The model definition of effective leadership is based on two dimensions:
- The ability to ensure constancy of purpose.
- The ability to stimulate growth.
Leadership in the modern context cannot be distracted from steering the organisations that they are responsible along the path to success, from the point of view of making useful and successful repeated journeys of realising competitive business performance on the one hand, but also the overall health and sustainability of the business has to be maintained for the long term. Here lies the main challenge for leaders:
- Should leaders bow to the demands of business shareholders, who demand quick results, repeated positive performances and healthy financial growth?
- Should leaders craft strategies that build on the past, that seek to maintain the purposefulness of the organisation in the long run?
- Should leaders try to compromise the strategic agenda by ensuring that they have a balanced perspective of delivering short term, whilst investing long term?
These three propositions cannot be treated in isolation. Leaders will have to use balanced judgment, scientific approaches based on information and analysis of markets, competition, customer feedback etc., and also they have to use cumulative experience on what makes sense and what pleases and delights the customer. Furthermore, leaders will have to use intuition and rely on newness and innovative thinking for stretching the competitive gain and maintaining a leadership position if they wish to do so. However, leaders will have to comply with a list of requirements that are thought to create a momentum for sustainable business growth, for the maintainability of purposefulness and in terms of continuity.
Figure 1: Excellence Tetralogy: The Leadership Element
In terms of constancy of purpose leaders are expected to undertake the following activities:
- Clarity: building visioning capability and ensuring its effective communication and organisational alignment.
- Commitment: the engagement and mobilisation of people is a challenge that must be undertaken in order to ensure total commitment to the vision, the mission and the strategic objectives.
- Concern: having an uncompromising focus on primary customers and other stakeholders
- Care: ensuring that people are grown and engaged, rewarded, recognised and retained, and also ensuring that there is a biased strategy towards talent.
- Culture: working on the instigation of a work climate that is enriched by quality of philosophy through the individual, teamwork contributions, and with an encouragement on problem solving approaches and the practice of innovative thinking.
- Continuity: ensuring that succession, on the one hand, protects the long term interests of the organisation through the inculcation of its values and guiding principles, but also ensuring progression in terms of growth and development within the organisation and outside.
In terms of the second challenge for leadership, it is their ability to stimulate growth at various levels and ensure that the businesses are set to do what is expected of them and they can deliver to the expectations of the various stakeholders. For this, leaders of the 21st century are expected to focus on the following key activities:
- Growth of internal capability: this means the ability to deliver quality and value all the time and to create dependability and reliability.
- Innovativeness: the ability to invent and deliver at various stages. This means creating a culture which is propelled forward by innovative thinking and a process oriented approach that welcomes new ideas and knows how to drive them and translate them into tangible outcomes that can excite the customer at the end.
- Customer value: making sure that the measurability of value is in terms of reliability and dependability, and making sure that the customer value is outside in and not measured internally only.
- Leveraging capability: encouraging knowledge transfer and learning and harnessing of external expertise.
- Smart partnerships: build supplier relationship management capabilities and a smart approach to fostering partnerships that can facilitate knowledge transfer and leveraging.
- Shareholder and stakeholder value: ensuring that the outcomes are fit for the purpose in terms of the transfer of financial and economic values as well as other means of satisfying stakeholder expectations.
- Performance results: being able to post consistent and positive results year in, year out.
- Business growth: being able to grow the potential of the business and exploit opportunities available in various parts of the world.
- Brand image and reputation: building brand equity and delivering the promise in a consistent and trustworthy manner.