The Importance of Effective Leadership
By Dr. Jeffery Huttman
The importance of effective leadership cannot be overstated, as the individuals guiding the company can either foster success or the ultimate detriment of an organization. In their bestselling book, Execution, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan convey the concept that ultimate success is driven by execution that stems from people, strategy and operations. The leaders of the company must ultimately remain intimately involved in all aspects of the organization and a driving force for successful execution. They must understand the people that work for the company at all levels and ensure that a common mission and focus is imparted. Leadership is not simply the wielding of power and delegation to subordinates, but rather close guidance through authority that is earned and respected.
Having spent more than fifteen years in executive leadership positions, I have practiced effective guidance and been privy to numerous examples of both optimal and detrimental leadership. Leadership is not just driven by the CEO or top-level executives, but all supervisors within the organization. An optimal leader ensures the right staff are in place, communicates directly and effectively and establishes an environment of trust in order to cultivate successful delivery at all levels. An effective leader has honed his or her communication and listening skills; inspires performance and dedication through the combination of support and personal examples. An effective leader can help all staff in the company to feel they are an important part and proud of their work.
Conversely, leaders who yield unlimited power and utilize their position to intimidate employees to work out of fear of termination cannot result in long term success. From my observations of this style, this often results in employee dissatisfaction, stifles creativity and dedication, and causes high turnover. In one position I held, a new owner entered the company and displayed exactly this form of leadership. This individual took no time to learn about the company product and mission, did not listen to the opinions of employees and treated them with a consistent air of disrespect. This leader was detached from understanding that staff have a choice of where they wish to work, employee satisfaction is important, and respect is earned. There was non-stop grumbling behind the scenes, no longer a commitment to the company or feeling part of its overall success. Turnover went from being non-existent to extremely high, the overall operations became poor, and the customers sensed every aspect of this.
Leadership qualities and skills are cultivated over time. Employees develop reverence for a supervisor when it is earned through a mutual commitment and respect consistently imparted by the supervisor. A dedicated leader remains close to the operations of all aspects of the company while able to distinguish this from micromanagement. He or she has routine meetings from all departments and requires outcomes and reporting but establishes an atmosphere in which the people who make up the company enjoy reaching the same goals and feel rewarded and successful in such accomplishments.
Leadership training, counseling, or coaching can help develop new skills, change behavior and style, and increase one’s chances of occupational success. This is best accomplished through individual sessions with a proven leader who can guide, counsel and train others. An effective leader is invaluable to the ultimate growth and success of the company’s mission.