We live in times where strong leadership, operational adaptability, and strategizing for the competitive advantage is becoming more vital to the sustainability of any business, especially regarding company profits and positive global impacts. Leaders and managers within all industries need to continually develop their skills, as well as work diligently to develop their teams and organizations to survive a constantly evolving internal and external business environment.
A variety of successful leaders of organizations have talked about the importance of continually improving your competitive strategy to reduce the possibility of your organization becoming extinct in the future. As leaders of today, you’re constantly making an impact on individuals, communities, and society as a whole to create value-based opportunities that will last for many years to come. Below are some ideas to get you brainstorming how you can begin to make an impact in your organization, as well as what the possible outcomes may be.
#1 – Trust and Respect
Probably the most important first step you’ll need to take is not only showing those within your organization that you trust and have respect for them, but building a culture of care, trust, and respect throughout your organization. You may be an outstanding leader but developing organizations through the leader/follower experience won’t be very effective if you have a lack of trust, honesty, and respect. To begin, focus on your attitude and respect for others, and work on showing others that you truly care about the direction of the organization, its values, and its mission, and lead by example. When you’re in the position where individuals are looking up to you or following you for leadership and guidance, it’s important that you behave and operate in a manner that you would expect from your employees, as you can only make forward progress if you lead by doing what you expect.
Additionally, you must understand the decisions you make and evaluate the potential consequences of a decision. For instance, if you show preferential treatment towards others, or you discipline employees in a bias manner, the trust and respect that you’ve worked so hard to gain can diminish in a flash. Remember, it’s much more difficult to make forward progress when your momentum is negatively hampered. When you keep the momentum moving in the right direction, decision-making becomes more fluid and authentic, and you continue on your path of buy-in from senior leadership and support from those throughout the rest of the organization.
#2 – Support and Develop Your Immediate Employees
Focus in on those you work closest with first, before you move into a larger scale of personnel and try to plan and implement new ideas or change. Another important aspect here is to work hard at perfecting the processes, communications, and the value offered prior to moving forward. This is a great way to build support and comradery within your direct team, and you will have much to learn from them as you manage conflict, personnel and staffing challenges, and develop these employees to reach their full potential and surpass the expectations they set for themselves.
Make sure you take the time to work with these employees individually to have them reflect and evaluate decisions made in order to improve performance and the processes they’re involved in. It’s important to know that your employees may make the wrong choice or may cost the company money by failing at a given task or project. While I don’t like the word fail, I think it’s a good time to talk with an employee and discuss it by saying “Let’s talk about why we didn’t accomplish what we set out to do?”, or possibly “What do you think we could’ve done differently to obtain the results we wanted?”. To fail isn’t a great way of expressing the negative outcome of a situation because you only fail if you don’t learn or attempt to learn from an unaccomplished objective. As leaders and managers, we don’t necessarily achieve our most desired results 100% of the time. There’s always room to learn and grow, and it starts with reflecting on the decisions we make and the outcomes that followed and create a plan for the next opportunity that arises to better the result.
#3 – Plan Ahead, Don’t Procrastinate
Another dedicated section of your plan should be to plan ahead, which involves strategizing with those around you that are decision-makers or those directly affected by the outcome of your plan. While it may take some time to re-engineer how we plan and strategize at work, it’s important to understand that your decisions today don’t just impact you today, tomorrow, or 5-years from now. You must consider how the decisions you make will alter or strengthen the trajectory of the organization and its people. Don’t wait for the consequence, or for “things to happen” or let them “just play out”. You have the opportunity in front of you through collaborative efforts with your team members to create your own future, to better dictate and manage the constraints or uncertainties that will come your way. Think about each decision and make sure it’s respecting the organization’s mission and core values and creates a strong and healthy future for the employees, the clients, and all other relevant stakeholders.
While these are just a couple of brief strategies on how you can improve and support the development of your organization, it provides some foundational work that must be considered to create an environment where employees can be creative, innovative, and productive, without fears and uncertainties of being disciplined, and are more prepared to learn and to personally and professionally grow.