Monday, November 7, 2011

Four Key Practices for Every Organizational Leader

Photo by m4tik

If you're leading an organization - whether a team, a company, or a group of volunteers - there are four things the organization requires to be successful. Effective organizational leaders consistently do these four things:

1. Focus on Results

Your organization exists to accomplish something. Organizational leaders keep everyone focused on those results. They will make changes in systems or personnel if either hinder the team's ultimate purpose.

Why does your team exist? What does it accomplish or produce outside of itself?

2. Develop People

People are the most important resource in any organization. Effective organizational leaders devote a significant amount of their time to ensuring people are properly trained, equipped with the resources they need, and matured as leaders.

Do your team members have the skills and resources they need to be effective? Who will carry the team's vision when you are gone? Are they carrying that vision now?

3. Cultivate Values

Every group of people has a culture of how it conducts business, how people treat each other, and how problems are resolved. Values are the foundation of this culture. Too often, values are just words on a wall. Effective organizational leaders consistently model, reinforce, and celebrate organizational values. As a result, they grow an organizational culture.

What are the unwritten rules in your team? How do people treat one another? How are problems resolved?

4. Promote Organizational Learning

Effective organizations regularly evaluate themselves against their environment and their own goals. Organizational leaders promote learning, not just at the individual level, but at the level of the team/organization. Effective leaders do not waste time placing blame for past problems, but continually ask their teams to think about how things can be done more effectively in the future.

How do you institutionalize learning? How does your team discover what worked and why it worked? How do they address future improvements?

More Than the Sum of Its Parts

Organizations are more than just a collection of individuals. They develop a life and energy of their own. As an organizational leader, your role is to actively develop that energy and keep it focused.

Take care,

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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