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How To Build A Leadership Culture

If you talk to executives around the world, you will get a lot of different answers as to what skills are most needed in the future. But one skill that comes out over and over again, almost universally, is that there just aren’t enough leaders in most organizations.

There are any number of reasons for this leadership gap around the world and it doesn’t start with not enough natural born leaders being alive…that’s a great idea, but sadly not one that holds up.

Leadership is a skill that can be coached and encouraged in an organization just like you can coach your team to do a better job at making public speeches, analyzing data, or marketing. The same goes for leadership.
The tough part is encouraging that kind of culture and it is one thing that many leaders that I work with encounter…not the will, but the knowledge of how. So here are a few ways that you can begin to build a leadership culture in your organization.

1. Allow your teams to be self-directed: In the recent past, we saw management structures that looked very similar to the command and control system that the United States military uses very effectively. Unfortunately the downside of that is it requires the manager to make all the key decisions.

Recently we have begun to see a change in strategy. Our teams now are more collaborative as the skills involved in our projects have become more complex. Now it is impossible for one manager to make all of the decisions from a place of expertise. So it is important that the manager takes more of a support role and allows the organization’s knowledge workers to be self-directed and to make the decisions that they feel are best.

2. Manage To Objectives: This flows out of the new emphasis on knowledge workers and more specific technical expertise.

In the command and control era of management, managers controlled the flow of work, the decisions, and the information. Again, as we move to extremely more specific technical works and an environment where our managers can’t and don’t have complete knowledge of every aspect of our job, it is important that the emphasis be placed on outputs and allow our knowledge workers to devise and develop ways to reach the goal that the managers set.

3. Collaborative Problem Solving: As a certified PMP, I understand that the role of a manager is often to be the communicator in chief. And, as managers have shifted from having so much expertise and have begun to rely more heavily on their ability to connect and communicate with knowledge workers, it has become impossible for one person to be able to make all of the decisions and to troubleshoot all situations. So for the contemporary manager, it is vital that a collaborative problem-solving model be incorporated into the enterprise.

This model will give the manager the ability to still gain and understand the information necessary to make rational and informed decisions while also enabling the manager access to the best ideas from multiple knowledge workers and people that all will bring a technical background that likely encompasses a wide variety of projects and experiences.

These 3 strategies will definitely empower leadership in your teams. By putting your teams in a position where they are challenged and rewarded for making decisions, you will encourage these team members to take ownership of their jobs and the outcomes. Soon your organization will have begun its journey to a leadership culture.

What have you done that has worked in your organization? Or do you think I am out of my mind?

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About Dave Wakeman

Dave Wakeman is a writer, speaker, and consultant. He currently is the principal of the Wakeman Consulting Group…a boutique consulting firm that focuses on working with organizations to achieve greater value from their investments of time and money. Dave is a featured writer for the Project Management Institute and appears monthly on their Voices blog.…