Business Leadership: Hiding in Plain Sight
In recent years, we’ve seen more and more articles on the importance of leading versus managing—or “leading from the front.” While there can be some value in a hierarchical approach, our experience working with IT organizations has shown there are better ways to achieve sustainable success.
In every organization, there are unrecognized leaders. They may own service lines, manage business functions, or even serve as mentors. It’s easy to view these individual contributors as workers rather than leaders. But all too often, they see themselves that way, too. In fact, according to a 2016 Gallup poll, about 70% of employees reported feeling disengaged. On the other hand, studies show that when companies can encourage leadership across roles and titles, they can see as much as 2X profit compared to those with disengaged employees.
Engage Your Employees
In our experience, the most successful businesses encourage leadership and engage individuals across the entire organization. More often than not, executives try to push change downward to individual contributors. Not surprisingly, this approach can create problems with adoption—and ultimately affect execution. When you consider the failure rate for change initiatives is 70%, you can appreciate the importance of buy-in at every level.
Empower Them to Perform to Their Potential
Of course, leadership and engagement are critical to business transformation. But the best way to drive real change is to look at day-to-day processes and activities. When individuals are empowered to truly own their work, they will instinctively look for ways to improve their output. At a minimum, they will deliver to the best of their abilities. Sadly, when individuals feel disengaged, marginalized, or unheard, businesses can miss out on countless opportunities for improvement that add up to significant change.
Make no mistake—we’re suggesting nothing short of a cultural shift. Because only in an environment of collaboration and trust will people feel safe enough to take initiative and perform to their potential.
As much as business leadership is responsible for leading from the front, everyone in the organization can step up and own their contributions. As the Chinese general and military strategist, Sun Tzu put it, “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?”
Think about your own organization—or even your job as a contributor. Are you setting yourself and your teams up for success? Are there people in your business who could shine if given the stage? The resources you need might be hiding in plain sight.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss your challenges and successes.