‘Leadership! Has anyone seen any leadership around here? Because I for one can’t see any!’ Cried out one of the graduates who had been in the business a year, during one of the trainings I was running.
The outburst came about because we had started a discussion on how well we run our business, talking about efficiency, which quickly turned to the subject of the leadership and how we run the company.
He was right. – He is also now the CEO of his own small company.
It has been something that has fascinated me over my many years of consulting, training and coaching. I find it amazing and incredible that in big businesses leadership is often useless and really very poor.
Few senior leaders rarely understand things like followership. What it is to create and maintain followers. Let alone communicate authentically and clearly with a vision, goal and purpose in mind.
That is of course if they could be bothered to actually come out of their offices to see what is going on in their organization.
And don’t get me started on the whole accountability factor. I have never, ever, seen a senior executive in a large corporation admitting to having made a mistake. I have only ever, seen them blame others for their own failings.
The higher you get up the pyramid in an organization the more kindergarten like it gets. It is like having to deal with a bunch of babies that have the ego of Elvis Presley.
Well I have done a lot of research into this over the years, and it starts at the School. Children are taught to conform. The further in school a child gets, the greater the restriction on free thinking, team work and leadership. And, what typically comes out of the college is a well conforming sheep.
Jumping into business the new graduate feels liberated and wants to change the world. But, shocked to find that his new fresh brilliant ideas are immediately and harshly sacrificed on the Alter of innovation!
As people ‘grow up’ in business and work their way through the hierarchy, they are taught via fear and punishment to conform further and not even to think out of the box, or even to get close to poking the sides of the box.
Therefore we end up with intelligent sheep that are unmotivated and miserable, dreaming of finding a boss that is inspiring and caring, and looking aimlessly around the flock for someone to follow.
Unfortunately the senior executives in the organization are also in that flock, because everyone hates them and does not trust them.
So what can help?
From my perspective, and luckily, just three critical things.
Understanding and being able to lead people through change is a critical skill for any good leader, however it is so often over looked. Being able to articulate a vision and know how to get there, while communicating and engaging your followers is the main success factor for any Leader.
Being able to coach and to be coached oneself. Coaching is not a pink and fluffy subject, and it is not a punishment either. It is about driving personal and business performance forward to ever higher levels of achievement.
Then there is the measure of success, commonly known in many organizations as MBO’s or management by objectives. Another subject that is highly misunderstood and misused. Understanding something about Hoshin planning, the process of cascading vision down to goals and then down to measurable objectives, can dramatically increase focus and team performance.
Developing talented leaders, by focusing only on these three things, can make the difference between an average organization and a genius business.
Pushing the envelope for talented leaders even further to the point of ‘Genius Leadership’ is about identifying all of the components that go into making a genius business, Identifying them, understanding them, and developing them in everything that we do.
The greatest thing that an approach around Genius Leadership can do is turn the lights on around the three key success factors.
Leadership has been a topic of passionate discussions over the last few interactions I have had with good friend Mark. I invited him to share his thoughts through this post. Mark is currently the Head of Performance Improvement at a leading Insurance firm.