The importance of owners and managers providing vision and leadership to a corporate team is our topic this month. The theme is part of a series featuring eight key management strategies that will lead a company to grow, profit and succeed. This is the fourth topic covered.
To date, we’ve created a supportive and productive corporate work environment, carefully recruited over time a team of talented employees and empowered them to excel at what they do. But what is it we want them to do? The missing ingredient is strategy, leadership and a plan. The challenge is having a well-thought-out vision of how to please customers, promote products and services, grow profit and become a top firm in your industry.
Leadership is a complex process by which a person influences others to accomplish a mission, task, or objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.
Leadership can be provided by owners, top management, executive management teams or by a consortium of a company’s top performers. Too many companies view their mission and destiny inconsistently. As the years go by –some good, some bad — they fail to emerge as industry leaders, too often stopping and starting or chasing their tails in circles rather than moving forward.
It benefits a company and its teams of talented employees if their leadership has a strong vision of where the company is headed, communicates that well to the employees and leads an energized effort to achieve well-understood goals and strategies to get there.
The most effective plans include input from the employees as (presumably) each year’s plan is formed or revised. The consensus on corporate direction should be communicated back to the employees along with the role they may play directly in making it happen. The final polish on the apple is that periodically, quarterly at my firms, progress on achieving the plan should be monitored and adjustments should be made accordingly.
At times the single most important upper management function is sharing the vision, goals and strategies of the company. At the same time, this function is also the most difficult to do well. A person carries out this process by applying their leadership attributes — belief, values, ethics, character, knowledge and skills. Although your position as a manager, supervisor, lead, etc. gives you the authority to accomplish certain tasks and objectives in the organization, this power does not make you a leader. It simply makes you the boss. Leadership makes people want to achieve high goals and objectives, while, on the other hand, bosses tell people to accomplish a task or objective.
Good leaders are made, not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training and experience. The best leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills.
Next Month: Pursuing Excellence
Tom’s Tool Box is a monthly column written by Tom Bentley, the owner and chief executive officer of The Bentley Company, Milwaukee.