BUILDING out a company is not for the faint hearted. Heck, the mere thought of accountability, risk and potential failure is enough to make some people want to curl into the fetal position and suck their thumbs. Developing a product that appeals to the masses can be daunting, but ensuring its lifelong success is a whole other factor. Doing so is only sustainable if your leaders know how to “set sail” in the right direction and keep that sail inflated indefinitely. How do you know if you have the right leaders? That depends on your process for selecting new applicants and the questions you are constantly asking to foster organisational improvement. Here is how you should continuously jog your brain with the what and how questions; What questions; — when asked repeatedly — breed relevance and avoid obsolescence? In other words, what questions never get old, continue to foster growth, and directly apply to every situation? If delivering value every day is part of your organisational “menu,” consider these four questions to drive perpetual leadership development:
People Management Issues Robert Mandeya
What do we want to attain?
If people in the organisation do not understand the final goal of the business, it will be difficult for them to join in and commit to it, and for your efforts to create the momentum needed to bring about the attainment of those goals. More often, we have leaders of organisations sitting on mission statements they never communicate to their subordinates. In some instances, some of these mission statements are archaic and no longer relevant to the current business thrust because someone simply inherited it from predecessors and never bothered to scrutinise if it is still appropriate. It is in the mission statement that the purpose of the business is articulated. Given the foregoing, it is imperative that the mission statement is thoroughly inculcated or mainstreamed into every facet of the organisation’s operative endeavour and is also regularly reviewed to match current business trends. Please note that employees realise that company’s leaders do not believe in the vision and mission of the organisation, they too will not believe in it either.
How will we train?
Sure, you can go the old death-by-PowerPoint route and watch eyelids flutter and heads hobnobbing and weave out of both boredom and exhaustion. Or, you can implement action training. Action training is just that — live in-the-moment training that builds muscle memory and helps inoculate against stress. Training is continually evolving and has become more customised to address the immediate need of the organisation. The training must be
participatory and couched in the context or work environment of the participant. When the metaphorical bullets are flying, you do not rise to the occasion, you fall to the level of your training. Train hard. Train often.
What do we want to sustain?
We all have good and bad habits. Having a routine helps us feel more secure and in control because there is “structure” to guide us. This way, we often slumber in the comfort zone. Organisations are no different, and when greater numbers of people comprise that habit, it is worth analysing whether that habit is productive or not. After all, habits comprise behaviours that equate to dollars, which translates to cost. If there is a company habit that does not promote progress, ask yourself what you can do to remove it. If doing so is above your pay grade, then consider what you can do to improve it.
How will we retain our people?
If you have hired the right people then the question is not who do we want to retain (because you already have them), but rather how will you make them stay? Daniel Pink, in his best selling book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, posits that the old carrot-and-stick approach of motivation is outdated. He argues that throwing more and more money at soon-to-be lost talent does not help. Instead, he reveals three sources of motivation to resurrect employees from the trenches of company complacency: autonomy, purpose and mastery. These are just sample questions with the intention to get you thinking about how to shape success. If you do not plan for success, somebody else will get there first. Organisational fit is everything. Skills can be taught, “will power” cannot. In assessing the right leaders for the right role, strengths are an obvious area to consider as well as identifying areas for development. More important, though, is the degree to which that person
demonstrates curiosity in perpetual improvement and takes the necessary steps to implement innovation. Curiosity without action is akin to a goal without a plan — it is just a dream.
Mandeya is a senior executive training consultant and communication in management advisor, a personal coach in leadership and professional development with the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. — firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.