As an IOMer, you clearly want your association or chamber to be the best it can be. But what criteria constitutes “best”? Does your leadership provide observable evidence of those criteria? If not, consider how these “-ity”s can give you a boost towards your best.
1. Agility: Speed of responsiveness to change is a competitive distinction. It requires moment-by-moment deductive reasoning, real-time monitoring of events and trends, and the ability to anticipate what’s coming next before others even recognize the indicators. Organizational agility, however, is not synonymous with agile leadership. Are you subordinating effectiveness to existing structure? Insisting on certainty before taking any risk? Impeding change because you’re comfortable with the status quo? Resolve today make fear your agility coach. Fear spawns innovation, reveals options, imposes efficacies, and helps achieve desired results if only you’re willing to respond to it.
2. Unity: Leaders must make employees essential contributors to shared goals. Unity isn’t cognitive. Even based upon shared rationale, unity is essentially an emotional state. And it’s palpable. It is built not through dogma or a series of completed transactions, but through a quality of leadership that resonates with those being led. Are you striving for mere compliance from your employees, or heartfelt buy-in? Resolve to lead in a way elicits voluntary, unified commitment.
3. Accountability: Establishing and meeting targeted business outcomes nourishes self esteem, enhances careers, and builds leadership capabilities. Are you dwarfing fledgling leaders by “rescuing” them from accountability? Are you depriving them of a sense of achievement by intervening with the right answers when they’re faltering? Resolve to develop confident, competent leaders by not providing all of the solutions. Instead, format constructive, critical feedback into Socratic questions so they have the gratification of fixing their own problems.
4. Community: Does your organization have an online, annotated human capital directory that is searchable by name, function, capabilities (whether part of current function or not), hobbies, affiliations, etc.? Have you tasked your existing staff with developing killer on-boarding programs? Do you and your managers conduct stay interviews? Assuming you have an intranet, are you regularly featuring employee accomplishments? Is there an employee “bulletin board”? If not, you have an employee base—not a community. Bases erode, but communities retain talent.
5. Levity: Humor is the weapon of the powerful relationships. Are you alert to and actively seeking “the lighter side”? Nothing shows more confidence under dire circumstances than a moment of wit or an amusing perspective—so long as it’s not at anyone’s expense, of course. Recognize the rallying effect of humor, and use it as the powerful leadership tool it is. Resolve to laugh at yourself at least once daily—and invite your staff to laugh along.
6. Approachability: An open-door policy, a suggestion box, an invitation delivered at an all-staff meeting to “come visit,” or even a memo promising folksy charm isn’t the kind of approachability employees want from their leaders. Get out there! Don’t sit back passively waiting for staff to initiate contact; YOU have to do the approaching. Institute periodic breakfasts or lunches with hierarchically segmented groups, offering open and/or issue specific agendas. Task each of your direct reports with keeping you informed about the challenges and achievements of their employees. When you engage with those individuals later, surprise and delight them with your awareness of specific details. Resolve today to step out of your office and into the working lives of your employees.
7. Responsibility: Take action to help the less fortunate, contribute to society, protect the earth, and more. Your role as leader not only requires you to model this behavior consistently, but also to foster it in others. Resolve to be conspicuous in exhibiting a sense of responsibility for the earth and its inhabitants. Better still: create opportunities for your employees to band together in doing likewise.
8. Possibility: Leaders can be so absorbed in moving people and organizations from current state to desired state that they fail to inquire about “possible state”. When was the last time you set aside time to just “wonder” together with your employees? “What could we do if…what should we do with…what next big step…what new idea…?” Resolve to engage your employees in possibility thinking.
9. Versatility: Typically leaders create, apply and direct multiple types of capital simultaneously: financial, intellectual, natural, human, etc. There is another type of capital leaders also use every day, but perhaps with less fluency: social capital. More than just an indication of how well networked you are, this important component of your leadership portfolio reveals the ability to modify your style of leadership to be just as effective with your CTO, for example, as you are with your CMO. Successful leaders get good at packaging their messages to elicit what they need from engineering, sales, manufacturing, finance, etc. Resolve today to stop waiting for others to become who you wish they were, and instead develop the versatility to work effectively with who they actually are!
10. Creativity: Without an explicit invitation for creative ideas to reduce workloads, you may never hear such ideas as reformatting deliverables, strategic abandonment, joint-venturing, portfolio workers, job sharing, virtual employment, etc. Resolve today to invite creative ideas from your employees on how to honor work/life balance.