`s approach – I am being a good soldier”. And, for me – these are the moments of truth. You have lost the battle even before it begins, if you have a large number of your soldiers only physically coming to work, but mentally and emotionally un-engaged.

CEO`s are under a lot of pressure to deliver sustainable and better results. And, the mainstay of that is “being in a leadership role” versus “being a leader”.

For me – there are 7 key tenets of an efficient and effective leadership. They are centered around the principle – INSPIRE to ASPIRE to EXCEL.

  • Ignite, illuminate and resolute the heads and the hearts and the hands of your extended organization towards `What can be` versus `What`s been`.

  • Nurtue innovation (process, products, services, business models), and invest time, energy and resources in the organization`s vision and future.

  • Seek the right balance between consensus versus conviction – ensure alignment, while not loosing sight of results. (Either extremes of democracy and autocracy are bad).

  • Permeate strong work ethics. Act with responsibility, demonstrate (and expect) integrity and compassion towards organization`s all internal and external stakeholders.

  • Identify own`s and organization`s blind spots. Actively seek and appreciate feedback. And, let the fish be put on the table.

  • Recognize, respect and appreciate people for their efforts, results and their values.

  • Engage and excite people at the workplace. Offer freedom and opportunity to fulfill the potential. Move away from “blind obedience” to “empowered governance”.

In the current era, where there`s too much focus on personality and charisma rather than character and capability, it`s critical that organizations promote leaders and leadership behaviours which foster championing the organizational well-being. As Margaret Thatcher once said – “It used to be about trying to do something. Now it’s about trying to be someone.”…Today`s leadership needs to refocus on doing rather than being.

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