As mentioned in the first post in this series, leadership is one of the main organizational influencers at work within every organization. When people think of leadership, they tend to think of how one interacts with people mostly. We have spent a number of years trying to divine the distinction between management and leadership, and have come up with the clever quip “You manage things and lead people.” I can’t say I disagree – at least not in principle. What makes up the concept of “leading people” though?
When we think of leading people, we move to the soft skills arena and focus on relational dynamics, emotional IQ and the like. This is all true, but it doesn’t make up the totality of leadership. There are things that leadership demands of those charged with leading that aren’t so much centered on the direct relational component of leadership; things like self-leadership and what choices you make as it relates to the organization, its impact on people, and simply how you show up as a person and guide the organization. That has much more breadth and depth to it than relational dynamics.
Each organization, and its needs, requires different things of its leaders (formal or informal). There are, however, some commonalities that transcend industries, sectors, and roles that – when done well – contribute to quality leadership and begin the cycle that ultimately leads to achieving business outcomes through the talent in your organization.
Key Leadership Components for Business Outcomes Through Human Flourishing
Civility – People want a leader who acts civil in all situations. Price of admission for leadership.
Reward the right thing – This isn’t just what you actively reward, but also what you passively permit.
Focus – Every organization needs something different. Make sure you balance your focus on both the organization’s needs AND the people’s needs who make it all possible.
Self-awareness – If we’re all honest, we have both experienced and been THAT leader at some point. Let’s all own our crap and get better. Okay?
Emotional IQ – You don’t have to subscribe to Daniel Goleman’s perspective on this, but you do need to respond well to your emotions to maintain credibility.
Communication Skills – Comms 101…it’s not about what you say, but rather what they hear. Never, ever forget this.
Integrity – Don’t fixate on never making a mistake, but purpose yourself to respond in an ethical and respectable way that shows you have a true north beyond making a buck.
Stress Management – How you deal with stress gives permission for others to do the same. An important influencer of culture. Think about that when you want to “let go” for a minute. Find a private and confidential outlet for venting.
Consistent – This is about instilling a sense of psychological safety, understanding, and focus in your organization. Without it, good luck getting top performance.
Trustworthy – Don’t expect anyone to trust you unless you make it mindlessly easy for them. If they have to guess, they may choose to not trust you.
Equitable – Fairness is overrated. Situations have nuances and being equitable is much better for helping people flourish.
Compassionate – The humans helping your organization be successful will only care to the degree they perceive you care about them (even if their perception is wrong).
Productive Feedback – Do you complain about short comings or help design a path for development? People don’t want to do bad work. Find out why and help them, even if that help is inviting them to leave the organization.
Listen – Don’t pass judgment on motive. Don’t think you have all the answers. Don’t think entry level talent don’t know enough. There is genius all around you. Shut up and listen to it.
Resource Allocation – How do you utilize all the resources in your organization? Are you so pinned to a structure that you limit possibilities? How agile are you to move resources around? Lack of adequate resources is one of the biggest frustrations of talent. You don’t have to spend more to get more resources, just make sure you have allocated them well. If not, be courageous enough to do something about it.
Capable – Hold your own performance at or above the standard you hold for everyone else. If what you are capable of doing doesn’t instill confidence and inspire others, your performance will be flat.
These 16 leadership items continually affect and influence the culture you will have in your organization. No matter the cultural drivers that you mess with in your culture transformation work, if these leadership elements do not align with that culture work you are wasting your time.
The common thinking is that leadership creates culture, but in reality it only influences it. Leadership creates context, and out of that context culture will develop. What that context provides, however, are three things: Expectations, Permissions, Accountability.
People will learn what to expect out of the context your leadership provides. They will learn what they can expect of you, what they can expect of and for the organization, and what is most likely going to be expected of them.
People will also learn what is permissible within the organization. Even if your published values, policies, and general relational dynamics say otherwise, the context created by these 16 leadership elements will provide behavioral permissions and people will act on it. Perhaps they only do it while you’re not looking, but it will still happen and that will become the culture from which employee performance will be developed.
From the context of your leadership, people will learn what will be held accountable and what is inconsistently applied. If accountability is questionable, it gives them an “out” and the cultural impact is that of consistently challenging things that are inconsistently applied by leadership. What this effectively does is it shifts the creative genius within your organization from being applied to business outcomes to being applied to organizational survival in an inconsistent cultural system. In case you were wondering, this will make performance…well, suck.
If your leadership executes well on these 16 components, you are cultivating and environment where people can flourish from a human perspective. That translates directly into performance and business outcomes. Keep that in mind.
Nothing earth shattering that leadership is critical to business success. This leg of the framework, however, does give you insight as to how and why these 16 elements of leadership are critical to business outcomes. Like I said, leadership creates context and out of that context your culture will develop. Next week’s post will break down the cultural bits that govern your organization, as well as how that affects and connects to employee engagement.
I would love to hear your thoughts on either this post or this blog series and if you are thinking of using this framework to achieve better business outcomes through human flourishing. Feel free to leave a comment below.
If you would like to have a more detailed conversation about how this framework can help people flourish and improve the performance within your organization, click here to schedule a chat!