Senior Leadership Must Equip Future Leaders
Organizational structure is dependent on appropriate leadership permeating throughout the company. Leaders of all levels must be equipped with the appropriate tools for successfully leading their respective workforce. As leaders advance, they must adapt to increased responsibilities in order to ethically achieve superior results. If an executive doesn’t guide and mentor subordinate leaders, s/he runs the risk of creating leadership stagnation within the company. When an executive invests time in cultivating budding leadership, it sets the tone for future leaders to do the same. This creates a positive cycle that positions the company for sustainable leadership excellence.
Company Culture Impacts Leadership Style
Depending on a company’s culture, leadership styles may differ. Understanding the company culture is important to developing leadership. For example, a hierarchy culture may require a leader that is more structured and methodical in their approach. Whereas a company with an adhocracy culture would require a leader that fosters an environment of innovation and free flow of ideas. The style of leadership that will be mentored to future leaders of the organization should align with a company’s current or preferred culture.
Creating a Balance of Consistency and Adaptation
A workforce expects a certain level of consistency. Without it, superior results are unpredictable and often unobtainable. Imagine a worker that is receiving conflicting messages from various leaders. It creates a framework that is virtually impossible to drive sustainable success. A level of consistency allows the workforce to understand the framework for conducting business. Consistency should not equate to a lack of innovation. Senior leadership should guide subordinate leaders but allow room for innovation and even mistakes. Leadership development isn’t a cloning process. The marketplace adapts and so should an organization. Adaptation is best achieved with diversity of thought.
Consistent Vision, Diverse Leaders
The macro vision of the company must be clear. The framework of conducting business should be consistent with the vision but also allow latitude for innovation. Restrictive leadership can extinguish innovation. Leaders are like snowflakes in that no two are exactly alike. Each leader has different life experiences that they inherently bring with them. These experiences influence their decision making and how they view situations.
This is a good thing. If every leader had the same life experiences, the company would be limited to one person’s perspective. This type of single vantage point would leave blind spots within the organization and ultimately inhibit the company’s ability to view situations from varying perspectives. It is the diversity of perspectives coming together to formulate an amalgam which will help mature an organization.
Senior leadership sets the example for safe communication. What is safe communication? It is an environment fostered where it is safe to share information, opinions and feedback with your superior. This is especially important when the news is unfavorable. A leader is paid, to an extent, to make decisions. Decision making is inhibited when known variables in the equation are not brought to light. An experienced leader will know that having every possible variable when making a decision is virtually impossible. However, when key information is withheld due to fear of leadership, quality decision making diminishes.
A senior leader that creates a safe environment to share and who listens to their subordinate leaders will perpetuate healthy communication expectations for future leaders. It is estimated that two thirds of businesses in the United States are that of service not of production. Service based organizations require superior communication to meet the market’s needs. Since the technology revolution, innovation is moving at rapid speeds. Production based organizations must have superior communication to develop products in order to remain relevant.
Many companies have leadership training programs. Leadership training programs will often offer a lot of beneficial information. However, training programs are not enough. Guidance and teachable moments are key to developing better leaders. Leaders are paid to lead, not to follow. In many ways, a senior leader’s responsibility is to teach future leaders how to teach themselves and provide guidance and feedback along the way. As a leader elevates in the organization, the balance of influence shifts. A lower level leader will have many leaders senior to them in the organization and few leaders under them, if any. As their career progresses through promotions, this balance will shift with fewer leaders above them and more leaders beneath them. Leaders are required to become more self-sufficient and resourceful as they elevate up the ranks. A leader that is not guided to continuously self-educate may fall into the trap of company training regurgitation.
There are many ways to develop leadership. Each rising leader may require slightly different methods to help them grow. Identifying these nuances will help an executive cultivate better results. When an executive demonstrates the importance of developing future leadership, it establishes a culture that perpetuates this philosophy. Ultimately, leadership development helps create sustainability within an organization.
Author: Rob Comeau is the CEO of Business Resource Center, Inc., a management consulting firm that works with industry and the investment community. For more information on the company, please visit their website at www.biz-rc.com.