What’s the point of Leadership?
Is leadership really important for business success and why?
This is a question that I frequently ask business owners, directors and senior managers of private, public and third sector organisations.
No matter what the industry or sector, for the most part the answers I get are vague, but the consensus is that leadership is “very important” and generally a “good thing.”
While, these answers are very nice and undoubtedly create a lovely warm glow inside, they don’t address the question or provide any compelling reasons why businesses need to focus on or invest in leadership development.
So, I am going to answer my own question, setting out just a tiny sample of the myriad of reasons why I believe leadership and leadership development is important for the success of businesses of all types:
The Bottom Line
It is widely proclaimed that we are in a knowledge-based economy where highly-skilled individual employees are vital to organisational success with many organisations competing for the top talent and seeking to be “employer of choice.” As a result, some variation on, “people are our most important asset” is commonly pronounced. Despite these statements of good intention, the research tells us many companies still treat their “valuable human assets” as expendable.
It’s no secret that people leave their bosses and consequently high employee turnover, low morale, motivation and productivity reflects directly on the bottom line.
Adaptability, Productivity and Growth
Businesses can effectively address the challenges of change by understanding and tackling the factors that create obstacles. Agile organisations can handle change, not only as a one-time event, but on an on-going basis.
Change managed well will ensure that the business is able to adapt to new markets, strategies, structures, processes and systems, while maintaining business continuity — ensuring the organisation’s ability to function effectively, perform at a higher level and position itself for growth.
There is a massive difference between organisations that are genuinely customer-focused and those that try to get away with the minimum. Ultimately it comes down to culture, and therefore to the values instilled by the leadership.
Best-in-class businesses typically achieve higher customer satisfaction ratings, which is in turn translates into revenue growth.
This is borne out by research carried out by such esteemed bodies as Harvard, concluding that leadership practices which result in higher employee satisfaction and invariably produce higher customer satisfaction and subsequently bottom-line profitability.
In the increasingly turbulent and competitive environment businesses face today, a new type of “entrepreneurial” leader is required.
Entrepreneurial leaders who take initiative and play a critical role in energizing people, encouraging innovation and creativity, searching for new opportunities, taking risks and providing strategic direction and inspiration.
Entrepreneurial leadership is about instilling the confidence to think and act with entrepreneurial spirit at all levels of the business in the interests of the organisation and for the benefit of all stakeholders involved.
Being fit for purpose
In essence I am asserting that, whatever sector or size of your business, leadership can make or break your organisation.
To be successful now and in the future leadership approaches must align with the new economic landscape that are now operating in.
The dual challenges of understanding the nature of leadership and implementing effective leadership practices is likely to be greater than ever before. Nevertheless, I am optimistic about the ability of leaders to respond to these challenging and interesting times.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Barbara Dennis .