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What Successful Leaders Do Right

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

The Five Critical Factors That Drive Their Success



Coaches and Consultants can be misleading.

You read right.

Not always intentionally though. Because of their specialization, they often only see through one lenses, can often only help you in the area they are specialized in.

Leaders can also be unintentionally misleading, to the detriment of their people, and organizations. Because they may also only see and wrongfully diagnose the symptoms they observe to stem from one particular problem.

Being both a coach, consultant, and leader, it is not easy to write this, but we need to address it. if we are to experience lasting success in our leadership, groups, and organizations.


“The challenge you observe is never the only problem there is. And there is no silver bullet anyone can offer you that will solve all your problems.”


- Modesta Mahiga


What Successful Leaders Do

Successful leaders know that there are five critical factors that work together to drive performance, results, and growth in an organization. They, therefore, appreciate that even though there may seem to be a problem in one area, they cannot be quick to self-diagnose and treat it, because what they are observing may be symptomatic of deeper, interrelated issues.

Tempting as it may be to diagnose a problem, and engage experts to help them solve it, successful leaders instead invest in research, and experiments first then, and only then, take corrective, multidisciplinary action in interventions that ensure individual, group, and organizational success.

What follows are the five critical factors that leaders must align to each work well, and work well together, for organizational success.


1.Sight

The first pillar to success is "Sight". You mean "Vision" Modesta? Yes, I mean "Vision", I just need them to all begin with an "S" so that it is easy to remember.

It is terrible when a leader marches forward without (fore) sight, but it is tragic when the people s/he is leading don't share it.


Where exactly are we going?

Why are we going there?

What will it look like when we get there?


Do you get the picture?

Meeting daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and even annual goals are not the destination.

Having sight of the big picture you want to see, showing your stakeholders why heading there is the most desirable thing for each individual, group, organization, and the ecosystem you exists in, and getting them so invested in that picture that they choose to come along for the ride, come what may, is the first critical factor to your leadership success.


Successful leaders develop crystal clear, and infectious Sight that others can rally behind.




2.Strategy

How are you going to get there?

Strategy drives Sight.

Getting lost in the weeds trying to head to a beautiful destination can kill the morale of even the most ardent supporters.

The second critical factor to individual, group, and organization success is Strategy.

Leaders engage their people to identify a strategy that they have the capacity and competitive advantage to pursue, unlike any other.

This is an "all hands on deck" exercise. If everyone is not mission-critical, they should not be connected to the organization. There are, therefore, no spectators, and no one too insignificant to be in-the-know.

Successful leaders connect every stakeholder and every unit's role and contribution as critical to the Strategy they choose to drive their vision. From shareholders, the board, management, teams, suppliers, customers, and communities, you too can help everyone see that they play an integral role in driving your Strategy, vision, and success.

Ever heard the story about the janitor working on the Apollo 11 Mission to land a man on the moon? It is said that one day, President Kennedy visited the NASA Space Centre, and found this gentleman carrying a broom. The President introduced himself then, asked the man what he was doing, and without hesitation, the man responded, "I'm helping to put a man on the moon, Mr. President."

That's the power of Sight and Strategy.


Successful leaders lead stakeholders to execute a Strategy they have a competitive advantage in and help everyone to see how mission-critical they are to its success.


"Have the courage of your convictions once you have made a decision."

- Walter Schloss


3.Structure

Strategic Planning is often the fun part of driving transformation for leaders and their teams. Reviewing the current organizational Structure to align with the Strategy is a whole other undertaking that few are enthusiastic about engaging.

As Morris Change, CEO of TSMC said,

"Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless."

It is the organizational Structure that "carries inherent capabilities as to what can be achieved within its frame." Pearl Zhu.

In other words, successful leaders understand that once they lock in on pursuing a Strategy that distinguishes their organization, everything about their organization must be redesigned, re-Structured to facilitate the successful implementation of that Strategy.


Strategy execution often fails, not because of lack of capacity, rather, due to the incompatibility of the old Structure to support the new Strategy. What kind of organization, functions, work processes, roles, and responsibilities would be ideal for driving the envisioned Strategy? Leaders will often need the support of consultants and buy-in from the entire organization to design a structure befitting the ambitious Strategy they take on. Like assembling parts of a sleek, powerful car, there are usually a lot of moving parts, and not a little friction during the process, but managed well, and pursued to completion, what results is the best vehicle to drive your Strategy on the road to your desired destination. Successful leaders (re)design every aspect of their organizational Structure to facilitate the successful implementation of their Strategy.


4.Systems


"94% of problems in business are systems driven and only 6% are people driven."

- W. Edwards Deming


Reading The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber reinforced the power of systems in determining business effectiveness.

Business Systems are the invisible, intricately interwoven tracks, that the connected activities of organizations run through.

"A business system is a documented procedure that outlines how to do something to achieve your business goals" Forbes.

Lack of Systems creates chaos in even the best Structured organizations.

For one, it slows down operations; with every single thing that needs to be done being undertaken as if that is the very first time it is done. Secondly, it misuses human resources; people reinvent the wheel, waste time asking questions, or waiting for answers. Thirdly, it undermines learning and problem-solving; robbing decision-makers the opportunity to learn from previous action, because there is no monitoring, no recording, no analysis, nor insights that can be disseminated and acted on with intelligence and agility.


"You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems."

- James Clear


Integrating Systems into organizational Structures allows for seamless functioning of people and processes.

In the E-Myth Revisited, Michael E. Gerber explains how any organization, big or small, can integrate Systems to run like well-oiled machinery.

He proposed that when entrepreneurs, leaders, focus on working on the business, rather than in the business, they can create turnkey Systems that anyone can operate.

He likened organizing business around Systems to operating a franchise. In a franchise, the franchisor licenses a franchise System to the franchisee, that the franchisee can plug and play, and consistently achieve the same high level of results, every single time.

He used McDonalds as an example of a business system that works no matter who operates it, or where in the world they do.

To him,


"Systems run the business, and people run the systems."

- Michael E. Gerber


Institute Systems, and watch every metric in your organization improve.

Successful leaders are committed to organizing everything into Systems to increase individual, group, organizational, and market efficiencies, effectiveness, and profitability.


5.Skills


"HR can become a strategic asset, because the ability to execute strategy well is a source of competitive advantage, and people are the lynchpin of strategy execution."

- Dave Ulrich


The first signs of trouble in an organization are often detected through its people. This is why both leaders and coaches and consultants propose human resource interventions as a cure for a myriad of organizational woes.

Although aware of the need to recruit, onboard, develop, engage, coach, mentor, recognize, compensate, and promote to harness the Skills people contribute to an organization, what successful leaders also acknowledge is that people are often as effective, or ineffective, as the environment they are in.

With the right combination of factors in place, leaders can witness incredible drive, productivity, ownership, and loyalty in their people.

One of the greatest wonders of leadership, is the influencing of adults to choose of their own volition, to submit their personal visions to that of the organization.

But just as people may choose, for motivations that are not always predictable, to align with one leader and or organization today, they may choose to leave to work for another, or strike it out on their own.

This is why developing a human resource strategy that aligns individual, group, and organizational wellbeing is a critical success factor.


And this is precisely why, successful leaders invest in people as their greatest asset, no to appease them, but because they understand that doing so maximizes individual, group, and organizational behavior, effectiveness, profitability, and sustainable growth.


"Nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not strategies." - Lawrence Bossidy, Former COO, General Electric



The Five Critical Success Factors to Organizational Effectiveness, and Profitability

When you soberly assess your leadership decisions, is there a possibility that you and well-meaning advisers may have placed greater emphasis on developing some areas, to the detriment others, and by so doing, sabotaged the success of the whole?

Which area do you personally feel most comfortable leading transformation? Which do you feel are out of your depth?

I would like to be your sounding board to help you look at your leadership, your team, your unit, your organization, and your market with fresh eyes.

You can then decide what, if anything, you want to initiate, to build the five critical factors for greater effectiveness, performance, results, and sustainable growth for individuals, teams, and the entire organization.



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