Contrary to some common misconceptions, the purpose of leadership in a company is not to garner a lucrative salary, vacation at luxurious golf resorts, and rubber stamp a warmed-over version of last year’s strategic plan. A truly effective leadership team is not made up of “yes” men or women, but of actively thinking individuals whose charge is to keep the organization on the right track. It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.
In fact, the responsibilities of a business leader are similar to that of a train conductor. A conductor is responsible for ensuring that a 20,000 ton piece of machinery reaches its destination without getting sidetracked or being derailed. He is responsible for delivering on schedule.
A business leader is responsible for setting the policies that lay the foundation of the organization, determining strategy, providing financial oversight, hiring key personnel and monitoring performance, and monitoring compliance with regulations. There is a lot to be delivered, and the stakes are high.
How can a leader keep the organization on TRACK?
Take time to learn about the industry, the organization, and best business practices…not just when you take on a position, but continually and consistently thereafter. A leader must see beyond the headlights in business, and that requires a continuous learning attitude.
Review processes regularly. In an era of tightening regulations, companies absolutely must operate with the highest degree of efficiency possible in order to remain viable. Continually ask yourself: “Is this the best way to do this? Are these the best team members to do each part?” Never before has strength-positioning been as important to a company as it is today. A person working in their strengths zone is, according to Gallup, “six times more likely to be engaged at work, 8% more productive, and 15% less likely to quit their job.”
Ask questions. Don’t be a rubber stamper. Learn the art of respectfully challenging status quo, and learn the art of listening as well. If your leadership team always agrees, that may not necessarily be a good sign.
Care – genuinely care about the organization. Guard it from danger. Do everything possible to ensure financial viability. On a deeper level, care about your team. A caring leader has passionately loyal followers, and loyal followers can make a company work, even when the odds are stacked against it. Care about quality and customer service. In an automated world, outstanding quality and service can make your company stand out from the crowd.
Keep ahead. Keep ahead of the competition. Always ask yourself what you can do that the competition is not doing in order to serve your customers and clientele even better. Keep ahead of the technology curve. If your company is operating on a 1989 operating system, you’re likely being left behind. When it comes to technology, don’t just plan for what is current…plan for what is beyond current. This is especially important as automation plays a bigger and bigger role in business. Keep ahead in setting the vision and establishing goals. In a fast-paced society, being pro-active instead of reactive is absolutely essential. As a leader, you must set the pace, or you will quickly fall behind.
Being a business leader definitely has its perks. But it also comes with massive responsibilities. A leader who meets those responsibilities with an on-TRACK mindset plays a determining role in delivering organizational success.
May we be reminded of the The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell, most notably the Law of Navigation, which says it takes a leader to chart the course; and the Law of Victory, which says leaders find a way for the team (and ultimately the organization) to win.