Impact of Leadership

The leader sets the tone for an organisation, the expectation levels, and in an underperforming department, the leader is usually part of the problem.

It requires a new leader to come in and wake a team or organisation from its slumber and show it what can be achieved.

It is not often that someone who has been leading an organisation, for a long period of time, suddenly achieves a step change in performance levels, this only happens when we get a change in the leadership.

A good leader inspires his teams to believe that they can achieve more, that they can raise their game to the next level, and that they can maybe achieve levels that they felt were previously impossible.

We often see examples of this in sport, where a team that has not won in a long time, replaces their manager and suddenly they find the belief that they can win, and start to win matches.

Look at Crystal Palace football team, they were tooted to the bottom of the table, looking as good as relegated, but with a change of manager they have won two games in a row and are now looking like they can survive.

Manager Tony Pulis on joining the team announced, I can keep Palace up.

Great leaders create an inspiring vision, one which ignites the passion of their teams, we can’t do that by setting small goals. We can only do that by being bold.

We also need to show a plan of how these goals will be achieved, a bold goal without a plan remains just wishful thinking.

When I looked to persuade my friends to run a marathon with me, they liked the idea but didn’t believe that it was possible. So to inspire them, I not only had to come up with a bold goal, but I also had to instill the belief that it was possible for them to do it too.

To do this I found some examples of marathon runners that they could compare themselves with, which would make them believe it was possible. Here I found Farujah Singh who completed the London marathon even though he was 100 years old.

Now the arguments that they were too old or too weak couldn’t be used, as we all believed that we were in a better physical condition than a 100 year old man.

Next was to create a training plan that they could believe in, and I found one which started with training runs of just 15 minutes in the first week, but which then just increased by 5-10 minutes per week until after 24 weeks, you would be able to run for over 4-5 hours which would be more than enough to complete a marathon.

So now we had an example we could emulate which took away any excuses, and we had a believable plan, as we all knew we could at least run for 15 minutes and the 5-10 minute increase per week sounded very reasonable.

Belief is very powerful and it’s something that all leaders should look to build. With the belief that we had now created, my friends and I, managed to complete our first marathons in just over 6 months, something which before, we would have told you was impossible.

This approach of creating belief works in sports, business, in all walks of life, and if we can develop it within our teams there is no limit to what can be achieved.

Another example of this is at a company where I worked, our historic performance was ok, but we were not really setting the world on fire.

We got a new CEO who joined the company, he had completely different expectations, and he felt that we could do considerably better. He set a bold goal for us to increase our profitability by 40% over a 4 year period.

Many doubted that this was possible, but as well as the bold goal he also showed how many of our competitors were achieving the new level of profitability that he aspired to, and he also gave us clear instructions on how to achieve it.

This helped create the belief, we had examples and a plan, so now the only thing that was holding us back was ourselves.

Not only did we achieve the goal, but we exceeded it, and the year after our profitability rose even further.

The leader had changed the organisation, we had gone from happy underachievers, to a high performing organisation which had developed a winning culture.

The employees now have even higher expectations and hold themselves accountable to keep driving performance higher and higher.

This is the impact that a leader can have on an organisation, and one that all leaders should aspire to.

It requires courage to do this though, because setting bold goals can be risky, you are setting yourself up and you do need to feel comfortable being held accountable for achieving those goals.

I have worked with leaders who have both set bold goals, and also with leaders who have looked to maintain the status quo, and I can categorically state that I prefer working for bold leaders.

They create energy, excitement and at then end of the day when we go home feel satisfied that we have achieved something good, and look forward coming back to work the following day.

I think most people would prefer to work in an environment like that, so if leaders do look to make an impact they should be confident that they will get the support of their staff in going for big bold goals.

So my advice to any leaders would be to look to make a positive impact, to energise your workforce, create excitement and build a winning culture, because if you don’t you might just find yourself replaced by someone who will.

Gordon Tredgold has worked in IT for over 20 years and is a specialist in Transformational Leadership, Operational Performance Improvement, Organisational Development, Creating Business Value via IT, and Program and Change Management. He is the author of ‘Leadership: It’s a marathon not a sprint’ (£14.99) which is now available on Amazon.