It is a common misconception that leadership is only important for positions of "authority". I think that's wrong and in this blog I'm going to explain why leadership is important at all levels of an organization.
Over the years I have experienced and read a lot about leadership principles for management. In most cases, the default position is to refer to the responsibility of the CEO or other management. Now clearly, direct reports will look to management for leadership, however often other team members will show up as leaders of many of the important intangibles within an organization. Per example, whenever an after hour get together is planned, you can be sure that the same few people are the trailblazers and leading the charge. You will notice that people follow them not only because they know the way to the meetup (duh! LOL), but because they are the ones putting forth the effort to socialize with the team.
The intangibles, is a large contributor to what sets other companies apart from a lot of other organizations. Provided your company has passion, vision and the ability to execute, there are elements such as social responsibility, brand voice, morale and culture and other aspects that make the company what it is based on "who you are.” That can only happen through leadership at every level of our company.
In the past, the high performance of some leaders was in many ways a self-fulfilling prophecy. Empowered by a title, many leaders had the confidence and incentive to perform at a high level. A leaders-at-every-level approach leverages that incentive and dispenses it throughout the organization. It opens the door for recognition of employees taking ownership or advancing ideas, regardless of title or position.
Common sense dictates that team members who are empowered to lead, take initiative, and share ideas and insights are going to be more engaged and productive, making more significant contributions to the business. Which will positively impact your companies bottom line!
Per example, do you have a a project manager who inspires passion in others to join a cause? Or a online marketer who organizes all-company happy hours? Or a designer who kicks up the music in the work space when it is time to drop a beat? They are not "managers", but others, including managers, turn to these people consistently for that guidance, inspiration and direction (which are critical leadership qualities).
Over the years, I’ve come to fully appreciate the leadership roles others hold in my company, and think other CEOs may fare well by cultivating and supporting them in their own organization. There are a few philosophies that I’ve found helpful in developing such people and I am listing them below for your review:
Leaders ARE at all levels of the company: Virtually anyone can be a leader given the right scenario. The key for me is to identify those with potential and desire and then help them grow in those specific instances.
Leadership requires direction: It's a human nature thing, but most people are inspired to take action when they feel they can make a difference. My responsibility is to help make that leadership productive, consistent with company values and that it supports our mission. This requires up-front and consistent communication and clarity about the priorities and values of the company to internal and external stakeholders.
Leaders have strong views and opinions: I'm very interested in people and honest responses. Therefore, I try to get reactions and feedback on strategic ideas or initiatives from key team members in the organization before putting them into effect. That’s because I realize that other team members will look to them for their "buy-in" on a new idea or policy before they fully commit themselves.
I still take responsibility for the company’s performance, but the only way we can remain on the same growing path we’ve experienced over the last several years is to hand over a lot of areas of leadership to others (a.k.a delegation - another topic for another day). As a CEO, I realize that when fellow "leaders" come to ask me a question it is often times a "sanity check" and that I don't necessarily need to act. I must be careful not to be too authoritative because it will only stifle their creativity and growth, which is the opposite of what I want to do. Using that approach I am being supportive and not directive.
So in summation, I take into account the perspectives of those who have assumed leadership roles at my company, and look for their input, ideas and buy-in before we set a plan in motion. And, more importantly, I look to them to enact plans and ideas of their own (empowerment). Supporting others to be a driving force in those areas will ensure our success for years to come – and that’s good for everyone!
Let's start #opTEAMizing!!
P.S. If you are interested in finding out how by investing in your team you will see a rise in team morale which will result in an increase in overall employee productivity, which makes your company more profitable then read about our opTEAMization programs here. From there you can reach out for a free consultation where we can discuss your needs and how I can help.