What are the models or opinions that will shape the future success of our leaders?
There have been so many books written, and courses conducted on the subject of leadership that one wonders how many different variations on the same theme there are. There are also so many strong opinions on this subject from a multitude of ‘experts’ that its easily to get into a heated debate where opinions can vary widely. That is why I love this quote by Aristotle so much as it explains the value of educated debate.
‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it’.
If you go into every argument or debate purely to justify your own point of view, then you have shut down the notion of alternative or possibility thinking which restricts the learning potential.
It makes one think, what are the models or opinions that will shape the future success of leaders, and will we know in advance, or will it only be with the benefit of hindsight? I wonder if the days of building leadership models based on research carried out over a number of years with multiple companies is over.
Extensive research that led to the book, Good to Great by Jim Collins is one example that comes to mind. That particular research was carried out by 21 research assistants on 1435 companies over 5 years. Do we have enough time for this type of research given the pace of change and transformation today? Would it still be relevant?
The challenge is we live in such disruptive and challenging times where company fortunes can change overnight if the strategy and execution is not right. Companies need to be dynamically ready to be agile and pivot (the two slightly new buzz words) to adjust what is happening in their marketplace and the world.
Effective Leadership and Team Effort
Two simple yet effective definitions of leadership have been descriptions like to ‘unite a team around a collection sense of vision ‘or ‘get more done through the efforts of others ‘. Either way, the word ‘team’ comes into play because one person cannot do everything on their own. They might be the ultimate leader or guiding coalition, but it must be a team effort led by sound strategy and execution.
Herein lies another challenge. In 2021 according to research in the USA 25% of workers left their jobs for a variety of reasons, the discussion of which is beyond the scope of this article. This simply means the staff engagement and retention equation just go so much harder for most business leaders.
Factors that Make Companies Successful
Recently I have been reviewing some of the companies I have known or been associated over the last 20 years who have been successful in the mid-range marketplace of 20 to 100 employees. Three companies in particular stood out as being substantially more successful than most, and I’ve always been intrigued to understand why.
Success in this context is meaning overall performance and in particular, retention of staff.
The following are my top six observations:
- They were either family businesses or had the attributes of family business and values in the way they ran their businesses and managed their people.
- They had a clear vision and goals including progress that was regularly shared and discussed with the team in a truly collaborative and not simply ‘going through the motions’
- They made specific hiring and people decisions based around their fit with their culture and values.
- They created self-autonomous work team teams and provided them with the trust and tools to both deliver and self-manage their own performance.
- They remunerated people well with market rate or above salaries combined with workable incentives to reward great performance.
- They created numerous opportunities for fun and enjoyment in both a structured and spontaneous manner.
The final challenge is this. At the very start of this article, I queried whether the past was a good indicator of the future in terms of effective leadership. My question is: how well you think the six above success factors will serve these companies over the next 5 years and what might they have to tweak?
Personally, I don’t think anyone has the answers to these and the overall question of what will constitute effective leadership moving forward. We will certainly have our suspicions, and I for one will be following the progress with interest so I can incorporate the wisdom into my own future leadership training and courses.
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