Over time, I’ve found a simple truth in the notion that each individual in an organization is a leader, regardless of position, title or organizational placement. Leadership is influence and every employee in your company does just that, from the bottom to the top and across your organizational chart.
That influence will either be positive, negative or indifferent. Broad and highly dispersed organizational leadership drives performance to levels unobtainable through a top down mandate. There is power in unleashing the potential of every leader in your organization.
Below, are a few tips on how to leverage that collective leadership influence to drive a culture of performance.
Equip — Ensure that all on your team are positioned to succeed in their positive influence. This may include formal leadership training, but it doesn’t have to. Simply provide clear communication regarding the role one plays, what needs to be done and why it matters.
Create understanding of how team members can personalize your mission. Share articles and videos and leverage tools for both professional and personal development. Create a culture of positivity with team members at all levels encouraged to have fun in leading the way. Equip team members to be comfortable in their personal influence and they won’t let you down.
Encourage — Celebrate, affirm, validate and then repeat. Why does the “boss” focus on what isn’t working when, with intention, it is easy to catch people doing things right? Make encouragement a foundation of your culture. Your organizational potential is unleashed when employees at all levels consistently support and encourage each other. It starts with you. Encourage and you’ll see a team caring for each other that translates into a culture that carries through hard days and flourishes when the wind is with you.
Engage — Make it safe and rewarding for those at all levels to participate in your organization’s future with special projects, focus groups, communication initiatives and improvement teams. Engage team members at all levels to actively drive company initiatives. Give your colleagues the opportunity to participate in building your culture and positively influence your performance. Engaged team members will provide you with great ideas, share with others and own the outcomes.
Empower — Creating and supporting a culture in which team members are empowered to safely execute within their roles goes beyond documenting job definitions. We need to ensure that all know that they are empowered to do the right things within the framework of organizational culture.
A very successful friend of mine leads with this analogy. “We draw lines. Hard lines aren’t crossed without consultation. Guide lines allow for confident execution of daily tasks. No lines would imply an area in which a team member can trust their intuition and do what they believe is right in the way they believe best.” Train, then trust your organization to do the right thing within practical boundaries.
Empowered employees take themselves and those around them to places you might not imagine possible. ●
Jerry Kelsheimer is founder and principal at Exodus Capital Partners Ltd.