I often take part in discussions and debates on leaders and leadership styles. And almost each time, the following question arises: are leaders born or made?
For many years I felt they were born. That you had to be born with the skills to effectively lead people, teams, organizations. That’s what I thought for a long time.
Then I had the great opportunity to work, for a few years, with a sensational, worldwide known mentor. A coach from whom I learned a lot.
An American with impressive experience in “coaching” high-level leaders, Ernie felt that leaders were made. That anyone can learn, if they want. Well, two different opinions, perhaps opposite, met and gave rise to some sensational conversations, which were, at least for me, great opportunities for reflection and learning. And the subject remained one of reflection and observation. And a generator of questions. What do we have to learn and develop in and for ourselves, as managers, or team or organization leaders? I would start with the connections and influences that exist in organizations and determine the level of performance. Naturally, all of us monitor the performance of the organization we run, this is our role. However, the company’s performance, its outcomes, are influenced up to 35% by the organizational culture.
Further, the organizational culture is influenced up to 70% by the behaviors of the leaders! Therefore, to the extent of about 25%, business results are affected by the behaviors of the leaders! Here is a conclusion that suggests a major direction of development within and with organizations.We have a potential to improve business outcomes by 25%, just by focusing on changing the behaviors of leaders on all levels. Is 25% a small difference? Not at all, I would say! And this leads us to a new paradigm. With such an important effect, the development of leadership skills pertains not only to the field of human resources, but becomes a strategic, investment direction! When we invest in developing our leaders, we actually invest in the future of the company, by providing it with the best leadership possible And as any process associated to investments, this requires perseverance and strategic vision.
What does the organizational culture that we want in the company we run look like? How long until we get there? What learning and change processes will get us there? Here are three of the questions we have to prepare clear and measurable answers for. These are the answers we work for, and which we implement together with our clients, companies that really want their development. Among our clients’ answers, among the directions of leadership development they envision, we found a wide range of expectations and needs. Obviously, the list is open, and each of us will create criteria that fit the company we run. It is important to have our own solutions, and bring them to life in our company. So what do we most often encounter as development needs for leadership performance? The ability to create a clear vision, and an effective way to share that vision. We often stop or get stuck in assumptions. We think, develop ideas and plans, then assume that the members of our team or organization know and understand our plans, goals, expectations. “I told them”. “They should know.” Here are just two statements, which we encounter often: expressions of assumptions that have become convictions. And these convictions determine our behaviors. And our style of leadership.
Helping the team to internalize our vision, as well as the journey to its realization, involves a constant, persevering process, and constant and consistent communication. The genuine encouragement of constructive dialogue is an integral part of the process of transmitting, knowing and internalizing the leadership vision. And the encouragement of constructive dialogue becomes an essential element of the company’s cultural model. Authentically appropriated, by leaders at all levels, it brings to the surface and exploits the potential of the team members and of the organization. I wonder how it would be for each member of our teams to feel free to express their opinions, to be creative and innovative.
How would they perform when allowed to take ownership of opinions and arguments, risks and actions, or projects? This way, we reach a higher level, that of distributed leadership. A level where the delegation of authority is real, people are involved in their own continuous development, as well as in the development of the company, and diversity is appreciated and valued. What would our company look like if all this happened? The good news is that continuous learning processes make it possible to change and adapt leaders’ behaviors to the organizational culture model we want. And, as a consequence, towards the performance we want. As I said, for me, too, it was a process of changing the beliefs and the level of understanding and awareness. A process during which I had the chance to be supported and supported. And that brought me to the role of supporting, in my turn, transformational processes of this type in organizations that want to reach peak performance. The main premise of the performance is, let’s want it! And let’s learn to manage it, to live with it! Dan Berinde, Coach, Executive M.B.A.