Updated: Jun 15
Leading top-down and bottom-up and everything in between.
The days of hierarchical organisations should be over. In an era where we operate in a global village, it is no longer enough to rely on a handful of people to lead a company toward its strategic goals and ultimate success. Leadership needs to happen at all levels. The obvious obstacle in achieving this is that people view leadership as something that sits at the highest level in an organisation, and as we are aware, this is a false perception. The trick today is how to inspire the team to have a growth mindset, an engaged workforce and for everyone to be involved with meeting organisational needs to remain competitive and sustainable.
There are a number of definitions for management and leadership; at SBI we follow the mantra of management is about determining what needs to be done, and “doing things right”. Conversely, leadership is about inspiring and influencing others to “do the right things”. And every manager is a leader.
The question is though, how does one go about encouraging people to enhance their leadership skills? If leadership is intrinsic in each of us; it is so dependent on how we ‘connect our dots’ from a neuroscience perspective and having a deep personal self-awareness of our preferences as well as our biases which impacts our thinking and how we lead. None of this is new. What is new is the openness to having a deeper understanding of what we need to SHIFT at a personal level to be able to have an impact and to create a socially safe environment for our teams to optimise and maximise productivity.
The organisational environment in which people work, as well as the attitude of leaders, will determine the level of ownership and accountability in any organisation. Post-COVID, the networked organisational model, which Inspires the entire workforce to be accountable for themselves, their growth and to be innovative as opposed to a hierarchical model where information is disseminated from the top down, co-creates a space to enhance skills and to build trust. This advocates leadership at all levels.
Hybrid working models, and fluidity in how we work, are reliant on trust in leaders to be productive and foster growth. The complexity of different generations in the workplace with different needs, in a fluid environment requires leaders to be comfortable with disruption, complexity and to be agile. It sounds cliché’ but there is no rule book post-COVID and what led organisations to success is not what will keep them there. So much is contingent on their leaders, at all levels, being creative and resilient and yes, anti-fragile.
This is juxtaposed with charismatic or autocratic leaders with a singular approach to business and people. They are not open to ideas, stifle creativity and by contrast foster an environment of fear. This is not sustainable.
Leaders at all levels who respect their teams and offer the right amount of encouragement and guidance will have a workforce operating at its peak rather than one which is merely passing time.
It is imperative to motivate a culture of leadership in an organisation as it will bring unique skills to the fore. Consider the individuality of each staff member, and harnessing the strength of the collective to exceed expectations in implementing the strategy to reach the business objectives? Wow! It is not wishful thinking, it is powerful beyond measure.
This is not to say that every employee has to be involved in all the decision-making. Executive teams would set the goals and the initial strategy and when it is cascaded, allow for open discussions and insights on how to optimise the strategy. Buy-in!
Leadership IS necessary at every level. Most organisations in South Africa could do more to make this a reality to retain staff and encourage accountability. At a basic human level, we need to belong, and leaders are at the core of initiating this. Companies can only benefit from developing people’s confidence in their strengths, and it will reinvent leadership to ultimately benefit the individual, the teams, the organisation, and long term the economy.