Leadership: Too Much Variance

Most every large organization has some terrific leaders within its ranks of executives, some mediocre leaders working right next to them, and often an abysmal leader or two thrown into the mix. The result is that a given employee’s likelihood of working for an outstanding leader becomes little more than a game of chance. What causes this wide variance in leadership ability from one supervisor to another? It stems from one or more of three factors: (1) a lack leadership principles, (2) a poor supervisor selection, and/or (3) inadequate leadership training programs.

MindSet’s Seven Principles of Leadership© specify the underlying goals and motivations for how a leader should act. Lacking such principles, employees will experience inconsistency not only between leaders, but even from a single leader from one situation to the next. The result is a work experience for employees that is unpredictable and seemingly haphazard.

Adoption of the Seven Principles is a necessary, but not sufficient condition to offer consistent leadership to employees. Also required is wise selection of those who are promoted to supervisory roles. Many companies fail at this task, too often placing individuals into leadership positions due to technical knowledge or seniority. Neither of these factors are highly correlated to the ability to lead humans. MindSet provides our clients a list of skills and personal characteristics that we have found to be predictive of leadership success.

The final ingredient needed to provide leadership consistency is high-quality leadership training for those who are to be placed in supervisory roles. Too often companies seem to think that leadership is either an inborn trait or something one learns by osmosis. Such is seldom the case. Like any other skill, leadership ability can be fostered and grown. The goal should be to teach supervisors (1) what it is that outstanding leaders know, (2) what it is they do, and (3) how to make the Seven Principles come to life for employees.

If a company has followed the three steps outlined above, there is one more step that can put success into hyper-drive! That step is making use of our newest product at BetterCulture, 20 Tenets©. This online, on-demand assessment and year-long coaching program is designed for every employee. It helps them to become more successful by focusing on what they can do to build the workplace culture and better understand what an outstanding leader deserves from them as a follower. When they learn the 20 Tenets, they become an even better teammate – supporting both their supervisors and colleagues. This is the other side of the leadership equation that is too often left unsaid – and it would be better if not only said, but laid out as an expectation.

I have just shared with you a formula for incredible team success – three steps and a kicker that are easy to understand, but (oddly enough) rarely followed. Yet when unusually well-run companies follow this prescription, they see an increase in production that is analogous to the power of compound interest; it explodes to levels otherwise unseen.