What promises must leaders fulfill if they are to be truly effective leaders?
I’ve been intrigued by the concept of four promises leaders must fulfill if they are to be effective. Consultants Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams delineate these promises in Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results (Wiley, 2015):
- Set the right direction and create meaningful work.
- Engage all stakeholders and hold them accountable for performance.
- Ensure that processes and systems facilitate focus and execution.
- Lead effectively. Maintain trust to achieve and sustain desired results.
In this second promise, effective leaders foster a commitment to achieving results. They strive for engagement and assign accountability.
From my work in organizations, I’ve observed the consequences of leaders not achieving engagement. The problem is that, unfortunately, clarity and commitment often end at the leadership-team level.
In many instances, leaders know—but employees cannot explain—why their work makes a difference. Managers focus solely on accountability and performance, rather than engagement. What’s often missing are frequent references to organizational purpose and linking daily tasks to why individuals count.
Many executive and senior leadership teams underestimate the energy and commitment required to fully engage everyone. Leaders are most effective when they communicate and clarify a noble purpose. Successful efforts are rewarded with employees’ energy and passion.
In fulfilling this second promise, leaders earn their staff’s trust and commitment. They provide the why behind the what of work. Employees expect and want their leaders to draw out their potential, talent, strengths and energy. Leaders do this by creating a culture where people are allowed to grow, contribute and be valued. They set challenging goals, provide resources, and address the reasons behind stated goals. When objectives are achieved, they provide recognition and rewards.
Engaging employees can pose challenges, but the next two promises depend on it. Each promise paves the way to the next and contributes to overall leadership effectiveness.
An effective leader answers the question, “Why does our work matter?” What about where you work? Do your leaders regularly reinforce direction and inspire engagement? I’d love to hear from you; You can contact me here or on LinkedIn.