This is part three of our series about the intersection of how leaders develop a culture of leadership around them. Today, we draw directly from a conference article by Pastor Dave Ferguson of Community Christian Church in Suburban Chicago titled Lessons Learned While Starting New Things. Following are five elements necessary to develop an organizational culture that nurtures leadership capabilities that exist in everyone.
- Vision – a vision is never wholly your own and neither is a culture. When your leadership culture becomes the product of your vision and the recognized source for your vision, that is when you will have a compelling vision that people will follow. Your vision may be a story you need to tell, it may come from a variety of experiences, it may be inspired by the people in your organization and, ideally, by your customers. The visions that seem to evolve from all of these sources and more – those will be the most compelling visions of all.
- Strategy made simple – many leaders fail because their strategy is too complicated. Can you explain yours on the back of a napkin? Can you make compelling your vision or value statement, your key strategies and your major goals by drawing it up quickly over coffee with a colleague?
- Financial Viability – money always follows vision; vision does not follow money. Let’s face it, if you already have the resources to support your vision, it doesn’t require much vision, just a little action! The leader who says his business exists to “make a profit” may struggle to attract and maintain customers. The leader who says his business exists to attract and maintain customers is better positioned to increase profits.
- Innovation – when you are approached with a new idea and your first reaction is a “How”, “Why” or even “No”, you may kill innovation and your culture all in one. People want to make a difference and pursue their own dreams. What they need is a permission-giving leader who equips them to give it a try. Ferguson says it best:
“What people need is affirmation of their dreams and space for them to figure out how to make them really work.”
- Building Bench Strength – effective leaders create healthy leadership cultures where anyone can explore his or her potential for leadership. Young leaders especially, but leaders at every career stage need the opportunity to lead. Perhaps the truest sign of a mature leader is the ability to get out of the way and let others lead, demonstrate your own willingness to follow even if you are a senior leader or at the “top” of the organization. Ultimately, a healthy leadership culture is one that allows risk-taking among emerging leaders.