finished leading a one-day leader forum event with a new client. The room had the organization’s top sixty
leaders of a large technology services company.
It was a company with
many tough issues that they needed to confront. Their business environment was
becoming more complex and uncertain. There were many multiple competing and
shifting priorities. Many new international competitors were taking away market
share. From an organizational standpoint, the leaders didn’t feel there was a
compelling strategy they could commit to. They felt rudderless. They also felt
they were operating at cross-purposes every single day. Many were feeling
disconnected, discounted and undervalued. The talk of driving collaboration and
innovation was just that – talk. No real action or tangible evidence of change.
conversations became heavier and heavier. These leaders had a lot of baggage
that they needed to empty before they could move forward.
At the core of their
concerns was their frustration that every time they tried to step up as leader,
they were beaten down. Ideas were dismissed from upper management. Any attempts
to drive change were stopped. This was the core issue that this team of senior
leaders had to confront – the poor leadership culture that they allowed to
exist in their organization. Not only was it wearing them down. It was eroding
the engagement of employees from across the organization.
leader and leadership consultant for most of my career. In that time, I’ve
learned one thing – if you can create a strong leadership culture in your
organization, it can become a real differentiator for your company.
But like my new client
above, many organizations don’t have strong leadership cultures. They have deadly ones that erode confidence
and commitment of leaders at all levels. Over time, many leaders give up. They
end up showing up every day merely going through the motions. This makes the
problems even worse.
organization like this around?
First, you must set the
bar high and aspire to build the best leadership in your industry. If you can,
it will be a game changer for your company.
Second, you must create what
I call your company’s own leadership contract. One that clearly spells out the
expectations you have for your leaders and the commitment they must all make to
do their part.
the growth of your leaders, and weed out the ones who are not living up to your
Finally, find ways to
help your leaders build relationships with one another – it’s difficult to
build a community of leaders among a group of strangers.
building a strong community of leaders – one where you will see a higher degree
of alignment and engagement among your leaders. Where they show up each day committed
to being great leaders and demonstrate a “one company” mindset, rather than
engaging in turf wars. Where they will break down silos and drive greater
innovation, collaboration, and performance.
That’s what happened with
my new client. Over a series of additional quarterly meetings they were able to
confront the tough stuff. They began to build a vision for the kind of leadership
they needed for the future. More importantly, leaders stopped disconnecting and
began to feel empowered.
Becoming a Great Leader (Wiley;
2013) and the Managing Director of the Leadership Practice within Knightsbridge
Human Capital Solutions, a firm dedicated to helping organizations seamlessly
execute their business strategies through their people. Vince advises senior
executives and boards on how to make leadership culture their ultimate business
differentiator. He has worked with organizations in the energy, financial
services, technology, professional services, and public sectors. An engaging
speaker, he conducts keynote presentations for corporations and conferences. He
is also the author of Leadership Solutions and The Leadership Gap,
both published by Wiley.