Business leadership is not a science and the answers cannot be found in any manual. It is an art form that takes a lifetime to master. While this obviously requires rigorous personal development, more importantly it requires a commitment to the development of others. The very best leaders in business today work tirelessly to release the potential they see within their employees for the good of the individual, the team, and the greater organization.
If you are committed to creating a culture of leadership excellence in your organization where business leaders and their employees thrive, keep the following three components in mind and take necessary action to support their development:
In the workplace, competencies are the combination of observable and measurable knowledge, skills, and abilities that an individual brings to their job. Competencies define what a leader can do and are a mix of both functional competencies (finance, marketing, HR, and so on), as well as people, organizational, and strategic competencies.
Leadership competencies are vital for competing in any market, especially during major stages of organizational growth, when competency gaps quickly surface. For example, a company with revenue growth from $2 million to $10 million will typically need to attract talent, especially leadership, with a higher level of financial competency, rather than simply going to the finance team for answers. In addition, as any company grows, its marketing, technology, and HR needs will expand, and competent individuals will need to step up to the plate and fill those gaps quickly and efficiently - often this means stepping in new positions of leadership. For this reason, implementing a comprehensive leadership development plan is essential to developing leadership skills competencies during stages of company growth, promotions or shifting of talent, and so on.
Character is how leaders behave in different situations; it is the traits and values they bring to their roles. When it comes to becoming a successful business leader, character and established company values must be in complete alignment. To help ensure this happens, take the necessary action to update hiring practices and establish leadership development activities that cultivate leaders who live the values every single day.
Some key character traits that leaders should model, coach, and require may include:
- Sound judgment
While character is made up by your individual traits, values, and beliefs that drive how you act in a variety of situations, organizational culture is the shared traits, values, and beliefs that govern how people behave in the company. Every organization develops and maintains a unique culture, and it is crucial to ensure the leaders you have in your business model this culture and promote it to others.
Cultural fit is important in your leaders because they are the ones who employees look to for cues on how to behave in an organization. Having leaders who embody the attributes of a positive culture pays off. In a PwC survey of more than 2,200 participants, 84 percent ranked culture as the most important component of organizational success, and 51 percent said their organization needed a culture transformation. An organization that focuses on ensuring its leaders model the company culture ensures that this culture will be a strategic asset and that all voices will be valued and respected. This will result in a culture where employees feel empowered, engaged, and connected with the work they’re doing and the organization they’re working for.
Business Leadership Is An Art That Takes a Lifetime to Master
When it comes to creating successful business leaders, competency, character, and cultural fit will all play a part and must be developed according to the needs of your leaders and business. While there is no science that can dictate exactly what will make your leaders successful, with leadership development you can assist in the mastery of this art form.
Originally published November 13, 2012. Content updated January 16, 2020.