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A Productive Rant About Leadership and Organizational Development

by Chris Young - The Rainmaker

I have a healthy respect for the ideas of Simon Sinek (and other leadership gurus like him). A clearly well-spoken and self-described optimist, Sinek without question is passionate. While his ideas are not particularly original, they are sound (in the appropriate context) and when incorporated into the operating system of a business or organization, can be fire.

Being the shrewd marketer Sinek is, he has distilled his ideas into powerful sound bites that stir emotion in many - many who are disillusioned and disengaged.  

It is the impact of Sinek’s sound bites that I am most concerned about. Just check out one of the many leadership quote machines on LinkedIn. Sinek’s quotes are a yard light to many providing hope.

And while I cannot pretend to know what Sinek’s motivations are, I have to wonder. Is it to sell books and speaking gigs? Or is it to make a difference in the world in a similar vein that he suggests leaders should aspire to?

While hope alone is not a sustainable strategy, there is much power in personal accountability.

And everything should be viewed within the proper context.

Organizations are complex entities, just like the people they are comprised of. It takes more than sound bites like "people leave managers, not companies" to shape sustainable performance. And while Sinek is right, organizations must start with why, he is seemingly woefully incomplete in his perspective.

Organizations must start with a why, who, and a sound strategy.

In this post, I will share what it really takes to succeed as a leader: maximizing your organizational performance. You can achieve a high state of performance when you align talent management, performance management, and culture to create performance synergy.

When you, as a leader, focus on organizational development using this formula, you will see results like increased profits, brand value, Customer evangelists, a gratifying team culture, and a unified vision.

Let us cut through the noise together to get at the real truths that will help you and your people succeed.

Ultimately, it is up to you to do the hard work. 

Component 1 of Leadership and Organizational Development: Culture

Culture Mainstream Definition: “Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.” - Brian Kristofek, President and CEO, Upshot

Culture True Definition: Culture is the collective personality that shapes the team environment, how they work together, and the way things get done, balancing accountability with unique experiences and behaviors to accelerate performance.

The Cliché to Avoid: While a company’s culture should feel gratifying, that gratification should come from bringing out the best in people and high performance. Many leaders make the mistake of seeking to create a “fun” environment and subsequently avoid challenging their people or using as much accountability as they should.

Your Job as a Leader: Your job as a leader is to foster accountability and honor the greatness in your team members as you guide them toward achievement. Creating a culture means creating an environment where your team can perform.

Component 2 of Leadership and Organizational Development: Talent Management

Talent Management Mainstream Definition: “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” - Harvey S. Firestone

Talent Management True Definition: Talent Management is an organization's ability to recruit, retain and produce the most talented team members possible through leaders who are self and interpersonally aware.

The Cliché to Avoid: Avoid focusing solely on growth and development outside of a performance mindset. As you develop your people, focus on the benefit of the team member and the company at large. When your team performs, you realize revenue and growth that will benefit the team member and your stakeholders. Your Customers and Clients will have a better experience, too.

Your Job as a Leader: You are responsible for your team and company’s success. Every missed opportunity to hire the right team member, and then inspire and motivate them to bring out their very best, damages your credibility and slows down performance. Hire and motivate for performance.

Component 3 of Leadership and Organizational Development: Performance Management

Performance Management Mainstream Definition: “All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If we want different results, we must change the way we do things.” - Tom Northrup

Performance Management True Definition: Performance management is the definition of role accountabilities that are consistent with each team member’s talent and capabilities, and the measurement of performance against those accountabilities.

The Cliché to Avoid: While it is necessary for organizations to change to get better performance and results, change needs to be deliberate and measurable with accountability. As you develop your organization, approach performance management in a data-driven manner.

Your Job as a Leader: Your job as a leader is to define roles, decide how, and to what, you will hold your people accountable to, and honor their greatness by tailoring performance management principles to each team member’s talents and skills. 

Bring it All Together with Performance Synergy

As a leader, it is not enough to simply understand the components of organizational development: you must bring culture, accountability, and talent together to create sustainable performance synergy.

These concepts require dedication and skill to master. However, there is a three-step process to organizational development:

  1. Assess: What gets measured gets improved. Use psychometric assessments, surveys, and observation to benchmark current talent and culture.
  2. Diagnose: Develop a customized coaching action plan to reduce the gaps between the vision of the organization and the potential of the team.
  3. Coach: Create a coaching plan to honor the greatness of each team member while driving toward the ideal state of the organization.

Do not let leadership and organizational development platitudes obscure your vision. In order to get the results you are looking for, you must understand the components of organizational development, understand your role as a leader, and put a plan in place to get there.

When you do, you will realize increases in profits, align your organization’s vectors around a unified vision, and experience a fulfilling culture. 

If you are ready to take those steps, we are glad you are here. Contact us today to get started on an assessment to benchmark your organization’s current development state.