It takes an extremely “talented” leader to drive an already successful business into the ground. Think of all the times a Fortune 500 business names a new CEO; it happens more often than you’d think. Just in the past week or two, Time Inc., Weight Watchers, Etrade, and several other large corporations announced either the hire or the search for new leadership.
The most successful companies are able to weather changes in leadership well because a culture of leadership is already put into practice. Here’s how to develop this leadership culture in your company:
Find Leaders Everywhere
Research has shown that successful companies invest in leadership development at all levels. Managers and mid-level leaders are the “boots on the ground” for the company; they are in a key position to critically evaluate which policies are working and which are stagnating, to communicate leadership policy to their teams, and to foster a positive or negative work environment. And when these skills are developed and practiced regularly, they can continue to sustain a business even if the CEO changes. Investment in leadership culture and employee development pays off tremendously in periods of transition.
Maintain Flexibility and Engagement
Being well adjusted to changes in leadership is a sign of a company that can roll with the punches. Flexibility is an important characteristic at all levels: managers and leaders need to make adjustments to policy and listen to employee feedback. Encouraging (and modeling) forward-thinking and responsive behaviors creates a culture of trust and respect. Combine these practices with strong leadership development, and this culture will permeate through the entire company.
Seek to Understand
Culture expert Edgar Schein advocates the leadership practice of what he calls “humble inquiry”: asking questions not to interrogate or judge, but simply to better understand. “I think the major pathology in all organizations that I’ve seen is that upward communication is very faulty….If the boss doesn’t [engage in humble inquiry,] we are going to continue to have accidents and low quality products because the information isn’t surfacing.” A culture of openness, where communication both upward and downward is freely encouraged, will promote leadership culture at all levels and encourage a team-based approach.
Leaders with the most impact are those who can build and successfully manage great teams. Every day, we help our clients and colleagues achieve their highest levels of professional presence and personal effectiveness. That includes everyone on the ladder, from company presidents to project managers to staff members. Contact us at 800-282-3374 to find out how we can help you impact your own productivity and the productivity of your entire organization.
Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.
Photo by thinkpublic via Flickr
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