If you ask any CEO or senior executive of an organization if they have a company vision, they will say yes. If you ask most employees if their company has a vision, they will also say yes. In this day and age, everyone has a vision, but most are little more than posters on a wall.
When you go a level deeper and ask, “Is your organization actively pursuing your vision? Is it alive in people’s minds daily as they make decisions? Is it the priority-setting benchmark for resource allocation?”, both leaders and those in the workforce hesitate, often responding, “No”.
As CEO, you want answers. And when faced with the uncertainty of business transformation, you want answers fast and you want to trust them. However, when initiating and overseeing transformational change, driving too fast and too hard for answers is not a formula for success. In fact, it can be the very mindset and style that impairs it. Is your mind open to discovering what your organization and people need to succeed? Really open?
Major change in an organization, especially transformational change, demands that people change personally—how they think, how they behave, and how they alter their ways of working that the transformation requires to sustain its value to the business. Executives must understand the leadership behaviors required of them. Stakeholders will look to the executives to see, or more likely to test, if the change is real for their leaders. So, the first person who must demonstrate the validity of the change is you, as CEO!
Virtually all core functions in organizations are operated as strategic disciplines (e.g., finance, supply chain, marketing and sales, human resources, IT). This means they have consistent practices and protocols, common ways of making decisions and managing information. These disciplines are crucial to having the business function optimally, and reliably, to be able to deliver results.
One of the costliest mistakes in leading change is for leaders to ask something of the people in their organization and then not do it themselves. Walking the talk of change is not just a nice phrase; it has teeth! Organizational change, especially when it is transformational, sticks to the degree that leaders model it. In transformational change, the “Go change them!” (“and not me mandate!”) just won’t fly.
What is Organizational Culture?
An organization’s culture is its collective mindset. The patterns of widely shared (often unconscious) assumptions, beliefs, and values that form the basis of people’s ways of being, relating, and working, as well as the organization’s interaction with and success in its environment.
In other words, an organization’s culture shapes everything that takes place in that environment. How people interact, how things are done daily, and how projects are managed is all a direct reflection of organizational culture.
What Makes a Good Leader? Going from Unconscious to Conscious Leadership
Achieving organizational breakthrough requires significant transformation, and leading organizational transformation requires certain qualities that make a good leader.
These qualities of a leader are influenced by the level of outcome the leader is seeking. Leaders who seek outcomes not too far out of their organization’s current comfort zone of performance can lead as they always have. But leaders pursuing breakthrough require what we call “conscious leadership qualities.” The bigger the outcome leaders pursue, the larger the challenges they face, and the more their leadership qualities must bring out the best in themselves and others, and enable them to deal with the complexities that the big challenges entail.
What is Your Definition of Success?
Each of us, as leaders, wants our organizations to succeed. We may define our success differently – profitability, earnings, market share, year-over-year growth, customer satisfaction, or product innovation – but we all have a set of metrics we pursue.
What is your definition of success? And even more importantly, how far are you reaching outside your organization’s current comfort zone of capability and performance? Your level of “reach” is critical because it sets the stage for how much you can achieve.