Insider Intelligence--Help Wanted: Real Leaders

Who's at the top and the leader will have an effect on your organization's success or failure


This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of SD&I magazine

Even more entertaining, and certainly more critical than casual people watching is leader watching and of course, leader analyzing.

How important is leadership? Let me answer my own question with yet another question: Are you satisfied with your elected leaders in Washington? Are you satisfied with your mayor? How about the performance of your state university head football coach? All these examples are high-profile leaders who are under the microscope yet many fall flat and do not meet even modest goals.

Now for the really big question, are you satisfied with the leadership in your company? Is your boss a leader that inspires you? Does he or she understand the dynamics of your department? Does he or she have a vision that seems to make sense to his or her direct reports? Does he or she really seem to care about you and your daily challenges? Does he or she really listen?

And the bigger question: Is leadership closely tied directly to the success or failure of a company, sports team, association or church? Of course it is and I would go as far as to say strong leadership is the most important variable impacting any organization’s success. This is why we all "leader watch" whether consciously or subconsciously.

At the top makes a difference

It makes a difference when Stanley, Tyco, Lenel or Pelco has a change at the top. It also makes a difference when your company or one of your local competitors has a change at the top. To make matters even more interesting it's not just the CEO change that impacts the overall success of a company, it’ any change in leadership in any department.

The bottom line is this: Leaders impact everything, either for the benefit or the detriment of an organization.

We should all be watching, evaluating and assisting leadership in any way possible. Smart leaders listen, while really smart leaders seek input not just from their direct-report management but from anyone who takes the time and effort to make positive suggestions for improvement.

As an example, I recently sent an email to the chairman of Yahoo. As a stockholder I chose to express concern regarding their constant turnover at the CEO position and that I was not pleased with what I perceived to be a dysfunctional leadership strategy. Five CEO's in as many years is not bringing any continuity to this organization. It doesn’t take a Mackenzie consulting background to figure this out yet it seems to happen year after year at Yahoo. Could they have a leadership crisis? What about Kmart, Sears, Kodak, Polaroid and hundreds of other U.S. mainstays that are either gone or are now a mere shadow of their great past?

Could their demise have been averted by strong, visionary leadership? I believe the answer is ‘yes’ and one thing I know for sure is that poor leadership virtually guarantees poor results regardless of your past or current financial power.

Get rid of ‘it’s not my problem’ mentality

We all have opportunities to be leaders regardless of our official position. Your first action is to accept the responsibility and step up to the plate. Help solve problems rather than look the other way. Never take the ‘it's not my problem’ or ‘there is nothing I can do about it’ cop out. You should not look the other way, because there is something you can do about challenges that exist in your organization.

We cannot all be a Winston Churchill but we can all care and share ideas and concepts that will make our companies better places to work and more successful resources to our customers.

It's no fun to just show up to work every day. Get involved and help solve challenges. And remember, the reward is the journey.