By Jeffrey Rocha


Let’s see if this situation sounds familiar: The senior members of the management team have spent a significant amount of time developing and deploying a strategy. These senior managers have done many of the things that leaders should do – setting goals, coaching and giving feedback, building and leading teams and driving results. At the same time, however, comments such as these are heard throughout the organization: “This strategy is just the flavor of the week” or even worse “We can't get anything done because management hasn’t provided us with any direction.” How can this be? Thus, while the leaders at the top of the organization are confident that they’ve laid the necessary foundation, this clearly isn’t the case.


While it is important to have strong leaders at the top of a company or organization, what is the more powerful leadership paradigm? Developing leaders at every level of an organization.


George Washington once said "Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable procures success to the weak, and esteem to all." Using this wisdom as a foundation for today’s highly complex organizational dynamics, we could broaden out to this message to "Leadership is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable procures success to the weak, and esteem to all."


What could possibly be more of a powerful force than an "army of leaders" operating in your organization? This army is a result of a carefully crafted leadership culture that is embraced at all levels, not just by management. Creating a leadership culture results in an environment that fosters and rewards teamwork, leverages diversity, shares knowledge and resources, inspires collaboration and promotes results-focused mission accomplishment.


Let’s examine the creation of a leadership culture and the many benefits of having leaders at every level of the organization instead of a select few concentrated at the top.


Here is what we know: having a specific job title doesn’t make someone a leader. In fact, true leadership is more about having the skills to influence among peers to enhance a company’s performance. The skills in our army of leaders will be powered by: Creating a Collaborative Environment Leadership Accountability Building Anticipation Skills Developing Reaction Skills and Recruiting Changes.


Creating a Collaborative Environment

Enable collaboration across functions so that employees can build strategic relationships necessary to achieve common goals. These networks and alliances are critical for creating fast action in solving tough problems.


Encourage leaders at every level to develop collaboration skills in such a way that not only motivates employees to follow their leader, but also instills a sense of trust in that leader’s vision.


The first step is to establish an open-communication policy where employee opinions are encouraged. All employees should have an opportunity to weigh in regardless of title or position, and they should be able to see the results of their contributions. This will allow all employees to not only develop confidence in their opinions, but in their leadership skills as well.


Leadership Accountability

When creating a leadership culture, it’s important to create mechanisms for accountability. This will drive your company’s performance and train leaders to meet ambitious goals.


Organizations should have fair and measurable performance assessments and reward behaviors that achieve results. Depending on the specific goals, measures of success may include quality improvements, enhanced timeliness, and cost reductions.


Often, tying rewards to performance is an effective way to reinforce the accountability component of leadership. Rewards can include monetary incentives as well as peer recognition programs.


Building Anticipation Skills

The most successful leaders have the ability to anticipate the results of their decisions – both planned and unplanned. Coach employees during daily situations that arise and help them anticipate how actions at their level affect the entire organization. This will help them make better choices and develop one of the most necessary skills for a leader - the ability to see around the next corner.


Developing Reaction Skills

Employees shouldn’t just be able to anticipate, they should also have the skills needed to react quickly. This skill is typically acquired through experience. Give employees an opportunity to develop strategies that are flexible enough to make future changes seamless. This will provide them with additional skills and make the organization more efficient. ​


Recruiting Changes

Although it is important to work with existing employees in developing leadership qualities, your human resources department should also develop a systematic approach when hiring new employees. A brief questionnaire can easily determine if candidates at all levels have essential leadership qualities. These skills can also be identified through the use of situational leadership interview questions. You may also consider the candidate’s ability to develop these skills if they don’t already have them. A candidate who is willing to make the effort to successfully integrate into a leadership culture can be very valuable.


Although many employees think that embracing leadership requires large actions, it’s important for management to help them understand that small daily actions can make a large impact on an organization. If employees have the motivation to make a positive contribution – they can become a leader in your organization. ­­­­­­­­­­­­


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Jeffrey Rocha is CEO of The Millennium Group International, LLC (TMG).

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Resources:


Bill George. “Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis.” Wall Street Journal.


Leslie L. Kossoff. “From Manager to Leader.” About.com Management.




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