Organizational Effectiveness Leadership Model
“Encourage – Enable – Excellence that Endures”
A team of strong leaders supporting and continuously growing a healthy organizational culture is essential to sustaining high levels of safety, reliability and affordability. The link between highly effective leaders and the resultant high levels of sustainable performance is supported by numerous examples throughout the businesses we serve. In fact, without the right focus on culture, disasters can happen. Research of almost every major industrial accident in the last century will demonstrate that a lackadaisical approach to leadership and safety culture were prime contributors to the accident.
Our decades of leadership and management experience has shown organizations can dramatically change for the better in a short period of time by focusing on human behavior. A holistic approach must be taken to positively shape behaviors by focusing on encouragement or intrinsic motivation, enabling motivated people to be successful and finally focusing on ensuring mechanisms are in place to sustain excellent performance. Our organizational effectiveness and leadership model addresses and ties together the key elements of all three phases. This approach has led to noteworthy sustained success in highly regulated and complex organizations during challenging scenarios.
In order to “Encourage, Enable and have Excellence that Endures” (three key shaping factors in achieving sustained excellence) we must first establish emotional security.
In order to “Encourage, Enable and have Excellence that Endures” (three key shaping factors in achieving sustained excellence) we must first establish emotional security. Creating an emotionally secure environment where team members are not afraid of raising any issue allows individuals and teams to progress through the cycle and have enduring performance that’s excellent. Without emotional security fear drives behaviors and performance stagnates and can easily erode into catastrophic situations.
As leaders we must always put emotional safety first and ask the question, “Is it emotionally secure? Do people feel comfortable speaking up?” Removing fear from the environment using strong, transparent, predictable processes and teamwork based behaviors that enhance our ability to work together is key. This allows employees to grow and perform at peak levels. Emotional security is elevated by reducing ambiguity. Leaders must ask the question when performance is not meeting expectations; “what process lacks structure and what behaviors are present that are resulting in uncertainty for employees leading to the absence of emotional security and substandard performance?” Emotional security is the key ingredient to enabling behaviors that produce excellence.
As we look at leadership and organizational effectiveness through the lens of improving emotional security we see three phases essential for achieving and sustaining excellence. All three phases must be present in order to shape human behavior:
- Encourage: Encourage each employee by cultivating strong intrinsic motivation. Encouraged employees who are intrinsically motivated are essential for success. Our programs, processes, policies and behaviors must support and cultivate employee engagement and a workforce that is taking action not because “they have to” but because “they want to”. Our leadership model supports this by bringing out the best behaviors in our team and creating a secure environment for raising questions and discussing difficult issues. The culture must establish a fair accountability model, and should constantly promote continuous improvement. Encouragement involves transparency in our communications that are empathetic and factual regardless of our situation. It focuses on fostering a strong questioning attitude and personally knowing your team and their point of view. Effective meeting management creates structure that gives employees confidence and helps to keep them engaged while creating greater organizational capacity.
- Enable: Enable our team to perform with excellence – it’s one thing to “want to” perform through strong motivation. It is a different challenge to “be able to” and “capable”. Strong training and knowledge transfer programs grow and support a capable team. Individual development plans, succession planning, and performance coaching also maximize our team’s capabilities. Most importantly, in order to enable others, we must work on ourselves. What do we really want out of an interaction? How do we prevent ourselves from being self-centered and not focusing on the good of the team? What are the definable, repeatable behaviors that allow us to address these issues while simultaneously building our relationships? Can coaching be something that is valued versus dreaded?
- Excellence that Endures: Excellence that Endures the unexpected leadership challenges and avoids cyclic performance must be the ultimate goal of the team. Once teams are encouraged and motivated, enabled and capable, high levels of performance are sustained by supporting a well understood, structured and nurturing work environment that reinforces and improves on the behaviors and processes that lead to success. A supportive, structured work environment sustains excellence and allows our team to know what to do when in ambiguous situations. Our structured work environment uses a defined leadership model of teachable, observable behaviors that leaders can be held accountable to, thus driving sustainability. A supportive structure is provided by reinforcing clear standards of excellence and simple, effective, well understood processes. Structured process and behaviors drive plans of action which address emerging issues either tactically or strategically. Sustaining performance involves an effective corrective action program, laser like metrics that keep us focused on what we really want, regularly conducts safety culture assessments and trains leaders to look for the “subtle signs” of cultural degradation. Performance gaps are clearly identified and actions are developed to close those gaps and align our team.
There are only a few rules to keep in mind:
- Encouragement does not have to come first but it must eventually be developed for the team to be fully engaged and have strong ownership of the results.
- The phases of the model can happen in any order or simultaneously.
- The team will not succeed unless emotional security is present throughout each phase of development. Employees must feel comfortable raising concerns and voicing their thoughts. Strong, predictive processes and a leadership model that focuses on teamwork and collaboration are key ingredients in establishing emotional security.
- All elements of the model must eventually be in place in order for the team to achieve excellence that is sustained.
The specific, tangible actions leaders should take under each phase of Encourage, Enable and establishing Excellence that Endures are shown below:
Encourage: What drives people to “want to” versus “have to” accomplish an activity?
- Embrace a leadership model that focuses on teamwork and makes it emotionally secure for people to raise issues.
- Provide a strategic communication plan that is built on facts and transparency in order to build trust.
- Encourage a questioning attitude regardless of the topic. Positively recognize individuals who “speak up.”
- Get to know your team and their point of view. They will not engage with you unless you do the same with them. Get out in the field, visit their work areas. Make regular informal interactions with senior leaders the norm and not the exception.
- Use good meeting management skills to effectively make decisions, move to action, produce results and increase capacity.
- Have a clear accountability system that is fair and consistent.
- Stress continuous improvement and high standards. No one wants to be a part of a mediocre team.
Enable: Once we are intrinsically motivated, what makes us “capable” of improving our team, ourselves and overall performance?
- Develop a strong knowledge transfer program of the leadership model and desired behaviors so that everyone understands the language of the model. Succession planning and non bureaucratic mentoring with rotation opportunities to grow experience should be a part of knowledge transfer.
- Leaders must pay constant attention to constructive coaching opportunities to help individuals and the team to grow.
- As leaders, we must invest in ourselves. Develop behaviors that allow for constructive conversations that deal with difficult issues but result in improved performance and relationships. Hold each other accountable to those constructive behaviors.
Excellence that Endures: Once motivated and enabled, how do high performing organizations stay strong and retain an emotionally secure work environment.
- Reinforce key aspects of the leadership model every day and with every opportunity. Incorporate it into performance reviews, meeting agendas, presentations etc. Look for coaching opportunities when leaders fall short in upholding behavioral expectations. Stick to the model.
- Have a “safety net” process where employees can voice concerns about safety culture and compliance issues without having to go through the chain of command.
- Develop and reinforce standards of excellence.
- Have clear and visible laser like metrics that measure what you are trying to achieve.
- Have a repeatable process that assesses emotional safety culture on a regular basis, identifies gaps and moves to action to close cultural performance gaps.
- Develop a straight forward business or operating plan that has tangible actions to drive your vision and mission. Everyone needs a road map. Leaders show people the way forward and the operating plan acts as that map.
- Operationalize key plans (business/operating plan) by developing a strategic communications plan that ties everything together and keeps the team aligned. Include a standard methodology for communicating emerging issues.
- Have a process that helps prioritize work load and management decisions using risk informed decision making.
- Be a learning organization. Create a “non-bureaucratic” corrective action program to capture gaps to excellence, learn from those gaps and put actions in place to improve performance.
- Have a project management approach to almost everything and cultivate expertise in this area.