As the leader of your team or organization, are you experiencing any issues like the ones listed below?
- Product quality is declining, and costs are increasing due to rework.
- Delivery timetables go unmet as staff struggle to prioritize projects.
- Leaders are competing for limited budget resources and quibbling about the value of their different initiatives.
- Cybersecurity attacks have hindered your organization’s ability to deliver programs and services as planned.
- Employee engagement is lagging, and turnover is increasing.
- Communications initiatives are more focused on overcoming negative press than touting the value of your brand.
- Ongoing customer complaints center around several core areas, and the proposed solutions aren’t working.
- Your recently released, long-awaited product is floundering in the market, unable to gain a foothold with the targeted demographic.
And the list goes on…
Trying to address these issues can leave you frustrated or overwhelmed. Or you may be optimistic as you engage experts to help you improve in these areas.
But no matter the size of your team, organization or budget, there are specific expectations of you as a leader, whether explicit or implicit. And many of the challenges that exist in organizations are a result of failing to lead effectively. No leader is perfect. They’re not expected to know and do everything. But they are expected to ensure a capable staff and a robust strategy to run a productive business. They’re expected to manage external threats and challenges beyond their control that hamper the organization’s effectiveness and success as best as possible. We’ve seen many great examples of this during the pandemic.
Issues such as these may exist in pockets, and to some degree, they’re part of each organization’s normal operations. Concerns raise when there’s a growing list from multiple leaders within a business. Often, the underlying cause is the capability and capacity of leadership to address problems. Some leaders are simply swamped by the daily volume of issues and need to implement a different strategy. Others would serve better in different roles or organizations. And still others have an opportunity to fully understand and step into the role expected of them.
The 10 core tasks
At least 10 core responsibilities of leaders play a significant role in how effectively they lead their teams and organizations. How they do it will vary based on the industry, products or services provided, financial positioning, business environment and culture and their values and personality. But these factors must all be leveraged as part of their position. How well they fulfill these responsibilities to meet the needs of their organization will help to make them great leaders.
Here are the most important responsibilities:
1) Cast vision and purpose
Clarify why your organization exists and where you want it to be in the future. This should be a source of inspiration to current and prospective employees, customers, and investors. Key stakeholders should be engaged in its development so that it sets the tone for responsibility #2.
2) Build organizational culture
This includes the values, behaviors and artifacts that exist in every organization. The important point is to be purposeful in creating a culture that supports the vision, strategy and business objectives important for success. Cultures can reflect a range of behaviors from independence to interdependence in how people interact, and from flexibility to stability in how people respond to change.
3) Develop a business strategy
These are the plans, goals and actions that clarify how a business will operate successfully in the marketplace. It guides decisions, addresses weaknesses and threats and leverages strengths and opportunities. Employees should revisit and update the strategy regularly to address shifts in the competitive environment.
4) Communicate clearly and frequently
Leaders must discuss, provide examples and model the outputs from the first three responsibilities with all employees. Repetition and clarity are important. Employees need to observe alignment in leaders’ words and deeds. Communication vertically, horizontally and diagonally throughout the organization increases understanding and collaboration to execute the strategy.
5) Develop team members and build engagement
Employees’ increased emotional commitment and connection to the organization can lead to better productivity and performance. Leaders who invest in the growth and capability development of their team generally see higher engagement.
6) Develop leaders
Provide the specific skills needed for their functional role, improve emotional intelligence and grow core leadership competencies through formal training and coaching. This strengthens leaders’ ability to deliver results and assume greater responsibilities.
7) Prioritize accountability for results
Leaders must focus on execution, acknowledging reality and finding solutions. Blaming, pointing fingers and making excuses is unacceptable. Proper processes, policies and procedures must be in place to streamline operations, improve effectiveness and identify efficiencies.
8) Manage change
Though the vision and purpose of your company should remain consistent, how you execute this will evolve with the competitive environment. Adaptability and change agility are crucial qualities that should be nurtured to enable growth. Help the team acknowledge norms and processes that need to end and bridge them to a new beginning.
9) Manage financial risk
Protect the organization’s assets by identifying and analyzing qualitative and quantitative risks, implementing strategies to mitigate them and maximize value. Managing assets and liabilities is a priority.
10) Build strategic relationships
Identify external stakeholders such as investors, customers, suppliers, community members and others with whom mutually beneficial strategic partnerships will advance the business objectives.
With proper coaching, development and consulting, over time, leaders can improve in each of these roles. Individual strengths and styles will result in leaders performing better in some roles than in others. But continued attention to each responsibility will support stronger business results.