What defines an effective leader? John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Behind every organization’s successes, you will find effective leaders guiding all company levels toward accomplishing a single mission. To continue to grow and achieve, it is critical for organizations to support their leaders, as well as identify and inspire their leaders of tomorrow.
“Leaders get the big picture and understand how to guide the organization to strategically achieve success,” says Ralph Aleman, CEO of Hialeah Hospital, a part of Tenet Healthcare Corporation. “Good leaders also have a positive long-term influence; they leave a legacy of leadership skills in others.”
Smart Business spoke to Aleman about how identifying leaders within an organization and then giving them the tools to succeed is an investment in human capital that every business should consider.
How is effective leadership critical in business success?
Effective leadership creates and fosters the mission of an organization. With leadership, an organization can focus its resources and human capital to reach strategic goals and objectives. Leaders know where they are going; they have a clear vision and constantly communicate this direction. Leaders set the tone for success by developing strategies, taking action and inspiring others to achieve specific goals. Good leaders also have a long-term positive impact by instilling a legacy of leadership skills in others. The old saying, ‘it all starts at the top,’ has real meaning. If top organizational leaders invest in the people under them, these individuals will learn how to invest in the people under them and so forth.
In your opinion, what are the attributes of an effective leader?
There are many attributes of effective and successful leaders. In my experience, leaders create a vision for the enterprise and have the communication skills to clearly articulate that vision at all organizational levels. Furthermore, gifted leaders clearly and openly communicate their goals and expectations in a way that engages employees and fosters their commitment to get the work done. Motivating employees at all levels takes skill and talent. Being honest and having integrity is a must, and this includes following through with professional commitments and promises, which builds trust and respect. Being a good, objective listener is also very important. Finally, leaders need to be role models for everyone within their organizations, their communities, and beyond. I strongly believe, and tell everyone who works with me, that I would not ask someone to do something that I would not do myself.
What is the importance of developing your work force into future leaders?
Leaders are found at all levels of an organization. They are usually very motivated people who step up to the plate and contribute to achieving goals without having to be told or shown how. They are generally unselfish and willing to do ‘whatever it takes.’ They get the big picture and understand how the organization can achieve success. These individuals ‘rise to the top’ and should be recognized and encouraged to develop their personal leadership skills so they can grow professionally to become the leaders of tomorrow. Identifying future leaders and giving them the tools to succeed is an investment in human capital that businesses need to make. These people already know the organization’s systems and norms; they are part and parcel of the organization’s culture. I have found that it is much more effective to grow from within than to start from scratch by bringing in leaders from outside entities.
How would you advise other businesses in identifying and growing leaders within their organizations?
First, one needs to recognize potential leaders and help them expand and apply their skills within the organization. Frequently communicate with them and let them know how much you appreciate their commitment to their work. Get them involved in special or significant projects and offer them opportunities to contribute in ways beyond their individual role.
Let them know of the opportunities that exist through either formal education or on-the-job-training to develop and improve their unique skills. Continue to provide a workplace environment where future leaders can excel and are excited to do their very best.
For example, providing a mentoring and/or coaching opportunity that teams your most effective leaders with those who show promise is a good way to develop leadership from within.
Ralph Aleman is the CEO of Hialeah Hospital, which is a part of Tenet Healthcare Corporation.