In recent weeks, we have all been informed about the physical, mental and emotional health of the candidates for President of the United States, because we need to know how well they will perform under the pressure of high office.
When assessing the health of our leaders, however, we rarely ask about the health of the Leadership System of the organization.
Why is the health of the Leadership System so vital? When the leadership system functions effectively, performance improves, sometimes exponentially!
The Leadership System is the central organizing system that must deliver on all functions owned by the Top Team, including: become cohesive, define the future vision, set direction, create and execute strategy, ensure alignment, communicate clarity, engage stakeholders, develop talent, manage performance, build accountability, ensure succession, allocate resources, craft the culture, and deliver results.
The Leadership System creates a distinctive Leadership DNA, Code or Brand. This Code is the context that produces all outcomes. It gives everything its meaning and indicates what we are predisposed to being and doing. Does your leadership code predispose you for quality, speed, profitable growth, competition, and financial results?
To develop your leadership code or brand, you need to develop the Top Team and the next two levels of direct reports. We refer to this as the Extended Leadership Team (ELT), and we focus on their collective effectiveness.
As you develop the Leadership System, you need to employ a Whole Systems Approach that balances the development of competence and capability with the evolution of consciousness and character. Such an approach can transform any organization in government or business into an effective, efficient and purposeful organization by fully aligning the internal systems and engaging the hearts, hands and minds of people.
Six Systems must be carefully developed and maintained: Leadership, Communication, Delivery, Human Performance, Metrics and Accountability. The systems are broader in scope than functional departments or activities and must be understood independently and as part of an integrated whole. These Six Systems set up the conditions and components necessary to create a healthy, high-performing organization.
This Six Systems frame helps people see how everything is integrated. These Systems operate at the macro level (organization) and micro level (project/department). Also, these systems are interrelated—they depend on each other to function at full efficiency. The leadership system is the central system for ensuring the organization survives and thrives. To achieve high performance or sustain results, leaders must define and refine Key Processes and execute them with daily discipline. They must translate vision and values into strategy and objectives, processes and practices, actions and accountabilities, execution and performance. Unless and until the Leadership System operates effectively, all other systems are degraded. Its purpose is to ensure meaning and focus and create healthy conditions under which people can thrive and create breakthrough results.
The Leadership System operates on four levels—the leadership of: 1) Self; 2) another Individual or Person; 3) Team; and 4) Organization. Leadership of Self requires self-understanding (conscious self-awareness). You need a deep understanding of self to be of great service to others. Pursuing opportunity without self-understanding is to be an organizational opportunist—someone who takes advantage of opportunities or circumstances without regard for consequence or principle. The Leadership System also encompasses the leadership of individuals (one on one), teams (groups) and organization. All four levels require leadership competency, consciousness and process.
Since the Leadership System has the capacity to create high-performance, you need to monitor its health—its capacity and capability. This suggests using metrics—a common set of measures—to track operations, opportunities, and improvements and to measure individual and collective leadership effectiveness.
We invite you to ask yourself: How effective are you as a leader and leadership team? How do you know? What is your leadership ROI? Take the sample Leadership Circle Profile.