Holistic Business Leadership, even in Matrix Organizations

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I so often find myself addressing the basic tenets of leadership that it seems worth outlining my core principles here. Foremost, create an atmosphere of trust and openness. Lead from the front, and be sure you and your team are accessible and engaging. Make all your constituencies – clients and prospects, employees, vendors, and investors – feel a part of the company’s mission. Let everyone have a voice, and work with your team to assess and internalize those inputs. With that foundation, I say you jump into my five steps for setting your business up for great performance:

  1. Truly know your business – sounds ridiculous, I realize, but get underneath the hood and identify the key drivers financially, environmentally (in your markets), and from a business process and personnel perspective. Understand your business.
  2. Find the key intersections – from this sound starting point, identify areas where strengths and opportunities intersect. These are the ultimate leverage points, the vital few things that will truly accelerate business growth.
  3. Define a vision – how will your organization look in five years? How do you want others – customers, investors, employees – to think of your business at that point? In other words, where are you going? This should be quite resilient and static once you have defined it.
  4. Paint a picture – perhaps the toughest step is translating and articulating the vision in a way that it becomes accessible, understandable, actionable, and, most importantly, embraced by those constituencies.
  5. Stay committed – persistence, consistency, communications, awareness, and adaptability are all essential elements during the execution phase. Strive for operational excellence as you implement your tactical plans in support of the vision. Closely monitor progress and performance, adjust as needed, and keep your constituencies engaged and apprised as you notch victories or course correct over time.

This is an evergreen process. While it certainly makes sense to work through it once, steps four and five are iterative on top of a reasonably static vision from step three. Also, keep working steps one and two, offline if you will, to ensure you stay on top of developments and new opportunities. Keep your pipeline of great growth ideas current and full, and refresh your vision as needed to reflect new realities. A well-defined vision should rarely need major overhauls; in fact, layering in new initiatives from your current step two into step four should not even require tweaking your vision. Try it, share your thoughts, or contact me to go deeper.

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