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Joined-Up Leadership, by Richard Nelson

May 19, 2009 - In Leadership in Management - No comments yet

All leadership is as much about engaging people in common endeavour to achieve an organization’s strategic aspirations as it is about giving clear direction and hard targets. The point is that one of these approaches does not work without the other. For executive leaders in general management positions, these themes of giving direction and generating engagement need to be developed as two mutually supporting parts of a Strategic and Cultural Framework.

Shaping effective organizational design is an important part of a leader’s work. Developing business purpose and direction is the starting point: it clarifies fundamental purpose, it sets strategic direction and it indicates the style of engagement that an organization will cultivate with its stakeholders – customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers and communities. This purpose, and the way it is expressed and shaped by the organization’s leadership, must bind the two parts of the Framework; one identifies Strategic Goals and Performance Measures and the other Core Values and Behaviours/ Competencies.

In the recent past we have all heard a lot about joined-up thinking, not least from government ministers. We know that effective strategic leadership is attained by delivering superior sustainable performance over the long term. This requires clear goals and robust performance measures, but it also requires people who can demonstrate the organization’s values by the way they apply their behaviours and competencies to the tasks at hand. Once these key elements of the framework have been established, executive leadership can shape the development of the relevant management processes. These can be used by managers, at different levels, to establish the right performance expectations and engage the energy and enthusiasm of their people to achieve excellence.

For executives to be effective in leading organizations of hundreds and/or thousands of people, it is essential that they have a joined-up approach to designing the organization for success.

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