Five Key Elements of Effective Leadership

Whenever your team hits a ceiling, rely on these fundamental tools to push through it.

BY JEFF WHITTLE
Managing Director, Whittle & Partners

Whether you’re running a multinational company or a fledgling startup, your business will hit a ceiling – likely many of them. Businesses don’t grow in a nice linear way. Markets change, competitors adapt, team members come and go, and innovation happens. Any one of these can throw the brakes on an otherwise growing company, department, or individual. 

Your job as a leader is to be the catalyst to push through those ceilings every time you reach them. That can seem like a daunting challenge, but if you develop and use these five fundamental skill sets, you’ll set your company up for its next phase of growth.

1. Simplification

When you’re stuck, complexity is often the culprit. Face it, growth typically brings complications. When companies stall, it’s often because they struggle to adapt to their growingly complex environment. While it might seem counterintuitive, effective leaders develop a knack for simplifying the complex and reducing things to their most basic components. Great leaders aren’t the ones who can muscle through an increasingly complex environment – they’re the ones who can dumb challenges down to the point where solutions and strategies become clearer.

2. Delegation and Elevation

You can’t grow personally – and your business can’t grow institutionally – unless you hone your ability to effectively delegate. We’ve all seen drowning leaders desperately clawing to hold on to the very tasks that continue to drag them underwater and hold their businesses back. To push your business to the next level, you must constantly challenge yourself to let go of the job you had yesterday, so your people can develop, and you can embrace the job you need to be doing tomorrow.

3. Prediction

As long as you’re in the dark about what’s going to happen in the future, you’re doomed to run a reactionary operation. While there are no crystal balls, there are myriad tools that can help you sharpen your ability to know what the future holds and act accordingly. These tools range from effective strategic planning methods to rigorously tracking key performance indicators that truly have predictive value. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you must deal with reality as it comes. Do the work to sharpen your predictive capabilities and minimize surprises.

4. Systemization

The way you did things in your startup days simply won’t get it done as you grow. You can goose your stuck business by evaluating, adapting and documenting your critical processes. Once you’ve done that, have the discipline to make sure that your systems are followed. Religiously.

5. Structure

As your business evolves so, too, must your structure. Look at your organizational structure, and ask yourself whether it’s built to sustain future growth. Do roles need to be split? Are job responsibilities logical and understood by all? Do you have the right people in the right seats for the future? The wrong structure can hold you back forever. Review yours regularly.