What does an effective leader, in a company with a track record of successful strategy formulation and execution at all levels, look like today?
Charismatic? A one man (or woman) show? In control of everything that goes on in their organization? This was the portrait of a successful leader - IN THE PAST.
Today, sustainable business performance success requires leaders to: (1) communicate a clear and inspiring vision for the future, (2) define the boundaries of the strategic playing field (i.e. what is off limits when it comes to behavior, objectives, and actions), and then (3) give over the creation of an effective roadmap, that will get the company successfully from here to the vision state, to those who want to engage in an exciting, dynamic strategy creation and management process.
While they can’t disengage from this process, company leaders have to just get out of the way, let go a bit, and allow employees, customers, partners, and other stakeholders roll up their sleeves and participate in creating and implementing business strategy.
While steps 1 and 2 are important, they really don’t take up much of a leader’s time. As a result, the main role of this new style of leader is one of connector, facilitator, and catalyst.
I know that it can be scary as a “leader” to give up control like this but you have to do it if you want to achieve business success (isn’t it curious how often we have to do counter-intuitive things to achieve success in life?).
The rewards of this approach for leaders, and all those who have a stake in the company, include a better strategy, a higher quality strategy execution roadmap, employee and stakeholder investment in strategy execution success, an organization that can flex pro-actively in the face of change in the business environment, and more reliable business performance success.
Today’s Leader = Visionary + Communicator + Boundary Setter + Connector, Facilitator, and Catalyst
Have you personally made the transition to this new style of leadership? What challenges and rewards have you encountered? If you have not yet made this change, what support do you need to start making the transition to a better way of leading today?