The cornerstone of every successful business is a unified company culture. And the foundation for a strong culture is that it must support the corporate strategy and be built on exceptional leadership. Being a good leader is no longer good enough.
Earlier this year, I wrote a piece for Forbes on the importance of exceptional leadership, explaining the value of a holistic approach to leadership development and highlighting three areas of focus to help shape a successful leadership strategy.
Three Keys to Effective Leadership Development
- Clearly understand the company’s strategy and cultivate a supportive and inspiring corporate culture: In order to support a positive culture, leaders must be able to clearly articulate the company’s vision and strategy and also comprehend the company’s team members’ values and expectations. Once the cultural DNA of the business is identified, then you can create a set of clear principles that reflect and support the culture your team members need to be successful.
For instance, Dell’s leaders are expected to thrive at these seven principles: optimism, humility, drive, vision, selflessness, judgment and relationships. However, leadership is a privilege, and should be worked at, so while it’s important to be good at all of these, my advice is to be exceptional for at least one of them. Just pick one and excel at it. Our research has shown that exceptional leadership in the eyes of team members – in just one defined area – delivers directly to the bottom line of the business.
- Embed expectations for leaders into the business’ ecosystem: To achieve success, a company’s values and leadership principles must be embedded into every aspect of the business. Holding leaders accountable for successfully executing the company’s strategy while also living and cultivating the company’s culture is a must. At Dell, one key way we measure this is through our team member surveys, which play a significant role in driving our leadership and culture strategy.
- Use data and analytics to uncover the leadership principles that matter most: It’s no surprise that a tech company would put a premium on data. We believe a company’s leadership development strategy must be based on research and data. It’s the ongoing evaluation of a leader’s impact that should serve as the guide post for HR strategy and decision-making going forward. At Dell, for instance, we know through team member research that the two most important leadership attributes for inspiring our team members are selflessness and vision.
The end game – our customers
Dell’s research shows that our strategic focus on leadership is helping to support business growth and better service for our customers. For example, the data reveals that sales teams working for inspiring leaders have six percent higher sales attainment than those working for uninspiring leaders. The difference is more happy customers and increased revenue measured in the millions, a bottom-line difference that should be of interest to all employees of a company. If you’re interested to read more of my thoughts on leadership, see my Forbes post here.