Businesses need to impress two constituencies. The employee constituency and the customer constituency. Mobilizing the chain of events that cause this impression to get rolling, is the sole responsibility of the leaders of any business. This makes leadership a commodity, the raw material and the main ingredient that influences the final shape and form of the impression.
Now, let me say here that leadership can happen anywhere in a business. Leadership is a set of stereotypical traits that are worth imitating. So, whilst an employee may not possess the formal recognition in a leadership position, he or she may possess leadership traits worth emulating. Of course, the converse, sadly, is also true. Some individuals find dysfunctional traits worthy of adoption.
So, I have a few thoughts on what it means to commoditize (positive) leadership in today’s evolving world.
Firstly, every business should have a leadership development strategy. I believe that leaders should be big on diffusing a workable brand of leadership across the business, so that there is a shared model for behaviour modelling at all formal leadership levels.
Leadership is a set of stereotypical traits that are worth imitating.
Commoditizing leadership means curating a clear picture of what it looks like to navigate the business when the obstacle courses are known and when, as in our current reality, rapid fluidity is becoming “business normal.” This gives the employee constituency a “single and coherent” view of the co-ordinates of the business, as it moves forward and helps to reduce employee terror of the unknown.
It’s important to ensure that unacceptable leadership practices do not become normalized. If, for some reason, this is the hard-wired reality, then a strategic intervention should be mounted, urgently, to eliminate the dysfunctional practices.
In a business where leadership is effectively commoditized, there is such a unification of practices, that the “silo effect” in the way many departments function, would be non-existent. In its place would be self-managing teams that collaborate horizontally and vertically, with commonly coded behaviours that are seeded in desirable human to human practices.
Another big payoff is the continuous investment in self-awareness and people engagement. The leadership team would have built consensus around having an internal climate that is rich in oxygen, low in employee anxiety, high in harmony and low in fear-mongering. In short, releasing the business to focus on maximizing its performance, without being hamstrung by human calamity.
Firstly, every business should have a leadership development strategy.
It’s amazing how many typical human interaction challenges can be side-stepped when a business and its people function harmoniously.
The social impact of this harmony is easy to measure, as it shows up in fewer frictional exchanges, higher levels of co-operation, a shared sense of urgency, more positive dispositions, lowered levels of negative energy, and an overall willingness to overlook minor disputes.
We’ve been focussing on the employee benefits of positive leadership commoditizing, what about the payoff for the customer? What’s in it for him or her? Well, the short answer is….a lot.
Firstly, the customer will find himself or herself doing business in a space where employees are willing to assist, they aim intentionally, to over-satisfy and fundamental transaction errors are rare. Basically, the business frees itself up to focus on providing customers with solutions to needs that they did not even realize that they had.
I believe that leaders should be big on diffusing a workable brand of leadership across the business, so that there is a shared model for behaviour modelling at all formal leadership levels.
In many businesses with which I have interacted, the leadership model is somewhat porous and irregular. Not because those in culture-defining positions are not bright or smart, but because their days are so task-saturated, that it becomes hard to swing the pendulum to the side of allyship with their employee constituencies.
Commoditizing leadership means overcoming hurdle number one…inner leadership. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in another article that businesses need to overcome their glass ceilings. Well, many years ago, when I started my leadership journey, I had to overcome my inner glass ceiling first and learn to lead myself, before I became qualified enough to lead anyone else.
I had to first commoditize the leader within myself and stockpile the traits that would bring value to the leadership positions that I would hold over the course of my professional career.
Without this first step, the step into humility, the step that tells us that we don’t know everything as leaders, we bring more leadership liability, than leadership commodity, to the table.