Strategy. I’ve been thinking a lot about the many “strategies” that health and human service organizations need to employ. Business strategies, tech strategies, human resource strategies, managed care strategies, merger and acquisition strategies – all must fit together into an overall strategy and are important pieces for governing your organization’s path to the future. But during strategic meetings, there is one strategy that isn’t often discussed – leadership.
If you think that leadership isn’t the kind of thing that can be a focus of strategy, you’re partially right. The personal aspect of leadership (the lack of which prevents many otherwise capable executives from becoming true leaders) is definitely an important cornerstone to success or failure at the helm of any organization. And, I’ve found that the age-old saw “an organization cannot rise above its leader” (see Will Your Leader Limit Your Future?) is more true than not.
But recent leadership research by Josh Berlin refutes that point – to a degree. In a recent Forbes article, It’s Not The CEO, It’s The Leadership Strategy That Matters, summarizes his findings about leadership and organizational success in high-performing organizations. His conclusion – It’s not all about the CEO. High-performing organizations have a leadership strategy that is based on developing a leadership culture – and careful and continuous development of leadership at all levels. The research had four key findings about high-performing organizations:
- High-Performing organizations directly link leadership strategy to business strategy – High-performing organizations develop leadership by training, supporting, and selecting the people who will drive business strategy. Supporting the overall strategic plan is always goal number one, and the most effective way to “stay on point” is to make sure that both current leadership, and the leadership culture that developed them, always has this in mind.
- High-Performers develop leaders at all levels – High-performing organizations recognize that most leadership takes place where managers, supervisors, and middle managers do their work. Executive leadership is only one kind of leadership in the organization, and it’s probably not the leadership that deals with employees and consumers on the “grass roots” level.
- High-Performers invest in leadership development – High-performing organizations invest 30-40% more money in leadership than other organizations in their market – up to $3,500 per manager.
- High-Performers develop their leadership philosophy – High-performing organizations develop their own unique leadership strategy based on the needs of their strategy. Reflect on your business model, select the leadership values that can support that model, and then marry the two. If your business strategy changes, your leadership model, and possibly your leadership, will also need to change.
For more on leadership, check out these great resources in the OPEN MINDS Industry Library: Great Leadership Is A Habit, Four Types Of Leaders Every Organization Needs, and Leadership – The Leader, The Relationship, The System. And if you’re interested in developing your organization’s leaders for a high-performance future, make sure your team attends our 2015 OPEN MINDS Executive Leadership Retreat on September 22-25. In addition to a power-packed program, two thought-provoking keynotes kicking off each day:
Kevin Ann Huckshorn, Ph.D., author of Principled Leadership in Mental Health Systems and Programs, and Former Director of the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health – Principled Leadership & Mental Health: How To Develop Successful, Innovative Organizations
Carmella Sebastian, MD, MS, Corporate Wellness Expert, Dr. Carm LLC – Leaders As Executive Athletes: Training To Take Your Performance To The Next Level
And, I will be opening the final day with my session, The Leader’s Challenge In Making Your Strategic Plan A Reality: The State Of Change & Advice From CEOs Who Have Been There. Remember the words of football coaching great, Vince Lombardi – “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve…any goal.”