There is no doubt about it. The companies showing the others “how it’s done” are characterized by leadership that is more receptive to change and more receptive to new ideas. They strive for engagement from their employees, and make positive use of the talents, skills and ideas that can come from every corner. The organizations that will lead us into the future are the ones led by men and women who can do what is currently considered unusual and do it comfortably.
These leaders typically are risk-takers in their personal as well as professional lives and they see themselves – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, economically – as current experiments in achieving excellence. In other words, they consider themselves as always “Under Construction,” and then they walk the talk.
You see, in the quest for performance excellence, many leaders forget about the role that they themselves play in bringing these things about. They don’t see the baggage they bring to work with them every day but expect their employees to be totally focused on their jobs. Or they announce a new corporate ethic, and then turn around and continue to behave as they always have because they don’t really think the new standard applies to them – or worse yet, they think their behavior already is in line with the corporate ethic.
In organizations, change – or growth – typically starts at the top, but it can also be stopped there unless leadership makes a sincere effort to take its own standards of excellence to heart. Members of the organization are watching what leadership does, not what it says. Leadership credibility comes from those doing the watching, not from the leader’s position title.
As a leader, executive, employer or owner, what can you do to encourage engagement and performance excellence? As you strive to be a role model in order to Nurture Growth in your people, it will be easier for your team to mirror your behavior, than to have to imagine what it is that you want.