Several years ago while interviewing an up and coming leader for a management position I was fascinated to hear how he answered questions relating to why things happen in an organization and who he felt was to blame. His boldness and conviction in blaming everything on the leader seemed at the time a rather naïve answer. However, over the years when reflecting back on that interview, my perception is that he had incredible wisdom.
The more time goes by leading people or helping organizations with leadership issues the more convinced I am that the organization’s outcomes are “all about the leader”. Today’s leader needs to be transformational. A transformational leader or leaders set the vision and tone for the organization or his/her given department or division. If there is no vision, everyone makes it up and goes his/her own way every day, subsequently; an organization continues to achieve less-than-stellar performance.
Since most organizations are made up of people, leading well makes a difference in the success of the company. If behavioral or performance issues exist, it is the leader’s responsibility to assess and address it. If not, the good performers can be discouraged, the sub-performers continue functioning, often without knowledge the expectations aren’t being met and most of the employees think you can do what you want and get by with it.
Transformational leaders today have to be clear and concise at setting expectations and coaching people to meet them. If that doesn’t work, the leader has to be courageous enough to counsel and help the employee see the issue to self-correct. Finally, if none of those efforts produce the desired performance, the transformational leader has to have the courage to work with the individual on an exit strategy. Frankly this should be the exception, and not the rule. If, however, this situation appears to occur with regularity, there is a different organizational problem that the leader needs to own and address.
One of the hardest, but most critical, parts of transformational leadership is hiring right and being able to let people function to the fullest extent of their job description as long as the expectations are met. If we hire desperately, we undoubtedly end up with an employee who doesn’t fit the organization in terms of what the job requires and/or the values of the organization.
If we hire right, sometimes we get in the way of the employee by micromanaging or disempowering them, which then leads to poor performance and can impact his/her morale.
If we concentrate on hiring right every time and dealing with issues as they arise, we will have high performing teams that accomplish any vision set before them, provided the vision and expectations are clear! All it takes is courage to lead well, every day. If you compared yourself with the most accomplished transformational leaders you know, how would you compare? Do you get the results you want when working through others?