March 20, 2013

Six Leadership Truisms

6-1Australian businesses lag at number 21 behind many OECD countries in innovation. And, innovation has everything to do with Leadership.

Australian Productivity Study indicates that annual wastage in wages on unproductive activities cost organisations over $109 billion. And, the biggest contributing factor is people management.

“The Study has measured employees’ sentiment around the biggest barriers hindering productivity, and the opportunities available to improve performance across four areas:

  • People management issues: developing and utilising the full talents and capabilities of human capital
  • Organisation structure, design and operating model: removing all wasteful, bureaucratic, and non-value work and outputs
  • Innovation: being deliberate and audacious with an innovation agenda
  • Technology: being more ambitious and effective in process automation and technological change

Two of the biggest influences on organisational productivity are: having a clear vision of the organisation’s future, and having confidence in leadership.”

Here are six leadership truisms, that when taken on board and remedied, will result in improved employee engagement, productivity and innovation results. All this leads to greater competitiveness, which Australia needs to counterbalance the changes in the mining and manufacturing to secure new sources of Competitive Advantage.

1. Vision

Truism: If you don’t know where you are going every road will get you there. The question is: where!

The value of a bigger picture shared with employees cannot be underestimated. The story goes that when JFK visited NASA in 1964, he met a janitor and asked him about his work. The janitor said “I am helping put a man on the moon.” What would you like your employees to say about their role in your organisation?

Revisit your Vision for the company or for your Business Unit. Can it inspire your people? Can it be shared externally to inspire customers, partners and general public?

2. Mission

Truism: If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

Again, many corporate Mission Statements are big on statement and small on Mission. Mission is a single proposition. A business can only have one Competitive Advantage. Mission is the unwavering path – a map for the entire organisation – to stay on course to leverage its resources effectively to complete the Mission… over and over again and build efficiencies in the process. Attend our Executive Briefing: Blueprint for Productivity and Innovation to find out how to design a winning Mission Statement.

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3. Unrelenting Communication

Truism: Communication is a two way street.

One problem with strategy in most organisations, in addition to strategy being short-term, i.e. more like a sales campaign than a strategy, is the ‘ownership’. Strategy is inevitably owned by a select few and is communicated on a ‘need to know’ basis. Therefore, it is rigid and static, because without the full picture, most employees are not able to improve their input.

Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyota and ‘Toyota Way’, liked to tell his co-workers: “Open the window; it is a big world out there”. Communicate the strategy consistently and frequently. Reiteration!

4. Leader as a Coach

Truism: Manager’s role is to manage people and processes.

This is a new trend, but its importance is going to escalate. Who likes to be told all the answers? The Y-Gen in particular likes to discover things for themselves. But if you want them to discover the right things faster, you as a Leader and Manager, need to become a Coach, who guides and helps people discover the best in themselves.

Have you ever seen a winning Team without a good coach? In the future, Coaches will not be reserved for senior managers. Some of the most innovative and successful organisations, have internal Coaches for the employees. But before this happens, the basic role of a Manager-Coach is to explain what the company is trying to achieve and encourage people to think about improvement using ‘Freedom within framework’ approach.

5. Internal Brand Evangelism

Truism: Our Sales people know our brand/business proposition.

Before the new management of Apple allow the uniqueness of the brand to blur, let’s remember Steve Jobs as the ‘idol’ Leader. He created ‘personality’ of the brand through personal communication. He evangelised the Non-Negotiable Principles of product design, personally launched every product and ad campaign. His principles evangelised the Brand as much internally as externally. How much volume do you think 35,000+ employees can add to the corporate message? A lot of brand noise!

How many sales people does your organisation have? How many more can it add through the entire informed and inspired workforce?

6. Purposeful Employee Networks

Truism: Our employees have clearly defined role, and know what they need to be doing.

No one person and no one organisation today has all the knowledge and resources to get things done fast enough or competitively enough – ALONE. Humans naturally gravitate towards people whom they understand best, and that’s people who think in the same way and share the same knowledge. Unfortunately organisations are designed in a similar functional manner.

But they don’t need to be. Imagine, how many capabilities, knowledge, ideas and energy, not to mention, budgets, are hidden in those silos? Imagine, how much more effective your Marketing team would be if they had an understanding and support of your financial experts? How effective and creative could your IT people be if they had a direct pipeline to Marketing people and Customers?

The secret to productivity and Competitive Advantage is in people connectivity. If it can be enhanced by technology the better!

Leaders can unleash this potential in formal and informal way. But the first step is to encourage your people to talk to everybody in the organisation and find out what they are doing, how and why?

Try these ideas for your Department, Business Unit or the entire Organisation. Wow! You will be unleashing pure excitement.

Let me know!

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Jojo-half image InnoFuture provides innovative business culture transformation services to progressive, Small-Medium organisations. You can request an appointment for a Free Consultation online Blueprint for Productivity or contact Margaret Manson on 0407 661 130 to find out how we can help your organisation be more focused, more differentiating and more competitive.


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