I often take part in discussions and debates on leaders and leadership. Almost every time, the following question arises: are leaders born or made?
Well, for many years I thought that they were naturally born, that you need to be born with the leadership skills to effectively guide people, teams and organizations. That’s what I thought for a long time.
Then I had the chance to work, for a few years, with an outstanding, worldwide known mentor, from whom I had a lot to learn.
An American with impressive experience in ‘coaching’ high-level leaders, Ernie believed that leaders are made. People become leaders, if they are dedicated to learn how to.
This is how two perhaps different opinions met and gave rise to some remarkable conversations which were, at least for me, great reflection and learning opportunities.
The subject remained one of thought and observation, continuously generating questions.
What do we have to learn and develop in and for ourselves, as managers, teams or organization leaders?
I would start from the connections and influences that happen in organizations and determine the level of performance. Naturally, each of us monitor the performance of the organization we run, this is our role.
Despite that, the company’s performance and results are influenced by 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 altered by the behaviors of the leaders!
This is a conclusion that indicates a major direction of development within the organizations. We have a potential to improve business results by 25%, focusing on changing the behaviors of leaders on all levels. Is 25% negligible? Not at all!
This leads us to a new paradigm. With such an important effect, the development of leadership skills is not only in the field of human resources, but becomes a strategic, investment decision! We do not only spend in developing our leaders, but we invest in the company by concentrating on leaders and leadership. And, as I consider it a process associated to investments, it requires perseverance and strategic vision.
What does the organizational culture we want in the company we run look like? How long until we get there? Through what learning and changing processes will we get there?
Here are three questions we should generate clear and measurable answers to. These answers are what we work for and we implement together with our clients that chose their development.
Between the found answers and directions of leadership development, we discovered a wide range of expectations and needs. Obviously, the list is open, each of us creating the list that fits the company we run. It is important to have one and give it 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 share it.
We often get stuck in assumptions. We think, develop ideas and plans, then assume the members of our team or organization know and understand our strategy, goals, expectations.
’I told them.’
‘They should have known.’
These are just two expressions of assumption which have become convictions. These beliefs determine our behaviors and further the style of leadership. Helping the team to internalize our vision, as well as the journey towards achievement, involves a consistent persevering process, based on constant communication.
The genuine encouragement of constructive dialogue is an important part of the process of transmitting and internalizing the leadership vision. Therefore, encouragement of constructive dialogue becomes an essential element of company’s cultural model. Authentically appropriated, by leaders at all levels, this model of communication brings to the surface and exploits the potential of the team members and organization as a whole.
I wonder how would it be for each member of our teams to feel free to express their opinions, be creative and innovative; assume opinions and arguments, risks, actions, projects?
This way we reach the higher level 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, where diversity is appreciated and valued.
What would our company look like if all these 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 to achieve and, as a consequence, towards the desired performance.
As I said, for me, too, it was a process of changing the beliefs and the level of understanding and awareness. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to be supported during this process. And that brought me in the role of supporting, on my turn, transformational processes of this type in organizations that wanted to reach performance.
The main premise of the performance – Want it!
Let’s learn to manage it, to live with it!
Dan Berinde, Coach, Executive M.B.A.