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In sports, it’s usually the team with the best players who play as a team that consistently wins. It’s no different in business. Organizations that attract, develop and retain the best talent win.
How do we define winning in business? There’s a lot of metrics that can define winning, but for my money, it’s consistent profitable growth, with consistent being the operative word.
Developing a team — a winning team — is a leadership responsibility. So, the obvious question is: Do you have leaders, true leaders, in your leadership positions or merely successful individual contributors? If your answer is that you don’t have true leaders in your leadership positions, then I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you have no chance of winning.
Oh sure, you may increase sales and score well on your organization’s mystery shopper report, but your organization will never realize its true potential unless you have great leaders leading your company and driving your strategy.
Leadership: A Perennial Issue
In a recent study on global organizations, leadership (or lack thereof) is the most pressing issue for the third consecutive year. Fifty percent of respondents rated their leadership shortfalls as “very important” and yet only 6 percent of these organizations believe their leadership pipeline is “very ready,” thus pointing to a staggering leadership capability gap. This is interesting considering that spending on leadership development programs has increased.
Nearly every organization recognizes leadership as a critical talent problem, so why are so few organizations making any progress addressing it?
Many organizations treat leadership development sporadically, confining development to a select few employees. Organizations also fail to make long-term investments in leadership development and neglect to build a robust leadership pipeline at all levels of the organization.
Without a leadership pipeline to address your succession plan, what would your organization do if something happened to your mission critical positions, those positions that have an immediate and direct impact on the bottom line?
Research shows that high-performance organizations spend 1.5 to two times more on leadership development than other organizations and reap results that are triple or quadruple the levels of their competitors.
Many industries, in particular the convenience industry, have a tendency to promote people into leadership positions because they were successful in their previous job, which was as an individual contributor. For instance, successful cashiers become store managers, and successful store managers become supervisors. Sound familiar?
Being successful in an individual contributor role does not qualify nor guarantee success as a leader. Success in another individual contributor job position, perhaps. A leadership position? Hardly! And this is the very reason that so many organizations are systematically underperforming their potential — they don’t have true leaders in leadership positions.
Why is that? Because they don’t have a process in place for identifying, grooming and providing ongoing leadership development. Any decent leadership development process should include:
1. Required competencies
2. Observable behaviors
3. Multiple feedback loops
Not to mention, the will of upper management to not permit inadequate leaders to linger in the position.
The influence of the leader is stronger and reaches much further than that of an individual contributor. For example, in the area of employee turnover, which is an incredible burden on an organization financially and on several other levels. Employees join a company, but quit the boss. Employees don’t quit on good leaders.
The Bottom Line
Some things should not be delegated. Leadership development is one of those things. It’s simply too important.
The bottom line is this: Without owner/CEO ownership, leadership development will likely never be a long-term commitment and the organization will suffer as a result.
Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner.