I have studied organizational management and leadership for more than 25 years.  For the last 20 years, I have seen it in action with my own teams and clients.  I have come to understand that successfully led organizations are led from the top down and can be characterized as fostering some form of servant-based leadership.  I recently read an article in Harvard Business Review (October 2013) written by Kevin Sharer, the former CEO of the pharmaceutical company Amgen, on how leaders should behave.

Sharer asserts that focus must be on the behaviors we expect leaders to display. Not only does the top leadership team need to be highly involved in creating a leadership model, they need to be intellectually and emotionally engaged as well.  The following are the four steps that were covered in the article:

  1. Top leadership should discuss the behaviors a leader in the organization should exhibit.  They should include:
    • Consciously acting as a role model,
    • Delivering strong results in the right way,
    • Building, developing and leading empowered and diverse teams, and
    • Motivating others with a vision for the future that can be implemented.
  2. Top leadership should be able to describe behaviors with enough specificity to inform selection, training, and evaluation.  The focus should be on behaviors as opposed to traits.  Traits are not valuable if they are not displayed.  And, if you fall short of a behavior, you can work to close the gap.
  3. Share your agreed behaviors with the top people in your business.  Get their feedback of the behaviors, add new ones that they see fit and engage them in the process as well.
  4. Find ways to foster the behaviors by using evaluations, surveys, communications and highly visible actions by leaders.

We actively consult with many of our clients on how they run their businesses and achieve their strategic vision.  Over the years, we have recognized many personalities and characteristics.  Leaders that demonstrate servant leadership skills are typically more successful than all others –  they exhibit the behaviors outlined in step #1 above.  Successful leaders also continually share the vision, mission, core values and initiatives of the business.   With leadership, as with most things, there are clear and concise steps that can be followed to be successful.  My advice is to seek out a proven and successful leadership model and then implement and adhere to it.  More strategic value can be derived in the time allocated to leadership than most all other functions in a business.