Leadership – The Ultimate KPI for Warp Speed
The most progressive management practitioners on the planet unanimously agree: Leadership excellence is absolutely crucial for success. Leadership defines organizations more than any single influence. More importantly, leadership is the ultimate gatekeeper of strategy, performance and profitability.
Leadership is a business’ speed limiter. Poor leadership brakes performance at the most crucial moments in an organisation’s journey, when decisiveness is key. Today’s small- to medium-size enterprises operate in an age of unparalleled uncertainty, with market disruptions from far beyond the horizon of the best forecasts. Every organization must act strategically when faced with challenge. Hesitate and you’ve missed your moment. React without a good plan and you’re equally lost, left in the wreckage of the Brave New World where new market forces judge the quick and the dead. This is why inspirational leadership takes performance to a new level: Because leadership is a business’s single most important Key Performance Indicator. Leadership must have its needle pointing in the right direction, or performance heads South.
For new businesses with good leadership, the glass is always at least half full. Leadership inspires an organisation through early stages of doubt. Challenges in this stage are about breaking into markets, cutting through resistance and building the brand. For older businesses the challenge is different. Constant exposure to tough markets can wear down belief in the business model. Management becomes jaded, marketing enthusiasm is worn out and business culture is tired.
Unearthing core dynamics and sparking renewed creativity require a specialist skill set. Sometimes a view from beyond institutional walls sheds new light on a problem, reframes challenge and puts a company’s mission statement back into perspective. Here is what three strategy heavyweights have to say about leadership.
“According to a cognitive perspective, leaders affect the beliefs, feelings, and actions of followers through the stories that they tell and the lives that they lead.”
Howard Gardner | The John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.
“Leaders are designers, stewards, and teachers. They are responsible for building organisations where people continually expand their abilities to understanding complexity, clarify vision, and improve shared mental models – that is, they are responsible for learning.”
Peter Senge | Director of the Centre for Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
“If you are a leader at any level in any organization, you are a steward – of careers, capabilities, resources, the environment, and organizational values.”
Gary Hamel | Visiting Professor of Strategic Management at London Business School. He was formerly a Visiting Professor of International Business at the University of Michigan and at Harvard Business School.
If you listen carefully to these preeminent scholars, each one says the same thing–but differently.
So, why bother trying to define leadership? Because we desperately need leaders. They’re the prime component of successful businesses. Leadership fuels culture, talent and creativity. It’s central to an organization’s ability to adapt, survive and thrive in the face of the most challenging competition. Leadership is pivotal to all human endeavours and it is at the heart and soul of every venture, no matter how big or small.
When you’re thinking about your organizations performance next time, maybe take a minute and reflect on Gardner, Senge and Hamel, particularly if you’re a leader in search of warp speed performance for your company.