Most companies invest in leaders with strong operational skills to manage and maintain the status quo or drive more profit. However, they fail to understand that leadership goes beyond mere operations skills.
People in power should have the know-how, experience, confidence, and influence required to tackle all the problems that come with management. Most of these problems require more than single commands and may need a leader and not a boss.
This article seeks to lay out 12 leadership principles that have seen businesses grow from simple startups to seven and more figures. Here are the 12 leadership principles practiced by top managers:
1. Distributing Responsibility
Top managers understand that they should push power downwards and evenly across the organization. This move gives people at all levels the chance to take part in business decisions. Keep in mind that top leaders acquire their skills through practice, which requires a great deal of autonomy.
By distributing power, they offer potential leaders an opportunity to grow their risk appetite and see what happens when they make individual decisions. It also promotes unity by increasing collective responsibility, intelligence, adaptability, and perseverance among employees, which invites ideas from all fronts.
Distributing power gives employees more confidence and skills, and therefore, they can step up when needed. This happens especially when an opportunity to make a difference in the company comes up. Top managers know that leadership does not stop at the top-it is decentralized.
You must have noticed several companies are moving from top-down management practice and empowering agile teams to drive changes in the organization. Over time, companies have realized that rigid structures and managerial hierarchy type of leadership do not support organizational agility, which is needed in light of rapid changes in the business environment.
2. Honesty and Openness
Things are rapidly changing, and so are business organizations and workplaces. Several organizations adopted the traditional military-style leadership where they kept crucial and sensitive information at the top. Only a few managers and major stakeholders had access to information that could make a difference.
This type of leadership was designed to limit the organization’s free flow of information, keeping several employees in the dark. The model equaled information to power and status. However, top managers know better nowadays.
The problem with releasing information only to select members of the organization is that it is a recipe for making decisions in the dark, which might be quite harmful. It encourages guesswork and speculations, which may reflect poorly on the business.
Denying other employees’ information also kills their confidence, encouraging them to keep away from offering proposals that may differ from that of their leader. Employees must be offered enough information for strategic leadership.
However, top managers also know how to balance what needs to remain a secret and the information they can release to the employees. Honesty breeds transparency, which creates room for real conversions that may improve the daily business practices.
Top managers understand that real power is not drawn from concealing information but from converting it to new growth opportunities.
3. Creating a Favorable Environment for Raising and Testing Ideas
Ideas foster growth and betterment of business’ practice. Strategic leaders, and, in this case, top managers, understand the importance of developing and presenting new ideas. They ensure that they do not stop at presenting and developing ideas and tailor the ideas to create value for the business.
Top managers set up ways for other employees or different people to bring in their innovative ideas and help them make the most out of them and for the business. The traditional business management model had limited channels for presenting new ideas as it usually occurred through an individual’s direct manager, who on most occasions blocked them in preference of his/ her own.
However, top managers believe in strategic leadership and thus strive to better share ideas via cross-functional forums, which brings together like-minded peers to present information and pit them against each other’s reasoning.
Other means include apprenticeships, which allow early thinkers to sign up for mentorship with leaders who can help them build their skills. Creating an environment for sharing and presenting new ideas is the best way of promoting innovations, and the best example, in this case, is Google through their ‘Google Cafes’ program.
4. Embracing Failure For Future Development
This may seem like the wrong thing, but it is crucial. Employees should be given room to learn from their errors, and top managers tap into that. They come up with values, that although do not encourage employees to fail, offer them room to learn from their errors.
Top managers do not aim for perfection. However, most organizations do not accept significant failures, and victims are always punished in many ways. While this is understandable, top managers embrace failure, followed by a willingness to admit and work twice as hard to learn from the errors.
Also, inevitable failures may result in success, and therefore, not every instance needs to be shunned or harshly criticized. An important skill that they teach in employees is learning how to manage tensions created with uncertainty and recovering from their failures.
To managers embrace failure as an essential part of the workforce development.
5. Providing Access
Access is everything when running a business or organization. Top managers understand just how important it is to provide access to other strategists. This is mostly done by enabling the potential strategic leaders to meet and work with their peers across the organization.
Hiding strategists from each other leads to isolation and loneliness, which does no good for the business. Once these individuals know that others like them, they become more open and strive to develop valuable strategies.
Top managers understand that the last step is finding these people by recognizing their unique talents. It is almost impossible for someone to identify his/ her uniqueness. This is usually seen in the eyes of a third party.
Most of these strategic leaders are not always famous, and therefore, the best way to find out about them is by asking around. However, while doing so, such managers strive not to create the impression that other employees are better than others and deserve special treatment.
After finding this group, the next step is t bring them together and invite them to learn from one another, thus exploring ways of creating a strategic environment for the entire business.
6. Fostering Experience-Based learning
Most companies dwell on informative methods to drive their business operations in total disregard to experimental means. However, they are not to blame as this method starts as early as in class-based training.
Dwelling on the informative is easi9er and cheaper to implement, which explains its popularity. However, it has serious repercussions, which include short-term thinking. This does not mean that traditional leadership training cannot develop good managerial skills, but strategists must have the experience to achieve their potential.
Top managers harness this for successful business delivery by bringing together a team of employees with a collective assignment and empowering them to develop a solution for a given problem or, better yet, design a new product and lay out the framework for generating it.
They offer the teams a small budget and a deadline and draw the plans and financial estimates for their entire projects. This can be a simulation exercise, but it helps to foster experience-based learning.
Depending on what is right for the organization, top managers can also use the practice field. After completion of the program follows several schedules intensive discussions about the results to cultivate better understanding.
7. Good Hiring Decisions
Managers have their reasons for hiring professionals. However, top managers hire for transformation. They understand that hiring decisions should be made after carefully considering the candidates’ capabilities and experiences while aiming for diversity.
Making the right hiring decisions helps managers overcome the natural push to select similar people. Remember, businesses need diverse minds, and in this case, people who can think differently and present several unique decisions.
They examine how applicants react to several real-life situations and their performance in their previous organizations. They conduct interviews that seek to uncover their psyche, abilities, and empathy.
Top managers, therefore, examine more than just what the interviewees bring to the table but delve even more profound to ascertain how they think. The hiring process goes on even after candidates have been selected. The lucky ones are signaled to take on more responsibility and transform the organization by introducing them to a culture that appreciates and different views.
Top managers also understand that they have to focus on their person while driving change and managing other employees. They take time and intensively think about given situations and the problems that may emerge from them.
They also double loop, which involves studying one’s thinking about a given situation and uncovering the biases and assumptions while poking into given fears that most people shy away from discussing. Reflection fosters double-loop learning and questions how they think about things.
Therefore, when analyzing situations, they start to give them a single loop approach before moving to double loop, which is more focused on the ‘self.’ Reflection helps one learn from his/ her mistakes and gives time to figure out the value of aspirations and whether they can be raised any higher.
9. Being in The Present
Top managers bring their whole selves to work. This is the best way to deal with the most demanding situations and problems. They have learned the art of drawing from everything they have learned in their lives, be it personal or professional.
They tap into their full set of capabilities, interests, experiences, and passions, which helps them develop innovative solutions. Time is of the essence, and being in the present helps them keep off things that do not align with their values and jobs.
Top managers enjoy the power to influence, and therefore, they encourage their subordinates to be like them-bring their whole selves to work. The result is a low-stress environment where people can be themselves and take responsibility. It breeds the right environment to share emotions and capabilities while overcoming all the constraints in life.
10. Humility and Intelligence
Top managers recognize leadership as an ongoing process. They do not believe that their positions make them small gods, enabling them to tower over their subordinates, despite their experience and indispensability.
These leaders are ready to admit that they do not have all the answers and never tire of consulting, being within the workforce, or top management. As a result, they allow other people in the regular workforce to expose their expertise and feel respected. This leads to readiness to perform.
11. Strategic Planning
Top managers understand the importance of strategic planning. Through this, the organization identifies, organizes, and executes programs that align with their visions. However, it does not just stop here; top managers understand that this needs to be done continuously, and strategies must be adjusted to meet the business’s needs.
Keep in mind that the market is always shifting, and therefore, what worked yesterday may not work today. These managers understand that every adjustment should align with the given shift to achieve the given visions.
12. Driving Active Business Renovation
Top managers are always at the forefront. They do not barricade themselves in their offices and hide behind piles of books and paperwork. They are always first in line to drive active business renovation to differentiate the business from the competition.
They understand that change is not needed for the sake but should be made after considering informed decisions and all the employees on board. They consult and come up with the right types of changes and improvements that need to be made to keep the business afloat.
Top managers are different from ordinary ones. They understand what it takes to make the business successful. These twelve principles can work for all types of businesses, be it small or large. Are you a top manager? If not, you ought to be one.