Good leadership is a requirement of all walks of life. As an ex-serviceman I understood that supporting the corporate strategy is what every member of a unit, regiment or ship is about. In the Forces – at every level – we would have seen it as the ‘task’. But – again at every level – we always recognised that each task fed into the strategic mission – the mission set for the regiment, unit or even ‘arm’.
Good leaders did not just issue orders but where necessary also provided the ‘need’ behind their orders. A good leader was one that achieved ‘buy-in’ but then ‘trusted’ that those orders would be carried out without their supervision.
The successful operation of any organisation relies upon communication of many kinds. Within all organisations there are written orders such as ‘best practice or ‘standard operating procedures’ that ensure common practice. Day-to-day smooth running is achieved through company handbooks, policy documents, routine and standing orders.
There are spoken orders and commands which often require an immediate response. The success of these actions rely upon trust that develops through experience and training. Trust that the ‘leader’ is leading (and knows what he or she is doing) and trust that each member of the company, unit, regiment or ship is capable of carrying out that order (that comes as a result of training and experience). Without that vertical and peer trust the task could not be successfully achieved.
I didn’t need to leave the Forces to understand that good communication and trust would be just as important within civilian organisations. True there were times when the ‘delivery’ was different but there were also times when a similar urgency was required. That urgency would only work with good communication skills and when trust was achieved between all concerned.
Further, corporate strategy needs to be interpreted and communicated. Good leadership is based upon many skills but good communication skills are vital. Ensuring that every task – no matter how small – is seen as part of the ‘corporate strategy’ is a communication fundamental and it will lead to trust. Trust that becomes part of the ’emotional’ structure of an organisation.
Interpreting then translating corporate strategy into operation is vital not just in the issue of commands but also in the delegation of tasks and roles. A good leader will interpret the strategy, translate it into the roles and functions of those they lead then communicate that to ensure that any person carrying out a role knows where their actions fit into the strategic plan. Trust will be reinforced by the understanding that the role has value.
Corporate strategy is useless if it stays in the boardroom. It needs to be understood and communicated to all to ensure its successful implementation. These are key functions of any leader.
For more on the need for structure and training in leadership there is a great post by Kathy Gurchiek [Think Leadership Development To Ensure Initiatives Support Organizational Strategy] containing a list of ’10 key aspects of leadership development and HR professionals’ perceptions of their effectiveness and importance in improving leadership development’.