What’s The Key Role of Leadership?

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As 2017 is nearing its end, the answer is one that’s both consistent and evolving.  Just in case you missed Parts One and Two of this leadership series, here’s a short recap:  The question was asked, “What are the three top responsibilities of leadership, that is, an owner, or C-suite leader?”   

I answered my own question in Part One wearing two hats: experienced owner, and multi-decade “vet” who’s facilitated change and growth in over 1,600 restaurant and hospitality companies in different industry segments.  

Part Two of the series expanded the dialogue. Readers got the perspective of a Founder/CEO, SVP of a multinational brand, and COO of a regional chain.  The panel represented three different industry segments and sizes— all highly successful.

The language used by all four of us was nuanced. That said, surprising or not, thematically, the roles named Top Responsibilities showed up consistently:

1.  Performance on Purpose, meaning holding the vision, mission, purpose and values of one’s company at all times. (If you’re a Simon Sinek fan, he would name this “WHY” we exist and “HOW” we perform, doing whatever it is we do.)  

2. Finding and retaining the very best people in order to carry out performance on purpose.  

3. Fiscal Health,  the achievement of fiscal goals building on points one and two above.

Between now and then, my dialogue with the panel, and other leaders has continued.  At times the order of the roles 1, 2 or 3 shift, however the themes keep being the same.   

Going forward, what does this mean for leaders and their companies?     

In reality, most days all three roles happen simultaneously.  Leaders experience a juggling act.  In one hand is Purpose or Values (are we serving staff and customers by living values, on purpose) in the other hand are number runs: (financial statements, budgets, investments, and more). And, in the air is the third ball, personal performance, do we have the right people, do we need more people, in which roles?

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Trends for Success in 2018 and beyond:

  • Keep these three roles in mind at all times. Remember, managers on site are Brand Leaders to staff and customers by default.  

  • Going forward, Culture = Brand™  

  • Culture exists. Culture only happens by choice or by chance. Going forward, ask what we’re happy with, what we’re not, what strategies can we put in place to shift? And most importantly, what structural changes need to occur to support the strategies. The best strategy tends to fail without structural support.

  • The speed and complexity of change seems faster each month, let alone each year. This is going to continue. Use the three key roles as a guide to implement strategy and structure to continually evolve your culture and brand.

  • Balance is critical. Leadership (and management) is not static. At any given moment leaders and managers need to hold the balance between fiscal goals, the greater purpose of the company and celebrating or course correcting key players on their team.      

  • To inspire millennials and generation z, have these three roles in place and in balance.  Frankly, in general, boomers love it too.

  • Address harassment and hostile environment issues early on. Live company values turning those words into actions, Safe Space® must be in place. Culture and brand experience show up pre-interview, then through ongoing training… “this IS the kind of culture you’re about to join; this IS the Culture we are,” nothing less.   

  • Also a trend, this short list of leadership roles is likely not going to change anytime soon.  HOW we stay effective in these roles will continue to shift.    

The opportunity for leaders is to stay conscious of these roles, own that Culture = Brand Experience. From this position, great questions can be asked of leadership teams. In my experience, there is real opportunity here to shift employees to active team members, and leaders themselves.   

Imagine having team members actively engaged in shifts working with leadership eyes, with ownership eyes.  When inspired, staff turns into team.  

By Rudy Miick, Industry Expert