I looked at the levels of leadership within an organization – Leadership – The Leader, The Relationship, The System all members – in which each level feeds the success of the others. Today I would like to add more to that conversation with the results of the recently published, long-term study in Gallup Business Journal, Leadership Is More Than The C-Suite. The results? Leadership is a set of roles at different levels of an organization, and each of these roles in critical for organizational success.
Executive Leaders – Different team members might play important roles in an organization’s vision, strategy development, and strategy implementation. But, at the top is that one position that must assure that the organization is pointed in the right direction, ready, and able. For these high-level leaders, this is the challenge – make strategy the reality. (For those of you who were at our 2013 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Retreat, this is the message from General John Buford – “a leader’s role is to assure the organization is positioned and prepared” (see Are You Positioned & Prepared? all members).
Senior Leaders – Senior leadership team members are an organization’s “hubs of information.” Industry knowledge has a dwindling shelf life, and senior leaders need to be able to juggle the new market intelligence with the need for margins and the plans for meeting critical objectives. The pace of change (see What Do Today’s Leaders Think About Managing Change? all members and The Best Leaders Are The Best Learners all members) has elevated the importance of this leadership role.
Operational Performance Leaders – As the health and human service field moves to widespread value-based purchasing, meeting consumer and payer expectations is a key element in maintaining competitive advantage (see Performance Matters – When It’s In The News all members). Operational performance leaders are the architects of high-performing systems – monitoring key metrics, improving performance, and bringing innovative operating methods to the organization.
People Performance Leaders – Last but not least, people performance leaders are the talent optimizers of an organization. They ensure that managers and employees have clear expectations. They are the coaches and mentors, creating a strong working environment by promoting employee engagement (see Embrace The Chaos With Servant Leadership all members).
Can one leader fill more than one of these roles? Absolutely – especially in smaller organizations. The important takeaway for me from the Gallup study is that “leadership” in the current information-packed, rapid-change environment is not likely to be filled by a single individual (possible, but not likely). And while an organization probably cannot rise above its executive leader, a great executive leader will likely not be successful without building broader organizational leadership qualities.
For another free resource, see: Four Challenges Leaders Face all members