Beating Competition Requires Strong Leadership

In my previous articles or posts, I have outlined the elements of a High Performance team; that is to say, a team which dominates its marketplace for years if not decades.

These elements include –

  • Vision and overarching strategy
  • Leadership culture
  • Learning environment
  • Talent
  • Success measures

This article concerns itself with leadership culture

  1. What constitutes a strong and pervasive leadership culture
  2. How to put this in place

What constitutes a strong leadership culture?

There are three primary elements that combine to make for a powerful driver of culture – the values, standards and therefore performance of the team, organisation, or business.

These are –

    1. The leader – the person(s) who have the formal titles such as Chairperson of Board, CEO, CFO, COO, etc on one level; then through to Business Unit, divisional, regional managers; and continuing to supervisors, shift manager
    2. Everyone to be a leader – the remainder of staff who report to someone with a formal title
  • Leading systems and processes


In the first instance, the Leader must set the scene. He or she must walk the walk, talk the talk. If the organisation has set values, set principles, set procedures and so on, then the Leader must live and breathe them. The Leader must demonstrate how he or she expects everyone else to live their working lives. Any disconnect from the Leader tells the troops that a certain procedure, value or standard is not important to the Leader, therefore why should anyone else believe in its worth or value to the organisation.

Secondly, the Leader cannot be everywhere all the time, or at least should not be – otherwise we have a classic case of micromanagement. What the Leader requires is that all other people in the organisation want to lead.

By this I mean, the individual wants to make a decision which will in some way shape or form impact the team, organisation or business. Just as the janitor at NASSA was asked what he does, to which he replied, “I send spaceships to the moon” ; the Leader wants to create with each individual in the total business, the knowledge that their decision making will have an impact on the ‘bottom line’. So consequently, as Leaders we want everyone to make decisions when required; then to ensure they are quality decisions; and then follow the decision making process with consistently high quality execution of the decision.

And finally to help bind the people components of leadership culture to the outputs and performance, the people need to be supported by organisational systems and processes that are at or aim to be at leading edge.

Whether that is the IT system, the remuneration system, the communication system, the financial system, the promotion process, the HR system…………whatever are the main systems and processes which drive and support the business, are they in sync with the leadership being displayed and promoted throughout the organisation?

How to put this in place?

There are many ways in which this can be done, but here are 6 proven approaches that can assist the process of Leadership Culture

  1. The Leader must be very clear on his or her philosophy to leadership – the values, the principles, the cornerstones. At the same time, the Leader’s philosophy must align closely to that of where the organisation is heading and how it intends to get there
  2. The Leader must create an organisational environment where the want to be a decision maker is championed first and foremost. Such an environment is protective, supportive, educational, and one of trust and accountability
  3. All staff in formal leadership roles throughout the organisation must understand how they can work in this environment, and have, or be trained to have, the skills necessary to coach, educate, guide, counsel all other staff
  4. Being a decision maker at any level within an organisation or team means greater responsibility and accountability – some people will be quite scared of such onus being placed upon how they have traditionally operated. Hence they will not only resist, but will also seek ways to sabotage. No matter who these people are within the organisation, the individual will need to make a choice whether they wish to continue, or self-dismiss. There is no problem in any individual choosing not to accept being part of how an organisation operates; however in choosing not to be part of the values, standards, and procedures of the business, this individual clearly makes the choice that he or she no longer wants to be part of the team.
  5. Like any culture which has norms, standards, behaviours, actions, symbols, traditions, routines that help to create and sustain a culture, there is no guarantee that if you have it today, it will be alive and thriving tomorrow – it is a constant task to maintain a specific culture. So the organisation will need to establish clear success measures that will constantly provide feedback and analysis of the strength of the desired culture. Such measures can be derived from anecdotal and informal feedback; from staff engagement surveys; from individual and unit scoreboards; from specific design and collaborative projects seeking innovative solutions, and so on.

And finally, scanning the horizons – inside and outside an organisation’s industry sector. Keep chasing what is proven to be working very well elsewhere, and test whether it can be applied, adapted to the current business