Leaders who take on business transformations work from a unique playbook. One simple fact differentiates what it takes to turn around a business versus run a business. Leaders leading through business transformations are evaluated on how well they change the status quo. Changing a business from chaos to order requires a unique leadership style.
Three essential pillars for leaders who transform businesses are Directing, Achieving, and Recognizing. Each of these three can stand on their own or be combined to produce the successful outcomes required of a leader transforming a business.
Directing is the act of giving clear and understandable expectations to others. The clearer the direction that is given, the higher the likelihood of achieving successful outcomes with the business transformation. The direction must contain words that are comprehensible and actionable—language that is associated with the culture and the transformation.
Telling is most often associated with directing—as opposed to asking. This can lead to complications if not attended to properly. Telling is an assertive behavior when it is done effectively. When telling becomes aggressive, it will undermine the success of the transformation or even sabotage it.
Leaders who provide clear direction understand the importance of the metrics that must be met under the transformation plan. Metrics are a key element of measuring the ongoing success of a transformation plan, and they also are critical to the evaluation of the plan’s completion review. Planning to achieve the metrics before directing others assures clarity and alignment.
The work of directing gives way to the results or, more specifically, achieving the required outcomes of the plan. Achieving is why businesses exist: They strive to meet the budget, the sales targets, the profit margins, the growth rates, and the leadership development objectives. Achieving positive results ensures that business that transform continue to exist.
Achieving for many leaders is the same as winning—and they take it very seriously. Leaders who are out to win with a business transformation plan are energetic and motivated by the idea of the trophy. They are driven intrinsically and extrinsically to achieve more and more with their career endeavors. Winning is not necessarily about others losing: Leaders can be winners without beating out others.
I found throughout my career, that one of the best practices for monitoring achievements was a scorecard. When the key metrics are listed on a scorecard and reviewed frequently, there is an increased chance of meeting them. Leaving achievements up to chance is not a strategy that leaders transforming businesses want to rely on.
Recognizing is a great way for leaders to highlight the outstanding performance, contributions, and outcomes of workers on their team. Leaders can recognize these workers with bonuses, raises, or an employee appreciation program like Employee of the Month.
When leaders are pressed to deliver on a business transformation plan (on time and on budget), they know that their workers are critical in achieving that outcome. In an effort to keep everyone focused and working on the right tasks, in the right order, and at the right pace, a leader may incentivize the workers with a financial bonus. When the bonus is predictable and certain, it will indeed motivate workers to meet the timelines and budgets of the business transformation project.
Many leaders will evaluate a worker’s performance and results at the end of a business transformation project and grant an increase in their base pay. This is most often associated with a structured performance management program which make it predictable. Predictable recognition has been shown to be more motivating for workers, even without knowing the amount of the raise in advance. Money is just one way of recognizing a job well done!!!
Employees want a variety of recognition activities and feel most valued when the recognition aligns with their beliefs and values. Some people prefer private recognition while others glow in the spotlight. Leaders should be aware of how their workers would like to be recognized. The value of an Employee of the Month recognition cannot be overstated. People want to stand out among their colleagues in esteemable ways, and there are many forms that this can take.
Developing and tailoring your unique leadership style to the type of work you are most interested in doing is a critical component of any development plan. When leaders work with coaches and mentors to develop their unique leadership style, it is important to know the area of expertise that they might want to work in. Leaders who focus on building a leadership style that results in successful business transformations will benefit from knowing the essential leadership traits needed.
One of the greatest achievements of my corporate career was the impact that I had on leaders who were developing their unique leadership style. The support that veterans can give to aspiring and growing leaders is invaluable to their ability to positively influence others while achieving outstanding results. Leaders who specialize in business turnarounds have the ability to make a big difference for the business and the people associated with it. For many leaders, this is why they chose to lead.
Business transformations require skilled and proficient leaders that embody the essential pillars of Directing, Achieving, and Recognizing. What unique leadership style are you developing to achieve success in your career?
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