“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.” —John Maxwell
We are living in different times right now, and I suspect everyone knows that, but one thing remains consistent: Strong leadership and succession planning within an organization has a tremendous impact on its long-term success in building capacity. Today, we are faced with survival in a climate that is dominated by financial austerity, technological disruption and political uncertainty. Each of these can cause major headaches for a leader when trying to sustain and develop capacity within her or his organization. The task to maintain/increase capacity to deliver within an organization seems insurmountable but it is achievable with a carefully designed leadership strategy.
To begin, leaders influence the culture and the long-term effectiveness of an organization. Strong core values form the framework that impacts the behavioral attitudes of both individuals and groups within an organization. What follows is a roadmap for consideration when embarking on leadership impact on organizational capacity
Begin with articulating the “void.” Where is the organization now versus where it would like to be? Help individuals see the potential in the organization’s future and their future and what might be missing. Allow them to dream and envision the possibilities of what could be coming next.
The next step on our journey is to empower people with the tools and the resources that they need to be effective in their role to create additional capacity inside the organization. Continue to support them but get out of their way and allow them to succeed. I once had a manger who was well-liked throughout my company. He was very approachable, personable and said all the right things. However, when it came to strategy sessions, his way was always the “correct” way. My team and I often left those meetings feeling less motivated and inspired to be creative. We as a team never recognized the big impact in sales we were looking for and were always behind where we could have been. Trust in people and allow them the freedom to succeed or fail. Even in failures, we learn, build and move forward.
Along with the points above, avoid being the doer and instead allow the team the freedom to move forward in a way that provides the greatest impact without enabling but providing the freedom to create. Leaders should be continually asking themselves, “As a leader, am I truly leading the organization or am I an obstacle to success?” When leaders create capacity, the organization and the people in the organization increase their capacity and things grow.
Leaders model the way if they want to gain commitment and achieve the highest standards. The leader must be a model of the behavior she or he expects of others, as those behaviors must align with the organization’s values. Great leaders inspire a shared vision and enlist others in a that common vision, and the process.
Lastly, have a plan! Investing in the development of leadership increases the capacity to perform at multiple levels. It inherently creates a competitive advantage, offering skills and talent that other organizations may not have. Leadership development fosters innovation in the organization, whether it be in product, services or support. Future leaders are often those who make that leapfrog contribution that takes an organization to the next level.
Often, when capacity is discussed, it focuses on the business model with things like revenue source identification, customer base, product set and financing details. While all those are critical, organizations that build capacity within are the ones that develop the people within the organization and empower them to envision the future and think big. Steve Jobs, Apple’s cofounder once said, “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Let’s head out in 2022 to innovate and empower everyone in our organizations to do so as well!
Bruce Weber is founder and president/CEO at Weber Group. Weber brings more than 20 years of experience to the for-profit and nonprofit community, working with startup, growth and mature organizations. His focus is in strengthening organizations through strategic planning, organizational development, leadership and board development. He is a BoardSource Certified Governance trainer and a founding partner of the Nonprofit Lifecycles Institute.
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