When an employee is promoted from an individual contributor role to a role leading people, it is generally recognized that a change in perspective from individual to group and development of interpersonal and leadership skills are essential to success.
However, these aspects of leadership, while important, often fail to address the one change that can most impact individual and organizational success. The most important shift in thinking for a new leader is this: moving from focusing on your own accomplishments to thinking about your team’s contribution toward achievement of the company’s business strategy.
Leaders at all levels must tell a compelling story explaining what makes the company different from its competitors, who the customers are and why they buy from the company. This story provides the context that aligns people and groups. This story is a cornerstone in establishing credibility as a leader and in developing employee engagement. Sharing this story is the first step in executing the business strategy.
Once you become a people-leader, providing this context for people is critical to the success of your team and to your success as a leader. This context is a beacon that aligns people in a unified direction as well as, over time, providing compelling reasons for organizational change.
A leader also communicates and develops people in a way that provides the kind of clarity they need to focus on what’s most important, take actions and make decisions on a day in and day out basis and to do all of that and more in alignment with the business strategy. In addition, in tethering your team to the strategy, you are teaching them how they can make a difference as individuals and as a group, you’re sharing leadership with them, and you’re developing future leaders.
Along the way, it is also important for leaders to continuously build and strengthen a wide range of knowledge and skills needed to be effective, including coaching, giving and accepting feedback, joint problem solving, teamwork, delegation, metrics, and others. But these skills, without building the team’s confident and effective understanding of the business strategy and how team members fit, are not enough to drive the organization’s growth and sustainability.
In addition to building understanding of the business strategy, there are 4 more essential keys to strategy execution that leaders at all levels need to address. My next blog will address the second, which is Leadership.
What are you doing as a leader, what is the business story you’re sharing, to promote strong understanding and engagement of people in your company’s strategy?