What Is The Most Important Aspect Of Leadership In The New Business Environment?

Leadership is often spoken of in terms of the top Leader of an organization or the head of a big business division. A huge part of sustained success and a legacy is to make leadership training an everyday part of your business.

So often when I work with top leaders they are concerned with:

  1. How can I develop a team that will not need to talk to me and still move forward?
  2. Why do we have a great strategic plan and then only get a fraction of execution of that plan?
  3. Why don’t the functional leaders of this organization work together more effectively?
  4. How can we engage people in our vision and make it their own?
  5. There is no one who can take my position at this time, and I am not sure the people that are on my team can be the ones.

I would like to postulate that the most important aspect of leadership development in 21st century business is the ability to create leadership at all levels. Top leadership cannot afford to continue to have only a small percentage of people leading a large number who have not learned to express their leadership, nor use information about the vision of the organization to affect their conversations and decisions.

Create a team of leaders, and create opportunities for them to share ideas and to create the company vision on a regular basis. One of the important aspects of leadership is to be aware of and to contribute to the success of the business. Jim Collins, in his work, Good to Great; Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, has made a study of this, and has heard from some forward thinking leaders who make development and succession a part of doing business in the present.

It is necessary, as business grows and collaboration is needed, for leaders to expand and to be more authentic. In my work with leaders, I have seen great success achieved by a conscious inclusion of all levels of leadership. Successful business is making use of the ability to communicate and of the talent that emerges when people are deliberately brought into the purpose and vision of the organization. James Collins’ article, Building Your Company’s Vision, published in Harvard Business Review, outlines this process very well.

Here are three easy, practical steps to take to create greater engagement:

  1. Begin with defining your business Purpose. Your purpose is different than your Vision or Mission and goes more deeply into why you come every day, what is the larger reason that you have chosen this business, and why the people in your company receive self- acknowledgement for showing up.
  2. Plan quarterly meetings that include all levels of leadership to buy into the overall vision and the day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month progress of achieving the goals. This will require that top leaders create time for communication and interaction with emerging leaders.
  3. Make performance evaluations part of regular 1-1 meetings. Meet with individual team members on a more frequent basis, preferably at least monthly or bi monthly, so that discussion of changes needed, and acknowledgment of what is working, is continual. This builds stronger relationships between leaders, managers and supervisors with their direct reports. The continual attention to performance becomes more ordinary over time, rather than something to be dreaded.

I’ll continue the discussion on Leadership as Action, and as something that is necessary for sustainability and engagement over time, in my next article. (Many companies such as Whole Foods are doing this now!)

If you have a leadership question, challenge, or success you would like to share, please be sure to leave a comment. I would enjoy hearing from you! – Patricia