Today’s modern business is fast-paced, complex, and can’t always depend on an outdated hierarchical model of having only a few people in a leadership role. There’s not enough time for executive leaders to effectively review the ongoing onslaught of data about company performance, industry changes, and the competitive environment. Organizations must move much more swiftly in order to be effective.
How, then, do organizations align their management teams to grow, adapt, and innovate in the 21st century? It requires a purposeful, agile plan that involves three things: accountability, professional development, and a strong culture.
The Call for Accountability
Each person in an organization cannot be responsible for the exact same task; it’s not efficient nor is it effective. However, everyone must be aligned with the big-picture goals of the company. Leaders guide and communicate the company vision, lead large client projects, and find new ways to develop their staff. Managers take on more leadership responsibilities and delegate increasing responsibility to junior employees.
This general organizational outline allows everyone to know what they are responsible for in their role. When structured in this way, it also makes it easier to identify where improvement is needed. For example, if leaders are stuck in the weeds of day-to-day operations versus moving the organization forward, the company is unable to grow or scale. They are not demonstrating accountability for their given role.
Similarly, if a manager-level employee doesn’t delegate responsibilities to junior-level staff, the excuse is there’s no time left for them to develop leadership skills. As a result, they cannot advance to the next stage within the company or their career, let alone reach the goals of their current role. These types of scenarios are what hold companies back from achieving their long-term vision and should be addressed immediately.
Plain and simple, if there is an area where accountability is lacking, a company ceases to function at its optimal level. That leads to a decline in trust and communication from employees, clients, and prospects, which results in unhappiness or a severed relationship altogether.
Investing in Professional Development
A breakdown in accountability could be the cause of many things. One of the most common is a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the actual job role. How does a leader know his or her responsibilities, if they’ve never been prepared for it? Professional development is such a crucial part of organizational and leadership growth, without it, no one knows which direction to go.
Companies must invest and prioritize leadership development. Management training includes planning, budgeting, staffing, quality control, processes, systems, and all the components necessary for strategic thinking and execution. The reason why many companies miss the mark with professional development is they simply don’t take the time. While helpful, only having someone come in for a one-day workshop on leadership isn’t sufficient enough to automatically create strong leaders who can effectively develop, communicate, and execute a powerful vision.
Everyone works with the same 24 hours in a day, but the most successful leaders know how to use this time efficiently. They know when to ask for help and when to delegate. This behavior, for many, must be taught and repeated. Additionally, accountability and a meaningful culture must be present to reflect the importance of empowering leaders.
A Strong Culture Breeds Strong Leaders
A strong culture is one that encourages people to take charge, make mistakes, and constantly learn. Many companies like to think they’re providing this kind of culture by including perks meant to make it a “cool place to work.” Perks don’t create a culture. Accountability, strong leadership, and good communication do, at least for starters.
One tool that’s helpful to build or rebuild a company culture is the use of 360 reviews and peer evaluations. This is where all employees are given the opportunity to provide constructive feedback for ways the company and its processes can improve. The key component is to create actionable measures that will address problems areas and highlight positives.
Overall, a culture designed to develop new leaders and truly empower them is the key to success in any 21st-century organization. The value of this investment is nearly endless. More senior leaders will focus on visionary objectives rather than day-to-day management. More people will feel connected to their work and inspired by those around them.
This kind of transformational shift doesn’t happen overnight, but if you focus primarily on accountability, professional development, and a strong culture within your organization, you will be well on your way to leadership success in today’s ever-changing world.