Success in business requires proper planning and execution. We can’t effectively plan for our future success without properly diagnosing the present state of our organizations.
The TM Solutions Business Diagnostic Series addresses several key points to consider when assessing your business and how well it’s positioned for marketplace success. We tackle fundamental concepts like Managing Profitability, Minimizing Risk, Maximizing Productivity, Improving Expertise and Capabilities, Strengthening Leadership Teams, and Investing in People.
In last week’s diagnostic piece, we discussed several ways for Improving Expertise and Capabilities. Today’s discussion addresses how companies execute strategies for Strengthening Leadership Teams. We take these principles from our own talent development process for powering corporate leadership, whereby organizations follow these four tactics: aligning culture and leaders with business strategy, improving ability to respond to changing needs, improving ability to influence and motivate others, and building leaders for sustained excellence and innovation. A good way for leaders, whether they are seasoned veterans or just emerging in a newly-earned role, to remember these tactics is to embed the terms Align, Assess, Engage, and Develop into their leadership vocabulary.
Aligning culture and leaders with business strategy (Align)
Strengthening leadership teams begins with an honest analysis of success factors in leadership positions and contributor roles within the organization, as well as the company’s strategic plan for accomplishing its vision. Organizations must begin the process of leadership development by identifying key success factors unique to company and the competitive marketplace that drive productivity and engagement.
As companies understand the components that make up the profile of a successful leader or contributor within the organization, they must then address the corporate culture. The culture must align properly with these factors in order to produce a breeding ground for successful leaders and contributors. A culture that facilitates success among leaders will drive the company to new heights of achievement in the near future while developing key contributors for leadership roles in the longer term.
Key to cultural alignment is to ensure that the leadership team’s values and objectives are consistent with and contribute to the organization’s business objectives and strategy. The ultimate goal here is to eliminate organizational silos, where group specialization or agendas take precedence over the common goals or mission of the organization.
Business Checkup Questions
1. Do we fully understand what success factors are most important for leadership and key individual contributor positions?
2. Do we have the necessary leadership team to effectively execute our operational and strategic plans?
3. Is our vision and strategy for the business clearly understood by our leadership team?
4. Do our leadership team’s values and objectives align with business culture and strategy? Do we have silos within the organization?
Improving ability to respond to changing needs (Assess, Engage)
Next, companies must determine if the corporate culture defines accountability for everyone, whether they sit in the executive suite, lead front-line teams, or fill key contributor positions. An assessment of revenue, expenses, profitability, and, the team’s ability to consistently hit quality and productivity goals will determine the current level of accountability within the organization.
Leaders must be productive and efficient in planning, execution, and follow-up to achieve a culture of accountability. Effective planning can mean accomplishing more with fewer resources, resulting in greater profitability and sustainability for the business. As engaged teams and individual contributors perform within a culture that clearly defines success and accountability, they can be more nimble, responding to both internal and customer needs with greater speed and creativity.
Business Checkup Questions
1. Do we have a culture of accountability? Are we consistently achieving organizational production, quality and productivity goals?
2. Are our leaders productive and efficient at planning, execution and follow-up?
3. Can our leaders consistently get more accomplished with fewer resources?
4. Can our leaders effectively respond to urgent situations calling for quick action and creative solutions?
Improving ability to influence and motivate others (Engage, Develop)
As leaders develop the foundational abilities to assess their teams, align them with the company’s business goals, and create a culture that’s a playing field for high performance, they must also continuously improve their ability to influence and motivate others. Great leaders don’t employ one-size-fits-all motivational gimmicks; they work to understand the priorities of their peers and direct reports.
Building this understanding is hard work, and filled with both opportunity and challenge. While leaders must understand what’s important to the people around them, they must also engage their people on multiple levels to ensure that everyone in the organization has a clear understanding of their individual responsibilities for driving the success of their team and the company as a whole.
This process doesn’t stop with a periodic review or coaching session—the process is ongoing, and never-ending. Leaders must keep communication lines open, informing everyone—executives, managers, and contributors, of progress toward reaching business goals, as well as any potential problems or issues that stand as obstacles. Great leaders deal promptly with any performance issues that arise, in order to facilitate the growth and learning that is often required for employees to break through personal barriers to achieve better results.
Business Checkup Questions
1. Do our leaders understand what’s important to their peers and direct reports?
2. Do our leaders help employees develop a clear understanding of what they will need to do to contribute to the success of the team and organization?
3. Do our leaders keep others informed of progress, issues, and potential problems, both up and down the organization?
4. Do our leaders deal effectively and timely with performance issues, seeing them as opportunities for growth and learning?
Building leaders for sustained excellence and innovation (Develop)
The final element for Strengthening Leadership teams is building leaders for sustained excellence and innovation, since businesses must focus not only on today’s goals but also ready themselves for the future. From a cultural standpoint, leaders must speak about the company and its future prospects with an infectious optimism that translates vision into action.
Leadership development shouldn’t be exclusive to current executives and managers. To ensure a strong bench of future leaders to take the reins when called upon, companies must invest time and resources across the organization. As they develop individuals within the organization, executives should be able to map the future with ease, seeing clearly the people who will assume greater responsibility down the road.
Having a strong culture defined by achievement and accountability should create an environment where leaders at every level can and do take advantage of growth opportunities by their own initiative. The hallmark of successful organizations is a leadership team committed to developing its talents, fueling the creativity needed to drive future innovations, both in how the company performs internally, as well as in the marketplace.
Business Checkup Questions
1. Do our leaders optimistically talk about the future and possibilities for the organization and their teams, and can they translate vision to action?
2. Do we have a pipeline of leaders and the appropriate bench strength for all key positions?
3. Do we invest time and resources to develop leaders and employees?
4. Do we have a culture of continuous improvement? Do our leaders proactively take advantage of learning and growth opportunities or do they need to be pushed and pulled to do so?
Next week, be sure to check out the final installment of the TM Solutions Business Diagnostics Series, Investing in People. When companies make a conscious, ongoing effort to raise their human capital, they see multiple areas of improvement across the organization.