Truly good leadership is hard to find. Many people in leadership positions (it has been my experience) shouldn’t be. It’s sad but true. So, when an organization is fortunate enough to have solid leadership in place, leveraging it is HUGE.
It’s all about scalability! How can an organization leverage its leadership? Its knowledge? There are only so many leadership people to go around and good leaders are extremely difficult to find. So … building a world-class organization depends on the leader’s ability to develop good systems, processes, and methods and to make them known (easy to access, learn about, use, and change as needed) to the entire organization.
Believe it or not, this is a foreign concept to many people in leadership positions. A leader can’t build an organization for long on his/her own personal effort. There’s only so much time and personal energy to go around. They must figure out how to duplicate themselves, developing other leaders and putting systems, processes, and methods in place that help others to get the job done.
The bottom line is this … an organization can be boiled down to literally hundreds of individual and interdependent processes. The key is to decide what the best method is to do something and to document it in a format that ensures the agreed-upon method is followed every time. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? For whatever reason, though, it never is in the trenches day-to-day. Leaders continue to wonder why things don’t work the way they should, never reaching the conclusion that they simply haven’t communicated how they want something to happen. They’ve never gotten their staff involved in helping them to decide on a best practice.
And, improvement is extremely difficult if the method is not consistent. If everyone does it differently, determining what needs to change is almost impossible. But, if everyone has agreed to follow an established method it’s pretty easy to make improvements. A solid, well documented, and communicated infrastructure is a means to manage and facilitate change for the better.
The issue is growth. An organization’s ability to grow will be determined by its ability to develop infrastructure. In order to grow, a leader must get very good at identifying, developing, training, and deploying people. A solid infrastructure enables this to happen quickly and efficiently. In the words of a leadership friend of mine, “We’ve already agreed on the best way to do that, now it’s just a matter of getting new people up to speed.” Organizations that get this concept will grow the strongest the fastest!
To clarify, though, let me say that we’re talking about “effective leaders” needing to “understand” something. They don’t have to be good at it themselves. In fact, many effective leaders are not good at developing infrastructure. This doesn’t make them less effective. However, they need to “understand the importance of building infrastructure.”
I have been around many leaders who don’t get this fundamental. They are busy getting frustrated with their team(s) “blaming” them for lack of performance when they themselves are to blame. They, as the leader, do not understand why results are not meeting the stakeholder’s need. This is what makes them “ineffective” as a leader. They will always be frustrated because they “do not understand” what needs to be done to succeed.
If a leader does understand the importance of building infrastructure but is not good at doing so, he/she must make it a priority by surrounding themselves with people (preferably leaders) that are good at developing infrastructure. Once this is done, they must continuously reinforce the importance with everyone in the organization. For example, they have to use the language the infrastructure building people are using. They have to read, practice, and reinforce systems, processes, and methods as they are developed … demonstrating the priority and criticality to the rest of the organization.