An organization cannot be successful without leadership. Regardless of personality, background, or education, employees desire effective leadership to inspire, motivate, and provide role models for them. A successful leader has the tools and motivation skills to accomplish great things through the people working for them. Think of the abilities of great business leaders like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, or Carly Fiorina. As leaders, they defined their organization’s philosophy, values, vision, and goals and inspired and motivated their employees to accomplish things beyond their peers. In many ways, these leaders are synonymous with their organizations, its culture, and the success of each firm.
A recent study by HCS found that approximately 80 percent of goal attainment in their sample of 1,400 organizations pertains to the quality of leadership. In other words, leadership is one of the primary predictors of organizational success across organization types, locations, and industries. The study asked employees to identify what part of a leader’s job actually improved goal attainment and organizational success. Figure 1 captures the most reoccurring answers from the survey. There are three key requirements that were the most supported by the survey results:
- Leadership at all levels is important for success
- High performance culture is dependent on leaders
- Support employees to merge objectives
Leadership at All Levels is Important for Success
Research as well as actual practice has demonstrated that quality leadership is necessary at all levels in an organization to be consistently successful. A truly gifted leader at the top of an organization is necessary, but not sufficient for organizational greatness. Top organizations have capable and talented leaders at all levels from lead worker to the executive. This ensures that motivation is present at all levels and employees.
High Performance Culture is Dependent on Leaders
Culture takes time to develop and penetrate organizations. Research has shown that it takes years to build a strong performance culture. Moreover, the most successful organizations of the last 100 years possessed a strong, consistent, and uniform commitment to performance. In those organizations, leaders advocate for high performance at the individual, team or department, and organization level. Over time, the consistent cultural immersion in high performance leads to employees becoming self-motivated and taking on the same commitment to performance as their leaders.
Support Employees to Merge Objectives
Part of maximizing the value of an organization’s performance culture involves assisting employees linking their professional objectives with the organization’s objectives. Employees that feel that they are in a win-win situation are more motivated than employees that feel that only their employer can benefit from their efforts. Consequently, a critical skill for successful leaders is the ability to determine what enhances the probability of their own success as well as those that they supervise. This knowledge needs to be factored into regular decision-making as well as communication with employees.