As leaders, we understand that our actions, whether good, bad, positive or negative, are being continually examined. Our job as leaders is to create a vision, develop and execute strategic plans, define goals, and set objectives aimed at creating excellence through products and services that address the needs of the customers and markets we serve.
Accomplishing these tasks cannot be done in a vacuum; a team of highly skilled and dedicated leaders is needed to accomplish these goals. CEOs and business owners are constantly challenged to seek out the talent needed to build an effective leadership team. Though difficult, it is paramount to find talent that has a keen understanding of your organization’s market, vision, mission and objectives.
Building a team of talented leaders that share similar capabilities, traits, ambitions, and that are qualified to lead an organization is one thing, but getting this group to function together to lead a business effectively and efficiently requires special attention.
It is vital to have a leadership team that consists not only of highly skilled, functional leaders but also those who possess the ability to understand the broader picture. Members of this team must be willing to contribute, provide productive opinions and work as a team to reach consensus, and then collectively execute these decisions throughout the organization.
Leading strong leaders requires managing egos, resolving conflicts, balancing power and integrating opinions in a way that ultimately fosters a team that is aligned with your organization’s vision, goals and objectives.
Reflect for a minute on the qualities that have brought you to your leadership position. You are a visionary and you’re high on confidence. You likely have charisma and years of experience. You have a wealth of important contacts and you are a person that most would consider to be “plugged in.”
Now assume that those in your organization, technically your subordinates, share many of those same qualities that you possess. The possibility and likelihood of friction in these relationships is high if you don’t manage these relationships carefully.
Below are some action steps to take to enhance your leadership within your organization.
1. Set the expectation that leaders actually lead, be accountable, take risks and don’t wait for direction. If those around you are not willing to do the same, then maybe it’s time to make a change.
2. Spend quality time with leaders individually to understand their views on their role and their vision of how their functional area contributes to the mission of the organization. Are they thinking big, stretching their direct reports and delivering the results you expect?
3. Challenge the team and individuals to stretch their thinking and share their “big ideas.” Be clear and concise. Put things into context so they understand the meaning and possible outcomes of decisions.
4. Set clear expectations of leaders and the leadership team. Expect individuals to know the overall business and be able to separate themselves from their functional role and contribute to the enterprise by tackling complex issues.
5. Mandate open and frank dialogue between leaders while reiterating that these discussions remain confidential.
6. Expand their role by asking them to contribute by taking lead roles on enterprisewide matters.
7. Allow leaders to lead so they own their actions and decisions. It is your responsibility to identify and select high-quality talent with the knowledge and experience needed in order to contribute to the organization.
These steps are the beginning to a harmonious relationship with your top team members. Remember, the goal is the respect that you earn along the journey, not friendships or three people to round out a great foursome on the links. Your energy, vision, determination and drive are the active ingredients in leading by example. ●
Tony Arnold is founder and principal of Upfront Management, a St. Louis-based management and executive consulting firm. He can be reached at (314) 825-9525 or [email protected]