7 questions that reveal whether your organisation’s leadership needs help

The right type of assistance at the right time can make the difference between success and failure of your leadership.

Call for help You won’t be surprised to know that an organisation’s leadership is key to its overall success. It’s those organisations with high-quality leaders which regularly outperform their competitors on indicators such as financial performance, product quality, employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

There is a strong link between leadership and the bottom line. A worldwide study* recently showed that committed investment in leadership development resulted in a 5% increase in productivity, a 47% increase in profit margins, and a 6% increase in sales.

Organisations with the highest quality leaders are 13 times more likely to outperform competition. High quality leadership helps an organisation retain talent, maintain a healthy corporate culture and respond more quickly to changes in the business environment.

However, as with any high performance machine, an organisation requires regular checks and maintenance. This will ensure that both its leadership individuals and teams are operating to their fullest potential, and any issues can be caught early and addressed.

We have put together a simple list of questions to ask of your own organisation, leaders and teams. If you aren’t already aware of current or potential issues, asking these questions could help you diagnose where an issue might exist, and give you time to get help, before it becomes a major problem.

1) In your organisation, could those in leadership positions be more effective?

It’s easy for leaders to get stuck in a rut with behaviours that can hold back themselves and their organisation. There are as many aspects to this as there are individuals out there but there are some tell-tale warning signs to look out for – symptoms that the leadership needs help to return to effectiveness. A leader feeling overwhelmed and ‘never having enough time’ is a common indicator that help is needed. Constantly feeling time-pressured can lead to a myriad of other negative knock-on effects such as eroding relationships, inability to delegate, inability to prioritise and of that person feeling inadequate. None of this is conducive to success, and action should be taken.

2) Could your team’s performance be improved?

Would you describe your team as a high-performance unit? Such a team can help an organisation achieve incredible results. Conversely, a team that is not working can cause unnecessary disruption, missed delivery and strategic failure. Warning signs that your team is dysfunctional include high levels of absenteeism, missing deadlines, disagreements and conflicts emerging and falls in productivity / sales.

A professional assessment of the team can pinpoint where improvements need to be made, and guide you through any changes.

3) Do you have a new appointee who needs to make a positive and lasting impact quickly?

A newly appointed leader will face one or more of the very different challenges that result from promotion to a higher level, moving from a different business function, arriving from another organisation (or another part of the same organisation) or adapting to a new geographical location.

Most new leaders also inherit some direct reports as part and parcel of their new job. They may need help to assess these individuals and to come to the conclusion as to whether they should be ‘encouraged to see their careers elsewhere’, demoted, moved sideways, promoted or developed as they have potential.

Getting a new leader up to speed quickly is now more important than ever because shareholders expect positive financial results in a short space of time.

The benefits of a transitional programme cannot be overstated. The programme should be highly customised around the new leader, allowing him or her to ‘hit the ground running’, and become effective quickly.

4) Do you have managers with the potential to move to the next level?

Have you identified managers who are ready to move to the next level?

Rather than risk talented individuals with leadership potential looking elsewhere for opportunities, your organisation needs to gauge, track and manage your existing talent pool.

Have you identified someone who is ready to embark on the next stage of their career, as a leader?

Perhaps you’ve noticed someone who consistently achieves good results in their current position and has good relationships with the rest of their team. Being seen by others as a leader is often a reliable indicator of leadership readiness. Is the person already treated as a leader within their own team, and seen as a leader by senior management?

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, just 52% of organisations have a formal process for identifying high-potential talent; just 36% invest in the growth of talent, and just 22% have effective programmes for leadership transitions at all levels.

If there isn’t an effective process in place to support the transition of such individuals your organisation’s talent management process might need to be upgraded, or a new one introduced.

5) Do you need to enhance your own leadership skills?

Whether you are a newly promoted leader or have been at the helm for years, there are usually areas that can be improved.

If you are about to take up a new position it is critical that the transition into your new role is properly managed. This way you can lay the proper foundations for your (and your organisation’s) future success.

For existing leaders, the key is to understand where opportunities for improvement lie. This can be accomplished using a formal assessment system and tools such as 360º profiling, psychometric analysis. Combined with an understanding of your unique organisational context, the assessment will uncover your personality traits, motivational drivers, preferences and energy profiles that underlie existing leadership performance and potential.

6) Have you identified the leaders your organisation needs for its future success?

Dealing with the present day may be all-consuming but it is important to plan ahead.

Who will lead in the future? Do you have a pipeline of experienced and capable employees who are prepared to assume leadership roles as they become available?

A successful organisation needs to attract, develop and retain talented people today, with a view to them becoming the leaders of tomorrow.

As well as identifying these individuals, development programmes need to be put in place to ensure tomorrow’s leaders are equipped to succeed.

7) Does your organisation’s culture support or obstruct high-performance?

Does the culture obstruct high performance? The culture of an organisation directly impacts leadership effectiveness and development. Leaders cannot be effective in an environment in which employees lack the freedom to make decisions or to innovate. An effective performance culture enables and empowers its people, which allows organisations to capitalise on their talent.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, fewer than 20% of UK organisations have such a culture.

If your organisation isn’t supportive then you need to find a way to replace problematic behaviours with positive ones that enable high-performance.

A diagnostic analysis can be undertaken of the barriers that are restricting the performance culture of your organisation, and a comprehensive programme set up to replace the barriers with a set of positive behaviours. These need to be closely aligned with your values and business strategy. Culture change is then brought about by using interactive, reinforcing methods that show the positive effects of the new behaviours. The effects can be measured to confirm progress. Other procedures can also be put in place to prevent the old culture reasserting itself.

If you answered ‘Yes’ to at least one of these seven questions, then your organisation’s leadership could benefit from help, either immediately or in the near future.

You wouldn’t ignore an unusual rattle coming from your car engine, and likewise indications that are flagged up as a result of these seven key questions shouldn’t be ignored in the hope that any problems might just go away or solve themselves. It is essential to take action before a relatively minor challenge becomes a serious issue.

By monitoring and nurturing your organisation’s leadership, the business in turn benefits from more engaged and satisfied employees, and ultimately, improved business performance.

We have a number of programmes which can be custom-built for your organisation and we would love to talk to you about any aspect of your organisation’s leadership which could benefit from expert help.

Get in touch or ask us for a FREE TEAM ASSESSMENT (UK only).

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*DDI Global Leadership Survey