Leadership

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In this section, we demonstrate how important Leadership is to your organisation and some of the ways in which you can improve your leadership style. We hope that it inspires you to re-examine your organisation, your teams and of course yourself, in a spirit of openness and honesty.

The first section is an introduction to the Leadership; the main characteristics of the Leadership in an excellent organisation are explained. At the bottom of this page, you will find a link to the “Assessment sheet” to help you assessing in which level of leadership your organisation is, what are its strengths in this area and what the improvement opportunities.

What is Leadership?

The classic model of the good business leader is the top man who directed and was in control of all aspects of his business. He operated through a hierarchy of management and his organisation had a fairly well-defined and right structure. This type of Leader had some good points and survived throughout most of the 20th century. But businesses today do not have the luxury of stability, they face an ever-increasing change in markets, customers and technology. Their core business is constantly under threat from newcomers to the marketplace with a different business paradigm. Organisations cannot afford to depend upon the Leadership of individuals or a small elite of senior executives to meet this challenge alone. They need to harness the ideas, skills, energy, and enthusiasm of their entire team to succeed. Since the 1980s, the concept and practice of Leadership has evolved to meet this challenge.

Who are Leaders?

Not only the CEO, company directors, senior executives, line managers are Leaders. In order to gain flexibility and responsiveness, the empowerment to lead has to be cascaded throughout the organisation. We will use the term “Leader” to represent everyone that contributes to the management and change process and leave you to consider who this should be in your organisation.

What do Leaders do?

A Leader is not necessarily the manager although he or she could be. She/he is however focused on achieving objectives through people. Most Leaders have a clear vision and are good at communicating it. They are definitely agents for change and inspire and motivate. Furthermore, they are role models for integrity, social responsibility and ethical behaviour, both internally and externally, ensuring their people adopt the highest standards of ethical behaviour.

How do you put Leadership into practice?

Establish a Vision and Mission

One of the first steps that the Leaders in an organisation need to undertake is to establish why the organisation exists and what it wants to achieve. If Leaders do not clarify and communicate the Vision and Mission, there may be assumed and inaccurate purposes for an organisation. In order to get your Vision and Mission correct, you need to consider your customers, your partners, the environment in which you operate. You also need to involve your Leadership team in evolving the Vision and Mission so that they feel ownership and commitment to success in accomplishing them.

Instil Values

The Vision and Mission need the environment of your organisation to nurture and support them. The values that you live by and the culture of your organisation play an important part in ensuring that you can achieve your goals.

Communication, Communication, Communication

Communication with your people to reinforce the Vision, Mission, Values and Culture is necessary to ensure that the organisation is working together.

  • Communication of the Strategy is necessary to make sure that everyone is going in the same direction. 
  • Communication is necessary to understand and sell to one’s customers. 
  • Communication is necessary to understand and negotiate with one’s suppliers. 
  • Communication with your other Stakeholders is necessary to maintain their trust in your organisation and engage with them. You have to know who your different external stakeholders groups are and develop approaches to understand, anticipate and respond to their different needs and expectations.

A good communication is a two-way process. As a Leader, it is your role to communicate the right things, sending a clear message, which is relevant and in context. It is important to pay attention not only to the words, but also your tone and facial and body expressions. Furthermore, communication has to be at the right time and knowing who your target audience is.

In staff surveys, poor communication from leaders is one of the most common causes of dissatisfaction. So it is important to get it right. But in order to communicate effectively, you must understand those that you are communicating with and choose the most appropriate way to communicate.

Act as “agents of change”

In order to achieve Excellence, your organisation will have to change. What is more, you will need to establish a culture that accepts and welcomes change.

But change is uncomfortable. It takes away the familiar routines. It challenges your pre-conceptions. It forces you to learn. In general, people do not like and resist change.

As a leader, you have to be a facilitator and catalyst. The first hurdle is you – yourself. You will need to change and welcome change in order to help others to change. In this, if in nothing else, you will need to lead the way and be a role model for others. You have to be able to understand the internal and external drives of organisational change.

There is no one recipe for success but some ideas are: 

  • Do something culturally symbolic, for example: investigate an open door policy, empower people. 
  • Do something structural within the organisation, e.g. make the offices open plan, redecorate. 
  • Involve everyone: ask opinions on the changes, include everyone in the process of defining your Vision and Mission. 
  • Do something more fundamental, for example: restructure your organisation around processes not functions, perform a Self-Assessment.

You will need to be energetic, enthusiastic, inspiring and motivating to make these changes happen. You will need to support and coach your people through the changes. You will demonstrate your capability to learn quickly and respond rapidly with new ways of working. You will also need patience. Changes do not happen overnight, people go through a cycle of change.

How do you review and improve Leadership?

Reviewing techniques

There are several techniques that can help you to measure your actions. You can use “People and Customer Surveys”, “360⁰ Appraisal” or the “Self-Assessment”.

How to improve

Using one or more of the techniques above, you will have a list of those areas that need improvement. You will also have a measure of which are the most urgent to resolve. This is the time to involve your colleagues and agree an improvement plan.

If you are still at the beginning of your road to Excellence, you may gain sufficient ideas for ways to improve. But there are many sources of ideas and training.

Another source of information may be less familiar to you – Benchmarking. This involves comparing your organisation with another and identifying points and Good Practices which you could use.

Click here to access the Leadership Assessment Sheet. This Assessment Sheet is in PDF format, you can fill it in as a form, save it or print it.

You can learn from the Good Practices on Leading with Vision, Inspiration & Integrity from EFQM Member organisations in the EFQM Knowledge Base.

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