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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why Leadership 'Purpose' is a Bottom Line Issue

Leadership Purpose is a top line issue because your customers and employees need to understand clearly why your business should matter to them. The fact that you want to make a profit is not good enough to inspire the type of loyalty from both customers and employees that ensures you will be able to sustain growth through excellence over time.

Purpose is also a bottom line issue because of its ability to drive the personal and work outcomes in employees that allow you to operate your business efficiently. If you are doing a poor job on the personal and work outcomes you will be incurring excessive costs (e.g. poor quality products, waste, absenteeism, turnover) and squandering profit.

The key to these enhanced work outcomes and the coveted profits that accompany them lies between the ears of your employees. Experienced meaningfulness, or 'why work matters', is the critical psychological state most closely associated with purpose. Your mission and even your vision are most often meaningless to your employees (have you asked them lately?).

Purpose, why we do what we do, has the potential to make work meaningful for your employees, and that makes purpose a bottom line issue. Make sure you understand why your business matters to your employees.

As Colin Powell says in this speech, the role of a leader is to put people in the best possible position to achieve the 'purpose' of the organisation. The best leaders are those who can convey this purpose throughout the organisation.


What Skills Will It Take To Lead Successfully In The Future?

New research from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) which surveyed 2,200 leaders from 15 organisations, in three countries between 2006 and 2008 produced some interesting findings.

The research project was designed to answer the following questions:
  • What leadership skills and perspectives are critical for success now and in the future?
  • How strong are current leaders in these critical skills and perspectives?
  • How aligned is today’s leadership strength with what will be the most important skills and perspectives in the future?
A comparison of the leadership strength from the research contrasts existing leadership skill levels with what skill would be required in the future the results are illustrated below:

The research identified the following seven competencies as most critical for success, now and in the future:

Leading people: directing and motivating people.

Strategic planning: translating vision into realistic business strategies, including long-term objectives.

Managing change: using effective strategies to facilitate organisational change.

Inspiring commitment: recognizing and rewarding employees’ achievements.

Resourcefulness: working effectively with top management.

Doing whatever it takes: persevering under adverse conditions.

Being a quick learner: quickly learning new technical or business knowledge.

The interesting thing to note from this research is that only three of the ten required skills for the future are current top ten skills.

All the others rated as important for success in the study are not skills that leaders have mastered today. This means that today’s leaders are not meeting the demands of their organisations. The CLL call this the “Leadership Gap”, referring to the huge gap that exists between the leadership skills organisations have today and the skills they will require in five years time.

Given these findings we need to take personal responsibility and ask ourselves:

What are we doing personally to improve our leadership skills?

What are we doing to help others improve their leadership skills?

If we are taking action, are we doing enough?

The Attributes of Successful Leaders

1 Set Direction - Vision, Customers, Future

2 Demonstrate Personal Character - Habits, Integrity, Trust, Analytical Thinking

3 Mobilise Individual Commitment - Engage Others, Share Power

4 Engender Organisational Capability - Build Teams, Manage Change

Lessons from Five Decades in Business

John C. Portman, Jr., an architect and artist (now 85), whose projects include Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, Shanghai Centre in Shanghai, Renaissance Center in Detroit and Peachtree Center in Atlanta, is chairman of the board of Portman Holdings and John Portman & Associates.

In a recent Forbes article he describes what five decades in business have taught him:
  • Be positive.
  • Shut out the noise.
  • Understand people.
  • Balance vision and pragmatism.
  • Think about the long term and the greater good.
For more, see - http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/30/john-portman-lessons-leadership-managing-architect.html?partner=leadership_newsletter