The Leadership Process

The leadership role often changes significantly in a High Performance organization. This is true for executives and supervisors alike. All too often, leaders consider changes to High Performance as a technique or program which others must implement, but fail to realize the extent to which they must be personally involved and change themselves.

Since High Performance is a way of thinking about and managing the business, the transformation process begins by helping senior leadership define not only what they should be doing in the organization, but how they should go about doing it.

The Leadership Process includes five essential steps:

Step #1: Leadership Orientation and Commitment

Leadership orientation and commitment is normally a one to two-day orientation session in which key leaders from the organization learn about High Performance. In this session participants go through an organization simulation to experience the difference between traditional and High Performance work systems. As they learn and discuss principles of High Performance, they will learn about the transformation process, explore the level of trust within the organization, and identify change needs driving their organization.

Step #2: Assessment of the Business and Organization

The purpose of this step is to complete a comprehensive assessment of the organization, creating a common understanding of the current state of the business. Key leadership, with a cross-section of people from the organization, analyzes a business case study to learn how to use the Transformation Model as a framework for organization analysis. Then, applying the Transformation Model to their own organization, they systematically analyze seven key elements: current results; the business environment; the current strategy; current core processes, current structure; and coordination and development systems.

Following their analysis, they summarize key issues to address and identify organization strengths, weaknesses, and alignment issues. Armed with comprehensive assessment data, they can develop a list of change initiatives for improving the organization and moving toward High Performance. The assessment process can be modularized into half-day sessions spread over a nine to ten week period, or it can be accomplished more quickly in a single three-day session. This step often surfaces significant problems within the organization, creating a sense of direction and momentum for needed changes. Every participant will come away from this dynamic session with a greater sense of responsibility, know-how, and enthusiasm for making the business succeed.

Step #3: Development of Strategy and Vision

In step three, key leaders develop and/or adjust the business strategy and direction of the organization. During this process they review their strategy and vision based on current business realities, refocusing and redefining their strategy to fit marketplace and competitive demands. Specifically they will accomplish the following during the process:

  1. Understand the demands of the current business environment;
  2. Forecast the future business situation
  3. Clarify a mission that motivates and inspires
  4. Identify the principles by which people will conduct themselves
  5. Define future customers and how they will deliver value to them
  6. Identify core competencies needed to succeed in the long run
  7. Create a long-term business focus and identify anchors that distinguish them from competitors
  8. Set short-term performance goals
  9. Identify performance initiatives and establish a master plan to implement the strategy

The strategy development process often requires several in-depth exploration and discussion sessions which may be accomplished over a period of weeks or months, depending on the size, motivation, and complexity of the organization. Clearly, the process must be tailored to the individual needs of each organization. We are confident that senior leadership will emerge from the strategy development sessions being very clear about their strategy and united in their commitment to implement it throughout the organization.

Step #4: Chartering the Change Process

During this step, senior leadership determines the need for organization redesign to address organization weaknesses and alignment issues identified during assessment. They create a design charter, outlining the expected outcomes and the scope and parameters of the redesign process. They assign resources, establish time frames, and identify a design team to participate in and guide in-depth process analysis and redesign of the organization as necessary. They also determine the scope of the development process, identifying leadership training, employee orientation, team development, technical skills development, interpersonal skills development, and other projected training and development needs. These plans are factored in with strategic initiatives and change opportunities identified during strategy development and assessment to create an overall change plan. The charter is then shared with employees to communicate the need for change and explain how the transformation process will work throughout the organization.

Step #5: Integrated Management of Business Performance.

Management of business performance, especially in today’s complex and rapidly changing environment, can be extremely challenging. Consequently, management behavior can be short-term and crisis-oriented. Managers and supervisors alike often react to demands which seem urgent, but may only be symptoms of deeper causes related to flawed processes or systems. A further problem is that work may be segmented into functional areas, promoting poor communication, turf battles, lack of problem ownership, and general inefficiency. In step five, Integrated Management of Business Performance, leaders develop a common plan and establish management processes to proactively manage the short and long-term performance of the business. One of the first tasks here is to help leaders begin to work as a team as they share responsibility for the overall management of the enterprise.

During assessment, the organization identified key results areas and current performance in those areas. During strategy development, the leaders identified ideal key results areas, how they will measure them, and what their goals are. Armed with this data, the leadership team outlines a process for how they will monitor, track, and integrate performance throughout the organization on an ongoing basis, including common initiatives, clear expectations, and consistent performance metrics. This may lead them into discussion or readjustment of recognition, reward, or performance management systems as well.

The next portion of this four-part series will discuss the Design Process. Be sure to subscribe to the newsletter to receive this series of valuable articles. You may also read the first part of this series, The Transformation Process: An Introduction.

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  1. […] the first day I stared, he showed myself and others the way he wanted us to do things through his leadership process.  This directly relates to our readings in Group Dynamics for Teams we are reading in Leadership […]

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