Organizational leadership requires more than just being a good manager—it’s about working with others to reach ambitious goals. Craig Menear, the CEO of Home Depot, shows how effective organizational leadership can bring about lasting change at a company. Menear rose through the ranks at Home Depot and learned valuable lessons from other leaders at the business before he took over. He knew he had to keep the company’s customer-centered approach while also bringing the business into the 21st century.
Menear had a vision not just for increasing Home Depot’s online presence but for improving the workplace culture and helping employees. As he explained it, “We’ve done a number of things throughout our facilities to be able to be more flexible, we’re working on expanding childcare services, and we’ve changed the configuration of our buildings in order to facilitate more team integration.” Thanks to his effective leadership, online sales took off and workers now have clear goals to work toward as part of the company.
Organizational leadership is a response to the traditional “top-down” leadership many companies use. Instead of dictating from a corner office, business leaders work closely with their teams to build great cultures and strong interpersonal relationships. This comes at a time when the business world desperately needs greater engagement from workers. According to Gallup, only 15 percent of workers say they’re engaged with their work, which can cost companies up to 550 billion dollars every year. Much of this lack of engagement is due to poor leadership, as 39 percent of workers feel underappreciated, while 77 percent say they would do better if they just received more recognition.
Practicing organizational leadership means creating an innovative, inspiring, and passionate business culture. It’s about getting people excited to meet goals as a team. Leaders who are able to communicate a vision and provide the strategy for how to obtain it will find a more engaged and satisfied workforce ready to respond.
In this article, you will learn the following:
- What organizational leadership is
- What the benefits of organizational leadership are
- How to practice it within your company
What is Organizational Leadership?
Organizational leadership revolves around a leader who enacts strategies with organizational teams to reach for and achieve lofty goals. To do so, business leaders look for innovative and creative solutions to create lasting change that satisfies customers and employees. Organizational leaders also use communication skills to lead people to where they need to go.
The key to being an organizational leader involves always keeping in mind what the big picture is. They care about the individuals they lead and want what’s best for them. They also aren’t afraid to shake things up as they push toward an optimistic future. Those who follow organizational leadership do so with enthusiasm, believing in the vision presented to them.
The Benefits of Organizational Leadership
Many leaders at companies are stuck in their ways and find it unnecessary to do things differently. However, today’s business world doesn’t operate that way. Revolutionary developments seem to happen all the time, making organizational leadership a vital addition to every business.
Here are the benefits that organizational leadership brings to the table:
- Creates an environment for improved decision-making and problem-solving. An organizational leader encourages other workers to speak up without any fear of judgment. That means people feel comfortable voicing their ideas and providing solutions that may otherwise go overlooked. With more minds involved in these processes, decision-making and problem-solving inevitably improve.
- Helps leaders focus on goals. A company that embraces organizational leadership will find that people will take on their roles with energy and passion. As everyone does well in their individual jobs, the leadership team can focus all their attention on the goals that the organization has. This includes making sure everything they do stays true to the overall vision. Being able to focus in this way also means identifying future challenges before they become significant problems.
- Provides motivation for employees. Workers don’t like to feel like someone is constantly watching over their shoulder. When given freedom, they love to contribute to a bigger cause. This is the motivation that drives them forward. Employees will feed off the energy from organizational leaders as they give them room to grow and develop.
- Cultivates communication and understanding. Under an organizational leader, workers will experience what it’s like to work with someone who demonstrates high emotional intelligence. Leadership in this style promotes more communication between people, leading to greater respect and understanding between coworkers. This is an outward expression of the core values leaders should instill in others. While conflicts may still arise, they are relatively minor and are resolved quickly.
How to Increase Organizational Leadership Skills
1. Filter Business Strategies Through Your Core Values, Vision, and Mission
When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.Roy E. Disney
Every decision you make must stem from the core values, vision, and mission you hold dear. Your values are the principles you have, the guiding posts in your life that dictate your actions and behaviors. The same holds true for the values of a company. Without them, a business has no identity.
Vision is the overall goal for what a company should become, while mission looks at what a business is currently doing to achieve its goals. The two go hand-in-hand in informing every business decision you make. For example, IKEA’s vision statement reads, “Create better everyday lives for as many people as possible.” Their current mission statement reads, “to be offering a wide range of well designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”
If your goals and strategies don’t get you closer to your vision, you should change course. Always filter everything through these three pillars to become a transformational organization.
How to create a vision statement for your organization:
- Identify why your company exists.
- Visualize what you want your business to look like in the future.
- Draft and revise your vision statement based on feedback from leadership teams and trusted colleagues.
- Communicate the vision to your teams and implement it into the work they’re doing.
2. Practice Strengths-Based Leadership
Although individuals need not be well-rounded, teams should be.Tom Rath
Even the best leaders can’t do it all. That’s where strengths-based leadership can help. Through this leadership style, leaders place team members where they will excel the most. They identify where people are strongest and ensure they get to use those skills the most often. It’s all about putting people in the best position where they can succeed.
Through strengths-based leadership, organizations can get the most out of their employees, while workers feel free to pursue what they’re best at. This can be seen in a company like 3M, which was the first company to allow its workers to spend 15 percent of their time working on and developing ideas of their own. As a result of this policy, one of the company’s scientists came up with the idea for the Post-It note.
How to practice strengths-based leadership:
- Identify each employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Have workers take assessment tests to discover any hidden strengths.
- Create and refine roles in the company where everyone can put their strengths to good use.
- Set realistic goals for everyone to improve where they are strongest.
- Provide the necessary support for people during their development.
- Encourage everyone to be patient during the process.
3. Develop KPIs and OKRs Alongside Team Members
In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.Anonymous
The traditional leadership structure features a top-level executive simply dictating a list of demands to employees. Workers receive a list of things they need to do and are judged for their ability to do them. Organizational leadership approaches this issue differently, which makes up a key component of how today’s leadership differs from the past.
When developing KPIs and OKRs, organizational leaders need to work alongside coworkers. This collaboration helps to set goals that all parties can agree on. The communication between sides helps establish realistic goals that still lead to progress and achieving the company vision.
To answer the question, “What does leadership look like?,” business leaders need to explain the why behind each KPI and OKR. When employees understand why they are doing something, they’ll be on board with the highs and lows that follow. It all comes back to leaders needing to communicate the vision and how these goals fit in.
How to establish goals with employees:
- Set time aside to discuss what goals should be set.
- Identify areas that need the most improvement.
- Explain how these goals contribute to achieving the company’s mission and vision.
- Have an open discussion about the pros and cons of each goal.
- Compromise when necessary.
- Have a written agreement in place that lists the goals so both sides can refer back to them in the future.
4. Increase Team Communication and Collaboration
Collaboration is multiplication.John C. Maxwell
At the same time, organizational leadership must ensure that teams are communicating and collaborating with ease. That includes making sure they take the time to listen to each other. Oftentimes, this is where teams can finally address problems they’ve been having and, as a result, work out a solution.
According to research from Zippia, 86 percent of leaders say the main reason projects fail comes from a lack of collaboration. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since when there’s no collaboration, everyone ends up working without regard to teamwork or utilizing people’s strengths. They rely on their own abilities to get things done, leaving possible advantages off the table.
Organizational leadership must create opportunities for collaboration and communication. This might require an organizational change or the adoption of new technology. Whatever the solution, leaders must ensure teams are working to improve in these areas.
How to improve communication and collaboration:
- Provide training exercises for teams, including how to read nonverbal communication.
- Establish common messaging platforms that everyone uses.
- For virtual teams, create meetings or retreats where people can talk to each other face-to-face.
- Make sure you’re direct in communications to avoid misunderstandings.
- Aim for a win-win mentality where everyone benefits from collaborating.
5. Learn Multiple Leadership Styles
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.John F. Kennedy
The way a leader interacts with one person or group doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. A specific style may work better for one team, while another team may respond better to a different style.
When you know different leadership styles, you become better at managing different people. For example, you may showcase an autocratic style when you need more control over decision-making so you can get things done more quickly to meet a deadline. You may then switch to a transformational style when you want to encourage creativity and instill confidence in others.
Being flexible and adaptable allows you to pivot as things change around you. Not everyone is the same, and understanding that represents having high enough emotional intelligence to deal with the differences. This is also known as situational leadership, where you can adapt based on other people’s needs.
How to become a good situational leader:
- Analyze your surroundings to determine how to help those around you best.
- Enhance your emotional intelligence by understanding people’s emotions and behaviors.
- Work on your communication skills to improve in any situation.
- Gain the trust of your team members.
- Develop problem-solving skills to help deal with a wide range of issues.
6. Dedicate Time to Think and Strategize
I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think.Warren Buffett
In the hectic world of business, it can be easy to forget to take some time for yourself. Failing to do so, however, could mean that challenges and problems creep up on you without warning.
When you dedicate time each day to take a step back and think, you open yourself to coming up with new solutions and ideas. It’s a chance to be innovative and creative. If all you do every day is rush from one task to another, you never allow your mind to rest and recharge.
Give yourself space to think ahead. Take the time to refine your vision and foresee what may come on the horizon. Doing so will help you lead others in the right direction and plan for the future.
Receive a Degree in Organizational Leadership
Another option to further your leadership development is to pursue an organizational leadership degree. Such a program will often teach valuable skills in how to lead a variety of teams and how to adapt to organizational changes. Additionally, it will often also teach conflict resolution techniques and review the ethics of decision-making.
Many people who graduate with an organizational leadership degree may go into such jobs as project manager, sales manager, management consultant, or human resource specialist, but the program teaches skills that can be used in almost every field.
However, a degree isn’t always necessary to become a great organizational leader. You can do a lot of the work on your own by making it a priority to learn about leadership with your teams, mentor, and accountability partner.
You can start learning more about leadership now by checking out some of the following articles.