Identify the levers that create the organizational environment, and how to balance adaptability with focus.
- [Instructor] We most commonly think of leadership as way we act around people to influence their behaviors. That is certainly true when we think about leading others but when it comes to leading the organization, our aim is to adjust the environment in order to influence behaviors. Adjusting the environment is not done through interpersonal skill, and emotional intelligence alone, but through leadership levers. This isn't about de-emphasizing interpersonal skills but a focus on the organization as a system to ultimately move the needle.
Leading the organization is a systems design problem or opportunity. Create the right culture and as Stanford Professor Jeffry Pfeffer says, you will create an environment in which ordinary albeit conscientious people can reliably produce desirable results. There are four leadership levers for designing your organizational environment. Structure. This is where most leaders start orchestrating change and it's too often personal, political and wreaks of crony-ism.
Think of it this way. Does your structure support your strategy? That strategy should be based on the gap between current capacity, and capabilities and future aspirations. If you're all about teamwork, and collaboration, should you have a structure that supports distributed decision making so no single individual can do remarkably good or remarkably poor? There is no right or wrong answer. The point is to be intentional for your specific needs.
Process. The leader's job is to balance adaptability with focus. Process and systems are for repetitive tasks and to ensure quality but those same processes and systems need to enable people while adapting and changing based on the market, technology and trends. Can you create processes that stimulate, not stifle creativity and innovation while supporting standardization, efficiency and effectiveness? People.
We need to be exceptionally clear on expected behaviors or what are best described as standards. We should reliably assess desirable behaviors that suit our organization's aims. A leader's real measure is a sign of followers. The metrics that show your ability to attract and retain top talent are the best indicators of whether you got culture right. And what generally wins the war for talent is an organization that provides purpose, autonomy and a place to learn, grow and flourish.
A human workplace. Incentives. Don't think of incentives strictly as monetary. We should be catching people doing things right with truthful, specific and personalized feedback. TSP. We should also provide consequences when performance does not meet standards, that is when they let the team down. At your organization, are there real consequences for meeting expectations, exceeding expectations and failing to meet minimum standards? If not, you're allowing mediocrity to seep in.
As you move forward, keep in mind that all the levers are interconnected. When you push or pull one of the levers, you affect change in all of them. In the end, if we don't intentionally design an organization's environment, we're going to get one we may not desire.