The news has covered many stories about CEOs and other members of the senior management team misbehaving in terms of lavish parties, exorbitant salaries, etc. When the economy tanked, other issues of exploiting executive privileges came to light as well. There were also a few executives that seemed to be unaware that bad practices were occurring under their so-called leadership.
It seems unconscionable that a leader of a company is not aware of what is going on, but many are too consumed with image and/or focusing too much attention on shareholders. Employees complain that they are not being heard, and that their suggestions on how to improve the organization fall on deaf ears.
A truly effective leader should be viewed as one who not only listens but acts on what is being said, even if there are times they might not agree fully. This is easier said than done when the employee population is diverse and located in several places even overseas. So how is a leader supposed to handle such a monumental task?
A clear vision of the future of the company needs to be detailed enough so that everyone has a full understanding of the direction that is being taken. A mission statement that is concise and easy to remember should be part of this too. This statement should be displayed publicly and should also be distributed to each employee i.e. a business card size document. The most junior person to the CEO should be reminded constantly of the mission.
A leader should not hide in his/her office but really engage employees at all levels. This may include being on the shop floor, participating in customer service calls, sitting in on focus groups, etc. Some of the best ideas come from the people that are at the lowest levels because they are the ones interacting with customers, and/or are producing products so they are more informed than the managers.
An effective leader should also “walk the talk” and demonstrate the behavior that he/she wants to see throughout the organization. Ask yourself when was the last time you spoke with the front line or more junior staff. Do you create an environment where everyone feels secure enough to make suggestions? If not, why not?
Other “D” words to ponder – deliverables, diversity, drive, desire, differentiate, and determination