Rainbows & unicorns or an achievable reality?
As an independent personal development coach, I’ve had the fantastic privilege of working across an eclectic range of businesses to help enhance leadership excellence and managerial capability – different sectors, different sizes and varying talent levels. And whilst the nuances may be different, there are 2 very common elements that challenge a company’s commercial and cultural agenda:
- A lack of ‘real’ clarity around its vision/values and how this translates into the day to day.
- How this is or isn’t personified by the senior leadership teams.
There is so much documentation referencing the challenges that result from a global, 24/7 digital world; and the overwhelming evidence highlighting the importance of present, authentic leadership to navigate such changing waters. Just take a peak on social media and you will see an abundance of related posts.
With the world spinning so fast I frequently observe that people are tired. Really tired. Now believe me, I am a realist. With a background in the corporate world, I understand the commercial agenda and the immense pressure to deliver against the bottom line.
But here’s the thing.
In industries where ‘people’ are the business asset (their ideas, skills set, experience) there is inconsistent practise in shaping conditions to help people be the best version of themselves. This can frequently fall by the wayside, when something more pressing goes wrong. As such, one could suggest that individuals are only sporadically producing the quality of work that they are capable of? This seems rather dysfunctional as the commercial, cultural and competitive advantage is built on the quality of the residing talent. They are intrinsically linked.
Increasingly, this is exacerbated when the two points made upfront aren’t cohesively in place.
To enhance performance excellence, it is imperative for leaders to schedule regular time to reflect, recalibrate and move forward with renewed rigour and purpose – is the planned trajectory on course?; what are the changes that are needed to respond to emerging conditions?; to reconnect with how this supports the company values & behaviours. Most importantly, it should enable universal clarity when communicating how this translates to the day to day (for departments, for teams, for individuals). It is as important as ‘the client’ or the ‘the finance’ meeting.
It is a commercial necessity to create an environment where people know and understand what is expected of them in a way that increases affinity towards the company’s direction & purpose. It also allows individuals and managers to identify training that sets people up for ongoing success as opposed to reacting with an intervention after the event. Beyond everything else, that they are inspired by a leader who embodies the standards and behaviours asked.
It is clear to me that truly successful businesses flourish when there is a direct link between the stated identity of a company and a leadership team that amplifies those values. From there all other cultural, talent conversations become much richer – the managerial approach; client servicing standards; transparent communication; development & meritocracy.
Leaders are like the parents of a company. They need to set the family values & exemplify them in their behaviour. They need to be clear on the rules of the sandpit so that the kids know the boundaries in which they can play, grow, negotiate and develop relationships. Moreover, the proactive interventions that are needed to build self-esteem for the real world allowing the kids to excel in a way that is right for them. If not, there will most definitely be tears and tantrums with everyone feeling rather frayed.
So be honest with yourself. Have a think about the legacy that you are weaving and the part that you play (irrespective of level) in shaping an environment where we can all thrive at work. Now wouldn’t that be good reality?